~~ Rosie ~~

Holden could barely keep his eyes open. He stumbled into the bedroom, his hands mechanically taking off his clothes. God, how he hated those vests. They look great, yeah... but all those buttons... sheesh.

He already could hear the bed calling: 'Come to me Holden, lay down. Close your eyes...' He wasn't about to refuse this sweet offer. Just a quick stop at the bathroom though.

He returned with comfy black drawstring pants and a simple gray T-shirt. Sitting down on his side of the bed he catched a glimpse of the clock – half past 11 p.m.. He rubbed his face and fell back into the pillow. He wasn't sure, but it had possibly never felt that cozy before.

After a few seconds of just laying there he turned his head right and a smile fought its way through the tiredness on his face. Holden loved watching Sean sleep, he normally could do that for hours. But tonight he wouldn't last even one minute. He sighed and carefully headed over to Sean, resting his head on the chest he loved so much. Who needs a pillow.. ha! He wrapped one arm around the other guy's waist and was about to close his eyes.

"Hey! You're late... again!"

"Sorry honey, I know. I didn't wanna wake you up." Holden looked up to Sean with his huge blue puppy dog eyes, batting his long lashes. He knew, Sean couldn't withstand that... and he was right. The football player sighed and smiled at him.

And then his expression changed into something else. He turned their bodies so he had Holden beneath him and in the movement bent down to kiss him. Within seconds the kisses got more intense and soon his hands were just about everywhere under Holden's shirt. But his lover finally managed to tilt his head to say something.

"Sean... honey... I'm so sorry... but I'm dead tired. The last weeks were tough and so was today. I can't... But this big deal will be signed and sealed in a few days, no more late night conferences and presentations from then on, okay?"

"Promise!", Sean was pouting while still running his fingers through Holden's hair.

"Yeah, I promise."

Sean sighed and rested his head on Holden's chest. What an unusual constellation but still comfortable, Holden thought. He placed his hand on Sean's head and fell asleep in an instant.

A week later Sean – wearing the black 'Kiss the Chef'-apron he got from Holden last Christmas – stood in the kitchen preparing dinner. He stretched and felt his bruised back again. Man, that young guy had tackled him hard during the last game. The management had offered him to take some days off, but he refused. He couldn't help but he thought that he had to fight doubly hard now that everyone knew he was gay. The coach had rolled his eyes, but prescribed a light training to him.

Sometimes Sean's mind told him that it was stupid not to show any weakness because of that. The people got along with this 'thing' amazingly well. It's been three months now since that infamous press conference. And (with a few exceptions) just about everyone he met patted his shoulder and acknowledged his courage to come out of the closet. So what was his problem? He couldn't explain it, not even to himself.

The only annoying thing during the first weeks were the paparazzi snapping thousands of shots of him and Holden wherever they went and whatever they did. But thank God that had died down.

One funny and most unexpected aspect was, most of the female fans were not huffy or mad for loosing a straight football star to fantasize about... no, they envied Sean for having this cute guy as his boyfriend. They really did.

Sean chuckled remembering one of the first 'incidents' after his coming-out. There was this group of young women, while they were in their favorite restaurant. They asked Sean for an autograph and a picture with him, that was quite normal. But when Holden offered to take the photograph they insisted on having him on the picture too.

'What did they say? 'Because you're as cute as Sean, if not even cuter!' That look on his face... priceless, disbelief mixed with blushing a deep red. So adorable and cuddly and sexy.'

Sean chuckled even more. He didn't have enough words to describe how much he loved Holden.

He concentrated on the food again. Holden should be at home in 30 minutes. Now that this 'big deal' was done – whatever it was, Sean never quite got it... something in Dubai – Holden just had to deal with the normal stress in the office. Which meant he was at home for dinner most of the time, sometimes even earlier.

Sean wasn't a selfish person, but being more around Holden again and having those endearing conversations in the evenings... and... well... having him back as a lover, made him feel a lot more satisfied.

Suddenly he felt a warm familiar embrace from behind. He turned his head and saw that adorable grin he fell in love with from the first moment he saw Holden three years ago.

"Hey bear, you're early.." Sean would have loved to turn around and hug Holden properly but he didn't want to ruin the risotto and kept stirring it. Holden placed a peck on his shoulder and disappeared toward the dressing room. He returned in his 'leisure outfit' – lifted his sweet butt on the counter and watched Sean preparing the steaks. Thank God that Holden wasn't that much into cooking... but being a connoisseur he loved Sean indulging his passion in the kitchen.

