If you're like me and have no interest in author's notes, just scroll past, you can't miss the start. All you need to know is this is AU starting the summer break after Cate and Baze's junior year in college.

AN: So I have been having writer's block in my normal category. I never ventured over here before. Minus a time or two hunting for fic while the show was still on. I think I watched too much Secret Circle and Ringer last week because LUX has been in my head.

While the show was on the air I always had 2 fic thoughts for it. My main one (which this is not), involves a social worker noticing those unsigned papers after Cate graduates high school and Cate taking custody of Lux back and Baze running into them that summer. So if you guys like this one, I will try to write a proper fic involving that.

This one (my other thought) is that there is always something about Cate and Baze that seems to draw them together. Ryan was always just this perfect guy, but then there's Baze who is atypical and maybe Cate's attitude might just work for that. That they could function in their dysfunction, especially because of their connection.

So I was scoping the site for fic and I came across one that started to give me at least part of what I wanted for that second one. Um yes, either I have to read it or write it to get the thought out of my head. In the fic they weren't quite the kids I wanted, I wanted inevitable and long term with them. So I'm purging this out of my system.

Warning, it is rather long and not at all in proper fic form.

Random actually fic related comments:

1) The story starts with a line from the end of the finale and ends with the pilot and who knows how many LUX facts I have forgotten since it went off the air. If anyone reads this, notices one, comment and I will fix it.

2) The fic flips between past and present tense. I have NO idea why that is. I normally only ever write in past, but for some reason some scenes just wanted to be present. I at least tried to force the entire scene in one tense. Turns out dialogue in present tense weirds me out.


Universal Constants

There are universal constants.

He isn't aware of this at 21. No, at 21 Nathaniel "Baze" Bazile is only aware of the fact that he is sober while his friends are drunk and while they might be amusing in this state, after a while they just get annoying.

He is also actively aware of how quickly he spots her. Her hair is long and straight, but it's parted off to the side now. He wonders how exactly he knew that, but it doesn't change the fact that he does. He had noticed her before Winter Formal. The cute, but serious girl who was always quick to laugh with her friends outside of class.

Then the look on her face in the back of his mom's minivan, it confirmed what he always thought about her. That there was more to her than that serious girl she was in class. Cate had been more fun that night than any girl he had met since.

Of course that image of Cate was always quickly paired with the Cate that told him she was pregnant.

Then the hurt and the anger.

Cate didn't look at him again after that. Not really.

She's laughing now, her hair is being tossed to the side as she talks with a friend as they walk into the crowded bar. One of the few bars they actually had to wait until they were 21 to get into. It's a bit cleaner and he's heard from the girls how nice it is to be able to pee without having to hold the door shut. He does have to agree his shoes come out cleaner when he leaves this place. But still, it's crowded, there's a good chance he will take a cigarette to the arm before the night is over and a drunk girl will lose half her Malibu Bay Breeze down some part of his pants or shirt or both.

For a moment he is actively aware of how much he wishes they hadn't had sex in the back of his mom's van because he knows the look she'll give him as soon as she spots him. He knows the fact that she'll ignore him and he has to ignore her. He is actively aware of how much he wants to talk to her. Hear what her overachieving self has been up to these past three years.

He sees her catch the eye of some guy. Watches as they basically eye fuck. She is well aware of the fact that she is beyond adorable. Which really, he would never say aloud to a friend, but she is. The pink polo baby tee and jeans. The fresh face, the long hair. Cate Cassidy was cute. He really really wishes he hadn't fucked her because he still really really wants to. The entire thing is twisted.

He drinks half a beer in one shot and catches his friend giving him a dirty look.

Right. DD. Designated driver and the incident last week… Honestly he shouldn't even want to go near alcohol after that.

She notices him. Her smile doesn't just falter; it's wiped clear off her face. Her friend is obviously too drunk to notice and Cate soon has a new one plastered on her face as she is now actively ignoring him. Soon the friend is forcibly pulled through the crowded bar and Cate is leaning across the bar and eye fucking the bartender.

When the hell did she learn how to do that?

The bartender notices her because seriously who wouldn't. Finishes up with a patron and moves onto her, ignoring the others that have been waiting. Soon shot glasses are being lined up in front of her, first just two, but then that guy from before walks up from behind with his friend. Two more are added.

Baze lifts the beer up; then lowers it. Turns his back. If she could ignore him, then he could ignore her.

-o-o-o-

"We should just start over," Baze says approaching her after a half hour of doing his best to avoid looking at her and failing. She's alone at the moment waiting for her friend outside the bathroom. He figures he has at least 5 minutes alone considering how slow the line has been moving.

Her mouth opens and remains that way for a fraction longer than normal, "Are you fucking kidding me?"

"It was five years ago."

"Are you on drugs?"

"Come on, hi I'm Nathaniel Bazile, my friends call me Baze."

"Baze. Not one of the names I've ever called you in my head."

"Cate-"

"Stop talking to me."

"Come on Cate-"

"Fuck off," her eyes locks on him.

"I was an ass Cate, what do you want me to say?"

"I want nothing from you," her voice was gravelly. She heads towards the bar.

-o-o-o-

She doesn't leave like he's expecting her to.

He wants to ask her what happened. It's been that vague thought haunting his mind for years. He doesn't think she would tell him and he's pretty sure she would slap him.

He keeps an eye on her the entire night, she flirts with that guy, but he can tell she's disgusted every time he touches her. He enjoys that until he starts to wonder if he's the one that did that to her. Turning her off other men would be fine, but turning her off men…That he has an issue with. He recalls that haircut from their senior year.

He's with two guys he used to play football with. They noticed her and recognized her almost an hour ago. She shot them both down.

She only seems to enjoy flirting with the bartender and Baze is pretty sure that's because she's now had more shots than half the guys in here.

He notices her friend being led out of the bar by one of the guys they were with. He watches as she suddenly doesn't even try to look happy when the other guy starts talking to her again.

He moves way too quickly. He catches a cigarette against his arm in his desperation to reach her. To get that loser away from her. He has a vivid recollection of Cate Cassidy after a few Zima's, he doesn't want to think about her near that creep since she has made it her mission to drown him out of her mind with a bottle of SoCo.

"Hey where's your friend," Baze wants to put his hand on the small of her back, but stops himself.

"Not my friend," Cate says with a scowl.

"Look don't worry about it, I'll take care of Cate," the creep says. The creep goes to touch her.

"Yea no, actually you're not going anywhere near Cate," Baze blocks Cate's body with his own.

"What are you her brother?"

Cate snorts from behind him.

"I'm the guy about 30 seconds away from rearranging your face."

"Ex-boyfriend," the creep seemed to toughen his stance for that.

"I am too sober to deal with this," Baze deadpans. His night had started out so simple. "Go away," his head and body punctuated the words.

It worked the guy left. Being 6'3 had more perks than drawbacks.

He turns to Cate.

"I still think you're a bastard."

"You're welcome. I'm guessing your friend was driving?"

"I was going to stay at her apartment; it's like two blocks away."

"I'm guessing you don't want to go there now."

Cate just frowns at him.

"Do your parents still-"

"My mom. I have my," Cate pats her bag, and then frowns. "I can wake my sister."

"Do you want to hang out more or-"

The scowl returns, not that it had actually left.

"Okay bar's almost closing. I'll go round up the guys-" Really this was not how he planned for his night to go.

"I can get a cab."

"It's almost two. Me just taking you home is going to be a lot faster than waiting a half hour to get you a cab."

The frown deepens, "Fine."

He lets out a loud sigh and turns to retrieve his friends.

-o-o-o-

Cate swatted him away when he tried to help her as she stumbled around her house and he tried to stop her from breaking her ankle in her platforms. Eventually there is a young blonde teenager that responds to Cate tapping at the window and whispering, "Abby." The young girl's eyes goes wide when she sees him, but Cate ignores that as she ignores him. He follows her to the backdoor where her sister is nervously fussing her with her hair and has pulled on a robe.

He gives the sister a smile and tells her to, "Enjoy," as he passes Cate off.

"You need to hit that," one of his friends says from the backseat as he returns to his car.

