A/N: Hey guys! Read it, review it, all that, thanks for taking a look! :)
He carried the sleeping bundle of Lily into his house; ignoring the press outside. He then glanced at the wall clock grimacing when it said 5 o'clock. Lily was due back at Rachael's by seven. He looked around the kitchen deciding this was it. He set her on the couch to finish sleeping; then went back to make dinner. He warmed up the casserole and took out the ice cream, he'd give her a choice. He brought it out to the living room setting it down on the coffee table then sat on the couch picking up the little girl. She awoke slightly with droopy eyes; Paul gave her a minute then pointed to the table;
"Which?" He said, she pointed to the casserole, and he brought the plate up sitting it on her lap; she picked up the fork and took a sleepy bit, chewing slowly. Paul was ecstatic, she took a few more; still dead tired. Paul watched her slow down, and put down the fork. He frowned, then picked up the fork for her holding up another forkful to her mouth, she accepted it, with her eyes still drooping. He got her to eat the most part of it, after a bit she turned her head away from the fork and said,
"No more." He nodded slowly and asked,
"One more bite?" She took a half-bite more and with that she was officially done. He hugged her tightly; and she smiled with an adorable sleep-stricken smirk. He chuckled putting her back down and pulling a blanket over her tucking it in tightly. He then went around packing up her stuff; it pained him to no end—he didn't want her to leave. He wanted to play it selfish, and keep her forever. He collected the few outfits she'd had and the two toys she brought, it was a temporary thing her staying here, he didn't want it to be temporary. Now he was frustrated, when he got over there, he and Rachael were definitely going to figure this out. He couldn't live like this. He needed Lily here all the time, hell, he needed all the kids and Rachael here all the time.
He finally zipped up the little bag. This was fucking insane, he nearly shook with anger as he looked at it, this was his kid—she belonged here. He paced around for the next half hour having not a clue what to do; he couldn't steal her, hell, he loved Rachael too much to do that to her, but he didn't want to switch Lily back and forth. Goddamn it, he wanted William and Holly too, they belonged to him. If even Rachael insisted that they weren't—in truth they were, William called him daddy and Holly was his littlest baby.
When the time finally rolled around to leave he thought about not showing up—that wouldn't be fair to either Lily or Rachael; Lily needed a mum and Rachael was just that. He thought about calling to ask Rachael for another night with her—but it'd already been 3 days and 2 nights; 2 more days and 1 more night than they'd originally agreed to. He was trying not to be selfish, but how could he not? A near thought flashed through his head—what if they asked Lily who she wanted to live with? He felt sick from that thought. John had once divulged to him that his parents had done that, and it tore him to pieces.
He didn't want to miss a single thing. He returned to the dim living room and knelt back next to her; he listened to her breathing, watched the small smile she had on whilst she was far away dreaming; he didn't think he could tear himself away from her later; he didn't want to miss a thing. Not a single smile; or one of her cute little kisses; he'd already missed enough as it was. His watch now read 7:01. He was late. He sadly picked up the still sleeping baby and grabbed her bag meandering out the front door. Paul took the longest possible route to Rachael's; but could only go so far considering she only lived 15 minutes away. He pulled up to her gate; it was late enough for the press to be gone; he rang the house. He waited a few minutes but the gate didn't open. He tried again; he knew someone was home—the lights were on and he could see slight shadows in the upstairs window. After the third time he reached back touching Lily's leg;
"Hey, Love." He called out; she mumbled a 'mmph?',
"Do you know which buttons mummy pushes to open the gate?" She nodded;
"She saided that you press the green button lots if it's broken." Paul raised an eyebrow; following her instructions and pressed the green button near the top corner of the pad many times. Sure enough it opened and Paul pulled in.
