***Part Eight***
Word Count: 4,450

"I can't believe your parents let you go away for a weekend with me."

"Well, they didn't exactly," she said as she set her suitcase on the hotel's dresser.

"Come again?"

"Well, I wasn't exactly forthcoming with the fact anyone was coming with me."

"So, they what? Think you're just randomly making a trip to Champaign for the hell of it?"

"Well, obviously, I used the excuse that Northwestern was playing the Illini, and I have friends who go to school here."

"Claire," he said.

"They'd never have allowed it, John."

"Not allow it? You're an adult! If you weren't pregnant you'd be living on-campus and they'd never know!"

"Well, if I wasn't pregnant a lot of things would probably be different," she said.

"Yeah, like me checking into a hotel room with you in Champaign."

"Probably," she said with a shrug. "The fact remains, I'm living in their house and they're going to be babysitting. A lot, John, not just once in a while. We're talking every day for years. I have to abide by their rules. That's why I paid for the room, so if they call here it's under my name."

"Yeah, I'm paying you back."

"It's not important."

"To you!"

"John, we have an entire weekend alone together. Can we just have fun and not argue about my parents' rules?"

She had no idea it hadn't been so easy for him to get the weekend off. The only thing in his favor over some of the other guys who wanted Labor Day holiday weekend off was the fact he was always willing to work. If asked he came to sites early and stayed late, worked on his scheduled days off. He'd worked the Fourth of July. He'd even worked Memorial Day, but at that time he'd been new so he hadn't done much. His boss had taken those things into consideration over other guys who wanted every weekend off or had an excuse for the Fourth of July why they couldn't work.

"Yes, Princess, I can try it. I just think you need to be honest with them. If they find out, they're going to get upset that you're hiding things from them. They know we're seeing each other."

"Yes, but they don't know we're sleeping together."

"I beg to differ with you there, Princess."


"You're pregnant. You can't get much more proof of sex being had than that."

"One time! My mom knows about one time!"

He sat on the edge of the king sized bed, knowing they would enjoy the extra room it provided them over his usual full-sized one later. "They know I have my own place and I know I've told your dad that it's just a studio apartment so it's not like you come there for all of the excess space. We hang at your house to watch movies and TV so they're not morons."

"I know they aren't, but still."

"So, are we actually seeing anyone you know while here?"

She shrugged. "I have no plans to, no."

"Why not?"

She slid onto his lap, it was beginning to not be such an easy thing for her to do anymore he knew.

"Why he asks. I have an entire weekend with you. Just you. No parents. No work. Nothing."

"We're going to a football game."

"Okay, except a football game. My parents will ask about it, so we sort of have to go. And chances are, yes, maybe we'll run into people I know there. Do you realize in a few months we won't be able to do this? Get away for a weekend completely alone?"

He slid his hand under her shirt enough to rest his hand against her abdomen. Every once in a while he'd feel very slight movements. It astounded him, really. She'd been feeling them for a few weeks so she was more used to it than he was. It bothered her a little when he touched her there; he suspected she thought he'd be put off by it. He'd never had a reason to be around a pregnant woman before now but he'd seen pictures and heard enough to know that her stomach would get rounder. He hoped the comment he'd made about her name being a fat girl's name wasn't in the back of her mind.

"How are you, by the way?"

"Fine," she said, sliding a hand over his hand at her stomach.


"Yes," she said. She encouraged his hand up a bit.

"Your feet?"

"They're fine," she insisted. Fridays were a busy class day for her and while it wasn't outrageously hot it was still in the eighties. Then she'd sat in her car for hours between traffic going to get him and the drive down to Champaign.

"You sure?"

"I'm positive. You work on yours all day."

"Well, I'm not carrying my baby so I tend not to worry about my feet."

"They're fine."

"You sure you don't want dinner or something first?"

"We can order a pizza later."


"Sure. My parents used to do that for my brother and me sometimes. It was cheaper than room service and usually better than anything you get from the hotel restaurant."

"True," he said, sliding her shirt off. He tossed it onto the dresser behind her while she worked his up and off. She worked his belt and he chuckled a bit at her seeming desperation. "Princess, I don't know how to tell you this, but I'm pretty much a sure thing here."

