Author Topic: The Latest Arrivals  (Read 95 times)

Michael Donnelly

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The Latest Arrivals
« on: March 21, 2021, 02:51:21 PM »
"We love you, baby, and we see you soon, and we love you lots, and we put you in bed, and we ..."

Elena looked up at Michael a little helplessly. Michela had been wrapped around her bump for about ten minutes at this point, through two contractions, and was still saying her goodbyes and see you soons to her little brother and sister, personages who were coming whether they got to the hospital or not.

Michael frowned back at Elena before going down on one knee and gently turning their daughter to face him. "Sweetheart, you know we're only going to be gone for a day or two and when we get back, you'll be able to meet your little brother and sister in person, right?" he asked her gently.

"You won't forget me when they come?" the toddler asked worriedly, blinking up at her father with wide eyes. She didn't seem to want to admit she was worried more about her parents not coming back than anything.

"Of course not, love," he assured her, drawing her closer. "How could we ever forget you? Your mama and I love you more than anything. You're gonna have lots of fun with Sofi and Sasha while we're gone. And I promise we'll call as soon as the babies are born, okay?" he said, smoothing the blond hair away from her face.

"Mmm'kay," she finally relented, cuddling into her daddy tight for a long moment.

Behind them, Elena leaned against the wall and counted under her breath for one long minute as Anya watched from a little way away, Apollo snuffling around at her feet.

"I think you should probably be going," Tony interjected as gently as he could. He knew how attached Mica was to her parents, but he didn't really want to play doctor to his sister and her twins. Michael drew his daughter in for a hug. "Love you, sweetheart," he whispered, brushing a kiss to her cheek.

"Love 'oo, Daddy." She squeezed tight for a moment before letting go, doing her best not to look as worried as she was feeling.

Elena smiled down at their daughter fondly. "It won't be long, piccola," she promised. "But if we don't go now, they're going to pop out on the floor!"

"Well, not pop out exactly," Tony muttered further, looking a little nervous, which was a rarity for him.

Michael stifled his amusement at his brother-in-law's obvious nervousness to focus on his daughter. "We'll be back before you know it. Promise!" he assured her with another smooch, this one noisier than the last before moving to his feet. "Ready, Mama?" he asked Elena, though that much was already obvious.

"Ready when you are, Pops," was Elena's cheerful response, pushing from the wall to tuck her hand into Michael's. She winked reassuringly at Michela with another smile, letting her eyes flicker to Tony's. "We'll call," she promised her brother.

Sofia appeared from somewhere behind Tony and Anya, to snag Mica's hand, Sasha close behind her. "Le's go color!" she suggested. "We c'n make the new babies some pitchers."

Mica nodded, reassured as she squeezed her cousin's hand. "C'n we play wiv Ploppo, too?"

Anya hastily turned a laugh into a cough - it was still taking a while for the children to be able to say "Apollo" with consistent success.

Tony couldn't help but smirk at Mica's mispronunciation of the puppy's name. "Apollo," Michael corrected, though it probably fell on deaf ears. "I have a feeling that poor dog is going to end up being called Ploppo forever," Tony confessed.

"He does answer to it," Anya pointed out, letting the three children wriggle away between their legs. She smiled at Michael and Elena. "Get going," she told them. "You do not want to be another story like the Storms."

"The Storms?" Michael echoed, unsure whether he'd heard this story before or not.

"Yeah," Tony replied. "They waited too long and ker-plop!" he explained with a chuckled.

"Oh!" Michael said, realization dawning. "No, we don't want that." Thankfully, thanks to Mataya, they wouldn't have to drive.

"Shoo," Anya added, waving her hands at them. "Mica will be just fine with us. And if you are done in time, we can bring her in this evening to see you all."

"Take good care of my girl!" Michael told the other couple, though this wasn't the first time Mica had enjoyed a sleepover at her aunt and uncle's house. He slid an arm around Elena's waist to help her from the room. "Ready, Mama?"

"Ready." Elena leaned gratefully on Michael. They weren't expecting the birth to be a difficult one - despite her early difficulties in pregnancy, birth wasn't a troublesome part for this De Luca.

"See you later!" Tony called with a wave of his hand as the couple started toward the door. All they had to do was get outside where the children wouldn't see them poof into thin air.

"Just take your time. I'm right here," Michael assured his wife as he led the way.

"I think we've got a couple of minutes before the next one hits," Elena predicted. "I cannot tell you how much I am looking forward to being able to tie my own shoes again."

Michael chuckled. "And sleep on your stomach?" he added knowingly. It was a good thing Mataya had given them a faster means of transportation to the hospital than anything with wheels. He didn't want to take any chances.

