Thursday, November 30, 2017

The Consolation Prize—Chapter 25


When Pete rounded the corner, he was bowled over with the unexpected scene in front of him. He was entirely out of breath, drenched in sweat, downright exhausted, and his first thought was that he was hallucinating—simply because he wanted it to be true. But the vision remained as he stood in his wrinkled suit and untucked dress shirt and rubbed both of his twitching eyes hard with the heels of his hands—the fingers of which boasted nails that were more bitten down than ever. The flight had been an incredibly long six hours. But, much to his thrill, when he opened his eyes, he saw that Will’s chair was still parked next to the end of a row of seats, his arm still remained firmly around Scottie’s shoulders, his hand was securely around hers resting in his lap, her head was definitely planted on his shoulder, her mess of curls covering half his chest, and his head was undoubtedly and delicately propped against hers. Both of their eyes were closed, and their even breathing indicated that they weren’t quite aware they were being watched at the moment.

Pete’s heart felt like it might burst. He had a newborn, healthy baby boy, and it appeared, for the time being, his brother, who’d been down the rabbit hole and back, had found his way home to the woman he loved. And by the serenity on Scottie’s face, it was absolutely mutual.

He grasped his brother’s shoulder and carefully shook. He opened his eyes, his face shifting quickly from sleep to confusion to recognition to excitement at seeing Pete. 

“Go home,” Pete whispered, patting him on the back. “Thank you for being here. I don’t know what I would have done without you and Scottie.” Will flinched at the sound of her name and turned, his eyes wide, as if seeing her for the first time. He softened and smiled wearily, shaking her lightly and squeezing her hand.

“We’re family, Pete,” Will replied as Scottie started to rouse. “Anything for family.” Scottie stood to hug Pete hard. Then Will pulled him down for one, too.

“Congratulations. You’re the father of a beautiful baby boy.”

“He’s perfect,” Scottie added, her smile brighter than the fluorescent lights overhead. It simultaneously felt like the middle of the day and the middle of the night, and it was disorienting. Will looked at his watch and was surprised to see that it was around 10pm. He rolled his shoulders back and stretched his arms behind him. Pete was glowing, despite the heavy bags under his eyes.

“Go see your girl,” Will encouraged him, giving him a sideways push on the hip. Pete smiled.

“And your guy,” Scottie added, sliding in perfectly. Will’s chest opened up at the sound of her voice and normalness of hearing it tacked onto his own.

“Okay,” Pete nodded, smoothing his jacket and tucking in his shirt. “How do I look?” he asked nervously.

“Like an absolute idiot. Lise just gave birth to a human baby, she doesn’t give a shit if your shirt is wrinkled. Go.” Will was laughing as Pete put his hands up in dramatized guilt to mask real embarrassment. “Call us if you need anything.” Scottie noticed and appreciated Will’s unceremonious use of the word “us.”

“Okay, okay, okay!” he agreed, picking up his duffle bag and turning toward to locked door to the maternity ward. He buzzed and after a moment, was ushered in.

Silence, heavy and daunting, fell as they were left alone again, in the post reconciliation and sleep haze. Scottie bit her lip, unsure of what to say. Will, however, didn’t hesitate. His instinct and deep, deep, desire was to push forward at all costs, so he didn’t think before he spoke.

“Come over. We can eat, or we can talk, or we can eat and talk, or eat while we talk, or we can sleep, or maybe sleep together, or just sleep next to each other, or all of those things.” He was rambling all of a sudden. And this, he ridiculed himself in his head, is why it was often better to think before speaking, especially in high stakes situations. Scottie’s smile was wide and bright as it curled around her face.

“All of those things,” she replied tenderly, “please.”

<> 

Will turned his key in the lock, still reeling from the fact that Scottie had moved less than three blocks away. She’d exclaimed when Will had leaned forward through the cab window and spouted off his new address. Her eyes were wide and iridescent in the light of the passing street lamps as she shared her own address, and how much she loved the neighborhood, where she’d been spending time, and how long she’d been there.

“I can’t believe the only time we ran into each other,” she started quickly, but as the sentence progressed her string of words slowed almost to a halt. “Was that night at Brooklyn Social.” Will smiled knowingly, feeling slightly self-conscious but oddly confident at the same time. Whether or not she was still with that able-bodied Clark Kent didn’t seem to matter. She was heading home with him and she’d all but said sex was in the cards. As if reading his mind, Scottie looked down at her hands and then back at him, holding his stare tight. They’d had an entire conversation in that gaze, and she didn’t need to say what she said next, but she did.

“We aren’t together anymore. We never really were. A couple of dates. He was a friend of Max’s. Max thought I, well, I guess he thought I needed a push to get back out there.” She shrugged because she didn’t really want to go into the state of her mental health following their breakup. Not quite yet. They’d get there one day—she knew that—but today didn’t feel like that day. And Will, being the receptive and perceptive dreamboat that he was, just reached for her hand and pulled her closer to him. She rested her head on his shoulder and let herself breathe easy—easier than she had since December. She was learning to put more faith in people, and Will had taught her that.

