A/N: Here it is guys! The last one! Enjoy!
Disclaimer: I don't own the hunger games
Chapter Twenty Three
I panted uncontrollably as his lips moved in sync with mine, my arms securely wrapped around his neck and my legs wound around his waist. Shivers jitter down my spine as he traced patterns on my back with his fingertips while his spare hand was pressed against my backside. It was only supposed to be a chaste kiss. A quick peck before bed but after the hardship of the past few months, it's been difficult to keep anything quick and subdued. Both of us have been like pressure cookers just waiting to explode, the inability to do anything but kiss turning out to be the most difficult thing we'd ever tried to accomplish.
Cato had only just slid his lips down to bury them into my neck when the green lights on the baby moniter went haywire, the cries of our son ringing out in the otherwise quiet room. We both groaned in unison, me slipping out from underneath Cato and sliding off the bed. He caught me before I made it too far, his arms winding around my waist as he prevented me from moving any further.
"Hey," he said. "We're supposed to be teaching him to be independant. He's only crying because he knows you're going to come and pick him up." I had always hated the periods of time when Katniss and I had to teach Jennifer and Josh to sleep on their own. I always ended up being the one who cracked, sneaking out when my wife was asleep to check on them because I couldn't bear to hear them cry.
"Sometimes independance needs a break," I replied quietly as Alex continued to cry on the other end of the moniter.
"Come on baby, be strong," Cato murmered, nuzzling his nose behind my ear. I sat on the edge of the bed for a moment, trying to seperate the rational side of my mind to the daddy dearest side that wanted nothing more than for me to break away from my boyfriend and rush into the next room to cradle my son to sleep. Alex sounded so scared, so alone, so frightened, that I couldn't help it. I had to go in and check on him.
Cato sighed as I broke out of his hold on me and went into the next room where Alex lay in his cradle, his face screwed up and flushed red as he howled. My heart pained at the sight of him upset, so I scooped him up into my arms and held him close to me. "Sssh, little guy, it's alright," I soothed, gently swaying side to side. "Daddy's here. It's okay. Sssh." Alex's weeping soon faded out and I held him for a couple more minutes, rocking back and forth to make sure he was definitely okay.
"You are so soft," Cato said with amusement. I turned on my heel and saw him standing at the door, watching us. I smiled softly and kissed the top of Alex's head.
"Yeah, and?" I asked almost defensively. "A couple more weeks of coddling won't do him no harm."
Alexander had gotten so big in the past few weeks, his ordinary feeding and inability to walk causing his weight to grow to a regular mass for a child his age. It was still so scary how he had grown so quickly. In another two weeks he'd be old enough to start learning how to take his first steps. Cato loves how protective I get over the baby, wanting to check on him so often and almost spoiling him with kisses and cuddles.
"It's so sweet watching you in Dad mode," he said with a smile as I gently lowered Alex back down into his cradle. His eyes had slid shut peacefully some time while I had been rocking him and I hoped he wouldn't wake up again tonight. Cato approached the cradle and stood beside me, beaming like the Papa he was. "Now," he said, talking to the sleeping baby, "you're giving me a run for my money little guy, diverting all of your daddy's attention like that."
Alex smiled in his sleep, like he heard what Papa was saying and was proud of how he had me wrapped around his tiny pinkie finger.
"I doubt we're ever going to get a chance to breathe," Cato sighed. "Is this what it's like to raise a child?"
I shrugged. "I guess. It's worth it all though. The dirty nappies, the late nights, early mornings, the crying, the struenous ignorance of how much your libido is screaming at you from lack of activity . . . it's all worth it to watch your child grow up."
"I know it is baby," Cato replied, his arm sliding over my shoulders almost instinctively as we gazed down at Alex. "He looks just like you."
I smiled softly. "I can see Finnick in him," I replied quietly. "He has his smile, his eyes . . . I thought it would disturb me but it doesn't . . . Someday that boy is going to grow up and want to know the truth about his father and I don't know what we're going to tell him."
"We're going to tell him that his father died doing something incredibly noble. Saving your and his life," Cato answered. "We can tell him that he loved his daddy very much and would have done anything to keep him safe. That he would have rather of died than have let any harm come to him."
