An- I thought I had already published some long ass chapters. Welcome to the mother fucking queen of long ass chapters :)
Thank you gottriplets, as always, for fixing my many mistakes! You put so much work into this and I just love you for it!
I need to send a little shout-out to ARomanticAtHeart, who writes me the best little spoofs as an encouragement to my writing :) You are so fabulous, and you make me smile like no other!
If you haven't already had a chance to see, one of my amazing readers, LaylaP, commissioned the incredibly talented animateglee to make an animated gif of the scene at the end of chapter fourteen, when Kurt and Blaine bring baby Greyson home from the hospital. It is absolute perfection! I've posted a link to my profile :) While she was at it, our talented artist went ahead and drew sketches of Addy and Elly, because she's just lovely like that. These sketches are amazing! ExACTly how I pictured these two little ones. Links also posted to my profile. You must go check them out and send this fabulous artist some love!
Also, a sweet little anon made me the most adorable banners for the AFS stories! I haven't been able to create links for these, cuz my computer is misbehaving, but they are on my tumblr! Check them out! Thanks little nonny! MUAH :)
There is a song that has been in my head for the last month or so (It's gonna sound awfully familiar Liam). I listened to it quite excessively whilst writing this chapter. If you're feeling particularly in need of some emotional stimuli, give it a listen as you read.
"Every Night" by Imagine Dragons.
I'm gonna put a link for it on my tumblr, but I'm traveling right now. My iPad doesn't like creating links for some reason...
This chapter pretty much took everything out of me emotionally. I feel like I could sleep for days! Do me a favor and give me lots of love to read when I wake up ;)
Without further ado, because I love you and couldn't possibly keep you in suspense any longer...
Wednesday Morning, December 22nd
"Who's the cutest baby in the whole world? You're the cutest baby in the whole world! Yes you are! Yes you are! You're just the cutest wittle baby ever! Yes you are! My little Gres! You're the cuteyest wittle-"
"Oh my god, princess," Puck rolled his eyes as he walked into the kitchen where Kurt was snuggling Greyson in his arms and smothering him with kisses and baby talk. "Did you just use the word cuteyest?"
"Yes I did!" Kurt grinned, leaning down to give Greyson a little eskimo kiss, not even looking up at Puck as he spoke. "You would too if you were holding the most adorable wittle baby in the whole wide world."
Puck sighed and scooped Greyson up into his arms. He held the tiny baby up into the air and gave him a scrutinizing gaze.
"Dammit, you're right!"
He swung Greyson down and nuzzled into his cheek.
"He is just the cuteyest wittle baby in the whole world! Shit! How does he do that to people? It's those damn chubby cheeks! He looks like a friggin' chipmunk hybrid and it's the most goddamn adorable thing ever!"
Kurt rolled his eyes and snorted a laugh before standing to stretch. He'd been holding his infant son for a couple of hours now, and while he wasn't about to complain, he was more than ready to move. He pressed a sloppy kiss to one of Greyson's chubby cheeks, and stood to move to the counter to pour a cup of coffee.
Puck leaned back up against the counter next to his friend with a sigh, chewing the inside of his cheek for a moment before speaking.
"Can I ask you something, Kurt?"
Kurt looked up in surprise. Puck rarely called him by his name. It was always 'princess' or 'fairy doc'.
"Yes, Noah. You may."
Puck grinned, realizing how seriously he had come across.
"I just have to know. You've been through hell and back lately with this whole fatherhood gig. Do you regret any of it?"
Kurt watched his friend carefully, before stepping forward to gently cup Greyson's cheek.
"Not for a minute. Not at all. I miss Tia and Liam so much... every single day. My heart aches because of it, but I wouldn't have done anything differently. We took them in when they needed us. We took the steps toward looking at adoption when the opportunity came up because we felt it was the right thing for us. We couldn't have known what would happen. I wouldn't trade the time we had with them for the heartache. Besides, who knows where those kids would be if not for us? I'm just glad we got to be a part of their lives for even a small amount of time."
Puck nodded slowly, giving the doctor what he hoped was a reassuring smile. He wasn't exactly the best at the emotional stuff. Kurt grinned and punched him lightly in the shoulder, causing the officer to laugh.
"Why do you ask all of a sudden?" Kurt asked curiously. Puck just shrugged it off though.
"Uh-huh," Kurt rolled his eyes. "Whenever you decide to tell me the truth, feel free."
Puck rolled his eyes right back.
"Fine. You're right. There's more. I'm just not quite... free to share yet."
"Even with me?" Kurt shot his friend and incredulous and offended look. "You've been mooching off of my husband and me for a month now, and you haven't even told me what's brought you into town yet! I, at least, deserve to know what's going on with you."
"Hey now," Puck glared. "I've been babysitting your little rugrats all the time! I've even changed diapers! Diapers, princess! Shit filled diapers! I've earned my right to keep secrets."
"Don't say shit in front of my son," Kurt hissed, reaching out to cover the baby's ears. Puck rolled his eyes.
"He doesn't understand," he chuckled, holding Greyson up against his shoulder. "Do you, bud? You don't know what the word 'shit' means, do you?"
Kurt snatched his child away with an irritated little growl, shooting the other man a glare over his shoulder. Puck rolled his eyes and scooted himself back up on the counter.
"Fine. Over-worry. I suppose it's what makes you such a good dad. Listen, while we're on the subject of naughty words, when's the last time you really fucked your husband?"
Kurt just gaped for a moment, looking offended.
"How is that any of your business?"
Puck just raised a single eyebrow and poured himself a cup of coffee. Kurt let out an exasperated sigh.
"I'll have you know that we just..." he glanced down at Greyson, "'did it', last night."
"No, no, no," Puck shook his head with a gleam in his eye. "I'm not talking about sweet and adorable lovemaking, which I'm sure you guys do all the time. I'm talking about hot and sweaty, man-on-man, fucking just for the sake of fucking. When's the last time you did that?"
They both looked up in shock when they heard a small clatter at the doorway. Paul was standing there with his mouth hanging open, a bottle he'd apparently been holding spinning on the ground. With a quick shake of his head he muttered that he needed to 'stop walking in on conversations', then took Greyson from Kurt's arms and headed back out the door.
"I'm just gonna take my grandson into a room where he can listen to The Backyardigans instead of this," he said, sending Kurt a little smirk. Kurt sank his face down into his palm.
"Thank you, Paul."
He punched Puck in the arm again, once they were alone. The officer grasped his arm with a laugh.
"Damn! You've got an arm for someone so skinny!"
"I can carry three children around at one time," Kurt snarked. "Never underestimate a daddy."
"Fine, fine," Puck grinned. "Listen though, I really do mean well. I'm actually not being a pig at the moment. Promise. Just..." he snatched the cup of coffee from Kurt's hand and picked up the nearby toaster, shoving it in front of Kurt's face, "look at yourself. You kinda look like a shadow of your former self right now..."
Kurt looked at his reflection with an irritated sigh, determined at first to blow Puck's statement off. After a second though, he really caught a glimpse of himself... and he was shocked. It was more than just circles under his eyes. He just had an overall look of exhaustion. Exhaustion, and sadness. Part of the exhaustion could be explained away by having a newborn, but he knew better than to try and blame it all on that. No matter how brave he and Blaine were trying to be, both for each other and for the other kids, they were still absolutely broken about Tia and Liam. Kurt had meant it when he'd said that he wouldn't have traded their time with the kids, just to not have the heartbreak of them being taken away... but that still meant he was left with said heartache, and it just got worse every time they went to visit the kids. The moment they left, they could hear them both cry for their daddies the second the door was closed.
Bryan was trying- trying incredibly hard. That much was obvious. Kurt had been admittedly impressed, and Blaine slightly more grudgingly so, at how Bryan had pushed aside all pride after the first couple visits, asking them for advice. They had pushed aside their own hurt, and stepped up. Bryan was their real dad, and there was nothing they could do about that. The point was for both Tia and Liam to be happy and healthy. Kurt and Blaine could at least take care of one of those by making sure Bryan was well equipped.
