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all the things i never dreamed of

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Adam never really wanted to be a parent.

In fact, he took very specific steps in order to avoid that as soon as he could, getting a hysterectomy when he was twenty one. It was never something on his radar, and frankly he was sure that he would certainly fuck up any kid that he raised anyway.

(He also never thought he would be dating someone almost twenty years older than him. Or that he would end up locked in a fucking disgusting bathroom fighting for his life for several hours. It’s funny how things change.)

Once they had been dating for longer than three months, Lawrence had brought up the idea of them meeting formally. They had just moved in together, and he wanted Diana to visit for the weekend. Just to see how it went.

He obviously knew that Lawrence had a daughter. Hell, he even knew what she looked like thanks to Lawrence’s wallet pictures. The idea of meeting her in person, though, scared the shit out of him for some reason he couldn’t really place.

(That wasn’t true, he could definitely place it. He was scared of Lawrence realizing he wasn’t parent material, he was scared of Diana hating him, he was scared of it all blowing up in his face. But facing all of that nearly froze him with fear so he simply didn’t.)

Of course, it hadn’t been that bad. Diana had been shy, but she was also nine and had been through a ton so that wasn’t a surprise. At least she didn’t blame him for her parents divorce, he’d gone in half expecting that. But they’d had a quiet night in, and Adam had felt more at peace than he expected.

Since then, she’s been around a handful of times. Adam tries to let her have some quality alone time with her dad, slipping out of their apartment more often than not to give the two of them some space.

(It’s an excuse and deep down he knows it. Knows that he feels like an intruder and that the voice in his head won’t shut up about how he’s going to fuck this up somehow. So he heads out.)

But he always says hello to her, always appreciates whatever smile he can get out of her, and always lets her choose what to watch on tv. He knows at some point he wants to try and build a more substinail relationship with her, if she allows it.

He gets the chance to prove himself on one Saturday when his phone rings, the number on the screen shows that it’s Lawrence. That’s...weird. Whenever Lawrence calls him at work, he knows something is up.

“Yeah?”

“Adam, I need to ask a really big favor of you.” Adam’s attention is instantly grabbed. Lawrence has that extra exhausted quality to his voice, the type that says he’s had a long day already and it’s only going to get longer.

“What’s up?”

“I’m going to need to stay late at work, can you pick up Diana from Alison’s house at seven?” Adam, of course, has the best response possible.

“Um. Sure.” He says lamely, because what else is he really supposed to say? Lawrence breathes a sigh of relief that Adam can basically feel, even over the phone.

“Thanks babe, I really appreciate it. I have to go, but I’ll be home by ten” Lawrence hangs up. Adam is briefly charmed before the request he’s just agreed to actually hits him. Fuck. He glances at his watch, it’s almost six already.

Alright, he can do this. He can do this. That’s his mantra as he grabs his key to the apartment and heads out, trying desperately to not let anxiety sink its sharp teeth into him.

Adam still has his shitty car from before, thank god, so he’s able to drive that to Alison’s new house and even be there early. From what he’s gathered from Lawrence, she bought the place very soon after the bathroom.

(He definitely isn’t looking closely at the clock to count down so he’s exactly on time. That would mean that he’s extremely nervous, which he definitely isn’t.)

He runs up to the front door and knocks a few times, before he’s greeted by Alison. She doesn’t look happy to see him, but she doesn’t look unhappy either so he’ll take that. Mostly she just looks confused.

(He’d had a few extremely awkward conversations with Alison before. To his extreme surprise, she doesn’t hate him. They might never be best friends or paint each other's nails, but they can get along and he’s more than okay with that. All of that said, he has no idea what she thinks about his parenting skills with her daughter, what she’ll think about the pair of them being alone for a few hours.)

“Adam? Why’re you...here.” She says.

“Lar-Lawrence has to work late.” Adam offers. Alison's face grows irritated and Adam has to wonder how many times she’s heard that herself. But he can’t speak for Lawrence, all he can offer is a shrug as an apology.

“Diana! Adam’s here to pick you up!” She calls up the stairs before turning back to Adam.

“She’ll be down in a minute. Do you want to come in?” Adam appreciates the offer, truly, and steps inside the doorway.