"Do you think that would be enough?" I whispered.
Cato kissed the top of my head and patted my shoulder. "I'm sure of it."
My eyes droop shut at the kitchen table, baby spoon still in hand, and my head dips down as I nearly fall asleep. Alex makes a small whining sound and I snap back to attention, my hazy pupils locking on him sitting in his high chair. He blinks his green eyes at me, waiting for me to give him the food on the spoon. How he can cry all night and still manage to stay awake is beyond me.
"Sorry sport," I said sleepily, quickly rubbing my eyes and spoon feeding him his porridge. Cato appeared in the doorway after having taken out the garbage. He'd gotten a good night's sleep, not finding it hard in the slightest to teach our son independance.
"Here, let me do that," he said, taking the spoon out of my hand and scooping some oats out of Alex's small Winnie the Pooh bowl. I immediately moved across the kitchen and turned on the coffee machine. It's times like this where I remembered why Katniss and I agreed to not have any more kids. I felt like I was going to pass out right there on the spot. Cato was right, I was too soft. If I had of let Alex cry last night and learn that he had to start sleeping without me then I'd be much less exhausted now.
It's cute watching Cato in Papa mode. He completely dotes on Alex and spoils him in different ways as to the way I spoil him. Where I'd kiss and coddle him, Cato would see a small pair of baby boots in a store window and immeidately have to buy them.
"Right, this is a special spoonful, okay? You ready for it Al?" I turned around and couldn't fight the smile that broke out onto my face as I watched Cato feed Alex. Our son absoloutely loved his Papa, always behaving when he was around and never failing to laugh at him when he joked around.
"He likes you better," I said.
Cato chuckled. "I think he likes us both just the same. I mean, you are the one who goes to him every night."
"Which won't help his personality growth at all," I replied, sitting down on the spare seat beside him with two cups of coffee. "Plus I feel kind of empty when I'm not holding him in my arms." Alex cooed and wrapped his small hands around the handles of his sippy cup, bringing it up to his mouth and slowly sucking on it. "Has he finished the porridge?"
Cato showed me the empty bowl. "All gone," he said.
"Wow, when Jen was his age we were lucky if we could get a single morsel in her," I commented.
"Well, Alex does like his porridge, don't you Al?" Cato ruffled the small blond hairs that were sprouting up at the top of Alexander's head, prompting the baby to laugh his cute little high pitched giggle. Droplets of juice slipped out from the hole at the top of the sippy cup and slid down his chin. I chuckled and leaned over to wipe it up with his bib.
The front door opened and Katniss' voice echoed down the hall. "Guys? Where are you?"
"Kitchen!" I called.
Jennifer ran into the room, a plastic bag in hand. Her face lit up as soon as she saw Alex sitting by the table. "Hey Alex," she cooed, kneeling beside the chair. "How's my little baby brother, huh?" As far as Jennifer and Josh knew, the time Cato and I spent away was a long period we spent in a different district, looking after a surrogate who's womb we rented out to carry a baby with my and her DNA. There was no way we were going to tell them that I was the one who, in fact, carried the baby for nine months. A surrogate just seemed like the best idea.
"He's great," Cato said. "Just finished eating his porridge."
"Ew, digusting," Josh said, entering the kitchen as well. "Does all baby food have to be prisoner food?" He looked at Alex and raised his eyebrows. "I feel sorry for you buddy."
"As a matter of fact, Josh," Katniss said as she also came into the kitchen, "you ate porridge for the first few months you were able to eat solid food." Her braid was wrapped around in a bun that was held together by chopsticks. They'd all obviously just went shopping as she was laboured down by designer store bags.
"I did not!" Josh protested.
"You did so," Jennifer replied. "I remember very clearly." She plopped her plastic bag down onto the table. "Look what we bought!" Digging her hand into the bag, she pulled out a blue teddy bear with an 'A' sewn into the stomach. "We just saw it and thought of Alex."
"Oh Jen, it's lovely," I said, taking the bear from her and examining the toy's fluffly fur and brown glass eyes. "Hey, look little guy, look what your brother and sister got you." Noticing the bear immiedately, Alex's eyes lit up and he reached out for it. I held it closer to him and let him take it from me himself.
