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Sometimes Omega Services Gets Things Right

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Tyler sat in the bathroom, head between his knees, trying to just fucking breath.

It’d have probably been easier if the pregnancy test wasn’t lying on the floor between his feet glaring up at him, stubbornly positive. Though it wasn’t like denying it was going to actually help either. He’d been ignoring it long enough, putting missed periods and sickness down to stress, hiding them from everyone and carrying on.

Fuck, he’d probably still be living in denial if Chad hadn’t made some stupid comment about Tyler being fat and then locked him in the fucking bedroom so he didn’t get any dinner.

He wasn’t fat, though. Or, well, he was. But not really.

He put his hand on his stomach. Fuck. It had to have happened the time he’d had that fucking stomach bug. He’d been completely wrung out but Chad had said it wasn’t like he had to do anything, just lie there and get fucked. But there was no way his contraceptive pills had actually stayed down with all the puking he’d been doing.

And now he was pregnant. He was going to have a baby. There was a baby fucking growing inside him right then.

He had to put his head back between his legs for a few minutes and just think about breathing again.

Fuck, he couldn’t do it. He couldn’t have a baby. He wasn’t the type. He was a mess. What kind of mess would he make of some poor kid’s life if he couldn’t even keep his alpha happy from one day to the next? And fuck, Chad sure as fuck wasn’t going to be happy about this. He was going to be furious. They had to be past the legal abortion limit if he was showing. Frantic googling said he might be as far along as four months, which would line up with the stomach bug.

Outside the bathroom, a door slammed. Tyler curled up into himself. Fuck. Chad was going to be so fucking pissed.

***

It was six days before Tyler got a chance to be out of the house alone again. His arm was fucking killing him and he looked a mess but, then, Chad was pretty fucking liberal with the punches so that was nothing new.

And that was whatever, he probably deserved them. He was a lot, he got it.

His baby didn’t fucking deserve them, though.

He walked down the block imagining Chad’s eyes on him the entire way. He was probably being fucking paranoid, Chad was stoned off his face and sprawled out on the couch which was the only reason he’d sent Tyler for beer anyway.

He had ten dollars tucked into the pocket of his jeans, which were getting to be way too tight for him. Chad had put a knife to his throat the night before and told him what a fucking waste he was, how he was going to be too big to fuck soon and then what was even the point of keeping him around.

Chad had also been texting around, asking if anyone know a way to get rid of Tyler’s problem.

He reached the end of the block. The store was just on the right.

He turned left.

He’d walked this way a ton, but Chad had always been with him before. After a few steps, Tyler broke into a jog. Chad wasn’t following him, there was no way, but he couldn’t shake the feeling of eyes on him. Fuck, this had to work. If this didn’t work and they sent him back, Chad was going to slit his fucking throat.

The Boston branch of Omega Services was large and imposing, a dark stone facade that made him feel about three inches high as he climbed the steps. He had to put all his weight on the door to force it open and get into the foyer.

A giant desk took up all the back wall. Behind it, an older beta sat playing on her computer. Her hair was pulled tightly back, her makeup was neat and professional. She didn’t smile at him as he stumbled towards her. All around him, posters of pale, beautiful omegas, their pristine skin marked with bruises and scars, stared balefully down on him, their tears frozen on their cheeks, their pregnant bellies sticking out in front of them or their babies screaming in their arms.

Tyler reached the front desk.

“Hello,” the beta said, her tone cold. She was obviously annoyed at being called on to do her actual job this late on a Wednesday night. “Can I help you.”

Fuck, Tyler didn’t want this.

He didn’t want any of this.

But it wasn’t just about what he wanted any more, was it. That was the entire point.

“Hi,” he said, trying to look appropriately forlorn. “I’m Tyler. I’m a pregnant omega and my alpha beats the… I mean, he hits me. I think my arm’s broken. I need help.”

***

Nine days, one plaster cast and 1700 miles later, Tyler found himself sat on an uncomfortable chair in a corridor in Dallas, Texas. Under the chair was a duffle bag with what currently amounted to all Tyler’s worldly possessions. That was, the outfit he’d been wearing when he walked out on his alpha, one pair of maternity pants that had been worn and re-worn so many times the elastic was gone and that had to be held up with a belt, one belt, two t-shirts (XXL), one pair of socks, two pairs of underwear.

The ten dollars Chad had given him for beer was still tucked in his pocket. He wasn’t risking that in the bag. Not when people kept taking it away and handing it back to him.

Not like ten dollars was really going to help him but, when it was all the money he had in the world, he apparently got pretty protective.

Down the corridor, another omega was waiting. This one was more pregnant than he was and she had bruise marks around her throat. She was pretty in the traditional, waifish way that omegas were meant to be pretty. He was willing to bet that, when she wasn’t about to drop a baby, she had a tiny waist. She had long, softly curling hair, full lips, long lashes. She wasn’t, like, supermodel hot but Tyler bet most hot-blooded alphas would be happy to take her home and look after her.

He pulled his baseball cap down over his eyes. He hadn’t managed to shave in a few days. He’d had to leave the razors they leant him at the halfway house in Boston and nobody had thought to offer him one since.

A door opened and a beta with pigtails and a warm smile stuck her head out. Tyler and the other Omega both looked up.

“Omega Seguin,” she said, and Tyler nodded, climbing to his feet and grabbing his bag. The other omega deflated back into her seat and he felt kind of bad for her, he did, but he fucking needed this too.

“Hi,” the beta said, stepping back to Tyler could go through into the office. It looked like every generic office he’d ever been in. The desk was cheap and old, the chairs were cheerful colours but obviously bought in bulk and the fabric was wearing thin. The computer on the desk had seen better days. “I’m Mel, I’ll be your contact here in Dallas.”

“Hi, Mel. I’m Tyler,” he said, taking one of the chairs. She moved to sit behind the desk.

“It’s good to finally meet you.” She clicked on a few things. “I spoke to Timothy on the phone earlier this week and, of course, I’ve read all your file notes. Let me just confirm a few things.”

“Sure,” Tyler said, nodding when she rattled off his name and date of birth.

“And you’re just over four months, right?” she said, looking down at his belly. “And looking at adoption?”

“For sure,” Tyler nodded. The only thing scarier than the thought of having a baby was the thought of raising the poor kid. He could barely keep himself alive, he definitely shouldn’t be trusted with the health and well being of an entire other person.

Fuck, he didn’t even know what he was going to do once he was done being pregnant. Omega services were only interested that long. It wasn’t like he could go back to Chad. His family didn’t need him around being a burden on them. He hadn’t heard from any of them since he’d signed his bonding papers years ago.

He definitely wasn’t fit to raise a baby.

“Okay, that’s all just like I thought,” she said, smiling. “So, I’ve got an alpha here who I think would be a great match for you. He’s just passed our training programme with flying colours and he’s eager to get his first assignment.”

Tyler relaxed a little. He’d been trying not to worry but the idea that he’d turn up and they’d just tell him there wasn’t anyone who wanted him had been niggling at the back of his mind. “Sweet.”

“He’s called Jamie and he’s a teacher. He’s a sweet guy. He’s waiting just outside now, actually. If you’re ready, we can do a meet and greet.”

“Yeah, sure,” Tyler nodded. “Sounds great.”

Mel practically bounced out of the room.

Okay, a sweet teacher alpha. He could totally deal with that. Some guy in a sweater vest and glasses, probably. He’d be completely fucking boring but, honestly, boring might be an upgrade on fucking terrifying. It’d be okay.

The door opened and Mel brought Jamie in.

Tyler’s jaw hit the floor. That was not what he’d been expecting from a sweet teacher. Not at all.

Jamie was tall and broad and a fucking wall of muscle. He looked like he could pin Tyler down to the mattress, hold him right where he wanted him and give it to him slow and hard all night. He looked like he’d be able to wrap Tyler up in those arms and Tyler’d be able to scream and punch and let out everything and Jamie’d just be there still, holding him carefully, keeping him safe.

“Hey,” Jamie said, ducking his head and looking at Tyler through his lashes. His eyes were ridiculously big and soft. Fuck. “I’m Jamie. Benn. I’m Jamie Benn. You’re Tyler, right?”

“Right,” Tyler said, standing up. He held out a hand for Jamie to shake. “It’s good to meet you, man.”

“Good to meet you too,” Jamie said, all giant and sweet and fuck, this wasn’t what Tyler had planned for. “Mel said you’re a teacher?”

“Oh, not exactly,” Jamie said, looking confused. It was a really good fucking look on him. “I work at a local ice rink. I coach skating and things, mostly. I basically run the ice hockey programme.”

“No way.” Tyler couldn’t help but light up. “I love hockey. I used to play before my trait emerged.”

“Sweet,” Jamie said, clearly excited by this too. “My brother’s a pro. He’s just breaking into the NHL. I was gonna try for that too but, you know, shit happens and, hey, I love my life so…”

Tyler nodded, though he didn’t think he’d be so philosophical about it. When he’d been sorted into the omega skate classes he’d been so fucking angry. Then he’d been thrown out of them because he wouldn’t stop checking people and that had been it other than the odd pond hockey game. He’d begged his mom to drive him to a different rink to play but she’d said there was no point, he’d be better taking up cooking.

He was really fucking shit at cooking.

“Anyway,” he said, turning to Mel. “What’s the next step here?”

“Well, if you’re both happy, then it’s paperwork,” she said, opening up a folder and pulling out some forms. “Then we can have Tyler handed over to you today, if that’s okay with both of you.”

“Yeah, sure,” Jamie said. “Let’s make it happen.” Then he turned to Tyler. “What do you think? That good with you? I won’t be, like, offended if it’s not.”

“No,” Tyler said, honestly. “That’s good with me.”

***

Jamie lead Tyler into the foyer of an apartment building, stopping to take out his key and check his post box for mail. Tyler took a second to look around. It was a nice enough place. He knew shit about Dallas but the streets outside had seemed okay and Jamie had left his car just sat out so the neighbourhood couldn’t be that bad.

“Come on,” Jamie said, closing the box and starting to the stairs. “It’s this way.”

They went up two flights before Jamie stopped and opened a door to a little hallway. Two doors lead off it and Jamie went to the left one, sliding the key in and opening it.