 Pushing himself over the threshold of his apartment, Will felt a strange sense of deja vu ripple through him. He knew they’d never actually been here before, but at the same time they had. The sense of comfort they’d always had with each other was present, but there was a crackling anticipation and a question mark. His mood turned slippery and he hesitated, unsure of what do next. He had so much he wanted to ask her. He had so much he wanted to say to her. He had so much he wanted to do to her. But instead he sat, paralyzed with indecision.

“Mr. Nash?” she asked, her voice sexy and low. Will’s breath hitched and he felt slightly off kilter. Pivoting his chair, he turned to face her. The apartment was dark, with some light filtering in through the windows. It gave her an eerie glow, like she wasn’t of this world. He didn’t move to flip the light switch.

“Let me get you a drink,” he said—he also wanted to pop a Viagra in the bathroom, just in case. She smiled and stepped toward him, placing her lips directly and delicately on his.

“Okay,” she whispered, her breath hot, then swayed sideways and walked past him into the living room. Sitting on his couch—the same one from the place he’d shared with Pete—Scottie was overcome with the familiarity of it all. She didn’t want to get ahead of herself. All she wanted was this to be the beginning of the rest of her life with him. But what was he thinking? A one-night stand? She shivered at the thought, appreciating the cocoon of darkness. It kept things in limbo—foggy and grey. No decisions had to be made. Those kinds of things could be discussed with the daylight.

Will appeared suddenly in her peripheral vision, his glide smooth but quieter than she remembered. Looking him up and down she noticed something major had changed.

"You got a new chair?” she asked, the look of surprise and pitch of her voice giving her away immediately. Will smiled looked down at his feet self-consciously.

“I did, yeah,” he replied, nodding. “It was time.”

“How long have you had the new one?” she asked, feeling weirdly sad that she hadn’t been there with him when he made this decision. It was part of him, and she’d missed it.

“About, a month actually,” he answered, looking up at the ceiling self-consciously for a second considering, “yeah, I think a month.”

“It’s beautiful,” she breathed. And it was. It was still all black, but with even cleaner lines and a sleeker profile than his previous chair had been. It looked incredibly light, and didn’t have as many metal spokes as before, but simply six clusters of three spokes each with space in between. It seemed to even fit him better. Every inch of it seemed considered and intentional. Will chuckled and handed her one of the beers he’d situated between his legs.

“Thanks, its Italian,” he offered, as he looked down and sideways at it, appreciating how well it fit him and how quickly he’d adapted to it. “I had my eye on it for a while.”

“How does it ride?” she prodded coyly, taking a sip of her beer.

“Like a goddamn Italian sports car,” he joked, taking a sip of his beer. Scottie’s laugh was such a welcome sound to his ears that he almost choked on the liquid. Coughing, he leaned over slightly and recovered. He could feel her eyes on his.

“It’s oddly, sexy,” Scottie alleged, furrowing her brow as she regarded him.

“Is that so?” Will probed, wheeling himself slightly closer to her, trying to decide if he should transfer or stay put, considering how sexy she seemed to find him in his new wheelchair.

“It wouldn’t be with anyone else in it, but,” she shrugged and took a sip. Will smirked and reached for her hand. She pulled him directly to her until their legs were touching. They both took another sip of beer without breaking eye contact. Scottie leaned forward and took Will’s beer from him, placing both bottles on the end table to her right. Half of his face was hidden by shadows, but she saw his gaze flicker to the couch as he leaned toward it to begin his transfer. 

“No,” she whispered, “don’t.”

“Okay.” Will froze as her request hung in the air.  

“I can’t wait. Not a second longer,” she breathed.

“Okay,” he granted, smiling mischievously. She put her arms up straight in the air and challenged him, a half smile quirking her lips. He reached forward, pulling her coffee-stained t-shirt over her head. Tossing it behind him he reached around her lithe body and unhooked her bra with one hand. It fell away, revealing the perfect breasts he’d missed so much. He placed both of his hands on them with an air of reverence.

“Your turn,” she mouthed and leaned forward to lift his shirt over his head. Starting at his neck, her eyes traveled all the way down to the top of his pants, reveling in every rock-hard delicious inch of him. She then stood, kicked off her shoes, and slowly shimmied out of her jeans and thong.

“You’re the most beautiful thing I’ve ever fucking seen,” Will exhaled before he could stop himself. The words took on a life of their own. He reached for her hips and pulled her closer to him, kissing her between her legs first gently, then more hungrily. She was so incredibly wet as she moaned and bucked against him.

“Not yet,” she managed, “I don’t want to finish yet.” She pulled away, sitting back down on the couch on her knees.

