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You & Me, Always

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Luke couldn’t believe it was almost the end of the year. 

The year had flown by, and October was here which meant that Halloween and Christmas was also near, and if Luke had to be honest, that was one of the many bright spots in his life at the moment. 

The only downside was that he hadn’t had a decent night’s sleep, again. 

It had been a good week of this, and for once it wasn’t the kids, or Reid, work, or anything else that was the cause. There truly wasn’t an obvious cause at all. His brain was just a jumbled mess lately, and catastrophising was unfortunately a thing he was an expert at which then, of course, led to sleepless nights. 

He hadn’t felt like this since just before his transplant. That uneasy feeling in his belly and heart that just wouldn’t completely disappear. 

So his brain would do that thing in the night, where he would run through a million scenarios, each just as bad as the other, and as much as he tried to make his brain stop, to quieten it down, his brain just wouldn’t listen. As much as he tried to tell himself it was a phase too, that it was just a small dip and that it would all be over soon, his heart and mind just wouldn’t believe it. 

His usual chamomile tea or the lavender pillow spray did nothing to help either. Neither did those breathing exercises he’d learnt in therapy. 

And here he was, after another night of the same old shit, and even though he’d managed to get at least more than four hours of sleep, he really just didn’t have the desire to get out of bed at all. But he needed some coffee and he was hungry, so there was no reason not to. In addition to all of that, he missed getting morning kisses and hugs from his babies, and that was motivation enough to get up and out of bed.

Reid had woken up looking tense and worried for him like the worry wart he was when he’d found him wide awake. He’d left him with a kiss on the cheek, urging him to get some more sleep if he could, and reassured him he had the kids handled. And Luke really did manage to get an extra hour or so of sleep, and it had helped massively. 

Obviously Reid had noticed he hadn’t been sleeping well, he slept right next to him after all. 

He noticed everything. 

But he also knew just what to do to help Luke feel better, to feel loved, and comforted. When things had been much worse, when Luke hadn’t been able to see the light, it was Reid who had been by his side, reminding him that there was a way out of the dark woods. So of course Luke trusted him, trusted what he said, and trusted what he did. 

Even if he could get overbearing in the nicest of ways. 

However, Luke had a responsibility to take care of himself, so sleeping in an extra hour or two wasn’t the worst thing in the world, and he tamped down that feeling of guilt that would erupt every time he felt like he wasn’t being a good dad, or a good husband. Taking care of himself should never ever make him guilty, Reid had reminded him of that. 

Taking a deep breath, Luke heaved himself out of bed, almost yelping when he realised he’d just missed Peggy who’d been keeping vigil by his bed. She got to her feet, tongue lolling out of her mouth and pushed her face against his thighs, begging for some scritches and attention. 

“Hey sweet girl,” Luke gave her ears a scratch, cooing at her. “Were you waiting on me?”

Her tail wagged hard, whuffing in response and licking at his arm, and that was a good enough answer for him. 

“Okay, girl. Let’s go downstairs and see the kiddos, huh?” 

Though Luke had a few things to do like brushing his teeth and using the bathroom, Peggy didn’t leave his side for any of it. Even his pup was concerned for him, and that was enough to make Luke’s heart feel full. 

Grabbing a chunky sweater from his wardrobe, Luke pulled it on and adjusted his hair as he padded his way downstairs. His long hair was still around, though a little shorter than it had been lately. The summer had been super hot, so a trim had been necessary, but it was long enough to tie up and tie back when needed. He knew the longer hair would do him well to keep him warm through a crisp fall and a chilly winter that was for sure. 

Luke could hear the kids singing along to something as he walked down the stairs, but he couldn’t quite make out the words. It was obvious by the time he found both Alejandra and Freddie sitting in front of the television however, that they were watching ‘Frozen 2’, for the tenth time this week he was sure. He caught the sight and sound of the dishes in the sink being washed too, and pinpointed that that was where Reid was. 

Peggy, now sure her human charge was doing okay, bounded to the kitchen to get something to eat, not without leaving with another head scratch from Luke. 

Walking around to sit on the couch as quietly as he could, he watched them sing along to the movie for a good minute, until Alejandra casually looked back and realised her Daddy was right there. 

“Daddy! You’re awake!” she squealed. 

Luke’s smile grew into a grin, as Freddie turned around and noticed him too, beaming. Holding his arms out, it was Alejandra who ran into his arms and snuggled into him first, the movie absolutely forgotten. 

“Oh my baby, good morning,” Luke said, smooching her cheek once and then twice, her bed head was magnificent just like his own, and he smoothed her hair down as best as he could. “You okay?”

“Uh huh,” she nodded, clinging to his arm. “And you, Daddy?”

Alejandra was the sweetest, most caring girl, and Luke felt like the luckiest father on the planet. 

“I’m feeling very good because I get to hug and kiss you,” he told her truthfully, kissing her once more and holding his free arm to hug Freddie to him who had run over too and hugged him tight. “Morning sweetie, did you guys eat some breakfast?”

“Yup, Papa made us eggs and toast,” Freddie said, sitting himself down next to Luke and resting his head on Luke’s shoulder. 

“And choccy milk!” Alejandra added with a giggle. 

“And chocolate milk too?” Luke gasped, twisting his head to drop a kiss to Freddie’s head. “Well, I think I’ll have some for breakfast too.”

“First, you have to have something to eat, your meds, then you can have all the chocolate milk you want.”

Luke glanced up and found Reid standing above him, with a plate in hand and a mug in another. 

Of course Reid wouldn’t let Luke lift a finger today, the man was annoyingly caring sometimes. 

He looked effortlessly beautiful for the time of the morning however, with his cute glasses and wayward curls looking perfect, the short beard that he’d been growing made him look all sorts of sexy, and he was wearing his yoga pants and a sweatshirt making him absolutely snuggable. And his warm smile was enough to make his heart and mind feel at ease. 

God, Luke loved him so much. 

“You made me breakfast? Aren’t you the sweetest?”

Reid cocked an eyebrow, handing the plate to Luke which he took from him after carefully extracting the children from both his arms. 

“I am not sweet,” Reid quipped, as was his usual answer. 

“Sure you’re not,” Luke said with a laugh, but he accepted the quick kiss Reid gave him with a happy sigh. 

“You okay?” he murmured, keeping his voice low. 

Luke nodded, smiling genuinely, and made space on the couch for Reid to sit next to him, Alejandra climbing over Luke’s lap, right into Reid’s like the monkey she was. Freddie was still by his side, not wanting to leave his side it seemed, and Luke had an idea as to why. 

It had been a while since he had overslept like this, and he assumed it brought back bad memories for Freddie from the days Luke was sick. It was heartbreaking in some ways, but Luke knew that all Freddie would need is some reassurance, some cuddles, and he’d be okay. His boy felt so deeply, and Luke loved him for it, but sometimes he wished that he’d never have to experience those kinds of feelings, ever. 

“You don’t have to eat if you don’t want to,” Reid whispered.

Luke startled a little, not realising he’d been out of it for a couple of seconds, just staring down at his plate. But some beautiful avocado on toast with scrambled eggs on the side were more than enough to get his stomach rumbling, and his mouth salivating too.

“No, honey,” Luke winked Reid’s way, “this looks delicious, thank you.”

Reid winked back and handed Luke his mug of coffee, urging him to eat. “I promise it tastes good.”

“I don’t doubt it.”

And Reid wasn’t wrong. 

Luke felt a little more awake with just one sip of coffee, a bite of the toast, and in a comfortable silence that came with being a family that knew each other inside out, he felt more content than he had in a while. Reid’s comforting arm around his shoulder keeping him close did much to keep him feel grounded too. 

“Dad, will you come pumpkin picking today?”

Luke glanced down at Freddie who’d asked the question, mug stopping at his lips. “Wait? Is that today?”

Freddie nodded hopefully, “Papa said me and Jelly can get one each or more, and then we’ll make pumpkin pie together. And they have a petting zoo there too with alpacas and bunnies and stuff.”

Freddie’s love of animals knew no bounds, and Luke’s lack of sleep had clearly made him forget something so important. He could do with some fresh air and something fun to be honest, it’s why he’d planned on keeping this Saturday free. After a busy week at work with deadlines and some intense problems to deal with, a day out with his kiddos was all he wanted.

