A/N: So yeah…hi! I know it's been a few months, greatest apologies for that. I won't go into a lot of detail but lots of things have happened. Animefest, dad being in the hospital and much more, so after much debate I'll be moving back in with my parents for a few months in order to help them get back on their feet financially and to help get them organize for all of their doctors appointments and such. This will also help me financially as well, so it's a win-win as long as it's not permanent. And I'm certain my mother will absolutely love having family back in the house. My free time has been short, but I managed to sit down long enough to try and get this put out for you all and hopefully once everything is sorted through I'll be able to start writing more again on my new stories.
Alas, finances = adult life. Lol But I don't dwell because I can't be too upset with an upcoming trip to Italy next year. :D I'll keep you posted. Those of you waiting on packages, I cannot apologize enough for how long this delay is taking. Once the medical bills for my father's hospital stay are figured I'll let you know what's up with the packages. I appreciate the mass amount of patience on your parts and know that though they may be late as hell, they will still be on their way in the future.
Also, I won't be adding in Matthew's first pregnancy since we already touched on his pregnancy with the twins. In my mind his first pregnancy went swimmingly and there were really no issues, so no reason to poke at it ^^ It was just a bit awkward trying to hug with a huge baby bump. Haha
As an apology, I dedicate this chapter to all of you wonderfully patient people and I hope you enjoy. You have all been a wonderful influence and sweet sweet people to get to know.
"How is her fever?"
The gentle tone of Matthew's voice gave away the caution he held as he approached; a cool wash cloth in one hand and a cup of water in the other. Gilbert glanced up from his position in the reclining chair, eyes tired and worn, but smile still in place. "Papa and daddy are on their way over; they should be here by tomorrow morning."
"It's just a cold." Was the gruff response, voice quiet so not to wake the precious cargo he held. The Prussian was settled in their newest recliner, a sleeping and quite sick eight-year-old curled up on her side across the length of his lap. She was wrapped in a mass of blankets, her flush face pressed into the crook of her father's arm. The chair rocked gently forward as Matthew leaned over them, pressing a kiss to his husband's forehead before nudging the blankets away from his daughter's face.
"Berta sweetie, I need you to wake up for just a second and drink this." His soft voice roused the sleeping child from her comfortable nap and she sighed before wiggling around on the only-slightly-put-out-Gilbert's lap. He grunted, grasping at her sides to keep her from sitting uncomfortably on his leg while she dutifully took the cup between her palms, swallowing the pills her shorter father handed to her. After all, she wasn't such a little girl anymore, but Gilbert would never have the heart to turn her away, especially when she just wanted to cuddle up to him for comfort. Later he would admit only to Matthew that even were she a grown adult, she would still be welcome to curl up on him when she wasn't feeling well.
Tilting his eyes up to the clock on the wall, Matthew frowned. It was nearly 3 am and the cold was still going strong. Their eldest daughter had woken them up early the morning before complaining of chills and a sore throat. They'd quickly learned in their time raising their children that though the personifications they were rarely got sick, their children were not so immune. And though Matthew and Gilbert had both tried home remedies and eventually prescription medication, the cold stuck. They'd been less than thrilled when the doctor had recommended they continue with medication and let it run it's course, but nothing more could be done. And so Gilbert had coddled her through the day while Matthew took care of the rest of the household. Which lead him to his current position, stuffed into the recliner with their growing daughter curled up around her father for warmth.
With a sigh of resignation, the Canadian brushed the hair from her eyes, watching as she drank down the glass of water before turning his gaze to his husband's exhausted form. "Gilbert, why don't you put her in her bed or she can sleep with us…" he offered softly, but Gilbert's head shook.
"Na, I'm okay here, babe. 'Sides, makes her feel better to have daddy hold her, right Bertie?" he mumbled quietly, patting the young girls' back when she flopped back down against his chest. He received no response but she nuzzled into him all the same, already mostly asleep.