“Get over here then.” He undid the button on his jeans and unzipped the fly, then lifted himself up with his hands just enough. Scottie folded herself forward and grabbed the waistband, tugging his jeans and briefs down his legs until they bunched at his ankles. But instead of sliding them off his feet, she pushed him back away from the couch and got down on her knees in front of him. She was completely naked, vulnerable and laid bare as she leaned forward to kiss his right thigh, then his left. She took him in her mouth and used her hand to stroke him as she went. Watching her was incredibly erotic, his upper body shivered, goosebumps prickling down his arm. He could feel the heat in his neck. He might not be able to sense the direct contact, but his body was clearly experiencing the pleasure in the best way it could. He realized he’d grown hard in her mouth as she slid off him, returning her lips to his right thigh. Alternating between his legs, she left a trail of kisses across almost every inch of them, all the way down to his feet as she lifted them to free them from the bundle of clothing, placing them carefully, just as he liked them, back on the footplate. He went red with the tenderness of it all, his heart aching for Scottie in a way that it never had before. He couldn’t believe he almost let her go. The despair of losing her was so close and so familiar he had to actively bat it away.

“What?” he asked her, as she stood, her gaze rising as she did, her mouth slightly open, eyes glassy. She smiled sadly and shook her head. He was so sexy—all of him—and she’d thought she’d never see him ever again. Swallowing hard, and hoping against hope that this was the last and only man she’d ever sleep with again, she slid gingerly over him, taking his full length inside her. He remained hard as she slid down and onto his lap, wrapping her legs around the barely there backrest of his new chair. Her toes brushed his lower back, tickling the extra sensitive skin north and south of the border and Will quaked wonderfully, leaning into her as she pressed up and down with her hands on his pushrims. He slid his hands under her thighs and helped to lift her up and down, going faster and faster until she started to shudder and gasp. He found her clitoris and worked it gently as she moved. She tugged at his ears with her teeth, using her tongue to trace edges. He wasn’t able to come, but he still felt when he’d reached his peak—it was just different, a pressure and heat in his chest and a release throughout his body as all his muscles—functioning and nonfunctioning—seemed to release. His knee started spasming as Scottie came, loud and beautiful.

They remained there, intertwined with each other, fitting into each other’s nooks and crannies like they’d been sculpted as complements. Will kissed the top of Scottie’s head, inhaling the scent of her—sharp and peppery, with a saltiness that only came after physical exertion. She had her arms wrapped around his neck and her legs were still roping his torso, keeping it tight against her.
                 
“Bed?” she asked quietly.

“Pizza?” Will countered with a smirk. He realized, quite suddenly, how hungry he was. She returned his expression and nodded.

“Pizza in bed,” Scottie suggested.

“Good compromise,” Will chuckled as he rolled them backwards and pivoted. “Don’t move a muscle. I’ve got you.”

“I’ve got you, too,” she promised, kissing him on the neck with swollen lips grazing his sweat slick skin. She then laid her head on his shoulder and tightened her grip on him, her smooth hands sliding up and down his powerful back as they moved across the apartment as one.

<> 

The next morning came as next mornings often do—quickly, harshly, and brightly. Scottie’s eyes fluttered open and she had to take a moment to orient herself. The light was still cold, so it must have been early, but she was wide awake and humming—and she was in Will’s bed. Will’s. Bed.

Fuck.

Taking a deep breath she closed her eyes again and relished the feel of his sheets—the same sheet’s he’d had when she’d woken up a year ago in the same place, hungover as all hell, unsure of where she was, assuming it was Queens, with no recollection of the man who’d carried her home. She was knocked sideways with how far she’d come since then.

The mattress creaked as Will stirred. With flushed cheeks, Scottie rolled over to face him, their faces, once she’d settled, only inches from one another.

“Hi,” she whispered through swollen lips.

“Hi,” he reciprocated, reaching for her face. His rough hand cupped her cheek then brushed her hair behind her ear. Silence wrapped them up, but it wasn’t awkward. It was comfortable and wanted. Scottie closed her eyes and took a deep cleansing breath. It felt like this was more than a one-time thing. The energy between them was palpable and she wanted it to last forever, but she wouldn’t put herself out there. She couldn’t. It had to be him.

Pulling her toward him, Will tucked her head under his own and pressed his nose into her hair. The smell of her hadn’t changed at all and his shame rushed at him so fast and angry that he lost his breath for a second.

“I’m so sorry,” he exhaled. Scottie tensed against him, and he held her tighter in response, pressing every inch of her against him. He wished he could feel her legs intertwined with his, but just knowing they were there was enough.

“I should have never doubted you,” Will whispered. Scottie inhaled sharply, but stayed quiet. She didn’t know what to say, and she wanted to give him the space to express what he needed to—what she needed him to.

“I know you never cheated on me,” he continued. “I just couldn’t handle everything. Finding out what Cory had done,” he hesitated and shuddered. It was now Scottie’s turn to pull him closer.  He leaned into her, fitting into the curves of her body.

“Finding out what he had done, what Kristin had done, it gutted me. I was hollow. I had nothing left to give.” Scottie scrunched her eyes closed and felt the oppressive heat of a rising sob unrelenting against her eyelids, her throat, her chest.