And Sean enjoyed it, trying new recipes and consistently surprise Holden with something new...

... as he did today. And according to Holden's satisfied smile when he flopped onto the couch and switched the TV on, the new recipe Sean got from the other team's linebacker yesterday was a success. Yes!

The phone rang and Sean stepped out on the terrace before answering it. A totally confused man was on the other end. It took Sean a few seconds to decipher who he was talking to and what the guy actually wanted.

"Jim? Jim... hold on... calm down man.. I don't understand you... ... ... what?"

It was his cousin Diane's new husband. And he told Sean, that Diane was in hospital right now after a car accident and that he didn't know what to do with Rosie, her little three-year-old daughter.

"Sean, I know that is a huge request... and I wouldn't ask you, if I'd see another way... I don't know... God... no one else can take her, you know. Before that family party the other day it was just Diane... but when Holden... God, Sean please! I feel so helpless... I can't see her cry anymore..."

After hanging up Sean just looked at the ocean, lost in thought.

He knew, Holden was the only one beside Diane who could care for Rosie properly.

He remembered that family party. It was about two months ago that he took Holden to his parents' house to introduce him to his family. He was nervous too, but Holden was a mental wreck. He was so afraid that the family – and Sean's parents in particular – wouldn't accept him.

But as Sean had expected – everyone immediately fell in love with him. Especially his mom was literally inseparable from Holden. From the first second she was caught in his aura. Sean smiled at this thought.

And then Jim, Diane and sweet little Rosie arrived. Sean had 'briefed' Holden before not to care about the girl's behavior. He told him that she didn't talk at all since her father, now Diane's ex-husband, had abused her... and that she probably would completely ignore Holden. And he demanded him not to touch her in any way... shoulder... head... hand... whatever... because she would freak out. Only her mom was allowed to do so.

He knew, that Holden didn't have a very happy childhood himself, but the expression of sad sympathy in his partner's face almost broke his heart. Holden had tried to hide his emotions but his ocean blue eyes filled with tears and he had a hard time to blink them away, "Such a young girl? God!"

When they went to welcome them, Rosie was on her mother's arm and immediately hid her face in Diane's hair.

But later that day she surprised everybody. It was afternoon. The whole family was sitting in the backyard. Holden was right in between and apparently enjoyed this 'family thing', he was twittering and amusing the family with his stories. And then... all of a sudden Rosie got up from her blanket beside the table and crawled up Holden's lap. There was a dead silence and everyone stared at the little kid. Holden was looking from Sean to Diane and back, obviously not knowing how to handle this at all!

But he also was the first one to break that stiff moment. He put one arm around Rosie and they kind of bonded from then on... she was around him through the whole weekend. Watching it was so fascinating.

Sean smiled, but then his thoughts returned to Diane.

He sighed at the decision he just made for him and Holden without discussing it with his partner. But he had to say yes, dammit.

Holden waited a while after Sean had ended the phone call. Since the other guy didn't come back in, he stepped out on the terrace.

"Sean, what is it? You're ok? Who called?"

"It was Jim, we have to pick up Rosie!" Sean didn't look at him.

"Wha- ... what are you talking about? What do you mean with pick her up?" Holden was confused.

"She'll stay with us for a while."

Holden frowned.

"For a while? What do you mean? ... Wait, you're telling me that you just decided that we will take care of a three year old child for a while? A child, that actually I will have to take care of all the time... without her mom?" Holden couldn't stop talking himself into a rage. "That weekend was nice, yeah... but... have you ever looked after a little girl? I haven't. I don't know how to handle a kid... think about it... I gotta go to work, how am I supposed to... "

"Diane had a car accident and is in hospital now." Sean finally turned around. "Jim doesn't know what to do. Rosie is crying nonstop... he can't take her in his arms or even touch her as you know. So... you want us to not take her here?"

"Diane had a ..." – Holden stared at Sean. All kinds of thoughts were racing through his mind. He immediately felt bad for flipping out.

"Ehm... whew... is she ok? God... of course we will take Rosie."

"Yeah, Diane's fine, according to the circumstances... Let's go then."

They would have to drive about two hours. Holden got comfortable in his seat, which wasn't very difficult in Sean's massive Escalade. At the first red light he leaned over to Sean and kissed him.

"I'm sorry honey, don't know where that reaction came from!"

"Naa Holden, it's fine. You've had so much stress over the last weeks. And I didn't even ask if it's ok for you. I know that you will have all the strain."

"We'll manage that somehow... I love you."

"Love ya too!"

When they arrived, they already saw Jim standing in the door waiting for them.