"Oh god, yes," she groaned. "Hugging people without feeling like there's more than enough room for the Holy Spirit between us, too." She chuckled, seeming to relax a little as the front door closed behind them.

"Well, there are two of them in there," he said, though she needed no reminder. He helped her down the stairs to the street level, taking a brief look around to make sure they were alone. "Ready?" he asked, as he reached into his coat pocket for the device Mataya had given them that would open a portal that would take them directly to the hospital.

"You must stay drunk on writing so reality cannot destroy you."

- Ray Bradbury

Michael Donnelly

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Re: The Latest Arrivals
« Reply #1 on: March 21, 2021, 02:53:12 PM »
"Very ready," she said quite firmly, though her hand tightened on his arm just in case. They'd used portals many times, especially going back and forth to Liba, but this was a little different.

"Okay, then!" Michael said, just as eager as her, and probably three times as nervous, though he was trying hard not to show it. "Open, Sesame!" he declared as he pushed a thumb against the button that would trigger the portal.
Unlike stepping into a portal, which gave the sensation of passing through something magical, this felt more encompassing, more enveloping, somehow gentler than having one foot in one realm and one in another. It was certainly a much gentler landing, the two of them appearing in a designated space within the hospital for such arrivals.

"Mr. and Mrs. Donnelly!" A masculine voice greeted them upon their arrival. "We've been waiting for you! Everything is ready. We just need to get you to a delivery room," he said, as he maneuvered a wheelchair in place for Elena.

"Oh, we're not late, that's good." Not that it was possible for them to be late to the delivery of their own children, but Elena was reaching the point of nonsense already. She was certainly an entertaining woman in labor. Her threats could be especially creative. She let Michael help her into the chair, letting out a soft sigh of relief. "So close."

"It's okay, baby. We're here. It won't be long now," Michael assured her gently as he helped her into the wheelchair. She knew all this already, of course, but he felt the need to say something supportive. Inside he was a nervous wreck, but not nearly as nervous as he'd been the first time around.

"It's too late to ask for a C-sec, right?" she asked, only half-joking, as the orderly began to wheel her toward the labor ward, her hand wrapped tightly in Michael's. She would have a healer, too - that had become the standard in their family since Mataya had given birth herself. She just had to get through the actual birthing, and then all the pain would be over.

Michael chuckled a little nervously. "I think so," he told her, though he wasn't too sure. "Besides, you want to get back into a bikini, don't you?" he asked, with a hint of teasing in his voice.

"I'm old enough to get away with massive granny panties and a skimpy top now," she defended herself, though her laughter was cut off by another contraction. She let her head tip back as she breathed through it, forcing her eyes to stay open.

Michael found himself squeezing her hand, as though he were the one experiencing labor and not the other way around. "Granny panties?" he echoed with a chuckle, her sense of humor putting him a little more at ease. "God forbid!"

The orderly tried not to chuckle as he wheeled Elena into the delivery room. "Let me help you onto the bed," he told her.

"No, I'm okay with my husband," she assured the orderly, once the contraction had passed. "I need to change, anyway. Does Libby know we're here?"

"She knows you were on your way. Why don't you get yourself settled while I find her?" the orderly asked. "Press the button if you need help, okay?"

Michael nodded, confident he could get his wife from the wheelchair to the hospital bed. "We will," he assured the man.

"We got this," Elena agreed, giving Michael a grin. She trusted him to get her up more than she did a stranger, however well trained they were. They'd been through too much together for that kind of trust to be easily set aside. She eased up and out of the wheelchair with his help, toeing out of her shoes in preparation for changing out of her leggings and top and into one of his own t-shirts.

"Just take it slow," he urged her, helping her every step of the way. It wasn't too hard to get her changed and onto the bed; after all, he'd been helping her with those very same things at home for the last several months.

"I love you," she murmured as they struggled together to get her ready through increasing contractions that were growing longer and closer together each time. "God ... why can't I do this like a lioness?" she complained mildly. "They just huff around and sort of blurt them out the back end after a couple of hours."

Michael chuckled. "Because you're human, that's why," he replied, logically enough. He'd heard of shifters giving birth in their animal forms, but it was one of those things about Rhy'Din that still weirded him out a little. "And I love you, too, but can we not do this again anytime soon?" he teased as he helped her onto the bed.

"What, four years between kids not long enough for you?" she asked laughingly, barely wincing as they managed to get her onto the bed. "I'm right with you on this one - three is enough."