It was slowly tearing them to pieces though, and he could see that wear on his face. He looked a bit haggard, and he didn't do haggard very well. He sighed heavily, shoving the toaster back into Puck's hands, ignoring the pointed look that his friend was giving him.
"Now look out there at your husband," Puck said shortly. Kurt creased his brow in annoyance, but looked out toward the living room anyway.
Blaine was kneeling on the floor, helping the kids wrap some presents. Brandi was meticulously wrapping a sweater she had picked out for Aunt Rachel, and Blaine leaned over to give her a little hug, telling her what an amazing job she was doing. Elliott was struggling a little with tying a bow as he wrapped a screw driver for Grandpa Burt, and Blaine quickly slipped a finger onto the ribbon to help hold it in place. Addy had successfully wrapped an unidentifiable package in tape about twenty times, and Kurt smiled as he watched Blaine face palm for a moment, before gently cutting off her tape supply.
Blaine looked happy with the kids, at an initial glance, and he genuinely was. When Kurt took a moment to really look at his husband though, he saw the cracks in his armor. The same exhaustion and sadness that Kurt had seen in his own face, could easily could easily be found on Blaine's. A tightness around the mouth, the lack of a spark in his eyes when he smiled, and just an overall weariness.
Kurt's shoulders sagged, feeling suddenly as if he was failing everybody in his life- at every turn. He jumped a bit when Puck threw an arm around his shoulders.
"Look, man," Puck sighed. "This isn't judgment, okay? You're an amazing dad and an amazing husband. I know that, but as I stated earlier, you've been through hell lately. You need a break. Your husband needs a break. You guys just need to go out and have some fun and relax together. You deserve it."
Kurt couldn't help the smile that crossed his face.
"I'm gonna take a giant leap here and assume that you have something planned already."
"Well, combined with Paul and Finn and Rachel... yeah. You're taking your husband, and you're going away overnight. Rachel booked you some room somewhere; she left an envelope with the details. Between the four of us, we'll take care of the other kids."
"Blaine and I don't get a say in this?" Kurt asked, trying to look offended, but he was smiling too much for it to be effective.
"Nope, go snag your husband and get out here. I don't want to see you back here until tomorrow afternoon."
Kurt didn't say anything else. He felt like he should argue, like it was too much to ask of his friends and family- to give up their time so close to Christmas. Just in that moment though, Blaine leaned down over Elly's present, giving Kurt a perfect view as his shirt rode up a little and his ass stuck up in the air- just a bit.
"Yeah, I really need to fuck my husband," Kurt coughed, slapping Puck on the chest and dashing out to grab a surprised Blaine by the hand.
Puck threw his head back in laughter as the kids all looked on, bewildered. Their fathers dashed off in the direction of their bedroom, one dragging the other- who was looking just as confused as the children.
Puck ran back into the room, scooping Elliott up and onto his shoulders.
"Okay, kiddos. Daddies are going out for the night. Your Uncle Puck's in charge! You know what that means!"
"Ice cream for dinner!" Addy shrieked, plastering herself to Puck's legs with a grin.
"Hey!" Paul spoke up with a grin. "I'm here too! I think your dads are gonna want you to have something healthy too."
He was about to keep arguing when he caught Brandi gazing at him hopefully. He sagged against the couch, holding an arm out to the young teen. She snuggled in next to him with a bright smile.
"Fine," he sighed, "ice cream for dinner. If your dads find out though, this is your uncle's fault."
"I can handle it," Puck grinned, sending a wink to Brandi- and then staggering slightly as Elliott started to fall off his shoulders when Addy clung to both of his legs too tightly for him to balance.
Paul cringed when all three fell over onto the couch, desperately hoping that this night didn't end up with a trip to the emergency room.
Cara took a deep breath, trying to steady herself. It wasn't that big a deal. It was just a trip to the mall. This was the first time she had gotten out of the house on her own since her C-section though. Not only was she unsure of how tired she would get, this was her first time potentially seeing people she knew since giving the baby away.
She was actually doing quite well, emotionally- much better than she had possibly imagined after those first few nights. She was so very grateful for the therapist that the adoption agency had set her up with. After some encouragement from the nurse, Lisa, who had become a fast friend and support those first few days, she had started seeing the therapist that first week. It was doing her a world of good, and giving her back the perspective she had gained during the pregnancy.
She was feeling fully confident again, that she had made the right decision. It was still hard, and she still felt an intense ache inside when she thought of the baby she had given up. Every time that ache hit her though, she would gaze at the picture that Lisa had printed for her of the Hummels. She would look at their glowing faces as they held the nondescript bundle- and know without a shadow of a doubt that she had done the right thing.
She waved a quick goodbye to her neighbor who had given her a ride to the mall as she stepped up to the entrance. She still wasn't able to drive on her own yet, and her father was away on a job. He had hesitated to leave her, but she knew that they needed the money- and she had encouraged him to go. She knew that it would do him good to get out, and their nice neighbor lady who always looked in on her when her dad traveled had promised to keep an extra close eye on her.
She felt a little pang when she realized how much she just wished that she was able to go and visit the Hummels, just as she had during the last months of her pregnancy. She knew that she wasn't ready for that, though. In all honesty, she had no idea if they would ever want her around. The initial terms of their agreement had stated that it would be a closed adoption- and that their contact would discontinue as soon as the baby was born. As their relationship had progressed though, it quickly became apparent that they would not be the norm when it came to the relationship between biological and adoptive parents. They had never discussed it completely, but it had been insinuated numerous times that maybe they would want to revisit the whole idea of cutting contact completely. She had gone into labor so suddenly though, that there had not been time to discuss it further. Then, after she had delivered, she had been so devastated that she couldn't handle the idea of seeing any of them.
Now, all she could think of was how much she just wanted to be with them again. She thought of the list in her purse, which included a little something for each of the Hummel children. She missed them all so much, particularly the three foster children, as she had spent the most time with them. Brandi had become such a good friend in the short amount of time she had spent together, and Tia and Liam were like a little brother and sister. She grinned when she went on to think of Elly and Addy, and the humor in how close they were, while being so very different. She couldn't stand the thought of not doing anything for them for Christmas, and was hoping that if she got them each a little something she could at least ask Lisa to pass the gifts on. She was sure that the nurse would help her in this way.
She blew out a deep breath as she stepped into the crowded mall, finally feeling ready to start facing the world again.
"Do you guys want to see Santa?" Bryan gazed hopefully down at Liam and Tia. The one-year-old was watching at him nonchalantly, gnawing happily on the end of a breadstick he had picked up in the food court. One thing he had learned very quickly about his daughter, was that he would always be able to keep her happy with food. A nagging voice in the back of his mind told him that this was probably an unhealthy and very short term solution, but right now he was simply in survival mode.
Liam just looked at him warily, refusing to speak a word. For the first several days, the two-year-old had spoken fairly often. He had answered Bryan's questions with one or two words, and had never failed to remind his biological father of the fact that no matter what he did, "Daddies did it better". In the last week though, he had stopped talking almost completely. The only time the toddler spoke or smiled was when his foster fathers came to visit. The moment they left, however, he would withdraw into himself, refusing to interact with Bryan unless absolutely necessary- and hugging Tia to him every chance he got.
Three weeks had gone by since the children had been given back to him. Three weeks.
It felt like an eternity.
He was trying so desperately hard to do the right things. He had even started taking advice from the two foster fathers, knowing deep down that they were so much better qualified than him. It had cut him to the core when they had willingly offered their help with a smile, yet broke down every single time they left from their visits. He would watch them in the parking lot. They had failed to make it to their car even once without visibly sagging from the sadness when they heard both Tia and Liam cry for them.