Carding his fingers through Freddie’s curls, he nodded. “Yeah baby, of course I’m gonna come. Can’t miss out on eating some s’mores either.”

“S’mores?” Alejandra perked up hearing that, pushing her bangs out of her eyes. “I love ‘em!”

“Me too,” Freddie added, smiling big. 

Luke shared a smile with Reid. “I know you do, my love.”

“If you’re too tired, you don’t have to come,” Reid said, trying not to sound too concerned but failing anyway. “I got this, you know that.”

Luke rolled his eyes this time however, knocking his shoulder into Reid’s. He wasn’t so tired that he would miss out on this. “No, I’m going to come, and I’m not too tired, I promise. We haven’t hung out together for ages, and we had this in the books for a while, right? I’m coming.”

The kids cheered and Luke’s heart swelled with a happiness that felt good for once. And if Reid looked happy and relieved about his decision, he didn’t make a big deal about it, but he did press a long and lingering kiss to Luke’s forehead instead. He wasn’t always one for too many words, Luke knew that, and that told him everything he needed to know. 

Luke took a sip of his coffee, revelling in the comfort of the people he loved more than anything in the world surrounding him, smiling to himself. 

Today was going to be a good day.

 

***

 

“We really should’ve cut Allie’s bangs today, she can barely see,” Luke said with a laugh, bending down to Alejandra’s level and tucked her bangs to the side, out of her eyes, and into her woolly hat. 

“I can see, Daddy!” she declared, reaching out to pull Luke’s own hat down over his ears with a giggle. 

“I’ll do it later tonight,” Reid said from above him, gently pulling on one of Alejandra’s braids. “Her hair needs a wash anyway.”

“Oh no, Papa!” she groaned, pouting with her hands on her hips. 

“Oh yes, monkey,” Reid told her with a laugh, hugging her to his side, and Peggy who had joined them on their day out licked at her nose and made her squeal out loud. 

Alejandra had lately had a thing about her hair being washed, but they tried to make her comfortable as best they could, distracting her with a game or a movie so they could get it clean and get the tangles out too.  

Luke straightened and laughed along with Reid and Freddie, before moving to adjust Freddie’s scarf around his neck, wanting to make sure he was warm. 

“Ready to go, baby?”

Freddie nodded with a happy grin, and off they went, hand in hand. 

It really was a sunny day, but it was a crisp fall type of morning too. There was a chill in the air, and though they’d wrapped up warm and had only gotten out the car minutes ago, Luke could feel the tip of his nose go cold. He bet it had gone pink too.

Reid had bought their tickets online, and they were scanned as they got to the entrance, so luckily there was no need to wait in the line to get in. And Luke was glad for it. Despite his lie in, they’d made it there pretty early and the farm wasn’t packed, but it definitely wasn’t empty either. There were plenty of families there already, the sounds of kids laughing and screaming could be heard all around them, and a warm scent of cinnamon in the air had Luke salivating. He needed to know where that was coming from. 

“Dad, Papa, can we go find our pumpkin now? Please, please!” Freddie insisted, clearly thinking they were too slow. 

Luke snorted out a laugh, and Reid nodded firmly. “Yes, but hold your sister’s hand, don’t let go, and don’t go too far. We have to be in your sights at all times, understood?”

“Understood, come on Jelly!” Freddie grabbed a hold of Alejandra’s hand, both running off like rockets right into the pumpkin patch.

“Who would’ve thought kids would get so excited about pumpkins?” Reid commented, taking a hold of Luke’s hand and squeezing it.

Luke adjusted Peggy's leash in his other hand as she trotted beside them, pressing close to Reid. “I think it might have something to do with the season rather than the pumpkins. Carving them is fun, and then they get to dress up and get their hands on a bunch of sweet stuff which is a huge part of it. Like you don’t love the sweet stuff too, my pumpkin.”

Reid breathed out a sigh, but his lips had tipped up into an approximation of a smile anyway. “Don’t call me, pumpkin.”

“Please babe, you love it,” Luke pushed his chin into Reid’s shoulder and stole a quick kiss to his cheek. “And I love you.”

Reid caught his eyes, and didn’t deny it. And how could he? It was clear to see in his eyes every time he looked his way. But Luke could see worry, and concern seep through too. 

“You know you didn’t have to come here with us today.”

Luke couldn’t help but smile as they walked, quickly checking to see that the kids were in sight. “I know I didn’t have to, but I wanted to. I wanted to spend the day with my family, Reid. Nothing is more important than that.”

“Not even some rest and relaxation without the kids around?” he joked. 

Luke laughed. “Not even that. You know I feel restless when the kids aren’t around. I don’t know,” he sighed, kicking the hay beneath his shoes, “things have felt weird lately. I’m sorry that I’ve been out of it.”

Reid frowned his way. “There’s nothing to apologise for, Luke. You know that.”

“I know, I know--just feel bad for making you worry.”

“You’ve made a habit of it that’s for sure,” Reid mumbled, earning himself a whack to his chest from Luke.

“Asshole!” 

“Hey!” Reid rubbed at his chest with a smirk. “I’m not lying! Ever since I laid eyes on you, all you’ve caused me is worry and stress.”

Luke conceded that Reid wasn’t entirely wrong. Luke had caused him enough worry to last a lifetime, and he’d put up with it without complaining too. 

But, Reid wasn’t any better. 

He would go above and beyond for his patients, disregarding his own health sometimes. He also had the propensity to make himself as ill as possible until he was forced to actually take a day off and rest. And honestly, their relationship hadn’t started in the best of ways either, it had been full of all sorts of worries and stress. 

They’d also been very...antagonistic at the start, but things got better. 

So much better.

But Luke scoffed anyway. “Please, like you don’t cause me stress and worry too. I found a new gray hair in my eyebrow, Reid. In my eyebrow! And I’m blaming you. Just because I had a shit kidney, doesn’t mean you’re exempt from the stress you cause me.”

Reid chuckled, letting go of Luke’s hand to wrap and arm around his waist instead, bringing him closer still, his eyes finding the kids and then turning back to meet his own. “You don’t have a shit kidney anymore, thankfully.”

“Just a shit brain,” Luke said with a wry laugh. 

“No you idiot,” Reid objected without a beat, “not a shit brain. It’s just that a brain that is as strong as yours needs a break and needs to slow down sometimes, that’s all. Am I wrong?”

Of course Reid was right, he was a freakin’ genius after all. 

For a man who hated small talk, he could be profound when he needed to be. And Luke realised that’s maybe what he’d needed to hear too. The self-deprecation was a part of his DNA, but sometimes he needed the reminder that he wasn’t as bad a person that his liar of a brain liked to make him believe.

“No, you’re not wrong,” Luke confessed, kissing Reid softly because he could. “Thank you for reminding me of that.”

Reid kissed him again, a little harder this time, and Luke could feel his love and determination that was poured into it as well as the brush of his beard that did all sorts of things to his belly. 

“I know, I’m a genius. You should know this by now.”

Luke cracked up laughing, his heart and mind feelings lighter than it had in days, and Reid smiled widely his way. 

“You know you can talk to me about anything, Luke,” Reid added, turning serious for a moment and stopping them in their tracks. “Whatever it is that’s bothering you, I’m here to listen, and if you don’t want to talk to me, you can talk to your family, to your parents, to Dev, Casey, Hannah--there are so many people that know and love you and want to help when things don’t feel good. So you’re definitely not alone, okay? I love you.”

There was no question that was true, Luke knew deep down in his bones just how much Reid loved him, but he also knew just how much he loved Reid, and there was never no harm telling him the same. 

After over ten years of loving each other, they’d gone through anything and everything any couple could have, maybe a little more than usual considering the ridiculous town they lived in. But if there was anything that Luke had known through a decade of them, and the one thing he had always felt secure in, it was that he was never ever alone. 

Not when he had Reid by his side. 

“I know, I love you too, so much. Thank you for looking out for me,” Luke said sincerely, pressing their foreheads together for a moment, and brushing their noses too. “It’s all of you who love me that keep me going, Reid.”