He looked awful. Getting out of the car and coming closer, they knew why. Rosie was crying and screaming in her room somewhere upstairs.

"Guys, I'm so sorry, but I didn't know what to do. I just remembered the way she reacted to you that weekend and... " Jim looked at Holden, who just nodded with a warm smile on his face.

"Of course we'll look after her, Jim. Please, tell Sean everything we have to know. I'll see if I can calm her down."

Following her crying Holden reached Rosie's room and peeped through the half opened door. When the little girl saw him, she instantly froze and stared at him with her huge brown eyes. No crying, no screaming. She just stood in her little bed and obviously tried to find out what was going on. A moment later her face lightened up and – Holden couldn't believe it – she spread her arms. He smiled at her and took her on his arm.

"Hey Rosie, you wanna go with me and uncle Sean? Come sweetie... we'll take your plush dog and blankie with us, ok?"

She didn't answer, but leaned against his shoulder and gripped her blue doggie tightly. Holden put the soft blanket around her and went downstairs.

Meanwhile Sean and Jim had put all the stuff they would need into the SUV.

Jim stopped and looked at Holden, who was gently cradling the already sleeping little girl. There was a deep sadness of a loving father in his eyes and Holden almost felt guilty, that Rosie had calmed down just because of him. He awkwardly smiled at Jim.

Sean noticed it and tried to relieve the tension.

"We almost would have needed a U-Haul, Holden. I can't believe that such a small child can need so many things!"

All three men smiled, but the strange tension in the room remained. Then they headed to the car, it really was stuffed to the roof. They said goodbye and were on their way back home. Jim didn't seem wanting a long talk or something, all this was hard enough for him, though 'just' being her stepfather.

Holden watched the sleeping toddler in his arms. She was so sweet with her wild blond curls. Her eyes were a bit swollen because of all the crying, but that probably would be gone tomorrow. She looked like a little angel and Holden wondered how somebody... anybody could harm her.

When they finally reached their house in the middle of the night all they wanted was putting Rosie to bed and having some sleep.

Sean tried to build up her travel bed and Holden watched him doing that for a while... slowly shaking his head. Finally he laid the girl on the couch and took the bed away from his partner.

"Let me try it, you'll break it with your clumsy hands..."

"Hey hey, you always tell me you love my hands, don't you forget that!"

Holden smirked at him but then focused on the bed again. What was this little button for?

"Aaahhhhhh... here we go! You see, I did it in a split second!" He triumphantly grinned at Sean.

"Fluke!" Sean raised an eyebrow but was smiling.

Later in bed both men talked about how this will work. Holden knew, he would have to take her with him into the office. He just wasn't sure... he sighed.

Sean leaned on his elbow. "Can't you just take some days off? You're the boss anyway! That's got to count for something!"

"I know I'm the boss... but too many people are sick, I can't stay at home. We have so many viewings with new customers right now... no way."

Sean stroke a strand of hair out of Holden's forehead and then caressed his neck.

"I wish I could help you in any way. But whatever the bond is between you two... I don't share it. I just can keep anything else away from you."

"That's more than enough Sean. We will get used to the situation, I'm sure. Let's stop worrying 'til tomorrow, ok?" Having a look on the clock he corrected himself. "... well, 'til later today!"

After four hours of sleep Holden woke up. He put his hand on the empty sheets beside him and shook his head, he was alone. Since they had moved together and he got to know Sean's habits more and more he couldn't understand, how Sean would be able to jump out of the bed at dawn and have a morning run. Even in his wildest dreams he couldn't imagine doing that.

Withstanding the desire to roll over one more time he forced his body up. Yawning and scratching his stubbly jaw he sneaked into Rosie's room. She was still sleeping, so he had a chance to take a shower. Good.

When he returned she already waited for him flashing him a glance with her beautiful doe eyes.

"Morning Rosie. What do you think... we'll have a quick stop at the bathroom and then let's see what we can find for breakfast, huh? First of all a coffee for me..."

They were munching their cereals, Holden in sweatpants and T-shirt, Rosie already in a sweet pink dress, when Sean returned from his run. He tousled Holden's bed-head and placed a hearty good-morning-kiss on his lips. For Holden this was the perfect start into a day.

Their little guest observed all of it with great interest. She probably never had seen this constellation of a relationship before. Then she focused back on her chocolate milk. Children... they are so much more open than adults. Holden smiled.

He asked Sean to stay with her for a few minutes so he could get dressed. His partner seemed slightly horrified, but nodded courageously. Rosie looked like considering whether to cry or not, but decided to stay calm, much to Sean's relief.