Tyler followed Jamie through to a small but comfortable looking sitting room. The two couches couldn’t be said to match by even the most generous description but they looked sinfully comfortable. Jamie had clearly spent his money on a TV instead of matching couches and it dominated the wall. Tyler could imagine evenings when they’d get hockey up on there and lie out on the couches, watching. It’d be awesome.

“It’s not much,” Jamie said, shifting from foot to foot. “My sister and my mom picked out a load of, like, cushions and shit when they last came down to visit and I got the couches off craigslist but it’s not bad.”

“It’s awesome,” Tyler said. “It looks, like, super fucking cosy.”

“Thanks,” Jamie said, blushing a little and, shit, he couldn’t actually be this nice. Like, he literally couldn’t. Tyler knew this game, being all sweet and bashful until you got someone where you wanted them and then being a dick from there on out. Chad used to be sweet to him. Chad used to whisper into Tyler’s ear about how much he wanted and needed him. He used to bring Tyler presents.

Tyler cradled his broken arm closer to his body. He’d be fine with Jamie. He was only here for five months. He’d get out before it got bad.

“Here’s the kitchen,” Jamie said, leading him through. “I hope you don’t mind but I kind of love cooking. I know that, like, it’s normally something the omega does.”

“Hey, no, knock yourself out. I can’t cook to save my life.”

“Sweet,” Jamie said, apparently genuinely pleased with Tyler’s complete lack of skill. The kitchen was kind of small so Tyler backed out and let Jamie guide him down past a bathroom to two doors.

“That one’s mine,” Jamie said, gesturing, then he grabbed the other door and opened it.

Tyler had been imagining a box room, if he was honest. Something just big enough for one bed and, like, somewhere to keep his clothes if he was lucky.

The bedroom was actually pretty spacious, given the general size of the flat. As big as he and Chad’s room had been, at least. The double bed was made up with a patchwork quilt draped over it. There was a closet, some drawers, and even a fucking armchair.

“I hope this is okay,” Jamie said, hanging back at the door. “This used to be Jordie’s room. My brother. I moved down here from Canada to help him while he was breaking through to the NHL and we ended up getting this place together when I got the job at the rink. He used to stay here when he was up.”

“Is he not getting called up any more?” Tyler asked, dropping his bag on the bed.

“He got traded.”

“Shit, that sucks,” Tyler said. He was pretty sure that, if he’d expressed alpha and ended up actually making the NHL, the trades would be the thing he hated the most. “You didn’t follow him?”

“I thought about it,” Jamie said. He shrugged and rubbed at the back of his neck which was unfairly hot. “But, like, I’ve got my job here and I love my job here. And Jordie doesn’t really need me anyway. He’s always been the together one. But, like, the place was quite without him. That’s why I went and applied to omega services.”

“You didn’t think to just go out and date?” Tyler asked. Jamie looked shocked for a second and Tyler was about to kick himself and start apologising when Jamie laughed.

“I mean, I thought about that too. The thing is, I’m kind of just out of a relationship that was pretty serious. I was all ready for settling down and having a family and then she decided that signing bonding papers was just too big of a commitment and that she was enjoying life as a single omega and must just carry on with that for a while.”

“Oh, that sucks.” Must be nice to get to make the choice, though. Tyler had been told he needed to bond by the time he was twenty or he’d have to move out on his own. Neither prospect had been good but then Chad had come alone and he thought he’d got it all worked out.

“Yeah. So, like, it felt weird to go out and start with first dates again. I’m not ready for that. But I’m still lonely, you know. It was my mom who suggested omega services. I get to help you out, get some of this out of my system, you know. And then when you move on, I’ll be ready to start dating again.”

Tyler nodded, though he wasn’t sure he followed the logic. Still, he wasn’t going to try and argue Jamie out of letting him stay. He’d really love to stay.

“Anyway, I’ll let you settle in,” Jamie said, stepping back out of the doorway. “I’ll shout you when dinner’s ready. Or you can come out whenever. No stress. I’ll just… yeah.”

Then we was gone, shutting the door behind him.

Tyler flopped back on the bed.

Fuck.

He reached down to rub at his bump. What a fucking mess. At least Jamie seemed to want to be nice for now. Tyler appreciated that in a guy.

He sighed and pushed himself back up, then grabbed his bag. He put his few things into one drawer, then retrieved his ten dollars and stuck that in there too, hidden in the middle of his single pair of socks.

He kind of wanted to kick off his shoes, crawl under the covers and never come out again, but Jamie had been pretty clear about what he wanted from Tyler in exchange for a roof over his head and food in his belly and that was company.

It was a good thing Tyler was an extrovert.

***

“Hey,” Jamie said, appearing in Tyler’s doorway. Tyler was sprawled out on his back on the bed, staring out of the window, bored as fuck. He’d thought about fifty times in the past hour about going out and turning the TV on or something but Jamie was home and Tyler didn’t want to piss him off just yet. “I’m going to Walmart. Do you want to come? You can, like, help me pick food and stuff and we can get yon some clothes.”

“You don’t need to buy me clothes,” Tyler said, swinging himself upright. His shirt billowed around him like a tent when he moved and Jamie raised an eyebrow.

“The shelter gives me money to look after you. It really looks like you need some clothes.”

“They don’t give you that much,” Tyler grumbled, because he might not know the exact amount they gave to Jamie but he did know the entire system was chronically underfunded and they barely had enough to help the worst cases.

“Tyler, you don’t actually enjoy wearing massively overstretched maternity pants, right?”

He looked down at himself and, well, he kind of looked a mess. He could only shrug because, well, he obviously didn’t like wearing this and fuck, Jamie had that note in his voice like he was annoyed and Tyler knew where that ended, never somewhere good. He knew he was an annoying, infuriating little shit but he’d wanted Jamie to like him for at least a little while longer.

Jamie sighed. “Come on and get in the car, we can argue about it more when we get there.”

He said it lightly but Tyler couldn’t help but flinch. Still, if Jamie wanted to have whatever this argument was in public that was good. Not even Chad had beat the shit out of him in public. Not often, anyway, and only in crappy bars and after he’d decided that Tyler had been flirting with someone else.

The drive to Walmart was unexpectedly quiet, the building itself was fucking loud. It had been an age since Tyler had actually been in one of these places, he and Chad lived on a combination of takeout and what Tyler could get from the corner store.

Jamie grabbed them a cart. A beta with two kids hanging from her give Tyler a disgusted glance and he pulled his cap down lower over his eyes. Fuck, he should just have stayed home.

“Okay,” Jamie said, heading them into the store. Tyler trailed after him, wondering if he should have shaved. It had been one thing to let his stubble grow out when he was flying across the country to get away from his abusive ex but surely, now he’d been with Jamie for a few days, he should have made the effort. “Clothes first or food?”

Tyler considered that. If they were going to argue about clothes, was it better to do it now and get it over with or to wait and hope that Jamie was less pissed by the time they’d been food shopping?

Being around Tyler rarely made people less angry, better to get it over with. “Clothes.”

“Sure,” Jamie said, steering them towards the clothing section. “Have you got anything that’s actually your own or are we starting from scratch here?”

“I mean, I had the clothes on my back when I walked out the door.”

“So nothing,” Jamie said, stopping by a display or socks. He held up two packs, black or grey. Tyler pointed at the black and they went into the cart, then another pair. Sweet, now he owned twelve pairs of socks instead of two.

Underwear was equally easy to deal with and then, suddenly, they were surrounded by children’s clothes, then baby clothes.

Jamie carried on, pointed at the maternity department. Tyler froze.

Fuck, he hadn’t even thought about baby clothes.

Not that he’d need them himself, obviously. He wasn’t keeping the baby. But the clothes. He reached up and tentatively stroked a little body suit with a picture of a dog on. It seemed so fucking small. Surely his baby was going to be bigger than that.

“Ty,” Jamie shouted from somewhere up ahead. Tyler made himself let go of the baby clothes. It was stupid to even look.

Jamie had found the maternity clothes, and was holding up a pair of jeans that, Tyler had to admit, looked much better than what he was currently wearing. “Are these okay?” Jamie asked, holding them out. “I don’t really know what you like, I guess. I’ve only seen you wearing the things the centre gave you.”

“Anything’s fine,” Tyler said, taking the jeans and holding them up to his hips. “Maybe a size bigger, though?” Jamie nodded and swapped them out for him.

“You can try them and we can grab a few pairs, if they fit. Maybe some black trousers or something, too. Just for variety. Then we can look for some tops.”

Tyler nodded and let himself be herded into the changing rooms, glancing at the clothes they passed as they went. Most of the maternity stuff was floral and pastel, definitely not his kind of thing but he’d wear it, it was whatever.

When he was a kid, before Chad, he used to really fucking care about the clothes he wore. They never had much money but he used to cut pictures out of magazines of the coolest things, the best trainers, the most awesome jeans, and stick them in a scrap book. His mom always used to get super-pissed at him when she realised what he’d done.

After Chad, he’d worn the things Chad didn’t want any more.

The maternity jeans were a good fit. He stood and looked at himself in the mirror. Where the trousers he’d been given had been big enough to hide his body, these clung to him and they made the little bump really fucking obvious. He reached down and pressed a hand to it.

His baby.

Fuck.

He was only going to get bigger, too. More obvious. That kind of didn’t scare him as much as it probably should.

“Tyler,” Jamie shouted from outside the stall. “You okay?”

“Sure, bro. Here.” He reached over and opened the door and stepped out. Jamie’s eyes scanned over him, and it was only when Jamie looked that he realised he was shirtless still, though Jamie’s eyes seemed to skip right to the bump.

“Yeah,” Jamie said, an odd note in his voice. “They look awesome. Get changed and we’ll see about finding some shirts.”

Then he turned and left and Tyler tried not to feel like he’d lost something.

***

Tyler was careful when hanging up his new wardrobe. Jamie had bought him way too much. Tyler had tried to protest but every time he turned around, three new things seemed to have made their way into the cart and, honestly, it had been kind of nice to have someone asking his opinion and picking things out just for him.

He unfolded two black t-shirt then hung then carefully. They didn’t, like, need hanging really but he had the space and, since Jamie had spent so much money on them, he could at least keep them nice. Maybe Jamie could hang on to them and, when Tyler was gone and they sent him another charity case to foster, he could give that poor omega all these clothes.

He scooped out a nice buttoned shirt with expanding side panels, then froze.