Then there was the older sister. She just plain unnerved him. She had started accompanying her foster fathers on some of their visits, and coming separately with Finn at other times. She would never say a word to him- just went straight to her siblings, checking them over thoroughly before shooting him a small glare. On the occasions that she came along with her fathers, she would sometimes sit off to the side while the three men interacted with the kids, watching his every move with narrowed eyes. He had never felt so nervous around a thirteen-year-old. He got the distinct feeling that she was just waiting for him to mess up, and would be ready to jump in the moment he did. He felt sure- that with the way he was going, it wouldn't be long.
Then there was that letter. That damn letter. God, he wished he had never opened that piece of paper. It was slowly eating away at his soul. He had had the very brief thought that the men had dropped the letter on purpose for him to find, but quickly came to the realization that they just weren't those type of people. He had debated giving it back to them, but the thought of admitting that he had read those words- and was still insisting on tearing their perfect little family apart... well, he just couldn't bear that.
He let out a heavy sigh, running his fingers through his hair distractedly as he squatted down in front of the double stroller.
"Come on, Liam! Buddy! Don't you want to see Santa? It'll be fun! You can get a candy cane and everything!"
Liam stuck out his lower lip, and Bryan had to bite back a groan of frustration. He knew that little look by now. It was the look Liam always got when he was about to say that he just wanted his daddies. He had recently stopped saying the actual words though, realizing that they were getting him nowhere. He just retained the look. The one that said he just didn't understand why everyone insisted on keeping him and Tia from the two people who loved them most.
Bryan sagged, realizing that the little boy was not about to give in to anything that he suggested, even something fun like going to see Santa. He was just getting ready to stand, deciding that he might as well take the kids home, when Liam bounced excitedly in his seat with hands outstretched.
Bryan looked up in surprise. The only people who made Liam this excited- were either doctor and nurse perfect- or his older sister. Tia quickly joined in on the excitement, squealing happily as she chucked the soggy remains of her breadstick onto the floor. He stood quickly, turning around to see who was causing the commotion. He was surprised to see a teenager, surely no more than sixteen, walking up to him quickly with a concerned expression. He watched in bewilderment as she rushed up to the kids and knelt down next to the stroller, holding both of their grabby hands in her own as they tried as hard as they could to escape their seats and climb into her arms.
She glanced up at him warily, suspiciously, before speaking.
"I'm sorry. I really hope I don't sound rude, but... Who the hell are you and what are you doing with Doctor and Mr. Hummel's kids?"
His heart sank even further, if that was possible. This felt like the final straw for some odd reason.
"Not to be rude right back," he snapped, "but who are you to even question me?"
She watched him uncertainly, gauging her response while refusing to let go of the children's hands.
"I'm a friend of the family," she answered slowly, then sighed heavily before looking him straight in the eye. "Their youngest child, their one-month-old baby... He was mine. I gave him up for adoption to them."
He stomach clenched at those words. That was not what he had expected, at all.
Cara's eyes narrowed slightly as Liam reached for her desperately, calling her name once more. She reached into the stroller, offering him a solid hug.
"I think you owe me an explanation now," she spoke in a low voice, "because these kids seem less than thrilled to be here right now, and I know Kurt and Blaine wouldn't leave them with just anyone. Why do you have their kids?"
The words spilled from his lips before he could help himself, before he had a chance to process that he was about to spill his scariest and most heart-wrenching secret to a teenaged stranger.
"I don't know. I... I don't even know anymore."
Thirty minutes later they were settled down at a table in the far corner of the busy food court. Bryan was holding a sleeping Tia on his lap, pressing kisses to her blonde head- and looking absolutely miserable. Cara was sitting opposite of him, Liam on her lap and clinging to her firmly, feeling absolutely sick to her stomach.
"Wow," she said finally. "I'm... I'm really sorry. I can't imagine being in your shoes. I'm sorry I kind of attacked you. I just know how much they love these kids and I didn't know you..." she trailed off uncertainly. He shrugged with a laugh that held absolutely no amusement.
"It's okay. I don't blame you. I know firsthand how little my own kids want to be with me. I'd have been concerned too if I was in your position."
She smiled sadly then, leaning down to look briefly at the toddler in her lap and hugging him close.
"It'll get better," she said softly, yet with obvious hesitation. "I'm sure. You need time, and so do Tia and Liam. I bet if-"
She was surprised when she was cut off by a sharp laugh. She looked at the man across the table with sad eyes. His laughter was so sad and desperate, partially a small sob, and it was obvious by the thickness in his voice that tears weren't far behind.
"Yeah," he shot out with another sharp little laugh, wiping at the corner of his eye. "The only success that I've had so far in this whole fatherhood thing is because the Hummels helped me. Anything I've managed to do right... it's because of them. How ironic is that? I failed my kids in the first place- by letting them stay with mother at all. Then when they finally get what they need and deserve, I come and ruin everything. I'm trying so hard to be a good dad and make the right decisions... but I just keep messing everything up."
She sat and listened stiffly, unsure of how to respond. The obvious question popped into her head, and she chewed on the inside of her cheek, uncertain if this would be overstepping her boundaries. She watched as he wiped again at his eyes, trying to keep from bursting into tears in the middle of the mall.
He rubbed a soothing hand on Tia's back when she stirred in her sleep- and Cara watched this motion carefully. She swallowed back her nerves, speaking softly.
"It's obvious how much you love them. I can see that clearly now... but if you love them so much, and if you really feel that they were so much better off with the Hummels... why are you taking them away? I mean, you weren't a part of their lives before... why now? Especially when they were all so happy."
He just stared for a moment. He had been asked this question several times, prior to the moment when his children had actually been turned over into his custody. His answer had always been simply that he was their father. Kids should be with their parents. He had already failed them. It was his turn to step up. He cleared his throat roughly. Somehow that answer seemed ridiculously inadequate now.
"I'm their father," he answered in a wavering voice. "I'm the one who's supposed to be taking care of them."
She thought carefully, feeling like she was so out of her league right now, but unwilling to just let it go when this man was so obviously in distress- not to mention the fact that Liam was gripping her so tightly it felt as if he had a death grip on her.
"I understand that kind of thinking, trust me," she smiled genuinely. "But do you... do you even want this? Do you want to be with them? Do you want to be a dad?"
"You don't get to just choose whether you're going to be a parent," Bryan spoke heavily. "I pushed away the guilty feelings of not being there for them when they were babies-because I thought that they would be okay since they were with their mother. Obviously that was a horrible mistake, but I'm trying to fix it now."
"Don't you see though," Cara sat forward in her chair, "being a good parent to your child isn't so black and white. Believe me when I say that I understand that desire, that deep-down desire, to be the one to raise your own child. To be the one to care for them. You feel like you are abandoning them if you, yourself, aren't the one to do it."
Bryan watched the teen with wide eyes, feeling as if his life was hanging in the balance with the words she was speaking. He swallowed harshly.
"Do you feel like you abandoned your baby when you let them adopt him?" He whispered, feeling like he was forcing an unwelcome confidence- but desperately needing to know what her answer was.
God, I'm putting all my stock in the opinion of a teenager!
He squeezed his eyes shut, resting his head on top of Tia's. He opened them when he felt Cara lean forward and rest a hand on his arm. One look in those eyes told him that she wasn't a typical teenager though. Christ, she looked like she had access to so much more wisdom than he. He suddenly felt so small.
"No," she answered in a calm voice, with peace in her eyes. "I loved my baby. I still love my baby, but there isn't a doubt in my mind that I was not ready to be a mom. A real life, 'day-in, day-out', actual mom. I would have done it if I'd had to, of course. I would have done anything to take care of him. In this case though, I had these two men- who not only have the capability to do more for my child than I ever could- they desperately wanted him, Bryan. This is what life is about for them. They want to be fathers. They want to be a family. They want to take children into their home and love them like nobody else can. They want this more than anything else in life."
The tightness in his chest was overwhelming. He felt as if he was on the brink of falling. Every word she spoke resounded within him so deeply. It was like she was speaking aloud every secret thought and feeling that he had continually pushed aside, for fear that it meant he was once again failing as a father if he conceded... if he finally admitted the truth... that these men could do something he could never possibly do.