"God, he's grown so much," Katniss said, pulling up a chair and sitting down. "How often are you feeding him? Every couple of hours?" She grinned at our unimpressed faces and chuckled. "I'm kidding. Is he walking yet?"
Cato shook his head. "Nope, not yet."
"We're hoping for soon though," I put in.
"Ew!" Jennifer exclaimed. "He's eating the bear's ear!" Alex had somehow managed to have gotten his mouth wrapped around the toy's fluffy ear and was chewing on it. Cato thinks he's about to enter the teething stage which means he'll start chewing on anything and everything he can get his teeny tiny hands on.
"He's obviously teething Jen," Josh scoffed, shaking his head. "And you're supposed to be the smart one."
"I am the smart one," Jennifer said indignantly. "Smarter than you anyway."
"Okay guys, keep the peace," I said. "Don't fight, please."
"Teething," Katniss mused. "Hold on, I think I've still got some of Josh's teeth gel." She pulled her hand bag around to rest on her lap and rummanged inside it. Josh pulled a face of disgust, moving to stand beside his mom and watching her as she pulled numerous needless objects out of her bag.
"Does teething gel not go out of date or something?" he asked.
"This stuff's perserved. Came straight from the Capitol itself," Katniss replied. "Worked miracles . . . ah-ha!" She pulled a small tube out of a small pocket in the bag and held it out in her palm. "As soon as he starts crying with pain, give him some of this." I took the gel tube and read the label.
"Oh yeah, I think I remember this stuff," I said. "A single drop prevented crying for weeks."
"No need to thank me," Katniss said. "As co-godmother, it's my job." Katniss shared the godmother title with Clove. Since we didn't really know anyone who could fit the godfather title, we made Katniss and Clove co-godmothers. Heaven forbid anything did happen to Cato and I, we trusted the both of them with the responsibility of looking after Alex and raising him the right way. "Anyway, we'd better be going. Looking at your kitchen reminds me that a certain someone said they'd clean up ours." Katniss raised her eyebrows at Jennifer.
"What? I'll get to it!" she said.
"Of course you will," Katniss replied. "As soon as we get home."
Jen groaned and stood up, "Okay, okay," she said. "Fine."
"Katniss," I said, "Can I talk to you a minute?" Nodding, Katniss stood up and followed me as I weaved around the table out into the hallway. She knew what I wanted and was already fumbling in her jeans for it when we came to a stop by the door. "Have you got it?"
"Yeah, just a sec," she said. Finally, she pulled out the small card with a flourish. "Ereka! Seneca's Tattoo Parlour! Here. It's got the $50 you asked for on it. Should be enough."
I gazed down at the gift card nervously. "You think he'll like it?" I asked.
My ex-wife nodded enthusiastically. "Trust me. He's going to love it."
The Next Week: 9:30pm
Okay, maybe I didn't think this through. The bulk of the bandage stuck out at the front of my t-shirt and trousers like a second baby bump and the other one was making the back of my neck sweat like it would on a boiling hot day, making the fresh scar sting. If my numbers were right, Cato would just be putting Alex to bed when I arrived. I jabbed my key in the lock and twisted it, pushing into the house.
"Cato?" I called. "You home?"
"Yeah," Cato replied from upstairs. "Just putting Al to bed."
"Okay." I sat down on the couch and twiddled with my thumbs. I didn't regret what I'd done but it didn't stop me from worrying about whether Cato would like it or not. Would such an impulsive decision ruin our relationship? No. It couldn't . . . right? I mean, the scars had just been completely removed recently, could replacing them with these just make it worse? Or better?
"Hey," Cato said as he came down the stairs and into the living room. "Where have you been all day?"
I shrugged. "Just out."
He sat down beside me and sighed, very probably exhausted from spending the day with Alex. It took him a moment to notice the bandages bulging out from the back of my shirt and front of my pants but when he did, he sat up with a frown and ran his fingertips along it. "What happened? Did you hurt yourself? Is it Finnick's scars?" he questioned.