"It's not that," he said, frowning at the wince, but hoping he was distracting her from the pain. "It's the fact that we've got a two-for-one deal going on here." It wasn't that he didn't love the idea of having twins, but he wasn't so naive not to know it was going to be a lot of work for them both.  Thankfully, though, he wasn't the one who was going to have to push them out.

"That's the thing - twins don't even run in the family," she agreed. "Only now they will, because these two decided one of them was going to be a girl." She chuckled faintly, relaxing back against the pillows for a moment. "Here's hoping this doesn't take too long."

"I blame the water," Michael said with a smirk, as that seemed to be the popular opinion here in Rhy'Din where multiple births were concerned. "I'll second that," he said, tucking the covers around her once she was settled in. He knew those would have to come off soon, but for now, he wanted her warm and comfortable. He settled a hand upon her belly, rubbing gently. "Is there anything I can do?"

She turned her head, mischief sparkling in her eyes. "Call Juno and swap bodies with me for the next, oh, six hours?" she suggested impishly, knowing perfectly well that Michael didn't really believe that was even possible.

"Uh, I think it might be a little too late for that," he said, a puzzled expression on his face, though he assumed she wasn't serious. "You don't think it's going to take six hours, do you?" he asked further.

She shook her head, grinning at his reaction. "No, I don't," she admitted. "It feels like they're in a hurry."

"Well, that's a heartening comment to enter on," a familiar voice said from the door, and Libby came into view, scrubbed up and ready to go. "Spread 'em, Mrs Donnelly, let's see if you're right."
"You must stay drunk on writing so reality cannot destroy you."

- Ray Bradbury

Michael Donnelly

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Re: The Latest Arrivals
« Reply #2 on: March 21, 2021, 02:54:37 PM »

"Must you put it that way, Libby?" Michael asked, wincing at the woman's blunt request. He wasn't sure what he found offensive about it, but that was his wife she was talking to.

"Would you rather I was uptight and formal?" Libby asked him innocently, pulling on gloves to give Elena a quick inspection. "Would you feel better about me having a hand up your wife's hoohar if I was dreadfully proper all the time?"

"No, I just ..." Michael trailed off, unsure what to say to that. "Just remember, she's my wife, not a cow," he found himself blurting. Okay, so maybe he was just a little bit nervous.

Elena's hand found his, squeezing gently. "I don't think she's getting anything out of this," she murmured teasingly. "I'm definitely not."

"You wound me," Libby said from the end of the bed, straightening up. "You're fully dilated, though. Any time now, really."

"Sorry," Michael murmured apologetically, though he was only half sorry. "Do you think they're okay in there?" he asked, not only concerned for Elena's well-being but for that of their unborn children, too.

"Can we have the Doppler on?" she asked, not ignoring Michael but curious to know if they could hear their children's heartbeats this close to birth. Libby nodded, moving to do just that, and within just a couple of minutes, the pitter-patter of two little hearts was audible in the room.

Elena's question was basically echoing his, except that her request was more to the point. Michael couldn't help but smile at the sound of the twin heartbeats. "That's better," he said, giving Elena's hand a gentle squeeze. "That's our son and daughter in there," he said with almost child-like wonder.

Elena, too, visibly relaxed at the sound. "We still haven't picked names," she said in amusement. "I am not letting Mica do it, not after last week's suggestion of Sheep and Piglet."

Michael chuckled at the reminder of Mica's suggestion. "And I seem to recall someone wanted nothing alliterative either," he reminded her of her own words. Besides, there were already two of them with M names.

"They deserve their own names, not to be a matching set," she pointed out, pausing for an excruciating minute as another contraction took hold. Letting out a deep sigh as she relaxed, she then offered, "I kinda like Leo as a name, though."

He tensed a moment as she worked through the contraction, unsure if he should tell her to push or not yet, but that was what Libby was for. "Leo Donnelly," he repeated, testing the name out on his tongue. "I like that, too. But what about our baby girl?"

"You choose," Elena told him with a cheeky grin.

At the end of the bed, all her prep done, Libby stood ready. "You can push as soon as the next one hits."

Michael's gaze darted to Libby for a moment before turning back to his wife. His job now was not only to distract her from the pain but to encourage her to push the babies out. "I don't know. What do you think about Kara?" he asked. They'd gone over some names over the last few months, but hadn't really settled on any.

"Kara's ni -"

But it seemed as though the time for talking was done. Elena bore down as the contractions started again, and unlike last time, this was fast. Within an hour, both twins were born, weighed, measured, checked over, wrapped up in blankets, and deposited in Michael's arms for daddy hugs while Libby attended to Elena with the blessed relief of healing magic.