There, tucked under the shirt, was something baby blue. Something familiar.

He definitely hadn’t picked out any baby blue tops.

The body suit was as soft as he remembered it being when he’d touched it on the shelf and, fuck, when had Jamie slipped away to grab this? How had he even noticed Tyler looking at it?

He ran it through his fingers. Fuck. Jamie had bought his baby clothes. Which was stupid, Tyler wasn’t keeping his baby. He couldn’t keep his baby, he had literally nothing. A few days after the baby was born, he was going to be living on the street.

But, now, he had a body suit. Maybe, when the baby was born, they’d let him dress it. Just once. Maybe they’d let him hold it for a little while, before the family they’d found for it came and took it away.

Or maybe they wouldn’t. Maybe they’d be better not to, or Tyler might fall in love with it. He always fell in love way too quickly and it was always messy and stupid.

He pulled his sock drawer open quickly and shoved the body suit at the back then shut the drawer again.

He didn’t need to look at it. Not right now.

He didn’t need to think about the future.

***

The thing about Jamie, once Tyler kind of got a little used to him, was that he was a bro.

That was pretty fucking awesome, it’d been a while since Tyler had a bro. He used to hang out with his bros all the time, before. They’d shoot shit, watch terrible movies, hype each other up, play street hockey.

Hell, Chad used to be one of his bros. It was how they met.

And Jamie was a bro. He didn’t expect Tyler to be the little omega around the house, which was awesome as Tyler was pretty fucking unqualified for that job. He didn’t expect Tyler to nod and agree with everything he said, or be some kind of erotic experience, simpering and fluttering his eyelashes and lounging around the place, barely dressed.

They watched movies and laughed at how stupid they were. They watched hockey and loudly disagreed with the ref’s calls. They ate pizza and fought over the remote and it was kind of awesome. Kind of like Tyler had imagined living with Chad would feel.

And Jamie didn’t mention the baby.

***

They were playing street hockey.

Tyler had been pretty full of energy, which was new. He’d been so fucking tired for so long which was, now he’d actually done some reading, probably a pregnancy thing. Though it might also have been a ‘living with Chad’ thing. It was kind of hard to tell.

Jamie only did a half day on Thursdays. He’d come home from work, taken one look at Tyler who was basically vibrating in his seat, then dragged him out to the nearest flat space and put a hockey stick in his hand.

Ball hockey wasn’t as good as ice hockey but it was better that going fucking mad.

He managed to score on Jamie twice, which was pretty fucking good at it turned out Jamie was a beast when it came to hockey. Tyler could totally see how this guy might have gone pro if he’d had the chance. He scored five times to Tyler’s two which Tyler would have been fucking offended by if he wasn’t both pregnant and out of practice.

He had the ball on his stick again and was heading down the court. Jamie was tracking him, but Tyler had been paying attention. He faked right, a line he’d taken a few times before trying to get past Jamie, and Jamie went for it, fully committing to the move as Tyler swerved left at the last second, his shoulder brushing Jamie’s as he went past and shot into the goal. The ball hit the back of the net and he laughed, pumping the air in victory.

And the baby moved.

He froze, mouth open, then looked down at his stomach. He’d felt fluttering and shit before, sure, and he’d thought it might be the baby but that, that was something fucking moving inside of him. There was no denying that.

“Tyler,” Jamie said. He sounded worried, which kind of made sense because Tyler was stood there with his jaw on the floor. Tyler lifted his hand and lay it on his stomach.

“It moved,” he said, looking over to Jamie, and he got to see the moment when Jamie’s expression changed from worry to fucking wonder.

“Oh wow,” Jamie said, dropping his stick. “That’s fucking awesome. Have you felt it before?”

“Not like this,” Tyler said, then the baby moved again and Tyler grinned.

“Must be a hockey fan.”

“Of course they’re going to be a hockey fan,” Tyler said, stroking his belly. Fuck, the baby had really moved. He’d known it would but feeling it, it was like something just became real. Like the thing inside him had shifted from an idea to a person who moved on their own.

“I guess so, with you for a dad. Hey, maybe they’ll make the NHL, right? You’ll have to get them signed up for pewee hockey and shit.”

Tyler looked up at Jamie. He didn’t know what the fuck his face was doing but Jamie suddenly looked concerned.

Jamie didn’t know he wasn’t keeping the baby.

“Jamie,” Tyler said, slowly. “You know I can’t keep this baby, right?”

Jamie looked confused, worried. It was sometimes kind of hard to tell them apart on him, either way it was kind of a devastating look. It had to bring all the omegas to the yard, if he’d actually wanted them.

“You’re not?”

“Like, the scheme only supports pregnant omegas. When I’ve had the baby, I’ll get a few hundred dollars and I’ll be out on the street. Which is fucking fine, or whatever. I’m not begging, I don’t mind working. I can work a bar or whatever. But I can’t do that if I’ve got a baby and, like, it wouldn’t be fair to the baby either. I mean, I can keep me alive but what kind of life will it be for this poor kid?”

“Can’t you, like, get help or something? Food stamps?”

“They don’t give you that shit if you’re an unmated omega. Not in the US.”

They still did in Canada, though it wasn’t much even there and he’d have to get all the way to Canada on his own and his citizenship had been converted when he’d bonded himself to an American so it wasn’t even like they had to take him in. In the centre at Boston he’d tried to convince them to send him back to Canada but they’d sent him to Dallas instead.

“I don’t…” Jamie started, frowning, and fuck but Tyler had to cut this off.

“Look, this is what I want, okay? My life’s a mess. I’m a mess. This kid, I want it to have a good life. I want the stuff you were talking about. Like, I want it to skate and, if its good enough, maybe get a shot at the NHL. I want it to, like, play fucking baseball or go to college or, I don’t know, take up interpretive dance. Whatever it fucking wants. I want it to have a safe family who love it and to have all the chances that I can’t give it right now, okay? I don’t want it to grow up on food stamps, scraping by. I’m not keeping it.”

All the fight seemed to go out of Jamie at that. He looked away for a second and, when he looked back, he smiled.

“Okay, I get that. But, like, I’m here for you, okay? Whatever you need, I’m here for you.”

“Thanks, man,” Tyler said, leaning down to grab his stick.

“And, like, Tyler, you’re not going to be homeless when you’ve had your baby. My spare room’s yours for as long as you need it.”

“Dude, I can’t take up your spare room when nobody’s giving you any money for me to stay there.”

“If you don’t, it’s only going to stand empty,” Jamie said, retrieving his own stick. “I mean, I’m not going to try and force you or whatever but, as long as you need it, okay?”

“Okay,” Tyler agreed, as much to get Jamie to stop talking as anything. “Now come on, man. I’m only two down right now and I’m feeling a comeback.”

***

He got the text from omega services reminding him about his mid-pregnancy ultra-sound on a long Tuesday morning when he was sprawled out on the couch, binging something mindless on netflix and feeling baby move. It’d been getting stronger and stronger, which makes sense. Jamie even felt it the other day, lying his hand on Tyler’s stomach, which had been kind of awesome. He’d stood there looking down at Tyler’s belly with awe on his face until Tyler had kicked his ankles and they’d been back to normal.

He frowned at the text, it said the scan was in an hour. He scrawled back up to make sure he wasn’t going mad and hadn’t missed the first notice but, no, this was the first he was hearing about it.

Shit.

He jumped up and ran for the hallway, jamming his feet into his trainers and, fuck, he didn’t even have any cash. He pulled up google maps, there was a bus route but he was going to have to be quick.

There were the ten dollars in his sock.

It wasn’t like he’d been consciously saving that, not really. It just felt important. It was, after all, the only thing other than the clothes on his back he’d taken when he’d walked out on Chad. If he used it now, then he’d be down to only the clothes on his back.

If he didn’t use it now, omega services were going to be pissed. They’d probably have to pay for another appointment, if they didn’t just write him off as a bad bet and leave him to die in the street.

He went and got the ten dollars.

He had to run, but he made the bus, then he texted Jamie just in case Jamie came home for lunch or something and he wasn’t there. Jamie did that sometimes, generally bringing food and then keeping Tyler company, which was kind of awesome. It wasn’t that he couldn’t cope at home all day alone, it was just that he kind of enjoyed the company too.

His phone rang only a few seconds later, which meant Jamie must be on his break.

“You’re going to your appointment now?” Jamie said. He sounded annoyed, fuck.

“Yeah, I just got a reminder. Only they didn’t tell me before, I swear. I looked back through my texts and there wasn’t anything.”

Jamie snorted. “Yeah, their systems aren’t the best. Are you okay, though? Do you have money? There’s a twenty in little table thing in the hall for emergencies. Did you get an uber?”

“I’m on the bus,” Tyler said. He hadn’t even thought to look for emergency money. “I had a ten from, like, ages ago.”

“Okay,” Jamie said. “But you’re going to make the appointment.”

“Yeah, I should do,” Tyler said. “I mean, if the bus isn’t late or whatever. And I need to make a change but I should be there.”

“Sweet. If I set off now, I should be there with about ten minutes to go and, if you’re late, I’ll let them know why.”

Tyler had to sit there a second to work through that. Jamie was going to meet him there. Jamie was going to his scan with him. Jamie was going to miss work to go to his scan.

“You don’t need to do that,” he said, biting his lip. “Like, won’t your boss be pissed?”

“He won’t care,” Jamie said. “I’ll meet you there. Okay. I—“

The phone went dead. Tyler took it away from his ear and, yeah, the battery was dead. He’d been thinking, lounging on the couch, that he should get up and charge it but it hadn’t seemed urgent because he thought all he’d be doing all morning was lounging around the house, maybe working out a bit.

But now he was going for his scan, and Jamie was going to come with him.

He was going to see his baby. They were going to see his baby.

Which was great, and horrible. It’d make it real, more real. It was bad enough that he could feel it moving, to actually see it. Fuck. His baby. No, the baby. Not his.

He wondered if they’d let him take a picture.

He managed the change in buses, even without his phone to tell him which one to take, which was a minor miracle, and got into the clinic with five minutes to spare. Jamie was sat there, waiting, and he beamed when Tyler came through the door. And somehow, looking at the naked enthusiasm on his face, all Tyler’s worries about seeing the baby melted away.

The receptionist was chipper and efficient and Jamie let Tyler play on his phone until they were called through to the office.

