**I wanted to take a minute to thank everyone for coming along on this ride with me. I am having a blast and I hope you enjoyed Domestic. More is coming...soon you'll get to know a younger Grace and Serra. Thanks so much for reading! xoxo **
The farther the girls got along in their pregnancies, the more freaked out Serra and I both got. Serra was almost in full panic mode by the time October showed her ugly face and was attached to Grace's hip most of the time they were both home. I was in full panic mode because I was about to be a father of three, two of which would be born at the same time in the coming weeks. I wasn't ready.
I came home from the shop one night to Serra standing in the middle of the kitchen, watching Grace and Jody cooking dinner. Liberty sat in front of the TV, watching some puppet show singing about autumn and I greeted her by kissing her on her head. She stood and bounced around in front of me, singing the song with the characters on the show. I couldn't believe my eldest would be two in a month. Glancing up at Grace, she was staring at us with a smile on her face. Her belly was stretched as far as it would go; carrying twins was nothing to shake a stick at. Jody bustled around the girls, getting plates from the cupboard, counting six in her head (Sam and Serra were almost never at their own house these days…Serra refused to leave Grace's side.)
Walking over to Grace, I put my hand out to greet the twins and leaned in to kiss my wife. She looked exhausted. "How do you feel?"
Shrugging, Grace tilted her head. "Okay. I'm just so tired." She took a bite of the bread she held and smiled, lifting her eyebrows. "Double doctor's appointment today. Took Sere with me."
I glanced over at my sister-in-law, who hadn't moved since I walked in and smiled. "Everything good?"
Serra didn't acknowledge me. I turned back to Grace and made a face, "What's with Luck?"
Grace grinned. "She's having a difficult time grasping the fact that she's due in nine weeks." She leaned her arm across her own stomach and smiled down at it. "Doc says I go on maternity leave Friday," she explained, looking back up at me. "He says we're gonna try not to have another c-section. Says everyone is doing well."
"Wow, really?" I walked to the fridge and grabbed a beer, sidestepping Serra. "Is he gonna let you go into labor on your own?"
Grace shrugged. "That's what he says. Told me today that he can't understand why I don't have a c-section scar from Liberty." She grinned. "I guess I just forgot to tell him that I'm half and half."
I took a swig of my beer and chuckled. "You're a medical marvel."
"A baby is gonna come outta me," Serra said suddenly, drawing our attention away from each other. "I can't do this. I'm not ready."
Jody stood next to her and patted her back, "Oh, sweetie. Women are made for this! You'll be fine."
Serendipity was still shaking her head, staring in Grace's direction. I took that as a hint to finish up dinner and set the table with Jody, who followed me towards the dining room table.
I watched Grace approach her sister, smiling gently. "Lucky, we've talked about this."
"I've seen women give birth, Grace. It was part of my internship. It was part of my degree. I can't do this. I wasn't prepared to do this." Serra was talking in short, panicked sentences, slightly breathless.
Grace put her hands out, stopping the stream of words coming from her sister's mouth. "Stop, Serra, stop. You're freaking out because we just went to the doctor. It's still fresh in your mind," she said. "Jody's right. This is natural."
Serra finally moved from her spot in the kitchen to point to her niece. "Liberty wasn't natural. Liberty almost killed both of you."
"It was the fight we had…remember? The battle with the battalion of angels? That wasn't natural either! I would have delivered her just fine if that hadn't happened."
Still doubting Grace, Serra began pacing around the kitchen. "No, Grace, this is bullshit. I wasn't ready for a baby. I found out I was fucking pregnant in Hell, Grace! Hell! That can't be a good sign!" She took a deep, ragged breath and continued, "What if I go into labor and no one is here? What if I drop the kid right in the middle of the living room?"
"Serra, stop," Grace said, her voice full of finality. "You're a fucking NICU nurse and you know how to handle this. You do this professionally."
"No," she said, still arguing. "I keep babies alive professionally. I don't give birth professionally!"
"I've done this before. It's not that bad."
"No, Lib was cut out of you. You were unconscious."
Grace obviously was at a loss. "I know, Serra. I'm trying to stay calm for you." Slowly, I watched Grace move closer to her sister, trying to get her to stand in one place. "I'm freaking out, too. What the fuck am I supposed to do with twins?"
"I'll make you a deal," Serra said, her voice dropping low. "I'll keep all of the babies alive once we all get home if you give birth for me."