"I am well aware of that," he responds with a smile, picking up the beeper he had watched her discard in disgust to his console as her friend had beeped her she was sorry. Only girls would have a code for sorry. "So what am I your fuckin chauffer, unless you two are planning on making out back there, someone get up here," he throws a look back at his friends, trying not to smile because maybe the night hadn't been quite so horrible.

-o-o-o-

She doesn't page her number until almost noon. When he calls back, her accusatory greeting is, "Baze."

"Cate?" He feigns innocence.

"Obviously, you have my beeper."

"In my defense, I didn't know whose it was. I figured someone would let me know."

"I need it back."

"No thank you for last night?"

"Seriously? A car ride? You think a ride home makes up for anything?"

"I think maybe you could give me a chance-"

"You don't deserve a chance, "she cuts him off. "Do you want to tell me where you live so I can get my beeper back?"

"I'll come drop it off; I'm heading out of the house now. Be there in a half hour," he adds before she can fight him and hangs up.

-o-o-o-

He brings her a greasy bacon, egg, and cheese on a roll along with a Gatorade. She makes a few gagging motions after he makes her take a sip in front of him. He has visions of spending the rest of the afternoon holding her hair back and rubbing her back.

She manages to keep it down and starts to look visibly less green after he gets her to take a few bites of the sandwich.

She says, "Thank you," as he's leaving, after he's plied her with random amusing stories to distract her from how miserable she felt and how much she hates him.

He smiles and says, "Your welcome." He suggests another bar she might want to try. She informs him she's never drinking again. He smiles at her and tells her, he'll see her around.

"Hopefully not," she mutters under her breath, but still he walks away smiling.

-o-o-o-

"Hello?" Cate says days later still staring at the unknown number on her beeper that she had just called.

"What are you doing tonight?"

"Baze?"

"You didn't recognize my number."

"Obviously not or I wouldn't have called it back."

"You wound me. So I was talking to Math and he got all giddy when I told him I saw you."

Cate quickly went to put an end to the conversation, "No-"

"Seriously he was like a school girl…Or boy. No actually it was like a girl. So I was-"

"Still no Baze."

"Come on. Just come out for an hour."

"I don't have my car."

"We'll come get you," Baze was quick to offer.

"And take me home in an hour."

"If you're not having fun, yes. Or actually maybe you could wait until after dinner."

"You want me to have dinner with you and Math?"

"Just say yes Cate. The guy really wants to see you."

"Great so give him my number."

"Seriously, wound-"

"Bye Baze, tell Math I said hi."

-o-o-o-

She shows up at the bar on Thursday. The same bar, the same night with the same friend.

He's okay with the fact that she won't admit she's there for him.

Math falls all over himself when he sees Cate and Cate is too nice to be mean and pretend to ignore them.

Baze is perfectly okay with using his friend in this instance.

-o-o-o-

It takes three weeks for him to get her shirt off. Two weeks in he got a kiss followed by a slap. Followed by the inquisition that never seemed to end from Math.

Three weeks in is a barbeque at his house since his parents are out of town. Technically it's three weeks and a half because she spent the weekend avoiding him.

Math brought her and Baze is surprised to find himself seething with jealousy until he realizes his friend has backed off, leaving him to approach Cate.

There is no Zima, but a lot of beer. He stops himself at one keg stand before he does something to embarrass himself.

He has a house full of people as he's leading her through the house towards his room.

It's only as he's going to get her shorts off does she stop him. Tells him, it was a bad idea and takes off.

She and Math are gone before he makes it back downstairs.

-o-o-o-

At five weeks in he has gotten her out to dinner and lunch alone. Heard her snort in a movie theater. Applied suntan lotion to her back and asked her to do his whole body and summer has trumped spring in terms of break.

At five weeks in, he wakes up in his room to find her sitting in his desk chair, curled up with her legs tucked into one of his shirts, her arms around her legs. "Why don't you ask me about her?"

"Her?" He wonders how he managed to get the word out.

"The baby."

"Her," he repeats this new knowledge. They not only had a baby, but they had a daughter. He had a daughter.

"What am I doing here?" Tears fill those large brown eyes. She pushes back the lightly highlighted hair as she stands.

He jumps out of bed. "No please," he grabs her arms.

"God are you still denying-"

"No, I just…I didn't know what you did."

"That's right because you were an ass-"

"I know. Trust me Cate I know and I'm sorry. I just- I just wanted us to start over."

"How can we just start over?"

"Because we're 21 and honestly you're the most interesting and infuriating person, I've probably ever met and the thought that I screwed this up forever when I was a kid?"

"I had a kid," she half screams at him as she cries.

"I know and I'm sorry," he pulls her in, "I can't fix what I did Cate. Trust me I wish I could. I'm just, I'm not that guy now. I was a dumb kid Cate, you can't just hate me forever-"

"I want to," she whispers against his chest.

"I know you do," he says dropping a kiss down to the top of her head, his heart pounding madly as he realizes she stayed.

-o-o-o-

His mother never quite likes Cate. He is pretty sure this had a lot to do with Cate spent that first year pushing him away, so getting close to his mother was not an option.

The second year she was more resigned, but resignation was never a sign you should become buddy buddy with your boyfriend's mother.

They broke up a lot. He got furious, she got furious, and they stormed away. They always came back though, occasionally crawling, but more often than not they ignored it.

Her roommate always lets him in and Baze and his roommates never remember to lock their door, so it's impossible to keep the other one out for long.

After college she's a lowly intern and he lasts exactly seven months wearing a suit and tie before taking a job at a bar. If they needed any help finding new things to fight about that would have done it. It's not the bar that's the issue, but more importantly the girls who throw themselves at him every single night he works.

On a dull broadcast day, one of the hosts starts to pester Cate with questions on air. Looking for the fun and exciting life of a woman in their twenties. Cate comes off as an anal retentive shrill and the bar Baze works at is packed the rest of the weekend with curious listeners.

By next Monday Cate has been declared a lush and her man a child-like god. It's easy for her to pepper in the idiotic things Baze does when they're looking for material.

They exist in this manner for quite some time. They keep their roommates. They can go days without seeing each other because Cate does not count him crawling into her bed and waking her up for sex, seeing each other (he does, but he's learned not to say it). He works till late, she starts work early. Sometimes she wonders if that's what keeps them going.

She is five months shy of her 25th birthday when she is once more sitting with that awful stick on the toilet. They had reached something resembling an even keel regarding their relationship. Somewhere during the early days of the hosts using her and Baze as fodder he had agreed to be a guest as the hosts played therapist. The awful question was asked, 'Why don't you two just break up?' That question came in a lot when their relationship was discussed.

Baze had just shrugged, not at all put off or defensive about the question, 'Because she's it for me.'

There was something about that, which calmed her or had calmed her up until this point.

"Oh god I have to pee," Baze said pushing open the door.

Not locking the door, genius move Cate. She berated herself.

"Oh god," Baze's eyes went wide.

Her mouth opened, but no words came out.

"Now I have to pee and vomit."

She shot to her feet, ready to rip out his throat as she should have years ago.

"No no no," his hands went to her arms, "that's just…Okay that's just really not what I was expecting and god I have to pee," he shifted her to the side.

"You're seriously peeing?" Cate exclaimed.

"Well you obviously did this morning; if you want I can pee on a stick too." They're silent for a few moments, just the awkward noise of him peeing. "So that thing was-"

"How about you just deny you ever saw me with it?"

"Positive." His eyes focused on the wall. "Why don't you have fans in here?" He turned back. "Is this place always so stuffy?" He waved his hands his front of his face.

"Wash your hands," she ordered him.

He moved to the sink. "How did this happen?"

"Are you seriously blaming me?" She was instantly defensive after all she had been trying to figure that out as well.

"Cate, seriously? I'm pretty sure drill sergeants are less regimented than you are about the pill."

That appeased her, but only slightly.

"So what do we do?" Baze still looked more than a little nauseous.

"You should probably sit."

He nodded, looked back at the toilet and then nodded at the door. She headed into her bedroom, so her roommate wouldn't soon be part of the discussion.

She sat Baze down on the edge of the bed.

"Do you want to get married now?" He asked moments later looking up.

"No," she replied a little too quickly as always.

He had broached the topic before since people were always asking them about it. Especially since they were up to five weddings of people he had gone to high school and college with and another 3 in the next year. They really couldn't afford those wedding gifts anymore. "We need to live together in one place."