Matthew smiled softly, his own eyes blinking tiredly. After a moments observance he stood and turned to leave the room. "I'm going to go check on the others and then lay down for a few hours. If you need anything just send me a text so she doesn't wake up. I'll have my phone beside me. And let me know if her fever worsens. You get some sleep too." He ordered, though the chiding words were soft and far less stern than they were meant to sound. He only shook his head at the silly half-asleep kissy faces his albino husband sent him before moving back into the hallway towards Dresden's room.
The now four year old girl was sprawled out across her new 'big girl bed', lightly snoring just like her Prussian father. Matthew only took a moment to turn off the nightlight and cover her toes with the strewn about blanket before he moved back down the hallway, glancing in at the twins, both fast asleep in their respective beds. He made a mental note to take them shopping soon. Their legs nearly slumped off the edges of their mattresses and at the rate they were growing, they would not be able to sleep in them comfortably very much longer. Moments later, the comforting warmth of his bed welcomed him back in and his eyes began to droop before he'd even hit the pillow. Parenting was certainly exhausting. But, Matthew would always defend, worth every minute.
Gilbert groaned, rolling onto his stomach to shuffle his head beneath the plush of his pillow. He'd hoped that the layers of goose down would drown out the noise penetrating into his ears, but it was to no avail. Beside him, Matthew grumbled under his breath but slid from the bed all the same. After a moment, Gilbert's head, hair skewed about and eyes stinging, peeked out from his pillow only to be greeted by a very frustrated vision of his husband, arms crossed, frowning down at him expectantly.
"Do I have to really? Can't we just….take turns?" he grumbled, but drug himself from the comfort of the mattress all the same. The cold wood of the floor was almost painful but worked to shake him awake if just the slightest more. With a heavy sigh, the Prussian followed his husband into the room across the hall, the wailing of their children greeting them when the sun refused to.
Routine set in and each man took up a child, both babies red and screaming, their tiny fists shaking as they squealed out their discontent. Half an hour later found the men settled into their plush couch, leaning on one another, both babies eagerly drinking down the milk from the pre-made bottles the new fathers had warmed for them. Matthew let his head drop against Gilbert's shoulder, watching the faces of his sons in the dim light of the moon shining through the front window. The house was silent other than their breathing and the suckling sounds of the feeding children. The red had all but faded, leaving a light pink tinge on their pudgy cheeks. Two sets of eyes, one lavender, one red watched the two men above them, the proud father's sporting matching smiles.
Though the nightly feeding and changing were exhausting, neither man would ever complain for these quiet moments together, enjoying being close to one another as well as their newborn children. It had taken a couple of weeks to grow used to the new additions in their lives. Gilberts first time changing a diaper would forever make Matthew snicker, while his husband would cheerfully recall the first burping that his Canadian husband had endured. That had been one of his favorite shirts.
It happened a little over six months after the children's birth. Any new parent would have told you that it was coming; that it was normal. But for Gilbert and Matthew, the new development of an argument was unnatural and disconcerting. It had begun over the milk not being warm enough and spurned on by a stubbed toe and the screams of teething babies.
"Alfred said it would be fine. It's a normal solution to the ache!" Matthew huffed, rocking Jacques within the circle of his arms, though it did nothing to sate the wailing child. Little flailing arms and feet kicked out at him and his head was far past the beginnings of a migraine.
"We're not putting that in their mouths, Matt, it's just not happening! How can that be safe in any way?" Gilbert responded, the baby cradled over his shoulder crying out its own discomfort and frustration right next to his ear.
Matthew grumbled, shooting a glare towards his frowning husband. "I'm not saying we pour the whiskey down their throats! For the love of God, Gil. Just a drop rubbed along their gums. It'll numb the pain long enough for them to eat and get some sleep so we can get some sleep."
Gilbert only shook his head, turning away from the other man, hand patting steadily on the child's back. They had tried the smallest recommended dose of baby aspirin from Dr. Kinsler's PA but it had nearly no effect on the children's discomfort. They would feed for a few minutes before becoming agitated once again and pushing the bottle from their mouths.
"Well we can't take them to the doctor until Monday, so we're just going to have to figure something out here. And I'm not going to stand around and listen to them cry their poor eyes out if I can do something about it."