Jamie followed, apparently not even questioning that he was going to be there when they did the scan. Tyler should have probably felt something about that, that Jamie just presumed he was going to be with Tyler for this, but honestly he was just relieved. If Jamie invited himself, Tyler didn’t have to ask him to come.

The doctor had clearly read enough of his file to know who he was. She was brisk and efficient. She talked to him about vitamins and the kind of exercise he should be doing and what he should expect in the next few months and honestly, Tyler kind of hoped Jamie was keeping track as he couldn’t focus on any of it when the ultrasound machine was right there in the corner.

Finally, after centuries, she nodded over to it.

“Well, let’s take a look, shall we.”

“Yeah,” Tyler said, standing up. Fuck, his legs felt like jelly. He hadn’t had time to prepare for this, to think about it. Not that he would have anyway, not in any kind of sensible way. He’d have just spent all week panicking and getting everyone pissed off with him.

“Hey, it’s going to be okay,” Jamie said, bumping their shoulders together. Tyler nodded, took a steadying breath, and climbed up onto the table.

He pulled up his shirt while the doctor fiddled with the scanner, then cold gel was being squeezed onto his bump and the wand pressed down.

And on the screen, he saw his baby.

Fuck.

Just, fuck.

“It all looks good,” the doctor was saying, smiling. “Right number of limbs, everything where it should be.”

And it did look good. He could see its arms, its legs, its head. He’d imagined the scan was going to be blurry but it wasn’t, it was crisp and clear and he could see his baby, kicking it’s legs, and feel it kicking too and, fuck.

He was having a baby. He was bringing a real, living thing into the world.

Fuck.

“So,” the doctor said, smiling. “Want to know if it’s a boy or a girl?”

He looked over at Jamie. Jamie was staring at the screen, looking as fucking delighted about the entire thing as Tyler felt, almost as if it were his baby.

Fuck, Tyler wished this was Jamie’s baby. He wished Jamie was his alpha, that he wasn’t just on loan. He wished he could take Jamie’s hand and meet his eye and that they could make this decision together.

He looked back at the doctor, who was smiling at him patiently. She knew what he was having. It was unfair that he didn’t know.

“I want to know,” he said. Jamie took his hand. It was almost enough.

“You’re having a boy,” she said, smiling softly and, fuck, a boy. A little boy.

“That’s awesome,” Jamie said, squeezing his hand. Tyler could only nod and hang on to Jamie as tightly as he could.

***

“Here, take this.”

Tyler paused. He’d been about to go hide in his room and finally take out the picture of the ultrasound. He’d almost not asked for it, it felt weirdly like he didn’t have any right, like he was creeping on someone else’s baby. But he’d wanted it. He’d wanted it so badly.

And now he had it, hidden in his pocket, just waiting for him to get back to his room where he could study it.

Once he dealt with Jamie.

Jamie was stood in the living room, his wallet in one hand, a couple of twenties in the other. He was holding them out for Tyler.

“What for?” Tyler asked, stepping into the room. “You already spent a ton of money on me today.” There had been another Walmart trip for vitamins.

“You should have some money,” Jamie said, holding it out. “In case you need something. I should have thought of it earlier, I know, but this is my first time doing this and I’m trying.”

“Dude, you don’t need to give me money,” Tyler said, though he did come fully into the room. “I know where the emergency money is now.”

“I know,” Jamie said, stepping forward and pressing the money into Tyler’s hand. “Just take it. Spend it. If you need more, tell me. Okay?”

Tyler nodded, closing his hand around the notes.

Then he finally retreated to his room.

He rolled the notes up and pushed them down into his old pair of socks, where the ten had been. It wasn’t like he had anywhere else to keep them. Then he finally got his picture out and went over to lie on the bed. He held it up over his head and studied it until his arms got tired, then he rolled over and set it up on the bedside table.

He lay there looking at it until Jamie came to get him for dinner.

***

“Oh shit, we’re not watching this again, are we?” Jamie said, coming into the room with a bowl of popcorn. Tyler flinched, resisting the urge to offer up the remote and slink back to the corner of the couch. It had taken him a while to work out that Jamie didn’t really mean anything by it when he said shit like that, he was just being a bro and chirping.

“My night,” Tyler said, grabbing the remote and shoving it under his ass. “We’ll watch weepy shit if I want to.”

Chad would have punched him for that, Jamie just laughed and dropped himself down onto the other end of the couch. “Is this, like, a pregnancy thing? Like, you’re feeling all emotional and shit?”

Tyler snorted. “No, just a me thing.” Jamie nodded, shifting a little, seeming to coil up and Tyler knew that move. Jamie was going to fight him for the remote. He grinned. Jamie had been doing that kind of thing lately. It wasn’t quite like Tyler and his bros used to do before Chad, Jamie was actually kind of careful with him, but it was close enough to remind him of good times and good friends.

When Jamie made a grab, he was ready. They scuffled for a bit. Really, it shouldn’t have been much of a contest, Tyler was smaller and Jamie was so much stronger, but the fact that Jamie wouldn’t go 100% against a pregnant omega evened the playing field a little.

Plus, Tyler didn’t mind playing dirty, using his elbows and using bump for defence.

Jamie got the remote and tried retreating to the other side of the couch but Tyler followed, not giving up until he had it back in his hands and managed to hit play.

In the background, the movie started. Jamie finally gave up, just letting all of the tension out of his muscles and flopping back onto the couch. Tyler, sprawled half on top of him, suddenly found that he wasn’t wrestling any more but was, instead, lying on top of Jamie.

He froze for a second, waiting to see if Jamie was going to move. He didn’t, and Tyler let himself relax. He slid to the side a little so he wasn’t completely crushing Jamie and settled in, head on Jamie’s chest.

It wasn’t, like, entirely bros. He got that. Any of his bros would have shoved him off by now. But it was really fucking nice, okay? Jamie was smoking hot so it wasn’t like it was a hardship to be lying all over him and it wasn’t like Jamie was protesting so, really, there was no reason Tyler couldn’t just kick back and enjoy it.

After a few minutes, Jamie’s arm crept round Tyler’s back, holding him close, which was super nice.

Jamie was just super nice.

It was kind of a problem.

On screen, someone was giving a stirring speech. Tyler had seen this one before and he didn’t really need to concentrate, which was good because the only thing he could actually focus on was the feel of Jamie’s chest under his cheek.

Fuck, he just really liked Jamie.

Which, like, yeah, he’d had dick-type feelings for Jamie from the first moment he’d seen him. He was, like, fucked up, not dead. Jamie was a fucking snack. Those arms, those shoulders. Tyler wanted to bite them. He wanted to get on his fucking knees and suck Jamie’s cock for hours. He wanted Jamie to open him up and fuck into him good and long.

In another world, where he wasn’t super pregnant with another guy’s baby, he might have just shot his shot and taken the rejection. With bump, it was even more of a given that Jamie was going to say no and it’d be super awkward since Tyler had to live here.

It was even part of the omega services contract that he’d signed that he couldn’t hit on Jamie.

And that’d be okay but Jamie, as it turned out, wasn’t just a snack, he was an entire fucking three course meal. He was nice and kind and seemed to actually like Tyler which was fucking amazing in itself.

Tyler wasn’t just having dick type feelings for Jamie, he was having the other type too. Which was fucking awful. He knew how to control his dick but his heart…

Jamie shifted under him and Tyler sighed, letting his eyes slide closed. This was just really fucking comfortable. Then Jamie’s hand slid up his back to tangle in his hair and it really wasn’t fair. It just wasn’t. Tyler melted into it. His entire body was turning to jelly.

Fuck, he wanted Jamie.

He’d never had to do this before, this holding back thing. He’d always just gone for what he fucking wanted.

Would it be so bad to do that with Jamie?

It had been one hell of a long time since he’d had a satisfying fuck. Even Chad hadn’t counted in a while, he’d stopped giving a shit about if Tyler actually got off or not a long time ago. Tyler bet Jamie’d be an awesome fuck. He’d be as focused in bed as he was when they were playing sport, as gentle as he was when they were wrestling, not afraid of use his body but not forcing himself either. Being careful.

Tyler was getting hard just thinking about it. With how they were pressed together, Jamie had to know.

And Jamie was a bro. If Tyler hit on him and he said no, he probably wouldn’t throw Tyler out into the cold. He’d be cool, and once Tyler had shot his shot he could get the fuck over it and go back to just being a bro.

Even if, somehow, Jamie did want to fuck him, he’d still end in a better place than this. Soft, heart type feelings never lasted long once he’d started fucking the dude.

Decision made, Tyler pulled back from Jamie a little, moving so they could see each other’s faces, which was kind of awkward with bump in the middle of them but, whatever, they made it work. Jamie looked at him and raised an eyebrow. Tyler grinned.

Then he kissed Jamie.

He felt Jamie smile under his lips, then Jamie kissed him back, soft and gentle like Tyler had thought he would, but really fucking thorough.

He got his hand under Jamie’s shirt so he could feel Jamie’s abs, which were a work of fucking art. Jamie stuck his hands down Tyler’s trousers to grab his ass and fuck, that was a thing. It was actually happening. They were going to fuck.

This was so much better than a polite rejection.

Jamie rolled them over to Tyler was on his back which, A+ plan. He’d had fantasies about Jamie being on top of him like this and the reality was even more fucking awesome that he’d thought it would be because, while Jamie was all over him and around him, he wasn’t crushing Tyler or holding him down and Tyler was pretty fucking sure that if he pushed, Jamie would move away.

It had been a long time since he’d had that.

Just to test it, he pushed gently at Jamie’s shoulder and, sure as fuck, Jamie stopped kissing him to pull back.

Just kissed was one hell of a good look on Jamie.

“You okay?” Jamie asked, his fingers rubbing circles into Tyler’s skin. “Is this, like, too much?”

“Hell no,” Tyler said, gripping Jamie’s arm. “It’s not too much for you, is it?”

“No,” Jamie said and fuck, nobody had looked at Tyler with that much naked want in their eyes ever, probably. Jamie looked like he wanted to devour Tyler.

“Sweet. Want to move this to the bedroom?”

Jamie paused, he opened his mouth, and Tyler could almost hear the no there, then Jamie’s lips curved into a smile. “Isn’t that going a little fast?”

Tyler snorted. “I specialise in going fast.”