"You want to keep it?"

He looked stunned for that, realizing that in the past five minutes he had managed to forget everything Cate had been saying for years. That she didn't want marriage, that she didn't want kids; that she wasn't meant for any of that traditional stuff. Baze had always agreed wholeheartedly and wondered how he got so lucky. "I don't. I mean. I guess. Isn't that what people our age do? I mean we could figure it out."

She sat as well in the misplaced arm chair they had found one day at a flea market. Cate had decided it had great bones and she just needed to reupholster it. That had been eight months ago and the chair was still pea green in her purple room.

"You need to talk to me and I don't mean bite my head off," he said looking across at her as she sat looking empty, defeated.

"I don't know Baze."

"Okay," he nodded, deciding to tackle the subject, "so you're pregnant."

She gave him a look.

"Any idea how far along?"

"A couple of weeks. I'm two days late."

His turn to give her a look, "Wow two days, can't believe you waited so long to take the test."

She gave him another dirty look because of his sarcastic remark.

"So we've got time," he nodded. "Nine months right?"

Another dirty look.

He didn't bother mentioning an abortion, he figured if Cate hadn't taken that way out when they were kids and she really deserved the easy way out then it wouldn't be an option now. "So we take a few days, try to wrap our heads around this. What else? No more coffee or alcohol."

Cate frowned.

His hands gestured to his chest, "Hey I don't make these rules." Then out at her, "You want a kid with two heads."

"Is that really what you think happens?"

"Hey you know what, this is the second time we're doing this. I think we've proven I didn't pay as much attention as I should have in Health."

Her lips couldn't help, but twitch up in a smile.

He smiled as well. Then it fell, "I'm going to need a new job. I'm going to have to wear a suit aren't I?"

"Baze, we don't even know what we're doing."

"I work in a place full of smoke. I shouldn't be around that much smoke and you definitely shouldn't now." If she couldn't come into the bar then he would barely see her.

"How about we put that into the 'To be determined later' category?" She said standing and walking over to him.

As she stood in between his legs, he took her hands, "You know I'm not that dumb kid anymore right? I'm not going to bail. I mean I'll probably screw it up completely, but I'm here for it."

"I do," she nodded slowly and thoughtfully.

"Thanks for not running off this morning," he smiled up at her.

"We're in my apartment," she nodded at him.

"You've done it before."

"Maybe we're actually maturing Mr. Bazile."

"God that's a scary thought," he frowned, then smiled and pulled her into his lap as she laughed.

-o-o-o-

It was days later as Baze was crawling into her bed after a slow night at the bar. His place was closer, but he had wanted Cate. He hadn't wanted her for anything more, but to feel her warm body pressed up against his. He might not seem it to most, but he was well aware of the fact that he was whipped. He liked having roommates up till four o'clock in the morning to play video games with, but they paled in comparison to Cate.

"I want to keep the baby," she whispered just as his eyes had closed.

His eyes sprung open, his mind quickly ran through his options. Ran through diversionary tactics. Instead he settled on, "Good."

"Good?" She skeptically responded.

"There's already a kid out there that we're never going to know. I mean we aren't kids now. We can do this."

"Really?"

"Yea, I mean you plan out doctor's visits, grocery lists. I don't drop the kid on its head and being up all night doesn't bother me."

"So I'm the type A bitch and you're the fun one?"

"If it's not broken, why fix it," he smiled against her as he pulled her into him.

"You're ridiculous."

"And you stay with me," he chuckled against her hair.

"You know she's in second grade now. I don't even know what second graders do."

"They sell Girl Scout cookies and play dodge ball with their friends," he pressed a kiss into her hair.

"She'd still be a Brownie."

"What's a Brownie?"

"A younger Girl Scout."

"Do they sell brownies?"

"I think they sell Girl Scout cookies."

"Then it's all good. Though door to door brownies would be kind of awesome."

"You're impossible," she chuckled.

-o-o-o-

She broke down the day he brought home a Trailblazer's baby jersey after going to a game with Math.

"I know, I know we weren't supposed to tell anyone, but it's Math," as if his friend's name explained it all, which in Baze's mind it did. She was still a month shy of entering her second trimester and they had agreed to keep the news between them until then.

"You're," she shook a hand at him, "we had a baby together already."

"I know, but-"

"No Baze, you don't know at all. You don't know what foods would keep her up at night, how much she weighed, what color her hair was-"

His heart was already pounding, the fear that Cate would decide he was still an ass and return to where they had been four years ago. "It wasn't brown?"

"It was light like your mom's, like Abby's."

"I didn't-"

"Because you weren't there Baze," she accused.

"Cate don't you think I know that? Don't you think I get that? One day she is going to come knocking at our door and I'm-"

"What happens if she doesn't? What happens if she can't?" Cate cried.

"Who wouldn't want to find out where they came from?" He would give anything to find out he had a different dad.

"She could be dead."

His eyes went wide, "Why would you say that? Was there something wrong with her?"

"No, she was fine. Kids die Baze. Two kids just died on the 405."

"Is that what this is about?" Cate watching the news and getting a bad thought in her head?

"We both bailed on her."

"We were teenagers Cate," he said scooping in to try to hold her, as it was he only managed to grab her shoulders to force her to keep looking at him. "You barely trust me now with a kid. You did what was best for her. You gave her to people who were ready to be parents."

"I don't know that Baze. I don't know anything Baze."

"She's fine, Cate." He smiled at her, "She is in Brownies and soccer and basketball. And she's forced to play some awful instrument like the piano or the violin. And she thinks the EZ Bake Oven cakes are the best things she's ever tasted. She's okay Cate."

"And we're going to give this baby everything we didn't give her?"

"We couldn't give it to her," Baze repeated.

"You're going to wear a suit and you hate suits," her hands held onto the front of his shirt.

"But I look good in suits, so it'll be fine and we'll get a place so when she finds us she won't run in horror."

"Like your place?"

"Like my place," he smiled down at her, "because she is your daughter, so I'm pretty sure that means she has a ten foot long pole up her ass."

"This baby."

"We're going to be great for this baby because we know how much it sucks to have crappy parents," his head tilted down to hers as they stood in close to each other.

"I feel horrible wanting this baby," she admitted.

"You want the best for this baby, just like you wanted the best for her."

"Baze," she whimpered and he pulled her in close.

-o-o-o-

The people at Social Services were completely useless. He hadn't been able to sleep, not after Cate's admissions last night. Once he found out they had a daughter, he had always assumed she had been alright. It never stopped and occurred to him just how fragile life was.

The few minutes he had managed to fall asleep last night he had been plagued by a child running away from him down a busy street. Seeing only the back of her blonde hair as she called out 'Daddy.'

He realized Cate had been living with that for years. That nagging fear that something might have happened to their daughter or that she needed them and they weren't there for her.

"I just need to know that she's okay," he repeated this statement for at least the fifth time to the social worker they had finally settled him with to stop him from making a scene.

"If it was a closed adoption," she repeated again.

"I get that. I'm not asking to know her name or where she lives. I just want to know that she's still okay."

She continued to look at the guy, the kid really. He said he was 24, but she would have assumed he was still in college. Especially considering the track jacket, tee shirt, jeans, the floppy hair. His brown eyes were wide and desperate. She had seen a lot of desperate kids come through here.

"It was this office?"

"Yea," he nodded. He had gotten the information from Cate this morning as she apologized for falling apart on him. The social worker whose name Cate had given him had retired.

"I haven't heard of any children we've placed fitting your daughter's age dying. We wouldn't get notified, but we generally remember the names of the families. We lost a little boy about four a few months ago. A teenager last year. I can't recall a little girl your daughter's age in the past eight years dying."

He let out a loud breath, "You're sure?"

"As I can be, but if the parents move and it doesn't make it in the papers here or someone from the family notifies us."

"Thank you," he nodded.

"You're still with the mother?" She couldn't help but ask.

"We're having a baby," there was a slightly awestruck tone to his words, the twitch of a smile he couldn't fight.

"Congratulations," she smiled at him. "I'm sure your daughter's fine," she added. "Babies shouldn't raise babies. You did the best thing for your daughter and in my experience most of the time the children understand that."

"Thank you," he nodded.

"Good luck," she smiled at him.

