SUMMARY: Human AU. Tino, Berwald and Peter are the perfect family. Things like this don't happen to people like them. But when they do, how are they supposed to accept it?

WARNING: Character Death: No Happy Ending.

(YouTube) /watch?v=EbWi4MUpHjE

"Nuku, nuku, nurmilintu
Väsy, väsy västäräkki
Nuku, kun mie nukutan
Väsy, kun mie väsytän."

"That's pretty," said Berwald. "What is't?"

Tino gazed down at the baby boy in his arms and smiled, leaning back into his husband's embrace. "It's a Finnish lullaby. My mother used to sing it to me."

"It's beautif'l." Berwald gently brushed his fingers across the sleeping baby's cheek. "Little Peter. He's beautif'l."

Tino nodded, unable to tear his eyes from their new son glowing in the light of the living room fireplace. Tino couldn't help but be a little bewildered, feeling the tiny chest move beneath his fingers… breathe in, breathe out. After making their way through countless lengthy and painful legal processes he and Berwald had finally achieved their dream of completing their family with a child. It had been difficult, but it was all made worth it when the most perfect baby boy in the world was placed in their arms. Their son. Tino smiled again when he felt Berwald kiss the top of his head. "And he's ours." Tino was rather awestruck by the thought.

"Congratulat'ns, Mama."

Tino giggled softly before remembering himself and elbowing Berwald. "Wait, why am I the Mama?"

Peter stirred slightly at the movement, a small cry falling from his lips.

"Ssh baby," whispered Berwald, gently stroking Peter's head. "List'n to yer Mama sing."

Tino glared over his shoulder at Berwald, but he continued to sing the lullaby anyway.

"Nukuta, jumala, lasta.
Makauta, mariainen.
Kuro kiisan silmät kiinni
Anna unta aamuun asti."

Breathe in, breathe out. The beautiful baby slept on, peaceful, in the arms of the two proudest fathers on earth.


"What the heck," said Tino in confusion, stepping through the front door into a house quite different from the one he had left just a few hours ago. Every piece of furniture in the room lay toppled over, toys and boxes littered the floor, and the surround sound system blasted Wagner's 'Ride of the Valkyries' at top volume from every speaker. "Berwald?" he shouted, unsure if he could be heard over the noise. He made his way down the hallway in trepidation. "Peter? Just what is…"

He was interrupted by a small blue and red blur rounding the corner ahead and charging straight towards him. "Watch out Mama!" the blur cried gleefully. No matter how many times he tried, Tino could not stop Peter from calling him that.

"Peter, why are you riding your tricycle inside?" asked Tino, shouting to be heard over the thrashing strains of Wagner as he jumped out of the way of the approaching red velocipede. He stared at Peter curiously as he passed. "And why are you wearing cardboard horns?"

"Papa and I are pillagering the village!" said Peter, smiling broadly.

"Huh? Pillaging? You don't even know what that means!" cried Tino. Suddenly, from behind him, came what could only be described as a loud war cry. Tino spun around to find Berwald standing in the kitchen doorway, also wearing cardboard horns and holding aloft a wooden spoon and a frying pan. Tino raised his eyebrows.

"Aha, Peter, we've caught a vict'm!" shouted Berwald.

"Yeah!" Peter jumped off his tricycle and charged at Tino, throwing his arms around his legs. "Now you have to give us all your stuff!" he cried, laughing wildly.

Tino blinked a few times in surprise. His husband was not usually the type of person to wear a cardboard hat and run around threatening people with kitchen utensils. "Berwald, what are you doing?"

Berwald shrugged. "Teach'n him 'bout our cultural hist'ry."

Tino shook his head but couldn't stop himself from laughing. Berwald did make quite an impressive Viking. Even with a frying pan.

"D'you think I look scary, Mama?" asked Peter, tugging on Tino's pants. He squinted as his makeshift helmet fell over one eye and plastered his blonde hair to his forehead.

Tino thought Peter looked like the most adorable thing in the world. He smiled. "You look like the scariest Viking I've ever seen," he said.

Peter grinned proudly. Tino wasn't sure that teaching his son to ransack villages, or living rooms, rather, was the correct education to be giving him at four years old. But Peter seemed to be having so much fun, that Tino decided it didn't matter.

"But I'm not giving you anything, barbarian!" Tino escaped from Peter's clutches and ran down the hallway with two shouting Vikings on his heels.