Jamie nodded, like he knew that about Tyler but it was good to have it confirmed. Then he stood, stretching, and Tyler could only lie there and watch the play of his muscles as he rolled his shoulders, obvious underneath the painfully thin t-shirt.

And this man wanted to fuck Tyler, who only remembered to shave about every other day and who was obviously pregnant.

Fuck, he’d used to have the kind of body people would get hot over, too. He’d taken great care to cultivate it and work on it, he’d spent more time in the gym than he did in his own house. He’d been fucking hot as hell. Then there’d been Chad who’d got mad about Tyler wasting money on the gym, who’d said Tyler didn’t need to be hot any more since he’d already found himself an alpha and who accused Tyler of trying to cheat whenever he caught him exercising.

Tyler had still done what he could, he wasn’t gone completely to seed, even with the baby bump, but he kind of wished he could show Jamie what he had been.

Jamie didn’t seem to mind what he was though, reaching out a hand and pulling Tyler up, then kissing him again, long and hard, right there in front of the couch.

They stumbled back to the bedroom, Jamie guiding them and Tyler just kind of hanging on for the ride. Tyler hadn’t actually been in Jamie’s room before but he didn’t really get the time to look around before Jamie had him lying on the bed and was kissing him like this might be his last chance to kiss anyone ever. Tyler could hardly argue with being kissed like that.

Apparently Jamie was a pretty thorough kind of bro. He didn’t just go for Tyler’s dick like Tyler had been kind of expecting but took his time. He kissed Tyler long and hard, hands trailing all over Tyler’s body, and Tyler took the chance to touch as much as he wanted too, which was a fucking lot.

Jamie kissed down Tyler’s neck and then managed to get Tyler’s shirt off so he could carry on down Tyler’s chest, teasing his nipples and leaving bite marks down Tyler’s side and fuck but Tyler wanted to do that right back but somehow Jamie focusing on him like that just left him entirely floored and unable to do anything but hang on for the ride.

Not that he was complaining.

Somewhere in there Jamie lost his shirt too, then he was sliding Tyler’s pants and underwear down and away and laying himself down between Tyler’s legs, eyes focused completely on Tyler’s cock.

Tyler couldn’t fucking breath.

“You know, I don’t normally do this,” Jamie said, the breath of his voice sending shivers up Tyler’s spine. Then he leant forward and took Tyler’s cock in his mouth.

And fuck, Tyler saw stars. It had been forever since he’d gotten his dick sucked and Jamie was so fucking much, pressing Tyler’s hips down and just going to fucking town on his dick. Tyler lost his mind. His world focused down to the hot, wet sensation of Jamie’s mouth and when he came, it was wrenched out of him, his hands clenched in the sheets, Jamie’s name on his lips.

Then Jamie climbed back up his body and bracketed him in, too much and somehow not enough and kissed him and kissed him and kissed him until all Tyler could do was reach down and wrap his hand around Jamie’s cock, holding on as Jamie fucked his fist and came, pressing kisses into Tyler’s lips as he did.

After, Tyler just kind of lay there, luxuriating in having Jamie so close and feeling so fucking good. He knew he should get up and go, he just really fucking didn’t want to.

Jamie was the first to peel himself up. He grabbed some tissues from the bedside table to clean them both up, then kissed Tyler softly.

“Hey,” Tyler said against his lips. “That was fucking awesome.”

Jamie just grunted, kissed Tyler again, then rolled him over so Jamie could press up against his back, spooning him and wrapping arms around him and, for a horrible second, Tyler was sure he was going to start crying. It was one thing to have Jamie fuck him, it was another thing entirely to have Jamie hold him like this, so close and so soft.

“Sleep,” Jamie whispered in his ear, and there was no way Tyler was going to say no to that and go crawling off to his own bed.

He slept better in Jamie’s arms than he had in years.

***

“Get your shoes on, we’re going on.”

Tyler, half way through a yoga pose, looked over at the door and raised an eyebrow at Jamie. Jamie’s eyes tracked over his body and he licked his lips which was really fucking gratifying. Not that Tyler didn’t know Jamie wanted him, they’d fucked three times now, but it was still good to see.

“I mean, I guess you can finish that first. We don’t need to rush.”

“Sure,” Tyler said, pulling out of the pose. “Give me five.”

Jamie lingered in the doorway, watching as Tyler finished the routine. Jamie had finally talked him into going to a birthing class and one of the omegas there had recommended yoga as a way to help him adjust to his shifting centre of gravity as baby got bigger, which baby was definitely doing.

“Where are we going?” he asked, straightening up and grabbing the towel he’d been using for a yoga mat. “I probably need to get changed.”

“Probably,” Jamie agreed. “Wear something nice, I guess. I’ll go get changed too.”

“Something nice like a shirt?” Tyler asked, Jamie nodded. Tyler headed to the bedroom, stripping out of his clothes as he went, and had to search to find the shirt they’d bought for him on that first Walmart trip. He hadn’t exactly had to dress up before.

Jamie was waiting out in the hall. He was wearing a shirt too, and a pair of trousers. He looked good. Professional. Tyler wanted to climb him.

“Looking good,” he said, following Jamie out of the apartment. “Where are we going, exactly?”

“You’ll see,” Jamie said, a twinkle in his eye, and reached out to take Tyler’s hand.

He didn’t let go until they got to the car.

They were going, apparently, to a little restaurant someone had told Jamie about. It was nice, classy without being intimidating, which was good as it was a hell of a long time since Tyler had eaten out anywhere nicer than McDonald’s. There were candles on the tables and Jamie pulled out his chair for him.

Really, it was fucking embarrassing that it took him to half way through the main course to realise they were on a date.

It was the food sharing that tipped him off. Jamie had asked for a taste of his lasagne then, when Tyler had agreed, had reached over and taken Tyler’s wrist, gently redirecting Tyler’s fork to his own mouth, his eyes fixed on Tyler’s the entire time and it should not have been so hot or so fucking intense.

“Shit,” Tyler said, his wrist still wrapped in Jamie’s hand. “Are we on a date?”

“Yes,” Jamie said, then wrinkled his forehead. “I mean, if you want us to be? I mean, I kind of thought it was obvious but I guess I didn’t ask…”

Tyler looked down at Jamie’s hand holding his wrist.

They were on a date.

And it was really fucking nice. Jamie was always really fucking attentive and sweet to him, but he’d been even more so and, yeah, Tyler kind of loved having that focused on him.

“Yeah, this is awesome. I want this to be a date,” Tyler said, which made Jamie grin.

And he wasn’t even lying, he did want it to be a date. He wanted Jamie to look after him and treat him like he was something precious.

Even if dating meant that Jamie was probably going to get bored of him even faster. Tyler had managed to string along a few fuck buddies for quite a while in his life, but as soon as he started dating people and they actually got a look at how much of a mess he was, they always ran.

The only one who’d lasted any length of time was Chad and even he’d got sick of Tyler.

But, well, the entire thing with Jamie was on a deadline anyway. Pretty soon he was going to be too big and pregnant to be fuckable and then, when he’d had the baby, whatever Jamie said now, he was probably going to end up out on the street so…

Well, he might as well grab everything he could while he could.

“Awesome,” Jamie said, bringing Tyler’s hand up to his lips to kiss the back of it and fuck, Tyler’s stomach turned somersaults and not just because a baby was kicking it. “I promise I’m going to show you a good time.”

“I know you will,” Tyler said, and he even believed it.

***

Tyler came out of the mall food court bathroom to see an omega flirting with Jamie.

He sighed and, as though agreeing, baby kicked him in the side. He winced and reached down to rub at it. Fuck, he was kind of ready to not have a tiny acrobat turning somersaults inside him and kicking him in the gut.

When he looked over again the omega was smiling and leaning right into Jamie’s space, a hand on his arm, looking up at him through her lashes. She was fucking hot too. Tall and strong and toned like Tyler used to be before he fucked everything up. She could have been on the front of a fucking magazine or something with her bouncy blonde hair and smooth skin.

Tyler almost considered a strategic retreat to the bathroom, but then Jamie laughed at something the omega said. Tyler frowned. He’d had to watch other omegas flirt with Jamie before. Jamie was fucking gorgeous, of course omegas wanted to hit on him. But, before, he’d always been kind of awkward and bashful and politely turned them away which was fine. Tyler kind of liked knowing that other people looked at his alpha and wanted him.

Even if Jamie was only temporarily Tyler’s alpha.

Having Jamie flirt back was different.

He made his way over to the table. Jamie saw him coming and his face lit up which was fucking awesome. He turned to say something to the omega hanging on his arm and she looked over at him.

There was definitely something familiar about her face. Tyler tried to dredge up where he knew her from but couldn’t. It wasn’t like he even knew anyone in Dallas that Jamie hadn’t introduced him too and he’d remember this girl.

“Tyler,” Jamie said, enthusiastically. “Come here. This is Lyndsey. Lyndsey, this is Tyler.”

“Oh hey,” Lyndsey said, reaching over to shake Tyler’s hand, and as she did, she finally slotted into place in Tyler’s head. Lyndsey, Jamie’s ex. Of course he knew her face, there was still a photo of them in the hall. Jamie still looked at it sometimes, when he thought Tyler wasn’t paying attention.

When it came to Jamie, Tyler was always paying attention.

“Hey, it’s good to meet you,” Tyler said, gripping Lyndsey’s hand maybe a little too tightly.

“Lyndsey just moved back to Dallas,” Jamie said, smiling like that was good news.

“I just love the city,” Lyndsey gushed, pushing a strand of hair behind her ear. “I needed to get away for a while, to think about what I really wanted in life. But, well, I’m back now.”

“It’s really good to see you again,” Jamie said in that awfully sincere way he had, though he did step away from her to sling an arm around Tyler’s shoulder. Tyler pressed into his side, watching to see if Lyndsey reacted. She didn’t. “We should get a coffee some time, have a real catch up.”

“We totally should,” Lyndsey beamed. “My number’s the same. Maybe call me after the baby’s here? I guess you’re going to be super busy until then, right? It can’t be long now.”

“Another month,” Tyler said, curling a hand around his bump.

“Oh wow, going to be a big one,” she said, and Tyler fucking hated her. He fought the urge to duck behind Jamie and hide. It was bad enough that he couldn’t sleep and his back ached and sex was getting harder and harder to navigate, he didn’t need Jamie’s ex telling he was fat.