-o-o-o-

He smiled at the suits hanging on his closet door. Cate had of course gone through his closet found the suits his mother bought him over the years and gotten them dry cleaned, when he had started sending out the resumes, she had obviously edited them for him. She left the suits out with his dress shoes next to the door and a bag of socks next to them, not trusting them in his closet. The neat organized portfolio containing his resume on the dresser next to them.

He hated to admit it. He might be able to bullshit his way through anything, but Cate's extra touches seemed to seal the deal. They had seemed pretty impressed with him at that first interview.

They said they would let him know at the end of the week and in the meantime he had three more interviews. His heart wasn't racing quite so badly when it came to thoughts of the baby and their future.

They had started going through the classifieds for a place together. Cate only looked slightly miserable while doing it.

He talked to his boss at the bar about only having shifts on the weekend because he figured they could use the extra money even once he got an office job.

Maybe it would suck at times, but they could handle it. He was sort of excited for it. He wouldn't admit it to his father, but he didn't really mind the thought of having to go into work at nine am, five days a week, if it meant he'd get to come home to Cate and their baby every evening.

He smiled at Cate long asleep in his bed. She was always tired lately. He had to admit it was kind of cute how she struggled to stay awake. It was pretty lonely when he was at her place and she passed out, but he figured he'd let it slide. Especially considering she had come over to his place to make sure he woke up in time for his interview.

His roommates were still up and Cate had the earplugs in to prove it, but he didn't go out and join them. He shucked his clothes and joined her in bed.

She rewarded him with a sleepy murmur of his name as he wrapped an arm around her.

-o-o-o-

The dark circles and bags under her eyes did nothing to alleviate his concerns. From that awful moment weeks ago when they had woken up to realize Cate was losing the baby.

Cate only grew more gaunt as time passed.

He took the office job, but she refused to look at the classifieds any more. She refused to even be at his place.

He was actually starting to hope that the doctor would find something wrong with her so they could fix it because he had no idea how to fix this.

"What did the doctor say?" He noticed she looked stronger than she had, she still looked like hell, but there was finally something determined about her again. For a foolish moment he was relieved.

"I can't have kids," she told him simply.

He frowned and paused in loosening his tie, "What?"

"I can't have kids."

"You-We had a kid. You were just pregnant," he shook his head trying to understand.

"Apparently I developed some condition after her. So she was it."

"What do you mean it?"

"Baze, I cannot have any more children. One. One was it for me. She was it for me."

Cate tried to walk away, but he chased after her, "I don't understand," he grabbed her arm and spun her back, "how can this-"

"It just is Baze. It happens."

"So we-"

"Not we Baze, me. I can't have children."

"No don't you dare do that. You cannot keep shutting me out," the anger of the past few weeks came spilling out of him.

"I'm not shutting you out Baze. I'm setting you free. Go have a future. Have babies with some blonde bimbo."

"Why are you always trying to shove me some blonde bimbo?"

"Fine redhead!"

"We got used to the idea of a kid. We'll get used to the idea of not having them again. Get a really awesome loft, travel," he rambled in desperation.

"I don't want to leave my place."

"Fine. We put that on hold. I start getting vacation in six months."

"Baze," she wearily shook her head at him.

"You and me, Cate. This is what I want. I mean that."

She shook her head, but let herself collapse against him.

-o-o-o-

"You should leave me and give your mother the grandchildren she wants," Cate spun away from him in her tiny kitchen. A year and a half had passed since they lost their baby. A year and while they had travelled and seen the world. They still lived apart, despite the fact that Baze kept up the sham of being a responsible adult.

"I'm not leaving you, Cate," he took a long swallow of beer. He needed it after a night with his parents and now this.

"I'm broken Baze," she said it simply. "I can't give you the normal things."

"Since when do I want the normal things? You're the one that's obsessed with normal Cate," he finished his beer.

"I can't have children. You want children."

"No," he shook his head as he cracked open another beer on the corner of her counter, knowing it would piss her off, "my mom wants grandchildren."

"And I-"

Cate had come out and announced the fact that she couldn't have children after half a bottle of wine at dinner and his mother pressuring her, he had quickly shared that they were fine with it, but his mother obviously wasn't and had started in on adoption and surrogates, offering to help with the financial aspect of it. "Cate-" Baze tried to interrupt.

"You should find someone that can give you kids. That your mom-"

"We had a kid Cate. You can't have any more kids after something that happened, after you had my kid because you had my kid. Tell my mom that Cate."

"Baze," she cocked her head at him.

"Come on, my dad will totally be on your side. I not only got you pregnant, I bailed."

Her nostrils flared.

"We have a kid out there and maybe she isn't with us, but the thing is she's out there. But if she was here with us and I left you because you couldn't have a second one? Come on," his hands flared out, "I would be the biggest ass of all time."

"I don't want you staying with me because of pity."

"I wouldn't even accept that she was my kid Cate. I didn't take any responsibility Cate. So let's be honest, if anyone's responsible for the fact that we aren't going to raise kids, it's me. I pity me Cate because I was an jerk and I have to see how much it hurts you. I'm okay with not having kids because you know what, I like being a kid still, but I see how much it hurts you."

"Baze, you wear a suit now."

"I know and I fuckin hate it. I hate having to be in bed by one, I hate waking up at 7:30. I'm always tired. I think I'm getting a gut and have you seen my hairline?"

"Yea," she smirked, "I didn't want to say anything."

"Not funny," he pointed a finger at her. "I keep doing all this stuff to make up for the fact that I was a bastard-"

"I don't know how to deal with a perfect you, Baze. I don't fit with a perfect guy."

She had been pulling away the last six months, so he had started doing more. They ate together every night, a meal that was never prepared by either of them. They went out for drinks; they stayed at her place and watched tv together. They were together constantly.

"Great because he's been boring the crap out of me."

She laughed unexpectedly, "Bother your roommates Baze and go back to having cereal for dinner."

"With pleasure," he laughed at her.

-o-o-o-

"My dad gave me a building," he said standing on the first floor with Cate. Math and Jamie were coming over soon.

"Kind of, you still have to pay him," she nodded at him.

"I think I'm supposed to do something responsible with this," he nodded at it. The company he at been at had gone bankrupt and he had been bartending for the past two year to make rent.

"Probably considering your mom kept mentioning the apartment above it had 3 bedrooms." Baze had once thought it a good plan to tell his mom they found out they couldn't have kids after Cate had a miscarriage. That had only proved they had been open to kids and made his mother impossible on the subject, after she recovered from the hurt of not being told about the pregnancy.

"Thank you for not mentioning you bought a house and didn't invite me to live with you."

"You're filthy," she nodded without looking at him.

"You're anal," he corrected.

She ignored that. "Don't jinx my house. I haven't made it to closing."

"Screw your house. I have a building."

"So what are you going to do with your building?" Cate smiled brightly.

"You know what would fit really well here?"

She turned to him, "A bar?"

The smile lit up his face and his arms swung out, "Exactly, can't you see it?"

"Your father is going to have a heart attack," she smiled at him.

"I know," Baze's eyes lit up in a way they hadn't in quite some time.

-o-o-o-

The bar wasn't quite the disaster his father expected. Then again with Math and Cate ganging up on him, they didn't really give him a chance.

Cate referred to the apartment upstairs as the frat house, but she still seemed to be at his place more than his own. He really should have known the way to her heart would be a bar.

Cate had a cute 2 bedroom out in a cozy neighborhood that she had gotten for a steal when the economy had started to crash and the flippers that had purchased the property fell behind on their payments.

His mother was horrified and blamed his father for letting him cement himself where he backslid to. The grubby jean and tee-shirt wearing son, she had thought was growing up.

Of course he knew when she and his dad talked to their friends, they described the sweet little house in the suburbs and how proud they were of Nate running and owning the bar and they tried to play off Cate's numerous rants on the radio show she was now a cohost of as purely for entertainment.

That was why he and Cate hadn't been in Portland for a holiday in years.

It worked. They worked.

Cate would occasionally host events out of the bar for the show. Baze could see in person how her cohost seemed to hit on her constantly, but mostly Baze let it roll off him.

He had Cate. He had Cate forever and he had made it clear to the other guy from practically day one.

'Come on Cate, what's the 411?' Ryan said leaning across the table at his cohost at his new cohost.

