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players only. backdated to early April 2016. takes place in Shawnigan Lake, BC, a couple weeks after Alex and Luke discuss nanny resumes.

"More," Alex growls, his voice a harsh whisper. One hand tangled in his boy's hair as he kneels on the spanking bench. He thrusts deep and holds there, flicking the string of tiny steel beads to whip against Luke's cock once again. "Give me more!"

Luke cries out, precome dripping from his cock, so deep down he's reacting more to the tone than the words themselves.

The hot clutch of Luke's body is seductively overpowering. Alex licks his lover's shoulder, tasting salt sweat and desperate need, and can't keep from rocking his hips. Riding the edge of an explosive climax. "You–"

A sudden banshee wail crashes into Alex's consciousness. He freezes stock-still and stares at the baby monitor, dumbfounded. "Don't–"

Another screech, this time angrier in tone, and Alex pulls out of his boy without even thinking about it. "Shit," he mutters, glancing around to check the time, but there are no clocks in the playroom, and for good reason. "I thought Rhys would sleep longer. He's going to wake his sister." He tosses the tiny chain whip onto the bondage table, then rolls his eyes when a second voice joins the cacophony. "Yep, there she goes," he adds, striding out of the room and down the hall to the nursery.

Luke stays where he is for a long moment, trying to process what just happened and where his sir has gone. He turns around and sits on the bench with a soft hiss, the stripes on his ass stinging. "Fuck," he can hear crying and some other sound and Alex speaking soothingly over the monitor but he can't really make sense of it all.

"You're a mess, little man," Alex murmurs, gently dabbing with a warm baby wipe. "Let Papa get you into the bath." Picking up Rhys, he gives his crying daughter a sympathetic frown. "Okay, hjärtat, it'll be all right. Hey, Luke?" he calls over his shoulder, starting to fill the sink with water. "Can I get a hand with Kaja?"

Luke shakes his head, willing himself back into action, his body taking over where his mind's still absent. "Yeah. I'm coming," he says, rising unsteadily to his feet. He heads for the nursery and the smell that assails him is like a jolt to his system. "Who was sick?" he asks, picking Kaja up from her crib, but nevermind, it's obvious from her dryness and the smell of her diaper that they've both been ill, just from different ends. "She's hot," he says to Alex, moving to the change table. "What about Rhys?"

"Yeah. I don't think this rash is getting any better, either. Do you think he needs a different cream?" Alex works quickly, trying to minimize the time Rhys spends shivering. He scoops his cleaned-up son into a soft towel. "What now, baby Advil?"

"Yeah, I think so," Luke nods, feeling like he's swimming through molasses even as he changes Kaja's diaper on auto-pilot.

"Okay." Clean clothes, a pacifier, medicine for fever... Alex mentally runs through all the possible responses he knows for this kind of situation. Unfortunately, it's a short list. He draws up a dose for Kaja and hands Luke the plastic syringe, then steps behind his husband and slips an arm around him. Taking simple comfort in the fact that they're in this together.

"You should do this," Luke says, offering the syringe back. His hands are shaking and he's feeling weak and lightheaded himself. "I'm still..." He doesn't even have the words for it and just gestures towards the playroom.

"Hmm?" Frowning slightly, Alex lays their son down in his crib, then takes Kaja into his arms. Getting the babies to swallow medicine is always a bit of a struggle, and her sleeper is soaked with dribbles of Artificial Red #40 by the time he's done. Yet another new outfit, and Alex rocks her back and forth, looking at Luke in concern. "Are you okay? You're hurt? Do– do you need...?" Fuck!

Luke takes a seat in the one of the gliders and shakes his head. "No. I'm just. I'm still in my headspace," he says, leaning forward. "I just need a few minutes."

Well, shit. Everything has been such a confused whirl since that first abrasive screech from the baby monitor. Alex started moving on autopilot and hasn't stopped, trying to manage one thing after another to smooth things out again, like they've actually got a functional system for dealing with the chaos. Now that Luke reminds him of their other reality, it pulls him up short – he realizes he hasn't even checked in with himself yet, and he has responsibilities to his boy. "Sorry," he says automatically, and lays Kaja down in her crib so that he can crouch down next to Luke, reaching out to caress his cheek. "I'm sorry, I–"

With a loud shriek, their daughter announces that she is not having that.

Alex pops back to his feet like a marionette on a string, and scoops her back into his arms, looking wildly around for her pacifier.

"It's okay. I'm okay," Luke says, struggling to reassure Alex, to get him to keep his focus on what Luke can't handle right now, which is their twins, except in the most basic way possible. "Just... talk to me. "

"Talk to...?" Alex shakes his head, baffled. And terrified. And paranoid. And– "I never thought of this," he mutters, looking down at his daughter's face as he rocks back and forth from foot to foot. "I never– I mean, we talked about this. Kind of. Said how we were never going to let our relationship get blocked by our family. But even when I pictured that, I didn't think– Oh, fuck." All right, so perhaps this isn't the kind of reassuring chat that Luke might have intended.

Luke shakes his head, panic rising a little. He can't think about this right now. "Talk to me about tomorrow. What we have planned. Normal stuff."

