Life hadn’t been as hectic as I thought it would be. Forest had to stay in the hospital to recover and to watch over our baby, while I stayed on-call twenty-four seven for work. We desperately needed the money with this new child in our lives and the need to quickly find a new home. But for every penny I saved, it seemed like another dollar was taken out to go to a necessity. I sighed, circling another home ad in the newspaper as I looked over to Forest. His eyes were partly closed, a small smile on his face as he rocked the tiny infant in his arms. After two weeks, Willow was finally able to come off what was essentially life support. He had spent the first two weeks of his life in there, with countless tubes running through his little arms and up his nose, just trying to keep him alive. And the little guy pushed through, he was able to actually survive. Forest spent most of his time trying to get the child to bond, since those first crucial moments for a baby to make an impression onto their Omega was stripped away due to the serious complications.
Things weren’t totally in the clear, and we still needed to watch over him at all times, asleep or not, in case a medical emergency were to happen. But Forest was an amazing parent. I capped the marker in my hand, setting it down with the newspaper on the small stand that served as my lover’s eating tray. Forest looked towards me, and I returned the smile. I stood up, walking closer towards them and delicately wrapped my arm around his shoulder. The baby’s small fingers curled inward and out around Forest’s chest, suckling desperately at his chest in an attempt to hungrily gobble up any milk he could.
“He looks just like you.” I leaned down to place a kiss onto the crown of Forest’s head.
“Except for the hair.” Forest rocked the baby slower, trying to coax the pup to sleep. He was right, the baby had Forest’s tone of skin, his bright blue eyes, but the hair was as red as my own, what little patches of hair he had.
“He’s barely got any though, unlike me,” I snorted, standing up tall now to stretch my arms over my head. Forest peered up at me with pursed lips.
“Yeah, just you wait. You might go bald when you get older.”
“Maybe you will too,” I said. “Hopefully with all these shifts I’ve been working I’ll be able to at least afford a toupee.”
“I’d rather you be bald than have to spend any less time with you.” Forest suddenly frowned, turning his attention back towards the baby, who had broken the suction on Forest’s nipple, squirming slightly in his arms.
“Sorry. You know I need to work. These medical bills are expensive, and we need to find a new home after everything that happened. I won’t rest until you and that baby are safe.”
As far as I was aware, Thorn had been locked up and the key thrown away. I wished he would rot in there forever, but who knows how he would retaliate. To find out he had ties with the Grey Brotherhood this whole time was frightening, and the sooner we found a new home, the better.
“I know, I know,” Forest whined, “I just miss you.”
“I miss you more. Soon we’ll all be able to go home.”
“Speaking of returning home,” a voice called out from behind us. Both of us turned our attention towards the entryway to Forest’s new room in the delivery wing. His doctor who had performed the cesarean strolled in with a bright smile on his face. “I’ve got some news for you both that might make your day even better.”
“Please do.” Forest shifted his weight in the hospital bed, leaning forward with the baby pressed to his chest securely to sit up better, instead of leaning back against the stacks of pillows we placed behind him.
The doctor removed something from behind his back, a packet of documentation that I was far too familiar with.
“Discharging us already?” I couldn’t contain the excitement in my voice. Not only for us to go home, but for the surprise I had waiting for Forest.
“Yes. Willow seems to be doing just fine now, and with continued monitoring of his health, I think it would be fine to let you all go home and enjoy life as new parents.”
“Oh yes! Finally! We can go home.” Forest moved again, twisting his legs to try and get over the bed as though he was ready to jump up and sprint home with the baby in tow.
“Now wait just a moment.” The doctor held his hand up to stop Forest from moving even more, Forest frowned, furrowing his brows at his delayed escape.
“I’ve just got to go over some of this information with you. You had a cesarean and we need you to take really good care of the wound while it’s healing, alright? I’m talking no major exercise, constantly cleaning, the works.”
I watched as he huffed, falling back against his pillows, careful to not wake the child from his slumber.
“Well, the sooner the better; you can tell Forest is antsy already to get home. He’s sick of what the hospital food has done to his body.” I patted my lover on the shoulder to comfort him, but instead he gave me a playfully dirty glare.
“Jason!” He blushed, pouting again.
“Don’t worry, it shouldn’t take any longer than an hour to get the information in order and you three out the door. The faster we start, the faster you’ll no longer be trapped within these four walls.”
I sat back down in my chair after pulling it a bit closer towards Forest and Willow. The doctor quickly went over the forms, but I was only halfway paying attention. All I could think about was that we would finally be able to go back home. Rather, our temporary home.