"If I could, kiddo," Grace moved towards Serra and wrapped her arms around her neck, "trust me, I would." The sisters embraced and after a few minutes, they were both nodding and reassuring each other quietly. They might have started to feel better, but as soon as Serra said the word 'babies,' my heart skipped a beat and I chugged my beer.
Twins. There would be two.
Sam came in the back door a few minutes later, Johnny following closely behind. Lib squealed and ran to meet her playmate; hugs for Johnny and sloppy, wet kisses for Liberty as we walked towards the table. Sam glanced towards me and nodded at the girls, still talking quietly in the kitchen. I shook my head at him as he walked towards me. "They're just going through their daily freak out," I said quietly. "I'm about to join them, this time."
Sam patted my back. "They're just babies," he answered. "You have dealt with demons and vamps and werewolves. Don't let the babies scare you."
I glared at him and shook my head. "You don't know, man. Just you wait."
During dinner, Jody announced that she would be moving out about a month after the babies were born. "I'm transferring to Lawrence, though," she said, "and I'll find my own place close by."
"What?" Grace gasped, "Twins, Jody! There's going to be three children in this house and another one over there!" Serra was nodding, agreeing with her sister. "You can't leave us now."
"I'm not leaving, honeybee. I'll just be down the way a bit. I can't extend my leave any longer and I'm too young to retire. They won't let me. I'd have to resign."
Grace shut her eyes, Serra looked like she was about to cry and Sammy and I just stared at her. I hadn't realized how much we had come to depend on her. I remembered, not too long ago, that Jody had mentioned to me that she was running out of leave. I knew she had extended it longer than she should have when Grace and Serra had been taken to Hell. She made sure that Liberty was cared for while we figured out how to bring the girls home, but now I remembered the conversation. She was out of time.
"I've already cleared it with my Captain," Jody was saying, "he's got some friends out this way and found me a nice office to work out of, near Grace's school, actually."
Helping Liberty eat her food, Grace glanced up. "If you're leaving, I don't know how much longer it will be my school," she muttered. "We won't be able to afford childcare. It's ridiculous."
"So don't go back," I said quietly, locking eyes with my wife. It was the same conversation we had when she battled with going back after having Lib. She didn't argue right away, so I pushed forward. "You stay home with the kids, and let me be the breadwinner, like we talked about." Grace was searching for an argument, I knew it, but I forced my way through. "When Serra goes back to work, take theirs too, have yourself a little daycare center, and you'll get to be with the babies, using your degree and all that bought education to raise them right."
I watched as Serra's eyes lit up and she hit Sam in the shoulder. They had obviously been at a loss with what to do with the baby when she went back to work. This was a solution that everyone could be on board with.
Sammy looked doubtful. "That's a lot of kids for her to contend with all at once," he said quietly, mostly to his wife. "Three infants and a toddler? That might be hard, even for a nephilim."
"Are you kidding?" Serra said, shaking her head. "This is the kind of shit that Gracie does."
All eyes turned to my wife, waiting for her to weigh in on the conversation. She sat, still feeding Liberty and raised her eyebrows. "I knew I would end up here," she said, smiling softly, "but yeah. It feels right."
"You'll do it?" Serra's voice was demanding. "Really?"
Grace pursed her lips and smiled at me. "You win."
I smiled at my wife and felt relief spread through me. I hadn't realized how much I wanted her staying home with the kids, keeping them safe. I remembered being at home with my own mom, before Sammy was born, before she was killed. She hadn't worked when I was little, and I had very vivid memories of her building with Legos with me, coloring, and making me sandwiches with the crusts cut off. I wanted that for my kids.
Sammy nodded, too, grinning. He was happy with the decision as well, knowing that his kid would be well cared for by his or her aunt.
As I watched, joy returned at our farm table. As Serra and Sam talked quietly to each other, Jody fed Liberty and Grace and I stared at each other from across the table. I smiled at her, winking.
Barefoot and pregnant, I thought towards my wife, remembering the constant arguments we had about her staying home.
She shook her head, hearing my thought and grinned. She held her water glass with her elbow propped up on the table and pointed down. I didn't understand immediately, so she mouthed, "Look under the table."
I glanced under, seeing her feet crossed next to mine. They were bare. Grinning, I looked back up at her and smiled. "Three is enough."
"Just keep telling yourself that."