“It’s you too, Luke,” Reid lifted a hand to smooth his knuckles over Luke’s cheek. “Don’t discount what you do for yourself to take care of you, that’s important too. You are so strong. And I will reiterate this again, you are not alone.”

Luke could cry, but he swallowed down the lump he could feel in his throat, blinking away the tears he could feel and nodded, words not coming easy. And for once, Reid didn’t tease him, kissing his cheek instead, as well as giving him a squeeze to his ass.

Luke jerked in shock, a laugh spilling out of his mouth, his tears forgotten. “Reid!”

“What?” Reid’s innocent look was the worst, especially when his smirk gave him away. “I didn’t do a thing.”

“Uh huh, sure.” Luke knew his husband well and shoved him a little, making him huff out a laugh in return. “You just wait till we get home.”

Reid cocked an eyebrow. “Is that a threat?”

With a smirk of his own, Luke winked his way. “You bet that beautiful ass of yours that’s a threat.” 

With the children actually sleeping in their own beds for the night, Luke and Reid were finally managing to get plenty of alone time. Maybe tonight Luke could find some time to really appreciate every single thing about Reid, and not just his beautiful ass.

“Dad, Papa! Look! We found so many!” came Freddie’s shout, as Alejandra waved them down, jumping up and down, as if she wasn’t visible in her bright blue coat and the lime green rain boots she’d chosen to wear. 

Luke lightly shoved Reid once more with a laugh, and ran to the kids with Peggy pulling him towards them, as Reid followed them at a much more sedate pace. Once Luke reached the kids his eyes widened at the array of pumpkins they had managed to gather, and had a feeling that it was going to be a difficult task to whittle them down to a couple. 

“We got small ones and big ones and baby ones too. A baby one is for Luna, and a baby one for Peggy too! And look, Dee dee got a ‘uge one!” Alejandra explained delightedly, holding her arms out wide. 

“But we don’t gotta take them all home,” Freddie said, realising that maybe he’d gathered a few too many. “Just the small ones are okay!”

“It’s alright, monster,” Reid reassured him, pulling the backpack off of his back, and taking a bottle of water out. “We can take whatever pumpkins you can carry, we needed some for outside the house and for the pie too, didn’t we? Here,” he handed the bottle to Freddie, “how about we go and get these all put away somewhere safe and then we can get something to eat. I smell funnel cakes and pumpkin spiced lattes.”

Of course Reid was going to spoil them and let them take home as many pumpkins as they wanted, and of course food is the first thing that came to mind. They’d barely been there fifteen minutes. 

“Are you kidding me right now?” Luke said with amusement, taking the baby pumpkins from Alejandra’s hands, as she cuddled up to Peggy and drank from the bottle her brother had given her. “How are you already hungry?”

“You would think my husband of over ten years would know me by now, but alas,” Reid deadpanned, taking the bottle from Alejandra and drank some water himself. 

“God, you’re insufferable,” Luke muttered, elbowing Reid in the ribs and making him almost spill the water down his front, but Reid laughed anyway.

Little arms wrapped around Luke’s waist. “Daddy, I’m hungry too! I want s’mores and cakes!” 

Alejandra was indeed her Papa’s daughter. 

Luke glanced at Reid and saw the smug look on his face and knew they were now most definitely going to get food, and it wasn’t even noon yet. 

“Me too, Dad!” Freddie chimed in, with a sweet smile. 

Holding out a hand for the water bottle, Reid gave it to him and Luke took a fortifying swig of his own. 

“Alright my babies,” Luke declared with a grin, “let’s go and get some food.”

A bark from Peggy was her own approval, and had them all burst out laughing. 

 

***

 

But, Luke couldn’t leave the pumpkin patch area without taking some obligatory pumpkin patch photos. He had to send a bunch to his close family and friends, and for Instagram too, obviously. Both Freddie and Alejandra liked to ham it up for any kind of camera that wanted to capture their image, and were more than happy to pose as Luke wanted them.

Reid however, was not a fan. But that didn’t stop Luke from gleefully shoving him into the photos, making him pose with some pumpkins too. And a couple dozen photos and selfies later, Reid’s hangry, grumpy mood was starting to show, and Luke realised they’d have to hurry before it got any worse.

Pumpkins safely bought and stored in the wheelbarrow they had commandeered, Reid speedily led them all to the several stalls selling all types of pumpkin spiced beverages, pies and snacks, as well as some cookies and those funnel cakes.

They managed to get hot drinks for them all, and some dog friendly pumpkin cookies for Peggy too. Everything, including the sandwiches, were amazingly pumpkin themed, and for someone who had only moments earlier didn’t understand why kids loved pumpkins, Reid was sitting eating pretty much everything pumpkin related with a serene joy, like he was a kid himself.

In between eating their cookies, and sipping on their hot drinks, the kids chattered about what costumes they wanted to wear for the Halloween party at the farm next week. 

“Peggy gotta be a taco, and I’m wanna be a dinosaur,” Alejandra announced, like there was no changing her mind. 

“Did you ask Peggy what she wanted to be before you decided that for her, monkey?” Reid asked her, drinking his latte and sharing an amused smile with Luke. 

“No,” she rolled her eyes like she’d learnt from her Papa, “obviously I asked! She said, ‘Allie, I wanna be a taco ‘cause I love tacos’!”

“Well, that is true,” Luke said, scratching the top of a content Peggy’s head that was resting on his knee, “she does love her tacos, just like you do, huh Allie?”

She nodded vigorously. “I do, and Dee Dee loves ‘em too, don’t you Dee?”

Freddie agreed, sitting next to Reid on the picnic bench they were sat on, and had a warm arm wrapped around him as Freddie ate his sandwich. “I do love them, but I don’t want to be food for Halloween. I want to be something scary! Like a zombie!” he said excitedly. 

“That’s so cool!” Alejandra gasped with delight, kicking her legs under the bench, turning her puppy dog eyes at Luke, “I wanna be a zombie too, Daddy!”

“Sure, baby. You can be whatever you want,” Luke told her, pulling the crusts off the sandwich and handing it back to her, as well as her juice box. 

Luke waggled his eyebrows Reid’s way, just enjoying the conversation between their kids as he took a sip of his latte. They still had to decide on a couple’s costume too, but they’d deal with themselves last minute, as they always did. 

The sweet thing was that Alejandra always wanted to do everything her big brother did, and with that big heart of his, he never ever complained that she was copying him. Luke wasn’t entirely sure where he’d gotten that from, because he did remember fighting with his siblings over every little thing, quite a lot, but it was clearly all just a Freddie thing. 

“Then you can be a baby zombie, Jelly.”

Alejandra shook her head defiantly. “I don’t wanna be a baby zombie! When Papa n’Daddy have my baby sister, she can be a baby zombie.”

Luke almost choked, and saw Reid’s eyes widen at the same time. This was the first time either of them had heard of a baby.

Kids, seriously. 

A huff of a laugh managed to leave Luke’s lips however, and he booped Alejandra’s nose with his finger. “What baby is this, Allie? I didn’t know you were getting a baby sister.”

She drank from her juice box and pursed her lips. “I wished for her for my birthday, Daddy! I blew candles, n’you said my wish will come true. I wanna be a big sister.”

Oh dear. Maybe Luke needed to be careful about what he said around her now. He just hadn’t realised she’d really taken his words to heart and had wished for a whole human baby. Luke did love her optimism and surety that she would get what she wanted though.

Luke pressed a kiss to her nose, smoothing his thumb over her cold flushed chubby cheek. “My love, I can’t say your wish won’t come true. But, you know what? Aunt Faith is coming for Halloween, and Rosie too. Maybe she can be a baby zombie in your zombie family this year, huh?” 

“Yeah, Jelly!” Freddie reached over the table to hold Alejandra’s hand. “Then you, and me, and Ro Ro can be a zombie family. Papa, could we do that, please?”

Reid looked as if he was still recovering from the shock of the announcement of a baby neither of them knew they were going to have, but he concurred. “Sure, bub. You can do that.”

“I wanna be a zombie doctor, wait! A zombie brain doctor, like Papa!” Alejandra declared. 

Reid’s eyes lit up. “A zombie neurosurgeon?” He looked rather proud about it too. 

