The Danning Beginnings – Chapter Forty

It took a full day before things started to settle. No, not settle–not the right word. But started to settle. For the rest of the day and all through the night Cal sulked in his bedroom, Penny moped in hers, and I lay in mine feeling very confused. Kay buzzed around trying to keep himself together. In the morning he was the one to make sure the kids had breakfast.

“C-Cal is really distressed and P-Penny looked like sh-she cried all night,” he reported to me since I had stayed in the bedroom. I sat up, feeling sick. I opened my mouth to respond and wound up just running to the bathroom to throw up. “You n-need to talk t-to him.”

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After brushing my teeth I got in the tub for a good hour and a half, unable to do anything but just think about everything. My son getting his girlfriend pregnant. My son making a stupid decision. Of course I was unhappy that he had even done that, instead of waiting. But I understood giving in. I did not blame him for being unable to reign in his raging teenage hormones. However, I blamed him for going about it in a stupid manner. Too ’embarrassed’ to buy a condom meant he should have waited. Still, not everyone had the maturity to understand or realize that.

Urgh I just wanted to shake him!

Finally I got out of the tub and, after pulling on some loose clothing since I felt more than bloated, headed out to the living room. Cal and Penny were in their rooms. Sighing, I went to Cal’s door then stopped. No. I moved to Penny’s door and knocked gently. Once she told me I could go in I opened the door. She sat on her bed holding a damp cloth against her cheeks.

“Penny, can we talk?” I asked and she gave the tiniest of nods. “Are you feeling all right?”

“No…”

“Morning sickness?”

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She shook her head. “I feel awful you’re so mad at Calcifer. It was my decision too, Mr. Danning.” She gave me such pleading eyes that my heart melted. “I knew it wasn’t right to not use anything but we were so–so–” her cheeks tinted slightly, “–and I should have said something but I didn’t, so please, please don’t be mad at him.”

I rubbed my forehead, feeling tired. “Okay, well, thank you for reminding me that two people made this decision. But he made it as much as you. I just don’t understand why you’d do that…”

She wrung the cloth in her hands absentmindedly, sending droplets of water onto her skirt. “I don’t know either. I don’t think there is any point trying to explain how I felt at that moment since I think it is probably something you experience with Mr. Kay.” She wrung the cloth harder. “I cannot defend myself, but because of that I don’t think I should. I know we both made a mistake. Calcifer–he knows this too, he’s been trying to help me. He took me to the doctor and has been using his allowance to pay for the, um, prenatal vitamins.”

Jeez. “Let’s not talk about–that.” I’ll talk to Cal in a bit anyway. “Mostly, I wanted to make sure you were doing all right. I guess it sounds like you’ve been doing all right with the check ups? And vitamins?”

She hopped to her feet and rummaged through one of her dresser drawers, pulling a bottle out. “See? I take them like the doctor told me. I’m also cutting back on some of the delicious fried food I love so much. It’s hard.”

I couldn’t help but chuckle at that. “It is difficult. Um, well, if you have any cravings let me know and I can fix you whatever you want.”

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“Oh–thank you, Mr. Danning.”

“Jacob.”

“Thank you, Jacob.”

No putting it off now so next I tapped at Cal’s door and opened it after he made the barest of noises. His eyes glittered in the semi-darkness then flinched when I flipped on his wall light. “Come to yell at me more?” he grumbled.

“You know how much I want to,” I snapped. “You and Penny were idiots.”

The muscles in his body tensed, one hand curling into a fist. “My fault, not hers–don’t you blame her for anything.”

“No. I will give her as much blame as need be. You both made the choice to have unprotected sex. Unsafe sex.” I ran my fingers through my hair, biting back multiple swear words. “I can’t even imagine what you were thinking at the time. If you’re going to have sex you need to–“

“I know, I know!”

“NO you obviously DON’T!”

“I was too embarrassed–“

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“Damn it, Calcifer, that should have been a clue! If you can’t get the safety gear, you shouldn’t do the job!” We just stared at each other for several agonizing seconds while my brain tried to wrap around how to deal with this. “You’re going to be a father. You understand that? All those things you complained about having to do with Misha you will need to do.”

He shifted his weight, face settling into a look of absolute discomfort. “Y-yeah, I know,” he mumbled. “Like, bathing and stuff.”

“You’ll need to get a job.”

What?!”

I raised my eyebrows. “Diapers, formula, clothes, bottles, toys, more–it’s not free. Or were you expecting to be able to pay for it all on your allowance? Or have me and Kay buy things?”