With those words, Matthew swept his way past his husband, dipping the tip of his finger into the small dish of whiskey he'd poured a short while ago before the argument had broken out. Gilbert watched dumbstruck as the Canadian ignored his concerns, brushing a light coating of the amber liquid into the child's mouth, all the while cooing at him. The Prussian sputtered, his face flushing red in anger. "What the fuck Matthew! If I didn't' know better I'd think you wanted to kill him just to shut him up! "
The tight, hurt glare that shot his way made an ache tap at his heart and he instantly regretted his words. They stood there for a long moment, Lukas still screaming on his shoulder, Jacques cries beginning to quiet down. Finally Gilbert swallowed the hard lump in his throat and opened his mouth to speak. "Matt-"
"No. How dare you. How can…how can you even suggest that?" came the whispered reply, the younger man's voice tinged with obvious pain.
"I didn't mean-"
"Then why say it at all? I am doing my best to make my children's pain go away. So I'm willing to try something a little unconventional. So I just want my babies happy and smiling and laughing, what is so wrong with that?"
Gilbert didn't respond to that, instead closing his eyes and choking back the hard knot growing in his chest, cradling their other, still screaming son, against him. He only took a deep breath before opening his eyes again, once more meeting the gaze of his saddened husband. "I love my children. And I love you. And I would never do anything to purposefully hurt any of you. I would go to the ends of the earth to protect all of you. So how can you even think for one moment that I'd-" Matthew's words broke and he turned his head away to squeeze the tears from his eyes before they could fall. With a deep breath, he turned to glance back at Gilbert, seeing the hurt echoing in his eyes.
The albino man could only stand there as his husband moved forward, taking their second child from him carefully and muttering about changing their diapers. Even after he'd moved from the room and down the darkened hallway, the elder couldn't find it in him to follow, instead slipping into the nearest dining room chair, head falling into his hands, elbows propped on the wood of the table.
He didn't actually feel that way. He knew Matthew would never hurt his children. That he would never even think it, even if they cried for years, he would never be able to bring himself to do anything like that. But the words had just come out unchecked, rolling off his tongue before he could shut his mouth.
Gilbert wasn't certain how long he sat there, nursing the headache as his punishment before he heard his husband's soft voice. It couldn't have been that long, though, only minutes. At the voice, his eyes shot up, regret still evident. However, the look on Matthew's face nearly made him forget their conversation only moments before.
"Gilbert, please, we can be mad later. I think Jacques is sick." The younger man sniffled, his eyes dark with worry and guilt. In an instant, Gilbert was on his feet, a hand pressing against the other's back as he followed him into their baby's bedrooms. Lukas was still screaming, flailing away in his crib. On the changing table, Jacques was once again crying, though this time much quieter than the other. Beside the table, Kumajiro stood on his small bear toes, trying his best to see the crying children, the small puff of a bird on his head peeping quietly in concern.
"His diaper is really watery and he feels really warm." Matthew said quietly, standing to the side as Gilbert leaned over the baby, pressing his cheek to the infant's for a long moment. Indeed he felt much warmer than normal and the soiled cloth seemed off. A sniffle brought the red-eyed man's attention back to his husband.
Matthew's eyes were watering, his lips clenched between his teeth, which were obviously chattering. He met his husband's gaze, swallowing hard. "What if I really did make him sick, Gilbert? What if I hurt-"
The rest of his sentence was cut off by a soft sob and instantly he found himself pulled into a warm grasp and a comforting hush. "Matthew, you didn't make him sick, you barely gave him anything at all. Und it wouldn't have done that so fast. Stay with him for a second, I'm gonna check Luk." He offered quietly, pressing a kiss to his forehead before turning towards the other crib.
Careful hands finished changing Jacques diaper before a voice interrupted his nervous thoughts once more. "Matt, Luk's got a temp too. Und looks like he needs the same change. You didn't do anything, babe, I think they're actually sick."