"N-no, I'm not hurt," I said. "I just . . . well . . . have a look for yourself." Cato quirked a curious eyebrow and I nodded, turning around on the sofa so my back was facing him. "Take a look." Cato fiddled with medic tape, peeling it back to take a look at what was beneath it. I waited for his reaction, ready for either raging anger or unrequited happiness.
"When it did you . . . is this what you were doing . . . all day?" he asked, stumbling through the sentence.
"Yeah," I replied. "Is it okay? Do you hate it?"
"No it's . . . amazing . . . I mean, wow."
I decided to get the 'C' tattooed onto the back of my neck a couple of weeks ago. I knew that there were all those, 'don't get partner's initials or names tattooed onto yourself', but there was nothing I had more faith in than my relationship with Cato. And since Cato had loved me even when I had another man's name on my body, I thought it was only fitting to get the real man that I loved's name on myself. It didn't hurt . . . that much. Certainly not as much as it had hurt getting the 'F'.
Putting two and two together, Cato asked me to stand up. Unable to fight the smile I felt creeping onto my face as he undid the belt of my jeans, fumbling for the first time ever, and moved the opened the fly out of the way to peel off the bandage there as well. Indeed, the 'H' I had inked there was right below my navel where the 'O' had previously been.
"It's bad, isn't it? I messed up," I said, taking his silence as an action of hate.
"No, I love it," Cato replied, his eyes as round as dinner plates in shock. "Is it painful?"
"Stings a bit. They said I had to keep the bandages on to prevent contamination," I explained, fixing the one on the back of my neck so that it covered the 'C' again. "It should be okay in a couple of days to a week. So you like it then?"
"It's beautiful!" Cato's eyes studied the 'H' carefully, fingering the slope and swirl of the design I had chosen. "I can't believe you actually did this. That you have enough faith in me to have done it. I love you so much." He wrapped his arms around my waist and rested his head on my stomach. I smiled and ran my fingers through his hair.
"I love you too."
We stayed like that for a while: me standing while Cato sat on the couch, his cheek pressed against my stomach, the way he'd done so many times when I was pregnant. He ran his hand up and down my leg, nothing able to remove the smile from his face. "You know what I'm thinking?" he murmered.
"What?" I asked.
"I'm thinking that we haven't had couch sex in a long time," he said quietly. "And Alex is out for the count."
I smirked. "Oh really?"
Smirking, Cato stood up and pulled me in for a quick kiss. "Isn't it lucky that I just recently got some new toys to try and spice up the bedroom?" he mumbled against my mouth.
"What sort of toys?" I asked skeptically.
"Warming lotion," Cato murmered, skimming his nose up my jaw and pressing a kiss below my ear, "a cock ring," he curled his tongue under my earlobe and took it into his mouth it suck on, "and a vibrator."
"Oh jesus Cato," I gasped, my face heating up. "What about Alex?"
"Don't ruin the moment," Cato said seductively, taking my hand and leading me to the bedroom. "We haven't had sex in two months." I stopped him outside the bedroom door and sighed..
"Look, I know we haven't had sex in . . ." Cato wrapped his arm around my waist and lowered his mouth to my neck. I groaned, needy for ages without getting some. " . . . forever, but I'm-" He slowly ran his tongue up my neck and up my jaw. I moaned again, completely forgetting what I was going to say. "Okay, fuck it."
Thank god my screaming didn't wake up Alex.
Cato: A week later:
Alex was nestled securely in the baby carrier I had on, his head resting comfortably on my chest. He was fast asleep, not even bothered as I moved around the living room with the vacumn cleaner. Peeta was in the bathroom-he hasn't been well the last week since we finally had sex again. I guessed maybe he took a bad reaction to the warming lotion and it had made him ill. Alex balled his small fists up in my shirt and yawned, and I was unable to keep the smile off my face.
That is, until Peeta screamed.
"Peeta?" I called. "You okay babe? Is it another spider?"
"Holy mother of fucking god!"
My eyes widened in horror and I kicked the vacumn off, covering Alex's ears even though he was sleeping. "What is it? What's wrong?" I demanded. "Peeta? Peeta!" The bottom floor bathroom's door was kicked open and something was flung out. I sighed and approached the item, not sure what I was expecting to see.
That's why I nearly passed out when I saw the pregnancy test.
