The Man I Love

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Coming Home

Aiden was nervous about being gone for the past few days. He’d told Kellen that he didn’t have to go, but the man had insisted that he couldn’t miss his old teammate’s wedding.

“Aiden, I’ll be fine for a few days with the girls. There’s no need to worry,” Kellen had said.

It wasn’t that Aiden was worried about Kellen taking care of the girls and the house while he was gone. He knew that Kellen was capable. It was that Aiden had never been away from his little family like this and it was unnerving him.

He kept wondering what they were up to, what the girls were doing, and if Kellen was putting aside time to properly rest. Aiden knew that his husband had a tendency to overwork himself without realizing it, and that he had a hard time relaxing and sleeping without Aiden there. Granted, Aiden was the same way without Kellen.

Aiden huffed as he grabbed his single bag of luggage from the plane, his body thrumming with excited energy. He wanted to be back with his family. He wanted to sleep with Kellen next to him and have a nice dinner before the girls went to bed.

It wasn’t that he couldn’t handle being away for a few days, or that he didn’t have fun at the wedding. The wedding had been great, and it was amazing to see some of his old teammates again.

Four days was nothing compared to months of long distance either, but it still felt like they dragged on when Aiden was sitting along in his hotel room watching bad TV. He’d gotten used to the noise of his home, to having Kellen next to him, to greeting his family when they all got home from work and school.

Call him a sap, but he was ready to be home.

Trying to save Kellen the trouble of getting all the girls in the car to pick him up, Aiden got an uber and made it home in twenty minutes. He smiled as he clicked out of the app and walked up their front steps. Slipping his key into the door, Aiden stepped inside quietly, already feeling his shoulders relax with the comfort of being home.

He was about to yell for Kellen and the girls when he raised his eyebrows at the sight that greeted him: Kellen, completely knocked out on the couch, stretched out, breathing softly, and with a blanket draped over him.

Aiden toed off his shoes and set his bag down near the door. He crept over to Kellen, not all that surprised to see the brunette sleeping. Kellen had a fifteen-hour migraine the first night Aiden had left. Without Aiden there, he hadn’t gotten a chance to catch up on his sleep after that either.

Aiden ran his hand over Kellen’s hair; the man didn’t even move, his chest rising and falling without missing a beat.

Kellen didn’t flinch at all either when a pot banged in the kitchen and the whispered voice of Skylar rang out, “Be quiet! You’ll wake papa.”

“Well, it’s heavy,” Violet whispered back.

“Hey, no fighting! And Skylar: stop trying to go near the oven. Papa and dad said that I’m the only one allowed to use it,” Thea said, ever the older sister.

Aiden raised his eyebrows. Kellen was sleeping soundly. He would be alright for a minute while Aiden investigated whatever the girls were doing in the kitchen.

He clearly surprised them. Skylar turned around with a loud squeak when she noticed him there, almost dropping the pan she was holding. She was lucky that Violet was there to steady her, covering her mouth quickly so she didn’t make any noise.

Aiden crossed his arms and raised an eyebrow. “And what are you three doing?”

They had the good grace to look abashed. Thea was standing by the oven with her hands in oven mitts when she met his eyes with a smile. “Dad, you’re back!”

“No changing the subject. What are you guys doing?” Aiden questioned firmly. He might have thought nothing of the fact that the girls were cooking if they weren’t trying so hard not to appear suspicious. And if they weren’t doing it when Kellen was passed out asleep.

Violet sighed, twiddling her thumbs. “Well… papa was really tired. So, we suggested that he lay down for a few minutes.”

“And how many hours ago was this?” Aiden asked.

Skylar mumbled a number. Aiden only had to stare her down for another second before she said louder, “Like three.”

“So, your papa’s been napping for three hours while you three are in here trying to cook?” Aiden surmised. “I know your papa pretty well, and I’m sure he would have set an alarm on his phone to make sure he woke up to cook.”

Thea cleared her throat. “So, here’s the funny part. We kind of… turned off his alarm?” Aiden was about to respond when she went on in a panic, “But dad, papa was exhausted! We were going to wake him up when dinner was done, promise. And you said that since I’m ten now, I’m allowed to cook using the oven.” She opened the oven to display the frozen French fries they were cooking. “It was only frozen stuff. Nothing dangerous.”

Aiden sighed, all the hours at the airport catching up to him. “Girls, I can see that this was all really well-intentioned, and yes, we did say that Thea could use the oven, but you shouldn’t have turned off your papa’s alarm. You wouldn’t like it if we messed with your things like that, and you shouldn’t do that with his either.”