"I know," she murmured, kissing him.

"Then what's the hurry?"

"Oh my God, it's been since Sunday. That's days ago and you're wondering what my hurry is?"

He chuckled. "I didn't realize days was a hardship."

"It should be against the law it's such a crime," she whispered, finding his ear and the spot on his neck they were both very fond of her kissing. He tugged on the hem of her skirt as she used a hand to stroke him to further attention. She shifted her hips a little once he had her skirt mostly out of the way.

He murmured softly when he slid a finger inside of her, feeling how wet she already was for him. He loved that about her. She pressed against his finger, encouraging him deeper inside of her. He slid a second one inside of her and she moaned softly against his shoulder.

"Not enough," she whispered.

"Well, you know how to drive, Princess, guide him in."

"I'm getting there," she said, doing just that.

"God, I needed that," she said later when they had managed to make it into the bed and under the covers.

"I guess so. What was so urgent?"

"I don't know!"

He chuckled softly, leaning into her a bit to kiss her.

"Hormones I guess, huh?"

"I guess so."

"I like your hormones raging out of control."

"You say that now."

"I have a feeling I'd say that any day." He let a fingertip slide along her belly. "How are we tonight?"

"We are fine."

"Yeah? I haven't felt anything."

"I think he's sleeping."

He chuckled softly. "I've got you doing it now."

"Doing what?"

"Saying he."

"Well, that was another reason I wanted to come away with you this weekend."

"What was?"

She shrugged. "I wanted to be alone with you when I told you that I found out what it was yesterday."

"You did?" He stopped his finger's gentle touch along her belly then. "It's a he?"

"Are you sure you want to know?"

"You just said he. I heard you. You've never done that before."

"I think I have."

"Not often."

"Maybe not so often."


"Sort of."

"Um, even I know enough about sex education, Princess, to know there is no sort of about it. It's either a he or a she."

"Well, you're sort of forgetting one possibility."

"Um," he said with a shake of his head. "You're stumping me."

"One of each."

She had to be joking.

"One of each?" he replied.

"Yes," she said cautiously.

"And are you happy about that?"

"Happy? I'm terrified, but, yeah, I guess," she said.

"You sure?"

She laughed, resting her head against the pillow. "Well, I don't have a choice, but it's certainly not worth getting upset about it. I didn't have a preference, not really, but I guess this way we don't have to worry about preferences."

"Well, hopefully the boy part of the duo will still look like you."

She reached to touch his hair and face. "Oh, I don't know, I think he'd be pretty lucky to look like you."

"Princess, you're delusional."

"No, I'm not. You said when I first told you that I would've gone to Andrew for good looks, but I don't think I would have." She shrugged. "I find you attractive."

"Why? I mean, thank you, I'm glad. Clearly, I find you attractive, but why?"

"I don't know. I do. I need a reason? I like your hair. I like your arms," she said. He scoffed. "The scars don't matter to me. Not on your arms, not anywhere. I feel safe when you have them around me and I know they'll be safe, too."

"I hope you're right."

"I know I am."

"So, a son and a daughter? That's what you're telling me."


"Did you tell your parents?"


"You going to?"

"I guess that's up to you."


"Do you want people to know?"

"Why would I care?"

She shrugged. "You might have an opinion. I found out kind of by accident."

"By accident?"

"They did the ultrasound. I wasn't sure I wanted to know. It was just to make sure everything is okay and that the due date is still on track. My doctor thought I seemed further along. The twins thing probably explains that the lab technician said."

"Oh, right. I suppose two need a little more space than one. And?"

"Well, he was pretty blatant about showing us he was a boy. She was a little more coy about it, but the tech seemed pretty confident there was no boy part hiding anywhere on her."

"Oh," he said with a chuckle. "Definitely my kid then."

"So, maybe you don't want people to know. I mean, I assume I'll have a shower and it'd be nice for people to know for gifts, but it's not critical. People got baby gifts before they were able to know if it was a boy or a girl."