“And finding out you’d been with my friend without telling me. You’d been with this person that put me in this fucking chair. This person that conspired with the woman I thought I’d marry. This person who’d kept it all from me?” He muffled a choked sigh, the pain unfurling like fiery ribbons in front of them. “It was too much. It was just too much.”

“I forgive you,” Scottie heard herself say, it rose out of her like a knee jerk reaction, and the second it was real and vibrating in the air, she knew it was true.

“That’s the interesting thing. It was easier to forgive Cory and Kristin than it was to forgive myself. I spent the better part of a decade trying to make peace with myself. And when I think of all that wasted anguish and wasted time it makes me sick. If I had known it was Cory behind the wheel from the beginning, I could have moved forward so much sooner. I could have found a way to love this altered version of me rather than resenting it.”

“Will,” Scottie cooed as she traced the scar down his spine, intimately feeling the bumpy raised line that had defined so much of his life.

“I could have been better for you,” he exhaled with sorrow.

“Stop.”

“No, I…I…I…should have been better for you,” he stuttered so quietly, Scottie barely heard it. Turning her head, she looked up at him as her heart pounded against her rib cage. His eyes were glassy, and his lower lip was quivering.

“Will.” She’d only said his name but a thousand words passed between them. All the days they’d been apart melted into a blurry mess in the background. He sighed and pressed her against him again. She savored the sensation of his smooth skin against her cheek.

“If I can’t be everything for you physically, then I need to be everything for you emotionally, mentally, spiritually…I don’t want to be damaged goods,” he continued as a salty tear slipped down his cheek. Scottie, pulled back from his grasp and considered him. Pressing her thumb into his skin she wiped the rogue droplet away, her dark nail polish glinting in the light from the window.

“Will,” she whispered, “we’re all damaged goods.” He exhaled and closed his eyes, kissing her on the top of the head. “I love you,” she continued without a hitch, “always will. No matter what damage you think’s been done.”

He parsed her words and her tone with precision. She meant what she was saying. And he was struck with the sudden and ironclad knowledge that he wasn’t her consolation prize. He was her everything. She would choose him every day, over everyone else, for the rest of her life. And he would choose her.

“I love you too,” he said after a long moment. Scottie didn’t reply, and they laid in the warm bed, holding each other as time stretched and pulled around them. When Will finally spoke again, he had no idea how long they’d been like that, but he didn’t want to move.

“Be my girlfriend again,” Will asked.

“Yes,” Scottie replied.

“Be my family,” he plead without desperation, there was only warmth and love in his voice.

“I already am,” she answered without thinking.

“Be my wife,” he persisted without skipping a beat. Scottie heard the words and let them ruminate for a second with glorious wonder.

“Tell me when and where,” she replied finally and resolutely, glancing up at his baby blues. He drew her up to his face and kissed her with the kind of passion she’d missed like oxygen.

He considered holding back on what he was about to say, but couldn't help himself. 

"Today,” he rasped when he pulled away, his hot breath mingling with hers.“City hall.” 

Scottie gave into the grin she’d been saving from him ever since he closed the door on the crumbling heap she’d been all those months ago. She scooted up so their noses were lightly touching and the only thing she could see were his perfect wild eyes. Eyes she never wanted to look away from. This was her person and the joy she felt rushing through her at a clip was beginning to spill out of every crevice. She couldn’t hold it in any longer as she reached for his face with both hands, pressing her palms against the warmth of his cheeks.

“I better find myself a dress, then Mr. Nash.”


Monday, November 27, 2017

New Devo Diary

Here is your post Thanksgiving update to Devo Diary. In this chapter, an unexpected connection with a friend, more opera rehearsals, more BDSM club events, and oh my god, the first appearance of The Mantis! You guys, this is what you have been waiting for.
Read on...
Devo Diary Chapter 34: Brenno the Baritone

Table of Contents

Sunday, November 26, 2017

Santa Crush Thanksgiving update!

So the encouragement in the last post inspired me to get out a little Thanksgiving update of Santa Crush.  Callie still has no idea what Dean's secret is.  Will she find out when she asks him to lunch?

Chapter 3

The whole story from the beginning....

Thursday, November 23, 2017

The Consolation Prize—Chapter 24

Scottie and Lise had stayed away from each other at first. Out of shock perhaps, maybe shame on Scottie’s part, and discretion on Lise’s. But when it all came down to it, Lise and Scottie had become incredibly good friends outside of their relationship with the Nash brothers. And what started as texts, morphed into phone calls, and then clandestine dates. Pete knew they were still seeing each other, but neither Lise nor Pete had mentioned it to Will. Not that Will would have been mad, but it just felt like unnecessary information that Will didn’t quite need at the moment. Neither Lise nor Scottie were naïve enough to believe that their friendship wouldn’t be complicated because of Scottie and Will’s breakup, but both were determined to maintain a strong relationship, despite the obvious obstacles. 

That’s why when Scottie picked up her phone on a Wednesday morning on her way to a meeting in downtown Brooklyn, balancing a to-go cup of coffee in one hand, her purse and jean jacket in the other, and shoved it in between her shoulder and ear, she didn’t expect there to be anything wrong. But there was, and Scottie was in a cab with spilled coffee all down her shirt before she could even blink. 


