A/N: Thank you so much for all of your kind feedback on this story so far. I'm sorry it's taken me so long to update this, but here's the next chapter – hopefully it was worth the wait. :) I hope you like this chapter, and thank you so much for reading!
A few months had passed. Charlotte was now seven months pregnant, and was hating every minute of her enforced bed rest. She, Cooper, and Mason had moved into their new house and, thanks to on-line shopping, it was coming together nicely.
She craned her neck to look at the clock on her nightstand, and sighed. It was only noon; the day was dragging. She should have been used to it – she quickly learned that days tend to drag by when you can't go to work or even leave your bed, for that matter – but, still, she wasn't used to it.
A slight smile graced her features when she heard the front door unlock. Pete was early for their daily 'lunch date.'
"Hey," Pete smiled, as he entered the room. "How're you feeling?"
"Bored," Charlotte answered flatly.
"Well, that's about to end," Pete grinned, handing her a patient's file. "I was hoping you could take a look at this for me, and let me know what you think."
"You really are the best work husband ever," Charlotte smiled, as she eagerly opened the file.
"I also brought lunch," Pete chuckled, as he placed two sandwiches and two cups of tea in front of him and Charlotte.
"Thanks," Charlotte nodded as she read through the patient's file.
"You're welcome," Pete smiled, happy to see some life in Charlotte's eyes. "You know, I can't wait until you can drink coffee again," Pete muttered taking a sip of his tea. "This stuff's pretty terrible."
"Aren't you supposed to be into all that herbal crap," Charlotte shot back good-naturedly.
"I am," Pete conceded. "But the hospital's generic-brand decaf tea is doing nothing for me."
"Yeah, me either," Charlotte agreed. "At least you can have coffee when you get back to the hospital. That's not exactly an option for me."
"Yeah," Pete chuckled. "But I'm telling you, once Alexander and Clara get here, it'll all be worth it."
"I hope so," Charlotte nodded, looking up from the file in her hands and meeting Pete's eyes.
"So, uh, do you want to talk about this case?" Pete asked, gesturing to the file in Charlotte's hands.
"I'm scared," Charlotte admitted vulnerably.
Pete nodded mutely and waited for her to continue.
"I'm scared, and I can't afford to be scared," Charlotte sighed. "The nursery is just about finished. The twins have enough clothes to rival Addison's wardrobe. Everything's all set for them…and they might not make it. It might all be for nothing."
"Charlotte, you can't think like that," Pete insisted. "You're doing everything that Addison told you to do. And you and I both know that Addison wouldn't encourage you to keep fighting if she didn't think there was a chance. And there's a chance. There's a good chance that the babies are going to be perfectly fine."
"You sound like Cooper," Charlotte sighed. "And I know you're right. It' just…if something does go wrong, how are we gonna get through it?"
"The same way you two have gotten through everything else that life's thrown at you," Pete answered simply. "You'll get through it together."
"So, I was wondering if you'd go shopping with me tomorrow, after work, to get things for Henry's birthday party, this weekend," Addison said, as she and Jake lay in bed together.
"Tomorrow?" Jake asked hesitantly.
Addison nodded. "Are you busy?"
"Actually, I am," Jake admitted. "Tomorrow's Angela's twenty-first birthday. I was going to take her for dinner…you know, before she does whatever she's going to do with her friends."
Addison smiled. "You didn't tell me Angela was turning twenty-one tomorrow," she accused.
Jake smiled guiltily. "Sorry," he apologized. "I guess I still haven't wrapped my head around the idea that she's going to be old enough to drink legally," he admitted.
Addison smiled at how overprotective her boyfriend was when it came to his daughter. "Well, she's coming to Henry's birthday party this weekend, right?" Addison asked.
"She said she'd be there," Jake nodded.
"We should get her a cake too," Addison smiled.
"We should," Addison insisted. "It's kind of sweet that our kids' birthdays are so close together…and they're both celebrating important birthdays this year."