They could be fathers to his children, and instead of just surviving... they would thrive. Then in turn, his children would not only survive, they would also thrive.
God, he wanted that for them.
He nodded slowly, unable to stop the tears that were now falling down his cheeks. He felt at such a loss. There seemed to be no way out. He had already ruined everything. How could he possibly go back now?
"Even if..." his voice was rough and he passed a hand over his eyes. "Even if I felt that way... even if I decided that you're right... it's too late for us now. I already took them away. I already screwed up everyone's lives. I was so intent on doing the right thing that I didn't... I didn't think about the fact that there is more than one right. I messed up..."
He broke then, holding Tia to him tightly, sobbing into her hair. Cara stared helplessly, patting his arm, having no idea what she should do.
"I thought I was finally being a good father! I thought... Oh god! Now it's too late..."
Cara watched, suddenly seeing how young this man in front of her was. It struck her that he must be much younger than the children's mother. He was nowhere near old enough to be Brandi's real father.
God! He's only a few years older than me!
She tightened her grip on his arm, feeling more confident.
"Listen to me," she said sharply, causing him to sit up straight and look her in the eye with a shocked expression. "It is never too late. You've said yourself- that Doctor and Mr. Hummel are these incredible people. If you decided that the kids were better off with them, don't you think they would take the kids back in a heartbeat?! They were ready to adopt Tia and Liam! Do you think that they would be selfish and hold this against you- punishing the kids, just because you messed up?"
Bryan stared at her in shock, hardly able to believe that this young girl was speaking to him this way. A warmth was spreading through him at her words though, a sort of hopefulness that he was nervous to let take hold.
"I took care of it legally though," he sighed roughly. "I don't even know...
Her eyes narrowed at those words. She saw that he was listening to what she had to say, and decided to take it a step further, hoping she wasn't pushing too hard, too fast.
"If you truly believe that they are better off with the Hummels, then be a man! God! You took the steps to take them away! You just take the steps to give them back!"
His eyes widened even further and his jaw dropped. Cara cringed a bit. She had never spoken to anyone that way before, yet she regretted nothing.
"Listen, from everything you've said, I can tell that you truly love these kids." She gazed down at the toddler in her arms. Despite their intense conversation, he had joined his sister in napping, and had nuzzled into her shoulder. His flushed cheek was pressed against her, and tiny fingers grasped at her sweater. She leaned down and placed a soft kiss to his cheek, then looked back up at Bryan. "If you really, truly love them... prove it! Be a man. Be a father. Do what's best. It's obvious what you think that is- no, what you KNOW that is. Forget your mistakes! It's over and done with. You can't change the past. What you CAN do is start making wise choices now. Show everyone involved what kind of man you are. Step up!"
Bryan's mouth was hanging open, moving just a bit as he searched for words. The warmth that had sparked inside of him started spreading. What had started as hoping against hope, was slowly turning into a calm reassurance. A secure feeling- that he had been lacking from the moment he had taken Tia and Liam away. A feeling that he might finally have a grasp on what he was doing, or at least what he needed to do.
Apparently he just needed a sixteen-year-old to pave the way. Obviously an extraordinary sixteen-year-old, but still... a kid. He had so much to learn about life. That much was becoming painfully apparent.
He surprised her by laughing suddenly, lightly.
"You're pretty sassy, you know that?"
A slow grin spread across her face.
"Yup. My dad tells me that quite frequently."
Bryan nodded slowly, smiling too.
"You're also pretty wise."
Her own smile softened. She didn't respond, just sent him a sympathetic gaze.
He wiped the tears that were drying on his cheeks and sighed heavily as he shifted a still-sleeping Tia down into her seat in the double stroller. After settling the baby, he reached for Liam and snuggled the boy in his arms. Cara felt so many emotions roll through her when he held the small boy into his chest, so obviously in love with the child, whether wanted by him or not.
She realized in that moment that, as close as she could come to knowing truly how he felt, she couldn't completely. She had refused to hold her baby when he was first born, knowing that she wouldn't be able to bear the thought of giving him away once she had known what it was like to hold him, while he was still hers.
Here was this man, holding his child in his arms with a grief-stricken expression on his face. She could only imagine the emotions flowing through him. Fear that he would yet again make the wrong decision, sheer heartache at the thought of walking away- putting his own flesh and blood in the care of another, and even a peace at the thought of finally putting things right, even at his own expense.
She met his gaze with teary eyes, and he smiled sadly, holding Liam closer to his chest.
"Thank you. So much. I can't even begin... just... thank you. Thank you for kicking my ass."
She nodded carefully, giggling a little as she wiped at her eyes with her sleeve.
"Oh my gosh, Kurt! Hurry! My arms are about to break right now!"
Kurt rushed to unlock the door of their hotel room, opening it wide so that Blaine could dump all of the bags in his hands on the floor inside. The doctor laughed quietly as his husband collapsed on the bed with a dramatic sigh.
"You okay, sweetie?" Kurt smiled, setting aside their overnight bag and moving to settle down on the bed. Blaine rolled over with a groan, snuggling into Kurt's neck.
"I'll just tell myself that the looks on the kids' faces Christmas morning will be worth the fact that I have no feeling left in my fingers."
Kurt smirked a little, glancing over at the enormous pile of toys, clothes, games and stocking stuffers sitting by the door. He cringed inwardly, not even wanting to know the grand total that their purchases had come to.
"I get a sneaky feeling that we are trying to buy their love, what with all of the recent turmoil in our lives," he said a bit glumly. Blaine propped his head up on his hand gently pulled Kurt in for a kiss.
"Nope. We're just reaffirming our love... by buying them lots of stuff."
Kurt rolled his eyes, but leaned into the kiss anyway.
"That doesn't make it any better," he mumbled against Blaine's lips, sighing contentedly as the nurse leaned into him, pressing him into the bed. "At least they're getting presents though, you know, because Santa won't be bringing them anything."
Blaine groaned and threw himself backwards on the bed while Kurt laughed outright.
"God! You aren't going to let me forget about that, huh?"
Kurt crawled on top of his husband, smoothing kisses down his neck, stopping just behind Blaine's ear to caress the spot lightly with his tongue. Blaine shivered, running his fingers up Kurt's back to pull him in closer.
"Sorry, baby," Kurt breathed, mumbling against Blaine's neck. "I'm really not trying to throw it in your face. I just can't believe we lost their letter. I feel like we failed as fathers somehow."
Blaine sighed, pushing Kurt back and looking into his eyes.
"Well, their request from Santa wasn't exactly gonna happen, so I think we still covered our bases."
Kurt tried to smile, but he just couldn't manage it. Blaine dropped his head back, pulling Kurt down onto his chest. They rested together for a bit, holding each other close, letting the overwhelming sadness of their recent loss wash over them.
After a few minutes though, Kurt sat up with a sharp shake of his head.
"Nope. We're not doing this. Tonight is not about any of that. It's all about us, baby. We're gonna think about the two of us, and only the two of us... just for tonight."
A slow smile spread across Blaine's face.
"I like that plan." He ran his hands down Kurt's back to lightly trace the curve of his ass, causing the doctor to breathe in sharply. "What did you have in mind exactly?"
"Well," Kurt planted his knees down on either side of Blaine's hips, sitting up to start stripping off his shirt. "This morning my best friend strongly suggested that it was about time I fucked my husband."
Blaine's eyebrows shot up in surprise. He felt himself grow immediately hard as Kurt ground down into him lightly.
"I happen to agree," Kurt stated matter-of-factly, tossing his shirt aside before reaching down to remove his husband's. "We've had some really lovely sex lately, but it's been..."
He suddenly scooted himself down on the bed, resting his mouth directly about Blaine's erection.
He mouthed over the hardness. Blaine's eyes sank closed and he thrust his head back into the bed.
Kurt deftly popped open the button on Blaine's jeans and pulled down the zipper, moving his mouth to where only a thin layer of cotton covered the straining stiffness. Blaine groaned, reaching his hands up to run roughly through his hair.