<>

Lise was at New York Presbyterian in Lower Manhattan, so it didn’t take Scottie too long to get there. It was pretty much a straight shot over the Brooklyn Bridge, but she was reminded of the cab ride she’d taken almost a year earlier when she’d just gotten back to New York. So much had happened since then, and despite losing Will, she was in a better place than she’d been in a very long time. She was wearing shoes, and not drinking gin out of little airplane bottles, and was rushing to be there for someone whom she cared deeply. She might not have been out of the woods, but as she willingly and gladly tipped 20% to the cabbie who hadn’t stopped so short she banged her face on the divider, she couldn’t help but think she was on her way, and that was encouraging. 

Hurrying through the double doors, Scottie gave the receptionist Lise’s full name and stood buzzing as the woman typed Lise Catherine Lee into the system. She had to spell out the entire thing as she went and it was infuriatingly slow. The woman hummed a moment as it loaded then looked Scottie up and down. Her white t-shirt had a coffee stain from collar to bottom hem. 

“I was rushing,” she offered, slightly irritated. The woman smiled and nodded, tapping her nails on the counter. 

“Okay, it looks like she’s in the maternity ward. 4th Floor, take a right out of the south elevators. Depending on her directive they might not let you see her. She’s in labor.” 

“What?” Scottie deadpanned, eyes wide. “But it’s too early.” Her voice was strained and desperate, as if arguing with the receptionist could possibly change the course of events. Lise still had about five weeks left. When Scottie had answered Lise’s call, she’d been panicked, but was trying to keep her tone even and calm. Scottie could hear her doing breathing exercises as she hung up. Lise had called a car and rushed herself there as a precaution because she’d had some significant pain in the last few weeks. The doctor assured her that the cramps were simply false labor, and put her on bed rest for the remainder of the pregnancy. She assumed it was just another bout of pain and she’d be sent home in no time, but she didn’t want to take any chances. Pete was in London again—supposed to be through Friday. It was supposed to be his last big trip before the baby. He didn’t want to cut it any closer…just in case. 

“Look, I’m just telling you what it says in the system, mam,” the receptionist pushed back lazily, fluffing her overbrushed mousy brown hair as she talked. “Go upstairs and see for yourself.” Scottie nodded and gritted her teeth in frustration as she hurried to the elevators. 

When the doors opened, her eyes widened, and her heart thumped something powerful. A man in a wheelchair with dark hair and blue eyes looked up at her for a split second before pushing himself out of the cab inches from where Scottie stood planted. She couldn’t tear her eyes away, and in retrospect, she was sure he thought she was just another fucking rubbernecker, and she hated that. But at the time she simply couldn’t shake herself out of her stupor—mouth bone dry and adrenaline exploding through her. 
It wasn’t him. It was just a stranger, but she supposed, at this point, he might feel like a stranger, too. 


<>

Will used his arms to lift his body up, maneuvering himself, once he had the leverage, to sit on the edge of the pool, his unfeeling legs still bobbing with the flow of the water. His hip flexors were a little tighter than he liked, and his legs had hung down slightly with his strokes, not quite perpendicular, but enough for him to feel the drag. This was from all the hours he spent sitting, and he made a mental note to stretch them out before swimming next time. 

Removing the band around his quads and ankles, there to keep his legs securely together, he scooted back to his chair, which he’d left a few feet back from the edge of the pool. Two towels were folded neatly on the seat. He immediately grabbed one and toweled off as much of himself as he could. Then he set the other towel on the seat, so he wouldn’t get his chair all wet. Clicking the brakes, he pushed himself off the ground and up into the air—butt first. It was clumsier than intended, but his arms were exhausted, and they shook as he finally situated himself safely. Pulling his splayed legs toward him he arranged them on the foot plate, grabbed the other towel and set it on his lap, then unlocked his breaks, enjoying the smooth glide of the concrete floor under his wheels as he made his way into the locker room. 

He went right for the clean towels then over to the only handicapped shower stall. About 90% of the time it was empty, but on the rare occasion there was someone—always decidedly not handicapped—in there, Will had to sit and wait, damp, bored, and irritated. But then he’d always find himself going shy when it came to saying something. They most likely didn’t know, but wasn’t that really the issue? He felt like chickenshit for taking the easy way out just because he didn’t want to have to get into anything just to take a damn shower. He just wanted to be clean, and dry, and go home. Was that so terrible? Today he didn’t have to worry about it, because the shower was empty when he got there. 

After a few minutes in the sauna and a good rinse and scrub in the shower, Will got dressed next to his locker. It was more difficult to get dressed in his chair rather than on his bed, or flat surface, but he’d had plenty of experience, and he shimmied his jeans over his butt by rocking his hips back and forth with practiced movements. He slid socks over his limp feed and carefully fed them into his unlaced sneakers. He’d found the perfect tightness for the laces so the shoes would slide on and stay on, without being too tight. Finally he pulled a grey crewneck t-shit over his head he leaned over to grab his keys, wallet and phone. Pressing the button on his phone he realized, going quite cold quite suddenly, that he had 18 missed calls. 

