Overland Park, Kansas, December 1st
The cold wind hits Sam in the face as he exits the massive Humanity building of Edwards Campus. It’s three in the afternoon, and the air smells heavily of snow, although it probably won’t fall. The clouds are moving too fast in the grey sky.
Wrapping his coat tighter around himself, Sam lowers his head and takes the path that leads to the Family Quarters, through a small wooded area. He carries a bag heavy with thesis copies to read and correct over the weekend. His job as an assistant researcher for Professor Spiegel, the Head of the Status Psychological Development Research Chair, isn’t easy and it’s time consuming, but it pays well. Sam can take a couple of classes, not full time, but as long as he has a job, he can wait to complete his psychology degree.
The Campus is a great environment for mates and young families. When Sam and Dean had started to consider their options, a couple of colleges offered Family Quarters, one in New Mexico, and one in Kansas. They both wanted to get closer to their hometown, so Edwards College it was. The Family Quarters is composed of small houses, just big enough to accommodate a family of four, and a couple of apartment buildings for couples. There is a drugstore and convenience shop, as well as a grocery store. It was built as a pilot project by the Status Research Chair to accommodate mating needs with studying. Sam had applied for the Psychology Degree as well as the Family Quarters. His grades had granted him with a partial scholarship that he could complete if he found a job; being an assistant researcher had been an opportunity he couldn’t pass up, although the rent Dean and he are paying for the house is very cheap, being funded by the pilot project.
They couldn’t have found a better place to raise kids. Dean had even found work when they’d first moved in as a delivery guy for the grocery store. He would’ve kept going if he hadn’t gone into premature labor, a month ago.
Now, Dean is restricted to bed. With another month to go before his due date, he’s about to go crazy, and he's dragging Sam along with him. He actually doesn’t look forward that much to coming home and listening to Dean bitch about every single thing that makes his life miserable. Sam gets it, he does. True, he’s not the one who’s only allowed to get out of bed to eat –no more than half an hour at a time- and go to the bathroom –he’s not, but he gets it to some level at least. His omega being miserable means he feels miserable, sometimes downright physically sick at not being able to make him better.
Only one month to go, Sam repeats himself, heading toward the only street of the family quarters. Their house is the second on the left, similar to the others, except for the shiny muscle car parked in the alley –because yes, now that Dean can’t take care of his “baby,” he’s forcing Sam to do it in the same maniacal way.
“I’m home,” Sam announces, closing the door behind him. As usual, the first floor of the house looks almost uninhabited, too clean. Both the bedrooms are upstairs and, luckily, there is a small bathroom there as well. The living room’s TV has been transferred into the main bedroom. The only space that seems somewhat used is the kitchen, and even then, well, more often than not, Sam doesn’t cook a lot. It’s never been one of his talents. He makes sure Dean gets vegetables and meat, all the vitamins he needs, but he’ll buy ready-to-heat meals at the organic grocery store on the other side of the campus. It’s not cheap, but it doesn’t matter. Dean has to eat well.
“Dean?” Sam calls again, getting rid of his shoes and jacket. He takes the stairs and head straight to the bedroom, pushing the door softly. The TV is on, playing an old western movie with Clint Eastwood. Dean is asleep, half-sitting, his back propped up by pillows, over the comforter, his head tilt to the side. He wears his overused paternity jeans and a t-shirt that’s so stretched over his belly Sam can see through it. Dean always insists to get dressed in the morning, just like he insists that the bed get made so he can settle on top of the comforter. He says it’s better this way. Come night time, he doesn’t have the impression that he’s actually been in bed all day. “It’s psychological, dude,” he’d told Sam.
Sam tiptoes to the TV and shuts it off. Dean makes a soft sound, half a sigh, half a whimper, and immediately, Sam feels guilty for thinking that he wasn’t so eager to come home. The truth is, he’s not sure he could have made it, if it had been him. They both had been scared as hell when Dean started having contractions one month ago. Dean, of course, had been blaming himself for insisting that he could work, even as he was hitting the seventh month of his pregnancy. Nothing Sam or the doctors had said could make him change his mind.
