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kiss me sweet and strong

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“Pat?” Jonny’s voice filters into the kitchen from the garage door, and Patrick grins and sets the pumpkin he’d been contemplating carving back into place on the kitchen table.

“In here,” Patrick calls. “Did you find it?”

Jonny walks in, pulling off his beanie, cheeks pink from the cooler weather. Winter started descending on Chicago a week earlier, but it hasn’t been nearly as unwelcome for their family as it seemed to be for others in their neighborhood.

Between the pumpkin patch and the apple orchard -- with the decadent donuts that Patrick’s never going to admit to eating four of -- the family’s made good use of their first real fall in two years. Even the newly chilly weather had been greeted happily. The boys spent every moment possible falling into the huge piles of leaves they and Jonny had raked up a week ago. Patrick had had to sprint outside to rescue Amelie from being launched into the center of one pile when Jonny had gotten distracted talking to their neighbor.

More raking and less playing has been the policy since then.

“Got it,” Jonny says, rubbing one hand through his hair to straighten it and holding up a bag with the other. “Can’t believe we didn’t buy it when we got the other ones.”

“I know, I’m just not used to shopping for her yet,” Patrick says, looking over at where Charlotte is sleeping in her bounce-n-play next to Patrick on the kitchen table.

“Patrick, she’s not supposed to be up so high-” Jonny starts, frowning when Patrick waves a finger at him. “What? I don’t want her to fall-”

“She’s in the center of a table that’s eight-feet in diameter, Jon. And I’m sitting right next to her. She’s not underfoot where a certain two year-old can trample her. Or pull her hair. Or-”

“Fine, fine,” Jonny laughs, raising his hands in surrender. “I just worry. I don’t want her to get hurt.”

“I know, babe, but she really is safer up there. Now, gimme,” Patrick gestures impatiently for the bag, and Jonny shakes his head at him as he hands it over.

Just as Patrick opens the bag, Charlotte squeaks and squirms in her seat, and Patrick makes a face at her. “Always with the perfect timing, Char.” Her eyes blink open at Patrick’s voice, crossing comically before slipping closed again.

Jonny laughs. “I can think of worse moments to be interrupted,” he says, rubbing Patrick’s shoulder. His fingers drag across the nape of Patrick’s neck, under his hair, and Patrick shivers.

“Stop it, we don’t have time for that today.”

Jonny levels a dark look at him, and Patrick ducks his head, his cheeks warming.

“You-”

Charlotte cries again, with more intent. “Fuck,” Patrick says, dropping his chin to his chest in defeat. “She’s only been asleep for forty-five minutes-”

“It’s okay, babe, I got it,” Jonny says, grabbing a bottle out of the fridge and filling a pan with hot water to warm.

Patrick looks at the clock and huffs. “Yeah, I guess it is time for your bottle, huh, little queen?” Patrick says, putting the bag down and extricating Charlotte gently from her seat. He passes her over to Jonny with a kiss to her forehead.

Jonny croons to her in French, and she cries again before settling in his arms, her hand batting at Jonny’s face. Jonny shakes his head when she sighs and closes her eyes again. “Uh uh uh, none of that, petite reine,” Jonny says. “You have to eat for Papa. Get big and strong like your brothers and sister.”

“I don’t think there’s any danger in that,” Patrick says dryly. “All she does is eat.”

“Shh, don’t listen to Daddy, he’s just jealous. We all wish we could eat like that and still keep our girlish figures.” Jonny says, winking at Patrick.

“Fuck off, you love my girlish figure,” Patrick says, turning his attention back to the bag and pulling out Charlotte’s costume. It’s a tiny lion bunting costume, and something in Patrick’s heart squeezes at how desperately cute it is. “Oh my god, Jonny, look at it! It’s adorable!”

“I’m aware, Pat,” Jonny chuckles, cradling Charlotte gently as he moves around the kitchen. “Picked it out myself, remember?”

Patrick wrinkles his nose at him and looks back down at the costume. “I don’t know, though - do you think it’ll fit? It looks so big.” He smoothes down the fringe around the hood.

“Nah, it’s basically a giant blanket with a mane for a hat; the lady at the store said she’s sold it to people with preemies. Plus she’s not that tiny anymore, right ma reine? Put on a whole pound already, haven’t you?”

“I guess. And it’s not like we have any choice. Halloween’s tonight.” Patrick folds the costume up and tucks it back into the bag. “I’m gonna go wash this - you got her for a minute?”

It doesn’t take long to get the machine going, and when he gets back to the kitchen he pauses in the door to take in Jonny sitting on the sofa, Charlotte balanced on his thighs, her face slack with sleep.

“You’re the best girl, aren’t you, Char?” Jonny smoothes her onesie a little, fussing with the collar. “But you gotta sleep more for your daddy. He’s doing a lot right now, and you gotta pull your own weight. This is not a family of slackers-

“Did you just give our six week old your ‘Be Better’ speech?” Patrick asks, smirking when Jonny’s cheeks heat.

“I don’t have a ‘Be Better’ speech,” Jonny grouses. “And if I did, I’d give it to you to do something about that hair.”

Patrick gasps, holding a hand to his chest. “How dare you, Mr. Toews, I’ll have you know my husband loves my hair.” He leans forward and whispers, “he likes to pull on it when we, uh. You know.” Patrick wiggles his eyebrows.

“Yeah, he does,” Jonny says, his voice deepening, and now it’s Patrick’s turn to blush. “But even he doesn’t need that much to work with.”

“Hey!” Patrick says, smoothing the shaggy curls down in the back. “I just - I really missed having hair, okay?”