He got a chorus of “We’re sorry” from the three of them. Aiden nodded in acknowledgement. “I want you kids to apologize to your papa when he wakes up too. Is that understood?”

When they nodded, Aiden let out a breath. It wasn’t like the girls did anything wrong by trying to get Kellen to rest—he was sure that he would have done the same thing—but Aiden already knew that Kellen would feel bad for worrying the girls and leaving them to fend for themselves.

“I am proud of you girls though for trying to take care of papa when I’m not here,” Aiden said, softening. “Can I get some hugs?” They each stepped up to give him huge hugs, Aiden kissing each of them on the head. “Alright, I’m going to get your papa up to bed. Thea: no burning the place down. I’ll throw in something else to go with the fries when I get back down.”

After checking to be sure there really would be no fires, Aiden went to wake Kellen to get him upstairs for bed. He leaned down next to Kellen, gently shaking him. “Kell,” he said softly, repeating it a little louder.

Kellen shot up suddenly like he’d been shocked. Aiden had to scoot back to avoid smashing their heads together as Kellen took in quick breaths and looked around in a panic. “The girls,” he mumbled. “I was sleeping. Why was I sleeping? Where…?”

Aiden held up his hands in a gesture that meant “calm down.” He made sure Kellen’s unfocused eyes were on him when he said, “Kellen, baby, the girls are fine. I’ve got them.”

“You… you’ve got them,” Kellen repeated as if he was trying to process the words. He was blinking slowly, his brain trying to catch up with the words coming out of his mouth. He gave Aiden a confused look, and Aiden had to wonder how much of this conversation he was paying attention to. Aiden could already see his husband’s eyes closing even as he sat there.

He reached up to push back Kellen’s hair, leaving it sticking up in odd angles. “You should get some sleep, Kellen. We’ll be fine here.”

“You… okay… love you, honey,” Kellen murmured, flopping back down on the couch unceremoniously before Aiden could give him an “I love you too” back.

Aiden smirked in amusement. Kellen was out like a light again, already breathing softly. “Well, I guess I’ll have to do it the hard way,” Aiden said to himself. He reached down to pick up Kellen princess-style, hefting him in his arms to get him up the stairs. Kellen didn’t shift one bit as Aiden carefully carried him, careful not to hit his head, and set him on their bed.

He pulled off Kellen’s jeans, got him under the covers, and just let him sleep. Aiden leaned forward to kiss him on the temple. “Get some sleep, Kellen. I’ll take care of everything now.” Kellen was still breathing softly when Aiden left the room to help the girls.

He had a nice dinner with the girls. They told him just about everything that had happened over the four days he’d been gone, from school to dancing to Skylar’s soccer team. Aiden felt tension that he didn’t even know he was carrying drain from him knowing that his family was safe and that he was back home.

In that whole time, Kellen stayed sleeping. He’d only burrowed even further under the covers by the time Aiden rejoined him in their bedroom after having made sure the girls were in bed.

He gave Kellen a fond smile, getting ready for bed before slipping under the covers next to his husband. He expected Kellen to wake at some point in the middle of the night; even when he made up sleep after his migraines, it wasn’t like Kellen stayed asleep the entire time.

That’s why Aiden found it a little odd when Kellen was still asleep in the morning, although he didn’t necessarily think anything of it right away.

Aiden blinked awake with a wide yawn, stretching languidly on their bed. He relaxed when he saw Kellen sleeping next to him, his brown hair splayed out on his pillow, his chest rising and falling idly. Aiden reached out to smooth his hair, expecting Kellen to hum or groan like he usually did.

But he was completely silent. He didn’t make any noise, or move at all.

Aiden narrowed his eyes in confusion, a small niggling of worry in his chest. He leaned over to his nightstand to check the time. Eight in the morning. That was normal. They usually woke up around eight or nine on Sundays for some alone time before the girls were up. And with eight hours of extra sleep, he expected Kellen to be awake.

“Kellen?” Aiden asked softly.

Once again, Kellen breathed on quietly, not even moving.

Aiden frowned, reaching out to shake him a little. “Kellen,” he repeated more loudly, growing worried at Kellen’s complete lack of response. Maybe it was silly to be worried over something so simple, but the man had been sleeping for sixteen hours.

Reaching out, Aiden confirmed that Kellen’s heart was beating fine, and he was obviously breathing. He frowned. Kellen didn’t have a fever either. He looked completely okay, but Aiden knew that he wouldn’t be able to relax until he knew his husband was alright.

Pulling out his phone, he messaged Letta to see if she was awake. The woman was the only one of them with any medical experience, and Aiden figured that googling the answer would only scare him even more. He was just lucky that she was awake and called him right away.