And though in a way the thought should have been more comforting, it wasn't. Instead Matthew found his heart beating so hard in his chest he felt it would jump right out. Without hesitation, he picked up the phone and dialed the number he knew by heart.
Though Dr Kinsler didn't traditionally treat children, he'd been schooled in Pediatrics as well and since the situation between the countries' marriage was so delicate, he'd offered to take on their doctoring as well as the children's'. The phone rang twice before he heard the handset on the other end lift and a bit of fumbling around. It was another quiet moment before there was a voice on the other line.
"Matthew? Gilbert? What's wrong?" the doctor's voice was groggy and Matthew all but felt bad that the human knew it was them. He could hear a bit of shuffling around on the line and the clearing of a throat.
"I'm sorry to wake you up, Doctor Kinsler, I'm just so worried." He breathed, voice shaking just slightly. Pressing a hand against his chest, he stepped a few feet away from the loudly crying children. "They've been crying for hours and now they have a fever and they won't eat and I think they have diarrhea…"
On the other end of the line, the doctor made a thoughtful noise, shuffling around a bit more. "Are they teething yet Matthew? What about white spots in their mouth or vomiting?"
"They're teething but they don't have either of those."
A slight chuckle on the other end of the line set Matthew's shoulders to ease just the slightest. If the doctor was confident enough to laugh then he was likely exaggerating, but none-the-less… "I…I also put a little bit of alcohol..um..whiskey…on Jacques gums. I thought maybe I hurt him with that. I just..I'd heard that it helped and I didn't think-"
"Matthew, Matthew, it's fine. That's actually a very common practice. It sounds like the boys are just having some difficulty with teething. Give me half and hour and I'll be by, alright?" again, there was more shuffling as though the man were already dressing himself.
"Oh gosh, I'm so sorry, I don't want you to come all the way out here if we are just overreacting. I just got so scared that something was really wrong."
Again the doctor chuckled and the sound of a coat zipper came through the earpiece. "Matthew that is what I'm here for. You know I'm proud to be able to care for you and your family, especially in your circumstances. I don't mind coming out, I would have been up in half-hour anyways, so it's really no trouble at all. Now go make yourself and Gilbert some coffee or tea and just relax until I get there." He offered quietly, the keys jingling in his hand, door closing as he moved out of the house.
"Thank you, Doctor…"
True to his word, just over half an hour later a knock came on their front door. Gilbert was quick to open it, greeting the man who, much to his surprise, had a bag in either hand and a kind smile on his face. "Gilbert, you look exhausted." He teased good-naturedly. "And listen to them go! They've got a set of lungs on them for sure. That's good!"
Setting the bags down on the entry side table, he reached into the one on the left and pulled out a caddy with three cups of steaming liquid and a medium sized box of Donuts. "I figured we could all use a little wake up call. Now let's take a look at those boys of yours." He smiled, setting down the food to pick up the second bag, following the anxious albino into the back room.
A very nervous set of husbands stood aside as the doctor examined their children. The boys wailed their frustration at the doctor, who simply chuckled and cooed at them. The gesture in and of itself eased their parents.
Reaching into the second bag, the doctor pulled out two rings, one blue and one green. Almost instantly once they were offered, the babies tugged them into their mouths, their screaming silenced in favor of contented chewing. Doctor Kinsler brushed the fluff of white hair from either of their faces with a smile, turning towards the two men watching in stunned silence.
"It's not uncommon for babies who are teething to develop a fever, different stool types and even digestion problems. It makes them pretty fussy, of course, but it's easily managed." The doctor offered, reaching into the bag again. "I brought you some antibiotics to fight the fever and menthol rub for their chests. The teething rings can be refrigerated, just don't freeze them. The cold numbs out the pain as well as giving them a way for their teeth to break through the gums."
Matthew found himself unable to contain his gratitude, pulling the shorter man easily into a hug. "Thank you so much." He breathed, feeling relief flood through him as his babies watched him contently over the gumming of their new toys.