Eight from Lise. Ten from Pete. Plus, five voicemails. Frantically he hit the callback button for his brother first, deciding that with ten calls he must have been at the epicenter of whatever was happening. 

“Thank God,” Pete’s voice boomed over the line so abruptly, Will had to hold the phone slightly away from his ear. 

“Pete, what’s going on? Is everyone okay?” Will asked, his mouth feeling incredibly dry and cracked. He swallowed in an attempt to get some saliva going.

“Where the hell have you been?” Pete yelled, his voice betraying he wasn’t angry, just desperate and shaken. 

“I was swimming, I didn’t have my phone. Talk to me, Pete, talk to me. What can I do?” Will asked, trying to appeal to his brother’s anguish rather than argue with him. Will could hear an announcer’s voice ring in the background, paging a passenger. Pete must have been at Heathrow. 

“You need to get to New York Presbyterian. Downtown. Right now. I’m getting on the first plane I can. Lise is in labor.” 


<>

The irony of parking in a handicapped parking spot at the hospital on the occasion when your twin brother’s girlfriend/baby mama was in premature labor wasn’t lost on Will as he assembled his chair with shaking hands, wishing he could just leap from the car and dart through the double doors, but if he could do that he’d be parked much—much—further away. 

He always hated being in hospitals, even before his accident. As he blew through the lobby to the receptionist’s desk, he was inundated with memories of when Wynn was little, and she split her chin open, or when his dad had hernia surgery, or when his mom had to go in for fluids after having a particularly nasty bout of pneumonia. And then there was the whole breaking his back fiasco, that led his entire family to loathe hospitals—since they spent a few nights not knowing if Will was going to make it and then countless months by his bedside then taking turns visiting him at the rehabilitation facility. They’d all had enough time with hospitals to last a lifetime. 

Will assumed that being in a wheelchair in a hospital full of people in wheelchairs would make it difficult to differentiate himself from the patients to the staff. But, as the woman told him where he could find Lise, he pushed efficiently through the halls toward the elevator bank, keeping his head down in an effort to avoid any strange looks or prying questions, or unnecessary obstacles. He realized, quite suddenly and happily, that no one was giving him a second look. He was passing through unnoticed, un-stared-at, and under the radar. It buoyed him as he got to the maternity ward. 

Pete was frantic and worried, but most of all, he was pissed at himself. He kept calling himself a fucking idiot for going to London so close to her due date. Will had tried to reassure him that it wasn’t that close, and that they had no idea she would go into labor early, but Pete was absolutely and utterly inconsolable. And now he was on a plane, most likely unreachable judging by how reliable airplane WiFi was, somewhere over the Atlantic. They had about six hours still until he’d walk, or run rather, down this hallway. Will was determined to do everything he could for Lise in the meantime. He wouldn’t leave her alone. She was his family now. 

But when Will buzzed the door of the delivery ward—a short, sequestered hallway that required approval to enter—a petite young nurse with wide hazel eyes and a long blonde ponytail in scrubs, a bright green cap, and matching mask opened the door and ushered him into the hall. 

“You must be Will,” she said brightly, turning quickly and walking with a distinct pep in her gait toward the end of the hallway. 

“She told you to look for the chair, huh?” Will asked jokingly, following closely behind, careful to curb his strong strokes, as not to overtake her. The nurse shook her head and smiled blandly, turning to Will. He couldn’t see her mouth but he could tell she was smiling by the way her eyes crinkled at the sides. 

“Actually, it would have been a good thing to mention, but she didn’t. She showed me a picture of her husband on her phone and said you looked exactly like him,” she laughed lightly, “she wasn’t wrong, you handsome devils.” Will blushed and looked away for a second, unsure if the nurse was hitting on him. 

“How is she?” Will asked, clearing his throat and deftly pivoting from the subject, one of his favorites, of his devilish good looks. 

“She’s hanging in there,” the nurse said positively, stopping at a closed door with her hand on the handle. “We’re closely monitoring the fetus because of how many weeks early she is, but we’re confident.” 

“Thank god,” Will breathed, doing a quick pressure shift to release some of the anxiety he’d been holding in his shoulders and neck. 

“I have to warn you though, she’s almost fully dilated at this point, too late for the epidural, so we’re rearing to go.” 

“Okay,” Will replied, steeling himself for whatever was on the other side of that door. 
“Her husband is flying?” 

“Yes, well, it’s not her,” Will started but realized that semantics really weren’t all that important at this point. He cleared his throat and started again. “Yes, he’s flying from London, he left about an hour ago.” The nurse nodded and bit her lower lip. 

“We won’t last that long. You’re just in time and it’s going to get worse before it gets better. Her friend, though, has been amazing at keeping her calm and breathing.”
“Her friend?” Will asked vaguely, realizing the question was lost, as the nurse pushed the door open. And then he saw them. 