Adam hears the distinct sound of a little kid thumping down a flight of stairs as Diana arrives and looks at him, her weekend bag slung over her shoulder.

“Where’s daddy?” Those are the first words out of her mouth when she sees him. It’s completely unsurprising, but it still makes his heart sink a little and also speeds up nervously, an incredibly unsettling feeling.

“Um...he’ll be around later. I promise.” He says. Is that the right thing to say? He has no idea.

“Okay…” She doesn’t sound thrilled and she’s got the classic ‘I’m a little worried about this.’ face. Fantastic, that’s definitely improving his confidence greatly. But he tries to keep himself calm, this isn’t

Still, she lets him take her hand and lead her to the car under the watchful eye of her mother. He hopes the faint smile he shoots to Alison is encouraging and not worrying. He’s not sure how successful he is.

“Sooo...what’d you want for dinner?” Adam asks as he drives away, glancing into the backseat where Diana is strapped in. That’s a fairly safe topic, and it’s a real question in all honesty. She thinks on it for a minute.

“Pizza?” Diana says in a questioning voice. Pizza, he can do that no problem. He doesn’t even have to cook for that, which is a bonus in his eyes.

(He’s become incredibly grateful for Lawrence’s ability to cook. It had been a little bit of a surprise, but he quickly grew used to it. Maybe a little too used to it, but he was working on letting people take care of him.)

“You got it.” He’s rewarded for that with a little smile, which makes him feel like a fucking king all the same. It makes him wonder, is this how Lawrence feels all the time?

“With pepperoni?”

“Of course.”

Diana has her own room at their apartment, Lawrence had made sure his apartment had an extra room even before Adam moved in. Diana heads there to drop off her weekend bag and get set up while Adam calls in their dinner order, with extra pepperoni please.

The food shows up surprisingly fast, in all its greasy and meat covered glory. He slides the box onto the table like a hunter bringing home his prize. The pair of them eat in mostly silence, but not in a way that feels uncomfortable.

“You wanna watch a movie?” Adam asks when the pizza box is empty, mostly thanks to him.

“Yeah.” Diana nods eagerly.

“Cool, what’s your pick?” This isn’t that different from hanging out with his buddies in college when they were all stoned, he thinks to himself. Pizza, movies, all the same stuff. The only difference is he has to watch his swearing more than usual.

“Hmmmm. Can we watch The Lion King?”

“You have fine taste, Lion King it is.” He slides the DVD into the player and settles on the couch, Diana hops up to join him.

“Adam?” Diana pipes up from next to him about ten minutes into the movie.

“Yeah?”

“Are you gonna marry Daddy?” Adam’s been literally shot before, but the experience of being asked that is shockingly similar. His eyes go wide and his mouth makes a few weak sounds before he closes it and collects himself a little. As much as he can, anyway.

“Um...maybe one day.” It’s a weak answer, but they’ve been together for less than a year. And Lawrence didn’t even finalize his divorce until recently. Asking him about marriage right now would probably be the single most insulting thing that Adam could do.

“Why’re you asking?” He tries to deflect. She shrugs, a gesture that reminds him so much of Lawrence it nearly makes him collapse on the spot.

“A friend at school told me that’s how it works.” She says simply. Adam can remember the various wisdoms that elementary school friends had told him, he’s glad to know that nothing has changed.

“Well, I’m not exactly an expert, but that’s not always right.” He offers as an answer. She has that vaguely worried look on her face again.

“If you get married does that mean I can’t see mommy again?” Her eyes look so deeply worried and sad that Adam feels extremely bad.

“What? No, I-” Adam takes another second to compose himself. He doesn’t want to lie, but he doesn’t want to tell the truth, but he can’t not say anything. It feels a little bit unwinnable, but he decides to give it his best shot.

“Look, no matter what happens, you’ll always have your mom and dad.” He has no doubt about that. It seems to satisfy her for the time being, so he’ll count that as a win for himself. Fantastic, he’s going to get a good grade in step-parenting.

It’s around the halfway point of the movie that Adam realizes Diana has been very quiet. When he looks over to see if she’s alright, she’s fallen fast asleep on the couch. It’s only a little past nine, but then again he’s used to staying up until way past midnight. He pulls the spare blanket that’s draped over the couch and spreads it over her, he can wake her when the movie’s over and put her to bed.

