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Holy shit, Shaun thinks, watching the truck turn the corner and disappear. Holy fucking shit.

That thought is following almost immediately by What the fuck have I done? and then bounces back into glee that makes him want to shout. Makes him want to climb the nearest roof and tell the whole world about it. Shaun snorts inwardly, mocking his moods swings and asking himself when he turned into a teenaged girl.

He contents himself with pulling Zach closer and ruffling Cody’s hair. But seriously, he still can’t quite believe all this has happened to him.

When he came back to Laguna, he was heartbroken, directionless, and more blocked than he could ever remember. And in a few short weeks, he has the next novel outlined, some critical scenes written and the ending is coalescing in his head. His heart is thoroughly mended and he’s realized that it wasn’t all that broken in the first place.

But most important of all, Shaun has what he’d given up on from the moment he admitted to himself that he was gay.

He feels jittery as they load Cody’s small bundle of possessions, like he’s had too many cups of coffee and hasn’t eaten for days. Shaun’s almost afraid to drive with all the things coursing through him, but one look at Zach tells him that his lover is totally wrecked by the past few hours. Cody’s small, pinched face in his rear-view mirror settles him some. Shaun puts aside his own emotional turmoil and concentrates on taking care of his boys.

They go back to house in Laguna, just to get things organized. They’ll leave for Shaun’s house in LA the next morning, but they agreed that one step at a time was the best thing for Cody. So much transition is going to be tough on the little guy, and though he considers Zach his father and likes Shaun well enough, the child has essentially just lost his mother.

The kid shakes off his sorrow in the excitement of being in Shaun’s house again. They sit outside after dinner, and talk about things they’re going to do . . . how Cody and Zach are both going to school, how they’ll live with Shaun in a new city. How Cody will make new friends. How Cody will always have a place. A place to come home to, a place of his own, a place for his toys.

Cody looks at Zach with such absolute trust that Shaun feels like crying. Zach has done such an excellent job with the boy and Shaun is ridiculously proud that such a fine human being wants to be with him.

Shaun doesn’t expect to see Zach in his bed that night, knowing Cody’s sleeping difficulties, so he’s surprised when, much later, in the deep part of the night, the bed dips and Zach presses himself up against Shaun, his naked chest warm against Shaun’s side.

“Hey. You okay?” Shaun asks, as his arms automatically pull Zach closer.

“Yeah, it’s just a lot. You know?”

Zach’s voice is muffled against the curve of Shaun’s neck and Shaun grins at the tickle.

“My life’s been going one way, and I thought that was it. That was all I was ever going to get and the world didn’t give a shit about one more kid from the ghetto getting screwed over by fate.”

Shaun is quiet, letting Zach talk. His fingers traced absent patterns on the rounded muscle of Zach’s shoulder.

“I never expected I’d get everything I ever wanted and all pretty much in a few days. It’s like I went up to do an aerial and when I came down the whole world had fucking changed in just those few seconds.”

Zach pushes a little against Shaun’s hand, a kitten seeking caresses.

“I’ve got you, I’ve got Cody, I’ve got school. Everything. I thought Jeanne would put up more of a fight for him. I was ready for it. She should’ve.”

“She finally had the sense to do what’s best for him,” Shaun says. But he gets why it hurts Zach that his sister just let Cody go, despite her actions saving the two of them a lot of trouble.

Zach’s breath hitches and Shaun tightens his grip.

“Probably the last thing you expected, right? You come down here for some peace and quiet, and what do you get instead? A boyfriend and a child. You must be going ‘what the fuck?’”

Zach says the words lightly, making them into a tease, but Shaun isn’t stupid and he’s known Zach most of his life. He can hear the insecurity underlying the joke.

“Listen to me.” Shaun doesn’t know how he can make Zach understand his own half-fearful elation. “Most queers end up making their own families.”

Shaun shrugs. “A lot of times parents don’t take it well, coming out, and you know. So gay people find people that accept them and support them, and that’s their family.”

“But Gabe . . . .”