Luke had known for a long time that Reid most definitely had a secret desire to see either of the kids follow in his footsteps, but Luke also knew that Reid would never ever force it upon them. Reid had experienced how damaging a controlling atmosphere could be and that was not the kind of father he ever wanted to be.

“That’s a great idea. I think I can swing you a stethoscope too, and Dad can do your make-up. How about that?”

The children cheered, and Reid winked at Luke. “Nice save,” he mouthed his way, and Luke bent his head in a gentle bow. 

But, the idea of having a baby join their family wasn’t the worst thing? Was it? 

It wasn’t a scary thought, not really.

When things seemed hopeless last year, when Luke didn’t know if he would make it, he couldn’t help but think about the promises he made himself if he did make it through, and having a baby was definitely one of those. Sure he and Reid had had the conversation many times after he got better, and in the months since, but there was no plan of action so far.

Becoming a father was by and far the best thing Luke had ever done in his life. It had been the one thing that kept him going on his worst days, and the one thing he thought would never happen for him during his darkest days. He loved his children so very much, however, he knew his heart had the capacity to grow a little bigger, to add another little human to their family, and he hoped that Reid felt the same way. 

Actually, he had no doubt whatsoever about that fact. 

But maybe it was time. Maybe helping Alejandra’s wish come true really wasn’t a terrible idea. It would just take a lot of work, and a lot of emotional energy too.

And honestly? Luke felt nervous about that whole prospect. 

Boots under the table wrapping around his ankles caught Luke’s attention, and glanced up from his latte to find Reid gazing at him with that stupidly cute frown between his brows. 

A wordless ask of ‘are you okay?’ had Luke’s fears and anxieties about the future just...melt away. 

As long as they were together, they’d figure it all out. 

Luke could only tighten his own feet around Reid’s own and grin happily. He blew him a kiss that he hoped said it all without needing to say anything at all. 

And Reid’s answering smile was all the validation he needed. 

 

***

 

After visiting the petting zoo, feeding the alpacas and rabbits, taking all of the pictures and videos, and even navigating their way through a corn maze, it was finally enough to tire out both kids, and Peggy too. 

They did perk up for a few minutes when they got some s’mores to eat, giggling as they licked their sticky fingers and savouring every single gooey part of it, with Reid eating their leftovers when they’d had enough, but the sugar crash came moments later. 

Reid carried an exhausted Alejandra in his arms, Luke had Peggy’s leash in one hand and Freddie holding his other hand but tiredly slumped into his side as they trekked to the car. They managed to get them both into their seats without much hassle, Reid taking off their scarves and hats for them too. Peggy jumped right into the trunk, and slumped down into her nest of blankets and didn’t move an inch. 

Luke offered to go back and get the pumpkins they’d chosen, leaving Reid to wait with the kids. By the time he’d made it back and carefully stowed them away so that Peggy wouldn’t have pumpkins rolling around her however, the kids were fast asleep and snoring away. 

Joining Reid on the passenger side, Luke sat himself down and closed the door shut as quietly as he could. He pulled his knitted hat off of his head, and unzipped his jacket, head flopping back onto the headrest with a sigh. 

“Tired?”

Luke twisted to look at Reid, and realised there was no way he could lie to him, not when he was looking at him so lovingly with that beautiful face of his. “Yeah, a little bit. But I had fun, didn’t you?”

Reid smiled fondly his way, and lifted Luke’s hand to his lips, pressing a kiss to the back, holding on to it. “Yeah, it was fun. I’m happy you enjoyed yourself.”

“There’s nothing better than spending quality time with you and our babies, you know that.”

“I do know that,” Reid told him with a smirk. “Someone would think you’re obsessed with us.”

Luke lifted Reid’s hand to his lips this time, dropping a kiss on his knuckles. “Like you’re not obsessed with me, Doctor Oliver. What was it again? You liked me from the second or third time you laid eyes on me? Don’t try and hide your infatuation with me, babe.”

Reid laughed heartily, but quietly, so as not to wake the children and leaned over to kiss Luke. “Oh no, I’ve been found out.”

Before Reid could move away, Luke cupped Reid’s face and brought him back in for one more kiss. “Yes you have, but I wouldn’t have it any other way.”

They kissed softly but deeply for a long moment, just enjoying the closeness they’d been craving all day. Luke’s heart felt fit to burst, a slow thrum of arousal flowing through his body. If he could’ve climbed right into Reid’s lap right then, he would’ve. 

But it wasn’t the time, nor the place, especially with the kids in the back too. 

With one last press of his mouth to Luke’s cheek, Reid pulled away, his thumb brushing against his plush mouth. “Your Dad called me just now.”

Luke blinked, a laugh leaving his lips at the sudden change in subject that was decidedly unsexy. “Way to ruin the mood.”

“I’m sorry,” Reid laughed too, scrubbing a hand through his curls and clearing his throat. “I got carried away. He said he tried to call you but you didn’t pick up.”

Luke’s pulse ticked up a tad with concern. “Oh, he did? Is everything okay?”

“Everything is fine,” Reid reassured him, pulling playfully on Luke’s earlobe. “He invited us over for the rest of the day, and said he missed the kids. Did you want to go?”

“Oh.” 

Luke pondered the idea for a moment. Though they were tired and could do with just going home and relaxing, the idea of going to the farm and seeing his Dad, checking in on the horses and eating some of his brilliant cooking without having to do all of the work would be pretty great, Reid would agree. The kids had been missing their Gramps too. But it wasn’t just his decision to make. 

“What about you? Did you want to go?” Luke inquired. 

Reid pushed his glasses up his nose, shrugging. “It would be nice to have someone cook for us today. And your Dad’s cooking is pretty great, and that is high praise from me.”

Luke smacked Reid’s arm with a giggle. “I knew it! It’s always about the food with you.”

“When isn’t it about the food? My stomach has needs.”

“And spending time with your father-in-law is just a bonus then, huh?”

“A wonderful bonus,” Reid conceded with a sarcastic smile before sobering up, “but, seriously--I also know you haven’t seen him in a while, and he said Ethan’s around too. We can get free babysitting for at least an hour with him there.”

That was all Luke needed to hear. 

“Yeah, let’s go.”

 

***

 

By the time they made it to the farm, the sun was still shining, and Luke couldn’t imagine a more perfect fall day. The autumn trees they’d driven past were a wonder of burnt orange, sunshine yellow and a deep red, and it helped to calm Luke’s mind. 

Freddie had woken up five minutes before they’d parked up, looking very well rested, however Alejandra was very much knocked out and Luke was loathe to move her. 

“She’s gonna get all grumpy and cry if we wake her up right now,” Luke said as he watched her sleep for a moment, twisting back around to face Reid. “I’ll stay in the car with her, you and Fred go on in.”

“You sure, Luke? I can stay behind, you take Freddie and hang out with your Dad.”

“Nuh uh--you think I can’t hear that belly of yours rumbling, Reid. You need to eat something hot and filling before you get grumpy.”

Freddie giggled from the back, and Reid scowled at Luke, though without any heat. “I do not get grumpy.”

“Papa, you do. You get super grumpy,” Freddie interjected, leaning in between the two front seats. 

Reid made a face at Freddie, making him giggle harder. “Attacked by my own son? I thought I’d never see the day.”

Luke chuckled lightly, wacking at Reid’s knee, shushing them both in case Alejandra woke up. “Isn’t he your son after all? Go on go, take Pegs with you. Alejandra will be up in about fifteen minutes anyway.”

Reid handed Luke the car keys, and left him with a kiss to his cheek. Freddie followed in his stead, kissing him on the cheek too, and making Luke feel all sorts of emotional. He jumped out the car to hold Reid’s hand as they ambled to the house, Peggy bounding along beside them. 

Twisting back around to check in on Alejandra, who was still very much fast asleep, Luke resigned himself to checking his phone and work emails instead. But it wasn’t all bad, as it gave him an opportunity to go through all the pictures he’d taken and send along his favourites to those he loved. 

He also took the time to check in with himself, mentally, and realised that the strange weight that had been on his chest for most of this week felt lighter than it had been, and that was more than enough to lift his mood.