Once the boys had finally fallen asleep, new teething rings lodged against their mouths, the three men sat down to enjoy the morning, sharing laughter and stories over coffee and donuts. It was nearly ten am when Matthew and Gilbert slid into their bed, immediately curling up against one another. Gilbert cradled his husband against his chest, pressing a kiss against his forehead. "I'm sorry about earlier…" he whispered, free hand moving to trace the smaller man's spine.
A soft sigh and a slight smile against the skin of his chest brought the first flush of reassurance. "I'm not mad anymore, Gilbert. I forgive you, I just don't….I don't want to hold on to things we say when we are mad. Our babies are hurting and that's far more important. This family is far more important. Let's just.." he paused, taking another deep breath," let's just take a second next time we're getting mad and think things through. And I promise not to make a rash move like that again until we're positive."
Gilbert shook his own head, nuzzling against the other man's forehead. "Und I'll make sure of my words next time. Gott, I hate fighting, let's not do that again."
That statement earned him a light chuckle and a tighter hug. "I can stand behind that. Next time let's keep our heads." Came the sigh from Matthew, his breathing already beginning to slow as exhaustion took over.
Grateful relief flooded through Gilbert. His heart seemed multitudes lighter and sleep found him far easier than he would have believed.
The smell of fresh crepes and tea filtered through the house, invading the senses of those sleeping comfortably in their beds. Soft male voices brought Matthew from his sleep, stirring into the waking world to the light of the morning sun. Stretching, he slid from the bed, searching the floor for his favorite robe and slippers before groggily shuffling down the stairs.
The twins sat on the couch, watching some cartoon and spooning mouthfuls of cereal past their lips. It took them a moment to each pull away from the thrall of the show to greet their father.
"Hi papa; good morning papa." The twins answered, nearly in unison and Matthew chuckled just the slightest, moving forward to press a kiss to the top of each of their heads. The eleven year olds leaned into the touch familiarly before turning their gaze back to the television.
The Canadian man smiled, moving past them towards the kitchen. What greeted him was a sight he would never grow tired of. Though he'd been certain that the knowledge of their family would bring distress, he'd failed to see the joy and possibility of introducing more family into the mix. Where there had been discord and frustration there was now calm and content. They were closer than ever before. They had family functions. Birthdays, holidays and sometimes for no reason at all they would gather, the houses finally filled with laughter. Today was no different.
His fathers stood in his kitchen, Francis cooking over the stove while Arthur set the table and pet the hair of his eldest granddaughter. Even more wonderfully startling was the soft laughter he was sharing with Gilbert, who stood on the opposite side of the table, their four year old daughter clinging to his pants. She was the most surprising miracle of them all. Her brush with death had done nothing to dissuade her vibrance for life nor her stubborn attitude. Standing in her footed jammies, a sippie cup in her hand, her unruly white hair sticking in all directions and clinging to her father's leg, one would assume her shy. That was not the case in the slightest. In fact, it was their daughters above their sons who were far more daring and adventurous. Jacques could keep up while Lukas still preferred to stay behind and enjoy the quiet of an afternoon. Their girls, however, were better found climbing trees or doing summersaults and flips on the wide open lawn, their daring far more Prussian blood than the Canadian that ran through them. Both were intelligent too, just like their brothers. They took quickly to both German and French, fluent in all three languages the spoke.
"Matthew, you look tired, did you get any sleep at all?"
Arthur's slightly chiding tone startled the younger man from his thoughts, a smile slipping easily into place. "I did. Not enough, but it will do. I was just worried for Alberta. How's her fever?" he asked, glancing down at his eldest daughter, who in the light of day looked much better than she had the night before. Her eyes were still tired and her cheeks a bit flush, but aside from that she seemed in much better spirits.
"Nearly gone, she's barely over one hundred now, so I'm certain she'll soon be back to good health." His shorter father replied. It also helped that the smile she sent him reassured that fact. Alberta had grown so quickly and though she preferred to take charge and handle situations, she still leaned heavily on her fathers for support when sick. Matthew never minded and neither did Gilbert. In fact, he wouldn't quite admit to anyone other than his husband, he greatly enjoyed when their children needed them.