"No," I murmered, bending down and scooping it up. "No, no, no, no no."
Peeta was pregnant.
It turned out that Finnick hadn't injected one egg into Peeta that time he gave him the jab. He had given him many. Several of them had dissipated over the past few months but my and Peeta having sex last week turned out to have caused one of my guys to have met one of the eggs.
Which made Peeta pregnant again.
We couldn't hide it from Jennifer and Josh this time round. They found out once Peeta's baby bump started returning once more. Of course they freaked out-who wouldn't? But they eventually got used to the idea, sending toys and cards and pregnancy joke poems. Clove even sent a jumbo jar of peanut butter.
"You said you didn't tell anyone about the peanut butter!" Peeta exclaimed, reading the card on the lid.
"It was pretty obvious babe, there was no peanut butter what-so-ever in the apartment," I said. "Through your entire pregnancy." Alex laughed in his walkie as if understanding what I said.
"You're supposed to be on my side buddy, I carried you for nine months!" Peeta said. Alex stared up at him innocently, biting his fist and causing drool to fall out of his mouth. "Don't try to cute me up, I see how it is. You're siding with Papa." Pushing his small chubby legs forward to push his walkie in the right direction, Alex nuzzled his head against Peeta's leg. I grinned as I watched Peeta melt. "Come here little guy." He grabbed his armpits and lifted him up, hugging him close to his chest.
"You coddle him too much," I commented.
"Oh shut up," Peeta sighed. He rested his hand on the already growing bump and rubbed self conciously. "Just open the jar." He tossed me the peanut butter jar, which I caught easily and popped open. I handed him it back and laughed as he put Alex back into his walkie and started spooning out the butter with his pinky finger.
"Oh, come on seriously? You've been pregnant for what? Less than a month?" I exclaimed. "And you're already having the peanut butter craving again?" Peeta pulled a look as innocent as Alex's and continued to lick the butter off his finger.
"Maybe I just want some peanut butter," he said.
"You hate peanut butter except for when you're pregnant," I pointed out.
"Okay, I want the butter, alright?" Peeta admitted. "Just leave me and Cato Jr. alone."
I laughed. "Cato Jr.?"
Peeta paused and raised an eyebrow. "Well yeah. This one's yours. Doesn't that count for something?" he asked.
"Well . . . yeah, I guess," I replied. "Although, I'm worried about how you expect me to share my love for Alex with another child. I feel it's going to be impossible." Said child started scooting around in his walkie, prompting me to plant a foot in front of it as he neared the exit of the room. The baby was a born explorer, always wanting to get out of Peeta and I's clutches to get somewhere interesting.
"You see, that's what I thought," Peeta said. "But it's actually not that hard. Once you have them in your arms it's just sort of . . . feels . . . right. And-might I add-this one is on your head as you insisted so excitedly that Alex was out for the count and that we would be safe trying out some of your . . . toys."
"New life: the product of warming lotion and a cock ring," I mused.
"Oh that's very poetic," Peeta said sarcasitcally.
"I know," I winked, "it's my charm."
"You do know what this means, right?" Peeta asked, a smirk suddenly gracing his face. Uh-oh. That can't be good.
"What?" I asked.
Peeta crouched beside Alex and gently laid his hands over the baby's ears. "It's means no sex again. For nine. Whole. Months."
Damn him. Damn him and his stupid ability to get pregnant and his golden hair and glittering blue eyes and plump mouth and natural sexiness. Damn him. Damn him. Damn him!
I watched him enviously from our bed as he came in from putting the baby to bed. "What time is it?" Peeta asked, sitting down on the edge of the bed and fiddling with the clasp of his boots. I clenched my jaw and glanced at the clock on the nightstand.
"Eight o'clock," I answered. Peeta nodded and reached behind himself to pull his shirt off. Was he doing this on purpose? I swear to god, if he's not careful, I'm going to have to fuck him pregnant or not.
"Oh god, Cato, if I'm going to end up having eggs like a woman then I'm going to have to cut off your dick because I am not going to carry another baby as long as I live." Peeta unbuckled his pants and shucked them off. "Maybe next time you can carry the baby, huh?" He pushed back onto the bed and leaned his back against the headboard. He's been pregnant again for a couple of months and the famaliar baby bump is once more growing.