"It's up to you. I really don't care. If you don't want people to know then don't tell them, it can be our secret. Your parents maybe should know. I know they're buying stuff, and I can certainly buy some stuff, too, like a second crib or whatever."

"Okay," she said, taking his hand that was resting at her belly and sliding it lower between her legs.

"Jesus, again? Already?"

"It's been days! You've been derelict in your duties."

"I've had work and class. You've had class! It's not my fault."

"We're going to have to figure something out," she whispered as he used his fingers on her.


"I don't know!"

"You can come over anytime you want."

"You have to sleep."

"Yeah, I do, but you could still come over and tuck me in. I mean, what a way to drift off to sleep." He sat up then, keeping the sheet around him as he reached for his jeans.

"Why do you do that?"

"Do what?" he asked.

"Cover yourself?"

"I don't know. I just do, I guess. Trying to be considerate, I guess. Why?"

"I don't know. I just noticed you do it. I like looking at you."



"You do it, too."

"Because I'm pregnant!"


She shrugged. He reached into his jeans pocket for a minute, turning his attention back to her. "So you can look at me and my permanent imperfections, but I can't look at you and your temporary condition. It's certainly not an imperfection."

"But it's different. You don't really want to see me."

"I don't?" he frowned. "Why would you say that?"

She bit her lower lip as he ran his hand along her belly. "I think you're beautiful this way. I'm not going to rush out and make you this way again, trust me on that and I can't say I've ever found a pregnant woman attractive or sexy before now."

"You better not have."

"Hmm," he said. "She has a jealous streak I guess."

"I guess at least if she was pregnant I wouldn't have to worry about her being skinny compared to me."

"You're pregnant not fat." He lifted his hand from her belly. "This is for you," he said, gesturing to the key resting over her belly.

"What is it?"

"A key to my apartment."

She frowned. "Why?"

"So you can let yourself in and out as you need to."

"But I don't come over if you're not there."

"I know, but if you really have a moment of desperation and it's late," he shrugged.

"Oh my God, you think I'm going to drive all the way there for sex in the middle of the night?"

"Why not? If you're horny enough I wouldn't complain getting woken up to you going down on me."

"You would like that."

"Well, of course I would. I'd certainly make it worth your while, too. You wouldn't?"

"Like you'd ever be able to."

"It's not my fault you're still living with your parents, Princess."

"God, I wish I wasn't."

"Your parents were going to pay your room and board, weren't they?"


"Too bad you can't talk them into an apartment for you and the babies."

"Then I'd have to drive to their house every day anyway to drop them off."

"I won't be working from January until April, maybe March."


"So I could babysit those months while you're in class."

"John," she said, taking the key. "That's a huge responsibility. You'll have school, too."

"You don't think I can handle it?"

"No, I think you can just fine. I'm just not sure you understand how time consuming it is, even with newborns."

"And you're an expert?"

"Well, no, but you mentioned possibly getting something during those months."

"Yeah? Something. Maybe. I don't have to if it would help you."

"I don't think my dad would do it. Not this year. Maybe next year when he sees I can balance school work, you, and being a mom."

"I suppose," he said softly.

"Would you move in with me?"

"What?" he asked, certain he was hearing things.

"You heard me."

"Are you actually asking? Or is this hypothetical?"

She ran a fingertip along a scar on his chest. God he hated that she saw all of his dad's handiwork. She never flinched or shied away from touching him, though. She rarely got a pitying look in her eyes either. Sometimes she did. He supposed that was inevitable and he tried not to get upset at the thought of her pitying him. She wasn't with him out of pity.

He wasn't entirely sure why she was with him, though. The babies – Christ, two of them - coming would change things, good or bad, he wasn't sure.

"I think I'm asking."

"Chicks like you don't have live-in boyfriends, Claire."

"Chicks like me don't get pregnant before high school graduation either," she shrugged. "It happened."

"Your parents would have a fit. I mean, you won't even tell them we're going away for the weekend and you think you're going to be comfortable telling them we're cohabitating? Or weren't you going to tell them?"

"I'd tell them that."

He regarded her. "Why?"

"Why what?"