Michael did as much as he could to help, rubbing Elena's back and encouraging her to push, but it seemed the twins were determined to arrive with or without his help. Thankfully, it didn't take long and they were quickly rewarded for their efforts. Now that the twins were born, the proud papa couldn't stop grinning, one newborn cradled in each arm.

"Look at them, Elena! Aren't they adorable?" he gushed. "They look just like their mama."

"Hot, sweaty, and exhausted?" Elena asked with a weary grin. The healing didn't, sadly, renew her energy, but it did return her body to its pre-baby state, which could only be a good thing with a four year old and two newborns in the house.

Libby chuckled as she packed up her equipment. "I'll have an orderly come and wheel you to your post-natal room," she told them. "Congratulations."

Michael chuckled at his wife's reply, looking up for a moment to flash a grateful smile at the midwife. "Thanks, Libby. You're a godsend," he told the woman.

"Nah, all I had to do was catch," the midwife answered cheerfully. "You two did all the work here. I'll put bottles in the room for you, and all the stuff you'll need to wipe them down before you diaper and dress them. Take your time."

Michael knew she'd done a lot more than that, and some of it had involved magic, but he was too excited about their new babies to linger on it too long. "Thanks again," he told the woman, turning his attention back to the two small bundles in his arms. From the look on his face, he was clearly enamored. "Want to say hello to your mama?" he asked the twins, as if expecting a reply.

Two tiny faces remained stubbornly asleep in his arms. They had woken up briefly to be born, it seemed, before settling back down to sleep remarkably quickly. According to Libby, they should enjoy it while it lasted.

Chuckling, Elena gently eased herself off the bed and into the waiting wheelchair, grateful to be able to unstick herself from the damp sheets for a little while. "I think they look pretty content right there."

"They do, don't they?" Michael said, a pleased smile on his face. He glanced over to find Elena easing herself back into the wheelchair. "Are you okay?" he asked, clearly concerned. Magic or no, she had just given birth.

"I'm just tired," she assured him. "Being gentle with myself for an hour or so won't hurt." She craned her neck to look at the babies. "Think Mica will want to keep them?"
"You must stay drunk on writing so reality cannot destroy you."

- Ray Bradbury

Michael Donnelly

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Re: The Latest Arrivals
« Reply #3 on: March 21, 2021, 02:54:51 PM »
"I hope so!" he replied, with a chuckle. "They're not as much fun as Ploppo, but I think she'll be pleased." Admittedly, the puppy didn't belong to them anyway, but the twins were theirs to keep.

"They'll grow on her," Elena predicted. "She's old enough to be able to help out with them, too. Kinda glad we decided to wait more than two years before popping out more."

"Yeah, but what we need to decide now is what to name them," he pointed out, as they hadn't really made a final decision before the pair had decided it was time to be born.

"I thought it was Leo and Kara?" she asked innocently, smiling back at him. A knock on the door announced the arrival of the orderly, putting the conversation on hold for the few short minutes it took to get the Donnellys downstairs and into a private room, where they could finally, blessedly, relax.

Michael kept his thoughts to himself until they were alone again and Elena was once again settled. He claimed a chair for himself near her bed, close enough for her to admire the little bundles in his arms. "What do you think?" he asked, addressing his question to the newborns. "Are you a Leo and a Kara?"

Leo opened his eyes, wriggling a little in his blanket for a moment before peering around with newborn eyes. Who knew what he actually saw or what he thought of it, but he closed his eyes pretty fast afterward. Elena chuckled. "Well, at least one of them responded."

"Not really a yes or a no though, is it?" he said with a grin, not really expecting either newborn to answer. "What do you think?" he asked, turning his attention back to Elena. Once they signed the birth certificates, there would be no changing their minds.

"I like them," she said. "Not just saying that. There's a reason they were on the list to begin with. Little love and little lion? I think that's perfect for a terrifying twosome who will be completely under the thumb of a big sister with way too many creative ideas."

Michael chuckled again. "We should probably give that big sister a call and let her know her new brother and sister have arrived," he suggested. He couldn't argue with Elena's reasoning. The more he thought about it, the more he liked the names they'd chosen for the twins. "Pick one," he told her, needing at least one hand free to make the phone call.

She chuckled, shifting to reach over and take the twin from his right arm so he could fish around for his phone and make the call with his dominant hand. "It's early enough that Tony could bring her in to meet them before she has to go to bed," she pointed out, hugging Kara affectionately in her arms as the sleepier twin stretched.