“It’s really exciting,” Jamie said, reaching over to put his hand on the bump too. That helped, a little.

“I bet,” Lyndsey said, smiling up at Jamie through her lashes and fuck, how was Tyler meant to compare to her? She was fucking beautiful and, like, he was hot but he was also fucking massively pregnant and out of shape and, even when he was in shape, he wasn’t hot like an omega should be. He was always a little too rough.

Lyndsey wanted to get back with Jamie. She had to, here she was flirting with him right in the middle of a fucking food court. They’d broke up about babies, Tyler was pretty sure. Maybe she’d decided she wanted babies after all, that she was ready to start a family for Jamie. It wasn’t like Tyler could offer that, not right now. He was looking forward to not being pregnant for a while and, like, Jamie was awesome but he didn’t want some other alpha’s kid, he wanted his own kid.

Soon, Tyler’d be too loud or messy or just too himself and when Jamie got annoyed, he’d think of Lyndsey, and Lyndsey would be there waiting, and then Tyler’d be out on the street.

Fuck.

“Hey, you okay?” Jamie asked, arm tightening around Tyler. “You with us.”

“Yeah, just drifted off a little there,” he said. He moved the hand on his bump to lie over Jamie’s. “Pregnancy brain.”

“We should go home,” Jamie said, turning back to Lyndsey and shrugging. “I’ll call you, okay?”

“Make sure you do, it’s been too long.”

***

Tyler woke up the next day to find Jamie had already gone to work, which wasn’t surprising. Baby had decided midnight was a great time to work on its dance moved and, when he stopped, Tyler’s back had decided to let him know that no possible position would be comfortable, so it hadn’t been the most restful night. He’d dragged himself and his pillow pile out of Jamie’s bed and into his own at about one so at least Jamie had slept.

He trudged to the kitchen, helping himself to some cereal then sitting down at the table.

There was some post. Addressed to him. That was new.

Two letters, he picked them up cautiously. They had to come from omega services, they were the only people who actually knew where he was. He sighed and opened the first one. It was a cover letter, then some signed legal papers. He frowned and flipped through them until he realised what he was holding and had to take a second to just breath.

His separation papers from Chad.

He picked them up and flipped to the back. Both of their signatures were there. He’d signed them months ago, before they’d flown him off to Dallas. He traced his finger over Chad’s signature.

He was a free, single omega again.

It was fucking terrifying.

He shoved the paper back in the envelope, headed to the counter to grab a coffee, then remembered he wasn’t fucking allowed coffee and diverted to grab a Gatorade.

It was really fucking stupid for him to be feeling anything other than happy. Chad had beat the crap out of him more times than he could count. He’d never been happy with Chad, not really. Well, maybe at first. Things had been good at first. But that he’d lasted long and then, when things had been bad, they’d been really bad.

But they’d been good once, before Tyler made a mess of it. When he’d signed their bonding papers, he’d really loved Chad. He’d thought Chad really loved him. He’d thought they were going to be together for the rest of his life.

He moved back to the table and picked up the separation papers again.

Where had he gone wrong?

He shoved them to the side and grabbed the other envelope, opening it slowly this time. It was thinner, there was only one sheet of paper inside. A sheet of paper cordially inviting him to a meeting with the prospective adoptive parents of his baby.

Fuck.

He dropped that one on the table too then turned and went back to bed.

That was enough for one morning.

***

He dragged himself back out of bed just before Jamie got home from work so he could tidy the letters away. He didn’t really need Jamie to look at them and then try to make him feel better about them or whatever. He just needed for them to have never arrived.

He hid them in the back of his drawer, with the forty dollars wrapped in a sock and the tiny body suit Jamie had bought for the baby before he’d realised Tyler wasn’t keeping the baby. He took that out for a second and lay it over his bump, then balled it back up and shoved it into the corner of the drawer.

There was no point even thinking about the baby in a cute little outfit or whatever. That wasn’t his to see.

Jamie was kind of withdrawn too, which made sense since he was probably thinking about hooking up with his ex again. Tyler couldn’t even blame him. He was evidently unlovable and Jamie was so fucking amazingly loveable, of course he deserved someone better than Tyler.

Still, after dinner, when Jamie reached for him to cuddle while they watched Jamie’s brother lose a hockey game, Tyler couldn’t say no.

Even then, lying in Jamie’s arms, hockey right there, he couldn’t stop thinking about the letters. Chad letting him go, which meant he was really on his own now. It meant he’d really ruined the one relationship in his life that was meant to last forever.

And adoptive parents.

Fuck, he didn’t even know what he wanted for his kid. Not that he’d have a lot of choice. People who’d love it, obviously. Someone nice and stable. Someone with a dog. Fuck, Tyler had always wanted a dog. He’d found one on the street once and brought it home but apparently Chad was allergic or something. He’d broken Tyler’s arm and it’d been added to the list of things Chad held against him.

Hockey would be good. Tyler had always been happiest on the ice. Though he wouldn’t want his kid pushed into trying for the NHL or whatever if he didn’t want to. Whatever it wanted to do, that had to be cool with that.

They even had to be cool if it turned out it was an omega.

And they had to love it. They’d never love it as much as he did, obviously, but they still had to love it.

The game ended. Jordie’s team, improbably, pulled out a win. Jamie didn’t seem particularly cheered up by that. They took turns in the bathroom. Tyler washed first, the loitered outside while Jamie showered.

“Hey,” he said when Jamie emerged, hair still dripping. “I’m gonna sleep in my room tonight, don’t want to keep you awake.”

“You know I don’t mind, right?” Jamie said, reaching out to catch Tyler’s arm. “I like sleeping with you.”

“Hey, I like sleeping with you too. I’m just not sure sleeping’s on the cards for tonight and it’s not fair to make you toss and turn with me just because I can’t get comfy.”

“I guess,” Jamie said, sighing. “I just… look, Tyler, I’ve been thinking a lot since I saw Lyndsey. About the baby and, well, everything…”

Fuck, Tyler could not have this conversation right now.

“I’ve got an appointment at omega services tomorrow. I’ve got to meet some adoptive families.”

Jamie blinked, then stepped back. It was like he was drawing something back, his expression was suddenly carefully neutral.

“Is that really still what you want?”

“Well, it’s what I’m doing.”

Jamie nodded again. “I guess I’d better let you get some sleep, then. Night, Tyler.”

“Night, Jamie.”

***

Tyler met three families. They were all really nice.

The first family had two adopted kids already and they were so fucking proud of them. Tyler got to look at endless photos of two happy children playing and laughing and just generally apparently having an awesome time of life. They were kayaking and bird watching and ice skating and Tyler wanted that for his kid, those adventures, that happiness.

The second family were so financially stable if was unreal. They showed him budgets and spreadsheets. They’d already set aside a college fund for the kid they were going to adopt. They owned a house nicer than any house Tyler had ever been in and the beta was going to go part time at his job to make more time to raise the baby while still being a good role model by going out to work.

The third couple had been trying for years and had been through three miscarriages. They were just full of love. They had a nursery all set up with everything the baby was going to need. They’d already picked out names. And he was a hockey player. He’d been in the AHL for years, he’d even made the big game for a few games. He talked about how excited he was to help the kid they adopted pick out its first pair of skates, to take it out onto the ice and teach it how to handle a puck.

There was nothing wrong with any of them.

Tyler nodded at them all and promised to make a decision soon. The omega services worker who’d been there handed him an information pack and talked about how there was no rush, no pressure, but wouldn’t it be great to get this over with before baby was here and wouldn’t he feel better once he had this settled?

He spent the bus ride home blasting music into his ears as loud as a could to drown out his thoughts.

When he got home, he really meant to just dump the information folders in the back of the drawer and ignore it until, like, he went into labour. That seemed a sensible time. Instead, he found himself taking out the body suit again.

It was really fucking cute, was the thing. It was blue with a little dog on the front and it was so fucking incredibly small. Like, Tyler couldn’t even imagine a baby being this small, but this was the size that his baby was going to be. It was going to be so tiny and so vulnerable and so entirely his and he was going to give it to one of those families and walk away.

And it was the right thing to do, he knew it was the right thing to do. Even if, somehow, Jamie decided he liked Tyler more than the love of his life who had magically reappeared, ready to start a family, and they stayed together, this would still be the right choice.

He couldn’t give this baby adventures in the mountains. He couldn’t take it kayaking and sky diving or whatever. He couldn’t give it a college fund. He couldn’t give it suburban normality with skating lessons and a normal home life and camping holidays in the summer.

He couldn’t do any of that because he was a mess. He destroyed everything good. If he kept the kid, it’d probably end up hating him.

He wasn’t fit to be a parent.

He shoved the body suit into the back of the wardrobe, then he shoved the folder after it. He could feel tears threatening at the corners of his eyes but he wasn’t going to cry. He wasn’t.

He was doing the best thing. He was giving his kid the best chance at a happy, normal life. He had to be realistic. Jamie wasn’t going to keep him, nobody was ever going to keep him. The most he could hope was that he managed to get by without hurting too many other people. And he would. He was tough. He’d find a place of his own. He’d get a job.

He’d be fine.

He had to be.

He’d made it to the kitchen and was staring into the fridge, not really seeing anything, when Jamie came home.

“Hey, how did it go?” he asked, coming into the room. He froze when he got a look at Tyler. “Hey, what’s wrong?”

“Noting,” Tyler said, but even as he did a tear slid down his cheek. “Nothing, they were all really nice.”

“Baby,” Jamie said, stepping forward, just opening up his arms and Tyler walked into them. He clung to Jamie and Jamie clung right back, arms holding him close and safe, hands rubbing gently over his shoulders.

And then he cried.

Jamie held him, rubbed his back, and promised it was going to be okay. Jamie moved them to the bedroom and lay them down, curling himself around Tyler and hanging on. He didn’t question, didn’t demand, just lay there and let Tyler sob into his shoulder until Tyler didn’t have any more tears, then she kissed Tyler sweetly and went to order takeaway.

And Tyler loved him.

Tyler loved Jamie, and he loved his baby, and he wasn’t going to get to keep either of them.

“I ordered pizza,” Jamie said, reappearing in the doorway with a damp cloth. “It seemed easiest. Here, put this on your eyes.”

