They were in bed, Riley half-asleep, when Tony said, “Riley?”
“Dionne, over in Genetics, just discovered a way to make a person using different kinds of genetic material.”
“Yeah? That’s good.” He was only half-listening. Tony liked to talk in bed but Riley liked sleeping. It was a constant struggle. Turning his head in the direction of Tony’s voice, he reached a hand out blindly until he made contact with flesh. Tony took his hand and held it.
He was just falling asleep again when Tony said, “Can you imagine if we could have a child using both of our DNA. It would truly be our baby.”
Riley opened his eyes and looked over at Tony, who was fidgeting with the blanket. “You want to have a baby, Tony?”
Anthony shrugged. “I don’t know. I just thought it was interesting research.” He added softly, “that’s all.”
Riley leaned up, sleep forgotten, and looked into Tony’s eyes. He wanted to make sure he wasn’t misinterpreting this conversation. Tony stared back at him, eyes huge.
“Anthony, do you want a child?”
“Yes, but only if they can be ours.”
“They?” A soft smile was spreading across Tony’s lips.
“Well, we can’t have just one, now can we?”
Tony blinked back what looked suspiciously like tears. “Riley…”
“In fact, if you want kids, we should start trying right now…” Riley sat up and started to peel off Tony’s clothes, moving down his body, kissing and touching as he went. He grinned when he heard Tony start to laugh.
“That’s not the way it works. RILEY!”
Riley stopped nibbling and glanced up at the man he loved more than anything. “Tony, don’t kill my vibe.” He crawled back up and kissed him, tugging at that sexy lip ring. “Do you want to be the dad or shall I?”
“Riley…” Tony murmured against their lips.
“I love you Tony.”
“I love you too, Riley.”
“Tony, it’s Dr. Gates.” Riley called out. He heard Tony walking out of their bedroom and smiled when he saw him. He’d been napping. Even thinking that made him chuckle; but not out loud. Where he thought it was amusing, Tony hated it. He wasn’t quite sure how he’d done it, but Tony didn’t need as much sleep as everyone else, needing only about four hours a night. The rest of the time, he’d be his grumpy, serious self. Except, it was finally catching up to him. Riley would find him passed out on the sofa or in bed at the oddest times during the day.
It was cute.
He gave Tony a light kiss, handed him the phone before walking to the kitchen to get something to eat. He’d just pulled out the ingredients to make breakfast for dinner when he saw Tony walk into the room. Riley took one look at his face and knew something was wrong. “What?”
“Dr. Gates says I’m dying.”
Riley dropped the milk he’d been holding. He stepped over the mess he’d made and walked around the kitchen island to grab Tony. “What are you talking about?”
“You know how we’ve been going in for tests, for the trials?”
“Yes.” He led Tony to the living room and sat him down. They were being poked and probed for the genetic experiment Dionne Yards, their doctor, was conducting. It was exciting, the prospect of having a child of his own was amazing, and to be able to have one with Tony was more than he could ever hope for.
“Well, Dionne has been doing some research about my medical condition and she found some abnormalities. She brought them to Dr. Gates who then decided because of my “special” background, he would do the rest of the tests himself.”
“Yes, yes. What did he find, Tony?” He didn’t want a detailed history of how they got to the point where he was dying. He just wanted to know why.
“There’s always a price, Riley. They brought my mother back when she should have died. If she had remained a ghost, it would have been fine, but they brought her back. She had children. We aren’t supposed to exist. And now I’m paying for it. I’m the price.” Tony frowned and looked away from Riley. “It’s why I’ve been so tired lately. My body is failing.”
“That’s bullshit. It’s not fair!”
“I know but life is rarely fair.”
Riley sat there and held Tony. No, this was not the way things were supposed to work. Tony was supposed to grow old with him. They were going to have children. He was going to…no. He wouldn’t lose Tony because of some magical, genetic bullshit.
“We’ll figure something out, Tony. We always do.”
“Will we?” Tony buried his face against Riley’s chest and Riley ran a hand through his hair.
He wouldn’t lose Tony. Not now, not ever.
Riley walked in and rolling his eyes, changed the station on the radio.
“I was listening to that.” Tony watched as Riley put his things on a table. He always changed the station. It was a bit annoying actually.
Tony snorted and shook his head. “Why is it I have to put up with your loud screeching music but you can’t listen to my stuff at least once in a while?”
“I listen to your music! I’ll have you know I quite like it.”