Michael arched a brow at his wife's suggestion. "Are you sure you're up to that? It won't hurt to have her wait one more day," he pointed out. She had said she was tired, after all.

"But she'll sleep better with hugs from Mom and Dad," Elena pointed out. "Last thing we need is for all of us to be sleep-deprived when we get home tomorrow."

"That's true," he replied, given her reasoning. "You realize Sofia is going to want to come along," he said, though Tony might be able to convince his own daughter to wait a day or two before inundating them with visitors.

"Pretty sure Tony can convince her only one person under ten is allowed in at a time," Elena said, confident in her brother's ability to keep his own daughter at home. "Or Anya will have something up her sleeve. They should store up goodwill for when Anya pops in a few months."

"It's about time they had another," Michael said, not for the first time. Why should they have all the fun? Nonna De Luca was in her glory. That said, he scrolled through his contacts with his thumb and hit the call icon next to Tony's name, all one-handed.

The voice that answered, though, was not Tony. "Daddy? Daddy, is it you? Un'ca Tony said it's you, an' there's babies, an' is it you?"

"Yes, sweetheart, it's me!" Michael replied, looking to Elena. "It's Mica," he whispered to his wife, though that much was probably obvious. "Are you being good?"

Over the sound of his wife laughing at the knowledge their daughter had managed to answer Tony's phone, Mica very happily replied. "I am bein' very good, an' we made cookies, an' Auntie Anya says we can have sketti tonight!"

"Oh, that's exciting!" he said, pausing a moment to touch the icon that would put her on speaker. "Say hi to Mama! She can hear you, too, now," he told her. "They made cookies and they're having pus-ketti for dinner," he whispered for Elena's sake.

"'lo, Mumma! Did you has the babies? Can they hear me? Hello babies!"

Elena laughed again at the excited voice booming from the phone. "Well, hello," she answered, sharing a bright grin with Michael. "Yes, and yes, and they're sleeping right now."

"Would you like to come see them tonight?" he asked, despite the fact that he hadn't asked Tony yet. He had a feeling Elena's big brother might just jump at the chance to be the first to see the newest members of the family anyway.

There was an audible gasp of delight from the other end of the phone. "Oooh, can I really? An' see you, an' Mumma, an' have cuddles?"

"For a little bit, but Mummy and the babies have to stay overnight at the hospital so we can make sure they're all better, okay?" he told his daughter, hoping she'd be okay with that, given the fact she could come visit for a while.

"But I can still come and see?" Mica asked hopefully.

Elena grinned over at Michael; their little girl was never going to admit that what she really wanted was to see her parents, rather than just the new babies.

"Why don't you let me talk to Uncle Tony and I'll ask him if it's okay," Michael suggested, though he doubted his brother-in-law would say no.

"Okay! I'll bring cookies!" There was a thump as Mica put the phone down on the table a little too heavily, and then yelled for her uncle. "Unca Tony! Daddy wants you!"

"You must stay drunk on writing so reality cannot destroy you."

- Ray Bradbury

Michael Donnelly

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Re: The Latest Arrivals
« Reply #4 on: March 21, 2021, 02:55:17 PM »
Michael winced as Mica dropped the phone on the table. He was going to have to talk to her about that. "She sounds like she's having fun anyway," he told Elena as they both waited for Tony to pick up the phone.

"Hey, I just got promised cookies for pushing two babies out, I'm pretty pleased with the deal," his wife said laughingly, one finger absently stroking up and down Kara's nose as the newborn stirred.

"You deserve more than just cookies," Michael said, though that was a decent reward coming from a five-year-old. He opened his mouth to say something else but was cut off as Tony's voice was heard on the other end of the phone.

"I guess we're coming to visit tonight?" he said, the muffled sound of an excited Mica heard in the background.

"Well, if you can pull yourself away," Elena teased her brother, knowing perfectly well he couldn't not come now Mica knew she was allowed to.

"I think I can manage," Tony replied, the grin heard in his voice. "How are you feeling?" he asked, more concerned for his baby sister's well-being than he might let on. She had always been his favorite.

"I'm all healed up," she assured her big brother, her own smile audible in her voice. "Just a little tired, that's all. They decided to make their appearance in less than an hour, the little ... dears."

Tony chuckled on the other end. "I'm sure they didn't do it on purpose," he assured her. "What time would you like us there?" he asked.

Michael gave Elena a questioning glance. "How's seven?" he asked them both.

"Seven should work for us," Elena agreed. "We should have been able to get something to eat by then, and it won't be too late for Mica."