“I know, babe, and I love your curls. But you gotta trim it or one of the boys is gonna sneak in our room with a pair of scissors one night and you’ll wake up missing an ear in addition to your hair.”

“Shows what you know,” Patrick says, grinning when Jonny frowns in confusion. “The boys are on my side.”

“Eric is not going to keep growing his hair,” Jonny starts.

“Not what I meant,” Patrick sing-songs, cutting Jonny off and changing the subject.

“Okay, so you need to grab Ammy from preschool and pick up the boys at four-thirty. Char and I will get dolled up in our Halloween best so when you get home it’s a quick dinner and out for Trick-or-Treating.”

Jonny stands and places Charlotte gently into Patrick’s arms. “Sounds like a plan. Hey, when are you gonna tell me what you’re wearing tonight?”

“You’ll find out soon enough, big boy,” Patrick says, hip checking Jonny before tilting his face up for a kiss. “Now out with you. And don’t be late for preschool pick up or Amelie’s gonna be a nightmare.”

“Hmm,” Jonny says noncommittally, claiming Patrick’s lips again, licking into his mouth. Patrick shifts Charlotte a little more to his left and pulls on Jonny’s shirt as the kiss deepens.

“I gotta go if I’m going,” Jonny says, biting Patrick’s bottom lip lightly.

“So go,” Patrick says, tongue teasing at the seam of Jonny’s lips. “Who’s stopping you?”

Jonny huffs and pulls Patrick closer.

After no more than another minute of trading kisses, Charlotte chirrups and ends the back and forth for them.

“Fine, I’m going, Char,” Jonny says, kissing the tip of her nose, and then Patrick’s. “Be good for Daddy.”

Once the door closes behind Jonny, Patrick puts Charlotte over his shoulder. “Nap time for real, little girl. Daddy’s gotta finish getting ready for tonight.”

***

Picking the boys up after Amelie is usually a smart move, but one teacher curbside consult later, Jonny finds himself hustling Eric and Bryan into the daycare center ten minutes late. Amelie is kneeling on the rug, pushing a truck around and smashing it into a baby doll. She looks up when Bryan calls her name.

“So late, Papa,” Amelie scolds, holding her arms up. “Go home now?”

“Yeah, sorry, coccinelle,. Wanna go home and see Daddy and Char?” Jonny grabs her backpack, smiling at Amelie’s teacher as he carries her out.

“No,” Amelie says, pushing against Jonny’s arms. “No Char. Bad Char!”

“Ammy,” Jonny scolds. “Char’s a little baby, she’s not bad.”

“Char always cry, Papa!” Amelie says, finally putting her head down on Jonny’s shoulder when pushing at him doesn’t get her anywhere. “Wake up too much.”

“I know, sweetie, but she doesn’t mean to wake everyone up, she just can’t talk as good as you can. She can’t say “I’m hungry!” or “I pooped my diaper!” She’s not a big girl like you!”

“Char is always pooping her diaper,” Eric says to Bryan.

“Ammy use potty, Papa,” Amelie yells. “Ammy use potty!”

“Amelie Patricia, inside voice!” Eric says sternly, making Jonny laugh. Talk about pot and kettle.

“What’d you say, Eric?” Jonny rubs his ear playfully, pulling on it. “I think my eardrum is broke. Is it broken, Ammy? Can you check?”

Amelie grabs Jonny’s hair and yanks his head down. “Owie, Papa?

“Yeah, Ammy, it hurt when you yelled.” Jonny tries to pull away, but Amelie’s fingers hold tight to his hair. She pats his ear and kisses it loudly. Her lips are wet, and it makes Jonny squirm.

“All better?” Amelie says. Her brown eyes are huge and worried, and Jonny’s heart squeezes at the concern in her expression. “Sorry, Papa. All better?”

“I think so.” Jonny rubs at his ear and schools his expression into something stern. “But no more yelling, Ammy.” He frowns at Eric. “And no teasing your sister, Eric. You know she’s our big girl now.”

“Sorry, Ammy,” Eric says, tugging on her foot. “I was just being silly.”

Jonny gets Amelie buckled into her seat and looks at all three of the kids with a smile. “Does anyone know what day today is?”

“Halloween!” They chorus and Jonny frowns.

“Halloween? Are you sure?”

“Papa,” Eric giggles, “you’re so silly.”

“What?” Jonny gasps, holding his hand to his chest. “I am not silly!”

“Silly Papa, silly Papa,” Amelie chants.

“Hmph,” Jonny grumps goodnaturedly. “Well, what do you want to do for Halloween?”

“Trick-or-treat!” Bryan says, loud enough to make Amelie put her hands over her ears. “Get candy!”

“Inside voice, Mr. B. But I think you’re right,” Jonny says. “I guess we’d better get home, huh? Wanna watch Charlie Brown on the way?”

“The Grinch! We wanna-” Eric starts.

“-watch the Grinch who stole Christmas, Papa.” Bryan finishes.

“But that’s a Christmas movie,” Jonny says, shaking his head as he finds the DVD and puts it in.

“Ginch! Watch Ginch!” Amelie insists.

“Fine, you guys win.” Jonny starts the movie and pulls out into traffic. His phone rings and the boys groan. “Headsets, guys.”

“Jonny?” Patrick’s voice filters over the car’s speakers. “Where are you?”

“We’re running a little late, Pat, sorry,” Jonny winces. “I had to talk to Ms. Van Appledorn about the Christmas program. They want me to help with the sets.”

“Oh,” Patrick says, his voice losing its usual life. “Is it that time of year already?”