I could hear Forest sigh, seeming much more content as we pulled up into the gravelly driveway. Ever since I had met him, he had stayed in and out of the hospital due to forces beyond his control. But I’ve been there with him through it all, for the most part. And I didn’t intend to ever leave his side. I’d do whatever it took to take care of him, and Willow.
After turning off the car, I reached around the driver’s seat to grab the small bag of Forest’s belongings and stepped out of the car with it in hand, Forest holding on to Willow.
“Watch your step,” I warned as we both paced up to the front steps of the home. It was pretty dark by the time we had finally gotten home.
“I know I’m tired, but I’m not tired enough to not pay attention to the steps when I’ve got Willow.” He grinned, hugging our swaddled pup against him even tighter. I nodded, but still watched him carefully from behind as we got up onto the porch. I fished into my pockets for the house key, moving to Forest’s side to unlock the door.
The door swung open, and Forest almost skipped into the house. But I stood there for a moment, staring at the threshold of the doorway. Where I had found Mark, my neighbor, not that long ago. I shuddered at the thought, remembering how he had looked in death. With a gulp, I continued in, shutting the door behind me and locking the handle. I made sure to fasten the deadbolt I had put on as well. A little extra protection that probably wouldn’t stop anyone from busting down the door if they really wanted to break in, but it gave me a better sense of security.
“It feels so good to be home.” Forest moved Willow from against his chest to rest in his arms, supporting his small head to keep the baby comforted in his sleep. Again, I looked over the baby’s face, how much he looked like his Omega, before staring at Forest without a word. He didn’t notice for the longest time, focused on our child that he rocked back and forth lovingly. He was going to make such a great parent. And I wanted to be just as great. For the both of them.
Finally, Forest looked up, surprised to see me staring so intently at him.
“What is it?” he asked. I couldn’t contain my smile, tilting my head towards the guest room where he used to sleep. “I’ve got a surprise for you.”
I ushered him forward towards the guest room door, swinging it open to reveal what I had been doing in my spare time.
“Oh Jason,” Forest whispered breathily.
The rocking crib was set up in the very center of the room, giving it plenty of space for us to maneuver around it, and the mattress that had been on the floor had been removed. I had hung up a few paintings around the room so it wouldn’t be so bare. Images of different animals painted in a childish depiction. But the glory was the large carousel I had to install into the ceiling, hanging just above the baby’s crib. It was difficult to set up, and I’d hate to admit how many times I’d fallen off the ladder. I’d used to get it up there when we’d soon have to take it down when we finally moved. But it was all worth it.
“You like it? I know it’s not much, but when we get a new house I’ll paint the walls and put more furniture in and—mmf!” My eyes widened as Forest pressed his lips into mine, carefully keeping Willow tucked safely between the both of us.
He dropped back down from standing on the tip of his toes to reach, revealing a smile that warmed my heart.
“I love it. I’m sure Willow will love it too.”
“There’s a baby monitor hooked onto the side of the crib, and one in our room so we can listen to him all night. I even set an alarm in our room so we can wake up every hour to check on him.”
“Have I told you how wonderful you are?” Forest approached the crib, pushing away the thin veils of curtains that hung from the carousel above, surrounding the baby’s new bed. He placed our baby inside, the bed already beginning to rock lightly at the motion. Willow wriggled a bit in his blanket, but his eyes remained shut. Our baby’s lips smacked briefly before he fell totally still, aside from the small raising and lowering of his chest with each breath.
“I think he approves.” I smiled, also approaching the crib, but remaining just behind Forest as I wrapped my arms around his waist from behind.
“I think so too,” Forest replied. “What did I do to deserve you?”
“Well, there’s one thing you can do. No, not that.” I blushed, seeing Forest glance at me from over his shoulder mischievously.
“Not that? You sure?” He hummed, turning his back to the crib while wrapped in my arms and placing his hands against my chest. “It’s been a long time.”
“It has... but... what I really wanted was for you to accompany me.”
“Huh? Where to?” His head tilted to the side curiously.
“To Mark’s funeral.”
“Oh. Yeah. Jason, I’m so sorry about what happened to him.”
“It’s not your fault. It’s Thorn’s. But he’s gone now, and hopefully for a long, long time. And Mark’s family is finally performing a memorial for him. Only his family went to the cremation.”
“Well, of course I’ll be there with you. And Willow too.” Forest nodded, before resting his head against my chest, sliding his hands around me to embrace me too.
“I’m so happy you’re home. I love you,” I whispered to him.
“And I love you.”