“Really?” Skeptical, Tony raised his eyebrows. “Name one classical piece you like.”
Tony looked at Riley, his breath catching. “Really?”
“Yes. It’s one of my favorites. They play it all the time at weddings.” He walked up to Tony and cupped his face. “Anthony, you know I love you, right?”
“Y-yes.” This was not happening.
“And you know I feel blessed to have you in my life, right?”
“I do too, Riley.” Holy – it really was happening.
“I would make you my mate if I could Tony. But since we can’t, I was hoping -”
Tony cut him off, “Yes.”
Riley laughed, “I was hoping you would -”
“Yes yes yes!” Why was he still talking?!
“Jesus, Riley. Yes!”
Riley kissed him. “Good. Now, I know you like jewelry,” he glanced at Tony’s lips and grinned. “But I didn’t know if you’d want an engagement ring. I have one if you want it or we can do something else; a bracelet or a chain or something.”
“I don’t need any of that stuff Riley. Just you.” Tony was feeling lighter than air. He wanted to call Dre and his mother. He wanted to get married now. “When can we do this?”
Kissing him again, Riley said, “Slow down babe. I want a big wedding with all your family and our friends. I want to do this right. It’s going to be the most important day of my life. It needs to be perfect.”
Tony barely heard him. They were going to get married. Riley wanted him, wanted to spend forever with him. At that thought, some of his happiness faded. They didn’t have forever, maybe a year, two at the most. “Riley?”
“Are you sure this is what you want? I mean, it won’t last very long, our marriage. I’m still going to die.”
Riley’s grip on him tightened and he was pulled into a hug. “You are not going to die. Brian is on it. We will find something, just like you found something for your dad.”
“That was different. Someone had done that to him. I wouldn’t even know where to start with me.”
Riley shook his head. “No. We will figure this out. I promise that you’ll be okay.”
Alistair walked into the room and waited patiently for his presence to be noticed. Uncle Tony was nervous but he shouldn’t be. When Tony smiled at him, he said, “Don’t worry, she’ll say yes.”
Riley looked over in surprise. “Hey Al, what do you mean?”
Al walked to the fridge to grab some juice. He liked Riley and was looking forward to calling him uncle. “My mom. Uncle Tony is scared of asking her.” He turned to Tony, juice in hand. “It will be okay Uncle Tony. Mommy will say yes.”
Riley looked over at Tony and smiled. Yeah, Riley was cool.
Tony bent down so they could be eye to eye. “Al, how do you know that?”
“I don’t know, I just do. Matt says I have a gift.”
Riley nodded, standing behind Tony. “You’re very cool, kid.”
“Thanks Uncle Riley.” Both adults’ eyes widen. Shoot, he wasn’t supposed to know yet.
His mom walked into the room then and looked at the three of them. “Why do we all look so shocked?”
Tony glanced at Alistair one last time and straightened up. “We have something to ask you. But Al already figured it out.”
Eva smiled down at him, “Yeah, there’s no surprising this one.”
Alistair rolled his eyes and walked out, juice in hand. “I’m going to Eden’s house, okay?” He told his mom.
“Alright, but don’t stay for dinner. We have guests!”
“‘kay!” He walked out. Finally, he thought, walking over to where his bike was parked. Gracie would be here soon.
“What was that about?” Eva asked.
Tony looked over at him, so Riley cleared his throat. “We have a huge favor to ask of you. And of course we understand if you rather not but this is important to us and we couldn’t think of anyone else we would trust…”
Eva smiled and nodded at them. Silently encouraging Riley to continue.
“Tony and I, we, well, we wanted to ask you if -” Riley stopped speaking and looked at Tony.
Eva looked at Tony too, waiting.
Tony said, “We want to have a child but science hasn’t advanced enough for that to happen, you are the only person we could think of to help us.”
Eva’s smile vanished and she walked over to the counter to sit down. Riley took Tony’s hand in his and squeezed. When they’d discussed this, they’d prepared themselves for all possibilities. They hoped for a yes but were ready for a no. Although if she said no, they were shit outta luck. Dionne was good but she wasn’t that good. They needed an egg or rather, several eggs. As much as modern science had evolved, the basic requirements for creating life still stood. They had the chromosomes; they’d passed all her tests – mostly. But they still needed the egg. They needed Eva.