They were lucky the labor could be stopped. And afterward, Dean had swallowed his pride and swore he would do everything their androcologist had told him, even if it meant spending all his days alone lying in bed. They haven’t had time to make a lot of friends since their arrival. Sure, Dean can spend time chatting on the phone with Jess, or Mike, but it’s not the same thing. Far from it.
As silently as he can, Sam gets on the bed to lie down next to Dean, putting his hand over the impressive swell of his belly. It’s not long before he feels a kick under his palm, and judging by the position, high over Dean’s jutted-out navel, it must be their little boy.
Sam smiles, then realizes his brother is looking at him through heavy-lidded eyes. “Hey,” he says, voice a bit gruff. “Don’t go get them all excited, they were quiet.”
“Right, sorry,” Sam answers, but he keeps his hand right on the same spot. “How are you feeling?” He adds more seriously, seeing the red spots on Dean’s cheek and the dark circles under his eyes.
“Not bad,” Dean shrugs, dragging himself up to sit straighter and letting out a “oof” at the same time. “I’m hungry. Tried to eat toast for lunch, but had too much acid reflux.”
“I was thinking we could order in… maybe Chinese?”
“Awww, man, don’t tempt me with Chinese.” Dean licks his lips. “Too much salt. I’m already stuck with two tree trunks instead of legs. Pizza?”
“Hey, I’m the pregnant-with-twins-restricted to bed guy, here.”
“True,” Sam angles his head so that he could kiss him, feeling Dean’s baby bump pressing against his own, flat stomach. “Right now or do you want to wait?”
“Do I look like I want to wait?” Dean joked.
“I’ll get the menus.”
Seeing how long it takes Dean to get himself out of bed and walk downstairs, Sam wonders if he could do much anyway, if he wasn’t restricted to their bedroom. So far, Dean has put on thirty-five pounds, which isn’t that much considering he’s carrying twins. He doesn’t even look like he’s put on any weight at all –his face might be a little rounder, but that’s all.
His belly, though, is downright impressive; round and firm and jutting out so much it doesn’t even look real, like somehow, Dean is walking around with a basketball under his shirt. It makes his stance unsure, clumsy, as his balance center has shifted so much. His normal bowlegged stance is only exaggerated to a point where he looks like he’s just got off a horse after a long ride. Not that Sam would ever say it out loud. Dean’s been very self-conscious with this whole pregnancy thing, as his body rapidly transformed. Sam thinks he’s beautiful, looking so full, a softness added to his curves that’s only enhanced by his wide eyes and long lashes, the more delicate features of his face. Omega men have this distinction of sometimes looking almost androgynous, but Dean’s butch and manly mannerisms, encouraged for so many years by John’s attitude, had always prevailed.
Until now. Sam would touch his brother all the time, if Dean allowed it. He never though Dean could be more beautiful than he already was. He was wrong. He doesn’t mind Dean brushing off the compliments and putting up a brave, “whatever” façade. Realizing that his first heat had gotten him pregnant, not with one but two babies, has been a shock he’s still trying to recover from. Sam thinks he’s handling it pretty well, considering.
He helps Dean settle down at the table where the pizza waits. Instead of snatching a piece and shoving half of it in his mouth, as usual, Dean takes his time, putting it down on his plate and wiggling on his chair almost constantly.
“Not hungry anymore?” Sam asks.
“Yeah, just… takes me some time to feel comfortable, sitting,” Dean explains, wincing as he tries to stretch his back, his movement stopped by his belly pushing against the table. “I’m gigantic,” he sighs.
“I swear to god, Sam, if you say gorgeous, I’mma kick your ass.”
“But you are.”
They eat in silence for a few minutes. Sam thinks about the nursery upstairs, still going through everything they've bought and wondering if there is something essential they’d forgotten. Dean and he had done most of the shopping together, Sam going on and on with lists made from books and website. He knows if he takes out another piece of paper to recheck everything again, Dean is going to kill him –given his state right now, maybe literally.
“Oh, shit,” Dean groans, dropping his pizza piece on his plate.
He winces and stretches backward, looking down at his stomach where a large bump is currently moving, rippling under the skin and pushing to the right.
“Jesus,” Sam says in an awed voice, always impressed to actually see the babies moving. “Is it Leo?”
“Well, it’s high, so I guess…” Dean holds his breath and grits his teeth. The small bump disappears and his belly goes back to its round, regular shape. “Yeah, definitely Leo.”