He got out of the car first shivering from the frigid December nights air, then pulled Lily out of the backseat opting to carry her and be as close as possible. Lily looked apprehensive like she already knew what was going to go down. Her grip tightened around his neck as they got nearer to the door; she pressed her tiny cheek against his. Paul kissed her cheek stopping short of the door to ring the bell, they waited a few minutes and he bounced her against his hip in order to keep from freezing. When at last there was an answer; it was a very sleepy little boy in disheveled pajamas dragging a blanket behind him with a sickly look splashed across his face. He grinned up at them slightly with his cheeks flushed in fever. A rush of things hit Paul at once. First, the warm rush of air from the house, then Rachael's perfume, next was a baby crying and the telly going in the background. Paul put Lily down kneeling in front of the little boy pulling him into a tight hug whilst feeling his forehead which was burning up. Paul held him for a moment;
"Hey, buddy." He said quietly. The boy mumbled a hello into his neck. Paul let go as Lily wiggled her way in, the two grabbing each other in a frantic hug,
"Hi, Willy, hi, hi, hi." She said in threatening tears with extreme anxiety. They were squeezing each other tightly relieved at seeing each other—it ripped Paul apart, they shouldn't have been separated. The little boy looked relieved to say the least holding onto his sister. Paul got up shutting the door and looking around for a moment,
"Where's mummy?" He said glancing every which way. His answer was the baby crying again. He grimaced looking down at William who was rubbing his forehead;
"Oh." He said, "Willy, come 'ere." He said kneeling down again. The boy complied stumbling over. Paul felt his forehead again, gave him a kiss, and picked him up walking to the living room. He quickly tucked the boy in sitting with him on the couch for a moment;
"How long 'as Holly been crying?" He asked nonchalantly trying not to sound too worried. The boy looked irate; but he was too sweet of a kid to complain;
"Since forever. Mummy went up there a long time ago." He said, Paul nodded tucking the little boy in; and grabbing Lily who had followed them in, tucking her right into his side. The two looked to be at peace when he did that. Paul then turned around and turned up the volume on the telly loud enough to drown out the baby's crying.
"I'll be back, yeah?" He asked the children. They nodded watching him ascend upstairs in suit of the crying. He got up to the second floor; the sound getting louder with each step. He waited outside the baby's room for a moment finally taking a deep breath before he walked into the source of the crying. As soon as he opened the door the wailing escalated, he noticed a very upset Rachael trying to calm down an equally upset baby. She was facing the window and Holly was laying against her shoulder, Rachael was bouncing gently in efforts; but it was no use- the baby kept crying. Paul walked in, and she didn't notice, he came up behind her putting a hand on her back, she spun around quickly. The look was instant- she was in way over her head. Holly was now screaming, they both looked down at her, Paul put a hand on her little back looking back at Rachael;
"What's wrong?" Rachael shook her head, she had a terrified look in her eyes,
"I don't know." The baby's face was red and she kept a constant shriek going,
"How long 'as she been at it?" Holly let out another particularly loud sob, he and Rachael both winced,
"On and off since the last time you called." Paul ran the numbers in his head; 9 o'clock last night, until 8 o'clock tonight.
"Christ that's nearly a day." She nodded, the baby locked her body and continued bawling her eyes out. Rachael frowned, Paul studied her face quietly- she had the dark circles from lack of sleep, her eyes seemed dead, and he skin was still a sickly pale, he could see she'd been crying only a bit ago- there was a salty trail leading down her cheek. It looked as though she may cry again. Paul quietly held out his arms for the baby, at first Rachael looked reluctant,
"I've got her." He said firmly. After a few moments Rachael nodded slowly and Paul gently took the baby from her.
"Go 'ead and lie down, I've got 'er." He ordered steadily. She sighed watched him for a moment, then let go of the baby, and nodded walking out of the room. Paul turned his attention down to the child he was holding in front of him.
"What's th' matter, baby?" He crooned. He pulled her to his shoulder - he'd never really seen her cry before, except for the time she had croup. He took her over to the changing table and swaddled her up in a blanket. He picked her back up and started bouncing her whilst walking around the room.
"Shhh. It's all right, love." He cajoled. Paul started humming whilst rubbing her back in small circles. He eventually came up with a pattern- he'd bounce her walking slowly across the room and repeat it the other way. It took about a half an hour but eventually the baby quieted down somewhat. Paul took a seat on the rocker next to the window and finally took a breath for himself. A thought suddenly took hold of him—he remembered the few times he and John saw Julian as a baby. Cyn had told John to hold him up against his skin to stop the crying. Paul quickly undid the few top buttons of his shirt, un-swaddled Holly from the blanket, skillfully took off the onesie and held her against his chest. He rocked the chair for a bit of time and miraculously she stopped. He'd have to remember to thank Cyn for that.