"Okay, anyone else you want to talk to before I hang up?" Tony asked, unsure if she wanted to say hello to Anya or talk to Mica again. "Oh!" he exclaimed, as if he'd almost forgotten. "Names? I'm going to be grilled as soon as I hang up the phone," he added.

"I think you can get away with hanging up, since you're going to be a taxi service in a coupla hours," Elena laughed. She glanced at Michael, her smile softening affectionately. "Should we tell him, or let him be grilled?"

Michael shrugged, returning her smile. "Up to you," he said, letting her decide, though he was tempted to let Tony get grilled without an answer.

"Come on, El," Tony said on the other end of the phone. "Don't leave me hanging!" It was very likely Anya who was going to grill him.

She laughed impishly. "Oh, fine," she conceded with a put upon sigh. "You have a nephew called Leo, and a niece called Kara. Happy now?"

"Did you hear that?" he asked, obviously speaking to someone else at the moment, most likely Anya. "Leo and Kara. That's adorable," he added, this time to Elena.

"They are adorable, thank you very much," she said with laughing indignation. "But then, I haven't seen them awake yet. Being born is very tiring, you know."

"Well, make sure they're happy when we visit tonight or a certain someone is going to be a little upset," Tony told her, though he knew she had only had so much control over that.

"We'll do the best we can," Michael promised. "Give Mica a kiss for us, and we'll see you in a few hours!"

"And lots of hugs and kisses for your monsters, too!" Elena added laughingly. "That includes Anya!" Giggling to herself, she turned her attention down to Kara in her arms, surprised to find the baby girl's eyes open and gazing up at her. "Well, hello there, little lady."

With a final farewell, Michael hung up the phone and turned his attention to the baby girl in his wife's arms, the baby boy in his own arms looking content for now. "She has her mother's eyes," he remarked with a soft smile.

"They're blue right now," Elena pointed out with a smile of her own. "Much more like her papa's eyes than mine." Kara smacked her lips, still looking around with unfocused solemnity.

It wasn't so much the color he was referring to, but he didn't say that. "She's as pretty as her mother," he said, revising his statement. From the look on his face, he was as much in love with their new daughter as he was with her mother. "Think Mica will be jealous?"

"Maybe?" Elena shrugged with one shoulder. "I think she might get jealous of the cuddles, but we can handle that. She seems worried that we're going to forget about her because of these two."

"How could we ever forget her?" Michael asked, pausing a moment to check on the little one is his own arms. "This one seems pretty content," he remarked, touching the little one's cheek to make sure he was just sleeping.

As his finger brushed Leo's cheek, the newborn boy automatically turned toward it, mouth open hopefully. Elena giggled softly. "He does, doesn't he?" she mused. "He might be the peacemaker between the girls as they grow up."

"Maybe," Michael remarked, uncertainly - not that it much mattered at the moment. He chuckled a little at the baby boy's search for something to suckle. "Not gonna find anything worth sucking on there," he chided gently.

"They're so well-behaved right now," she murmured. "Can't help hoping it'll last." She was not looking forward to a year of simultaneous tears from the newest members of the family.

"Well, they're not hungry or wet yet," he reasoned. "They are pretty cute though," he added, even if they were still a little red and wrinkly. Of course, he was biased.

"Good point - we should probably get diapers on them before they get enthusiastic about embracing the world of bodily functions," Elena said with a low laugh.

"You want to take one and I'll take the other?" he asked, willing to help in whatever way he could.
"You must stay drunk on writing so reality cannot destroy you."

- Ray Bradbury

Michael Donnelly

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Re: The Latest Arrivals
« Reply #5 on: March 21, 2021, 02:55:30 PM »
He rose from the chair in search of towels and diapers and other such baby things. Thankfully, Libby had thought of everything.

"Start as we mean to go on," she agreed, carefully shifting her position so they could lay out the various things they would need to give the twins a quick once over clean and cover them up properly.

There was no point in swapping babies, since they each had one already, though Michael thought Leo might be the more challenging of the pair, considering his anatomy. It really came down to which was the wigglier of the two though, and for the moment, that seemed to be Kara.

"Oh, you're going to be a handful, aren't you?" Elena informed their newest daughter, though thankfully neither twin was protesting too loudly at the indignity of being stripped and washed gently.

"They're going to want to eat sooner or later, but Libby left bottles, too," he said, though Libby had already told them both that. "Are you okay?" he asked, once he was almost finished bathing and diapering Leo.

"Who, me?" Elena threw him a smile, wrestling Kara's flailing feet into a onesie and ignoring the threatening scream in the process. "I feel good. Tired, but not in pain, not aching. Magic is never going to cease to amaze me. What about you?"

