“Lor? What are you doing up so early?”
“I couldn’t sleep. I think today’s the day.”
Malik squinted against the sun and rubbed his eyes. “Well, if so it’s a lovely day for it. I can hardly see – that’s always a good sign.”
“You’re off work today, right?”
“Yeah, I am. I’ll do the garden today. No,” he said, putting up his hand as Lor opened his mouth “don’t argue. I don’t want you going into labour elbow deep in the soil.”
Lor had been a lot more affectionate over the last couple of months. He’d always held himself at a slight distance before, but now he seemed at ease with himself.
“Well, you don’t need to start now, do you? We’ve got time for breakfast at least.”
Breakfast had turned into a full morning of lazing around in front of the television together. Not that either of them minded. There had been a rerun of the entire fourth season of Bluepython on the comedy channel, and it had been impossible to leave part way through. Lor had laughed so hard that he’d been afraid that it would start the contractions.
“We should probably get lunch.” Malik said, stretching and turning off the screen.
They stood, and Lor clutched his stomach with a slight moan.
“No, just a kick. I’ll be glad when that stops, I’ll admit.”
This had become a familiar thing between them, but this time as Malik looked up he was taken aback by the love in the man’s eyes. He knew it was probably for the baby, but Lor looked so beautiful at that moment that he couldn’t help himself. He slid his hands under Lor’s, raised them to his mouth and kissed them.
It took a second for the fact that he had done it to sink into his brain, and then the panic started to set in.
“I’m so sorry, I just… I’m going to get dressed.” he said, and without waiting for a response he ran inside. Lor started after him, but he was far too slow to make much headway before the door shut. Typical.
Malik peeked through the back door before stepping through. The coast was clear. It wasn’t that he was avoiding Lor, as such. It was more like he wanted to keep out of the way until his cheeks stopped flaming.
He winced, took a deep breath and turned around.
“Look, I really am-” his voice faded as Lor took his hands in his own.
“There’s no need to apologise. Except maybe for running away before I could say anything.”
“Wait, so you aren’t upset with me?”
“No, of course not. I was happy.”
He blinked, dazed. Had he really just heard that?
“You mean, you’re ok with it?”
“More than ok. I like you, Mal.”
“Like, like me?”
“Yeah, I do. Do you..?”
“I really do.”
“So you won’t mind if I do this, then?” Lor said, leaning in slowly enough to give the other man a chance to pull away. He didn’t.
Malik was lost for words, so he did the only thing he could think of. He kissed him back.
They hadn’t gone any further than those few kisses, but Malik was over the moon. He whistled to himself as he pulled up the weeds that had started to grow at the base of the tree, careful not to disturb the roots. He wasn’t going to mess up such an easy job simply because he couldn’t stop daydreaming. That would be ridiculous. Still, he worked with a smile so wide that his cheeks hurt by the end of the task. Today was wonderful.
“Mal? Mal?! The baby’s coming.”
He opened his eyes and grabbed his glasses before sprinting into the living room, where Lor was making his way to the nursery.
“Yes! I’m so-OW!”
“Right, lets get going. I’ll get my coat and-”
“Mal, you know I can’t go to the hospital.”
“Whoops, sorry, panicking a bit.”
She was perfect, Lor thought as he finally held his baby girl in his arms. Her sweet smile, those tiny pointed ears, that little giggle as she snuggled into him. Absolutely perfect.
“Did you decide on a name in the end?”
“Yeah, I did. Her name is Ella. Isn’t it, Ellie baby? You like your name, don’t you?”
She cooed and waved one of her tiny arms, bopping him on the shoulder.
“It suits her.”
Lor was reluctant to put her down, but giving birth had put a lot of pressure on his bladder and he’d prefer to avoid an accident if at all possible.
“Mal, can you?”
“You really are cute, you know? Then again, with a dad that good-looking you’ve got the genes for it.”
He heard a cough from behind him, and turned to see Lor standing behind him, eyes sparkling with amusement. “Glad to see you’re getting along so well already.”
Malik carefully laid her back down in her cot, only to be drawn close by a pair of arms wrapped around his waist.
“Thank you. For everything.”
Lor kissed him gently on the lips and turned back to the cot. She was probably hungry. He knew he was.
Her hands grasped at the bottle clumsily as she drank, and he smiled down at her. He knew he wouldn’t get much sleep for a while, but she was worth it.