Sometimes I think about the fact that Nathan held Duke's daughter who he will never get to hold himself. do u ever cry
And then I think about the kidfic alternative that starts with Audrey being right
. Where, in fact, Jean being held by her father renews him and saves them both. Where they can't be separated at all for months, because every time it weakens Duke all over again. Where Duke gets to keep the baby he never knew he always wanted
Duke’s pale and sickly again when Nathan finally manages to get further than the patch of grass outside the hospital entrance. Jean is in one of the hospital cribs, so close that Duke can comfortably lie with an arm hanging off his bed so she can grip one of his fingers.
Nathan stops in the doorway, awkward. He doesn’t—he shouldn’t have come. He tried not to, but he’s not used to Duke hurt, not when isn’t Nathan who put the cuts and bruises on his skin.
“They tried to take her away,” Duke says. His mouth twitches into a half-hearted, deprecating smile. Nathan stares at the tiny hand clasping Duke’s left thumb with baby tenacity so he doesn’t have to look at Duke, at the strands of silver by Duke’s temples, at the surprised softness that keeps creeping into the way Duke looks at him.
Nathan’s not used to that anymore, doesn’t know what to do with Duke when he’s not teasing or taunting or smirking his way out of trouble, so it’s easier to look away and pretend nothing’s changed.
Everything is though. Changing. Ever since Audrey arrived.
It’s been years since the last time Nathan was able to look at Duke without resentment and hurt clouding his vision; now though, surrounded by beeping medical equipment and whitewashed walls, and increasingly since Audrey arrived, he’s struggling to ignore the concern-fear-relief that curl around his mind like soft white lining around the edges of a steel grey sky.
“Audrey thinks she’s keeping me alive,” Duke says.
Duke had never wanted kids, back when they were friends, and he was never good with (enamoured by) them the way Nathan is, but he says, soft, thoughtful, “I would have kept her anyway.”
Nathan doesn’t know Duke as well as he used to.
And no matter how much Duke wants to keep Jean, he doesn't know what to do with her. And he tries to move her onto the boat with him
. And Nathan is just disgusted by it, but the only options are in a boat or above a bar, and he cannot have that.
So he clears out his old study that's more of a tornado of papers than anything and fills it up with baby things and moves Duke and Jean in with him, because Duke and Audrey are just as bad as each other.
After a day, Duke calls him the baby whisperer. After a week, he stares at Nathan rocking Jean to sleep and says avidly, “Can I keep you?”
There’s a warm, coiling sexuality to it, the way there always is with Duke, and it makes Nathan press his lips together irritably because Duke could have kept him years ago if he’d wanted to. He obviously hadn’t.
But then the intimacy of suddenly living with his ex again, the one he is still desperately in love with
despite everything that's happened, and of raising this little girl together like a family is just too much, and he has started to fall in love with Audrey besides and is so confused about everything and it is the worst.
And then idk ot3 babyrearing & everything is sunshine.