The twins are positioned one over the other, their daughter, Mia, being lower, already in birth position. Leo is still on his side, according to the last echography. He might not move until the birth. It’s all a question of timing, according to their obstetrician, Dr. Lang. When the labor begins, Mia will engage in the birth canal, and Leo might take the new free space to turn. That’s the best scenario. Dean is scared as hell of having to go through a C-section: they’ve been offered to have it as the get-go procedure, scheduling it, given the chances that it will end up this way, but after a long talk, they had decided against it. Dean’s omega nature has shown more and more as the pregnancy progressed, and the C-section meant he would take more time to recover and not be as fully functional to take care of the kids as soon as he’d wanted to. Nothing Sam says or does changes a thing: when the babies are concerned, Dean follows his instinct.
To be honest, they do have a fair chance of Dean going through a completely natural birth. Sam thinks about it a lot, his brother going through the pains of labor and delivery, and he can only hope it will go as smoothly as possible.
Something else seems to be bothering Dean tonight, though, because he barely eats his pizza slice, even though he finishes the meal with a glass of milk. He’s not in a bad mood, just seems very thoughtful.
After they finish eating, Sam sends him back upstairs while he cleans the kitchen. He then goes upstairs himself to gather their dirty clothes, thinking he could do some laundry, and finds their bedroom empty. Dean is in the nursery, sitting in the large rocking chair they had put between the two cribs. He had bought wood letters and fixed them over each one, spelling the name of the babies. Thinking about their constant fight to pick up the names makes Sam smile despite himself. Both were so stuck on their position that in the end, they had established a complicated strategy. Sam would pick his three favorite girl names, Dean would do the same for boy names, then the other one would have to choose from the list, no veto allowed. In the end, it turned out well. Leo and Mia are simple, strong names. It’s easier for Sam to actually picture them now that they are more than just baby girl and baby boy.
Sam turns his attention back to his mate. He seems a little lost, alone in the dark like this. Sam turns the light on.
“Dean? You should go back to bed.”
“I know,” Dean says without moving. “Give me five minutes.”
Sam is about to turn back on his heels when Dean adds. “What would he think of all this?”
Oh. Sam tries to figure out what is the best way to answer to this is. Dean has never really made his peace with their father’s death, which is understandable, given the circumstances and how John had rejected him the last time they saw each other. Sam is still angry at John too, for different reasons. He’s angry because his father is responsible for Dean's emotional distress. He’s angry because he doesn’t think him and Dean being mates, starting a family, would have changed a thing.
“I don’t know, Dean,” he answers slowly. “But Mom would be so proud of you.”
Dean snorts with derision and brushes his hand over his face, wiping the tears that are slowly falling. Sam aches to take him in his arms and comfort him, but he knows Dean sometimes needs his personal space, so he waits.
“I’ll never put our kids through this, you understand me?” he says in an angry voice. “Not only… the damn difference between status, but the Hunt, the way we were raised. Never.”
“They’re gonna have a normal life.”
“I’m with you there.”
“Kids should be allowed to be kids.”
Dean clears his throat. “And… I don’t mind staying home, I don’t care if it makes a me a goddamn omega cliché. I want to be there for them.”
Sam smiles at that and walks the few steps that separate him from his brother. “Trust me, Dean, you’re as far as you can be from any omega cliché.”
Dean lets Sam help him up and they make their way slowly to their bedroom. Dean is so tired that he gives in and let Sam undress him and put him in his pajamas without groaning too much. “Should’ve taken a shower,” he complains, yawning.
“Are you going all alpha on me?” Dean asks, smiling, while Sam opens the bed.
“Well, I am an alpha after all.”
“As far as one can be from any alpha cliché,” Dean points out, lying down.
It’s a compliment, something that makes Sam feels all warm and fuzzy inside. Right. He’s such a girl, like Dean would point out. Or maybe he’s just the person Dean needs, status be damned. Studying classes in his psychology degree has taught Sam that there is still so much progress to make, as a society. And maybe Dean and he are doing just that. Making progress.