Kurt slipped his hand underneath the band of Blaine's briefs, pulling the stiff cock completely free.
"Since I fucked you."
He suddenly sank down on Blaine with his mouth, and the nurse whimpered as he thrust up lightly with his hips, unable to stay still any longer. Kurt stayed where he was for a few moments, sucking gently as he moved his hands to carefully spread apart his husband's legs. He brought up a hand to lightly trace the curve of the ass in front of him, running a finger lightly over the entrance that was so temptingly close to his mouth.
Blaine's whimpering stopped as he gasped lightly.
Kurt pulled off of his husband's dick, giving it a small lick before moving up to kiss him, firm and deep. Blaine moaned into the kiss, grasping Kurt's face, licking into his mouth breathlessly. Kurt drew back with one last soft kiss, sliding his hand down to run his fingers over Blaine's splayed thighs.
"I think that I really need to fuck you tonight. Like, well and truly fuck you. Fuck you until we both just collapse."
"You're gonna have trouble doing that fucking with your pants still on," Blaine whispered in a harsh voice. Kurt grinned, leaning down to press his husband into the mattress as deeply as he could.
"Would you like to help me take them off? So I can get started?"
Blaine grinned against the doctor's lips, running his tongue over them lightly.
"Are you sure about this, A?"
Elliott was eyeing his sister skeptically as the little girl settled on her knees with hands folded in front of her.
"But, won't it be, like, when someone makes a deal with someone, and then tries to make a deal with someone else? One deal ends up getting cancelled. It's like, a double booking."
Addy rolled her eyes with a heavy sigh, then took his hands, forcing them into a folded position.
"I don't know 'xactly what you're talking about, but all we're doing here is doubling our chances. There's nothin' wrong with that. We asked Santa, now we're asking Jesus. Between the two of them we just HAVE to get Tia and Liam back. It's a no brainer."
Elliott watched her hesitantly, before settling into his knees and adjusting his hands.
"Alright. It can't hurt, and I'll do anything to get them back. You do the talking though."
Addy nodded happily, and was just about to speak when an amused voice spoke from the door.
"Whatcha doing, guys?"
They turned in time to see Brandi enter Addy's room with a soft smile, seeing her younger siblings on their knees in front of the bed.
They looked at each other briefly, wherein Elly nodded that they should share. It was Brandi after all. She deserved to be in on this.
"We're praying to Jesus that He'll bring Tia and Liam back home," Addy said with a smile. "Don't worry though, we asked Santa too. Between the two of them, I just know its gonna happen."
Addy reached out a hand to Brandi, which the older girl took after a moment of trying to swallow away the tightness that had formed in her throat.
"You won't need to be so sad any more, sissy," Addy said softly. Brandi smiled with misty eyes. All three of them had taken to referring to each other as sissy and bubby lately, thinking of little Liam every time. Brandi nodded, pulling both Elly and Addy into a tight hug.
"That's really nice guys," she whispered.
"Do you want to do it with us?" Elliott asked in a soft voice.
Brandi hesitated, unsure, until she saw the looks in their eyes, silently begging her to join them. A warm peace filled her. A peace that she hadn't felt for a month now, not since her siblings had been taken away.
She kind of loved this idea actually. It was right up her alley.
"Yeah," she smiled gently, sinking down in between them. She grasped both of their hands in hers.
"Let's do this."
Late Wednesday Night
Bryan sat in the middle of the tiny bedroom, clasped hands drawn to his mouth. His gaze settled on Tia for several long moments. She was snuggled down face-first in her crib, diapered backside sticking up in the air as her little legs tucked up under her body. One flushed cheek was smooshed down onto the sheet, one hand settled against her mouth, a damp thumb that had started out in her mouth- resting on her lips.
With a hard swallow, he quietly moved to tuck the little Sesame Street blanket around her. It was the one thing that he had purchased that she actually seemed to enjoy, and it did something to his heart to watch her snuggle into it contentedly.
He turned then to the other little bed in the room, and sank down next to it. Liam had cried himself to sleep that night, allowing Bryan to hold him for once, albeit grudgingly so. He had just ached as the little boy cried, asking where "Cawa" had gone, and exclaiming once again that he just wanted "daddies" to take him home. Normally Bryan would have tried to talk to the small boy gently about how HE was the daddy now, and that he loved them both so much and would take such good care of them.
On this night, he hadn't even tried. He'd simply held his son, letting him cry, whispering into the blonde hair, "I know, buddy. I know."
Eventually, Liam had exhausted himself, and collapsed against his father's chest. Bryan had held him for the longest time, gently rocking back and forth, smoothing kiss after kiss onto the blonde head.
After a good couple of hours, he had finally settled Liam into his little bed. He had tucked the second Sesame Street blanket around him, then settled down on the floor, trying to work things out in his mind.
He lifted a hand to lightly stroke the boy's cheek.
Silent tears ran down his cheeks. He didn't try to stop them. He didn't bother to wipe them away.
After a moment, he reached a shaky hand to his pocket, grasping the now incredibly crumpled piece of paper for a moment. He had read and re-read the letter, probably more times than was healthy for his soul, as it left him feeling broken and battered every single time.
Tonight though, it did something else entirely. As he touched the paper, he was overcome with a calm sense of purpose. A bit of rare happiness flared up inside of him as the thought sprang into his head, that after all of this- he could at least make more than one kid's Christmas wish come true.
Liam and Tia may not have written a letter to Santa, but he knew without a doubt what they wanted.
With a resolute nod of his head- and one last swipe of his eyes, he quietly pulled some bags from the closet- and began filling them with the children's things.
He hadn't known that it was possible to feel so devastatingly broken- and so resolutely at peace, all at the same time. He kept himself moving, gently packing away every last item.
He paused briefly when Liam sighed in his sleep, muttering something that sounded suspiciously like, "Daddy."
Bryan nodded, whispering brokenly, "Yeah. I know, bud. Soon. I promise. I'm gonna make it right."
Thursday Morning, December 23rd
"Elise, you need to eat the breakfast papa made."
Jeff gave his daughter a wide-eyed look that far outweighed the reprimand in his voice, and she giggled into her hand, causing Nick to turn around sharply.
"You know," he huffed, "I try and take the time to lovingly prepare my little family a meal, and this is the thanks I get. You both laughing behind my back."
He tried to scowl at both his husband and daughter, but he really couldn't keep a straight face. He took one look at the plate of rather unappetizing looking eggs- and bit back a laugh of his own. Jeff saw his struggle and bounced over to wrap his arms around the lawyer's waist.
"Oh, honey. The next time you decide you want to lovingly feed your little family, please save us all and take us to a restaurant."
Nick narrowed his eyes, but laughed as Jeff nuzzled into him, kissing him lightly on the tip of his nose. It was hard to be mad at someone so adorable. He laughed again when Elise jumped from the table and up onto his arms, hugging them both close.
"I love you, papa. Even if you can't cook."
"Well thank you, sweetheart," he grinned, holding her in a tight hug.
Jeff groaned when Nick's phone rang, grabbing Elise into his own arms and shooting his husband an annoyed glance.
"I will be so glad when it's the end of today and that thing goes off for fourteen straight days."
Nick shot him a little pout, pulling the phone to his ear.
"I'm sorry, baby. One more day, then I'm all yours. I'll be able to cook for you uninterrupted."
"Please, no!" Elise squealed, making both of her fathers burst into laughter as Jeff spun her in a circle.
"This is Nick Duval," the lawyer spoke into his phone with a grin.
Jeff met his eye, and quickly stopped his spinning when Nick's expression immediately fell.
"Yes, Mr. Scott. What can I do for you?"
Jeff raised an eyebrow in surprise. Nick never spoke to people this way, especially clients. The distaste in his voice was obvious, as if he wanted to show his irritation that this person would deign to call him.
Jeff quietly shushed their daughter, pulling her onto his lap at the kitchen table and watching curiously.