"Yeah," Jake agreed with a smile. "So, uh, we could go shopping for things for Henry's party the day after tomorrow," he offered.
"Okay," Addison agreed. "Charlotte has an appointment with me, that afternoon, but we can go right after that."
"Perfect," Jake grinned.
"Yeah," Addison smiled, kissing him softly, "you kind of are."
"Addison," Jake breathed in between kisses. "You know that-"
But Addison cut him off with a deep kiss. "Just take the compliment, Jake."
Jake smiled against her lips, and kissed her passionately, gently caressing her cheek, while she ran her fingers through his hair. She was in the middle of slipping off his t-shirt, when the doorbell rang and brought them back to reality.
Addison looked at the clock on the nightstand and frowned. "Who in the world would be stopping by this late at night?"
"I don't know," Jake admitted, straightening his t-shirt, before placing a hand on the small of Addison's back, as they made their way to the door.
"Archer," Addison said in surprise, as she opened the front door of her house. "Wh-what are you doing here?"
"My nephew's turning one," Archer answered with a grin. "How could I not be at his first birthday party?"
"It's not until this weekend," Addison pointed out.
"Yeah, well, I thought I'd spend the week," Archer shrugged. "You know, get to know my nephew, and fulfill my older brother role. Speaking of which," he said, extending a hand to Jake, "you must be Jake."
"Nice to meet you," Jake nodded.
"You really should have told me you were coming, Archer," Addison muttered.
"But where's the fun in that?" Archer chuckled. "So, why don't we all have a drink, and I can get to know Jake a little better."
"Um, actually, Jake and I were just about to go to bed," Addison cut in, desperate to help Jake avoid Archer's intense scrutiny or, at the very least, delay it.
"Just one drink," Archer reasoned. He turned to his sister; "You do have alcohol in the house, don't you?" he asked. "Oh, wait, who am I kidding, you're a Montgomery. Of course you have alcohol."
Addison looked at her boyfriend apologetically. "I'm sorry about this."
"Don't be," Jake insisted. "I have three younger sisters. I used to be the same way."
"Yeah, but then you grew up, and let them live their own lives," Addison smirked.
"Did you say you have three sisters?" Archer asked Jake curiously.
"I do," Jake nodded.
"Hmm…that's a little too much like Derek for my taste," Archer admitted. "And I never liked Derek, but Addie did, so no loss or gain on that one."
"Archer," Addison scolded; her brother's shamelessness never failed to surprise her. "I hate to point out the obvious, but Derek did save your life."
"That doesn't mean I have to like him," Archer insisted. He turned to Jake; "So, you didn't go to medical school with us," he noted, as Addison poured everyone a glass of scotch. "That's good. Addison seems to like dating men she went to med. school with. I'm glad she's moving past that."
"Archer, you've met past boyfriends of mine that didn't go to med. school with us," Addison pointed out irritably.
"Yeah, but he was a cop," Archer shrugged. "That didn't really count." He turned to Jake. "You're not a cop, are you?"
"No," Jake chuckled, as Addison groaned at Archer's elitism. "I'm a doctor," Jake smiled.
"Psychiatrist?" Archer asked hesitantly.
"Fertility specialist," Jake answered. "I work at the practice with Addison."
"Oh," Archer nodded.
"We should probably get to bed," Addison said. "It's late."
"But I haven't finished my-"
"Are you staying at a hotel, Archer?" Addison interrupted her brother. "Or were you planning on staying here?"
"Well, I'll stay here if you'll have me," Archer grinned.
"I'll go make up a guestroom," Addison nodded.
"Do you need help?" Jake asked.
"Stay and chat with me," Archer insisted.
Jake looked at Addison questioningly.
"It'll take me two seconds to get the guestroom ready," Addison told her boyfriend. "You should stay."
"Okay," Jake nodded, as he watched his girlfriend's retreating form.