According to her, as long as his vitals were fine, then there was no reason to worry. She just asked that Aiden keep checking on him, and said that she would come over to check him out herself if Kellen still wasn’t awake by that evening.

“And let me know when he wakes up?” she asked him before she hung up.

“Sure, Letta. I’m sure I’m just worrying too much,” Aiden tried to reassure himself through the nervous wiggling of his heart. His stomach twisted, but he was determined to ignore it.

“He’ll be okay, Aiden. Just let him sleep for now and keep checking on him,” Letta said soothingly in her best medical voice.

He wished he could relax, but even after talking to Letta, Aiden couldn’t calm down. He grabbed some papers he had to grade for health class, pulled them onto his lap, and got to grading them in bed.

It was an hour later when Aiden found himself frowning at the stupid mistakes some people made. They could at least pretend to care. He was in the middle of marking an answer wrong when Kellen sat up suddenly, scaring Aiden half to death. Well, he’d have to apologize for the giant red mark over the entire paper later.

For now, Aiden looked at Kellen tentatively, staring at him as Kellen let his eyes roam the room in confusion. Kellen’s eyebrows narrowed upon seeing Aiden there. Kellen blinked, still looking half asleep as he tilted his head. Aiden felt his heart skip at the cute expression on his face.

“Aiden…?” he murmured. “Wait… weren’t you not back yet?”

Aiden raised his eyebrows, amused. “I came home last night, Kellen. Don’t you remember?”

“No…” Kellen pouted. He stretched his neck and arched his back, huffing. “I don’t remember anything after I laid down. How long was I sleeping…?”

It was almost amusing to watch the way Kellen looked at his phone in confusion, blinked at the date, looked again, and then dropped his phone in horror. “S-seventeen hours? I was sleeping for seventeen hours?!” He turned to Aiden with a disbelieving expression, his eyes wide.

Aiden gave him a sympathetic look. “I came home and you’d already been sleeping for three. So, I carried you up here and got you to bed.”

Kellen’s mind was clearly working a mile a minute, trying to comprehend how he could have possibly slept so long. “But I set my alarm… I know I was tired, but I should have woken up.”

“About that… the girls knew how tired you were. They sort of turned off your alarm.” Aiden picked up Kellen’s hand, rubbing his thumbs over the panicked man’s knuckles.

Kellen groaned in frustration, rubbing his free hand over his face. “I slept for seventeen hours… you didn’t wake me?” he mumbled.

“I tried, baby, but you were out,” Aiden explained. “I was actually getting worried about you. But… are you alright? You seem out of it.”

“My head feels like it’s filled with cotton. I’m having a hard time thinking,” Kellen admitted, turning to Aiden.

Aiden pushed Kellen’s messy hair back, relishing in the satisfied sigh Kellen let out. “That’s because you slept for so long,” he said gently. “But Kellen, really? You shouldn’t be overworking yourself like that,” Aiden added in a firmer voice.

Kellen had the good grace to look abashed. “I know. I wasn’t planning on it, I promise, I just honestly lost track of things. I was so focused on taking care of the girls and working that I didn’t even feel tired right away. Then when I laid down, I couldn’t sleep.”

You couldn’t sleep?” Aiden joked.

Kellen shoved him playfully. “Yes, I couldn’t sleep. I missed you, Aiden. And I’m aware that it was only a few days, but we’ve been sleeping together for almost a decade now. Sue me for not being able to sleep without you.”

Aiden surged forward to give Kellen a kiss for that statement, but Kellen pulled back after about a second. “Aiden, I’ve been sleeping for a while. It’s probably better if I brush my teeth first.” He made a face. “And use the bathroom.”

Aiden chuckled. “Take your time, Kellen. I’ll be here.”

“Yes, you will be,” Kellen said in a low voice, brushing his nose up against Aiden’s neck in a way that made him shiver. Kellen was only there for a second before he squeaked in discomfort and made to start getting off the bed. “I must have been asleep for seventeen hours with how badly I have to go,” he murmured, yawning.

He got up and stretched, his shirt riding up in a way that made Aiden want to just pull the man back into bed and pounce on him. Kellen shuffled along, turning around when he reached the bathroom door. Pointing at Aiden, he said seriously, “This better not be a dream, or I’m going to be pissed.”

“Dreaming of me?” Aiden said smugly, a fire in his belly at the thought.

“I’m sure this isn’t a dream because I doubt that I’d have to use the bathroom in my own dreams, but my head is pretty fuzzy right now,” Kellen said suspiciously. “But I did also dream something kind of like this…”

Aiden raised an eyebrow. “What was your dream about?”