Holden returned in a light blue three-piece suit and with a tube of hair gel, trying to turn the fuzzy bed-head into a more boss-like hairdo. Watching him do that the little girl hopped off her chair and ran into her room just to come back with her hairbrush and a handful hair ties and barrettes.

Holden bit on his lip and made a face. "You're sure you want this, sweetie? I've never done that before... don't know how you will look like."

He felt Sean's amusement in his back, when he carefully started brushing Rosie's hair. But thank God she knew pretty well what she wanted and led him with her hands. The result was not as bad as Holden would have imagined. Actually he was quite proud of that little ponytail he had created.

'Oh man, this is so odd. I'm an architect and business man and feel great dressing a little girl's hair. Wonder what comes next...'

He chuckled, put the white and pink patterned bag with Rosie's stuff on his shoulder and the girl on his other arm.

"So I'm off, Sean. I hope I can live up to that task, wish me luck! And, I so wonder, what the people in the office will say!"

"You'll do great! And the people will have a story to share at lunch.. " Sean laughed and kissed him goodbye. "Don't worry. Love ya!"

Arriving at the office they gathered surprised looks from everywhere. Holden wasn't sure about it, but did he hear some women squealing? Having a closer look he recognized most of his female stuff had a bright smile on their faces and a different kind of twinkle in their eyes. He felt slightly uncomfortable and greeted them as normal as possible... probably blinking a bit too much here and there.

"Oh my Goodness! What an adorable little child!" Kathy obviously released some 'happy hormones' too right now. She rushed around the counter and was about to squeeze Rosie, when Holden stepped back and shook his head. The girl hid her face in his shoulder. Too much attention.

Kathy was confused and followed him into his office. "I'm sorry if I scared her!"

"No, it's ok, you couldn't know." Holden explained the situation to his secretary... not every detail though, just who Rosie was and that she didn't like to be touched by strangers.

He was sure, news would be spreading right after she leaves the room, but that was fine with him – he wouldn't have to tell the same story again and again.

He finally put Rosie down and she started to discover his office. He already saw himself saying goodbye to the models of houses he had arranged here, because she would play with them and break them, but she was just watching... with folded hands on her back. Holden chuckled, she almost looked like a critic judging his work.

"Sweetie, I have to work a bit now. When you're... finished... hehee... you can sit here on the couch and draw something, ok?"

She looked at him and right back at the model in front of her. Holden took this as a 'yes' and started to go through his paperwork. He couldn't really concentrate at first though, always had at least one eye on Rosie. But then she eventually nestled down in the couch and put her drawing block on her knees.

Only a few minutes later he heard her inhale sharply. "What is it, Rosie?"

She just stared at the miniature house beside the couch, excitedly jumped up and tried to have a look through the little windows.

"You've got a good eye, young lady." Holden was surprised, "yep, that's our house. Wait, let me take off the roof."

He walked over, sat down on the couch and took the upper part of the house away so Rosie could have a closer look. He explained that he had planned this house as his masterpiece and when the then-tenants went overseas a year ago, he and Sean thought it would be funny to move in. She seemed to be intrigued by both – the house and his story. He lifted her on the couch for an even better look and returned to his desk.

Two hours later Holden waited for Mrs. Doogan at the first house he wanted to show her today. Rosie was on his arm again... that probably will be a bit sore tomorrow... he admired Diane for carrying her around all the time. May be after a few days he could try to make her walk with him, just taking his hand... must be possible.

Mrs. Doogan drove up with a black coupé. She was late for the meeting with that boss from the estate agency. She got out of the car and had a look around, searching for an elderly man. But there only was this guy, may be a bit younger than her, with a little girl on his arm, probably his daughter. It seemed that he wasn't used to handling the girl, but she clung to him like a limpet... so adorable.

Since this Mr. Wilson wasn't here yet, she took the time to watch them. It was strange, normally she liked older men.. but this guy had something special. She couldn't put her finger on it, may be it was just because he was so damn cute. Tall, slender, very well dressed, beautiful gracious hands, a face to die for. Mrs. Doogan quietly moaned and scanned him again from head to toe. He didn't notice her however, having a hard time to open a bottle of water for the girl... with her on his arm and some papers in the other hand.

Wait, those were the papers of the house she wanted to view today... this couldn't be Mr. Wilson. He was too young to be a boss of such a company...

'Well, good for me. Let's spend some hours together Mr. Gorgeous!'

She bit her lower lip and then headed over. "May I help you?"