"You really like her, don't you?" Archer said after a moment.
"Yeah," Jake smiled. "I really do."
"You seem like a good guy," Archer observed.
Jake shrugged. "I like to think I am."
"Good." Archer nodded. "Just…don't hurt her, okay? She's been hurt enough for one lifetime."
"Yeah," Jake agreed. "She has." He met Archer's eyes and smiled. "Look, I can't promise that I'll never hurt her. That's unrealistic. But I can promise never to hurt her on purpose…because, you're right, she's been hurt more times than anyone should, and I...I don't want to hurt her."
Archer smiled at Jake's words. "You know, not that my opinion has ever meant anything to Addison in the past…but…I like you, Jake. You clearly care about my sister, and you make her happy. And she deserves happy."
"Yeah," Jake agreed. "Yeah, she does."
"Where the hell is she?" Cooper demanded, looking at his watch impatiently.
"Coop, you've got to calm down," Charlotte scolded. "Addison is five minutes late. In doctor time, that's nothing. You know that."
"You're right. I'm sorry," Cooper apologized. "I'm just…I'm excited to see Alexander and Clara." That was a half-truth. Of course, he was excited to see his babies, but it was always nerve wracking at the same time. The twins had yet to get a clean bill of health from Addison, and that made every ultrasound appointment bittersweet. Over the years, he'd seen a lot of proud-looking soon-to-be-fathers, walking around the practice carrying sonogram pictures of their children, looking happy and excited. He never got that experience with Mason. He had experienced it for a moment with the twins, but it was taken away from him – and he wanted that happy, blissful feeling back.
"Sorry I'm late," Addison apologized, entering the exam room, and interrupting Cooper's thoughts.
"That's okay," Charlotte nodded, giving her husband a teasing smirk. "We didn't even notice."
Addison smiled, and opened Charlotte's file. "So, I'm pretty sure I already know the answers to most of these questions, but for the sake of professionalism…" she trailed off.
"Ask away," Charlotte insisted with an encouraging wave of her hand.
"Okay," Addison nodded. "So, how have you been feeling?"
"Bored out of my mind," Charlotte answered dryly.
"Charlotte," Cooper scolded. "That's not what Addison meant."
"I'm just sayin' being on best rest is about as exciting as watching paint dry," Charlotte shot back.
"So, aside from the extreme boredom," Addison went on, suppressing a chuckle, "how have you been feeling?"
"Okay, actually. They, uh, they've been moving around a lot more."
"Their kicks feel stronger too," Cooper added eagerly. "That could be a good sign, right?"
Addison nodded as she made a note on Charlotte's chart. She looked up at Charlotte. "And you've been sticking to that high protein diet I put you on?"
"And you've been keeping your fluid intake up?"
"I have," Charlotte sighed. "It has me running to the bathroom every two seconds but, yeah, I've been drinkin' lots of water."
"Good," Addison smiled. "Let's take a look then," she said, squirting some gel onto Charlotte's exposed abdomen.
She immediately found the babies, and studied them closely. "Huh," she said after a second.
"Huh?" Cooper asked nervously. "What does 'huh,' mean?"
"I'll be right back," Addison said, making her way towards the door, as Charlotte and Cooper looked at each other worriedly.
"Everything's okay," Addison said, trying to be reassuring, realizing that, for Charlotte and Cooper, this must have felt like a bad case of déjà vu.
She quickly made her way to Jake's office. "Hey," she said, lightly knocking on the door. "Do you have a minute? I need a second opinion."
"Charlotte?" Jake asked knowingly.
"Okay, let's go," Jake said, standing up, and taking her hand, as they walked towards Charlotte's exam room together. "So…" Jake trailed off.
"I think you should just see for yourself," Addison said. "I don't want to bias you."
"Okay, what the hell is this all about?" Charlotte demanded when Addison reentered the exam room with Jake. "I hate surprises, and over the past year, I've had enough to last a lifetime, so somebody better start talkin'."