“Babe,” Jonny says, wincing again as he realizes. “It’s not - I don’t have to - “

“No, no, I just - it’s a shock to think how quickly the time has passed.” Patrick’s quiet for a long moment, and Jonny’s about to ask if he’s okay when he speaks again. “And you should help. I’m probably going to choreograph a dance number, actually.”

“What? You’re going to - what?”

“Hey, I’m a great dancer!” Patrick says imperiously, his voice returning to normal. “The Kaner Shuffle is famous.”

“Famously lame,” Jonny teases.

“At least I’m not stuck in the ‘80s doing the fu - freaking moonwalk, Jon,” Patrick says. “And it’s the Christmas program, Jonny. We should make it a better memory than last year.”

“I like the sound of that,” Jonny agrees.

“Which is why I’m going to do the choreography, and you’re going to build the sets.”

“I am, huh?”

“Yep.”

“Fine,” Jon sighs, resigned to spending his evenings painting stables and building a manger. “We’ll be home in ten.”

“Can you stop by Luigi’s on your way home? I’m going to order dinner tonight, I just can’t deal with cooking. Do you want the chicken scallopini or the eggplant?”

By the time Jonny drives into the garage, it’s almost five, and the kids are getting antsy. Patrick’s still upstairs, so Jonny serves them and eats quickly himself before helping the boys into their costumes, and painting their faces.

Eric’s done first, his scarecrow costume zipped securely over his warmest sweats.

“Where’s my straw? Daddy got me real straw,” Eric grumps, tugging at his cuffs.

“It’s on the front porch - get back here,” Jonny commands when Eric goes tearing down the hall. “You can put it on when we leave and take it off when we come back. That straw does not come inside this house, Eric.” Eric frowns at him, but doesn’t make another move toward the front door.

“You look great, Bry,” Jonny says, handing Bryan his oil-can hat. “I think we’re all ready.”

“But Papa, you’re not ready-” Eric starts.

“And now we’re gonna be late!” Bryan says.

“I know, just give me three minutes!” Jonny raises his hands and then sweeps Amelie up into his arms. “I’ll get Ammy into her costume first, and then we can go, okay?”

“What about Daddy?” Bryan says, and bites his lip, looking worried.

“Daddy’ll be down in a second, I’m sure. Why don’t you guys go check on him while me and Ammy get dressed. But be quiet - Charlotte might be asleep.”

Jonny finds the tiny gingham dress hanging in the laundry room and gets Amelie dressed quickly before putting on his own costume. He can’t believe he got away with wearing what’s basically a three piece suit this year. He’s wrestling Amelie’s hair into two ponytails when he hears a swishing in the hallway and looks up to see-

Patrick walks in, garbed in an enormous pink ballgown, complete with a crown. He’s stepping gingerly in white crystal-studded boots. His curls have been supplemented with long, almost white-blonde ringlets. He’s biting his lips, and his eyes are dancing with mirth.

Jonny dimly notes that Patrick’s cradling Charlotte, bundled in her lion bunting, before going back to dumbly staring at Patrick.

“I-you-I-” Jonny swallows loudly. “What?”

“Oh, come on, Jon,” Patrick says, his deep voice sounding anomalous coming from the delicate beauty of his costume. “You didn’t really think I was going as one of the monkeys, did you?”

“I-you-I-” Jonny says again, making Patrick throw back his head and laugh. “Monkeys?”

“God, you’re adorable,” Patrick smiles at him fondly, head cocked to one side. “No monkeys, Jon. The boys thought this was a better idea, right boys?”

It’s not until then that Jonny notices the boys standing to one side, grinning up at him, that his brain comes back online.

“Do you like it, Papa?”

“Isn’t Daddy pretty?”

“Yeah, he’s - I love it,” Jonny manages, glancing back at Patrick. “He’s very, very pretty. He makes a great Glinda.”

“Why thanks, Jon.” Patrick winks at him. “Look, I even have my own magic wand. Wanna see it?”

“Patrick!” Jonny says, scandalized.

“Look!” Patrick pulls his hand out of his - his skirt. He’s holding a two foot pink stick with a star at the end and pink ribbons. “If I use this correctly, I can even grant wishes.”

“Oh, me, me, Daddy!” Eric says, jumping up and down with his hand up. “I wish I was a cowboy!”

“No, me! I wanna be a baseball player!”

“Abra-cadabra!” Patrick says, waving his wand around, the movement jostling Charlotte, who lets out a sleepy cry. He taps each twin on the head lightly. The boys look at themselves and then at each other, before frowning at Patrick.

“It didn’t work, Dad,” Eric says with disgust.

“Oh,” Patrick says, shaking it. He casts a look up at Jonny from between his eyelashes. “Maybe it only grants a certain kind of wish, hmm, Papa?”

“Patrick,” Jonny says warningly, putting one hand on each of the twins’ heads.

“Maybe we just have to try again later.”

“Okay, I think it’s time to head out? Oh, but - you didn’t eat,” Jonny says to Patrick, looking at the dress skeptically. “I’m not sure you should eat wearing that.”

“I had a snack when I fed Char, I’ll just eat after we’re done trick-or-treating. But you’ll have to help me get out of my dress? I don’t want to spill anything on it.”

“Yes, I can definitely do that,” Jonny says throatily, shivering a little at the look Patrick throws his way, before turning his attention to the three children waiting patiently with their bags. “You guys all ready?”

“Yep!” Bryan grins. “We even put our reflections on, look!” He turns around and there’s a small triangle on his back.

“Excellent,” Patrick says. “Think I’m okay without a coat?”

“Yeah, it’s pretty nice out,” Jonny says. “Give me Char?” Jonny plucks her out of Patrick’s arms, and kisses him quickly. “Stroller for her, I assume?”