With that, he settles back into his spot and continues watching.

Lawrence feels like he’s about to fall asleep where he’s standing. It’s been an absolutely grueling day at the hospital, not to mention the guilt he feels over losing time with his daughter. He hopes she can forgive him.

When he walks into his apartment, the lights are off, unsurprisingly, but he can hear the tv still on in the living room. That’s Adam, he assumes as he walks into the room. What he sees nearly melts his heart.

Adam is asleep on the couch, leaning against the backrest with his head lolling back. Diana is curled up next to him, also fast asleep and tucked under a blanket. It’s a truly heartwarming sight and Lawrence can’t resist standing there and just taking it in for a minute. But, he thinks to himself, it’s time to get everyone into their own beds.

“Hey.” He whispers, gently shaking Adam on his right shoulder.

(He’s always extremely careful when waking Adam. There’d be a few times, early in their relationship days, when he hadn’t been careful enough and had deeply scared him. When Adam got scared, he lashed out, and then he strained his shoulder. Since then, Lawrence has been much more careful.)

“You’re back.” Adam stretches his entire body out, rubbing his eyes as he slowly wakes up and looks around. “What time is it?”

“It’s a little past ten. I just got home.” Adam nods a little sluggishly, before looking to his side and seeing Diana, still asleep.

“Shit. I’m sorry, I must've passed out before I could get her to bed.” He sits up quickly, still feeling bleary from his unexpected nap.

“Don’t worry about it. Thank you for watching her.” Lawrences eyes are shining with gratitude and affection. Before Adam can say anything else, Lawrence turns his attention towards Diana.

“Honey, honey wake up.”

“Daddy!” Diana lights up as soon as she sees her father, and throws her arms around his neck. Lawrence holds her tightly, like he never wants to let her go.

“I’m sorry I’m late, but it looks like you and Adam had fun, yeah?” Diana nods, still looking like she could fall back asleep at a moment's notice.

“I’ll tuck you in, and we can have breakfast together in the morning.” Lawrence says as he walks Diana to her room.

(One of the things that Lawrence was saddest about following the amputation of his foot was his inability to carry Diana anymore. He just wasn’t able to balance the additional weight when he was still adjusting. Adam would offer to help, but his shoulder was still busted so that wasn’t really an option)

“Goodnight Adam.” She whispers, giving him another sweet smile before she walks off with her father.

“Night Diana.” He responds, heading into his and Lawrence’s room for the night.

“Hey Lawrence?” Adam asks as soon as they’re in bed together. Lawrence has taken off his clothes and his prosthetic for the night, but his bedside lamp is still on, casting a soft glow over the room. That generally means he’s alright with talking.

“Mm?”

“What’s it like being a dad?” Lawrence considers for a minute before he gives a single word answer.

“Terrifying.” Adam isn’t sure that he heard that right. It...definitely isn’t the answer that he was expecting.

“Huh?”

“It is. You’re entirely responsible for them, you always have to put them first and take care of them. The moment I first held Diana was the best moment of my entire life, but it was also the scariest.” Lawrence says softly.

“Yeah, I can imagine. Well, no I can’t. But you get what I mean.” Lawrence laughs a little and Adam slides next to him, laying his head down on Lawrence’s chest and listening to him breathe for just a minute. He wonders if he should bring up Diana’s question or not, but he decides against it.

“I’m really grateful you took care of her.” Lawrence says softly, bringing Adam out of his head.

“What? Of course I would.” Adam says, only a little defensively.

“I mean, in general. I know it’s complicated. We’ve had very different lives up until now.” Lawrence’s hand laces together with Adam’s and he lets his guard down. Adam agrees wholeheartedly, he can’t think of two people who were living more different lives than him and Lawrence. But here they are anyway.

“You mean how you’re like five times my age?” He murmurs, getting another light laugh out of Lawrence.

“Something like that, yes.”

“It’s fine, I like you anyway.” Adam leans deeper into Lawrence’s hold on him.

“Thanks.” Lawrence says dryly.

“You’re extremely welcome.” They lay in silence together until the need to sleep overtakes them both, and Lawrence turns off his bedside lamp to shroud them both in darkness. Adam didn’t ever predict his life putting him in this position, but he’s realizing that sometimes things do change for the better.