Tyler reached out to accept it, then pressed it to his eyes. It did feel good. It felt even better when Jamie settled on the bed next to him and started playing with his hair. He reached down and lay a hand on his bump.

Fuck.

“I don’t want to give up my baby,” he said. It was easier with the cloth over his eyes so he didn’t have to see what Jamie’s face was doing. “I know it’s the right thing to do, but I don’t want to.”

“You don’t have to, you know,” Jamie said, voice perfectly neutral. “You can keep it.”

“Can’t.”

“Why not?” Jamie asked. His hand hadn’t stopped it’s steady motions in his hair and, somehow, that was more comforting than anything else could have been. “I mean, omega services can’t make you give it away.”

“I literally don’t have anywhere to live.”

“I’ve already told you that you can stay here as long as you want. I want you to stay here. In case you didn’t notice, I really like having you around.”

Tyler laughed. It sounded bitter. “For now, yeah. But babies are hard work. You won’t be so happy when he’s screaming all night.”

“I like babies,” Jamie said, voice still carefully neutral.

“And, like, okay, you say I can stay here but what if you get back with Lyndsey?”

Jamie snorted. “I’m not getting back with Lyndsey.”

“Seriously, dude.” Tyler lifted the cloth from his eyes so he could see Jamie’s face. Jamie looked amused. “I’m sure she’s still into you. Maybe she’s, like, realised what an awesome thing she’s missing out on and she wants to start a family with you.”

“Even if she did, I’m not interested,” Jamie said, looking down fondly at Tyler. “Do you think I’d have started dating you if I was still into her?”

And yeah, Tyler had. He’d presumed he was good enough for now, he hadn’t really thought that Jamie was seriously thinking about the two of them as a long-term thing. Because Jamie wanted stability and family and, well…

“I’m not good enough. I’ll mess this baby up.”

Jamie’s face did something complicated at that so Tyler put the wet cloth over his eyes again. Jamie probably hadn’t even thought about that before, but he was clearly thinking about it now, about all the ways Tyler was a complete mess.

“I mean, I think all our parents mess us up a little,” he said, slowly. “But, you know, for what it’s worth, I think you’d be a great dad.”

Tyson snorted and Jamie’s hand finally stilled in his hair. “No, I mean it. You’re awesome. You’ve been through so much shit, Tyler, and you’re still going. That’s role model stuff right there.”

“I don’t—“ Tyler started, but Jamie cut him off.

“But, really, anyone can be a parent. People you’d never expect can be the best parents and people who seem born to it can be fucking terrible. I think, when everything’s said and done, the only thing that really matters is love. If you love this baby, and I know you do, then you’re going to do great.”

Tyler didn’t know what to say to that so he didn’t say anything, he just lay there until Jamie started gently massaging his head again.

“You don’t have to decide now,” Jamie said, voice soft again. “But, if you want to keep this baby, I need you to know that’s an option for you. You don’t have to do it alone, I’ll be here. Whatever you decide, I’ll be here.”

Tyler was saved from having to think of a way to respond to that by the doorbell ringing, meaning pizza was there. While Jamie went to collect it and tip the delivery guy, Tyler retrieved his pillow mountain and moved them back to Jamie’s bed then, after a moment’s thought, got his scan picture and moved that too, leaning it up against the lamp on what had become his side of Jamie’s bed.

He had a lot of thinking to do.

***

“Can’t you, like, google up some ways to get baby to appear faster?” Tyler asked. He was sprawled back on the couch but everything still ached and bump was fucking enormous now. There was no way the baby was fitting into that tiny body suit Jamie bought, it was going to be straight into five year old clothes if they didn’t watch it.

“Curries and sex,” Jamie supplied, not even looking at his phone which, well, fair. Tyler had made him look it up about five times already.

“Got both of them covered,” he grumbled. Jamie snorted a laugh because, yeah. It turned out that fucking when Tyler had a giant baby in him wasn’t impossible, it just required some creativity. “But, like, if you wanted to try again tonight…”

“Yeah?” Jamie said, perking up a little. Tyler kind of loved how Jamie still got hot for him. He came and knelt by the couch then kissed Tyler, deep and long and hard and fuck but he was good at that. Tyler could just lie there and be kissed all day. Still, when Jamie pulled back be grinned and raised an eyebrow. “And here I was talking about a curry.”

Jamie’s face fell.

“Oh, sorry. I mean, we can get a curry.”

“Don’t be fucking stupid, I was joking,” Tyler said, reaching for Jamie again. Jamie went easily, because apparently Jamie was just really easy for him and he definitely wasn’t complaining about that.

Though, of course, his stomach chose that moment to make a really loud fucking grumbling sound, the traitor that it was. Jamie laughed.

“Do you seriously want a curry? I can go get you some spicy food and then we can, like, carry this on when you’ve eaten. Like, a combined attack.”

Tyler snorted. “Sure, I guess. Fuck, help me up off the couch before you go, though, or I’m going to be stuck here until you get back.

“Sure,” Jamie said, offering his hands. Tyler reached out to grab them and let Jamie pull him to his feet. As he did, a wave of pain rolled across bump and he gasped, squeezing Jamie’s hands to steady himself.

“Hey, what’s wrong?” Jamie said, looking concerned.

“Fucking Braxton Hicks again,” Tyler grumbled. They’d already been to the hospital twice only to get turned around and sent home again. This one had felt kind of different, more intense or something, but that made sense since he was only a week away from his due date now.

“You’re sure? I can get the car.”

“Go get me a curry,” Tyler said, waving Jamie off, then he grabbed Jamie’s arm and pulled him in for a quick kiss instead. “I’ll be fine.”

Jamie didn’t look so sure but he did as he’d been asked, getting his things together and going out to gather food for Tyler. Tyler then took himself to the kitchen and ate some cooked meat out of the packet. He was pretty fucking hungry and he didn’t want to wait. He grabbed cutlery too and plates and napkins because Jamie apparently had a thing about napkins. He even set them out on the table instead of just crawling back to the couch. It’d do him good to be sat up for a while.

It was probably about quarter of an hour later that the pain started again. It gasped and braced himself against the counter as it rolled through him, then pushed himself up and tried to walk it off. That had worked before.

Eventually the pain stopped and he walked back to the table, rubbing his back.

They were just Braxton Hicks contractions.

Probably.

Because, for all being pregnant wasn’t much fun, he really wasn’t ready for it to be over.

He walked himself into the bedroom and pulled open his drawer. There was a load of paperwork in there about birthing now, too. He checked it. Apparently, he didn’t need to worry until his contractions, which these definitely weren’t, were five minutes apart and lasted for a minute each time.

He took out the birthing plan they’d made him write up and sat it on top of the drawers, just in case.

He’d made it back to the kitchen when the pain hit again, stopping him in his tracks and leaving him gasping for breath. Fuck. He glanced up at the clock. About fifteen minutes.

Fuck.

He went to get his phone. Jamie hadn’t texted him or anything. Jamie was probably still looking for something spicy enough to start Tyler’s contractions. He rubbed at his belly, feeling baby shifting in there. Maybe he didn’t need spices after all.

He went through to Jamie’s room and grabbed a bag. Jamie had tried to get him to pack weeks ago but he’d shrugged if off, he’d said he’d pack when he needed to.

He shoved a few changes of clothes into the bag, then went to gather up his toiletries. He kind of wondered if he should just pack everything, but Jamie had made it pretty clear that, whatever happened, he expected Tyler to be coming home from the hospital with him. Apparently he needed time to recover, Tyler wasn’t going to argue with that.

Jamie had even seemed cool that Tyler hadn’t worked out yet what the fuck he was going to do. They’d talked about it a few times, weighed up the options. Jamie seemed to really be in for keeping the baby, for helping with the baby.

Tyler still wasn’t sure what to do with that.

He went into his own room last, grabbing the birthing plan, then opening the drawer up again. He picked up the folder with adoptive families in it. He’d been hiding from omega services for the last week as they’d put pressure on him to pick one of them. Apparently, family three had decided that his baby was perfect and they absolutely wanted it. The other two families were still in the running too, though family two had been speaking to another omega too so if he wanted them…

He shoved the folder in his bag then, hesitantly, grabbed the body suit out of the corner of the drawer.

He packed it under all his clothes. Maybe they could put the baby in it and hold him for a while before omega services came to take him to his new home. Maybe…

Fuck, Tyler didn’t want to think about it. Every time he thought about keeping the baby he just fucking clenched up with anxiety. It felt like the stupidest gamble, because who would fucking bet on Jamie still being interested in him in eighteen years? It was more likely they’d last another few months then Tyler’d be out on his own.

Or, no, he knew Jamie better than that by now. If Jamie made a promise, he’d keep it. Tyler and his kid wouldn’t be out on the street, they’d just be resented or something. Jamie’d sadly live out his life helping Tyler with a kid that wasn’t even his and wishing he’d never got caught up in whatever the fuck they were caught up in.

But what if he was wrong? What if it did work out?

He zipped the bag and put it by his door. No point having it somewhere Jamie could see it yet, not when these weren’t probably even real contractions. He probably had an entire week yet to work out what he was going to do with his baby.

The pain hit again just as Jamie was coming in the door, and Jamie dropped the food to come right over and rub his back and say reassuring things to him because Jamie was the motherfucking best and Tyler loved him.

Even if he couldn’t quite manage to actually tell Jamie that he loved him yet.

“Are you okay?” Jamie asked as the pain eased. “Still Braxton Hicks.”

“Probably,” Tyler said, then winced because, yeah, probably not. Fuck. “I mean, it wouldn’t hurt to keep track of them just in case they’re actual contractions, you know.”

“We can go to the hospital whenever you want.”

“The papers from the hospital say we don’t need to rush. Anyway, I want my food.” Jamie nodded and went to fetch the takeaway.

Honestly, Tyler couldn’t even tell you what he ate. His couldn’t seem to focus on anything because fuck, his baby might be coming.

He had no fucking idea what he was going to do.

Another contraction hit half way through the meal and Jamie held his hand through it then produced some paper from somewhere to write down when he had the contraction. It was kind of sweet, he could always trust Jamie to be organised.

Jamie insisted on digging out and reading the guidance once they’d finished dinner and washed their plates. He seemed pleased that Tyler had taken it seriously enough to pack a bag and even resisted the urge to open it and re-pack it, which Tyler was pretty grateful for. He wasn’t sure he wanted Jamie to see the body suit, the paperwork. He didn’t want Jamie to know he hadn’t even decided yet.