Dean goes into labor on New Year’s eve. They’re in their bed until late morning, watching Australia’s New Year celebration while Sam massages Dean’s swollen feet. Dean complains that he’ll stay pregnant forever because that’s just how the universe likes to mess up with him, when it starts. They’re both ready, timing the contractions that come every fifteen minutes and are uncomfortable, but not too much according to Dean. They stay in bed, take notes and giggle, both nervous but trying to work around it. They call the hospital and are told what they already know. Dean has to lie down on his left side and try to stay relax. Since he’s having twins, the nurse doesn’t want him to wait too long before coming to the hospital, so they give themselves a couple of hours, then grab the bags and get ready. Sam is a bit sentimental. He holds the door open and take one last look at the house, sighing.
“Can you believe that next time we’ll come home, we’ll-“
“Yeah, yeah, we’ll be four and it will be amazing and it’s surreal,” Dean replies, dragging himself down the porch steps, waddling more than actually walking.
“Way to break the moment.”
“Dude, you’ve been saying this kind of stuff constantly since the beginning. Aow.”
Dean stops, winces, but pushes Sam away when he goes to support him. “Hands off. It’s uncomfortable, I’m not dying.”
Dean is actually bragging in the car about how this whole labor pain is probably overrated, or maybe he’s just tough, right? It makes sense that, after years of training and hunting, he’s not like most people.
Sam isn’t an idiot, so he just nods wisely, thinking about those birth videos he watched on the internet, in secret –men and women alike, suffering through what had seemed like an ordeal when they had refused the pain medication or the epidural. Actually, women seemed to hold their own a tad more than men.
“I’m actually looking forward to this, to finally see those two little brats,” Dean keeps on smiling, his fingers beating a rhythm on the dashboard.
Sam supposed that this is better than full-on panicking. For now.
Until now, Sam had never seen an omega reduce an alpha male to tears. True, the alpha is a young nurse assisting to his first birth and the omega in question is Dean Winchester, who’s refused the epidural because according to their stupid prenatal class, letting your body work naturally is the best way to take part in the birthing process and keep control over your body –hey, it’s the new thing, and now Sam is damning this teacher who, by the way, was way past her fifties and had never given birth because sadly, she had to have a C-section. Frustrated, that’s what she was, and clearly evil, wanting the whole class to suffer through what she could never have.
When the pain had started to become more than “a little uncomfortable,” seven hours into the labor and only six centimeters of dilatation, Dean had apparently decided that the best way to deal with it wasn’t breathing exercises or freaking “letting his body work,” but to make everyone around him pay for it. Sam included. He can take it. Their doctor, a petite beta woman that seems to be the poster child for the “unimpressed” expression, she can take it too, as well as the older female nurse that has been with them from the beginning. Not Brad the new nurse. When Dean screams at him that if he ever touches him one more time, he’s going to kick him in his stupid, spotty face, poor Brad’s eyes fills with tears and Dr. Lang tells him to “take five.” Sam wishes he could feel sorry for him, he does, but to Dean’s credit, he’s now going through his tenth hour of labor and Brad had just checked him and announced that there was still two centimeters to go.
Dean is tired. Dean is exhausted. Dean hasn’t had anything to eat since they arrived, and is only allowed to crunch on ice cubes in case he has to have a C-section. If it wasn’t enough, as the pain had become more serious, he's grown more and more nauseous, and it’s a miserable image, seeing his brother throwing up while going through a contraction that seems to rip him apart.
So yeah, he can yell at Sam all he wants. Sam is close to start yelling too. It’s ten o’clock and the nurse has just told them that maybe they could have the first baby of the year and be in the local newspapers. Two more hours of this sounds atrocious, and when Dean, between groans and curses, told her it’s the stupidest thing he’s heard and that she can shove the fucking local newspaper up her ass, Sam is almost tempted to add his voice.
The twins won’t be first and second baby of the year, though, that much is clear when Dean’s uterine entrance is completely dilated, finally, at one in the morning. Before he can start pushing, Dr. Lang does a quick sonogram to verify the position of the twins. “Oh, would you look at that? The little boy has turned,” she says, satisfied.
