Erik has wanted to be a father for as long as he can remember -- but now that the day is finally here, he's terrified. Surely a ham-fisted Viking of a man like Erik shouldn't be allowed to handle things as tiny and delicate as his new baby girl?
But it's not just his daughter that's come into Erik's world. His partner has finally returned too. After nine months of watching Andreas struggle with the mental and physical toll of being a man and being pregnant at the same time, the birth of their daughter is both a beginning and an ending.
Erik is a father for the first time -- but not everything that comes next is new.
“I have two perfect days in my whole life,” Erik whispered, shifting her a little higher in his arms to press a kiss to her forehead. “The first was meeting your daddy. And the second was meeting you.”
“That's very sweet,” a voice said.
Erik looked up with a guilty grin. Andreas stood in the bedroom doorway in his dressing gown, curls damp and fluffy from the bath. He was smiling faintly, even if there was a bit of a teasing edge to it.
“She'll be a nightmare to settle down for the night if you keep cuddling her for hours,” he chided gently, climbing up onto the bed beside Erik. Despite the scolding, he made no attempt to take her, inside sliding an arm under Erik's and cosying into his side. He was warm and smelled of the muscle soak bath crème.
“Can't help it,” Erik said, stroking her hand again. Beatriz wrinkled her nose and squirmed against his arm. “She's amazing.”
“And going to start crying soon if you don't set her down to sleep,” Andreas said.
“Give her here and I'll --”
“No, I got her,” Erik said peaceably, heaving himself off the bed carefully. Beatriz grizzled and began to whine, wriggling and flailing her tiny fists. “I know, sweetie, I know. One crib coming right up. You going to be a good girl tonight and let me and Daddy get some sleep?”
He talked to her all the way through settling her down in her crib at the foot of the bed. She began to whimper, screwing up her face in a sharp wail the first time he tried, but after a couple of turns of the room with her yellow blanket, he was permitted to put her down. He hovered there for a long minute, just staring, until Andreas' laugh disturbed him.
“C'mon,” he said. “Lights out, or she'll wake up again.”
“Okay, okay ...”
“You on duty tonight, or me?”
“I've got it,” Erik said, sliding into bed. The lamp on the bedside table was snuffed out, and in the dark, he sighed and reached out for the warm body on the other side of the bed. He found pyjama bottoms and no shirt, and wrapped both arms firmly around Andreas' chest and squeezed until he squeaked.
“Alright, love you too.”
A snort. “Te quiero. I keep telling you.”
“Whatever,” Erik said, drawing his knees up behind Andreas'.
A hand found his own under the duvet and squeezed.
“Heard every word.”
Erik smiled. “Yeah, well. Meant it.”
“She'll be fine, you know.”
“Yep. You might not be, when she hits her teens and is slamming doors and screaming she hates us through the walls, but she will.”
“Nope, pretending that day will never come,” Erik said loftily, then burrowed until he could kiss Andreas' scalp through the mess of curls. “I know I'm being a bit daft --”
“It's not daft, it's sweet.”
“-- but when you came along, I was starting to get desperate. I was starting to get scared I'd never find this. That I'd never get to have my family. And now she's here, and you're here, and I hope you have a master get-out plan if you want to bail because no way am I letting go.”
Andreas laughed, turning over and dragging Erik's arm down around him like a blanket. “Too lazy. And too tired. Go to sleep, because you know she'll be howling for a feed by two in the morning, and you agreed to do it.”
Erik smiled, hauling Andreas closer in one last hug, nuzzling his shoulder, before sighing and relaxing.
Short-term plan, nap and then feed the baby again.
Maybe he had to figure out if the next big event was a wedding, or another baby.