'411? Seriously. What are you a 14 year old girl? Or my mother?'

'Come on, you and this Baze guy. All I know is you're type A and he's type B. They actually gave me a list of the B's. Boy, bro, baby. I mean I can keep going.'

'Must you?' She deadpanned.

'So what were you? High school sweethearts?'

'Hardly.'

'Really I have on here that you graduated together-'

'Who gave you this list?' She tried to grab across at it, but he easily leaned back.

'I will never reveal my-'

'Alice?'

'Yea that would be her. What does it mean when your best friend thinks you're completely mismatched?'

'That she's going to have my foot up her a- rear during the commercial break. Oh god,' Cate announced seeing Baze outside the studio.

'I'm guessing that bleary eyed, very rumpled fellow is your fellow?' Ryan said looking out.

Cate practically growled.

'And they are mic-ing him up now folks, so we will be back with Cate's Baze after this.'

Within moments of the 'interview' Cate was practically whimpering. It was never good when your cohost accused your boyfriend of coming down and 'marking' his territory and your boyfriend countered with peeing on chicks wasn't his deal, but if it was Ryan's…

It had been hell on Cate, but great in the ratings and great for business at the bar as they hosted a month long series of Baze v. Ryan events at the bar.

It gave Ryan all of his best material on her, dysfunctional, a lush and a nag with obvious commitment issues because she dated Baze which in Ryan's opinion was just a one night stand with the same guy.

Cate told Baze to ignore it because it was their thing and the ratings were showing it was working.

So for the most part he did, though he was known to call in and spill some gossip on Cate when she was busy badmouthing him.

-o-o-o-

They travelled extensively and by travelled extensively it meant they had been to every tropical destination within a 10 hour travel time. They made it to Europe once; he made it to day 6 of her nonstop history lesson before he tossed her travel guide in the water.

They had been on such a trip when Cate in all of her infinite wisdom had taken her birth control pills with them while shopping in a local market because as she anal retentively pointed out to him it was all about taking them at the exact same time, every day and as he pointed out when her purse got stolen that they should have still been in their room since no one in their right mind should be out shopping at 9am on a vacation. It had sucked, but their resort had been all inclusive, so they dealt with it. Not well apparently.

"You failed Health didn't you?" Greeted him as he walked into her living room.

"Huh?" His face scrunched as he took in the glass of wine next to her and the carton of ice cream in front of her.

"Five days of being the responsible one. Was five days really so much to ask?" Cate moved to pick up the wine glass.

He was slow on the uptake and then he realized what she was saying, the vacation they had returned from last week. "You're pregnant?" He frowned at the glass in her hand and pulled it away just as she got the nerve to take a sip. "What the hell are you doing?"

"It's not like I'm going to stay pregnant."

"Have you seen your doctor?" He accused.

"Nothing has changed," she insisted.

"How do you know? That was years ago."

"I can't-"

"Do you want to have this baby?" His heart pounded wildly in his chest.

"Baze that's not-"

"Not what? Because you know the Cate Cassidy I know. She might not get everything she wants, but she fights like hell for it. You're just going to give up?"

"Ba-"

"Find a specialist," he sat down on the coffee table. "I mean," he let out a sigh, "it's one thing us not having kids, but not giving this kid our best shot. Doesn't he deserve us at least trying to save him?"

"Don't do that."

"Do what?"

"Give it an identity when it's never going to be anything more than a few cells."

"We don't know that, but you know what fine. You've already made your decision," he handed her back the glass.

"Baze," she repeated.

"No come on," he shoved the glass at her.

She took it, but let it rest in her fingers. "Baze, you can still have-"

"No," he practically yelled it at her.

She flinched and closed her eyes.

He grabbed her arms and the wine sloshed over her hand. "You are the only one I want any of this with. You want to decide we don't have kids, that's fine. But I am not going to let you just let this happen without even finding out. We have enough unanswered questions in our lives without adding this to it."

"How did we end up here?" Cate asked quietly.

"I don't know Cate."

"Us, Baze. How did we happen? How can you be the person that it tears my heart out to think of you leaving?"

He chuckled softly and let his head drop forward, "I have no idea. I was just trying to get in your pants again."

She hit him slightly, "I hated you."

"I know. You don't anymore right?"

"Now you just annoy me," she teased.

"You're everything to me Cate," he brushed her hair back. "I have no idea why because seriously, we suck sometimes."

"I've noticed," she smirked.

"You deserve to be with someone like Ryan, but I'm too selfish to ever let you go."

"You deserve a string of drunken floozies."

"Floozies? Really?" An eyebrow lifted.

"I see the way they flirt with you."

He leaned even closer to her, "Did I ever tell you I wanted to kill the bartender at McFadden's?"

"McFadden's? Wasn't that place closed down years ago?"

"That first night I saw you again, you practically threw yourself at him so he'd serve you faster."

She smiled slightly, "I remember him. He used to buy me shots. He had blonde curls, they were cute," her nose scrunched, "and I seriously went home with you?"

"Yea, you did, and you know what?" He took the glass out of her hand. "Now you're stuck with me forever."

"I don't remember anything about forever," she tried to refrain from smiling.

"You're mine," he pulled her up with him, "you'd be bored to death with some normal guy, that and I own a bar."

"I do love the bar," she looked up at the ceiling as he held her in his arms.

"It was my master plan to keep you with me forever."

"So we're going to be those old losers in a grimy decrepit bar?" She looked at him.

"No, we're going to have a bar on a beach and I am going to bring you drinks in coconuts with that little fruit stick you love so much."

"Hmm maybe Mr. Bazile."

"Now what do you say we continue this talk in your bedroom because I am too sober for the couch."

"Or you could go get me my laptop since now I have to spend the rest of the night researching and getting numbers to start calling tomorrow."

"I'm sure your doctor-"

"Yeaa, no Baze. This is what I do. You're the one that gave me the speech."

"That was to get you to put the wine glass down."

"It's down, so laptop?"

He let out a short grunt, but turned and headed towards the hallway to get it from her bag.

"Thank you," she smiled up at him.

"Want me to put away the ice cream?"

"Touch that and die," Cate said lifting a finger. "You can have my wine."

He picked it up in resignation and settled onto the couch with Cate.

The tv and stereo were off, Cate would only bat him away if he tried to touch her right now. There was a really good chance what she was looking up right now would still only end in failure. That sliver of hope was there for now. Cate was beside him for now.

He smiled and leaned over her shoulder.

-o-o-o-

Baze smiled down at Cole still in his stroller after they had run out to get breakfast after seeing the swill Math had been creating. Cole, the six month old with thin wisps of dark hair was fast asleep. Baze certainly wasn't going to complain. It was a bitch every morning to wake up to Cate dropping the little boy on his chest and telling him to get his ass up as she was running out the door. He didn't really mind being sleep deprived for his son though.

Not after all they had gone through to get him here.

All the specialists. All the appointments. All the daily injections that were nowhere near close to a guarantee and Cate closed her eyes and tensed every time he came near her with the needle. They moved her into his place above the bar despite his mother's objections.

Temporary, Cate had said, well over a year ago.

He couldn't check on her across town and run a bar. She had been the one to offer to move in when he had offered to give up the bar.

She also hadn't made Math and Jamie move out even though they offered. Baze was pretty sure that had been the fear of bed rest though. They all made it through though and at the end of it all there had been a fifth person to join their little group.

Cate still hadn't returned to her house and she hadn't made a single comment about Math or Jamie moving out. It was really nice to have someone else to pass the kid off to when he wouldn't stop screaming at 3am. Of course it did mean he'd lose Jamie at the end of the night and half of the morning if a cute girl came in because they were all pretty sure Cate would castrate them all if a strange girl was brought upstairs.

Their parents were appalled, but it was working for them. Baze knew it wouldn't work forever, but for now it was good.

He was lazily straightening up the bar since Jamie had skipped doing that last night choosing a bridesmaid instead. He was in a good mood as he joked with his friends and Cole snoozed through it all.

As he moved to the door, he smiled noticing he had pulled in his MILF shirt. Made a mental note to try to get some tonight. He needed to send the guys out of the apartment for a few hours. To keep Cate focused on him.