"Tomorrow. Okay." Provided with a focus, Alex draws breath and tries again. "We talked about hiking around the lake, so long as the weather isn't too bad. I was hoping to talk you into making kroppkapor." He paces to the wide windows overlooking the lake, then back. "And – obviously – I'll be doing laundry," he says with the hint of a wry smile. "And I want some serious time cuddling up with you on the sofa. Maybe we can finally catch up on Fear the Walking Dead."

Luke nods. "We might have to take the twins to the doctor but we can see how they're doing in the morning." He blows out a breath. Focusing on what they have to do – and want to do – the next day is helping. "What do you want for dessert?"

Pursing his lips, Alex considers the question very very seriously. "Can we have strudel? Warm, gooey strudel is pretty awesome when it's cold outside." Kaja finally seems to be settling down, but he doesn't dare put her in her crib yet for fear that she'll start up again, and this time set off her brother too. He tucks her snugly against his chest, and kneels down next to the glider. "Älskling," he whispers, "do you feel okay?"

"I'm getting there," Luke says, looking up at Alex and their daughter. "I'm sorry."

"Huh?" At first Alex doesn't even understand the statement. But then he frowns. "Don't do that. Don't you dare say that," he says in a hard whisper, and takes Luke's mouth in a kiss. "We're not going to start that."

But I was useless, Luke wants to protest, worrying about if it had been a bigger deal, maybe even an actual emergency, but he's still not in a place where he can think that through. "Did you check Rhys's sheets?"

"Um." Alex glances over his shoulder, then gets up to check. Now that the first flush of panic has faded, he's slowing down, and becoming aware of his own uncharacteristic vagueness. "Yeah. I'll change them," he says, stripping the mattress with one hand. Glad for a concrete task.

"Do you want me to take Kaja?" Luke asks, pushing to his feet. "Or I can take care of the sheets?"

"No, just... just sit down," Alex orders him, eyeing the plastic mattress and wondering whether he should go for the full disinfectant treatment before putting clean sheets on. Wait, what is he thinking? Of course he should. "Drink some water. Or eat something, you should eat something. Do you need to lie down? Go lie down."

"Are you sure?" Luke asks, reluctant to leave Alex on his own, but he knows his husband's right, he needs to get something into him.

"Yeah, of course." Alex will deal with his abrupt drop from topspace. On his own, later. Because right now he's got shit to get done. If Luke can feed himself, well, that makes one out of his three responsibilities. "Go. We're good here." He tosses the dirty linen into the hamper and gently jiggles Kaja against his chest; fortunately she's calm now, and seems like she'll stay that way for a bit. So long as he keeps holding her.

Luke makes a quick detour to the bedroom to grab a pair of pajama pants and then beelines it to the kitchen. He prepares two sandwiches, made with the leftover pork roast from dinner, and puts one on a plate for Alex and one on a plate for himself before taking a seat at the island with both, a glass of milk downed before he starts in on the food. He's assuming Alex will join him when he's done and if not, he'll take it to him. It's the least he can do with his husband dealing with the twins.

Eventually Alex feels that things are sufficiently clean once more. Rhys is napping soundly in his crib, and so he gets comfortable with Kaja in his chair by the windows, with a grand view of the lake. It's a soothing sight, a peaceful moment, and as he sings softly to his daughter, the weight of fatigue begins to settle over him.

Sandwich finished and feeling much more like his normal self, Luke puts the one plate in the dishwasher and heads for the nursery with the other, stilling in the doorway as he sees Alex and their daughter asleep in the glider. He makes a quick trip back to the kitchen, wraps up the plate and puts it in the fridge and then curls up in the other glider after draping a throw over his husband and Kaja.

* * *

It's hours later when Alex wakes, but for all he knows it could be days. He's logy, his head feeling like it's been stuffed with steel wool – he fancies he can feel each tiny edge scraping the inside of his skull. His baby girl is still – finally? – fast asleep against his chest, and he realizes what woke him was a whimper from his infant son. Blinking heavily, he pushes to his feet and gently lays Kaja down in her crib. Then he presses the heel of his hand to his forehead, like he can push back the ache pounding there.

"My turn," Luke says, pushing up from his chair as Rhys gives another whimper. "There's a sandwich in the fridge. Eat and then go crawl into bed. I'll join you when I've got this one settled again," he tells Alex, giving him a kiss on the cheek, Rhys cradled against his shoulder.

"Okay." But it's easier said than done. Once Luke looks back over his shoulder to check on him, and it's only then that Alex's brain successfully engages with his body. He makes his way down the hall towards the kitchen, but then turns aside with a shake of his head. He's not hungry. Or even if he is, he's too tired to eat. Kicking off his shoes, he crawls into bed, pulling the blankets into a warm nest around himself.

Rhys quieted and successfully transferred back to his crib, Luke makes his way to the bedroom. He drops his pajama bottoms by the side of the bed, too exhausted to even pick them up, and crawls in with Alex, wrapping himself around his husband and kissing the back of his shoulder. "I love you."

Pulled out of his doze, Alex grunts softly, then reaches back to pull his husband's arms around him. "This is good," he whispers, fitting Luke's body to his. "I miss this." A simple nonsexual thing, such cuddling, but he melts into the embrace nonetheless.

"Me too," Luke murmurs, brushing his lips over Alex's shoulder again. "Go to sleep. We might actually have a few hours left."

"All right," Alex mumbles through a yawn, already slipping back into the black hole.