Kellen tilted his head. “I’ll tell you when I get back. If this isn’t a dream.” He pointed to Aiden again like he might up and disappear, shutting the bathroom door softly behind him.

Aiden smirked at his adorable husband, wondering if Kellen was actually awake enough to do a few activities together before the girls woke. He heard Kellen brushing his teeth and turning on the sink, so he got to work clearing their bed of his papers, and writing a small apology on the paper that he’d accidentally put a big red line through.

Stretching, Aiden felt the sweet burn of his muscles, a few of which were still sore from running through the airport to catch a connecting flight. It felt good to just lay back down on their bed on the still-warm pillows, where he quickly messaged Letta to let her know that Kellen was okay.

He looked up when Kellen emerged from the bathroom and nodded surely. “Good, not dreaming,” he said with a smirk. He looked more awake now, a brightness in his eyes.

“Going to tell me about your dream now?” Aiden teased as Kellen stepped over, settling himself back in bed.

“My dreams aren’t that interesting, honey. Well, except for this one where there were meteors?” Kellen questioned, thinking hard about it. “And there was another one where some weird monster stole all my books or something.” Kellen shook his head. “I don’t know. But the last one I had, I was painting your chest very badly, but that was a fun one.” He smirked.

Aiden gave him a wry smile. “They make body paints. We could try it some time.”

“Like we’d ever keep that stuff contained,” Kellen said realistically. “But I believe that we didn’t get a chance to be properly reacquainted again, and we don’t need body paints for that.” He leaned over to gently brush hips lips against Aiden’s, allowing Aiden to deepen the kiss this time.

Aiden hummed at the feeling of Kellen’s lips on his, laying back so that Kellen could position himself on top. Kellen separated them, spreading kisses all over Aiden’s face, his neck, and his pecks, murmuring in between, “Did you have fun at the wedding?”

There was heat spreading in Aiden’s stomach and chest as he breathed out. “Yeah. The last wedding that we went to was ours.”

“I remember,” Kellen said idly, his thin fingers running over Aiden’s ribs. “Want to do a redo of our wedding night?”

Aiden felt his heart quicken at Kellen’s sultry tone. He pulled up the covers over them, grinding up into Kellen. The man muffled his moans as Aiden rolled them both onto their sides, wrapping his arms around Kellen from behind as he reached down to give his husband pleasure.

Kellen slept so long that he had more than enough energy to expend on some morning fun, although he also slept long enough that he hadn’t eaten for almost an entire day.

Aiden gave him one more firm kiss before he made a hearty breakfast for the five of them. When he returned back upstairs with a plate for Kellen, he found the girls already awake and sitting with a freshly showered Kellen.

“Oh, awesome, pancakes,” Thea said happily.

Aiden handed her a plate wordlessly. “I’ll get a few more plates. Breakfast in bed with papa?”

“Can we?” Violet asked, her eyes shining.

“Did you three tell papa what you needed to tell him?” Aiden questioned.

Skylar coughed. “Um… we’re sorry, papa. For turning off your alarm.”

“We just wanted you to rest!” Thea assured him energetically. “We didn’t know that you’d sleep for that long…”

Kellen grabbed Thea, Skylar, and Violet and pulled them close to him. “I appreciate that you girls care so much for me. But it’s my job to care for you, no matter how tired I am.” Seeing that they were about to protest, he went on, “And as your dad has reminded me, I should also care more for myself. I’ll be sure to get some sleep next time so you girls don’t have to worry.” He set the plate on his lap. “But I’m fine, your dad’s back, and we have pancakes. The inferior cousin of the waffle,” he joked playfully.

“Says the man who will scarf down like five with chocolate chips on them,” Aiden teased.

Kellen didn’t look ashamed at all. “It’s not my problem if you make excellent chocolate chip pancakes. And if I’m extremely hungry right now.”

“Then you have mine, papa,” Violet said kindly.

“And we’ll go downstairs with dad to get the rest,” Thea volunteered. “Come on, Sky.”

“Why me? I want to stay here,” Skylar pouted.

“Actually, you and me should get the rest alone. Violet, you can come too,” Thea said more surely. “So, dad can rest with papa.”

Aiden didn’t know how it turned out this way, but he stayed in bed with Kellen while the girls got the rest of the food. He chuckled at the smear of chocolate on Kellen’s lip. “You missed a spot,” Aiden said in amusement.

Kellen wiped his face. “Did I get it?”

“I’ve got it,” Aiden said in response, giving Kellen a quick kiss that was only interrupted when the girls reappeared and they settled in for a delicious breakfast in bed.

Maybe Aiden was a sap for wanting to be home so badly, but if this is what he was coming home to, he didn’t want to be anywhere else.

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