“Yeah, but first we need to stop next door so Anna can take our picture - we have to commemorate Charlotte’s first Halloween.” Patrick grabs his camera off the counter. “Come on.”

They troop next door, Jonny locking up and leaving a bowl of candy outside.

“You know that’s all going to be gone when we get back, right?” Patrick asks when Jonny catches up to him.

“Nah, it’s too early for the middle school kids,” Jonny says, “and I’m guessing Dorothy here’s not gonna last that long.” They watch as Amelie toddles between Brian and Eric, who are skipping and lifting her, singing “Follow the Yellow Brick Road.”

Patrick glances over at Jonny from under his lashes. “So, you like my costume?”

“I really do, Pat. I really, really do.” Jonny lets his voice drop an octave. “I can’t believe you’re wearing that in public. It’s indecent.”

“I think you mean it’s making you want to do indecent things to me,” Patrick demurs.

“Isn’t that what I just said?” Jonny frowns.

Patrick swats his shoulder and then links his arm through Jonny’s. “It really was the boys’ idea. Well, it was Eric’s idea - he wanted to go as Dorothy and Bryan told him he couldn’t because only girls could be Dorothy, and then Eric said that I could be Glinda because I have blond hair -” Patrick laughs at Jonny’s no doubt confused expression. “Anyway, suddenly I’d agreed to go as Glinda, so long as the boys never said a word to you.”

“That’s almost as impressive as the costume,” Jonny says. “They’re not known for their discretion.”

“You have no idea,” Patrick agrees. “So, anyway, I found a costume shop in Boys’ Town that makes man-sized dresses, and voila!”

“Man-sized?” Jonny teases. “Don’t you mean pint-sized?”

“Ugh, fuck off,” Patrick says, wrinkling his nose. “They even had to let out the shoulders in this, thank you very much. But - I think it fits okay, right?”

“Talk about getting your girlish figure back,” Jonny teases, bumping Patrick’s shoulder, but Patrick still looks a little uncertain, so Jonny stops walking, pulling Patrick into his arms.

“You look amazing. Gorgeous.” He leans in a little closer. “So fucking hot, Peeks, it’s just unfair.” Patrick shivers, and Jonny bites his earlobe lightly. “I want to - God, what don’t I want to do with you? Pull up that skirt and eat you out is right at the top of the list.”

“Jonny,” Patrick says, his throat clicking. “Goddamnit, you can’t say things like that when we’re in public, Jesus.”

Jonny pulls back a little, sliding his hands down to cup Patrick’s ass. “Mmm.”

Patrick pushes him away and steps back, smoothing his hair into place. “Come on, let’s stop giving the neighbors a show.”

Jonny reaches out and pulls on one of Patrick’s curls. “Is this why you’ve been growing your hair?”

“Mmm hmm,” Patrick says. “I told you the boys were on my side about it.”

Jonny waits until Patrick’s pushed the stroller past him and slaps him on the ass, making Patrick jump. When Patrick turns and glares at him, Jonny wiggles his eyebrows.

It only takes fifteen minutes to get the photos done to Patrick’s satisfaction, and they’re on their way, Anna’s girls tagging along. Jonny and Patrick let the older kids handle the doorbells, and everyone makes sure Amelie gets candy, too. She tires after the first ten houses, and Jonny continues on with the twins after dropping Patrick at home with the babies.

An hour later, the boys are exhausted, and Jonny’s carrying two bags with what feels like twenty pounds of candy back home. They troop into the house and are greeted to the sound of Charlotte wailing.

“Patrick?” Jonny follows the sound of the screams into the family room, where Patrick’s wielding a camera, snapping photos of a beaming Amelie sitting on the floor, Charlotte propped on her lap and crying as loudly as Jonny’s heard her since the day she was born.

“Great smile, Ammy-bug!” Patrick says, seemingly oblivious to the noise. “Keep a tight hold on Char, that’s my big girl.”

“What-” Jonny says, only to have Charlotte’s cries cut him. When she stops to draw breath, he strides forward and lifts her off Amelie’s lap. “Patrick, what the hell?”

“Jonny,” Patrick complains, I was getting the best shots of them!”

“Yeah, I think you’ve got enough.” He cradles Charlotte to his chest, but her wails don’t stop. “Shh, shh, reine, shhh.”

A few minutes of bouncing and one warm bottle later, Charlotte’s settled into her Moses basket. The doorbell isn’t ringing as often, and Jonny’s on the floor helping the boys sort their candy when Patrick walks in, wiping his hands on a dishtowel.

“Okay, we’re out of candy, so I turned off the porch lights.” He glances at the clock. “It’s 8:30, boys. Bedtime in ten minutes.”

“Dad!” They chorus, but Patrick shakes his head at them and they subside.

“How about this,” Jonny says. “You guys can each have five pieces of candy and then we’ll head up for showers and bed. Deal?”

“Deal!” Eric shouts, and Bryan nods his agreement.”

“And you, Miss Dorothy, let’s get you to bed.” Patrick picks Amelie up, and she lays her head on his shoulder with a sigh.

“Unzip me?” Patrick says, batting his eyelashes at Jonny. “This dress is heavy, and I’ve just got to get out of it. Sorry.”

“No, it’s fine, babe,” Jonny says, unzipping Patrick and running his finger along his spine once he’s done. He leans in to whisper in Patrick’s ear. “Just don’t return it yet.”

Patrick shivers and turns his head to whisper back, “It’s not a rental.”

Jonny laughs and kisses Patrick’s bare shoulder, and then smacks him on the ass as he walks away.