Taking a couple of deep breaths, in and out, Luke closed his eyes and tried to go back to the idea for another novel he’d had recently. At some point he would really need to make detailed notes, and storyboards, but this way worked for him for now, just imagining it all in his head allowed him to figure out what worked and what didn’t. 

He wasn’t even sure how long he’d sat there, he had a feeling he’d fallen asleep at some point, but a small, sleepy voice calling out for him had him on full alert. 

“Daddy?”

Luke blinked the last dregs of his nap out of his eyes and turned around in his seat, smiling lovingly Alejandra’s way. “Hi, honey. You have a good sleep?”

Alejandra rubbed at her eyes, her baby face flushed and creased with imprints of her coat on which she’d laid her face, and could only nod. Her little yawn had Luke almost coo out loud, but he swung into action instead. 

He left his seat and walked to Alejandra’s side, opening the door and helped her unbuckle from her from her car seat. Brushing her bangs out of her eyes he took her dirty rain boots off for her so she wouldn’t track mud into the house, and decided he’d carry her in instead.

“You see where we are, my love? We’ve come to Gramps’ house.”

Alejandra perked up hearing that, her eyes cataloguing her surroundings. “Grampa?”

“Uh huh, I was just waiting for you to wake up, baby. Come on, let’s go inside, huh?” 

Luke let her wrap her arms around his shoulders, and he lifted her out, carrying her on his hip as she buried her warm face into Luke’s neck. Shutting the car door and locking up, Luke made his way to the house, unable to stop himself murmuring how much he loved her, and pressing kisses to her cheek. 

Luke knocked on the door, but it flew open in seconds like they’d been waiting for them, and found his Dad on the other side. 

“Hi, Dad.”

“Hey, Luke,” Holden said with a smile, moving to the side to let them in and closing the door behind them. He bent down to catch Alejandra’s eyes. “Hi, sweetheart. It’s so good to see you.”

She didn’t say anything in reply, but that was to be expected. Luke stroked a hand over her head, kissing her forehead, as he carefully toed his own shoes off. “She just woke up, give her a second. She’ll be hanging off of you in no time. Huh, Allie?”

Alejandra buried herself further into Luke, fingers tightening on his jacket that he was yet to take off, and he couldn’t help but laugh. But he hugged his Dad as best as he could, feeling a light kiss to hair, and breathed a happy sigh. 

“It’s good to see you too,” Holden said, pulling away and grinning. “I heard you had a busy morning.”

“We did, didn’t we?” Luke bounced and swayed a little, to make Alejandra wake up a little more. “We picked pumpkins, ate sandwiches, and had pumpkin milkshakes, and s’mores too, didn’t we baby?”

“D’maze too, Daddy,” Alejandra said quietly. 

Luke shared a smile with his Dad. “Oh yes, and Papa almost got us lost in there. But you got us outta there, didn’t you?”

“You did?” Holden said, smiling at Alejandra. “What a smart girl you are.”

Alejandra finally lifted her head and smiled proudly, now no longer feeling so vulnerable, but pressed her cheek to her Dad’s. “And I got a prize too, Gramps! Didn’t I, Daddy?”

“Yes you did, baby,” Luke carefully unzipped her jacket, and with one hand and some clever manoeuvring, managed to get Alejandra out of it, handing it to his Dad to put away. “You got some crayons and what else?”

“And face paints too!”

“Face paints?” Holden repeated with wide eyes and a whole lot of interest, coming back to stand with them. “Can I book you in to do my Halloween make-up for me?”

Alejandra nodded with a giggle, holding a hand to her mouth. “I can make you into a spider, Grampa!”

Holden burst out laughing along with Luke, and agreed. “That sounds good to me, sweet girl. Now, you must be hungry, huh? Want something to eat? I have some strawberries for you.”

“Yes please, Grampa,” she said, so very politely. 

“Come on then, I can get your Daddy something hot to drink too.” Holden held out his arms, and she fell right into them, hugging her Grandad tightly as he walked her further into the kitchen. Luke gave him a thankful smile, and finally took his jacket off, hanging it behind the door. The mention of something hot, like a good coffee sounded absolutely perfect. 

But, he couldn’t see nor hear Freddie or Peggy in the house, or Reid either.

“Coffee okay, Luke?”

Luke straightened his sweater and tucked the stray strands of his hair behind his ears. “Yes please, that sounds good.”

And before Luke could even ask the question, his Dad sat Alejandra on the counter and gestured to the front room, and then outside. “Peggy is in the front room by the fire, and your boys are out with Ethan checking in on the horses. I’m sure they’ll be back soon.”

“Oh,” Luke felt himself relax, folding his arms across his chest and resting against the counter next to Alejandra. “Good to know. You’d think Freddie would’ve had enough of animals today, but clearly not.”

“He’s just like you, Luke,” Holden said, handing Alejandra a plastic bowl with more berries than just strawberries, and filled a cup of water for her too. “Maybe he’ll be the vet you’d wanted to be?”

“Maybe! He does have a certain affinity with animals, that’s for sure. I don’t think he’s ever stopped talking about how he helped you to deliver Margot’s foal.”

“He really didn’t mind getting dirty either,” Holden moved to pour some coffee into a mug, as well as some milk and sugar. “I don’t think you were ever destined to live on a farm forever, Luke.”

Luke nodded with a laugh, plucking a strawberry out of Alejandra’s bowl and popping it in his mouth, much to her annoyance. “Yeah, I love farm life and the animals, but I don’t love the early mornings. Sorry, Dad.”

Handing the mug to Luke, Holden made a noise of agreement, walking back to get his own mug of coffee. “I think you’ve found what you were meant to do, and that’s all I ask for from all my kids. Though I hear that you’ve been having unintentional early mornings yourself,” he raised an eyebrow, and a worried one at that, “is everything okay?”

Of course someone had told him about his sleepless nights, but Luke couldn’t for the life of him figure out who. It’s not like anyone knew beyond Reid, and maybe Casey. 

“Who told you?”

Holden shook his head in denial, he wasn’t going to tell him. “I don’t think that matters, Son. I asked you how you are? I’m worried about you.”

“Oh, god,” Luke sighed, smiling as honestly as he could. “I promise, I’m good. I think all I needed was a change in scenery to be honest. Work had been busy this week, I’d barely gotten to see the kiddos in time for bed. But it’s not like any of the work was stressful, I think I just,” blowing on the hot coffee, he took a sip and savoured the slight bitter sweet taste, “I think I just burnt out this week, and it messed with my sleep and my mood. But today already feels so much more different than yesterday.”

Holden looked relieved. “That’s good to know, and look, I know things have been so hard for you lately, but remember how strong you are, okay?” He reached a hand out and squeezed Luke’s shoulder for comfort and reassurance, “Not to say you can’t lean on me, or Reid, or anyone else, just don’t forget that you can get through anything. Bad days pass, and so do the sleepless nights, I should know.”

Luke really was the luckiest man to have a Dad like him, to have so many people care about him was a blessing unto itself. And he hoped he never took it for granted. 

Placing his hand over his Dad’s, he gave it a squeeze himself, “Thanks, Dad. Reid told me a similar thing today too, and I promise I’m listening. It’s one of those dips they’ve talked about in therapy, right? It will be okay, better than okay, especially since I have all of you.”

“That you do,” Holden affirmed, dragging him close for a quick hug and kiss to his temple. “And you know you can drop the kids off with me if you ever just need some time to yourself. I know I could always use the help, Freddie’s great at mucking out.”

Luke chuckled, nodding towards Alejandra. “And what about Allie?”

Alejandra finally looked up from her bowl of treasured berries and smiled hearing her name, her little lips smeared with red berry juice. 

Holden laughed. “She’s very good at grooming the horses, aren’t you sweetheart? Do you want to come and work for me and not go to school anymore?”

She nodded earnestly, eyes sparkling with joy at the mere prospect of no school. “Yes, please!” 

Luke had to shove his Dad a little at the suggestion. “No, my love,” Luke told Alejandra, “school is important, but since you’re so good at grooming the horses, maybe Gramps can borrow you for the weekends, huh?”

Alejandra nodded even harder. “I wanna do that, and Dee Dee too!”

“Then it’s done,” Holden confirmed, clinking his and Luke’s mugs together. 