Mr. Scott. That sounds so familiar. Why does that sound so familiar?
His curiosity grew when Nick's expression changed once again. First to slight surprise, then to complete disbelief, and finally to barely contained joy. Nick weakly sank down into the chair next to his husband.
"Yes," he almost whispered, before clearing his throat with a shake of his head. "Yes, absolutely. If this is what you want, I am more than happy to help out. When..."
The suspense was killing Jeff by this point, and Elise squeaked when he squeezed her a little too tightly. He grimaced at her apologetically, before turning back to watch Nick.
"Yes, today. Of course. I'll be there. What time... Okay. I'll be there... Yes, I'll go to my office now and do what I can to prepare things ahead of time... Of course. You're quite welcome."
His expression changed once again, this time to something like pity.
"You, too. Merry Christmas, Mr. Scott."
He silently hung up his phone, resting his face down in his hands.
"Oh my god, what is it? What's happening?!" Jeff grabbed his hand and shook it roughly. He was surprised when Nick looked up, eyes watering but with a bright smile on his face.
"What-" Jeff barely had time to wonder when Nick jumped from his seat, planted a firm kiss to his lips, then leaned in to kiss Elise.
"I've gotta go," he shot out, rushing to grab his briefcase and coat. "I've got a Christmas miracle to help perform! I'll explain everything tonight! I love you guys!"
He was out the door in a flash, only to open it moments later with a roll of his eyes, snatching his keys from the hook next to the door. Before Jeff could even open his mouth, he was gone once again, the door shutting with a resounding slam.
Jeff and Elise turned to each other with identical eye rolls.
"Papa is so weird sometimes," she grinned.
"Good thing we love him anyway, huh?" Jeff grinned back, setting her down to the floor and shooing her toward the door. "Go get your coat, sweetie. Let's go get some real breakfast, then we'll finish Christmas shopping for your weird papa- who loves us enough to try and unintentionally poison us with his cooking."
"Got you, daddy!"
Finn groaned with a laugh as both Skylar and Teegan dove on top of him at once. They squealed in laughter as he lifted each of the three-year olds into the air with one arm.
"Never!" He cried, dropping them both down onto his chest and tickling their sides. "You can never beat daddy! I'm too powerful!"
He laughed outright when another small body attached itself to his legs, clinging tightly.
"Now there's three of us, Uncle Finn!" Addy shrieked. "You can't beat three of us!"
He laughed again, attempting to stand from where he had been sitting on the couch, but tripping slightly as Addy clung even more tightly to his legs.
Puck cracked open an eye from his place in the recliner, Greyson sleeping peacefully on his chest.
"Loosen your hold a bit, princess. We don't need the jolly green giant to come crashing down and kill us all."
Elliott glanced up from his book, shaking his head a bit at his sister's antics, then curled back into a little ball, letting himself be absorbed back into his story.
Rachel, Brandi and Hailey all looked over from the table, where Rachel was painting the girls' fingernails. They all giggled a bit at their little tomboy- as Addy tried her best to knock Finn over.
"Sweep the leg, Adelaide," Rachel called out with a grin. Finn looked over at his wife with a shake of his head as the three small children slowly brought him down.
"Thanks for your support, honey!" He yelped.
They all laughed as the twins and Addy all yelled triumphantly when he hit the ground.
"Time out!" He shouted with a laugh as Teegan plopped down as hard as he could on his father's stomach. "Time out! I have to answer my phone!"
He scrambled away from the room, shaking a giggling Skylar from his leg as he went.
The twins and Addy ran to join Elliott on the couch, asking that he read to them out loud, which he agreed to happily.
They all settled into the quiet. Puck dozed with Greyson. Rachel finished up the girls' nails, and the other three kids listened as Elliott read to them. Rachel looked up after a few minutes though, wondering at what was taking Finn so long. Normally any calls he had to take on his day off, he would defer quickly, not wanting to take away from his family time. With a quick word to the girls to "not touch anything while the paint is still tacky", she went to search out her husband.
She was surprised to find him- sitting down on the ground in the hall, phone hanging loosely in his hands, a look of shock on his face.
"Honey, you okay?" She asked nervously, kneeling down beside him.
He looked up, eyes shining as he quickly nodded. She squealed in surprise when he yanked her into his arms, holding her close, but collapsed into him happily.
"Yeah," he whispered, breathing out as she sank into his lap, squeezing him back even though she had no idea what was happening.
"I'm definitely okay. Very, very, very okay."
She pulled back to look at him curiously, squeaking a little yelp when he swung her up into the air suddenly as he stood. He leaned down to place a smacking little kiss on her lips before diving for the front door.
"I'm sorry, babe, but I've gotta go real quick. I need to take care of a couple things. I'll be back in a couple of hours. Do me a favor and text Kurt or Blaine. Tell them they need to be home by three o'clock."
"Why?" She called out, looking at him like he was mad. "What is going on, Finn?"
He stopped at the doorway, grinning widely and struggling to throw his jacket on.
"I'll be back soon. I'll explain everything. Promise. I love you so much! This the best Christmas ever!"
He dashed out the door excitedly, and Rachel laughed, watching the bottom corner of his coat wiggle as he tried to pull it loose from where he had shut it in the latch.
He opened the door with a sheepish smile only moments later, freeing himself quickly.
"I'm just gonna..." he shrugged another grin, closing the door once more and leaping off the front porch.
"What's daddy doing?"
Rachel looked over from where she had been shaking her head in amusement, to find Skylar pulling on her leg and pointing to the door. She reached down to pull him into her arms with a kiss to his chubby cheek.
"I'm not sure, love, but whatever daddy's up to, I'm guessing it's something good."
Late Thursday Morning
"Oh my god... Blaine..."
Kurt closed his eyes, leaning back against his husband, really hoping that Blaine had the strength to hold him up- because his legs were already shaking uncontrollably.
He reached a hand back to grasp Blaine's neck, resting his head on his husband's shoulder as he planted his knees deeply into the bed.
Blaine snaked his hands around the doctor's chest, rubbing lightly from one nipple to the other with one hand- as his other hand trailed down to grasp Kurt's stiff cock. He traced around it lightly, causing Kurt to whimper.
"God, yes. Please, baby. Just... like that... please, please, please..."
Blaine grinned, panting breathlessly as he thrust up and in, while firmly stroking his husband's dick.
He loved when Kurt started to babble the word 'please'. It meant that he was only moments away from his orgasm, and seeing as Blaine was only seconds away himself, this was perfect timing.
They were both kneeling on the bed, Blaine flush behind Kurt, in between his parted legs. Shaky moans were coming from Kurt's mouth as pressed back into his husband, flexing his fingers anxiously into the skin of Blaine's neck as his husband jutted into him again.
"Fuck, Blaine... right... right there... please... oh please, please, please... don't stop... fuuuuuck..."
He stuttered out a choked cry as Blaine started thrusting deeply.
"Shit, Kurt... so good."
He bit down lightly on the skin of his husband's shoulder, pinching lightly on a sensitive nipple while pumping Kurt's erection roughly.
The doctor's knees buckled at the sudden, intense wave of pleasure that washed through him. If Blaine hadn't been clinging to him so tightly he would have collapsed down completely. He could only fall back as Blaine thrust in one final time, touching and stroking him everywhere at once.
They both cried out as they came, one after the other, bodies sparking as they melted together. Kurt moaned breathily as he turned on Blaine's shoulder, blindly searching for his husband's mouth. They kissed hotly, groaning against each other as they moved slowly.
Blaine swiped his thumb gently around his husband, causing a shiver to run through the doctor as he arched his back and whined softly.
"Fuck, Blaine. Fuck... too.. too much. Oh my gooooddd, that was so good, baby."
Blaine smiled, body finally relaxing as the last, small flash of pleasure floated through him. He placed a damp kiss to Kurt's neck before weakly falling back on the bed.
Kurt fell against him with a breathy laugh, and they lay there, still connected and panting heavily.