“Hey!” Patrick says, but there’s no heat behind it, and he bats his eyelashes at Jonny again. “Save that for later.” He wiggles his eyebrows at Jonny before turning away and heading up stairs, holding his skirt in one hand, the other one cradling Amelie, who’s mostly asleep on his shoulder.

Ten minutes later, Jonny’s shepherding the boys upstairs, shushing their excited chatter. “Guys, we’ve gotta keep it down. Let’s pretend the wicked witch cast a spell and no one can speak. And the one who doesn’t speak the longest gets an extra piece of candy in his lunch tomorrow.”

Somehow the spell works all the way through their showers, and Jonny gets them settled in their beds, lights dimmed.

“No books tonight, guys. It’s already nine o’clock. And no one’s allowed out of bed until six tomorrow.” Eric’s eyes get big and Bryan sits up and wriggles in his bed, making Jonny laugh. “Okay, you guys did great. Abracadabra, the silence spell is lifted!”

“But Papa, we always get books,” Bryan whines. “Please? Please?”

“It’s not our fault it’s so late,” Eric says, his mouth set in a thin line, brows furrowed. “You said we had to go through our candy.”

“What’s going on in here?”

Jonny looks around to see Patrick leaning in the doorway, a soft smile playing around his lips.

“Papa said no books, but he didn’t give us a warning, and it’s not fair,” Eric says, eyes starting to shine. “And, and, we’re almost to the end of Pinnocula! We have to finish it. Please, Daddy? Please, Papa?”

“Hmm,” Patrick says consideringly. “I think Papa’s right, it’s too late tonight for a book. How about this, Papa. I’ll tell a story -- a quick one -- but the lights have to be out. What do you think?”

The boys look at Jonny hopefully, and he raises his hands in defeat at the three pairs of blue eyes pleading with him. “Okay, okay, that’s fair. Eric’s right, I didn’t give them a warning.”

Eric sits up and hugs Jonny. “Thanks, Papa, you’re the best.”

Jonny squeezes him tight. “Okay, bud, lay down now.”

“Will you stay a little bit, too?”

“Sure.” Jonny slides into the bed and curls around Eric who pops his thumb in his mouth and wiggles closer.

Patrick flips off the light and climbs into Bryan’s bed.

“Once upon a time, there was a family of bunnies. A mommy bunny, a daddy bunny, and a whole bunch of baby bunnies…”

As Patrick tells the story of a family of bunnies who had to move their den from one tree to another, Jonny lets the words wash over him, drifting into a light doze.

“And they lived happily ever after. And now it’s time for our little bunnies to go to sleep.”

Eric’s almost asleep by then, and Jonny hears Bryan murmuring to Patrick, who answers softly. Bryan closes his eyes, his breathing evening out into rhythmic almost snores. Patrick sits next to him for another moment before tucking his blanket around him and kissing his cheek.

“He’s out,” Patrick mouths to Jonny, jerking his thumb towards the door.

“Another minute, Papa?” Eric says, opening his eyes when Jonny shifts to sit up.

“Sure, E,” Jonny says.

“Night, baby,” Patrick says, leaning in to kiss Eric’s cheek before slipping out of the room quietly.

Eric conks out within a minute, and Jonny eases out of Eric’s bed and brushes a quick kiss to each boy’s forehead, quietly closing the door behind him. Patrick’s already in bed when he gets into their room.

“Did you check on Char?” Jonny asks, grabbing a pair of sleep pants and undressing quickly.

“Yep, still out. I figure we have about forty-five minutes before the ravenous beast awakes.” Patrick wiggles his eyebrows at Jonny. “Whatever shall we do with the time?”

“I have some ideas.” Jonny says, discarding the sleep pants. “Guess I won’t be needing these, huh?”

“Nope,” Patrick grins. “Come here.”

Jonny climbs into bed, straddling Patrick’s legs. He leans down and kisses Patrick lightly. “That costume, Pat. Jesus. Are you trying to kill me?”

“Maybe,” Patrick teases, running his finger over Jonny’s lip. Jonny bites it softly and licks the pad, and Patrick’s breathing picks up. “I, uh, I,” Patrick stutters as Jonny takes more of his finger in his mouth, sucking and tonguing it. “I saw the midwife today.”

Jonny frowns and sits back a little. “What? Why? Is something wrong?” This pregnancy was Patrick’s easiest, fewer migraines and no eclampsia, but Jonny still worries that it was too much for Patrick. To hear that he might be having trouble now, a month after Charlotte was born, is concerning.

“No, no, babe, it was a routine visit,” Patrick says, sitting up and kissing Jonny fiercely. “Sorry, I didn’t mean to alarm you. Everything’s great. In fact,” Patrick smirks, “she said my incision healed up great, and she gave me the go ahead for more… intimate activities.”

“Oh,” Jonny says, his frown melting into a relieved smile. “What kind of intimate activities?”

“All of them.” Patrick’s eyes flash, and Jonny shivers a little at the want in them.

“Hmm,” Jonny says, nuzzling into Patrick’s neck. “That’s not what you said earlier?”

“I know, but I wanted to surprise you. And, uh.” Patrick pushes on Jonny’s shoulders forcing him to back up again. “I’ve got another surprise.” He sits up a little more and tugs his t-shirt off, leaving him in a lacy pink camisole. “Ta da,” he sing-songs, but his voice is tentative and unsure in a way Patrick’s normally isn’t.

Jonny sits back on his heels, mouth dropping open before he snaps it shut. The camisole is the most delicate pink and looks perfect against Patrick’s pale skin. Patrick’s broad shoulders are accented by the tiny pink straps, dotted with pink bows.