“We can work out terms later,” Luke added with a wink. 

 

***

 

Just as they’d sat down at the table to prep for dinner, Luke helping with chopping some vegetables for a roast, and Alejandra eating the bits of carrot Luke gave her--Ethan, Reid, and Freddie came barrelling through the door without their shoes on, not wanting to track mud and whatever else into the house. 

All of them had ruddy red cheeks from the cold too, and looked so very adorable for it. 

“Dee Dee, you’re back! I got berries! You want?” Alejandra called out. She’d left some especially for him, and had kept the bowl nearby, waiting for her brother to come back. 

“Hey, what about your Papa?” Reid asked indignantly, handing Ethan his coat and scarf and took the same from Freddie as he ran over to wash his hands at the sink. 

“And your Uncle too!” Ethan added, laughing as Alejandra pouted. 

Poor Alejandra looked so confused however, because she really did want to share, and wasn’t quite sure what to say, but it was her Grandpa that saved her. 

“Allie,” he laughed, stopping his prep for the roast chicken they were having for dinner, “there’s more than enough. I have a big bowl in the fridge that’s for everyone, okay?”

“You do?” Alejandra’s face lit up. “Okay then, but Dee Dee can have these.”

They all cracked up laughing as Freddie ran right over to Alejandra, thanking her with a kiss to her cheek and jumping up onto the table where she was sitting to eat the berries she’d saved for him. 

“There’s no berries for anyone who hasn’t washed their hands first,” Luke said loudly, cringing away just as Reid got close enough to touch him whilst smelling of hay and horses. Sometimes it was kinda sexy, but today, Luke really wasn’t feeling it.

For a man who didn’t want anything to do with animals when they’d started dating and was practically indifferent to them, Reid seemed to really love spending time with the horses whenever they came down to the farm, and the horses loved him too. Luke had found him many a time talking to them like he’d be talking to a loved one, scratching their necks and petting their faces. They calmed him when he wasn’t feeling too great, and his quiet presence calmed them too. 

However, Luke’s warning didn’t stop Reid from coming closer.

Before walking over to the sink, he purposefully ruffled Luke’s hair, making him groan out loud in disgust. Though Reid wasn’t affected whatsoever, throwing a wink at him as everyone else laughed at their childish antics. 

Ethan came over to hug Luke, and blow a raspberry on Alejandra’s chubby cheek that had her shrieking with laughter. “I missed you, Jelly Belly,” he told her. 

“I missed you too!” Alejandra threw her arms out wide and wrapped herself around him, laughing even harder as Ethan groaned, as he faked being squeezed too tight by her. 

Luke loved their relationship so much. He loved watching them interact and talk to each other like the best friends they were. They both had the same sense of humour, the same taste in music, and a love of all the sweet food. There wasn’t ever a pie that wasn’t first demolished by the two of them first, every single Thanksgiving. They were the perfect team. 

“Guess what, I have a surprise for you,” he waggled his eyebrows with a huge grin.

Alejandra grinned right back. “A surprise?”

Even Luke was intrigued. 

Ethan winked at Alejandra and called out to Holden. “Hey Dad, did you check on the baby?”

“A baby? What baby?” Reid interjected, wiping his hands on with a towel and opening his mouth so Freddie could feed him a strawberry, looking thoroughly confused, as did Luke. 

“A baby!” Alejandra gasped, Freddie’s eyes widening with delight too.

“It’s not a human baby,” Holden explained with a long-suffering laugh, before answering Ethan’s question. “She’s fine, last I checked in on her was after you fed her, and she was still fast asleep.”

“Great! Come with me Allie, you too Fred,” Ethan picked Alejandra off of the table and dropped her right next to him and held her hand, turning to Luke he cocked an eyebrow, “Come on, you too--I want you to meet her.”

Luke frowned his way, still baffled. It was obviously not a baby baby, but a non-human animal of some sort. Glancing up at Reid, he seemed to be just as baffled, but he walked the short distance over and held out his hand. 

“Come on then,” he murmured. 

Luke smiled up at him, and took a hold of his hand, following the kids and Ethan into the front room, where by the fireplace, Peggy had her nose in a wicker basket trying to sniff out the occupant. 

She moved away as they all got closer, and Ethan sat down cross legged on the rug and moved something inside the basket, urging the others to sit down next to him too. Alejandra was first to peer inside and cooed out loud, her little body vibrating with excitement.

“Daddy, Papa, it’s a kitty! A baby kitty!”

Luke knelt down on the rug, Reid right behind him, and had a look himself, finding exactly what Alejandra had said. 

Nestled in some warm cream coloured blankets was a little black kitten that couldn’t have been more than a month old. She wasn’t quite awake yet, her little tummy falling and rising as she slept on, but she was tiny, and Luke couldn’t help but coo himself. 

“She’s so cute,” Freddie whispered, carefully stroking her head with a finger. 

“Where’d you find her?” Luke asked Ethan, unable to stop himself from stroking her head with a light finger too. Luke knew that his Dad’s cat, Maeve, had given birth to kittens a good three months ago as far as he could remember. So this little kitten couldn’t be hers. 

Ethan let Peggy rest her head on his shoulder, reaching back to scratch under her chin, dropping a kiss to her face. “I was out with friends two days ago, and heard a squeaking and meowing from the dumpster outside of some diner. I thought I was going crazy, because my friends couldn’t hear her. But I did a little digging anyway, and found her all alone in a plastic bag that thank god hadn’t been tied up, she was shivering the poor thing.”

“Oh my god,” Luke felt his heart squeeze in sympathy. “Did you get her checked out? Is she okay?”

“She’s good, a little malnourished. But Dad and I have been feeding her round the clock. She was so scruffy and cold, but scared too,” Ethan shook his head in disbelief, “I’m actually kinda lucky she wanted to come with me, because she put up a fight for a minute or two. She’s a feisty one.”

It was then that the little kitten decided to wake up, blinking at all the weird humans who were staring at her. Her eyes were as blue as a cloudless sky, and she meowed their way in what sounded like a tentative ‘hello’.

“Hello kitty!” Alejandra squealed, before turning her pleading eyes on Ethan. “Can I cuddle her, please?”

“Sure!” 

Ethan scooped her up, handing the kitten over to her carefully, keeping a hand under hers just in case she dropped her, but Alejandra was a natural, and stroked a hand down her back and over her head. The little thing responded with another meow, but didn’t fight back, enjoying the attention that she was being lavished with it seemed.

“Any idea how she ended up where she was?” Reid asked concernedly. 

“No clue, but I do know people see black cats as bad luck so,” Ethan shrugged sadly, “it could be that she got dumped because of that, and I think that’s exactly what happened. Which really sucks.”

“That’s so mean,” Freddie added, sounding upset. “Why would anyone dump her? She’s so sweet.”

Luke sought to reassure him as best he could, carding a hand through his curls and hugging him to his side. “Oh honey, some people believe in bad superstitions, like your Uncle said. But luckily there’s also people out here like your Uncle that saves them too, and how lucky is this little kitty that he found her, huh? He’s a hero.”

“Yeahhhh, that’s true. He is a hero,” Freddie stroked a finger over the kitten’s head as she purred. “She is very lucky, and whoever dumped her is stupid.”

“Very stupid indeed,” Luke concurred, brushing a finger over Freddie’s cheek, and getting a sweet smile just for him in return. Luke had a feeling that Freddie’s empathy and his special touch was definitely going to lead him into a career with animals, no doubt about it. 

Reid rubbed a comforting hand up and down Luke’s back from where he was sat next to him, and Luke couldn’t help but lean into it. 

“What’s the plan with her?” Reid enquired, like the practical man he was. “Is she going to be a part of your growing brood on the farm?”

Ethan’s eyes brightened, a sly smile growing on his face. “Well, Dad had her checked with the vet and we’ve signed her up for her vaccinations that she’ll need in a couple of weeks, but we did wondered whether--you would want to take her home with you?”

“With us?” Luke repeated, a little blindsided by the possibility of this. “Really?”

“Yeah,” Ethan reiterated, “I know you guys were looking to adopt a rescue dog like Pegs at some point, but, I have school and Dad’s got a million other things to do on the farm, and she’s kinda special to me. So it makes sense asking you first, right? I think you’ll be good cat parents. And look at her,” he pointedly looked at the kids who were gently playing with her, “she’s already loved so much.”