Peter pushed the food around his plate absently, resting his chin in his hand. He had barely eaten anything the entire night.

"Are you feeling all right, baby?" asked Tino, reaching across the dining room table to feel Peter's forehead. Peter pulled his head away irritably.

"M'fine," he mumbled into his hand.

Tino sat back, a little hurt. "You don't look fine," he said, dropping his fork heavily onto his plate.

"I'm not sick," said Peter sulkily.

"Well that's good." Tino looked sideways at Berwald who, as usual, was holding silent. Tino closed his eyes briefly. He had never liked eating in silence, though living with Berwald had made it a regular occurrence. But Peter usually had plenty say, the life of a seven year old schoolboy full of a hundred things to talk about. So it was unusual to find himself at a silent dinner table once again. Tino waited quietly for a moment more before saying, "Well, Peter, you know you can tell us if anything's wrong."

Peter just nodded and continued to stare at his plate.

Minutes passed in uncomfortable silence until Tino finally had enough and stood to clear the table. "Are you done then, if you're not going to eat that?"

Peter looked up at him, a worried expression on his face. "Mama, are we all going to hell?"

Tino nearly dropped the plate he held. "WHAT?"

"There's a kid at school who says that because you're both boys and you're my parents that you're going to hell and that I probably am too. He says it's in the bible. Is that true?"

Tino gaped open mouthed, completely at a loss for words. He looked at Berwald, who just shrugged. "You want'd him t'go to a religious school," he muttered.

Tino slammed the plate down on the table. "Well that is it. I am having words with that child's parents."

"Well?" asked Peter, looking up at Tino with an expression that broke his heart. Why was this something that seven year olds had to worry about?

"Baby, Papa and I aren't going to hell because we're both boys. Some people don't like anyone to be different, so they say nasty things like that. It doesn't make it true."

Peter bit his lip. He didn't look convinced. "But…"

"Vikings don't go t'hell," said Berwald simply.

"What?" asked Peter, looking up at Berwald.

"Well, we're Vikings. And Vikings go t'Valh'la."

"Where?" Peter eagerly sat up straighter.

Tino smiled. Berwald never said much. Somehow when he did, he always said the right thing. "Valhalla," Tino translated.

"What's Valhalla?" Peter asked, turning to Tino, open mouthed and fascinated.

"Valhalla is a place where Vikings go when they die. Beautiful warrior angels called Valkyries fly down and carry you away to this great big hall with all the food and drink you could ever want. And there's music, and dancing, and games, and beautiful serving girls…"

"Depending on yer pref'rence." Berwald winked at Tino, who rolled his eyes before continuing.

"And you get to live with your family forever and ever and ever."

Peter's face lit up. "Really? But..." he trailed off, his face falling. "I'm adopted. I'm not really a Viking."

"Nonsense," said Berwald emphatically. "Ye became a Viking when ye joined this fam'ly. Yer ours, and that means yer a Viking."

Tino had never seen Peter grin so widely. Laughing, he ruffled his son's hair and kissed his cheek. "So tomorrow you go tell that boy that you're a Viking, and you're not going to hell, you're going to Valhalla along with your Mama and Papa. Got it?"

"Yep!" Peter jumped up from the table, grabbing his plate as he went. "Need help with the dishes?"

A few hours later, Tino tucked Peter into bed. "So, you're not bothered anymore about what the kids at school might say about us?"

"Nuh-uh. I'll just tell them that I'm a Viking and I'm going to Valhalla!"

Tino laughed. He knew the road ahead would be difficult for Peter, having two fathers. But if this was enough for him to hold his head high for now, then that was something. "One day, baby, we'll all meet in Valhalla. Goodnight."

"Um, Mama?" said Peter as Tino stood to leave.


"Will you sing me my lullaby?"

Tino smiled, turned, and sat back down by the bed.

"Nuku, nuku, nurmilintu
Väsy, väsy västäräkki
Nuku, kun mie nukutan,
Väsy, kun mie väsytän."

Tino sang, stroking Peter's hair, watching him breathe - breathe in, breathe out - thinking how perfect this family was, how wonderful life could be, how unbelievably lucky they all were; until sleep finally pulled Peter under.


