This is sort of a prequel to 'Suburbia'. It goes back to when Michael was a baby. Thanks starry_midnight for saying she would read something like this... and for putting the idea of Nick and Greg in a house filled with little ones.
Michael Christopher Sanders Stokes was with out a doubt the world’s quietest baby. You literally never heard a peep out of him. He would lay there in his crib blowing little spit bubbles, the occasional gurgle noise catching Greg’s attention, but all and all he was quiet. He made this little noise when he was hungry and a completely different little noise when he had soiled a diaper and yet another completely different little noise when he was sleepy.
And so the list went on of completely different little noises Michael Christopher would make in certain situations, but never loud wailing baby cries. The kind Greg was used to. The kind Greg had gotten up in the middle of the night to keep at bay.
Nathan was loud. He was extremely loud. He’d cry and cry and cry and cry some more even after Greg had done everything to calm him down. Even at the slightest thing Nathan would cry, loud roaring cries that had Mrs. Udetsky, the neighbor that lived in the house next to them, knocking on their door in the middle of the night. Mrs. Udetsky had kids and a husband.
Though she took some pity on Nick and Greg when Nathan was born, her tolerance had been extremely low given she’d spent most of her life watching after her kids. Greg could almost understand how someone could be that cranky when they had those kids. Greg vowed to never let his kids be those kids.
So Nathan had been loud and Nick and Greg had learned a few tricks from Catherine, as well as ones they’d developed on their own. Nick said it was all that Sanders blood making him loud and cranky.
This comment made Greg sleep in the nursery for the next week and a half before Nick bought him flowers, pretty red roses to be exact, chocolate, Godiva the good stuff, and eight bags of Blue Hawaiian. Greg had pretty much forgiven him after that and handed him Nathan so he could eat his chocolate and drink his coffee in somewhat peace.
Nathan had gotten over his crying phase by one and, though he talked a mile a minute to anyone who was standing near him, he wasn’t a nuisance.
Aisling had been a little quieter, but cried nonetheless. It was what babies did. They cried. It was their way of getting attention. Greg still remembered a three-year-old Nathan eyeing his new baby sister wearily while she was crying and Greg was attempting to feed her.
“Why’s she crying. Did she get a booboo?” Nathan asked.
He was standing on the rocking chair, something Nick and Greg had told him a million times not to do.
“No, she doesn’t have a booboo… don’t stand on the chair Nathaniel.” Greg said as he attempted to give his daughter her food.
“So why is she crying?” Nathan asked getting down from the rocking chair. He plopped down in it and began rocking back and forth.
“Because, she’s a baby and babies cry when they want things.” Greg said.
“I want some juice.” Nathan said.
“I’m a little busy with your sister right now, Nathan.” Greg said.
He looked over at his son, mop of dirty blonde hair on his head covering his eyes as his lower lip jutted out into a pout. He started to cry. Nathan knew how to cry. Greg wasn’t exactly sure what to do. He had a crying baby in his hands and a crying son wailing louder than anyone had ever wailed before.
It didn’t take long for Nick to come in worried expression on his face. He had to work the night shift and it wasn’t good for him to be up.
“What’s wrong?” He asked worriedly.
“Nothing, would you take care of him. I think he wants some juice.” Greg said finally managing to successfully entice Aisling into taking her bottle. She suckled on it eagerly, her eyes drooping slightly as she drank.
“Why’s he crying?” Nick asked.
“Because he thinks it will get him his juice. Because I said babies cry when they want something. So he must be a baby.” Greg said.
“Oh… oh and here I thought you were a big boy. A big boy who was gonna look after his little sister. Aren’t you a big boy Nate?” Nick asked.
Nathan wiped at his eyes and shook his head.
“Well, than you can’t cry when you want something. You have to ask for it nicely. Remember?” Nick said. Nathan shook his head again.
“Okay, come on let’s get you some juice.” Nick said scooping Nathan up into his arms. He spared one long-suffering glance to Greg who probably had the same look and kept walking.
Perhaps it was the fact that they were being stuck with children who were generally very loud that made Nick decide he wanted to have kids. Maybe it was just the fact that he was getting older and kids were something you started to want as time went by.
Whatever the reason two years after Aisling was born, Nick said that, though he loved his kids dearly, he wanted a kid that was biologically his like Nathan and Aisling were biologically Greg’s. Being that Greg had to practically pull teeth for the kids they had, he readily accepted.
The funny thing was Nick had it in his head that his babies would be quiet. Rhiannon was anything but. She wasn’t as loud as Nathan, she wasn’t as quiet as Aisling. She was somewhere right smack dab in the middle. What was worse was she was somewhat of a mischief… even as a baby she was grabbing things and looking at them or sticking them in her mouth.
Her curiosity grew with age, but that time when she was a small baby their house had seen more baby proofing then it ever had when Nathan and Aisling where babies. Greg just loved shoving that straight into Nick’s face. No baby was quiet. No baby wasn’t at least a little curious of the things around him or her. It wasn’t just Sanders genes.