As Jonny watches in wonder, Patrick’s chest flushes, and his chin drops down. “You - don’t like it? Is it - I shouldn’t have, right? This isn’t a kink, I know that, I just-” He reaches up for one of the straps, angrily tugging it down his arm.

Jonny reaches out to grab his hand. He has to swallow twice before he can get his voice to work. “Leave - leave it,” he says hoarsely, and when Patrick’s hand drops back to the bed, Jonny lifts the strap back into place before gently trailing his fingers down Patrick’s bare arm to take his hand. “I love it.”

Patrick shivers a little, and Jonny plays his fingers back up his arm, sliding one under the strap. “Where did you get it?”

“The -” Patrick’s throat clicks. “The guys at the costume shop? They said it would “finish the look” whatever the fuck that means.”

“Did you have it on all night?”

“Yeah,” Patrick affirms, biting his bottom lip. “And- and these?”

Patrick pushes at Jonny again, angling the blanket off his hips. He’s wearing panties, tiny and transparent, a pink bow at the top, his half-hard cock pulled to one side. There are little embroidered flowers, and Jonny can clearly see how they gently cradle Patrick’s balls. He’s also wearing pink suspenders, the ends clipped to sheer white stockings.

“Pat, Jesus,” Jonny says faintly, his gaze skipping up to meet Patrick’s eyes before dropping again to the sight of his heavily muscled things framed by the pink suspenders. “That’s - are you trying to kill me?”

He runs a hand up Patrick leg, stopping abruptly when he reaches the the top of the stocking and sliding his hand around to the back of Patrick’s thigh. “Did you shave your legs?”

“Yeah, the hair just looked awful against the white stockings.” Patrick sounds embarrassed, and when Jonny looks up, his face is red, a flush that spreads down his neck and across the top of his chest. “And they itched. So, I just figured it was easier.”

“What else did you shave?” Jonny asks, cupping Patrick’s cock through the soft, satiny fabric of the panties. “Are you bare here, too?”

“Yeah - yes,” Patrick pants, and Jonny drops a kiss on Patrick’s hip before pushing his up leg until it’s bent at the knee. Patrick whines a little when Jonny pulls his hand away from his cock, but when Jonny pushes the panties down, his whine chokes off into a moan. Jonny arranges Patrick’s cock and balls above the bunched fabric, letting the elastic push them up and out a little over the top, but otherwise leaves them in place.

“Is that too tight?” Jonny asks when Patrick moans again.

“No, no, it’s fine, don’t, don’t stop.” Patrick licks his lips and shifts a little.

Jonny sits back, admiring the tableau he’s created. “God, you’re so - “ Jonny stops, searching for the right word. “So pretty.”

Patrick blushes more deeply, and ducks his head, rubbing his cheek on shoulder. “Shut up.”

“No, really,” Jonny says, pushing Patrick’s other leg up, so that he’s completely on display. “Soft and pink and edible.”

“Jonny,” Patrick whines. “That’s so - do you really… I mean-” He stops, biting his lip and peeking up at Jonny. “Do you really think so?”

“Always, Patrick. You’re always so gorgeous to me.” Jonny kisses Patrick fiercely, licking into his mouth and not pulling back until Patrick’s relaxed and panting. He pulls back and Jonny has to adjust himself at the sight of Patrick, sprawled out on their pillows, his cheeks flushed and lips pink and wet.

His cock looks larger without any hair, and Jonny bends down to nuzzle it, rubbing his nose along the length. Patrick smells like sex, musky and secret, something only Jonny knows, and he breathes deeply, taking the scent in. “You smell so good, Pat,” he says.

Jonny settles on his elbows between Patrick’s legs and licks delicately up his cock, dipping his tongue into the slit and when that makes Patrick gasp, doing it again. Patrick’s cock twitches, and Jonny holds it firmly while he pokes and prods at the tiny hole.

“So sensitive here, Pat,” Jonny whispers against the soft skin, kissing it and then licking around the entire head. “Remember when you wanted to get pierced?”

“Yes, God,” Patrick says, shivering a little when Jonny presses his thumb nail into the slit a little. “You wouldn’t - I thought you didn’t like that?”

“Your cock’s just so pretty like this. But you like the idea of something sliding in this little hole, don’t you? Something cold and hard, something I could pull on a little.” He licks at the hole, watching as Patrick’s face spasms. “Get you a barbell, slide it in myself, hmm?”

“Don’t say shit like that, Jon.” Patrick circles the base of his cock tightly, and Jonny watches, fascinated, as it twitches and arches in his hand. “You’re gonna make me come.”

“I hope so,” Jonny smirks, and he takes Patrick in his mouth, sucking gently before pulling off, his tongue licking the flat of the head and then bobbing down again. Patrick’s hips twitch, and Jonny grabs a hold of his hips, pressing him flat to the bed and swallowing his cock.

“Ah, ah, Jonny, oh my God,” Patrick says. “I’m gonna - I’m gonna-”

Jonny looks up, letting Patrick’s cock slip out a little, and running the point of his tongue up and down the vein on the back.

Patrick’s head slams back against the pillows as he comes. Jonny pulls off to watch him, Patrick’s come pulsing out and marking up the pink satin. Patrick’s hips are still hitching when Jonny moves up to lick at the come. He can feel Patrick’s cock twitch, and he grins up at him.

“Asshole,” Patrick complains, then hisses when Jonny licks at his spent cock in retaliation. “Stop- don’t, Jonny. Too much.”

“You love it,” Jonny says, kissing the head before he sits up. He takes Patrick’s mouth again, licking the taste of his own come inside.

“Wanted to fuck,” Patrick complains tiredly.