"Why would you want to live with me?"

She frowned. "I'm sorry. Why wouldn't I? We're going to have children together, two of them. Wouldn't it be better for them to have two parents living together instead of seeing me every day and you when you are able to? They'll see my parents more than you. Is that what you want?"

"We'd make it work somehow. I don't want you living with me because of them, Claire."

"Well, we wouldn't be here right now if it weren't for them, so it's a little late for worrying about either of us doing things because of them. Our whole lives from that day forward have been changed because of them."

"Yeah, well, your parents would never forgive me."

"For what?"

"Once is an accident. And, yeah, you're right, it's easy for them when we go to my place to pretend we're doing whatever it is they have in their heads we're doing. If we were living together there'd be no doubt."


"You deserve better than that."

"Then what? We're having sex now. What difference does it make if it's while living together?"

"Because it's just different. It's permanent or at least the suggestion of permanence. You know, making an attempt at going the distance."

"Ah," she said, looking away then. Not before he saw tears in her eyes, though.

"What ah?"

"I thought it was just marriage you were opposed to. I didn't realize."

He frowned. "Didn't realize what?"

"Never mind. Nothing. Forget it. I'll stay with my parents. It'll be fine."

"Claire," he said.

"No, just forget I asked. It was a dumb idea." She turned onto her side, facing away from him, setting his key on the nightstand on the other side of her. She didn't turn back.


"I'm fine, John," she whispered, but she was lying. Never in their time together since July had she turned away from him and stayed that way. She always ended up facing him after a few seconds as if the idea of being even that far apart bothered her on some level. He'd never admitted how good that made him feel, until now when she wasn't doing it.

"You hungry?"

"No," she said.

"You mentioned pizza."

"You can order one if you want. I'm fine."

"Claire, you're taking what I said wrong."

"I'm not. It's fine. I mean Woody Allen and Mia Farrow have kids together and don't live together, so obviously people do it. It seems to work for them just fine."

"Wow. Really? You come up with Woody Allen at a time like this?"

"A time like what?"

"Talking about our future."

"What future? If you don't even want to live with me there is no future. I guess I thought…"


"Nothing," she slid out of the bed then.

She went to the bathroom and closed the door. He heard the sink run and then a few minutes later the shower.


What was he supposed to do?

He had no idea.

He slid out of bed after a few minutes turned into ten. She wasn't prone to long showers, preferring baths if she wanted a longer time. He didn't have a tub in his apartment, but he knew she took them because she told him.

"God, I can't even take a shower?"

"You're avoiding me."

"Well, yeah," she said, and he realized by where her voice was coming from that she wasn't standing in the shower but sitting in the tub just with the shower on instead of running a bath.

"Why exactly? You won't even hear me out."

"What's to hear? What were you planning exactly? After they're born going back to a different girl every day?"

"Claire, listen to yourself. You know that's not my plan. I told you I wanted you to go on the pill."

"I'm not going on the pill if you're going to be sleeping around!"

"I have absolutely no plans on sleeping with anyone but you. Well, the three of you I guess, I mean, you know our kids there."

"Then what?"

"It's not what you're thinking."

"Well, you'd better tell me what I'm supposed to be thinking because right now I'm thinking you're kind of an asshole and that I'd like to go back home."

"Kind of is better than a full-fledged one, I guess."

"This isn't funny."

"It kind of is, Princess. Because I was going to give us time to adjust to being parents and ensuring once they're here we still get along. I mean, it's possible we won't. I don't want to repeat my parents' mistake, Claire."

"I know," she whispered, loud enough for him to hear, though.

"I mean, are we in any hurry?"

"No, I guess not, I just thought it'd be nice to live together like a family."

"It would. I'm not saying it wouldn't. I just don't want to do it because of them. I was going to wait a while. A year, maybe two at most. I'd like to be able to save up money so we can afford a nice place, somewhere I can afford without your parents' help but with good schools because we have to think about that stuff. I want to provide for you and them. Do you understand that? If your parents want to help, that's great because they're the only grandparents they'll ever know, but I'm not going to live off your parents' handouts. Ever. I've come too far to have people saying shit like that about me. About you. About us. I'm surprised you'd want that."