Both of them. 

Lise and Scottie. 

But neither of them saw him.

Scottie had Lise’s hand in hers and was holding a cold cloth on her forehead. Lise’s face was distorted with pain, and she let out a little whimper as Scottie whispered something in her ear. 

“Don’t. Make. Me. Laugh,” she managed through clenched teeth and a gritty smile, her cheeks red and slick with sweat. Scottie pushed Lise’s dark straight bangs back and out of her eyes as she whimpered again, this time her voice quaked even more. There was a tall woman with thick black hair coming out of her cap on the other side of the room. She was head to toe in scrubs and was snapping on a pair of latex gloves. Turning, she saw Will through thick-framed black glasses. 

“Is this the husband?” she asked the nurse while giving Will a thorough once over. Surely this doctor knew all the statistics and procedures he’d need one day. Surely, she knew that fathering a child as a paraplegic was a challenge, but not an impossibility. He felt exposed as her eyes swept over him once more before turning to meet his eyes. 

“I’m his brother,” Will said firmly, wheeling closer. And the sound of his voice caused Lise to crack open her eyes and Scottie to turn around. Looking at her there, under the grim hospital lights, hair pulled back messily into a puffy ponytail, eyes with a green clarity he’d never seen before, with Lise’s hand in hers, made him tremble. It was an incredible vision, and the only word that he could wrap his mind around what he was seeing was “family.” 

“Will,” Lise croaked between exaggerated breaths, “thank god. Thank god my baby daddy has a twin brother. I won’t know the difference.” Scottie snorted and shook her head as Will followed suit. Laughing with her, even for a second, was like the first cup of coffee in the morning—familiar, rich, and energizing.  

“Fantastic,” the doctor nodded at him and gestured for him to take up the post on the other side of Lise’s bed, across from Scottie. “I’m Dr. Kapoor,” she offered as Will glided past her and up to the edge of the bed. Lise reached for his hand, grabbing it like she was hanging off the edge of a cliff. 

“Jesus Christ your hands are rough,” Lise exclaimed weakly, ending it on a theatrical groan. 

“You’re doing great, Lise,” Dr. Kapoor encouraged, taking up her place self-assuredly at the end of the bed on a stool. 

“Did you know how rough his hands were?” Lise asked Scottie deliriously. Scottie’s face immediately flushed involuntarily at the memory of Will’s rough hands and exactly what his rough hands were capable of when in the right place. She smiled in spite of herself, raising her glance ever so slightly so she was making direct eye contact with Will. His blue eyes glittered with something she couldn’t quite place. 

“I did, in fact,” Scottie replied with a wicked smirk that definitely didn’t go unnoticed by Will. There was a strange but welcome tingling along the defining line that skirted the waistband of his jeans. He wished it was her finger, tracing the route that divided what he could feel and what he couldn’t. 

Then Lise shrieked and squeezed each of their hands harder, yanking them, quite violently, out of their moment of lust. Will squeezed her shoulder and kissed her on the temple. 

“Lise, you can do this, you know that?” he murmured encouragingly. She turned her brown almond eyes to Will and locked on his. He was pretty sure she was imagining that Will was Pete, and while it weirded him out on some level, he understood it on another and certainly wasn’t going to stop her. 

“Fuck,” she whispered, closing her eyes in pain. 

“You okay?” Will asked, edging as close as he could in his chair. He looked down and saw his knees right up against the edge of the bed. 

“I’m going to fucking kill Pete,” Lise exhaled, her words heavy with agony. Will chuckled as he caught eyes with Scottie again, she was also stifling a laugh. 

“Okay, Lise,” Dr. Kapoor warned, “this is it. The baby is coming.” 

“The baby is coming,” Scottie muttered to Lise.

“The baby is coming,” Will reiterated as Lise looked from him and then back to Scottie. 

She smiled one pained smile that looked more like a grimace before screaming bloody fucking murder and squeezing their hands until they went white. But neither Scottie nor Will let go. They held on, despite the exquisite pain because, in the end, they knew it would be worth it. 


<>

Scottie walked out of the maternity ward and into the waiting room ahead of Will, her head spinning a million miles a second. She felt as if she’d run a marathon—which, admittedly, she wasn’t quite sure how that would feel, but she imagined something like what she was experiencing. Her entire body felt heavy, her mind cloudy, her heart pounding, her breath lost somewhere between her mouth and her lungs. 

She could hear the tires of Will’s chair gliding seamlessly over the linoleum behind her and it was so surreal she almost tried to shake herself. She was in the same room as him. She was breathing the same air as him. And yet, she couldn’t think of one single thing to say except “I love you”, and she sure as hell wasn’t going to jump there. It was over. He had made that explicitly clear. 

“I’m going to grab a cup of coffee,” she stuttered, her tongue dry, as she turned slightly to face Will as they got into the waiting room. “Uh, in the cafeteria. Do you want anything?” Will didn’t answer right away. He slowed his chair to a stop and regarded her for a second, his eyes moving slowly over her face. 