"Whatever possessed that boy to name the puppy Hana-Tamago. What does that even mean?" asked Tino, watching through the kitchen window as Peter chased the small white dog around the backyard. Peter had begun asking for a puppy in earnest only a few months earlier, just before his ninth birthday. They had not really considered it seriously, so Tino was a little surprised when Berwald turned up in the middle of Peter's birthday party holding a small ball of fluff with a big blue ribbon around its neck. Peter had fallen in love with the dog immediately, and the race to give her the craziest name imaginable was on.

"Don't know," said Berwald, walking up behind Tino and putting his coffee mug in the sink. "He's learnin' Japan'se at school."

"Well it sounds ridiculous." Tino had wanted to name the dog 'Charlotte' or something. That would have made sense. But Peter was adamant and she was, in the end, Peter's puppy.

"No more ridic'lous than 'Tino Väinämöinen'."

Berwald ducked as Tino turned and swatted at his head. "Oh and I suppose that's worse than 'Oxenstierna'?"

Berwald grinned and his eyes sparkled. "Why'd ye think we gave 'im my name and not yers?"

Tino opened his mouth to give a biting response about how his name was of deep cultural significance, but was cut off by a sharp, painful cry from the backyard. His stomach dropped and he immediately ran out the back door.

"Peter, what's wrong?" Tino dropped to Peter's side where he sat on the grass clutching his knee.

"I don't know," he panted. "My knee… I just fell, and it really hurts!"

"Let me see," said Tino, pulling Peter's hands gently away from his leg. He heard Berwald run up behind him. "Ah. It looks like you might have strained it a little. Let Papa carry you inside so you can rest it a little."

"I can walk myself!" cried Peter indignantly. Tino laughed in relief.

"Okay, okay. Come on, let's go and watch some cartoons, get you some painkillers, and we'll put an ice pack on that swollen knee."

Peter nodded and limped inside, Hana-Tamago at his ankles, Tino and Berwald following anxiously behind.

Tino kept an eye on Peter the rest of the evening, but he smiled and laughed and ate his dinner the same as any other night. Tino supposed the injury must have just been a small strain and wasn't anything worth worrying about.

"Shh," he said, tucking Peter in for the night. "It will stop hurting by the morning. Do you want me to sing you your lullaby?" Peter stared up at him petulantly.

"I'm nine, Mama, I'm way too old for that stuff now."

Tino raised his hands, backed away, and turned off the light, even as he tried not to laugh. "All right then, no lullaby from now on. Good night, Peter."

Later, Tino fell asleep, arm thrown over Berwald, content, and completely unprepared for what was to come.


Tino was out of bed before he realised he was awake. And Berwald was already ahead of him, rushing to Peter's room.


Tino ran into Peter's room to find Berwald kneeling next to Peter's bed and Peter holding his knee, gasping, his face white. Tino's stomach fell to his feet and he rushed to Peter's side.

"Baby, what's wrong?"

"It hurts!" cried Peter, his face contorted in pain. "Mama, it HURTS!"

Berwald stood, opened the cupboard door, and pulled out Peter's jacket. "Takin' him to hospital."

Tino just nodded, feeling the panic start to rise.


Tino's panic continued to rise the entire drive to the hospital. Peter was obviously in tremendous pain, and his knee had swollen enormously. Even though Tino knew that Berwald was driving as fast as he was able, he had to restrain himself from screaming at him to go faster. It was agonising… Peter's pain was his pain, and Tino was terrified.

Tino rushed into the emergency room, Berwald carrying Peter behind him. "Hello, please, it's my son," Tino blurted out to the receptionist behind the counter. "His knee, it's swollen… he fell this afternoon… please, he's in pain…"

The receptionist nodded and called over a nurse. "Bring him through, let's have a look." She opened the side door and Tino went to enter behind Berwald. "Wait." The nurse blocked them in the doorway.

"What is it?" asked Tino, confused.

"Who's this?" The nurse looked up disdainfully at Berwald.

"'m his father," said Berwald coldly.

"I thought you were the boy's father," said the nurse, glaring at Tino. Tino glanced sideways at Berwald to find him looking back, and Tino knew exactly what he was thinking.

"Um," said Tino. "We're both his fathers." The nurse raised her eyebrows in alarm and Peter let out a sharp cry. "Please, he's in pain, can we deal with your stupid prejudice after we get some help for my son!" The nurse stared in shock, Berwald looked rather impressed, and Tino felt a little stunned that he'd actually come out with that.