Suddenly there was a girl before him, not the beer guy. He was wishing he still had on the winter jacket he had toss over his tee-shirt and Cate didn't need to know that Cole had been out in his pajamas, since that stroller bunting could probably get him through an arctic winter. He tried to remember where he shoved Cole's hat as the girl was talking, Cate would kill him if he lost another one.

He was distracted and suddenly thinking Girl Scout Cookies weren't such a bad idea that bagel hadn't really hit the spot. Cookies and hot chocolate. Man it was cold!

He corrected his name automatically. Then started to frown when the kid didn't believe his name. People did come looking for him every once in awhile, but they were normally listeners of Cate's show and they only ever called him Baze. They hadn't done any events at the bar in almost two years. He made a note to mention that to Alice, after all he had filled in at a few hosting events with Ryan while Cate had been pregnant and that one event shortly after they had Cole, when he found out heavy drinking on no sleep could lead to months of being teased on air. The girl was reminding him of someone who knew his father as they tried to figure out how his parents had produced him. People were more likely to believe Cate was their child.

He was distracted by the cold, the hat, cookies and the urge to justify his existence as she continued speaking.

The words jumbled around his head for a few moments, at first he couldn't process them at all, then once they settled in he was sure he heard them wrong. He looked around for the answer, for a reason. The look on his friends' faces looked as blank as his mind. He had her repeat it.

"Your daughter."

"Huh. That is what you said," he felt as if he had spent the entire night drinking.

"Yea, so…"

"A daughter," Math repeated.

Baze threw a look back at his friend, it wasn't a look that conveyed anything aside from having no fucking clue what was going on.

"Cate's going to kill you," Jamie commented.

Cate, fuck!

"You should come inside," Math said speaking past Baze.

He turned back to see her still bundled up. He had been freezing a moment ago, hadn't he? "Uh sorry," Baze said stepping back so she could enter.

"Thanks," she nodded slightly as she stepped in.

He shut the door behind her, pressing it into the frame to seal off the cold air.

Cole's cry followed the noise, pulling him out of his daze or at least settling into a new one. Cole always pulled him out of his thoughts, even when his thoughts were nothing more than a blank mind frame.

"Shit," he muttered and moved to the stroller.

"You have a baby," the girl said as Baze was quickly freeing his son, "in a bar," she finished as he was scooping the young boy up.

"Cate says that," Jamie commented.

"It was in Sweet Home Alabama," Math added.

"The chick flick?"

"Yeah with Reese Witherspoon."

"What the fuck are you doing watching a chick flick?" Jamie frowned at Math.

"I watched it with Cate," Math defended.

"You are aware Cate is his girlfriend right? Or at least she was up until five minutes ago."

Baze bounced with his son, wondering if he was going to have a heart attack.

"She is seriously going to kill you," Jamie repeated.

"I know," Baze nodded. "Do you have a name?" Baze asked still bouncing.

"Lux."

"Lux," Baze repeated.

"Cool name," Jamie nodded.

Cole continued to fuss in his arms. "I need to get him a bottle," Baze nodded.

"I need to sit down," Math added.

Baze looked over and realized his best friend was looking as shot as him. "Upstairs."

For a few all too brief moments no one said anything. Then the talking returned. Baze heard the words swirling around the room, but they didn't quite seem to enter his head as he prepared Cole's bottle. He took a cue from Math who was collapsed on the couch and leaned on the bongo as Cole greedily slurped down his formula. Emancipation?

"Nate," his mother called up and his eyes went wide, "I cannot believe you just left the bar unlocked. What are you thinking? You have a child now." He shot to his feet and desperately looked around the room trying to figure out where to hide Lux.

"Mom," he said stunned as she came up the stairs.

"Nate, Cole isn't dressed. Let me guess you didn't pack his diaper bag either," she frowned at her son.

"Uh-"

"Hello, I'm Mrs. Bazile and you are?" His mother smiled at his daughter.

Baze's mouth ceased to function.

Lux's only opened awkwardly as well.

"I'm tutoring her," Math offered quickly.

"Isn't that nice of you, Matthew," she smiled.

"I am going to pack his bag, please put him in actual clothing Nate."

"Uh," he nodded, "yea sure."

The older woman moved into the bedroom and Lux whispered, "Nanna?" to Baze.

His eyes grew wider. All he said was, "Clothing now."

Jamie jumped off the couch to scavenge through the laundry basket that had been sitting in their living room for two days as Baze was stripping the little boy down on the couch. Baze worked at demon speed as Math sat next to him still in a fog.

"Do we have shoes?" Baze asked at he caught the socks thrown at him.

"He can't walk why does he need shoes?"

"Just find me shoes," Baze ordered.

"The socks that are shoes," Jamie nodded and went through the basket again, pulling out another small pair of socks.

"Perfect," Baze nodded and quickly tugged them on. He nodded at Jamie, "Formula," and the man quickly moved into the kitchen area, "and bottles."

"I think I have everything, I just need," Baze's mother walked out of the room to be confronted with her son's roommate flying in front of her with a smile.

"Bottles and formula?"

"Yes," she smiled, "thank you." She put them in the bag as Baze walked over to her with Cole. "Give me that gorgeous baby," she smiled at her grandson.

"Do you need any help with the uh…stroller?"

"Don't be silly Baze. You know I have my own after you left his in Cate's car and I spent the entire day lugging around that carrier."

"Uh yea sorry about that."

"As long as you don't leave him," she smiled at her son.

He nervously smiled at her.

"Cate said she would pick him up. You should really try cleaning since you'll have the rest of the morning free."

"Uh yea," he nodded.

"Okay you boys be good," she smiled at them, "nice meeting you," she nodded at Lux.

Baze let out a long breath as he collapsed back down on the bongo. The kid, Lux was talking again.

"Your mother's going to kill you and Cate's going to kill you," Jamie said moving onto the sofa's arm this time.

"No one's going to kill you," Lux shook her head at him, "you just need to sign this paper and then I-"

He frowned suddenly, "You weren't adopted."

Math and Jamie groaned.

"Yea, we've covered that," her wide went wider in annoyance.

"Oh god, Cate's going to kill me," his eyes went wide.

"That's what I've been saying," Jamie nodded.

"No one is going to kill you, you just need to sign this," she lifted up the paper again, "and then this is done," she prattled on about foster care and Scope drinking mom's when he didn't react.

"Cate is going to kill me," was all he said as she finished her unexpected speech.

"No, you're going to sign this and rifle through your memory banks of teenage girls you impregnated-"

"Cate."

"Let's move past Cate killing you," she resisted the urge to throw her arms up in the air.

"Yea, you don't know Cate. She is not going to react well to finding out she's baby mama number two," Jamie couldn't imagine Baze's spitfire of a girlfriend reacting well to this.

"Cate-" Baze tried to begin again.

Math shot forward.

"Baby mama drama," Jamie started, effectively silencing Lux who was ready to tell off the man-child that had created her.

"There is no baby mama drama, there is just Cate," Baze finally sprung to life. He turned back to the girl, "Cate Cassidy is your mom."

"From K-100?" Lux's eyes went wide.

"Cate," Math repeated as he stood.

"Yes," Baze nodded.

"Our Cate?" Jamie stood.

"In high school," Math approached.

"Yes," Baze repeated.

"Cate was pregnant in high school," Math's arms went out.

"Yes," he repeated again.

"Cate would have never slept with you," Math was still in denial.

"Cate sleeps with me every night," Baze pointed out.

"She was number one in our class. She had a perfect 4.0."

"You know a lot about Cate," Jamie said with crossed arms.

"She despised you. You were gross. She hated you. Did you roofie her? Is that why-"

Baze's arms flung out, "No, I didn't roofie her." He looked quickly down at Lux making sure she didn't think that, "Who…Who roofies people?"

"She wasn't your type…If she was anyone's type-"

"Really?" Baze said looking at his friend, "I thought we moved past this when we were 21."

"She hated you," Math repeated.

"Did it ever occur to you there was a reason she hated me?" The words flew out of Baze's mouth before he could think.

"I've always thought there was a little animosity between you and Cate," Jamie nodded thoughtfully.

Baze shot him a look.

"Why would Cate sleep with you?"

"Seriously again, what did you think Cate and I were-" He stopped himself as he realized Lux was still next to him.

"So you slept with Cate, got her pregnant all while we were in high school?"

He nodded.