"Okay," Jake nodded, as he picked up the transducer. "Let me just take a look, and then I promise we'll fill you in on everything that's going on." He expertly found the babies, studied them for a moment, and met Addison's eyes. "Oh my God," he breathed.
"What?" Cooper asked nervously. "What do you see?"
Jake nodded at Addison, and Addison gave Charlotte and Cooper a wide smile. "Two perfectly healthy, normal-size babies," she answered, blinking back the tears of happiness that were forming in her eyes.
"Seriously?" Charlotte gasped, moving the screen so that she could get a better look.
"Seriously," Addison nodded. "They look perfect."
"Jake?" Charlotte asked. Sure, she believed Addison, but she wanted all the reassurance she could get.
"They look great," Jake smiled. "The bed rest and the change in diet must have really worked."
"Why don't we give you a couple of minutes alone," Addison suggested, as she and Jake headed towards the door. "Congratulations, you two. Really."
Cooper immediately wrapped his arms around his wife. "I don't think I've ever been so happy," he murmured against her hair.
"Yeah," Charlotte breathed, her mind still reeling from the information that she just received. Their babies were going to be okay. The two little people that she had slowly (but cautiously) grown attached to over the past several months were going to be just fine.
Cooper met Charlotte's eyes and smiled before kissing her stomach gently; and because she was so grateful that their children were healthy, she didn't even give him a hard time about it.
"Hey, guys," Cooper said softly, a ridiculously wide smile on his face. "I know you're not even born yet, but I am so, so proud of you. And I'm so glad that you're both okay. I can't wait to meet you…you little bad-asses."
He looked up and met his wife's eyes to find her, unsurprisingly, glaring at him. "What?" he asked innocently. "They're extremely badass. So are you."
Charlotte wanted to roll her eyes, but she couldn't help smiling at her husband's words. "Yeah," she agreed. "They are pretty badass, aren't they?" She brought a hand to her stomach; "No more scarin' us, okay?" she warned. "And that's not just a limited time offer," she went on. "That means, no broken bones as kids, absolutely no underage drinking, no dating until med. school, and don't even get me started about sex."
"Charlotte," Cooper admonished. Their children weren't even born yet and, already, she was micromanaging. He turned his attention back to their babies. "We can't wait to meet you," he smiled. "You just work on staying safe and healthy. We'll figure out the rest."
"This is a really great party," Amelia complimented, shifting Henry in her arms.
"Thanks," Addison smiled, gently rubbing her son's back.
"I can't believe he's one already," Amelia said, lightly stroking Henry's cheek, and doing her best to keep her voice cheerful. As happy as she was for Addison, she knew that Henry's birthday was going to be bittersweet for her, because Henry was just a couple of months older than her son would have been, had he lived. And although she loved her nephew dearly, he was still a perpetual reminder of what she had lost.
"I really appreciate you being here today," Addison said gently, picking up on Amelia's struggle to keep her composure. "I know today can't be easy on you. But you mean so much to me and to Henry and I...I'm so glad you're here."
"I wouldn't miss this for the world," Amelia insisted. "You know how much I love Henry…and you," she added with a teasing smirk. "So, uh, I was talking to Jake's daughter," she went on, desperate to change the subject. "She's pretty amazing."
"She really is," Addison agreed, looking across the room, smiling when her eyes landed on Jake and Angela.
"So, you and Jake are pretty serious, huh?" Amelia assessed, following Addison's gaze. "Do I hear wedding bells in the near future?"
"Amelia," Addison scolded.
"Hey, I'm just asking," Amelia defended. She met Addison's eyes; "I'd be your maid of honor, right?" she asked, raising an eyebrow smugly.
"If I were getting married," Addison chuckled, "then, yes, you'd be my maid of honor. It wouldn't even be a question."
Amelia shot Addison an appreciative smile. "Thanks."