"And she will be better once she tastes zees wonderful crepes I'm making for you all. I let ze boys eat a bowl of zat cereal you 'ave before 'and. Ze are growing, so no 'arm. " Francis grinned over his shoulder at his son, winking at the two girls before going back to his cooking.
Matthew chuckled, moving to Gilbert's side, who welcomed him with a warm arm around his shoulders and a soft kiss to his head.
They ate in relative silence, the table full of family and food. It was something that Matthew hoped he would never get used to, the feeling of warmth that flooded through him at seeing them all together. All they were missing was Alfred from his side and Ludwig from Gilbert's and their table would nearly look like a holiday. Though more and more their household was filled with extended family. Arthur had made it a habit to show up at their home nearly every weekend with some sort of gift for the children. And ever since the birth of their latest edition, Francis had more often than not either shown up with him or just after. Anyone else would have been suspicious, but Matthew and Gilbert were far past that point. Especially with the incident last Christmas. After that point, Arthur had locked his bedroom door in the evenings and Matthew hadn't spoke of it since. It had taken Gilbert a bit longer to let go of the incident, often commenting to Francis about the full moon. Francis, in turn, would simply chuckle and withstand the hearty smack to his shoulder from his Britain.
At length, they spoke of renovations to the house, expanding the garage and a workroom downstairs and adding on another bedroom or two upstairs. Though Matthew was still uncertain given the amount of space they had, he couldn't help but smile when his Prussian husband insist they make more room for not only their existing children, but those to come. Any jealousy that had ever existed in the household had always quickly dissolved. Matthew and Gilbert, as well as the extended family and friends, always ensured that none of the children were ever left feeling unloved or unattended to. Watching their family interact, the bond between their children and the bond between the entirety of their family only made their own stronger.
It was in these moments Matthew's heart felt fuller than it ever had before. In these moments, he could not feel more grateful that so many years ago, the amazing man at his side, laughing and sharing memories with his family, had taken a chance to toss that paperclip at him. A chance to come home and try his pancakes. To watch movies and drink beer. To show him friendship and fun he'd never thought would be his. To be his companion and eventually his lover. Finally, to be his husband and his partner in life and give him one of the most precious things he'd never in his life dreamed he would have, his children. Life had a funny way of working things out and though they had faced many problems including adversity from those who doubted their relationship, they had still emerged on top.
After all, Matthew thought, we don't need anyone else to decide our fate or tell us which path our life will take. In the end, we make our own.
Hang on guys. Hang on, lemme just….make this pathetic little whimpering noise over here. Mah babehs. Oh man my babehs. And then…my babies. Oh my god my babies. My screaming, squealing, crying, sibling smacking, giggling, snoring, gurgling babies. There are days they are too cute for words and days I wonder what spawn of satan I've received. Haha. Just kidding, I love them dearly; they just have a way of driving me up the wall. But I'll stop talking about my kiddos now. Lol
So. As you may have guessed, we are nearly there. I was going to call this the end, but I'll be adding in an epilogue. For the main portion of the story however, here we are. Happy family! And that Fruk is coming along (about half way through) to tie in with this and the previous chapter. I may be writing some more little side stories to go with this depending on when the inspiration comes. I know I want at least two more side stories (which, speaking of, you are welcome to leave me head cannons for the family or the couple or any part of the WMOO universe and I may use it as a side story!) I will at least be doing a segment called 'Milestones' which is pretty much what it sounds like.
SO…without further ado…
THANKYOU to everyone that has stuck with me this entire time and given me so much strength to write this through my sister's passing 9 months ago and Parker's introduction into the family and so much more! To all those reading this new and old readers you all rock. You guys have been wonderful and I hope you will come back for my next story once I get it up and running! I appreciate all of your follows and reviews and wonderful words. You guys have been phenomenal and I've made so many new wonderful friends through this story. A couple of which can expect me to come visit them! ^_^
And hey if you are in Italy, hit me up, I'll be there next year!
I love you guys so much, and thank you so much again~! I'll go now before I get all teary eyed!