“Oh, I’m gonna fuck you,” Jonny promises. “That was just for starters.”

“Now who’s trying to kill whom?” Patrick says, but he’s smiling softly, the smile he saves for Jonny. “What’s taking so long?

Jonny straddles Patrick’s hips and reaches for his head, digging his fingers into the long curls there and tilting his head so he can fuck into his mouth. “You want my cock, hmm?” He whispers, making Patrick shudder. “So hungry for me, even though you just came?”

Patrick nods, his eyes dark.

“You messed up your pretty things,” Jonny says, flicking at one of the straps.

“Pretty sure that’s your fault,” Patrick responds dryly.

“Mmm,” Jonny hums, stroking down Patrick’s side to his thigh where the white tights are still in place. He kisses the inside of Patrick knee, rubbing his cheek against the sheer fabric. Patrick strokes Jonny’s hair and behind his ear with one delicate finger.

“Mess me up some more?”

“Count on it, baby,” Jonny says, reaching across him for the nightstand and pulling out lube.

Patrick reaches down to tug off the panties, but Jonny stills him with a hand. “Leave them.”

Patrick nods and swallows as Jonny pushes him onto his stomach, arranging him so that his back is to Jonny, his thigh hitched up and out. The panties are sheer in the back as well, accenting the dimples just above Patrick’s ass, but not hiding the cleft between his cheeks. The fabric is bunched a little into the crack of Patrick’s ass, and Jonny pulls at it, moving it to one side so he can run a slick finger over his hole.

Patrick twitches when Jonny touches his entrance, sensitive so soon after coming, so Jonny doesn’t press inside right away, content to circle the outside, over and over, alternating the delicate brushes with pressing firmly into Patrick’s perineum. After a few minutes of attention, Jonny can feel Patrick’s hole relaxing, and he dips the tip of his finger inside.

“How’s that,” he asks, pressing up behind Patrick and whispering into his ear. “Ready for more?”

“Yeah,” Patrick croaks. “You don’t have to be so careful-”

“Shh, just let me.” Jonny kisses the soft skin behind his ear. “Let me?”

“O-okay.” Patrick huffs out a breath when Jonny’s finger finally breaches him, sliding inside slowly. “Jonny.”

“I’ve got you,” Jonny says.

“Don’t - don’t stop?” Patrick pleads, looking at Jonny over his shoulder, pupils blown. “Ss-so good.”

“Not stopping,” Jonny promises, sliding a second finger inside of Patrick, all the way to the knuckle.

Patrick’s tight -- it’s been a few months since they’ve been able to fuck -- so Jonny takes his time opening him up. He fits himself snug to Patrick’s back, whispering to him, a steady stream of words about how hot Patrick makes him, how much he wants to fuck him.

Finally, Patrick grabs his wrist, stilling Jonny’s hand. “I’m ready. I’m ready.” He turns his face and Jonny captures his lips, withdrawing his hand and slicking up his cock.

“Like this?” Jonny says, pressing forward so that just the head of his cock breaches Patrick. He thrusts shallowly. “This what you want?”

“More, more,” Patrick pleads. “Please, Jonny. More.”

Jonny groans, helpless in the face of Patrick’s need, and enters him, slowly, steadily sinking inside. His slide is accented by Patrick moaning, the noise rising as Jonny gets deeper.

When he’s finally fully seated, Jonny holds onto Patrick’s hip, waiting while Patrick shifts and tightens around him before relaxing into his arms again. He kisses Patrick’s shoulder and starts thrusting shallowly, circling his hips at the bottom of every stroke, punching moans out of Patrick.

“So tight, Pat, holy fuck,” Jonny growls. “So hot.”

He pushes Patrick’s hip forward until Patrick’s mostly flat under him. He hooks his arm under Patrick’s leg, stretching him open a little more, and then stroking more deeply and steadily.

Patrick squirms as Jonny reaches under him to find his cock hard and leaking. He licks his hand and then fists Patrick’s cock, pushing him forward into the wet channel of his fingers with every thrust.

Patrick starts to chant obscenities at Jonny, breathy and demanding at the same time. Jonny chuckles and kisses the cap of Patrick’s shoulder before biting down lightly.

“What do you want, Pat?” He thrusts deep and slow. “Like that?”

Patrick moans and shakes his head. “Hard - harder. More. Please. Oh, god.”

Jonny puts his head on Patrick’s shoulder and picks up his thrusts. “Like- like that?”

With every push inside, Patrick makes a punched out noise, sounds that begin to join together and get louder.

“Shh, Pat, you’re gonna wake up the kids.” When Patrick shakes his head and moans even louder, Jonny releases his hip to cover his mouth, and Patrick shudders under him, his moans increasing even as the volume is reduced by Jonny’s hand.

“That’s - that’s so good,” Patrick pants against his fingers, licking between them. Jonny slides two into his mouth, and Patrick sucks on them, moaning at the taste of himself.

“So dirty, Patrick. Sucking yourself off my fingers. Moaning and begging and gagging for it. So easy for me, aren’t you?”

Patrick nods, and Jonny slides another finger into his mouth. Patrick hums around them, sucking desperately, and it’s that suction, mimicking the pulling tightness on his cock inside of Patrick, that takes Jonny over the edge. He latches onto Patrick’s shoulder, nosing the pink strap out of his way as he bites hard enough to make Patrick shudder and wiggle, but Jonny’s so gone he doesn’t let up.

Jonny presses Patrick harder into the mattress, pistoning inside of him once, twice, before stilling, his vision whiting out as Patrick squeezes and pushes back against him.