Greg stared down at Michael who was resting comfortably in his crib his big brown Nick like eyes staring back up at Greg. He’d been up for at least twenty minutes now. Greg had fed him and changed him and all the while Michael just made soft sounds.
No loud screams, no ear piercing wails, no trying to grab anything on the changing station and stick in his mouth. He lay there a perfectly healthy six month old infant lying in his crib looking up at his daddy. It was almost like Greg was looking at some perfect little doll that refused to make noise.
“I said give it back, Nate!”
“No, finders keepers losers weepers.” Greg could practically hear Nathan sticking his tongue out at his sister.
“But it’s mine! Daddy gave it to me!”
Aisling was a whiner. A big whiner. Of course she usually got her way when it came to Greg and Nick, she was lucky if it worked on Nathan. Most of the time she took pity on her.
“So, you shouldn’t have left it lying around. No it’s mine. Sucks for you.”
Greg could also practically see Aisling’s little fist balling up at her sides as she stomped one foot on the ground. He could practically see her face scrunching up as she attempted to make herself crying.
Nathan knew that one of the main rules of the house was no making your siblings cry. She was definitely getting him into trouble.
“Hey, that’s mine!”
“Well if Nate can steal mine than I can steal yours.”
“Ash, give Rhi her cookie back.”
“No, not until you give me my cookie back.”
This could go on forever and poor Rhiannon would sit there staring at them with that somewhat glazed over look that meant she was fascinated. Not a lot could fascinate her even if she was four.
“Alright little man. Let’s go see what’s up with your brother and sisters, shall we.” Greg said.
Michael smiled letting out a little giggle before Greg picked him up and held him close as he walked out of the Michael’s room.
His three children were in the hallway, Nathan and Aisling standing up facing one another glares on their faces. Rhiannon was sitting down playing idly with her blocks staring at her cookie in Aisling’s hand every once in awhile. He was surprised Nick hadn’t woken up from all the commotion. They were stationed right in front of Nick and Greg’s bedroom. Nick would be getting up at about this time anyway.
It was close to seven and Nick had to be at work by eight. As if Greg had some sort of magical powers Nick opened the door to see his two children, cookies in hand a glaring at each other and his youngest daughter making a fort from blocks. He didn’t look too pleased.
“Hi daddy.” Rhiannon said pleasantly, big smile on her face. Nick couldn’t help, but smile back even if it was a small smile.
“Now, what are three little cookie monsters doing standing in front of my door when they should be getting ready for bed?” Nick asked his arms crossed over his chest.
“Ling took my cookie.” Rhiannon said.
“Tattle tale.” Aisling hissed at her.
“Is that true, Aisling.” Nick said. Aisling looked somewhat scared and rightfully so. Nick rarely used her full name.
“Nate took my cookie first.” Aisling said in a whiney tone.
“Who’s the tattle tale now?” Nathan asked. Aisling glared at him.
“I don’t care who took what from whom. If you guys can’t learn to eat your cookies and not steal from one another than they’re won’t be anymore cookies.” Nick said.
All three blanched at the thought of no cookies. Greg snickered. It would have been a perfect plan too if Greg didn’t heavily rely on those cookies to keep them in check. Yes, it was bad for them and yes it was technically a bribe, but it was okay to bribe ones own children.
“Guys, why don’t you give daddy the cookies and get ready for bed.” Greg said from his place down the hall.
“But… but Nate got to eat his cookie. That isn’t fair.” Aisling pouted.
“So, Nate will get celery sticks instead of a cookie and you and Rhiannon will get an extra cookie tomorrow.”
Nate blanched at this. He hated any kind of vegetable with a passion, but than again, what sane nine-year-old didn’t.
“Deal.” Aisling said handing Nick Rhiannon’s cookie.
Nate grumbled. He knew there was no way out of this so he handed his cookie to Nick and sighed.
“Now, go brush your teeth… and I mean brush your teeth, don’t just wet your toothbrush.” Greg said.
“Of course daddy.” Aisling said skipping away happily.
“Sure.” Nate grumbled.
Rhiannon latched on to her brother’s hand and followed him down the stairs. Greg smiled at himself for a job well done.
That was of course until he looked at Nick.
“I was trying to teach them a lesson, Greggo. Bad behavior equals loss of something.” Nick said.
Yes, Nate gets celery sticks tomorrow instead of a cookie.”
“But what about Ash. She took Ann’s cookie.”
“Nick, for the last time. Our children’s names are Aisling and Rhiannon. Really is it so hard to remember.”
“Greg I’m being serious.”
“So was I. Look, Nick, you can’t make me take the cookies away. They’re a secret weapon. The kids love them and it keeps them quiet until they go to sleep.”
“How can something that looks like it’s made of pure sugar keep our kids quiet. You’ve met our kids right.” Nick asked. Greg scowled at that.
“Nick, they get a cookie, a really good cookie too, watch TV for awhile and then when I tell them to go to sleep they do.” Greg said.
“So these are bribe cookies?”