Holden was rather grateful for the helping hand. He smiled at the brunette woman, while she opened the bottle.

"Thank you! You wouldn't be Mrs. Doogan, would you? If so, we have an appointment. I hope it is ok for you, that I have her with me?" He looked at Rosie.

"Yes, of course, she's gorgeous."

There it was again – that twinkle in the eyes. Holden couldn't understand it, what was that? For some reason women seem to go nuts seeing a man with a child. He made a mental note to interview Kathy about that phenomenon later.

"So, on the phone you told me, you and your daughter have just returned from Asia and want to settle down in L.A. again? You'll love this house then."

They went inside and she seemed to be really impressed. Good.

He put Rosie on the couch and knelt down. "Sweetie, do me a favor. You draw me a picture while I'm showing the nice lady the house, ok?" She nodded.

He didn't recognize, but Mrs. Doogan was almost squealing because he was so sweet with the little girl... but her face was under control again, when he turned to her and started to show her around.

Finally having arrived at the terrace, Holden drew the trumps and talked about how romantic the beach was in the evenings.

"How would you know that? You lived in this house?" She looked at him and tried to catch his gaze. But he stared at the ocean and smiled, thinking about the sweet conversations and moments he had with Sean at the beach.

Then answered, "No Ma'am. But I live a mile up the coast."


"I take it!"

Holden turned around. "What?"

"I buy this house! You have the contract with you?"

"Ehm... yeah... but... you're sure you don't want to see the other objects I have for you?"

"Yep... pretty sure."

One part of Holden was of course happy, because selling a house is always a good thing. The other part tried to find out, if he had missed something between the kitchen, where she was still quite skeptical, and here. Hmm...

When they went back into the house, Rosie rushed over to him. Holden knelt down to look at her painting.

"Oh dear, that's wonderful" he purred.

She smiled at him and ran back into the living room. The next thing they heard was a rumble. Rosie started crying. Holden jumped to the door and froze for about two seconds. She had banged her head against the edge of the table and was bleeding insanely from her left temple. He rushed to her, fell on his knees and took her in his arms... not caring for the blood on his clothes or face.

"Sh sh sh... You'll be ok Rosie, I'll take you to the hospital, ok? Shhhh...", and more to himself, "Fuck man! You was supposed to look after her and now that... useless idiot!"

Mrs. Doogan brought some kind of rag to cover Rosie's wound and offered to drive him, so he could completely concentrate on the little girl who obviously suffered a shock.

At the hospital the nurse led them directly into an exam room and asked Holden what felt like a thousand questions about Rosie to fill out her check list. He hadn't an answer for most of them.

"How can you not know that as her dad?"

Holden looked up to her. "Oh.. no, I'm not her dad, I just care for her at the moment."

The nurse and Mrs. Doogan seemed to be more than surprised.

"You need a parental consent then."

"Are you kidding me? This little girl is bleeding and you talk about paperwork? You will help her right now! Get a doctor in here!" Holden couldn't believe it.

She seemed to be offended, but he didn't care. He sat Rosie on the examination couch and took his bloody suit jacket off. Thank God her wound wasn't bleeding that much anymore, it was all under control now.

Holden was just concerned about how the doc would be able to examine Rosie. But when the doctor entered the room he convinced him, that he was used to handling difficult children.

Well... obviously he wasn't used to all kind of children. In the second he tried to have a look at Rosie's wound, the girl freaked out and threw herself into Holden's arms. Because of the sudden movement the laceration opened up again. Since she hugged Holden's neck tightly and buried her face into his shoulder, her blood was all over him once again.

They decided to slightly sedate her. After that the doc treated the wound – 5 stitches.

"You want a CT of her head to see if there's any sign of a concussion?"

Holden thought about an article he just had read the other day. "What about a... MRT, I think that's better... I don't want her to be exposed to x-rays?"

"Sir, this is a bit more expensive here and I don't know if that's necessary in Rosie's case anyway."

"I want it!"

The doctor could tell from the expression in Holden's face that he was adamant about this, standing there, still covered in blood. He would tell Nancy to give that guy a clean shirt, while the girl would be in the MRT.

When Rosie was away for the examination, Holden wandered around and startled as he passed the mirror. It looked a bit like 'Chainsaw massacre'. He took off his vest and shirt and wiped the blood off his neck and bare chest.

A chuckle ripped him out of his cleaning obsession. God, he had completely forgotten, that Mrs. Doogan was still there. He smiled but blushed at the same time. Just in time a nurse poked her head through the door and handed him a new T-shirt. She was about to leave the room, but stopped and a huge grin grew on her face.