"And then she agreed to date you in college? I always thought she drank too much that summer. It's the only way-"

"Do you smell her hair while she's sleeping?" Baze took a step closer to his alleged friend. "What have you been doing this entire time? Just biding your time until Cate comes to her senses? Because Cate Cassidy is too good to be with me."

"We all say that one," Jamie nodded.

Baze turned his angry eyes on his other friend.

"Baze-" Math said beginning to calm down a bit.

"No," Baze's arms flew out, "it's fine. Cate's going to kill me anyway over this, so she's free, make your move."

The room stood in silence watching him.

"Fucking hell," he turned back to Lux, "let me see that thing," he said asking for the piece of paper she kept waving.

-o-o-o-

Baze could hear the words around him because the words in front of him just swirled on the paper.

"That was Cole," Lux said. Obviously a listener of Cate's show.

"Yea, we wanted to name him Slate," Jamie commented.

"Or Tate," Math added.

"Yea, but they wouldn't let us."

"But she…" Lux frowned, "Baze. Bazile," she caught up to the nickname Cate used on the show.

"And I'm Matthew," Math said extending a hand.

"Math," Jamie corrected.

"Math," Lux nodded as she took his hand.

"Jamie," he smiled and extended his hand as well. The bridesmaid kicking him out of the apartment before her roommate woke up and realized he wasn't her boyfriend, wasn't such a bad thing.

"So is Lux short for something?" Math asked.

"No just Lux. The nurse named me," she added the information on, for some unknown reason sharing too much again.

"The nurse," Baze lifted his head. "I don't understand. You were supposed to be adopted."

"I had a heart thing. No one wants a sick kid."

"A heart thing?" Baze continued to frown in confusion.

"Yea. Whatever. Not a big thing. But people don't want a sick baby and then they don't want a toddler who had a heart condition and I guess by the time that stopped mattering," she shrugged, "it's like puppies and kittens. People want babies not kids."

He looked down at the paper and then back up, letting out a sigh. "They should have told us that though. Right? I mean. If you're saying that I'm still-" he tapped at the paper.

"Legally my father?"

"Yea," he nodded. His head tilted, "They wouldn't tell me anything about you."

"You asked?" Lux's voice caught in her throat.

"Yea," he nodded, "you were 8."

"Why-Uh. Why did you ask?"

"Because Cate," his eyes closed, "because Cate was scared something could have happened to you and she was right," his throat felt dry. "And I told her you were fine. I," he threw his hands up, "I convinced her you were fine."

"Why didn't she think I was okay?"

"Cate-" Baze shrugs.

"Worries," Jamie finished when his friend didn't, "a lot."

"Cate thinks things out for longer than five minutes into the future," Math defended her.

Baze gave his friend a look, "I need to call Cate."

"She's on air," Math pointed out.

"I'll text her," he amended, and fished his phone out of his jeans.

"With what congratulations, it's a girl?" Jamie asked.

He shot his friend a dirty look.

"Would you like a drink or something to eat?" Math offered.

"Don't trust anything he makes," Baze said not looking up.

-o-o-o-

"Because you are the bestest little baby in the entire world, do you know that? Do you know that? Do you, do you," Cate babbled nearly nose to nose with her son hours later as she climbed the stairs.

Baze had almost come out of his fog, he had managed to ask questions, even answer a few, but mostly the guys had been entertaining and feeding Lux since her arrival up until twenty minutes ago when they realized Cate would be getting home soon and Math had forced Jamie out of the apartment. He had been hunting down the power adapter for the laptop because it had shut down right before Sneezing Pandas had been about to start.

"Oh seriously," Cate's smile fell as she saw Lux. "Another surprise babysitter. Really? I'm really sorry. Baze keeps doing stuff like this. I'm sure you're a great babysitter, but seriously all I want to do is spend some quality time with my son. How much did Baze say he'd pay you-" she moved to put Cole in his pack and play so she could reach her purse.

"Uh-" the nervous smile that had been on Lux's face had long since fallen.

"Cate," Baze said walking into the room. "You met Lux."

"Actually no I didn't get her name. I'm sorry," she stood straight and smiled some more. "Hi Lux, I'm Cate. I'm sure you're an excellent babysitter and if you come back in like two years-"

"She's not the babysitter," the words shot out of Baze's mouth. "Your phone's off."

"It broke, I told you this morning. I asked you to bring it by the store." Cate frowned slightly wondering who the young girl was in their living room, ignoring the fact that she'd have to go back out with the phone. Trying to figure out why a teenager would ever be in their place. If Jamie had brought her home last night while she was sleeping... She turned to comment to Baze.

"She's our daughter," Baze ripped the band-aid off.

Cate stared at him for a moment and then at the girl and then back at him, "What?"

-o-o-o-

So you can stop here. That was the reverse beginning to end feeling that I wanted. Nothing is really accomplished and maybe they start even further behind then they did it the show because they've spent years trying to keep this thing from their past in their past.

Below is an epilogue that just sums up everything from the show in their new world because really to every story I write I see the characters going on. So if you like that sort of thing, keep going.

-o-o-o-

"You left Baze," Lux said as they stood inside Cate's house with their bags.

"I didn't leave Baze. This is my house," Cate nodded. When the social worker had gone through Baze's apartment and found it unsuitable for a 16 year old girl, Cate had been quick to offer up her house which had been sitting without her roommate or a tenant for the past 3 months as Cate ignored it rather than try to figure out what to do with it. It had been her escape plan, just as Baze had accused it of being hours earlier.

"You told Baze, you didn't want him to come with us."

"We just…" Cate nodded, "we need some time."

"I destroyed your relationship." There had been something simmering between them that first day when she had gotten them to sign, when Cate kept asking her what she needed and all she would admit to was a signature. They signed.

The voice that had been her one constant and she just wrecked her life.

"We need space."

They turned up at the courtroom without knowing each other would be there and then completely exploded in front of her outside of the courthouse. Every accusation they hadn't made to each other, but had been festering for years. Then Cate found Lux outside of the bar the next morning. Eventually Cate had led her inside to a surprised Baze.

Cate made a comment of making a birthday breakfast.

Baze quickly sprung to life, telling them he would go out and pick up breakfast.

Lux sat down on the sofa and stared at Cole on the floor. Leaning against his Boppy waving little plastic toys around, occasionally putting them in his mouth. Cate suggested she play with him and called him her brother. Lux didn't want to let him go by the time Baze came with a bag full of Styrofoam containers.

When they called her over to eat, there were candles in her pancakes; she blew them out trying to keep Cole from grabbing them.

Lux realized now what she should have wished for. Nothing to change from that very moment.

They hadn't really fought in front of her. They were quiet with each other. Lux had known it was a bad sign.

"Watch him as I set up the travel crib?" Cate asked.

"But Baze," Lux tried again.

"Will be here in the morning when I go to work," Cate smiled at her. "Why don't you go check out your room some more and see what you want to change."

"Change?"

"Yea, we can get paint, new bedding," Cate smiled, "it'll be fun."

"Okay," Lux nodded.

"Okay," Cate nodded, "I'm going to go try to figure out where to put this thing."

Lux walked into the bedroom Cate told her would be hers with her brother still in her arms. She sat down on the bed and looked at the beige walls, "We are not the Cleavers," she nodded, and then looked down at Cole with a wry smile.

-o-o-o-

The Cleavers they were not. Having dinner with both of their families was hell. Cate did everything in her power to get out of it and after the third degree Cate got from Baze's mother, she understood why.

Somehow though in the middle of the attack Cate and Baze had started defending each other instead of attacking each other.

Lux started to believe they would figure how to work it out.

Then Cate started to date Ryan.

Then the bar almost burnt down, by Ryan's sister when Baze hooked up with her.

It should have been a low in their family, but somehow it wasn't.

Cate couldn't quite look at Baze as an irresponsible jerk when he had been willing to die to try to save Lux.

So they brought Baze home with them. To Cate's small little two bedroom house. It didn't feel too small to Lux then, not even when she was slamming her shins into Cole's numerous activity centers and push toys. It had been cozy. It felt like a home.

Then Cate got fired.

Then they had the mother of all fights and Baze slammed the front door on his way out.

Then Baze started wearing a suit and that was just weird.

Then Ryan apologized for letting their off air issues affect their working relationship and got her a job as a producer.