“Are you going to run?” he asked flatly, but without anger. It was simply a question. Scottie blanched and fumbled for the answer. The truth was, she didn’t know what she was going to do. She’d considered it, surely, but she wasn’t sure if she would go through with it. 

“I don’t think so,” she answered honestly, shrugging. Will smiled, his dimple poking its beautiful head out. Her knees felt like jelly. 

“You can if you want,” he offered quietly, “I can wait for Pete and be here if Lise needs anything.” 

“No,” Scottie heard herself say with an unexpected conviction. “I want to stay.” 

“Okay,” Will answered softly, nodding without taking his eyes off of her. “I’ll have a coffee then.”

“Black,” she supplied with a smirk. 

“Black.” He pursed his lip,  but a knowing grin was pushing on the edges. Scottie didn’t want to get ahead of herself, but if she didn’t know any better, she would say he wanted her to stay. He really, really, wanted her to stay.  


<>

Will couldn’t stop thinking about the baby—a little boy. He was 4lbs, 1oz and 16.2 inches long—considered small for a full term baby, but boded well for a preemie. He’d passed all the initial tests but was whisked off to the NICU to make sure that everything was in working order. Lise had been absolutely relieved—for both the healthy birth, and for the simple fact that the birth part was over. Scottie and Will had left her to sleep until Pete arrived. He’d probably still be a few hours. 

Will fidgeted in his chair, readjusting his position, and cracked his knuckles. He was nervous for Scottie to come back with the coffee. He ran his hands through his hair a few times, wondering if he looked halfway decent, remembering how quickly he’d rushed here after showering at the gym. It wasn’t the ideal time to see her. But seeing her was seeing her, and whatever had been holding him back had shaken loose the second he saw her holding Lise’s hand. She was it. Scottie was absolutely it.

“Hi,” her throaty voice shook him out of his own mind. He realized he’d slouched forward, with his elbows resting on his thighs and his head in his hands. Shooting up he took her in, standing there, in a coffee stained shirt. 

“Hi,” he whispered, a smirk threatening to break free. 

“What?” she asked quietly, sliding into the seat next to where Will parked himself. Handing him his coffee she scooted back in the chair and pulled her long legs up, feet resting on the edge. 

“Your shirt,” Will murmured, gesturing with his chin. “I didn’t mean to cause any trouble.” 

“Oh this?” she snorted a laugh, “no this is from this morning. I’ve been wearing a coffee covered shirt all day.” Shaking her head, she took a tentative sip and sighed. Coffee was always a comfort, and for one second, she was able to forget that the man she loved was right next to her and he didn’t want her. 

“I can’t believe I didn’t notice in the delivery room.”

“There were other things to distract you, I’d say,” she countered, cocking her head and staring at him sideways. 

“Like your beautiful face?” he wanted to ask, the buzzing words were pressing against his lips. But he didn’t. Instead he smiled blandly and nodded. “There were indeed.” 

“It’s good to—“Scottie started at the same time Will said “I’m sorry I haven’t—” They both stopped like they’d hit a brick wall, each staring expectantly at the other. Finally, Will motioned for her to go first. 

“No, you can go,” she argued. 

“No seriously, it’s okay. You first,” he insisted. She couldn’t tell if he was being polite or intentional, but she conceded that she probably owed him first. Looking at him for a long moment, his eyes, the slight tilt of his head, his strong hands wrapped around the coffee cup, she knew she’d probably never feel the same way about anyone else, but that didn’t mean she couldn’t find someone to share her life with. And with that realization, she felt full of air, light, and hopeful in spite of the crushing blow of knowing she’d lost him. 

“I just wanted to say, that it was really good to see you,” Scottie appealed to the part of him that remembered what they’d had. And by the shifting expression on his face, it seemed for a second, that she had. 

“I’m sorry I haven’t called,” he murmured so only she could hear it, despite them being in an empty waiting room. 

“It’s okay, really, I just want you to be happy.” Her voice sounded so high pitched and foreign to her ears, but she had said what she wanted to say. Slowly she stood, hating that she had to look down at him right now, but she needed to put distance between them. “I should go,” she asserted sadly, gesturing vaguely to the space behind her, and spinning slightly on her heel.  

But Will’s rough hand caught her wrist before she could even take a step. Turning, she felt her breath catch as he pulled himself closer to her so his knees were touching her legs. 

“Don’t,” he whispered, even quieter than before. Scottie cocked her head and considered him, her heart pounding all of a sudden. 

“Why not?” she asked numbly, challenging him with her stony gaze, unwavering, desperate not to show her hand just yet. Instead of answering Will leaned down and placed his coffee on the floor then used his hand against his knee to right himself. He looked back at her boldly and pulled on her wrist with both hands, bringing her face down to his. A heady moment passing between them as they stared at each other, just inches away, their shallow breath mingling, their lips practically humming. 

Then he leaned in and closed the gap, kissing her in a way that made her knees buckle. And when they did, he caught her and pulled her into his lap where she belonged.