"I'm okay. Just concerned about you," he confessed, as he wrapped the wriggling baby into a blanket before he could protest. Despite calling Rhy'Din home for many years now, he didn't think he'd ever get entirely used to magic either.

"I'm good," she promised him, carefully lifting the mewling Kara up onto her shoulder. Within seconds, the baby girl had calmed down, proving that her objection had been purely about being put down. Wriggling to the edge of the bed, Elena leaned over to kiss Michael's cheek. "I love you, Mischa, you know?"

Michael smiled at the show of affection from his wife. He had fought long and hard for her love, and now that he had it, he had no intentions of ever letting her go. "Love you, too, El," he murmured back, returning her kiss with one of his own, but this time finding her lips.

She smiled into his kiss, knowing she had made him work for her, though without truly knowing he was fighting that battle for much of that time. She had every intention of making sure he knew he was loved for the rest of his life. "So when can we expect your little Greek hanger-on to pop in and give these two something inappropriate to play with?" she asked teasingly.

He chuckled at her reference to his muse - literally. "I'd like to think she'd give us a little privacy before popping in unannounced," he said, though he could never be too sure where Calliope was concerned.

"She seems to wait until I'm asleep to pop in," Elena pointed out with a chuckle, stroking one hand over Kara's hot little head as the newborn bumped her forehead into her mother's throat.

"Maybe she's jealous," Michael remarked, though he doubted that. If Calliope had wanted to make him one of her lovers, she would have said so a long time ago. "I, uh ... finished the book," he told her, sounding just a little bit shy about it. The book was one he'd been working on for years and one he had promised his muse he would write.

Her eyes lit up. "Oh, that's wonderful! When did you finish up?" She knew this particular book had been a labor of love for several years, since Michela had been born, and had not asked to read any of it because of that. She hoped Calliope appreciated the effort.

"A few nights ago. I'm just doing a final edit," he said, though he had yet to let Calliope read it. It was really up to her whether it was finished to her liking or not.

"Perfect timing, as always," his wife assured him fondly. "She'd better appreciate all the work you put into it. I'm really eager to read this thing!"

"Better let her read it first," he murmured. As much as he trusted his wife's judgment, he couldn't afford to piss his muse off, or he might find himself without any inspiration at all.

Elena chuckled softly. "I'm not going to steal her thunder on this one," she promised him. "Besides, she's been involved all the way from the start. She should be the first one to read it now it's done."

"I just hope she likes it," he said, sounding just a little bit worried, but he was his own worst enemy when it came to criticism. If she didn't like it, that meant years worth of work wasted.

"She let you write it," Elena pointed out. "She wouldn't have done that if she didn't believe you could do her life justice." She reached out, drawing her fingers tenderly against his cheek. "You worry too much."

"Let me?" Michael echoed with a chuckle. "More like forced me," he corrected, though that wasn't entirely true. She had given him a choice, after all. "Think she'll be jealous we didn't name one of the girls after her?" he asked, only partly joking, even as he turned his cheek into her touch.

"We didn't pick second names yet," was her impish answer, complete with cheeky wink. "She can't complain until their names are absolutely set in stone, and even then, I'll wallop her with that stuffed minotaur if she does."

"I'm not sure that's such a good idea," Michael chuckled. He didn't doubt his wife would do just that. If anyone wasn't afraid of his muse, it was his wife. "What do you say we get these two settled and eat something before Mica gets here?" he suggested.

She chuckled with him. There was a reason Calliope avoided interacting with Elena, after all. His suggestion, however, brightened her eyes once again. "That is a genius idea."

"Well, I do have an above average IQ," he said with a grin and a shrug. Above average, but not quite genius level, though he had been something of a prodigy where writing was concerned.

"You're the brains in this outfit," she agreed, stretching to pull the double bassinet over to where they were sitting. It was only marginally bigger than the usual bassinets, but apparently twins were clingy. Who knew?

"Stop. Let me do it," he told her, moving over to help with the bassinet, one arm still cradling little Leo. She might be magically healed, but that didn't erase the fact that she'd just given birth.

"You must stay drunk on writing so reality cannot destroy you."

- Ray Bradbury

Michael Donnelly

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Re: The Latest Arrivals
« Reply #6 on: March 21, 2021, 02:55:47 PM »
"You're going to tire yourself out if you're going to try and look after all four of us, you know," she said, but she let him take over that little task. It didn't hurt to bolster his pride every now and then.

"It's okay. I'm taking a break from writing for a while, until these two are sleeping through the night," he told her. It was a good thing he'd finished Calliope's life story, though it still needed some editing.