"Only the boys legal guardians are allowed through with him," said the nurse huffily. "I assume you have proof?"

"Proof? What?" Tino didn't have Peter's adoption certificate or anything… he'd hardly thought of needing it.

"He's got m'surname," said Berwald. "That good enough?"

"Fine. You can come through. You," said the nurse to Tino, "Stay here."

"Fine, whatever, just take him through, please!" Berwald glanced at him painfully, curiously, but Tino just nodded and motioned him through.

"Wait," cried Peter as Berwald carried him into the examining room. "Wait, Mama, come with me! Mama!"

"It's okay, baby, I'll see you real soon," said Tino, even as the door was shut in his face. He took a shaky breath, turned and found the entire waiting room staring suspiciously at him. Trying desperately not to cry, Tino took a seat and waited, his heart breaking as Peter's cries rang in his ears.


"But… he just fell. It's nothing, he just fell in the backyard and strained his knee."

The doctor nodded understandably. Too understandably. "I'm sorry. Osteosarcoma can lie undetected for a long time. It is quite common that these things are detected like this."

Tino was growing angry. The doctor was not understanding him. Tino stared past her at a truly awful painting of a river scene on the wall behind her desk. "No," he said, frustrated. "It can't be cancer. You don't understand, he's perfectly healthy…" Tino broke off as Berwald took his hand and squeezed it. The doctor waited a moment before she continued.

"I'm afraid Peter will have to stay here in hospital for now. We need to put him on chemotherapy immediately."

"And then?" asked Tino. He kept his eyes on the terrible painting behind the doctor's head. "He will be all right then, yes? Then we'll be able to take him home."

The doctor took too long to answer. "It is very early. We will have to wait and see."

Tino wanted to scream, he wanted to throw his chair through the window, he wanted to tell the doctor she was wrong about everything and that by the way she had absolutely no artistic taste whatsoever. But Berwald spoke before Tino had a chance to do any of that. "Tino. Peter's been alone fer a while now. Maybe ye should go back to him."

Tino did not wait for the doctor to speak before he stood and walked out of the office.

The first thing Peter said when Tino walked into his room was, "I want to go home." Tino nodded, his heart breaking at the sight of his son looking so small on a bed surrounded by cold and unfamiliar blinking machines. He took Peter's small hand in his.

"We will baby, soon, I promise."

"Papa sang me your lullaby," said Peter, his voice quiet and slow from the pain-killing medication. It was obviously taking him an effort to stay awake.

"Did he?" Tino brushed Peter's hair from his slightly damp forehead. How could the doctor be right... how could this be happening... how could Peter be happy and healthy and perfect one day then be lying here in a hospital bed the next?

"Yeah, but he wasn't very good at it. Don't tell him I said that."

Tino laughed shakily. "I won't."

"Will you sing it for me?"

Tino nodded and clasped Peter's hand firmly, brushed his forehead gently, watched his chest rise and fall. Breathe in, breathe out. He sang the old, familiar lullaby as Peter fell asleep.

"Nuku, nuku, nurmilintu
Väsy, väsy västäräkki
Nuku, kun mie nukutan
Väsy, kun mie väsytän."


Worst possible scenario. Everything they had feared. The end of the world. The chemo wasn't working. There was nothing anyone could do to stop the cancer spreading through Peter's body. There was nothing Tino and Berwald could do but hope and trust the doctors. Nothing. Nothing. There was nothing they could do.

Tino stood at the sink, drying a plate with a dishcloth and staring out the kitchen window. He had been drying the plate for ten minutes. He wasn't sure he could stop. Berwald walked into the kitchen behind him. This was one of the few times they had both been home since Peter had first been admitted to hospital, and Tino felt like he was drowning in the silence.

"Tino." Tino did not respond. "Tino. Are ye ready t'leave?"

Tino nodded, then shook his head, then just continued staring motionless out the window.


"I need to talk about if he's not okay," said Tino suddenly, quickly. He could almost hear Berwald tense up behind him.

"He'll be okay."

"Please," said Tino, pressing too forcefully against the plate as he ran the dishcloth over it. "I need to talk about..." He heard Berwald turn to leave, and Tino felt an irrational rage flood his body. He paused, silently cracked, then slammed the plate against the ground as hard as he possibly could. The shattered pieces flew across the floor. "What is wrong with you?" he shouted, spinning around to glare furiously at Berwald. Berwald just looked back at him like he had gone mad before continuing out the doorway. Tino followed, white with anger.