“Bribe is such a harsh word. Besides I never told them that they get a cookie if they’re quiet all night. It started off as a points thing. If they were good at night before bed I’d give them a cookie. If they weren’t then they wouldn’t get one and okay that sounds like a bribe, but Nick, you’re not here at night so really you can’t call my parenting skills into question…” Nick placed a finger in front of Greg’s mouth.
“It’s okay. I get it. Really, I do.” Nick said.
“Good… I’d hate for us to have a fight over how to raise our kids.” Greg said with a smile.
“Speaking of kids… you do know that Michael’s asleep, right.”
Greg looked down to see Michael’s eyelids closed. He was sleeping soundly his head resting comfortably on Greg’s shoulder.
“All he does is sleep eat and poop.” Greg said. “Let’s go put him down.” Nick said.
Greg nodded as he began to walk back to Michael’s room, Nick’s hand resting comfortably on the small of Greg’s back. They walked into the room decorate with ducks and blue and white stripes. Greg gently set Michael down in his crib and Nick walked over to sit in the rocking chair.
It was the same rocking chair they had bought when Nathan was a baby. It was just to precious to give up and it did come in handy for when the kids had cried or needed to be fed at late hours or early hours and both were to tired to stand.
“I’m telling Daddy you didn’t brush your teeth. You’re in so much trouble.”
“I didn’t do anything. You fell off the stool on your own.”
“No I didn’t.”
“Yes you did.”
“Did not times infinity!”
“Do too times infinity plus one!”
“You wanna take care of that one.” He asked. Greg cocked an eyebrow at him.
“You’re serious. Can’t we just let them duke it out? I mean seriously I’ve never seen kids fight like those two. And don’t you dare say its Sanders genes. I never fought with my sister like that.”
“Greg, your sister is sixteen years younger than you. You were out of the house by the time she was old enough to even talk.” Greg sighed.
“Aisling fights with Rhiannon though. And besides Rhiannon is too little to fight like those two so it’s unfair to say it’s my genes.” Greg said.
“Yeah, I guess you’re right. Man, I have a headache. And I gotta go into work tonight.” Nick said.
He didn’t seem too happy with the prospect of going into work tonight. Greg walked over to him and began to massage his temples.
“Who knows. Maybe that dayshift transfer will come through. I think I heard Stevenson was thinking of retiring.” Greg said.
“I just… between the kids and our crazy hours… it’d give any guy a headache.”
“We could always sell them to the circus or something. Probably get a pretty penny for them too. They could clean the elephants or something.” Greg said.
“Yeah, but I really wanted to teach Nate that fast ball. He’s getting so good at baseball.”
“And we can’t sell Rhiannon because she’s so smart. I think she’s going to be a chemist.”
“You just hope one of them is a chemist.”
“Well, yeah, and selling Michael’s out. He’s a baby. They probably wouldn’t take him.”
“Yeah and he’s the quietest of the bunch.”
“And if we did sell him and they bought him they might feed him to a lion or something.”
“Can’t have that.”
“And Aisling… she really wanted to go to the zoo or something. Something about the pandas.” Greg said.
“So where stuck with them.” Nick said.
“Yeah, for at least the next eighteen years… depending on if they leave or not. Then they’ll be back here with their kids. It’s a never ending cycle.”
“Remind me again why we had kids?”
“I believe there was some kind of chocolate sauce involved.” Greg said with a sly smile.
Nick smiled back at him as Greg walked out from behind the chair and sat on his lap, which was made a little tricky by the moving chair.
“Either that or I just can’t say no to you. Or quite possibly you kept bugging me till I gave in.” Nick said placing a soft kiss on Greg’s neck.
“Hmm… yeah and the chocolate sauce had no effect whatsoever.”
“Well I’d be lying if I said that.”
“Right, see I know you so well.” Greg said leaning down to kiss Nick. Just as he was about to close the gap between them Rhiannon came running into the room.
“Nate and Ling broke the picture!” She said. Nick and Greg sighed.
“Which one?” Nick asked.
“The one on the table.” Rhiannon said.
“Okay well I guess…”
“You stay here. I’ll take care of it.” Nick said giving Greg a little push. Greg took the hint and stood up.
“Of course, they’re my kids too. I’ll handle it. You look like you’re ready to pass out. Work a hard case?”
“Yeah, you know… kids.” Nick shook his head knowingly.
“I’ll see you before I leave.”
“Of course. It’s not like this is a terribly huge house.” Nick smiled at him and leaned down to kiss his nose.
He gave Greg one more smile before leaving the room Rhiannon hot on his heels.
Greg walked back over to Michael’s crib. He was sleeping peacefully, not a care in the world. He could hear Nick talking to their kids, trying to find out the truth. He could hear Nate and Aisling arguing about what really happened and, at the same time, trying to place the blame on the other.
He could hear Rhiannon call them liars and Nate and Aisling call her a tattle tale. Despite how loud they could be at times it still brought a smile to Greg’s face.
“You wanna make it in this family, Mikey, you’re gonna have to be extra, extra loud.” Greg said affectionately to his sleeping son.