Jared’s jaw drops in shock. He honestly cannot believe what he is seeing right now. He walks to the bottom of the stairs and yells, “Emily! Get your butt down here right now !” He senses the little girl’s fear through the bond and cringes. He didn’t mean to sound so harsh.
Instead of his daughter coming to the stairs, it’s his mate. Worry. Love. Concern. Pain. Exhaustion. Jensen rubs the sleep from his eyes and yawns, “Jare? Why are you screaming? What’s going on?” He walks down the stairs and stops in front of his angry alpha.
“What the hell happened to Danny?”
Jensen’s maternal instincts kick into high gear and his eyes widen, “What do you mean? What’s wrong with Danny?! DANNY! SWEETHEART?!”
The alpha grabs his frantic mate by the arm and guides him to sit on the bottom step, “Jen, babe, he’s okay.”
Confusion. “But you just said- ”
“I know. I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to worry you. He’s okay physically… it’s just well…” Jared shoves a hand through his newly-discovered graying hair and leans against the wall.
“PAPA!” Excitement. Love. Family. Home. Alpha.
A green-eyed girl comes running down the hall and turns around backward so she can carefully climb down the stairs to see Jared.
Emmy… the omega says to her through the bond as he raises one eyebrow and purses his lips.
Emily launches herself from the fourth step and Jared rushes to catch her.
Jensen sighs, “What did I say about jumping off the stairs?”
“To not to,” she mumbles from the deep recesses of Jared’s arms. He squeezes her tightly and accepts a sloppy kiss to his cheek. Jensen watches fondly, one hand on his round belly. He catches sight of their two-year-old son, Daniel, in the doorway and gasps.
“ Oh. My. God...”
Jared picks Emily up and sets her on the step next to his mate then walks over and bends down so he can grab their son’s small hand. Happiness. Daddy. Papa. Sissy. Pack. Danny joyfully leads the way completely oblivious of his rather shocking hairdo.
Emily shyly tucks herself under Jensen’s arm while Danny gives the omega’s belly a kiss and then tries to crawl up onto it. Jared stands in front of the trio and sighs. He hates having to punish either of the kids, but Emily needs to know that this kind of behavior is unacceptable.
Need to defend pack. Pups fighting. Alpha must protect!
His mate looks up from where he’s investigating their son’s patchy blue hair and narrows his sharp green eyes. Don’t you dare lay a hand on my pups! Mine! Will protect. Back off!
Jared winces at the onslaught of fierce loyalty and protectiveness coming from his very hormonal mate.
Jensen brushes his fingers through Danny’s hair and manages a thin-lipped smile for the kids. His baby boy’s hair is missing several large chunks and what remains is covered in splotchy blue color. Jensen notices a few ‘drips’ on Daniel’s neck and assumes his ever-evolving, too-smart-for-her-own-good three-year-old daughter somehow got a hold of the food coloring they’d been using last night to color the frosting for Danny’s cake. Emily obviously decided her little brother needed to brighten up his look…
He turns to her and smooths her long hair back, “Emmy, sweetheart, did you decide to give Danny a new… uh… hairstyle?”
She gives a very small nod and her eyes dart up to the alpha, waiting for his reaction.
The alpha’s voice raises in both volume and pitch, “You did what ?!”
Jensen catches his mate’s eye and sharply shakes his head before speaking to their daughter, “Can you show me how you did it?”
She nods excitedly and hops off of the step scampers into their large kitchen. Jared lifts their now-blue-haired boy with one arm and helps Jensen up with the other. They follow their daughter over to the breakfast counter and watch as she demonstrates exactly how she procured the small box of food coloring. Emily pulls open the bottom drawer and stands on the canned food inside. She pulls herself up to the next drawer and repeats with the bags of (broken) pasta. Once she’s high enough, she crawls onto the countertop and then stands on her tippy toes to open the far left cabinet.
Once Emily has the box in her hand, she crawls back down the cabinetry to the floor. She runs over to Jensen since Jared has his arms full with Danny and gives it to him. She smiles proudly and points to the tiny bottle in the middle, “Blue is his favorite!”
Jensen accepts it and sets it on the countertop. He smiles kindly at her, “Thank you for showing us, sweetheart.” He bends down and lifts her, wincing when one of the babies kicks a little too hard. He sets Emily on one of the barstools so she’s almost eye-level with him.
He keeps his voice soft, yet firm, “Emmy, you can’t do that anymore, okay? It’s dangerous for you to climb up there by yourself. I don’t want you to get hurt, baby girl.”
Shame. Tears well in her eyes and she sniffles, “‘m sorry, Daddy...”
The heavily-pregnant omega pulls her into an awkward hug and kisses her forehead, “I know you wanted to make your brother look pretty, but you need to ask before you do something like that, okay? Daddy and Papa will help you.”
Jared gawks at him over her head and Jensen silences him with a look. The alpha huffs and hefts their son up higher on his chest. The little boy yawns and clutches the collar of Jared’s shirt in his fist. Jared’s heart melts and he smiles at his mate, his frustration and shock replaced with a sudden eagerness to meet the newest additions to their family.