He’s panting against Patrick’s shoulder when he comes back to himself, and when he lifts his head he can see that angry red spot where he’s bitten Patrick. He kisses it softly and then a little harder when it makes Patrick pant out a harsh breath.

He’s reaches back under Patrick to hold his cock loosely, and he stays seated deeply inside of him, his cock spent but still hard as he tightens his grip.

“So good, baby, so tight.” He bites lightly on the red spot again, making Patrick keen. “Drive me fucking crazy. The way you look. The way you feel around me, under me.”

“You - you feel so good,” Patrick says, his head lolling back onto Jonny’s shoulder as he looks back at him. “Love the way you feel inside of me.”

Jonny grabs Patrick’s hand and wraps it around his own cock, pulling his own hand back so he can reach back and touch the spot where they’re joined. He slides his thumb inside, the way slick now with his cum.

“Love being inside of you,” Jonny croons, adding a finger and pulling gently at Patrick’s rim before sliding deeper inside. He curls his fingers a little, hissing when the touch against his now softening cock is too much. He pulls out but leaves his fingers inside, adding a third once his cock is out of the way. He presses down again, and Patrick groans loudly, his hand working faster and faster.

“Yeah, show me, Pat, show me how hot you are for me.”

“Oh, oh, uh, uh, uh,” Patrick chants, freezing as his cock starts to spurt again. The jets of come are less but his cock keeps spasming, and Jonny presses harder against his prostate. Patrick buries his head into the pillow and shouts, his entire body convulsing. Jonny watches, awed at the sight, and when Patrick finally turns and looks up at him through tear-stained lashes, his eyes are so blue and full of love that it makes Jonny’s chest ache.

“Jon,” Patrick says brokenly, and Jonny gathers him into his arms, cradling him gently as he comes down.

Long minutes later, after Jonny’s cleaned them both up and moved the dirty sheet out of the way, he picks up the now soiled panties and camisole. Patrick’s watching him through slitted eyes, yawning widely.

“I guess those are a hit,” Patrick says lightly with a small smirk.

“I’ll say. Next time I want to help you pick them out, though.”

“Next time?” Patrick asks, raising an eyebrow even as his cheeks flush.

“Yep,” Jonny tosses the lingerie into the hamper and climbs into bed. Patrick slips into his arms and pillows his head on Jonny’s chest, arranging Jonny until he’s in the position Patrick wants.

“You done?” Jonny chuckles, and then yelps when Patrick pinches his side.

“It’s your fault for so thoroughly wrecking me,” Patrick says with a sigh.

Jonny grins and Patrick smacks his side lightly. “I can hear your smug from down here.”

“I didn’t say anything!” Jonny protests, but when Patrick looks up at him, Jonny can’t keep the smile off his face.

“You’re so predictable. Yes, Jon, you’ve cock-wrecked me. Fucked me into submission. Etc., etc.”

“You said it, not me.” Jonny kisses Patrick’s nose and squeezes him. “Can we rest now?”

“Yeah,” Patrick sighs, putting his head back on Jonny’s chest. They lay there in silence for awhile, the only sound the static from the baby monitor on the nightstand.

“Jon?” Patrick asks, his voice sleepy.

“Yeah?”

“Are you - is this what you wanted? Are you happy?”

The tentative tone in Patrick’s voice stirs Jonny from his hazy doze. “Happy? Of course.” He frowns at the top of Patrick’s head and tips Patrick’s chin up to meet his eyes. “What are you talking about?”

“Just - it wasn’t that long ago that things were - were. Not great,” Patrick says finally, his mouth twisting. “And we’ve been so buy with the move and your new job and Char, I didn’t know if this is what you wanted. I don’t know. It’s dumb-”

Patrick tries to duck his head, but Jonny doesn’t let go of his chin, and when Patrick meets his eyes again, Jonny meets them evenly.

“Pat, Patrick,” Jonny says, gathering his thoughts. “This -- us, our kids, our family -- this is everything. Everything I want is right here in this house. And this might not be politically correct or whatever, but you’re the most important part of it. I wouldn’t trade the kids for anything.” He kisses Patrick gently. “But it’s you. You’re it for me. Always. No matter what. I’m just sorry I let myself forget that. That I made you think anything but you and our family is what matters to me.”

Patrick’s eyes are swimming with tears and one slips down cheek. Jonny wipes it free and thumbs the others out from under Patrick’s eye. “Shh, babe, why are you crying? Aren’t you - aren’t you happy?” Cold dread seeps into Jonny’s veins, but Patrick grips him tightly and shakes his head.

“I’m so fucking happy, Jonny. You can’t even know.” Jonny relaxes and Patrick sniffles and smiles through his tears. “And it was both of us - we let ourselves forget that this is what’s important. You’re it for me, too. My all. My everything.”

Jonny leans closer and kisses Patrick deeply, sighing when Patrick parts his lips and licks into Jonny’s mouth. When Patrick finally pulls back, his lips are swollen and red, the skin around his mouth is abraded.

“I-” Patrick starts, but a loud wail from the baby monitor has him groaning. “That girl’s timing…”

“Like I said before, it could be worse,” Jonny reminds him, kissing him once more before detangling himself. Patrick clings like a limpet, but eventually Jonny’s able to slide free. By the time he does, Charlotte’s occasional cries have turned into a constant stream, and Jonny’s almost out the door when Patrick calls to him.

“Jonny?” Jonny looks back and Patrick’s smiling at him. His hair’s sticking out in every direction, and he’s the most beautiful thing Jonny’s ever seen. “I love you.”

Jonny walks back to the bed and grabs Patrick’s face, looking him in the eye. “Love you. Always.”

“Yeah,” Patrick says softly. “Always.”

*********************************