Sam is incredibly relieved. If Dean had gone through this entire ordeal to end up going under a C-section for the second baby, Sam would have burst out crying. Right now, he’s seconds away from doing it anyway, everything is so overwhelming. Dean is settled in a seated position, feet in the stirrups; Sam can’t really believe that they are finally there, that the babies are about to be born. Dean is more than ready, though. His hair is plastered on to his head, his face swollen and beet red, his thighs trembling. He urges the nurse to let him push. The shift changing at midnight has given him two fresh nurses to yell at, but neither of them seem to be the least bit bothered by it, and Sam can feel his frustration when the youngest one pats him on the knee and tells him in a sweet voice: “I know you’re tired, honey. Let’s get ready to push, shall we?”
“As far as I know, I’m the only one who’s gonna do the pushing, so you can keep your fucking condescending tone to yourself,” Dean groans. “Oh shit, I need to push. I need to push, can I fucking push now?”
“Yes, remember what we talked about,” Dr. Lang says calmly, already settled on a small bench between Dean’s legs.
Dean pushes, silent and concentrated. Sam coaxes him through it, telling him to keep going, and how proud he is. When Dean finally stops to take a big gulp of air, he looks at him sternly. “You are proud of me?” He snaps. “You fucking bastard, you got me pregnant on my first heat, this is your fault and I hate you, do you understand this? You’re never shoving your monster cock in my ass EVER again!”
Sam blushes bright red. The nurses exchange a smile. Even Dr. Lang seems amused.
Looking at his brother, trying to come back with something to say, Sam sees it suddenly, the fear in Dean’s eyes, the confusion, he can smell it, and damn it, how stupid he is for not having caught it sooner. He’s been patient and let Dean insult him all he wanted because he thought that’s what he needed, but his omega was only trying to get an alpha reaction from him. Dean will never be easy to read, will always have trouble asking for what he needs, and Sam should’ve known by now.
So he bends over Dean like they’re both alone in the room, takes his brother’s face between his hands, looks at him without blinking. “I am proud of you. Hey, look at me,” he adds, when Dean bites his lips and lowers his gaze. “Dean.” He repeats. His mate’s eyes shot up to meet his. “It’s okay, you can do this.”
“Not so sure,” Dean whispers.
“It’s okay to be scared, it’s okay to be sick and tired. I’m with you, I’m not letting go of you.”
“Shut up,” Dean says in an almost inaudible voice. His eyes are shining bright now, tears ready to spill.
“I’m serious. I love you, I’m proud of you, and you can do this,” Sam repeats.
“Damn it, another one’s coming,” Dean grabs both of Sam’s shoulders.
“Yes that’s it,” Sam says. “Come on, Dean. Hold on to me. Push.”
Dean tightens his hold, his eyes now locked into Sam’s. And he pushes.
Sam bends over the incubator in the neonatal unit, filled with awe. Mia and Leo are sharing it: they try not to split twins as much as they can avoid it so soon after their birth. They’re both sleeping, two tiny swollen faces peeking out of the bundle of flannel sheet. It’s hard to tell whom they take after, and they look alike for now. Mia, who was born first, is six and a half pounds. She also has an impressive pair of lungs on her. She started crying immediately after she was born, much to Dean’s relief. Leo had followed ten minutes later. He had to receive a little bit of oxygen to help him for the first five minutes or so, but he’s as healthy as his sister, although smaller by almost one pound.
Mia has a fine covering of dark hair, whereas Leo’s round head is practically bald, except for a few light curls on the top of his head. His ears look like they’re sticking out, where Mia’s are flattened against her head.
They’re both beautiful.
Since Dean has suffered a few complications and is bedridden, the twins will spend the first twenty-four hours here to give him a chance to rest. The nurse had reassured Sam that he could call and ask for the babies to be brought in Dean’s room for a short period of time if he asks for them.
Sighing, Sam caresses Mia’s cheek, then Leo’s little fist. He can smell his own scent on his children, and it’s reassuring, letting everyone know whom they belong to. Dean’s scent is there too, although not as strong. He barely had had the time to take a look at the twins before he’d started bleeding. Dr. Lang got it quickly under control and Sam had known it could happen: omega males have a tendency to bleed while giving birth, more than females. It was still scary as hell, seeing how pale Dean’s face had gotten so quickly, how red and damp were Dr. Lang’s gloves were as she was working between his legs.
Shivering, Sam cast one last look at the babies and walks out of the neonatal unit.
It’s five in the morning and a cold sun is rising, breaking through the dark skies. Sam yawns and stretches while he walks through the corridors, physically needing to be close to his omega now.