"Wait... I know you. You're the guy being in a relationship with..."


"Now this is so cool! You know, this friend of mine, Danny is a great fan of the team... and he just loves you two. Well... you know what I mean." She chuckled.

"I know. Tell him we appreciate it." Holden smiled at her

"I will.. yeah.", and she left again.

When Rosie was brought back, she was already waking up. Holden took her on his lap and cradled her softly. She rested her head on his chest and closed her eyes.

Mrs. Doogan wanted to ask, what the nurse was talking about, basically about this 'relationship thing', but she didn't want to destroy their bonding moment.

Right after Holden had called him, Sean was directly trying to reach Jim to tell him what happened. When the guy realized, that Rosie 'just' had a laceration and was already at the doc, he was surprisingly cool about it and said, he's sure they would care well for her.

On his way home, Sean tried to imagine Holden's reaction to that accident. That poor guy must feel bad, although it wasn't his fault of course. Those things can happen.

He unlocked the door and heard nothing but some quiet music. When he entered the living room he saw the cutest scene he had ever witnessed. Holden, laying on his back on the couch, had gently put his arms around Rosie, who was slumbering on his chest and tummy. His partner was still holding a children's book in one hand. He obviously had dozed off while reading a story to her.

Sean's heart was bursting with love. He enjoyed this sweet and peaceful moment for some more seconds and then went into the kitchen to prepare dinner for the three of them.

The day after the accident Holden was a total mother hen, always around Rosie, so nothing would happen to her.

But he calmed down more and more when he realized that she was ok. And she loved all those gaudy children's band-aids Holden got her. She wanted a new one every two hours.

The next Sunday they decided to visit the Zoo. They tried to stay unrecognized, but all caps and sunglasses didn't help. Sean had to write autographs from the second they reached the entrance area. Holden and Rosie waited patiently. They got some curious looks, but nobody seemed to have the heart to ask what it was with the little girl.

Inside the Zoo the crowd spread and they had pretty much of their privacy. They didn't come far however, because Rosie was mesmerized by the meerkats and couldn't be convinced to move on for about half an hour. Holden and Sean grinned at each other and just enjoyed her amazement.

Finally strolling along Holden remembered this thing he wanted to try and put Rosie down at some point. Of course she urged to get back on his arm immediately.

"Come sweetie, let's try it", he smiled and offered his hand... and she took it. Holden was sure, that Rosie could be much more self-contained, if the adults around her just would push it a little more. Walking by herself, at least for a while now and then, was a good start. Diane couldn't carry her around for the rest of her life anyway. During the first days, especially after the table incident, he tended to pamper her too. But now he believed, that wasn't the right way to help her out of her small world.

At noon they stopped for a bite to eat at the Mahale Café. After sitting down Holden handed Rosie a fork for her meal. She looked at it and back at him, actually stared at him, her eyes saying 'What should I do with this thing?'

Sean read her thoughts and remembered a thing Jim had told him. "Jim said, she only eats with the spoon."

Holden frowned. "Sean, she is three years old! It's time for her to learn it."

He placed his chair closer to assist her. Rosie's little hand completely disappeared in his strong but graceful hand when he showed her how to handle it. And once she got the hang of it, he returned to his pizza and shoved a big slice of it into his mouth.

"See, there she is. A little girl using the fork." Holden grinned while chewing.

Sean was seemingly amazed by the self-confidence Holden had developed in being a 'dad'. At least that's what he looked like. There was that infamous twinkle again. But this time Holden loved it. He bent over the table and placed a peck on his lover's mouth.

They heard a woman squealing somewhere in the back and turned their heads into her direction. She looked at them like Rosie did before with the meerkats, nothing but enchanted and fascinated. Holden was sure, he probably would never get used to those kind of reactions. They were sweet, but pretty odd at the same time.

After having a wonderful day in the Zoo, Rosie fell into bed... with her new favorite plush toy, Merry the meerkat. Holden didn't even had to read her a story, she dozed off right away.

Sean and Holden got comfortable in their bed and talked about the day.

"You know what Sean, I think if I just had some more time with her, I can get her out of the introverted world she lives in. Just some more days..."

Holden closed the distance between the two of them and put Sean's arm around his waist. Sean fondly tousled his hair with the other hand.

"There's something I need to tell you. You're so damn sexy when you're in the 'Daddy mode'."