The baby was now completely silent looking up at him as if she didn't recognize him. He pecked her on the cheek smoothing back her soft hair,
"There's me girl, what's th' fuss, huh?" The baby was still letting out little huffs and whimpers trying to catch her breath. Paul gave her a few minutes and eventually her breathing slowed and the snivels and wheezes stopped. Paul managed to get her nappy changed, and found a bottle on the little table next to the bed. He sat back as she drank watching her, the baby was still studying him from behind the bottle, he feared the worst,
"You remember me, dontcha Hol's?" The baby continued analyzing and he frowned just a bit. He rocked a little, she finished half of the bottle and decided she didn't want anymore. She had a slightly apprehensive, confused look upon her face. Paul's frown deepened, "It's me, it's daddy, Hol's. Remember?" He sighed, smoothing her hair down,
"Sorry I've been gone, love. I've got some explaining t' do, huh?" He continued rocking on the chair getting comfortable, "Well you see, darling, your mummy and I had a row. I made a huge mistake. It was my fault. But, I want t' make it up to her." He felt a knot in his chest deciding to tell her everything, "I don't want you guys t' grow up without me." Paul moved the baby back up to his shoulder rubbing her back, "I'm going crazy on my own, Hol's. Your Uncle Ritchie had t' come and straighten me out a few times." He shook his head planting another kiss on her face, "And I'm sorry I didn't get a chance t' see you since before you went to your Granddad's house. You're still my little baby, okay?" Paul affirmed this, he rocked for a while longer. He brought her across the hall to the bathroom; giving her a quick bath—he realized this was the first time he had given an infant a bath—he managed to do a pretty good job at it. He wrapped her up in a towel waiting until she dried off then put her in a clean onesie.
Paul made his way downstairs with the now-calm, fed, and washed Holly. He found William in the living room peacefully sleeping on the couch; Lillian was sitting next to the couch playing with blocks. She smiled a bit when he walked into the room, Paul knelt down next to her,
"Where's Mummy?" Lily pointed across the room, through the door, across the kitchen and into another sitting room, he could vaguely see an outline of a figure in the dark on one of the couches sleeping. He nodded and sat the baby down next to Lily. He reached up on the couch and gently pulled the little boy from it- to his shoulder cuddling him. Paul wanted to spend as much time with them as possible. He watched the little girl for a while playing. Holly got tired and tried standing up to toddle over to him. She fell twice; she still couldn't get the hang of standing up and toddling but instead opted to crawl over to sit on his lap. She wasn't terribly good at crawling either and had to scoot her way over to him; Paul made room for her- leaning back against the couch; Eventually Lily got tired as well; and once again he made room. He chuckled to himself wondering how the hell he was going to do this with five kids.
Around an hour later he heard the gate panel give off a slight beep, minutes later the front door opened an a rather large Greek man came in shutting it from the cold,
"Cold as shit." He mumbled. He pulled off his coat and stepped into the kitchen, Paul watched quietly, he recognized him, it was Theodore. The older gentleman peeked into the sitting room where Rachael was sleeping, stood there for a moment scratching his head, then spun around looking straight at Paul. His eyebrows raised as he surveyed the situation before walking over,
"Hey." He said looking at the sleeping children splayed all over him, Paul nodded,
"Hello, sir." Teddy chuckled stepping into the living room,
"Is that Walter's asshole still here?" Paul was confused,
"Christian?" Teddy nodded walking over and took a seat on a chair opposite from Paul, and the pile of children. Paul was taken aback,
"Didn't know he was here." Teddy let out a breath leaning back into the chair and putting his feet up on a ottoman,
"Told Rachael I didn't want that asshole around the kids, I came to kick him out." Paul was still dead-confused.