Dean has a private room. He’s not sleeping, but he’s close. The transfusion bag hanging from a metal rod by the bed is almost empty. Dean has already regained some color, although his eyes are still sunken, his lips pale and chapped. He can’t get out of bed for now, won’t be able to until Dr. Lang reassess the situation later that day.
Sam is glad the painkillers Dean’s been given afterward are finally working, if the lazy smile on his face is any indication. He’s been so anxious about not being able to go see the babies after they were transferred to the neonatal unit, Sam hadn’t known anymore how to sooth him.
Now, though, he looks better. Seeing Sam put a lighter expression on his face, like they’ve been apart for way more than half an hour.
“They good?” He slurs.
“Yes, they are. No problems. They share this tiny incubator and sleep tucked against each other.” Sam smiles, sitting on side of the bed.
He bends over Dean and kisses him on the lips. Dean protests, “Dude, I can taste my own bad breath.”
“I don’t care. Fuck, Dean, you were amazing.”
He was. Sam tries not to be too emotional but it’s impossible. He’s just become a father.
“I was awesome,” Dean agrees with his drug-induced drawl. “Seriously, though, I’m sorry for all the bullshit I spat on you. It’s just… my mouth had like a mind on his own.”
Sam smiles. “You were going through hell. Could’ve been worse.”
“But also…” Dean frowns, although he still looks goofy. “I was serious. You’re not touching me for the next ten years. It hurt like hell.”
“…Right. Because you don’t like sex, like… not at all,” Sam jokes.
Dean lifts an eyebrow. “I do love sex,” he complies, like he’s just realized it. “I just don’t feel like pushing two –not one, two!- babies out of my body any time soon.”
“I get it.”
“So really, they’re okay, you’re not fucking with me ‘cause I just lost half of my blood?”
“I’m pretty sure it wasn’t half of it,” Sam smiles and drags a finger along Dean’s cheek, needing the physical contact. “They are fine. I swear. I’m watching over them –and over you, so why don’t you try to get some sleep?”
Dean nods, and for a moment, closes his eyes. The tiredness present on his features disappears. He looks so young in the dim light, and yes –delicate, but strong at the same time. When he reopens his eyes suddenly, Sam feels caught, drinking the sight of his mate. Dean would normally brush it off, telling him to stop doing the doe look. But right now, the painkillers –and probably the endorphins kicking in, are making him mellow and sweet.
“It’s scary, thinking I could’ve let all of this pass by me,” he whispers.
“I was lucky the suppressants didn’t do any lasting damage,” Dean explains, playing with the hem of his sheet. “We have kids, Sam. Our kids. I could’ve… I could’ve missed so many things. Because I spent my life listening to a father that didn’t know what to do with his omega son.”
“But you didn’t miss it,” Sam says in a soothing voice. “We found each other in time.”
Dean snorts. “Speak for yourself. I basically gave up the pills because I was pissed at Dad.”
“Well, if he ever did anything for you, that must be it. Who cares, Dean? You didn’t even had time to get accustomed to heats and your Omega instincts and you were already pregnant. You just, went with it… And it’s so fucking impressive. There is not a day that passes without me thinking how lucky I am. You know what they say, that contrary to popular belief, Alphas aren’t the strongest people in our society. It’s Omegas that truly hold everything together.”
Dean lowers his eyes. He still resists to praise of any kind. Even right now, when he’s definitely allowed to be as emotional as he wants. Sam hopes it still passes through. “I’m serious Dean. You’re so much stronger than me. All that we have right now, it’s because of you. You did all of this.”
“Come on, man,” Dean blushes a little, despite his paleness. “We have what we have because we’re strong, together.”
“Maybe,” Sam admits.
And maybe, one day, Dean will be free of his insecurities. He’s changed so much since that evening he knocked on Sam’s apartment door, beaten up and ashamed. He now carries a quiet strength that has only grown during his pregnancy, pretty much similarly as his belly had gotten bigger. The important thing is, Sam isn’t worried about the future, about their kids. Dean is by his side. He’s been a caretaker for Sam as long as Sam can remember, and now he has two more human beings to care for, to worry about, to love ferociously. And Sam can only hope that he proves himself worthy of his mate and their family.
_ _ _