Eva watched as Riley’s face blanched. She was sure it mirrored her own. Tony had said that with no emotion, as blunt as ever. She never understood how Tony could be so gentle and attuned to Dre but not her. When they were younger, she thought it was a twin thing but as they got older…no, it was just her.
“We completely understand if this is something you can’t do.” That came from Riley, of course. Always the compassionate one.
“What would you need me to do?”
“We need your eggs,” Tony said.
“Just a few of them,” Riley corrected.
Donate her eggs. Eva sat back and thought about it for a minute. It’s not like she was ever going to need them. Still…”Can I think about it?”
Tony just stared at her. They visited for a little bit, she and Riley doing most of the actual talking. When Riley stood up to leave, Tony asked him for a moment alone with her. After giving Tony a brief look that she couldn’t decipher, he nodded and left.
“Eva,” he began, but she cut Tony off.
“Why do you dislike me so much?”
Tony frowned. “I don’t dislike you. You’re my sister.”
“But you don’t love me like you love Dre. Why?”
“I could ask you the same thing.”
That shut her up. It was the truth. “I don’t think…that’s not the same -” She couldn’t finish the sentence without flat out lying.
“I get I’m not the best brother and there are things you and I will never agree on but that doesn’t mean I don’t love you, that I won’t be there for you if and when you need me. I had hoped that I could expect the same from you.”
She shook her head. “You can. That’s not the impression that I want you to get from this visit, but it’s a huge thing you’re asking. I just need some time.”
“Alistair said you’d say yes.”
“And he’s always right, isn’t he.” Eva smiled a little, “Just give me some time to come to that answer on my own, okay?”
They sat together for a minute, not saying a word. She wished she knew this man better; her baby brother was so much more than she’d ever given him credit for.
Finally, Tony stood up and nodding at her, walked out of the kitchen. She watched as he headed straight for Riley. His body shifted slightly and he put out a hand before Tony even reached him. Riley was always so calm and gentle, she sometimes forgot he was a werewolf and had stronger senses then the rest of them. She was sure he’d heard her conversation with her brother. And sure enough, as she continued to watch, Riley whispered something in Tony’s ear that made him laugh.
She remembered that feeling, of being loved and cherished, of being the center of someone’s entire universe. She wanted that feeling back.
She looked away from the couple and stared out of her kitchen window. It was almost a year since she’d lost Matt’s baby. And Matt was trying hard to get them to a better place. She was the one pushing back. It was just – she didn’t feel whole anymore.
Matt wanted to be intimate with her again but she wasn’t ready. The thought of never being able to give him a child was a huge mental block she couldn’t get past.
But if she could help Tony, maybe…
“You want to have a child.”
For the last week, Riley had been a nervous wreck, waiting for a phone call from Eva telling them whether or not she would help them. Surprisingly, Tony didn’t seem too concerned. Whenever Riley tried to bring it up, he would just shrug and tell him not to worry. Not to worry…Riley didn’t even know what that phrase meant anymore. Funny how their roles had reversed so completely.
“You need me to donate my eggs. How many?” Eva was still talking on the phone.
“Wait, Eva, could you give me a moment? I want Tony to be on this call too.” Riley called out to Tony and put Eva on speaker. “Okay, so what were you saying?”
“How many of my eggs do you need?”
He shrugged, forgetting she couldn’t see him.
Tony said, “We don’t know, but only a few. We – I need your help, Eva.”
Riley watched Tony, there was more happening in that moment than he would ever know, but that was okay. Tony and Eva were not close. They both gravitated towards Dre and mostly just orbited around each other. But things had changed after Eva lost her child. Tony had gone into caregiver mode with her. As with everything he did, it was a subtle difference, but Riley had noticed.
And he was glad. As much as he liked Dre, Eva always seemed the more grounded of the three of them, the most well-rounded individual. He knew what Dre and Tony had was a twin thing but sometimes, when they were together, it was as if they became two halves of a whole, becoming polarized and one-dimensional. Which was fine if they were together but Tony would become remote afterwards, sinking into a deep depression, almost like he was grieving. And in a way, he was. He didn’t have his other half anymore.
“Okay,” Eva said.
Riley let out the breath he hadn’t even known he’d been holding. She’d said yes. Thank you goddess.
“Thank you,” Tony said before saying goodbye and hanging up. He turned around and smiled at Riley, and Riley pulled him into a hug.
“She said yes!”
“I told you not to worry.”
Riley could do nothing but laugh and hold on to him. They still had a long way to go before they’d have their baby but this was a start. A very good start.