I shrugged. "I'd give it a go but I'm not the one with the weird scientific egg stuffs inside me."
Peeta sighed and rested his head on my shoulder. "Do you think we can do this again?" he asked. "We can barely keep a hold of Alex what with his wanting to wander everywhere at once. Do you think we can handle keeping track of another one?"
"I think we could," I answered. "I mean, it'll be difficult, but I do think we could do it."
"Easy for you to say. You don't have to go through pregnancy," Peeta muttered. "I'm already going through the stupid horny 24/7 phase."
I laughed. "Really? You need any help with that?"
"Don't tempt me." Peeta pulled his head away from my shoulder and sighed. "I'm a man of my word and I'm not letting you have sex with me until I've given birth again." He paused. "Can't say I thought I'd have to say that again."
"It's not like it's going to defile the baby or anything. In fact, I've heard it does nothing what-so-ever to the fetus. And if you're in the mood for it then I don't see the problem." Okay, I wasn't just saying this to cover for my own need for release. I cupped his cheeks and pulled his face towards me. Lost in the moment, Peeta let his eyes flutter shut and swung his leg over to sit on my lap.
"I know I'm irresistable what with the hot flashes and swollen ankles but I think you can handle yourself pretty well," he murmered.
"Oh really?" I purred, brushing my lips against his and sliding them down his neck to his shoulder. "Are you sure about that?" Peeta moaned, his thighs tightening over mine and his hands running up my chest to hook around my neck.
"Maybe a little bit is okay," he conceeded, his head falling back when I nipped at his soft skin with my teeth.
"Hmm?" I hummed, slowly circling my tongue around the bitten area.
Smiling, I hooked my arms under his butt and pulled him up against my chest so that I could get onto my knees on the bed. The baby bump made it difficult to kiss like that so I lowered him back onto the bed so that I loomed over him. "You're so beautiful," I whispered, brushing some hair out of his eyes.
"No, I'm not," he replied, wrapping his arms around my neck and pulling my forehead down to rest against his. "You're more beautiful than I am. Only you're also handsome, hot and incredibly sexy." I laughed and kissed him hard. As my lips trailed down his neck, I felt his bump press against my stomach.
"What do you think? Girl? Or Boy?" I murmered agaisnt his skin.
Peeta shrugged, his fingers threading through my hair. "What do you think?"
"Um, another boy?" I guessed. I shifted down his body, pressing kisses down his chest until I reached his stomach, where I rested my head and listened for the baby inside.
"They say that the mother carrying the baby has a hunch over what the gender is," Peeta pointed out. "Because the baby is inside them and all."
"Well, what do you think?" I asked, stroking the bump gently with my fingertips.
"I think it's a girl."
"Really? A girl?" I murmered. "A little sister for Alex, hmmm?"
Peeta nodded. "A little sister for Alex."
"Isabelle!" I called up the stairs. "If you aren't downstairs in five minutes, your dad's going to feed your waffle to the dog!"
A door opened upstairs and footsteps thundered down the hall. "What dog?!" Isabelle screeched, her head appearing at the top of the stairs. Her ashy blonde hair was piled up in a bun ontop of her head and her face was plastered in makeup.
"Oh, I'm sorry, did I say a dog? I meant I was going to eat it," I said, walking back into the kitchen. Isabelle groaned and stomped down the stairs. She jumped on the last step and ran past me, making sure I didn't make it to her breakfast plate before she did. She nearly toppled over the chair but grabbed the edge of the table with a yelp to steady herself.
Peeta popped up from behind the kitchen counter with a frown on his face. "I didn't know you were the family dog," he said.
Isabelle scoffed. "Neither did I," she said.
"Alex!" Peeta yelled. "Breakfast!"
"Be quick or the dog will eat it!" Isabelle added.
Alex jumped down the steps five at a time. "We have a dog?" he asked when he reached the bottom. "I didn't know we had a dog."
"We don't," Isabelle dully replied. "Papa's the dog."
"Never mind the non-existant dog," Peeta chuckled, putting plates of waffles down on the table. "Eat." Alex plopped down onto his seat across from Izzy.