"You don't have to thank me," Addison insisted. "You're the closest thing I have to a sister. Amelia, you're my family. You're the clear choice."
Amelia smiled at Addison's words. "And, as your sister," she began with a smirk, "I'm telling you to go hang out with your boyfriend. He clearly wants you to go over to him."
"Okay," Addison agreed, accepting Henry from Amelia and making her way over to where Jake and Angela were standing.
Amelia watched them for a moment, feeling genuinely happy for Addison, when a tap on her arm brought her back to reality.
"How are you holding up?" Sheldon asked her in concern.
"Fine," Amelia nodded.
Sheldon looked at her skeptically.
"Okay, so I'm not exactly fine," she admitted. "But I'm trying to be fine. I'm happy for Addison, and I'm happy that Charlotte and Cooper's twins are going to be okay. I'm happy for them. I just…I'm still working on happy."
"Have I ever told you that you're the strongest person I know?" Sheldon asked.
"No, I mean it," Sheldon insisted. "And, not for nothing, but you make me happy."
Amelia met Sheldon's eyes and smiled. "You make me happy too."
"How's Amelia holding up?" Jake asked Addison.
"Okay, I think," Addison answered, shifting Henry in her arms. "I mean, today can't be easy for her."
Jake nodded in understanding. "I'll go check up on her in a little bit…you know, just to make sure."
"Thanks," Addison smiled.
"So the party's a huge success," Jake said brightly, trying to redirect the conversation to something a little more upbeat. "Everyone seems to be having a good time…not always an easy feat at a one-year-old's birthday party."
Addison smiled. "I think that Charlotte and Cooper are still flying high from the good news they received a couple days ago," Addison explained, gesturing to Charlotte and Cooper, who were sitting on the couch together, wide smiles on both of their faces. "This could be the worst party in the world, and they'd still be happy. And I warned Archer to be on his best behavior," Addison added with a smirk.
"Do you think he'll listen?" Jake chuckled.
"Probably not," Addison admitted. "But I absolutely forbade him from trying anything with Angela. Honestly, that's all I care about."
"He wouldn't do that," Jake cut in.
"He would," Addison disagreed. "My entire family tends to sleep with inappropriate people. It's kind of what we do."
"Hey," Jake protested, pretending to be offended.
"I wasn't talking about you," Addison smiled, kissing her boyfriend softly. "You're very appropriate."
Jake smiled against her lips. "Nice save," he murmured, kissing her tenderly.
"And you were worried about me being inappropriate today," Archer smirked, as Addison and Jake broke apart from each other.
Addison rolled her eyes at her brother. "Well, I appreciate you being on your best behavior," she chuckled.
Archer took a sip of his scotch and shrugged nonchalantly. "Hey, I can hit on women and act inappropriately anytime I want, but my nephew only turns one once, so…"
"Thanks, Archer," Addison smiled, as she shifted Henry in her arms.
"Hey, no problem," Archer chuckled, raising his scotch glass in Henry's direction. "Happy first birthday, Henry," he toasted, chuckling when his nephew reached out his tiny hand towards his glass of scotch. "Oh, no, that's not for you, Henry," he laughed. "But I'll tell you what…when you're old enough…or close to old enough, I'll take you for your first scotch. Does that sound like a deal?"
Addison couldn't help smiling at her brother's words. Sure, Archer could be inappropriate, and she had to admit, the thought of him taking Henry to a bar, one day, was a frightening one; but, at the same time, Archer was a good uncle, and he clearly cared about his nephew. She looked from her brother to her boyfriend to her son, and smiled, feeling incredibly lucky to be able to spend this special day with the three most important guys in her life.
A/N: I really loved the idea of Pete being Charlotte's work husband. I really wish that we had seen more of that on the show, rather than having Charlotte mention it after the fact; so even though Pete's not a big character in this story, I wanted to explore that aspect of Charlotte and Pete's relationship. :)