Holden raised an eyebrow and looked at Sean with a slightly confused smile. But he had no time to think any further about that unusual compliment. Sean started to cover his neck with hundreds of little kisses. God, he loved it when he did that. Loved those warm lips on his body. But then Sean kind of docked on Holden's neck and clasped his arms around him. Gosh, he was so strong. But Holden wouldn't give in this time.

"Sean, nooo... I have an important meeting tomorrow. I can't show up there with a hickey on my neck!"

When Sean tilted his head to show him some serious puppy dog eyes, he added with a husky tone "I'm fine with any other place though."

Sean smirked at him and his mouth and hands slowly started investigating Holden's body to find the perfect place.

Since Diane's recovering took longer than expected, Rosie was still living with them two weeks later. Holden was really proud of her and himself. She was still around him like a satellite all the time, but not necessarily on his arm. And she was much more relaxed with Sean around her... Well, the girl completely trusted Holden, that in deed helped a lot.

Holden believed that she was so close to actually say something. He could tell from her eyes that she was sick and tired of describing everything with gestures. Actually that was the reason why he started firing questions at her all day. He wanted her to give up, look at him and just say "Stop it!"... break that wall!

Thinking about that he watched her. They were on the beach in front of the house. A huge umbrella saved them from the burning sun. Holden wore some blue shorts and sunglasses and she had insisted on wearing the green bathing suit he bought her last week. She looked so adorable in it and with the cute little hat she had tugged deep into her face.

Sean had a football practice today, so they just enjoyed the benefits of living in Malibu. They completely blocked out the rest of the world, it was just them and the sound of the ocean. Holden was about to finish 'The Rise of Endymion' and Rosie was building a sandcastle.

From the corner of his eye Holden recognized a figure coming up to them. He looked up and tried to find a name to the slightly familiar face. Then it clicked.

"Oh Mrs. Doogan... how are you? You like your house?" He got up and took her hand.

She tried not to look at his body, but failed completely.

'Ok ehm, my eyes are up here!' Holden folded his arms before the chest.

After three more uncomfortable seconds she finally found his eyes.

"Ehm... it's great. Was the best choice. And as you said, living at the beach is awesome... Oh there is little Rosie. How is she doing?"

"She's fine, thanks for asking. Actually she's a real sunshine." He looked at the girl with so much love, the woman in front of him had to fight back the squeal again.

They started a small talk about living in L.A.. In fact Holden was talking and Mrs. Doogan hung on his lips. He was too busy to keep the conversation alive and have a look at Rosie though to recognize her being totally caught into his aura. Right in this moment he could have talked her into buying two more houses and she would have done it.

The hypnosis was interrupted when Sean joined the small group. Mrs. Doogan was about to frown at him for interfering her moment with Holden. But when Holden hugged and kissed him, her jaw hit the ground... 'Ohh, that's what the nurse was talking about the other day!'

"Hi, I'm Sean. Nice to meet you."

"Hey, Doogan... ehm... Annett. Nice to meet you too." She smiled at them, obviously not sure what to say, "So Mr. Wilson, I think, I'm heading back home. There are still many full cardboards waiting for me."

"Alright.. well, since we're almost neighbors, I'm sure we'll see each other more often now."

She could press out a "yeah" and left... a bit quicker than it would be normal for a walk at the beach.

Sean looked at her and turned back to Holden with a huge smile.

"I leave you alone for just one afternoon and you end up as a sex object for unknown women?"

Holden was confused. "What are you talking about? And by the way, I know her... sold her the house a mile down the coast."

"Come on Holden... don't tell me you didn't recognize it..." He had a quick look over to Rosie, but she didn't listen. "That woman would have jumped at you if Rosie wouldn't have been here!"

"Sean, stop it!" Holden snorted and shook his head.

"Every pore of her body was screaming it, but ok... I'll stop! Just have it in mind when you meet her the next time. You'll see..." He pulled his partner closer and kissed him impulsively. Holden kissed him back. It was still new to him though... being able to show his feelings for Sean in public.

They had to hide for so long. And what debates did they have because of that.

One day a few months ago Sean was on the terrace and he stepped behind him, embracing him and kissing his neck. Sean flipped out! That was the first time he actually yelled at him. It was about 'what kinda fucking stupid idiot he was, what if somebody would see them'.

Nobody could see them, he was sure. Well, and that was it... the last straw that broke the camel's back. He waisted no time and left the same day. No one was allowed to treat him like that... no one.

He sighed into the kiss.

Then Sean came out... in the biggest way a football pro could choose... a press conference. What a sign of commitment.

And now they would be here at the beach and kiss each other... wonderful.