"Yes dad," they both said in unsion.
"Yes dad," I said as well.
Peeta tsked and swatted me in the arm. "Behave," he warned. We sat down and all took a waffle each. Peeta's baking was always the best thing about the morning. It even made the kids shut up and not argue for five minutes while they ate.
"What's with all the make-up Izzy?" I asked. Isabelle threw a glare at him and I raised my eyebrow at her. "Don't give me that look missy, what's with the paint?"
"It's not paint paps," Isabelle grumbled. "It's make-up. Lora gave me some. It's pretty itchy but look how cool I look!" Alex snorted and opened his mouth to day something-only to be hushed by a warning look from Peeta. "Just chill, it's just not that bad. I'm sixteen now, I can make my own decisions!"
"Calm down Izzy," Peeta said. "When's Lora and co. coming round anyway?"
"Around one o'clock," Isabelle answered.
"Wait, who's coming around?" I asked.
"Just Lora, Holly and Sarah," she replied flippantly. Alex groaned and banged his head off the table. Isabelle looked at him, her gaze full of disdain. "What's wrong with you?" she asked.
Peeta grinned. "Sarah's got a crush on Alex," he said.
"What!?" I exlcaimed.
Isabelle looked horrified. "No she doesn't!"
"Oh so the notes in my locker at school signed from 'Sarah' are just, what? Delievered wrong?" Alex grumbled through the table.
"Sarah sends you notes?" I asked, slightly amused.
"No!" Isabelle interuppted. "She's obviously got higher standards than you Al! She likes guys like Channing Tatum and Taylor Lautner! You know, proper guys!" Peeta was hiding his smile with his hand and looking anywhere but at our children. Obviously, he'd seen these notes from Isabelle's best friend.
"Do you think it's any easier for me Izzy? You need to tell her I'm gay!" Alex exclaimed. "Tell her that I also like guys like Channing Tatum and Taylor Lautner!"
"Isabelle's friends don't even know that we're gay Al," I said. "She doesn't know how to break it to them." Izzy was afraid to tell her friends that she'd been raised by two homosexual men. For the past sixteen years they've believed that her mother ran off on her. "They think your dad's my cleaner."
"They what?!" Peeta exclaimed.
I frowned. "I thought you knew."
Isabelle had the decency to look a bit sheepish. "I'm sorry dad, it's just . . . they saw Paps first and you were doing the dishes in the kitchen. It just sort of came out, I didn't mean it. Plus, if it makes you feel any better, they didn't believe it at first."
"So . . . are your friends homophobes or what?" Alex asked.
"Nah," Isabelle said. "I just don't know how to break it to them."
"Right," Alex said slowly. "That's not strange at all. Anyway, you should tell them soon, it will make it even more difficult if I ever get a boyfriend and they see me around with him."
"Good luck finding a boyfriend who'll accept our messed up family," Isabelle replied.
"Aw come on," I said. "The family's not that bad."
Our daughter laughed as if I'd just said the funniest thing she'd ever heard. "Yes okay, sorry," she said. "It's not like we were born without a woman. We literally don't have a mom. No one would believe that, right? When you were our age, if someone walked up to you and said that their dad carried them for nine months, would you have believed it? I'm not even sure I believe it . . ."
"Hey, we have photographic evidence," Peeta said. "Katniss wanted to make a baby album."
"I know," Isabelle said. "I saw the photos, it's just a bit weird . . ."
"What was it like? Being pregnant, I mean?" Alex asked.
"Excruciating but worth it," Peeta replied. "It was just like any other woman being pregnant but only . . . it was me . . ."
"Which means kids, your daddy is your mother," I said. Peeta sighed and hit me upside the head, which just made it harder to keep the smile off my face. "No, in all seriousness, I hope we never have a baby again because your dad is really irritating when he's pregnant."
"Cato!" Peeta exclaimed.
"How irritating?" Isabelle asked.
"He ate all our peanut butter," I answered.
"But you hate peanut butter dad," Alex said to Peeta.
"Not when he was pregnant," I chuckled.
Peeta sighed. "I'm not getting into this," he said, getting up. "You guys finished?" I nodded and so did Alex and Isabelle. He collected up the plates and headed to the kitchen.