"I'm totally crushing you," Kurt grunted, as he feebly attempted to push himself up and off of his husband. Blaine just gripped him tightly though.
"No, you're not. Well, you are, but I love it. Stay."
Kurt sighed heavily, and let himself collapse completely once again.
"You're gonna regret this in a few seconds when you can't breathe."
"Mmmm," Blaine hummed sleepily, "I love your weight on top of me."
"Mmm-hmmm," Kurt laughed lightly. "Now you sound just like you did last night."
Blaine chuckled, and Kurt shivered as the vibrations shot through his still-sensitive body.
They both sighed as Kurt rolled over and off, snuggling down into Blaine's chest with a sated smile on his face. They were both drifting off when Blaine's phone went off.
"Dammit," Blaine grumbled, scooting over to snatch his phone from next to the bed. "They send us away- telling us we need to get laid, and then interrupt us with constant texts."
Kurt laughed sleepily, plopping his head down on the bed.
"This is only the fourth one, and I'd rather Puck ask than make decisions on his own. One of his texts was asking if he could put chocolate syrup in Greyson's formula so he could have dessert, too."
Blaine's jaw dropped momentarily.
"Oh my god, we left our children in the hands of that man?!"
"Either Paul or Finn or Rach are there too. Don't worry sweetie," Kurt patted Blaine's arm lazily. "Who's it this time?"
"Huh," Blaine squinted at his phone. "It's Rachel. She's just saying that we for sure need to be back to the house by three. Something about a Christmas present being delivered and we need to be there to sign for it."
Kurt lifted his head up in confusion.
"I wonder what that's all about? They already got us this night away; I hope they didn't do anything else too crazy."
"I guess we'll see," Blaine sighed happily, plopping down and kissing Kurt steadily down his neck.
"Hmmm, keep going and I'll be ready to go again in just a few minutes."
Kurt laughed when Blaine yanked him up and over- so that the doctor was covering him completely.
"Good," Blaine grinned, "'cuz I'm ready to feel your weight on me again."
"You just can't get enough of me, huh?" Kurt smirked, reaching down to start bringing the nurse's erection to life once more.
"Mmmm, nope," Blaine sighed happily, "and I never will. You'll just have to keep satisfying me for forever, baby."
"I can do that," Kurt mumbled as he sucked gently on Blaine's clavicle, causing him to gasp and arch up into the touch. "I can definitely do that."
"Whose cars are those, Blaine?"
Kurt peered curiously at all the cars parked by their house.
"Um, well, that's Finn's. The one next to it is Nick's. I wonder what he's doing here."
Kurt's stomach twisted a little, hating that he automatically went to a place of such insecurity. Having the rug pulled out from under them so recently had set him on edge though when it came to surprises.
"Whose is that, though?" Blaine looked curiously at the small, beat-up sedan parked next to Nick's car.
"I don't..." Kurt trailed off, suddenly noticing the car seats in the back.
"Kurt..." Blaine gripped his husband's hand tightly, obviously noting the exact same thing.
They looked at each other, hearts pounding. Vivid memories from a month ago flashed through their minds. Small fingers reaching for them behind the smudge-covered rear window. Cries of "daddy" coming clearly from the old car as it pulled down their driveway, breaking their hearts with every inch added to the distance between them.
"What do you think he's doing here?" Kurt looked anxiously to the front door, having no idea what to feel or even hope for.
"We're not going to find out if we stay in here," Blaine answered in a rough voice. They looked at each other once again, both letting out a deep breath and meeting in the middle for a quick kiss before climbing out of the car. They linked shaking fingers together, both needing something to ground them.
Neither dared to voice what they were really hoping for. They didn't even dare to meet each other's eyes, for fear of getting those hopes up even further.
They burst through the front door, anxiety at an all-time high by the time they climbed the front steps. They looked on with bated breath as Nick, Finn and Bryan all looked up from some piles of paperwork.
The lawyer and social worker both looked as though they were bursting with excitement, yet were obviously trying incredibly hard to rein it in for the sake of the other man at the table.
Bryan watched them steadily, a sad smile on his face. His eyes were a bit puffy, and it was obvious that he had been crying. He sent the husbands a look that mystified them a bit, as if he had a secret that both pained him and gave him great joy. His smile grew as his eyes watered up- and he stood to walk over to them.
They felt like strangers in their own home. So much was happening and they had no idea what to make of any of it. They were still standing in the open doorway, grasping hands, nervously waiting for someone to clue them in.
"Hey, Dr. Hummel," Bryan shook Kurt's hand, then Blaine's. "Mr. Hummel."
"Hi, Bryan," Kurt smiled tightly. "I-I hope I don't sound rude, but... what are you doing here? I thought our visits were only going to be at your place? I didn't even know that we had a visit today."
"You don't," Bryan answered quickly, voice quavering just a bit. "I have something I need to discuss with you. I'm so sorry if it seems rude that I just showed up here, but I already talked with Mr. Hudson and Mr. Duvall. I had some things to work out with them and they thought it would be best if we just came here. I hope..."
He trailed off when Kurt and Blaine just stared at him blankly, then sighed, running a hand through his hair.
"Can we sit down? I'll explain everything."
They nodded dumbly, following him over to their own kitchen table. Kurt jumped when Finn put an arm around his shoulders. He stared at his brother with wide eyes, not wanting to let the thoughts that were jumping through his head take hold. It was too terrifying to be that hopeful.
Finn looked at him steadily, then smiled.
Kurt wanted to throw up from the anticipation, and one look at Blaine showed him that his husband was in the same boat.
"Look," Bryan cleared his throat. "I'm just going to be completely up front with you. God knows you deserve that. I..."
He stopped for a moment, closing his eyes as if to steady himself, then let out a deep breath.
"I know that I have no right to ask this. I have no right to expect anything from either of you, but I also know how much you love my children."
He stopped, biting at his lips and letting out a shuddering breath as a hot tear escaped down his cheek.
"You love them as much as I do, and even more than that... you want them. You want them so much. I... I've realized in the past few days- that you can give them things that I never can. You can give them a solid home with two parents. A home where they are not just taken care of, but really, really wanted, and loved by so many people. I-I'm sorry I didn't see that before. I'm so sorry..."
Kurt and Blaine had both pretty much stopped breathing by that point. They were gripping each other's fingers so tightly their skin was bright white. Neither noticed. They just stared at Bryan, ready to burst with enthusiastic expectation.
"Are you saying..." Blaine couldn't bring himself to finish the sentence.
Bryan nodded quickly, wiping at his eyes.
"I'm working with Mr. Duval to officially sign away my rights as their dad. Mr. Hudson has worked it out so that the kids can be put back in your custody, and you're free to start the whole process of adopting them. I was the only thing standing in your way before."
He gave them a shaky smile, wiping away some more tears.
"I'm not standing in the way anymore. If you still want to adopt Tia and Liam... I... I won't keep that from happening. I-I want it to happen. I don't think that they could ask for two better parents."
His voice was harsh and broken as he whispered the last sentence, and Nick reached out a steadying hand to place on his shoulder, patting him reassuringly.
Blaine stared, mouth open, trembling. He tried to come up with a response. The word "Yes!" was screaming in his mind, but he couldn't speak. He jumped when a choked sob resounded next to him.
Kurt shook his head, trying to show that he was okay. The doctor stood quickly from the table, pacing for a moment, before stopping abruptly, placing his face in his hands, sobbing uncontrollably.
Blaine looked from his husband to Bryan, clearly uncertain as to where he was needed. Before any of them could think, he leapt from his chair and yanked Bryan into a hug.
"Yes! Oh my god, yes! Yes, yes, yes! Thank you so much! We will love them so much! God, we already do!"
Bryan laughed lightly as he hugged Blaine back.
"I know that. Believe me."
Blaine turned then to pull his sobbing husband into his arms. Finn had stood to put an arm around his brother, but gladly stepped aside.