In the evening, Rosie already being in bed, they watched a game. Well, in fact Sean watched it. Holden still didn't get what's so interesting about football. Yes, he was in love with a quarterback. But that was about it. So whenever a game was on, he curled up beside Sean on the couch and rested his head on his lover's thigh. And almost always dozed off before half time. Today was no different... but they were together... kind of.

After the game Sean woke him up and they went to bed.

Around 2 a.m. they were ripped out of sleep. Rosie screamed like Satan himself was after her. Holden jumped up. Her eyes have never been this huge and dark before. He took her on his arm and tried to calm her down. After a few tries he realized that there was no way to get her back into that bed tonight. He sighed and took her with him.

"Sean, we have a guest tonight," Holden said with an easy sounding voice. Sensing that he was concerned because of her nightmare wouldn't help Rosie at all.

Sean smiled at them and scooted a bit more to his side of the bed. Rosie snuggled up to Holden.

"So, what was your dream about?"

She focused on the writing on his T-shirt, blinking way too much.

"Was it about your dad?"

Holden would never forget that terrified look. He could see that she was trying to fight back the tears.

"You know, it's ok to cry, sweetheart. I cried too when my dad beat me when I was a teenager."

She stared at him in utter surprise and he started to tell her his story... well of course leaving out some details, she was three years old after all.

When he had finished, she looked right into his eyes, lifted herself up and kissed him on the cheek. He had no words for that sweet gesture so he just fondled her head. Within seconds she drifted off.

He looked at Sean, who seemed to feel the exact same thing right now. He came closer and the three of them slept together as a little harmonic family.

The next morning Holden slowly turned around in his bed. He didn't want to open his eyes yet, but something was strange, he felt like being stared at. When he finally forced his eyes open he saw Rosie, sitting by his side indian-style and watching him.

"Rosie.. good morning dear. How long have you been awake?"

She just studied his face. It was so intense, Holden almost started to feel uncomfortable.

"What is it, sweetie?"

She smiled and sighed deeply. "Love ya, uncle Holden."

Holden couldn't react at all. He could only sit up and stare at her with tears in his eyes. Finally his brain managed to form a sentence.

"I love you too, darling!"

She rushed over and hugged him tightly. When he gently kissed her forehead, she nestled down in his lap. They remained like that for a while and every now and then Holden chuckled. 'Yes!'

When Sean returned from his morning run, Holden was all over him, hugging and kissing him.

"Baby, you won't believe it...!"

And when Sean heard Rosie talk... he didn't believe it.

They enjoyed some more days with her, but now the house was full of her wonderful twittering, like she wanted to regain all the lost time.

Finally the day that Diane and Jim would come to take her back home was there.

Holden was sad for himself, but instantly hit himself mentally... 'She belongs to her mom, dude!'. On the other hand he was eager to see Diane's face when she would see all the progress Rosie had made.

And she didn't let him down. Her face when Rosie rushed over to her with a loud 'Mommy!' was priceless. She had still one arm in plaster, but fell on her knees and hugged her little girl as tight as she could without crushing her to death.

Then Holden and Diane had a long chat about what happened the last couple of weeks and he tried to bring her close to his idea, that Rosie needed little challenges to blossom. At first he felt like he was flattering himself. 'Why would the actual mother listen to the tips of a gay guy who never had to care for a child before!'

But Diane was completely into it, nodded here and there and admitted that she might have pampered Rosie for too long.

Then came the moment Holden was afraid of all day, the moment of saying goodbye. When Rosie finally realized, that it wouldn't be Holden and Mommy from now on, she was confused, kind of torn between the two and her eyes got teary.

Holden reached out for her and took her on his arm, choking down his own tears. "Sweetie, you're happy to have your mommy back, right? You're going back home... It is so beautiful there and I'm sure you'll make some friends now. And uncle Sean and I will visit you as soon as possible, ok? And you can call anytime you want." His voice broke with the last sentence and he embraced her and kissed her temple. By now they all had tears in their eyes and Jim and Diane decided it was time to go home.

Sean and Holden stood together on the sidewalk when their car passed. Rosie was waving her little hand insanely, although they were sure, she couldn't even see them because her eyes were filled with tears. Nonetheless they waved back to her.

When the van was out of sight Holden hugged Sean tightly. Sean felt his tears on his neck.

"I already miss her."

"Me too." Sean tugged Holden even closer to him and ran his hands over his back. They stood there for some moments and Holden calmed down.

When they went back into the house they both smiled. Unbeknownst to each other all of a sudden they had the same idea for the next step in their relationship.

~~ The End ~~