“I uhh,” Luke blinked before a poke to his side from Reid had his attention. He twisted to look at his husband who unbelievably didn’t look as if he was about to disagree. 

“What do you think?” Reid murmured instead, with a full on smile. “Do you want to bring her home?”

“What?” Luke’s mouth fell open in awe. 

This was not the reaction he’d expected. He didn’t want Reid to want this because it might make him and the kids happy, he would have to be happy too. “I thought you didn’t even like cats, and you want her?”

Reid shrugged and nodded. “I don’t see why not? We have the space, she needs a home, and I’d rather she stay in the family. It’s not like she’ll get in the way. And I didn’t say I don’t like cats, but she seems okay.”

“Yeah but, she’s going to need round the clock feeding for a few more weeks and--”

Reid’s brow furrowed deeply, so very confused but amused. “Luke, why are you resisting this?”

And Luke didn’t even know why he was. Everything in him was screaming that he did want this, but he didn’t know why he was making excuses. He was clearly being stupid because the little kitten was adorable and sweet, and he knew just how much the kids had been going on and on about wanting another pet.

But they just hadn’t found the perfect little animal to bring into their life, until now. 

“Hey, we don’t have to if you don’t want to,” Reid reassured him genuinely. “But she deserves a good home, and I’m okay with giving her that, aren’t you?”

Luke nodded at Reid, his worries and anxieties about all of this just disappearing. He was letting his mind run away with him when he didn’t need it to. And it would be okay, of course it would.

“Yeah, let’s do it.”

Reid nodded back with that infuriatingly hot smile of his. “Yeah, okay. Let's do it then.”

Luke twisted back around and winked at Ethan, which was answer enough for him. But there was someone else’s opinion Luke wanted too, well...two certain other people. 

“Can I hold her now, honey?” Luke asked, reaching out for the little kitten that Freddie gently handed over to him as she squealed her head off. 

They all cracked up laughing when she tried to jump and scrabble out of his hands with a loud meow, but he managed to hold her against his chest for a moment so he could really look at her face, and then held her up so Reid could see her too. 

She stopped squirming for a moment, staring at them as if she was really checking them out, just like they were absolutely checking her out. 

Yeah, she was perfect. 

Feisty, but sweet. Strong, but smart. She was most definitely the only cat for them.

“Freddie, Alejandra,” Luke said, getting their attention with a wide grin, “what do you think? Wanna take her home with us?”

Freddie looked as if he was going to cry, but Alejandra was the first to share her happiness. 

She gasped out loud and put her hands together under her chin, her bottom lip trembling. “Really, Daddy? The kitty can be my new best friend?”

Luke nodded as Reid laughed. “Yeah bub, she can be your new best friend.”

“And Dee Dee’s too,” Alejandra added, wrapped her big brother in a hug. 

“And Freddie’s too,” Luke told her, turning his gaze onto Freddie’s sweet face. “What do you think, my love? Wanna take her home?”

Freddie nodded fervently, his eyes filling up. “Yes please! As long as you and Papa say it’s okay!”

“This kid is too polite,” Ethan said with a shake of his head. 

Luke could only agree. “Yeah, he’s a good boy, the best boy we know.”

“And yes,” Reid interjected with a chuckle, “it’s good with us. We can bring her home soon.”

The kids erupted in celebration, getting to their feet, hugging them both and then jumping up and down and dancing on the spot, having them all in hysterics. Peggy joined in, leaping up and down with them and running circles around them with some loud, excited barking thrown in. 

“I assume you’ve decided to take that little one home just in time for Halloween,” said Holden from the doorway, with a dishcloth slung over his shoulder and watching the mayhem. 

Luke huffed a laugh, the timing was pretty coincidental. “Yeah Dad, I guess we did!” 

Holden’s approving smile was all Luke needed to know they’d made the right decision. 

Luke carefully let the squirmy kitten down onto the carpet, though she was a little unsteady on her feet for a couple of steps, she bounded right up to Peggy and chirped at her, wanting her attention, her little tail twisting and twirling. And their gentle Peggy gave her all of her attention, sniffing at her before dropping down onto her haunches and trusting the kitten completely, letting the tiny thing sniff Peggy out too, and then jump and climb all over her. 

“She’s so brave,” Luke said in awe, as they all watched Peggy and the kitten interact and play with each other. 

“Sounds like someone else I know,” Reid whispered into his ear. 

Luke rolled his eyes and knocked an elbow into Reid’s chest, trying so very hard not to blush as he turned to face him. “You are the sappiest of saps.”

“I am? If that’s the case then you’ve rubbed off on me, in the worst way possible.”

“The worst way?” Luke said aghast, as he shoved him once more. “ You are the worst, I hate you so much.”

“I hate you too,” Reid said sincerely, his eyes full of an affection that belied his words. 

But Luke could feel the love, the care, the adoration. And that was enough to have Luke’s own heart sing a happy song. 

 

***

 

“Ethan said he’ll get me in touch with the vet, so we can take things on once we bring her home. And we’re going to have to buy a bunch of stuff too, toys and litter boxes, and one of those uhhhh, what are those--” 

Luke splashed his face with warm water, wiping it dry with a cloth and untwisted the cap of his moisturiser, tapping some dots on his face before massaging it into his skin along with some night oil, 

“--cat trees! Yes! I bet there are some great ones out there, and hopefully the little one will like it. Oh! Could we get her little black wings to wear for Halloween? She’d look like a cute baby bat or a dragon, what do you think?”

“Sounds good to me,” Reid replied from their bedroom.

Luke smiled at himself in the bathroom mirror, and grabbed a brush, letting his hair out of its bun and combing it through. Once he was done, he tucked his loose hair behind his ears and hung his face cloth on the rack behind him to dry, ready for tomorrow morning when the routine would start all over again. 

Switching off the lights in the bathroom, he padded back to their bedroom, holding a hand over his mouth as he yawned out loud.

They’d gotten back from the farm only an hour earlier, after having had dinner and hanging out to watch a movie together, as well as checking in with the horses like Luke had wanted to. But after the long day they’d had, they were all absolutely wiped out, poor Peggy too. The kids had gone to bed without a complaint, falling asleep as soon as their heads hit their pillows. 

Luke had forgoed their baths for the night, knowing just how tired they were, and with Reid by his side, got them changed into their pyjamas before tucking them into bed. They’d both decided that Alejandra’s bang-cutting appointment could wait another day, so could the alone time Luke had in mind for them.

The day had most definitely caught up with Luke, but with the added excitement of a little kitten joining their family, he wasn’t entirely sure he would be able to fall asleep. His mind was whirring nonstop, unable to think about anything other than what they needed to do for the kitten to make sure she could settle right in at home with them. 

Luke undressed for bed, changing into his favourite loose pink t-shirt and some soft black pyjama pants that were comforting in the best way. 

“I think we’ll have to do some research about the kind of food we can get her,” he said, pulling on his pants, “I can’t see why she won’t be able to eat some of the food we prep for Peggy. Without the supplements obviously. And we’re going to need a leash for her, because she’s gonna be a house cat for sure, and oh god, we need to think of a name too. But Fred and Allie would love to pick one, right?”

There was no answer for a long moment, confusing Luke for a moment. 

“Reid?”

Luke turned around and found Reid leaning against their headboard, sat cross legged wearing his well worn black t-shirt and some boxer shorts, staring at him with the weirdest look on his face. The light of the lamp next to him illuminated his dawn-like auburn hair, and without his glasses on, Luke could really see the unending depth of Reid’s sea blue eyes that he loved so much.

But Reid didn’t say a word, his eyes locking with his own. 

“What?” Luke touched his face, not sure if he’d missed a spot when he’d put his moisturiser on his face. 

Reid lips twisted upwards. “You’re really, really hot when you ramble, and just in case I haven’t said it today, I love you.”

A burst of laughter left Luke’s mouth, the tips of his ears growing hot and he could feel his own cheeks flush. Reid’s words had absolutely caught him off guard. 

“Shut up, you weirdo!”