“I know.” Shaun smiles. “Gabe is unique in his fucking awesomeness and he’s amazingly tolerant. Crazy fucker. So no, I haven’t really had to find another family.”

He can tell he has Zach’s full attention as Zach props himself on an elbow. Zach’s eyes are alight with curiosity, and Shaun gets lost for a moment in the deep blue that is so striking with Zach’s dark coloring.

“You are the most fantastic thing I could ever imagining happening to me, you alone.” Shaun has to be clear about this, can’t ever let Zach doubt that it’s him and his beautiful soul that has Shaun so entangled.

“But you’ve given me something else that I’d given up on a long time ago. Some gay men get to be fathers through whatever chance or effort they care to try, but most don’t.”

Fuck, that feeling from before wants to bubble up and rob him of the words. He’s a writer, for fuck’s sake, he should be able to do this.

“Most don’t get there. Lots want to.”

Zach tangles their finger together and Shaun leans into him, surprised at the abrupt shift in their interactions. That he needs Zach’s comfort this time. Shaun shakes off his memories of years of loneliness and searching that are behind him now. He hopes that Zach never has to experience it, for both their sakes. He remembers Zach’s mother though, remembers her boundless and unselfish ability to love. Zach has that same trait, although his giving personality is tempered by the inexorable tide of his art that demands he express himself. That will save Zach from disappearing into those who depend on him. Something else that Shaun will protect him from, and Shaun makes a mental note that he has to be careful not to take advantage of Zach’s willingness to sacrifice himself.

A gentle kiss on his temple pulls out of his worries about the future. Shaun presses closer against Zach, soaking in his warmth.

“You made me a father tonight.” Shaun stops there, regains control of himself. “And I’m gonna do everything I can to deserve it. I won’t let you down, Zach, I promise. Or Cody.”

“I know you will,” Zach says. “I just put my whole life and his in your hands. I trust you.”

“Okay.” Shaun rubs his face against Zach’s shoulder. “Okay.”

Zach sprawls on his back, raising his arms over his head in that unconscious gesture of surrender that he has, opening himself up. It makes Shaun wild and he still doesn’t understand where he found the self-control to hold out on totally jumping him that first time Zach did it. Shaun wonders if he should be alarmed at the possessive toppy behavior that Zach brings out in him, because he’s never been that kind of a guy.

But Zach’s beauty is irresistible and Shaun no longer has any reason to rein himself in. He covers Zach with a growl, teeth raking along the line of his lover’s neck. Zach gasps in shock, and his hips buck in reaction. Shaun moves his mouth to the underside of Zach’s arm, nipping at the ‘Lucky 3’ tattoo. Zach whimpers and his arms come down, encircling Shaun’s shoulders.

“Do it.” Zach’s voice is tight around his panting breath.

Shaun fumbles for the lube, slicking fingers up and plunging them into Zach’s body before either of them can draw breath. Shaun’s too on edge, too hot, too eager to sink into the heat of the man beneath him. Zach’s hands are urging him on, and maybe Zach isn’t as prepared as Shaun usually manages, but he can’t wait any longer.

Zach’s body opens for him as Shaun slides in with one long stroke that doesn’t stop until he bottoms out, balls resting against Zach’s ass. The constricting muscle stretches, welcomes him and Zach once again raises his hands, leaving himself vulnerable and yielding. Shaun’s thoughts skitter away from imagining how he could explore those urges in the younger man, how far he could take Zach. That type of thing can wait. Right now all he can do is ram himself home into Zach’s tightness.

Later, Zach slumbers in Shaun’s arms and Shaun guards his sleep. There’s a small noise and Cody crawls in with them.

“Cody-man,” Shaun whispers.

“Can I stay?” comes the small voice.

“Of course, bud.” Shaun carefully unwraps an arm from Zach. “Come on, but quietly, ‘cause Uncle Zach is really tired.”

Cody settles in against him, a small patch of warmth. Zach doesn’t stir. The boy’s breathing softens and relaxes. Shaun is glad that no one can see the goofy grin on his face.

They are both his, these boys, and he will make sure that they get the stability they both need. His family.