Jensen snorts, Be patient, alpha. They’ll be here soon.
Jared sighs heavily and pouts. Not soon enough, little one. I want to meet them now!
Uh, no. I have no intention of letting them out early. You’ll just have to wait.
Jensen tells Emily to head upstairs to get ready for bed and she rolls to her belly so she can slide off of the stool. As soon as her bare toes touch the floor, she races off through the doorway and over to the foyer.
Jared yells after her, “No running!”
Jensen breathes deeply and places a hand to the small of his back, aching with the weight of the twins. Jared wraps his free arm around his mate and kisses him then follows him up the stairs. It’s slow going but they finally make it to the top. Emmy is standing outside of her room waiting on her parents. She frowns when Jensen veers straight into the master bedroom instead of going through their nighttime routine. Hurt. Fear. Sadness. The alpha feels her pain and quickly steps in.
“Hey, baby girl, how about I help you out tonight? After you potty and brush your teeth, you can even pick a book to read.”
Emily sniffles and hugs Jared’s leg, “But Daddy always kisses me goodnight…”
“I know, Em.” He removes her from his leg and then crouches down in front of her. He caresses her cheek softly, “Remember how tired Daddy was when he was pregnant with Danny? How he slept a lot more?”
“Well, it’s like that, but this time there’s two babies .”
“So he’s even more tireder?”
Jared chuckles at her made-up word and then nods, “Yeah, he is.”
Emily shuffles her feet and fiddles with the ruffled hem on her sleep shirt. Jared rubs Danny’s back and waits. When she finally looks up at him, the alpha’s heart seizes in his chest. His daughter’s beautiful green eyes are teary. He reaches out to her.
Her lower lip wobbles, “Does- Does that mean no more kisses?”
“Oh, sweetheart… no, absolutely not. You can have all the kisses you want, baby girl. It’s just that Daddy may not be able to kiss you in your bed.” Hope. “How about after you finish up, we’ll go check on Daddy and say goodnight, hm?”
She smiles and nods her head. Joy. Contentment. Love.
“Okay, go potty and then we’ll brush your teeth. Do you need me to come in with you?”
The little girl vigorously shakes her head, a blush on her cheeks. Jared chuckles and rises. Emily walks into the bathroom and Jared shuts the door most of the way behind her. When the alpha hears appropriate noises, he walks down the hall. He lays Daniel on the changing table and refreshes his diaper then blows raspberries on his tummy and carries him over to his crib. The little boy yawns and whimpers, the alpha sets him down on the mattress and then settles him down with a kiss and his favorite blanket.
“Goodnight, little man. Sweet dreams.”
“ Paaapaaa, I’m ready!” Emily sings from the bathroom.
Jared turns towards his daughter’s voice and gently closes the nursery door. He knocks on the bathroom door and after being granted permission enters. He flushes the toilet for her and then readies her toothbrush while she climbs up on her little flower-shaped stool and washes her hands. The alpha multitasks, supervising Emily’s brushing technique while washing his face before brushing his teeth. She finishes and shows off an exaggerated smile for him to check. Once he approves, they walk into her bedroom.
“Okay, Em. Pick your book.” Jared settles on the giant plush bean bag underneath the window and leans back, closes his eyes while he waits for her to decide.
“Got it!” She runs over and jumps onto his lap. She nestles into the alpha’s lap and lays her head on his chest. His heartbeat soothes her and she closes her eyes, pulls her velvety kitten toy close as Jared opens up to the first page and starts reading.
An hour later, Jared walks into his bedroom, exhausted after a long day wrangling his school kids and then managing the chaos of his and Jensen’s children. Oh gosh… pretty soon there will be two more!
“ Jare…? ”
The pained plea comes the en suite and Jared abandons undressing to rush over to his miserable mate. Jensen is sitting on the edge of the bathtub and Jared sighs. He’s quite familiar with this position’s meaning after two-and-a-half pregnancies and stops at the sink to get his mate a glass of cool water.
He takes a seat next to his omega and offers him the glass, “You okay, babe?”
“Ugh, no. Heartburn sucks. I tried to use some of that vile cider stuff you swear by and threw up.”
“Jen, you can barely stand to drink it when you aren’t pregnant. I’m not surprised it made you sick.”
Jensen glares at him and Jared chuckles. The omega snatches the glass from his hand and takes a small sip. He swishes it around his mouth and then spits into the bowl. Jared reaches around him and flushes the toilet then slowly helps the other man stand. This late in the evening, Jensen is utterly exhausted and it shows in his movements as Jared guides him over to their bed. The omega’s posture is stiff, his features colored with pain, and his adorable pregnant waddle more pronounced. Jared wisely keeps his mouth shut and waits until Jensen is situated then crawls into bed behind him careful not to move any of the pillows surrounding his mate.
They fall asleep in each other’s arms, the door cracked so Emily can get to them if needed, the baby monitor on the nightstand showing a sleeping Daniel and the twins’ heartbeats safe beneath Jared’s palm.