"We're a team, though, right?" she asked, just a little uncertain for a moment. She hated the idea that she was making more work for him, in whatever capacity.

"No, we're a family," he corrected, thinking that better defined their relationship, even if she was only talking about the two of them. He settled himself on the bed beside her, a soft smile on his face. "I'm always gonna be here for you, Elena. You don't ever have to worry about that."

"That's not something that I ever worry about," she admitted, leaning affectionately against him as he sat beside her. "I worry about putting too much on your shoulders, about being just the pretty face and nothing else. Sometimes I feel like I don't contribute much to our lives together, and I hate it."

"What?" he said, clearly surprised by this confession. "What do you mean? You contribute plenty. If anyone should worry about not contributing enough, it's me," he said, careful not to dislodge her from his shoulder, despite his surprise.

"No, it's just ... you look after me a lot," she said, trying to clarify herself for him. "I worry that I don't look after you enough. It's a me thing, baby."

"You look after me plenty," Michael insisted, a serious look on his face. He would have never recovered from his addiction to alcohol if it hadn't been for her. In fact, he probably wouldn't have even survived.

"I just, I don't want you to burn yourself out trying to do everything, you know?" she said, hoping she was clearer this time. "We're in this together, always will be."

"I won't. Promise," he told her, sealing that promise with a kiss. He couldn't argue with that really. In sickness and health, until deal do us part, though he hoped it never came to that.

His kiss was answered with another, together with a soft brush of her nose tip to his. "We should put them down and see if they can handle it, really," she mused. "I'm getting hungry here."

He smirked as she reminded him that he'd promised food. "You're always hungry," he told her, kissing the tip of her nose before pulling away so that he could set their son into the bassinet.

She laughed softly, not bothering to argue that point. For someone who could eat like a horse, she was very slender still - it was either good genetics, or a very hectic lifestyle, though likely a combination of the two. Once Leo was in the bassinet, she leaned forward to lay Kara down with him, charmed by the way the pair flailed until they had a good grip on one another. "Okay, that's adorable."

Michael smiled at the way the twins clung to each other, as if they needed each other. "It is, isn't it?" he said, reaching to take Elena's hand. "They've been together from the beginning," he said, just a little bit in awe.

Her fingers slid between his, palm to palm as she smiled. "We've all been together right from their start," she said softly. "I'd put money on them knowing Mica's voice the second they meet her properly."

"You think so?" he said, not quite as certain as she was, but then, he wasn't the one who had carried the children inside them for nine months before they'd been born.

"They've been reacting to her," she assured him. "And to you, too. They know your voices, I'm sure of it."

"Then they know yours, too," he pointed out. In fact, they probably knew her best of all. He turned quiet a moment as the two of them watched the twins, snuggled close and looking content. "Sometimes it's like a dream, Elena," he confessed. He worried sometimes that something would happen and he'd wake up and find it had all been a dream.

"It's a good dream." She leaned over, resting her head on his shoulder. "There's no one I would rather be in this dream with. I've got you, well and truly, Michael Donnelly. I'm never letting go."

"Never letting you let go," Michael said, chuckling at his own words. "You know what I mean," he added, turning his head to kiss her again. "As much as I love kissing you, they're not gonna sleep forever, so what do you want to eat?"

She giggled softly, her head tipped up to meet his gaze. "I guess we're stuck with hospital food until we escape tomorrow," she said, a little mournfully. After all, her cooking was far superior. "I should probably just have something light - maybe if they have something like soup and sandwiches?"

"I could ask Tony to pick something up, unless you don't want to wait," he suggested, as his stomach grumbled guiltily. He knew hospital food wasn't the best option, but it was handy.

"Food now," was her answer even as she chuckled, rubbing her hand affectionately against his stomach. "I'll cook something to make up for it tomorrow."

"It's okay. I'll live," he said, pressing a kiss to her cheek before moving to his feet. "Soup and sandwich, it is. Don't go anywhere!" he teased, with a gentle tweak of her nose. Where was she going to go anyway?

"I'll wait with bated breath," she teased, though it was fairly obvious she was going to have a quick wash and change while she was waiting. "Don't trip."

"I'll do my best!" he said, as he headed for the door. He was a man on a mission and wasn't coming back until he had food in hand.

Woe betide him if he didn't manage to find food; never mind disappointing himself and Elena, Tony would have views on that if he came by and they hadn't eaten. Ah, the joys of marrying into the De Luca family. All the fun of a funfair, sticky bits included.
"You must stay drunk on writing so reality cannot destroy you."

- Ray Bradbury