“What?” Reid tilted his head with a loving smile. “I can’t compliment my husband? Is that the rule now?”

“I didn’t say you can’t!”

“Then what? I can’t tell you that I love you?”

“I definitely didn’t say that, my love,” Luke told him, hands on his hips and trying not to let his heart trip over itself. “You can tell me that all the time, every day and every hour. Whatever you prefer.”

Reid gave him a firm nod with a smirk. “I’ll set an alert on my phone then.”

Luke snorted out another laugh, “Sounds good to me!”

He walked over, crawling into bed from the side he would normally sleep, and laid his head right in Reid’s lap with a happy sigh. Reid’s fingers of their own volition carded through his hair, Luke leaning into his touch with his eyes closed, the both of them revelling in a quiet moment, just for them.

“Are you feeling better?” Reid said, voice soft and soothing as his fingers lightly trailed over Luke’s eyebrows, nose and lips. 

Taking a breath, and checking in with himself, Luke knew what Reid was really asking. But there was no hesitation in the answer that formed, because that tangle of unnecessary worries that had tightened themselves around his heart and brain for the past week had loosened considerably, but not completely.

It was enough to feel like he could breathe again. 

“I’m better,” Luke opened an eye, staring up at his husband. “Today was a good day, the best day I’ve had in a long time,” he opened his other eye as Reid’s fingertips traced the shape of his jawline in adoration, “but I’m sorry for making you worry.”

Luke .”

“No, listen--” Luke could hear the disappointment in Reid’s voice, and see it too, but he took a hold of Reid’s hand, threading their fingers together. “Seriously, Reid--I thought I was done causing you worry and here I am, causing you stress.”

“Stop apologising, Luke--we’re way past this now. I love you, and I’ve loved you for over a decade now and I always will. I’m always going to worry about you, the exact same way you worry about me. It’s the contract I signed when I unfortunately decided to fall in love with you.”

Luke’s mouth fell open. “When you unfortunately decided to fall in love with me?” 

He laughed out loud and hard, and caught the sparkle of amusement in Reid’s eyes, and pressed his lips in a kiss to their joint hands, trying very hard to stop laughing but it only served to muffle it instead.

A chuckle left Reid’s lips too, and he bent down, leaving a warm kiss to Luke’s forehead and one more to his nose. “I’m kidding obviously, “ he admitted. “My worries for you, for our kids, for everyone I love don’t ever snap out of existence, it’s always there in the back of my mind, just like they are for you. It’s a part of life, Luke. But just promise you’ll keep talking to me, and I’ll maybe worry a little less.”

Luke took a breath and nodded, because he felt the exact same. And he guessed that was all a part of the human experience, and it wasn’t as unique as his brain liked to make him believe. 

“I promise, and I want you to promise me the same too.”

“I promise.” Reid leaned down to capture Luke’s lips this time in the softest kiss. 

They finally settled into bed properly, Reid throwing the covers back so Luke could climb in and settle his head on the pillow and curl up right next to his beloved husband. He tangled his legs with Reid’s under the covers, and indulged himself with tucking a cheeky hand under Reid’s t-shirt to feel his warm skin against his palm, fingers scratching against the hair there.

“You’re lucky your hands aren’t cold,” Reid murmured, but rubbed a hand up and down Luke’s arm under the covers anyway. “I’d kick you out of bed.”

Luke shuffled closer, dropping a kiss to Reid’s shoulder. “Fuck you.”

“Maybe tomorrow,” Reid quipped, making Luke huff a laugh.

Speaking of talking, there really was something else that Luke needed to get off of his chest. There wasn’t ever a right time or a wrong time to talk about it, but Luke wasn’t sure he could suppress it any longer, especially since the thought hadn’t left his mind since the moment it had been mentioned, even if he felt a little nervous about it.

“Hey, Reid?” 

Reid turned his head to face him, and quirked an eyebrow in question, face open and honest and ready to listen. “Hmm?”

Luke took a moment to breathe before he spoke. 

“I know we’ve talked about this before, and I know it’s the path we want to be on soon, but when Alejandra talked about a baby sister like she already existed, it felt like--” 

For someone who was a goddamn writer, Luke couldn’t find the words. 

“Felt like what?” Reid asked, voice calming but encouraging.

“I don’t know, I guess I felt like my heart was ready for that, you know? Another baby? And I know, I know we have full house right now, especially with us taking on the kitten, but I can’t help but wonder how fucking amazing it would be to have another baby, you know? I just,” Luke sighed frustratedly, “I want to start taking the steps to make this happen now, only if it’s what you want too, obviously. You’re allowed to change your mind, and I’d never force you into anything--”

“Luke,” Reid interjected, stopping his somewhat hysterical ramble. He turned onto his side, a hand coming up to cup his face, thumb smoothing over the apple of his cheek, as Luke's hand slipped around to rest on Reid’s bare hip. 

“I know you wouldn’t force me into anything, and sure, Alejandra’s words came out of the blue today, but if you’re ready to take the next step, then I think I am too.”

Relief flooded through Luke’s body. “Really? Like, say if we started the process next year, you’d be up for that?”

“I don’t see why not? I’m not getting any younger, Luke. And sure the whole experience can be emotionally exhausting, but I wouldn’t want to do this with anyone else but you. We’re a good team.”

Luke smiled, hope igniting. “Yeah, we’re the best team, and hey, you’re plenty young to me,” he protested, poking Reid with a finger to his chest, “your age has nothing to do with this, I just--I feel ready now, and I hope you do too. After everything we’ve been through over the last few years, I promised myself I’d have no regrets.”

“And not having a baby was one of those regrets you didn't want to have?”

“Yeah,” Luke breathed, his mind casting back to the moment when he’d come to terms with the fact that he may not survive his kidney failure. “I don’t want to regret not having the chance to grow our family, Reid. So, if you want this, then I want this too—because, I can’t do this without you.”

Sometimes Luke felt like he asked too much of those he loved. That maybe he was a little spoiled, and always got what he wanted. And maybe that was true sometimes. But when it came to Reid, and when it came to his family, he only asked for what would be best for them, and not just for him. 

Just like Reid had said, they were a team. And there was no way Luke would even consider having another baby if Reid didn’t want that too. 

Reid tucked Luke’s hair behind his ears and could only smile tenderly his way. “Then let’s do it. Let’s have a baby.”

Luke choked up, his eyes filling with unshed tears. This was really happening. 

“Oh my god, you’re serious.”

Reid rolled his eyes and closed the distance, smacking a kiss to his lips. “Yes, of course I am, you idiot. You’re the one who asked me the question, didn’t you?”

“I know I just,” he sniffled, like the emotional fool he was and swatted at Reid’s chest, “I thought I’d have to do a lot more convincing.”

“It’s something I’d been thinking about for a while too,” Reid admitted as he thumbed away a tear that had fallen down his cheek, “I just wasn’t sure where you were at. I wanted you to be okay first, everything else came second to me.”

Oh

Of course he’d thought about him. Wanting him to be okay before anything else. 

No matter what Reid said, Luke knew that out of the both of them, he had the biggest, kindest heart. So Luke was powerless not to kiss Reid right then, pouring all of his love, adoration, respect and devotion and emotions into it. 

“You’re too sweet to me,” Luke finally said, after having caused himself some beard burn on his own face, and he absolutely had no regrets about that.

“No,” Reid thumbed Luke’s chin with a soft look, “I love you, just like you deserve.”

And that was it, wasn’t it? 

That Luke was lucky enough to be loved by someone who willingly, and freely and openly gave him all the love that he deserved. More than he ever thought was warranted. And that was what he had to hold on to, when his brain would tell him the opposite. When his brain would scream that he wasn’t worthy, that he wasn’t enough, that he wasn’t good.

Reid loved him. 

And he loved Reid. 

That was all that mattered. 

So, what else was there left to say?

Luke tangled his fingers through Reid’s curls, smiling so hard his cheeks ached. 

“Wanna make a baby with me, Doctor Oliver?”

Reid’s lips slowly formed a smirk, and he nodded.

And if Luke found some latent energy to worship and thank and celebrate Reid in the way he’d wanted to earlier that day, well...

 

...it only served to make Luke and Reid’s good day turn into an absolutely hot and perfect one.