He tried to nap, though the pains were getting worse. Jamie didn’t even bother, he just played on his phone and held Tyler’s hand until they finally admitted defeat and headed to the hospital.

Midnight found Tyler in a birthing ward, leaning heavily on Jamie and being examined by a very efficient midwife who told him that baby was in a good position and that he just had to hang on in there.

By two am, he was exhausted, but Jamie was still there, holding him up, walking with him. The pain was so much fucking worse now, longer and more intense and when he was rolling through him it was the only thing he could focus on. The midwife came in and said he was doing well, that he was dilated just right and that the birth was looking set to go easily.

He was really fucking glad it wasn’t going to be a hard birth, if this was an easy birth.

At four-thirty he climbed into a birthing pool, naked, the few shreds of modesty he’d had long since abandoned as various people had lined up to check how dilated he was and the position of the baby. Jamie held his hand and told him how brilliantly he was doing, which wasn’t really something Jamie was qualified to know but it was still pretty reassuring so Tyler made pleased noises and let him carry on.

At five, the midwife told him to push.

At five thirty-nine, his baby was born.

He was fucking exhausted when Jamie helped him out of the water and gently dried him off. Tyler could only think about the baby, clutched tight in his arms. He looked down on it and somehow it was both the ugliest and most beautiful think he’d ever seen.

He couldn’t stop looking at it. He never wanted to stop looking at it.

People were talking about afterbirth and umbilicle cords and Tyler mentally wrote all that off as something for someone else to worry about and looked down at his son.

His son!

He’d made this person. He’d sacrificed for this person. He wanted to be there for him now, for the rest of his life. He wanted to be the one to first take him skating. He wanted to be the one to bandage his cuts and kiss his scrapes better. He wanted to be the one this baby, his baby, ran to for hugs and kisses and love. He wanted the mess and the chaos and the fights and the teenage years full of rebellion.

He wanted it all.

He wanted to be a family. Him and Jamie and this baby. And he thought they could be. He thought, maybe, he could actually have this.

“Hey,” Jamie said, brushing hair back from his eyes. “He’s gorgeous. You did so good, Tyler.”

“Yeah,” Tyler said, his voice dripping with awe. “Jamie, I want—“ Jamie cut him off with a kiss.

“Not now. You’re full of hormones and you’re sleep deprived, don’t make choices or promises you can’t keep. You have time. I’ll make sure you have all the time you need to make this decision.”

Tyler nodded, because that made sense. He wasn’t going to change his mind, though. He'd known before he'd come to the hospital, really. He'd known for weeks. He was going to keep his baby. He'd always wanted to keep his baby, it had just been such a bad idea but now, with Jamie, it didn't seem like a bad idea. It didn't seem impossible. It felt like exactly the right thing. Like, with Jamie, he could do this.

Like maybe everyone else had been wrong, like maybe Jamie was the first one to really see him properly. Like maybe he wasn't a complete fuck up after all.

***

Tyler woke to the sounds of a hospital. He opened his eyes to Jamie, sat in a chair at the side of the bed, Tyler’s baby in his arms. He was looking down at that baby with such focus, such love, that he didn’t even notice Tyler waking up and fuck, that was a good look on him.

“Hey,” he said, reaching over to touch Jamie’s knee. “I love you.”

He hadn’t meant to say that, but it felt right as soon as he did. Jamie couldn’t actually look any happier already but he moved the focus of all that love from the baby to Tyler. “I love you too.”

Tyler blushed and resisted the urge to hide his head under the blanket. It had been a hell of a long time since someone had told him they loved him. His mom, probably. Chad had never said it, and perhaps that should have been a sign that there was something fucking wrong with them.

No, something wrong with Chad. Tyler wasn’t the one who couldn’t say I love you.

“Is he okay?” Tyler asked, reaching for the baby. Jamie nodded and moved to settle the baby into Tyler’s arms. It grumbled a little to be moved then relaxed into Tyler’s warmth and Tyler would literally die for this kid, he really would.

Jamie had dressed him in the body suit.

“I want to keep him,” Tyler said, letting the words out before he could think better of them. “I know it’s going to be difficult or whatever but I want to keep him.”

“I’m glad,” Jamie said, then leant in to kiss him. “I really want to keep him too. I’ve been, well, you know, I’ve been trying not to push you or whatever but I’ve been really excited, Tyler, to have this. To be a family with you and him.”

“Yeah,” Tyler said, reaching down to stroke the downy hair on his baby’s head. “But this is a big deal, you know. I'm not sure I can do this on my own. I know it's, like, a lot of pressure but I need to know that you're in this with me. I just want the best life I can give him for this kid and I think we can give him a really, really awesome life but I'm not sure, if I'm on my own-"

“I want you,” Jamie said. He sounded so sure of himself. “I want to be a family with you, to be this kid's dad. I’ve been thinking about it a lot. Tyler, look, I don’t want to put pressure on you right now or whatever so I’m not asking but, like, long term, I want us to get bonded. I want to legally adopt this baby, I want it to be our baby.”

Bonded to Jamie. Their baby.

“It doesn’t bother you that he’s Chad’s?”

“No, why should it? And, I mean, it’s not his. Not in any meaningful way. Chad might be the guy who fucked you but he’s never going to be a dad to this kid, right? He signed away all his rights in your separation agreement. So he’s not going to be here, I’m the one who’s going to be here. I’m the one who felt baby moving inside of you, I’m the one who’s given him his first bath and dressed him. I’m going to be the one who takes you two home, who builds his crib, who’s there every day as long as you’ll let me be.”

“Fuck,” Tyler whispered, then bit his lip because he probably needed to stop swearing all the time now. “I’d like that. I’d really like that.”

“Good,” Jamie said, leaning in to kiss him. And it was good, it was so fucking good, like it always was with Jamie. And he was going to get to have this. Jamie wanted to keep him. Jamie wanted this baby, Tyler’s baby, to be their baby. Not just in name but in action. He wanted to raise the baby with Tyler, to love it and Tyler was more than willing to let him.

Maybe he wasn’t so much of a fuck up as he’d thought. Maybe he did deserve some good things.

“Right,” Jamie said, pulling back. “I’m going to go tell the woman outside from omega services that we won’t be needing her after all, then I’m going shopping. Fuck, we’re going to need so much stuff. But a car seat, first, so we can take him home. And he’s going to need a name.”

“We’ve got time,” Tyler said, slumping back on the bed, eyes drifting back to his baby’s face. “We’ve got all the time in the world.”

Jamie grunted like he didn’t quite agree, but he did lean in and press a kiss to Tyler’s forehead, then lean down and do the same for the baby, before he left to do battle with the world.

And Tyler stared at his son and thought about Jamie and knew he’d made the right choice.

***

He came home with the baby to an apartment turned upside down and a woman he didn’t know making something delicious-smelling in his kitchen.

“Mom,” Jamie whined, dropping Tyler’s bags by the door and going over to hug his mom. “I told you now to do too much.”

“I haven’t,” she said, waving him off. “Hi, Tyler.” She came over and hugged him like she’d known him for years. “You must be exhausted, you get yourself settled.”

“Thanks,” he said, then moved over to the chair she’d gestured him too, one that hadn’t been in the living room when he’d left for the hospital. He had to admit, once he settled into it, that it was really fucking comfortable, even more so when Jamie appeared with a nursing pillow to help support the baby.

“I’m sorry,” Jamie whispered in his ear. “If I’d known she’d fly straight down, I’d have waited a little while longer to tell her.”

“Hey, no sweat,” Tyler said. “This is actually pretty nice. Getting help.”

“It is,” Jamie agreed, beaming. “And she’s really excited to meet her grandson.”

Her grandson. Because baby was Jamie’s son. Not legally yet, though he’d appeared with paperwork earlier in the day, but in every way that was important.

It turned out that Jamie’s parents had bought them some thing, and Jamie’s NHL playing brother had bought them a load more and threatened to appear to see the baby the next time he was playing in Dallas. Tyler sat like the eye of the storm, baby sleeping in his arms, as Jamie and his mom unpacked boxes and set up a changing table and a crib and talked about how they were going to turn Tyler’s room into a nursery.

It was late by the time they got baby settled and everyone into bed. Tyler curled up on his side, it felt weird without the bump there but he was sure he’d get used to it soon, and Jamie curled up behind him.

“Thank you,” Tyler whispered, reaching down to lace his fingers through Jamie’s.

Jamie kissed the back of his neck. “I love you.”

“I love you too,” Tyler agreed. Next to them, in his cot, the baby made a small, content noise.

The three of them slept.

***

Tyler’s first bonding day hadn’t been a big deal. He and Chad had gone with his mom and Chad’s best friend. They’d signed a few papers and that’d been it. They hadn’t got dressed up, there hadn’t been a party, they’d only really invited the witnesses because they legally had to.

Bonding with Jamie was different. They had to wait until the summer so Jordie could be there so they had a summer wedding. Jamie made them buy suits, which Tyler was on board with because he looked fucking amazing in a suit and so did Jamie. They even found one for baby Brett and a bow tie for Marshal, their rescue dog.

Jordie stood up with Jamie to sign the register and Tyler’s mom stood with him. Getting in touch with her again had been weird but their relationship was a lot better now his dad was out of the picture and he’d really enjoyed getting to know his sisters again. Where Chad had always kind of resented Tyler spending energy on his family, Jamie seemed to love it. But, then Jamie was just generally pretty fucking superior to Chad in every way.

They promised themselves to each other in front of a group of their closest family and friends. Jordie held the dog’s least, Tyler held Brett since it was all kind of overwhelming for a kid who wasn’t even two yet.

From there they went to Tyler’s favourite restaurant for a meal then on to a hall they’d rented for the party. Jamie’s mom took Brett and Marshal home to bed at a sensible hour so they didn’t have to worry about childcare. Midnight found Tyler and Jamie slow dancing, Tyler’s head on Jamie’s shoulder, Jamie’s arms around him.

“Had a good day?” Jamie asked, voice soft.

“The best,” Tyler said, turning for a kiss.

“The best so far,” Jamie corrected, and Tyler nodded.

Yeah, there was better yet to come.

Finally, he really believed that.