"Rach didn't say anything to me." Teddy nodded and rubbed his forehead,
"Heard you two have been having a time of it." Paul nodded slightly feeling ashamed. Teddy shook his head looking at the children, "How bad has it been?" Theodore asked quietly. Paul gulped pulling William's slipping head back to his shoulder and hoisting Holly up just a bit higher,
"We've been switching off with Lillian… 'aven't got t' see William or Holly until today." He confessed. Teddy raised his eyebrows,
"Jesus, I—" Neither man noticed but Rachael walked into the room, Teddy instantly stood up for a hug, and a kiss. Rachael looked over to Paul and the sleeping pile of little people then back to Teddy,
"Why are you here?" She asked confusedly. Teddy scratched the back of his neck,
"Where's Walters?" He said firmly. Rachael looked him up and down,
"Left yesterday afternoon." Teddy shot Paul a 'god help me' look then turned back to Rachael giving her a stare.
"Good." He said firmly. Rachael looked back up at the older man,
"Why are you here then?"She queried,
"You know why." She silently evaluated them, Paul saw she didn't start an argument; she just accepted it as an answer. She glanced over at him for a moment, then back to Teddy;
"You staying?" She asked. Teddy nodded, Rachael went back over to the kitchen, Teddy glanced back at Paul with a wide-eyed expression;
"Jesus Christ and a half; she looks like the walking dead." Paul was a little taken aback, "Her skin's all pale; I don't think I've ever seen her eyes that fucking dark." He observed quietly. Paul nodded slightly feeling quite ashamed that he and Rachael had let it escalate to this. Theodore then silently evaluated the bitterness between them;
"Shit, son." He said, "It's bad, isn't it?" Paul slowly nodded; Theodore looked back to the pile of sleeping children still holding onto Paul; "Do they have any clue?" He asked eyeing the older two; Paul nodded slightly;
"Lily caught on, William—I don't know." He said honestly. The older man shook his head;
"You two have t' figure something out." Theodore said slowly with a firm stance, Paul knew he was right. Theodore stood up and went into the kitchen; Paul tried not to eavesdrop. He heard the mumblings of Rachael; the deep, intimidating voice of Teddy—that always seemed to grow softer around the kids or Rachael. He only heard small blips of their conversation—'oh really?' he heard her say sarcastically; and his 'you two need to figure something out.' From Teddy. Paul sighed; he and Teddy were on the same team; Rachael wouldn't even look at him. The two of them then appeared in the doorway still whisper-arguing, Teddy pointed at the kids sprawled out over Paul; and harshly made a point to her. Rachael threw up her arms; and hissed her argument back. Teddy had the look of an angry father on his face, Rachael just looked like she wanted to give everyone the finger and leave the country. Teddy then jerked his head around looking straight at Paul with a murderous look and motioned to him to come over to their discussion. Paul took William off first, placing him on the couch, then took off Lily laying her next to him, then Holly he put on the opposite couch, stationing her there with a pillow to keep her from rolling off. He then slowly made his way into the kitchen,
"You two need to figure something out." Teddy bellowed when Paul walked in, Rachael glanced over at Paul;
"No." She said quietly. Teddy looked pissed to say the absolute least. Paul studied him for a moment—he was quite literally huge; he had to be about 6'5 and was broad shouldered—quite the menacing bloke. He spoke with a thick Chicago accent, tangled with the Greek pronunciation of most things, Paul just stood there dumbly. Eventually Teddy began speaking in harsh Greek at Rachael who listened, looked hurt, glanced back at the kids in the living room, and closed her eyes.
"Now." Teddy said, returning to English, "You need to, Rachael." She shrugged looking defeated and Teddy glanced at Paul, "You too, kid." Rachael looked awkwardly again past Paul's shoulder at the little kids, Teddy caught the look in understanding, "But, you can't do it here." He ordered, Paul looked over towards the front door taking control,
"We'll go t' mine, Rach." Theodore nodded, told Rachael to go, and returned to the living room flipping on the telly quietly whilst grabbing Holly to snuggle with as he sat down.
Paul nodded towards the front door with his hands shoved deeply in his pockets, and so they were off. The entire car ride neither of them spoke a word. And when he arrived at the house, it wasn't much better. They went inside and stood there awkwardly—what was he to do?