"This is why I told them you were the cleaner!" Isabelle called, supressing a grin.
"Don't make me ground you Izzy!" Peeta called back. This made the three of us laugh. "I'm serious! I'll ground you too Cato!"
"What?" I balanced the phone between my shoulder and my ear as I kept a firm hold of Peeta's hips as he knelt on the kitchen counter to reach something ontop of one of the cupboards. The candles were up there and Isabelle said that she needed them for a science experiment. My partner had as much balance as an elephant on a tiperope and the only way he wouldn't fall and break his neck was if I held onto him while he tried to get them.
"Who is it?" he asked.
"Katniss," I replied. "I'm sorry, what the heck is a DILF?"
"Well," Katniss began on the other end, "you know what a MILF is right?"
"Sadly, I do," I sighed. "Why?"
"Izzy was over at the house and she was talking with her friends. Lora and Holly and Sarah? Yeah, well, they were talking about hot guys and then one of them - I'm not sure which one, they all look the same to me. At one point I even thought they were called Holly, Molly and Polly. Anyway, back to the point - one of them brought up Peeta and yourself." Katniss' voice was full of amusement. She was enjoying every single word she said.
"Got them!" Peeta said. I helped him off the counter and took a hold of the phone.
"And . . . what?" I asked Katniss.
"It turns out you're both DILFs."
Oh god, that doesn't sound good. "And that means . . . ?"
Katniss snorted, obviously finding it difficult not to burst out laughing. "Think about it." Peeta switched on the coffee maker and looked at me, pointing at it. I nodded and he got out two mugs. "I didn't even know it was a real thing until they said it! You should have saw Izzy's face! It was priceless! Except I do believe young Sarah has a thing for your Alex."
"Yeah but . . . Alex has . . . other interests," I said.
"I know . . . he borrowed some of Jennifer's old magazines," Katniss replied. "Of course, not that it's a bad thing but it's going to break poor Sarah's heart."
"Well, Alex's got Peeta's looks," I said. Said man turned around and quirked an eyebrow at me. I flashed him a bright smile and patted his back. "Who wouldn't fall in love with that?" Peeta handed me my coffee and I pulled him in for quick peck on the cheek. He blushed and pecked me back.
"Yeah, well, it's better he took after him than you know who," Katniss replied. "Has he asked anything about his dad yet?"
"No, but I feel it's going to come soon," I answered. "It's alright for Izzy. She knows I'm her dad but Peeta and I are still trying to figure out a way to explain to Alex about his. I mean, our vague responses aren't going to be enough and soon he's going to want to know more. What do we tell him then?"
"Cato, he's seventeen. I think he's old enough to handle it. Even I had to explain to Jennifer and Josh about what Peeta had to do in 3. I know the stuff about Finnick is a bit more extensive but Alex deserves to know," Katniss said. "Just sit him down, explain it to him. I'll even look after Izzy for the night if you want."
"Yeah, of course. It's going to have to happen some time."
"Okay, I'll discuss it with Peeta," I said. "Talk to you later, Katniss."
"Talk to you later Cato."
"Discuss what with me?" Peeta asked as I hung up the phone and put it back down on the kitchen counter. He was leaning against the far wall, sipping his coffee.
"Um . . . Katniss thinks it's about time we tell Alex the truth about his father."
Peeta shrugged. "Okay."
I frowned. "Wait, what?"
He tilted his head at me. "I said 'okay'. Why? What's wrong?"
"I just didn't expect you to be so okay with it," I replied, completely flabberghasted at how casual he was about it.
Peeta sighed, putting his mug down. "It was seventeen years ago, Cato," he said. "Katniss is right, we need to tell Alex about Finnick. We can't keep letting on like he's some man I dated for a while who liked to experiment on me for things such as male pregnancy, there's no point in it. He nearly killed me . . . but he's Alex's dad and he deserves to know . . . the truth . . ."
"I know," I sighed. "But what is the right way to tell him that his father was a pyschopath who raped and almost killed you loads of times?"
"I don't know but . . . we're going to have to tell him somehow," Peeta sighed.
"And we will," Cato said. "Someday. Because we're a family now and we're all in this together."
Yeah, they were.