"Don't you worry at all? How do you keep up this perfectly calm facade of yours? How are you not furious, how are you not devastated, how are you..." How do you stay so strong when I keep falling apart? Tino didn't say it, but in the end, that was all he meant. "What's wrong with you?" Tino shouted again. "Aren't you scared?"

"I'm terrified!" Berwald suddenly shouted, catching Tino immediately off guard. Berwald never shouted. "I'm so terrified that I can't stand it, I can't see straight, I can't bear this! I've never been so goddamned afraid in my entire life!" Berwald stopped yelling, fell back against the wall, placed his head in his hands. "I'm s'posed to protect him. It's my job to protect him. But I can't do a thing."

Tino felt a wave of guilt. He should have noticed earlier. Berwald was dealing with this in the only way he knew how. Silently. Tino suddenly wanted to reassure him, wanted Berwald to know it was okay, wanted Berwald to know that he understood. But he didn't have anything to say. There really was nothing to say. So he just nodded, went and took his jacket from the coat stand, and opened the front door. "Let's go. We'll be late."

Berwald understood.


Damn hospital cafeterias. Always took an hour to find someone to serve you. Tino stepped out of the elevator with two coffees and a raspberry lemonade just in time to be very nearly run down by an out of control wheelchair. He turned to yell angrily at the crazy wheelchair occupant, only to realise that there were actually two people sitting in the contraption. Two people wearing cardboard horns.

"Mama!" cried Peter as Berwald turned the chair and began barrelling back up the hall. Peter was sitting on Berwald's lap, holding up a rolled up magazine like a weapon, looking happier than Tino had seen him in weeks. "Join us, Mama! We're pillaging the medical ward!"

A cleaner paused as she passed on her way to the elevator, looking from the wheelchair to Tino with a confused and amused look on her face. "Are they yours?"

Tino smiled uncontrollably. Damn. But wasn't he the luckiest guy in the world. "Yeah. Yeah, they're mine."


"I'm sorry."

Tino couldn't breathe. Couldn't move. Couldn't think. He was numb.

"We could try amputation, but… it's too late. The cancer has already spread to his lungs. There is nothing more we can do."

Tino stared unseeing at the awful painting behind the doctor's head. Boats. Boats on a river. God, what a truly awful painting. Eventually he nodded. "Thank you. Can we take him home?"

Beside him Berwald broke down and wept.


"Mama. I remember you telling me. About Valhalla."

"Yes, baby. Where all the Vikings go."

"And you said there were beautiful warrior angels. And music, and dancing. And that you live with your family..."

"... forever. Yes, baby, that's right."

"Well, I'll wait for you there, okay? I'll wait for you both in Valhalla."

"Yes. One day, baby, we'll all meet in Valhalla."

There was no more anger. The crushing grief would come. But in this moment there was only the fire crackling warmly, the cushions soft beneath them, Hana-Tamago sleeping quietly on Peter's feet, Peter lying in Tino and Berwald's arms. Their hands entwined and resting lightly against Peter's chest, feeling it rise and fall weakly, feeling every small breath in, every time his breath left him.

Breathe in, breathe out.

And Tino remembered another moment they had held their son in their arms like this, long ago, when all the time and potential in the world lay before them. It felt like yesterday. But it was a lifetime ago. A beautiful, wondrous, incredible, miraculous, perfect lifetime ago.

"Mama. Sing me my lullaby?" The words were quiet, slow, breathless. Breathe in, breathe out. Tino kissed Peter's head, felt Berwald's arms tighten, sang the words of the old familiar lullaby as Peter took a shuddering breath in.

"Nuku, nuku, nurmilintu
Väsy, väsy västäräkki
Nuku, kun mie nukutan,
Väsy, kun mie väsytän."

Beneath their hands Peter's chest rose, fell, shuddered. His breaths came slower, started to falter. The beautiful boy slept on, peaceful, in the arms of the two proudest fathers on earth.

"Nukuta, jumala, lasta.
Makauta, mariainen."

Breathe in...

Kuro kiisan silmät kiinni
Anna unta aamuun asti."

...breathe out.

The End.