"People wouldn't…"

"Talk? Come on, Claire, you know damned well they would. They'd think I did it on purpose so I got an in to living like a king. Of all the girls I could've gotten pregnant the one with financial means is the one that it happens to."

"What are you saying?"

"It's not that I don't want to live with you. You don't think it eats me up inside that I won't see them every day? Night classes are great for working around my schedule, but it also means for the three months I'm still working I have to figure out how to do homework and still see you guys. Sure, living with you would be a hell of a lot easier, but I'm not taking the easy way for us."

She'd turned the water off but still hadn't opened the shower curtain.

"I don't know how much more permanent I can be with someone, Claire. I told you you're my girlfriend. I've never said that about anyone."

"I know," she murmured.

"I'm not walking away from you. I'm not going to start sleeping with other people."

"How do you know that?"

"Because I don't want other people!"

"Yeah, but two of them. I'm going to get huge and have stretch marks and…"

"So?" He drew the shower curtain back and looked at her. "For real? You think I, of all people, am going to judge some stretch marks from you having my kids? Kids, Claire. Listen to yourself and look at me. Do you realize you're the only person I've been completely unclothed with?"

"But you said…"

"Oh God, see, I knew that comment was going to come back to haunt me at some point during this pregnancy. You're not fat, Claire. You're not going to be fat. I was trying to get a rise out of you. If I'd had any inkling we'd be here today in this situation I wouldn't have said it."

He drew a towel from the bar on the wall and handed it to her.

"Now come on before you freeze to death on me. I'd have a hard time explaining that one to your parents since they don't know I'm here with you."

"I didn't want them to tell me I couldn't come."

"I know, Princess," he said as she stood. He draped the towel around her. "I'm not mad."


"This hormone stuff makes you somewhat irrational some days."

She laughed softly at that.

"Yeah, it does."

"I'm still here, though. You see that, right? I haven't run away."

"And knowing there's two of them?"

"Your choice in the word terrified probably doesn't come close to what I'm feeling right now, but we'll make it work. I'll just need to work lots and lots of overtime. You couldn't have done two of the same sex so they could wear the same clothes?"

"I didn't have anything to do with it! It's you. Your chromosomes or whatever they're called are the ones who decided the sex."

He drew her to him and kissed her. "I was teasing, Princess. We'll have two, and they'll both be beautiful like their mother so I'm not worried."

"Did you still want pizza?"

"Yes! Sex and arguing with you take a lot out of me."

"Ha ha."

"You need to do me one favor, Princess."


"Stop with the other women talk. It kills me to hear you think that's a possibility. It's new to me this relationship stuff, but I'm doing my best, having my past thrown back at me doesn't help assure me I'm succeeding at doing my best."

"I'm sorry. I just wonder sometimes."

"Nothing to wonder about. I'm here, I'm invested in you, them, and us. It's not going to be perfect, I know that. The year or two I was going to take was to be sure that when we do make that step, living together, we're getting along and everything. People may judge us, but I think they'll judge us a lot better knowing when we do end up together for good it's for the right reasons instead of you being pregnant."

"I know."

"And you don't have to use the key just to come over for sex. If you just want to come over to see me that's fine, too. I just figured it was about time you had a key. You there studying when I come home from class is a nice idea."


"Yes," he admitted. "Not as spacious as your house, I realize, but I'm hoping to be able to get at least a one bedroom place when my lease is up in June."

"I know."

"So, supreme pizza?"

"Sounds delicious."

He grabbed the phone book. "Good. What are you doing?"

"Getting dressed," she replied.


"To eat."

"Hmm, I was kind of hoping that wouldn't happen until we have to leave for breakfast tomorrow morning."

"You want me to eat naked?"

"Princess, I want you to do everything naked for the rest of my life."

"You're crazy."

"Yeah, well, if I am it's your fault. Now get back in bed and quit distracting me from ordering food for you guys."


He chuckled softly, but she slid back into bed and reached for his back while he paged through the yellow pages for a pizza place to deliver to them.

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