Then it was Thanksgiving and her mother was pregnant.

Then Baze almost killed Ryan at the dinner table.

It had taken a good minute of Cate screaming to get them to stop.

Lux was pretty sure Baze would have kept going if not for the, 'It's your baby Baze.'

Baze came over to the house more. He was suddenly cautious of what he said around Cate. He was polite, agreeable and begged Lux to try to get along with Cate.

She tried to be a good daughter, she really did. Just like Baze tried to be a good partner and father.

It didn't come easy to either of them, but he faked it better than she did.

Then Trey and Eric and she couldn't even fake like she was a good child. Just completely broken and she had destroyed them as well.

Then the baby was gone and she didn't know and she flipped out on Cate again, finally becoming completely unhinged and telling her everything she had been trying to hide.

Then she came home to find Baze passed out on the living room floor with Cole. She wasn't surprise to see that Baze had needed some snuggle time with Cole after spending the evening listening to everyone praise his father.

Lux didn't go looking for her mother, but she found her anyway. Nearly asleep in Lux's bed. She told her about the baby and started telling her about understanding about being broken. "Baze and I were never really angry at each other. We…I hated myself every day and he was this constant reminder of the most heart wrenching thing I had ever done. How could he ever forgive me, trust me? All those things you yelled at me today, I've yelled them at him before. I could never get that he loved me, I could never trust in his love. I was waiting for him to bail, so I always kept one foot out the door."

"He's downstairs," Lux pointed out.

"I know," Cate sniffled and smiled. "Because this is it," Cate shrugged, "this is the family we're meant to have," she smiled at her daughter, "and I couldn't have picked a better family. This is the family I've always wanted. You are the daughter I always wanted. I wouldn't change anything about this family or you. You are so loved. You don't need to hide parts of you, they won't make us love you less. Only more. Because we're…we're not normal. Baze…" Cate nodded, "freaks me out when he's wearing a suit."

Lux suddenly laughed.

Cate laughed as well, "Before working at Jack's back when we were young he had an office job and it started with a suit, but then he like started to morph into this Stepford Husband and it made me feel like a complete disaster."

"Baze wearing a suit is pretty wrong."

"Yea," Cate smiled gently, "but that's what he does to show us he loves us."

"We should let him quit."

Cate smiled.

"How did you and Baze end up together?"

"Do you really want to hear the Zima and Two Princes story again?"

"No I mean later," Lux smiled awkwardly.

"I could be broken with him," Cate shrugged. "I didn't have to hide the worst parts of me. Of course that doesn't mean I didn't try. But I could hate him, I could hate myself and somehow he was just still there." Cate bit her lip, "Even when I hated him so much I couldn't see straight, he was still the father of my daughter because you were with us from the start, in our minds, every day. You are so loved by us Lux and I know I haven't done the best job of listening, which Baze I'm sure has told you is a common problem, but I want to know everything. About you and Eric, about everything."

Lux nodded.

"So Eric?" Cate prompted.

"You don't want to go wake Baze and put Cole to bed?"

"Baze is a good father, I don't need to micromanage," Cate nodded.

"That hurt didn't it?"

"Yea, this letting go thing. Lot harder than it sounds. So start talking and distract me," Cate smiled at her daughter.

-o-o-o-

Life just sort of restarted.

It was funny how there were no profound changes, but somehow everything had changed. Her dad wasn't pampering her mom or fighting with her. They just kind of were. Talking to each other and not at each other. They found out Baze had quit his job and breathed a collective sigh of relief.

Her mom went back to work, her real job and Cole stayed with Baze rather than the daycare down the street from the radio station.

Then that morning came when Lux met Baze outside the house before her driving test. Cate and Cole smiled and waved at them shouting good luck as they drove away.

Her dad was looking like he wanted to vomit as she pulled up with the tester and then crushed her in a hug when he realized she passed.

Then they were all there as she entered the bar and was passed her around for hugs.

As Baze critiqued that the paint cans hadn't even been opened when they were supposed to have spent the morning painting. Cate had innocently replied that they hadn't wanted Cole around the fumes.

Baze good-naturedly rolled his eyes and scooped up the little boy and ordered them to work.

They crept up behind him. He was standing in shock still holding Cole at the top of the stairs. He heard them, but didn't turn, "My furniture is gone. Yours is here."

"It's called compromise Baze."

"And the compromise is?" Baze slowly turned as Cate climbed the rest of the stairs and the rest of the group followed behind her and scattered around the room.

"No safety net. We're a family and there is no way out."

"That was romantic Cate," Lux remarked, smiling at her mother's awkwardness.

"You knew about this?" Baze turned to his daughter.

"My room has been packed for the last two days."

"And you're okay with this?"

"Cate's house is nice, but seriously it's way too small. We can take down the curtains and make a pen for Cole," Lux smiled and went to take her little brother.

"The guys go to my place and we come here," Cate nodded at him when he kept staring at her afraid it would all vanish.

"You're okay with this?" Baze asked Cate.

She smiled and threw her hands up slightly, "We're it Baze. This is us. And I…I wouldn't want it any other way."

He smiled and rushed Cate, scooping her up in his arms, "We're going to make it," he whispered into her hair.

"I know," she smiled into his.

-o-o-o-

Stephanie smiled as she walked into her dorm room after a group of older guys joked and pushed their way out of it. Then calling out "Slave driver," at the brunette at the end of the hall summoning them.

"Sorry about them," the blonde girl pushed off one of the bare twin beds, leaving on it a small boy.

"Oh no, they're fine," Stephanie smiled, "You're Lux Ba-zile?"

"Bazile," Lux smile and extended her hand, "like the herb."

"Ah," Stephanie nodded, "Baze. I just heard them saying that, should have picked up on it."

Lux nodded.

"Stephanie Baynard. Your brother is gorgeous by the way please tell me you have a younger version of him at home, older than him though," Stephanie pointed at Cole who was more interested in his coloring book than girls talking.

"Yea actually, he's," she pointed at Cole, "my only brother. That was my dad and his friends."

"Your dad?"

"Yea he and my mom, were young like really young," Lux nodded.

"Well that's awesome, I bet your parents are totally awesome," the new girl spoke quickly.

"They are-" Lux quickly responded.

"Lux I just met your RA, I don't think he's trustworthy, he has a poster up of-" Cate stopped and noticed the other blonde in the room.

"Normally," Lux added on. "Mom meet Stephanie."

"Stephanie, it's so nice to meet you."

"You cannot verbally accost the guy responsible for our daughter's wellbeing," Baze said barging into the room. "Hi," he stopped and smiled up at Stephanie.

"Hi," Stephanie smiled nervously back.

"Mom what did you do?"

"It's fine," Baze lifted his hands, "I explained that she's currently off her meds."

"I am not on any medication nor have I ever been," Cate smiled and elbowed him in the stomach.

He groaned slightly.

"Yea," Lux smiled, "but you should be."

"15 years buddy when this is your turn," Baze nodded at his son, "your sister is taking you."

Stephanie laughed. "Don't worry Mrs. Bazile my mom is just as stressed as you."

"Oh no, it's Cassidy," Cate waved off the last name.

"We're waiting until Lux is 21 and we can go to Vegas," he flung an arm around Cate.

"Ignore him," Cate nodded.

"It's a long story," Lux nodded at her roommate, "weren't you guys going to get boxes?"

"We're being kicked out Cate," he leaned down.

"I wonder why," she rolled her eyes.

"Come on Crazy Mama," he turned her.

"Why don't you take her for a walk around campus? Get some air into her," Lux called out.

"Freedom!" Baze yelled out throwing an arm up into the air.

"Really Baze?" Cate sighed.

He chuckled and dropped a kiss down to the top of her head.

"Long story?" Stephanie prompted.

"You have no idea," Lux laughed.


So that was it. I was definitely not a fan of this story style, but I wanted it to be a one shot, not a multi chapter fic. Thank you so much for reading and making it all the way to the end.

If you're interested in the other fic idea (Cate getting Lux back, running into Baze on a community college campus-Who can't see Baze taking Calc there rather than at his college thinking he'd catch a break at a community college- Baze meeting Lux and having that same awestruck, can't stay away from her reaction) say so and one day in the future I'll try to make it happen. If not thanks for letting me into your little Life Unexpected bubble.