"We've got them back, baby," Blaine cried into Kurt's shoulder, rocking back and forth. Kurt just clung to him, working to steady his breathing. He gazed at Bryan over Blaine's shoulder, barely able to see through his tears.
"Thank you," he mouthed.
Bryan simply nodded in return.
A little gasp made both Kurt and Blaine turn from each other sharply.
A small blonde head was peaking into the room from the hall. Bright green eyes stared at them and a huge smile caused their hearts to skip a beat.
"Daddies! We're home!"
Bryan watched as both men fell to their knees, wrapping Liam in their arms in a hug so tight, he was momentarily worried that the boy would stop breathing. His bright giggles dispelled that fear though as he melted under the attention of his fathers' smothering kisses and words of love.
More happy cries filled the room when Tia toddled around the corner, followed by a harassed looking Rachel with a twin on either hip, apologizing if the kids made their entrance too early. The baby's loud exclamation of "Da!" had both men crying again as they pulled her into their group hug.
Bryan nodded, ignoring the ripping feeling in his chest as he watched the family embrace.
This was for the best. This was right. They were home now.
"I think we're mostly set here, Mr. Scott," Nick shook Bryan's hand at the front door, clapping on the shoulder. Bryan nodded with a forced smile.
"Thank you for everything. I know it was sudden; and right before Christmas. I really appreciate it."
"Of course," Nick smiled back sadly, patting him once more on the arm before turning to grab his own coat from by the door.
Blaine stepped quickly from the hallway with Liam on his hip.
"Are you leaving?" He asked quietly, noting Bryan's hand on the door. Nick looked between them and gave his friend a quick hug before excusing himself, and leaving quietly.
"Getting ready to," Bryan answered awkwardly. "I think I've done enough damage in your lives. Time for me to get out of your hair."
Blaine gave a half-hearted smile, not really having an answer for this.
"Listen," he spoke hesitantly, "if you ever want to hear about how they're doing, please don't hesitate to ask us... and if you want to see them... I'm sure we can work something out. We have no desire to keep them from you completely."
"I appreciate that," Bryan smiled genuinely. "I really do. I'll be checking in, definitely. They may be yours, but that doesn't mean I don't care."
"I know that," Blaine replied softly.
Liam eyed Bryan warily, clinging tightly to Blaine's shirt. The nurse kissed his cheek, holding him close and rubbing his back reassuringly.
"Can you say goodbye, Liam?" Blaine asked gently.
Liam lifted his head from his father's shoulder, and gave a Bryan a nervous look. He flung his face back down into Blaine's neck with a quick shake of his head.
Blaine sent Bryan a look that said he genuinely was sorry, but that he would back Liam up no matter what.
"I'm not going to force him. He's been through enough."
Bryan nodded quickly, trying to ignore the tears that threatened to fall once again.
"Absolutely. I get it. Listen," he sniffed, reaching into his pocket. "I have something I need to give you."
He handed Blaine an envelope and placed it in his hands.
"One of the letters in there is from me to my kids. It's your choice of course, but when they're older, if you're willing, I'd love for them to read it."
Blaine nodded quickly, looking into the envelope and seeing that there was more than one note there. He looked back up at Bryan curiously.
"The other two notes..." Bryan hesitated, then rushed on. "Look, you accidentally dropped your kids' letter to Santa at my apartment on the first day you visited. I looked at it because I wondered what it was, and I know I probably shouldn't have read it, but I did and I'm sorry. I felt weird giving it back to you after that because of what was written there, but now... with everything that has happened, I figured you probably would want it back to, like, scrapbook or whatever perfect parents do with their kids' stuff."
Blaine's jaw dropped, hardly able to process what he had just heard. Bryan went on before he had a chance to respond.
"The second note... again, this is obviously up to you, but it's for your other two kids... Adelaide and Elliott."
Blaine's head snapped back then, completely in shock and wondering what in the world Bryan would have to say to them. He was pretty sure the other man had never even met their first graders. Bryan just held up his hands and backed out the door.
"You can read it and decide if you want to give it to them. I'll understand if you don't want to. I... I'm just gonna say goodbye now."
He nodded roughly, forcing a smile as he quickly ducked out the door.
He made it to his car and down the driveway before he broke.
"Daddies are home!"
Brandi smiled at Addy's cry as they climbed from the backseat of Grandpa Paul's car. As fun as the last day had been, she was incredibly glad to have her fathers home, too. She just always felt so much more content and at peace when at least one of them was home. Grandpa Paul had taken them out to finish last minute Christmas shopping, which mostly included stocking stuffers for their fathers.
Paul looked down at his phone as he stepped from the driver's seat, smiling at a text he received.
"Brandi," he spoke up, eyes sparkling, "why don't you go on inside real quick now. Your dads have something special for you."
She shot him a curious look, but he quickly motioned her toward the front door. She jogged up the steps with a smile and flung open the door happily, excited to see what was waiting for her.
Her breath left her lungs in a rush.
Kurt and Blaine were standing there, smiling brightly. Blaine was snuggling a sleeping Greyson, but it was the doctor who caught her eye. Kurt was watching her expectantly, holding both Tia and Liam.
"Guess who came back home to stay, just in time for Christmas?" Kurt watched her joyfully, voice full of happy tears.
"Sissy!" Liam yelled, reaching for her as he bounced in his father's arms.
She looked to her fathers incredulously, unable to believe what she was seeing. She stepped forward shakily, grasping both of them to her, and immediately sank to the floor. Kurt sank down with her, holding her in his arms as she held her siblings to her chest.
They bounced and clung to her happily, both babbling nonsensical words and pressing sloppy little kisses to her face.
She stayed quiet, barely breathing. She didn't want to move, or talk, or even think. She had never known so much joy as in this moment. She didn't want it to end. She sank back against Kurt in quiet disbelief, drawing her brother and sister closer.
"There is nothing I will ever want ever again," she whispered, kissing the tops of their heads. Kurt grinned holding them all close.
"I'll remember that in three years when you want a car," he whispered with a choked laugh.
She burst out laughing then, but her tears weren't far behind. They stayed together, crying happily as they held Tia and Liam close. Both small children wiping at the eyes of their sister and father curiously, not completely understanding what it was all about, but simply happy to be where they belonged.
Blaine watched on, wiping at his own eyes once again as he cuddled Greyson into his shoulder, and thinking that they were all going go to have splitting headaches later from all of this crying. He looked up when Addy and Elly bounced through the front door.
They looked on with mouths hanging open, before turning slowly to Blaine, silently looking for confirmation that this was actually happening. He grinned and pulled a piece of paper from his pocket.
"We got a delivery today, guys," he told them mischievously. "This note came for you."
They looked at each other in disbelief, before running to his side and snatching the note from his hand. Blaine stepped behind them to shut the door, stopping to wave at Paul. The older man smiled happily and waved, but got into his car without going up to the house. There would be plenty of time for him to see the kids. Tonight needed to be just about them.
Blaine turned from the door to watch as Addy and Elly scrambled out of their mittens to open the note in their hands.
Kurt had pulled himself together enough to watch on. He adjusted the three kids in his lap slightly, holding them close, and glancing over at Blaine with a smile.
The two first graders held the now-open note between them with trembling fingers.
Dear Elliott and Adelaide,
I wanted to thank you for your kind letter. You're right. You have been very good kids this year.
Your brother and sister missed you, too. I had a nice talk with their daddy, and he agreed that they should come back home.
Please take care of them and love them always.
PS Elliott, your belief worked. Don't ever lose it.
It took Addy a few seconds longer than Elly to finish the small letter, but when she did, their wide eyes met silently.
After a moment of silence, Addy closed her eyes and threw both of her fists into the air triumphantly.
"I knew it!"
That night, the entire family was once again curled up on the king-sized bed in Kurt and Blaine's room. There hadn't even been a thought of everyone going to their separate rooms.
No one wanted to let go of Tia and Liam.
Tia and Liam had no intention of being let go.
For the first time in three long weeks, their flawless little family, once again... felt complete.