His mouth stretched into a grimace. “N-no.” Lies, I could tell. “We have some baby things here. Diapers…”

“We have diapers for a ten-month-old,” I reminded him. “A newborn will be much smaller and need different diapers. You’ll need to take Penny to classes. Educate yourselves. You’ll also need to help pay for clothes for her, since she doesn’t have any income beyond her allowance.”

“Dad–“

I held up my hand. “You’ll need to find a job immediately. I do appreciate the fact you’ve been using your allowance to help her, but it just won’t be enough and Kay and I will not be supplying you with finances.” Okay, well, we probably will, but not the extent he wants us to. “We will help out some but you’re old enough to work to take care of her and your child.” I put as much emphasis on the word as I could.

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“I’ll d… do what I can.”

“Damn straight you’ll do what you can.”

He looked miserably up at me. “Don’t blame her, all right?”

“I blame both of you. I talked to her and she admitted she knew it was wrong.” Suddenly I felt exhausted and tired, both emotionally and physically. In the summer we’d have two babies in the house. Which reminded me… but I didn’t want to talk to him about this at the moment. “Which doctor did you take her to?”

“Dr. Evans, in Willow Acres. We–didn’t want anyone around here to possibly find out.”

I searched my memory for a place called Willow Acres before finally recalling a tiny town nestled in a valley about an hour away. I asked him a few questions, making sure the doctor was nice, had good qualifications, etc, etc. It sounded like she was a good doctor so with that settled I returned to my room to lay in bed. I put a hand against my belly, thinking of how I felt pregnant with Cal. How anxious, how excited, how scared, how wonderful I felt. I imagined Penny was going through all that and more–not just her first pregnancy but as a teen. It wouldn’t be easy. Two babies in the house wouldn’t be easy. Watcher, where would we even put them?

I sat up, anxiety gnawing at my brain. Three bedrooms, no room to expand. We could have our baby in our bedroom, and Cal and Penny’s baby in Penny’s room–but what about when they got older? Cal and Penny would have a toddler going into college. I had the feeling they’d be staying in our house for a while. Maybe not, but I just had the suspicion it’d end up that way–the community college. If Cal even went to college, he never gave much thought to his future. Maybe a baby would help with that? But a baby would also change his future so much…

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Slowly I lay back down, rubbing my stomach. This baby would be raised in a proper house, not a tiny two-room shack. I’d be able to be there more for them, and Kay would be there too. Cal had been denied so much. You weren’t a good enough father for him, a nasty voice whispered. He hates you.

He thought of himself as a monster. He had been acting out before we came to Twinbrook. I thought of the teensy shack, his teensy room, the cheap food, cheap clothes… Could I have done more for him? Would he hate his baby sibling for having more than he did as a kid?

Before I could stop myself I got back up and went to his room, tapping until he told me to come in. He looked at me in surprise which turned to shock when I enveloped him in a hug. “I love you, you know that, right? I love you so much.”

“D… Dad? Um. Uh–did–uhhh–something happen? Aren’t you pissed at me?”

“Yes I am but I love you too. I need you to know that.” I pulled back, hands clutching at his shoulders. “Okay?”

“You’re dying, aren’t you? That’s why you’ve been sick–you’re dying. Oh Watcher you’re dying and finding out I got Penny pregnant sent you spiraling down into something worse!” He looked utterly stricken. “Oh Watcher–“

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“No! No, Cal, I’m not dying. I’m pregnant.”

*

So November progressed very weirdly. Cal refused to believe I was pregnant for a long time though Penny accepted it very quickly. She seemed excited by the idea that we’d both be having babies at the same time.

“It’ll be like Father of the Bride part two,” she said, clapping her hands together. I had to laugh.

Thankfully there were two bathrooms since often we’d both need to run to one at the same time. I noticed with some jealousy she didn’t suffer as much morning sickness as I did, then again I had suffered even worse with Cal. I remembered having it pretty much every morning and long after I should have. This time I wasn’t throwing up quite as often and with luck it would subside pretty quickly too.

Cal got a job. When he came home after his interview he had a big smile on his face, declaring he got it. Penny hugged him while Kay and I gave him pats on the back. “Where at?” I asked, since he never said.

“I work from six to nine, and have Wednesdays and Thursdays off,” he said, picking at his nails.

“Where at?” I asked again, suspicious.

“Graveyard.”

No.” I folded my arms and gave him an angry glare. “You are too young to be working there at night! I’ll talk to my boss, see if we can’t find something for you at the store–“

Cal scowled back at me. “No positions open, remember? Besides. If you can raise a kid doing it, so can I.”

My lips went thin at those words. “I was an adult.”

“Isn’t that what this is about? Me growing up? Dad, it’s the only place in town willing to hire me–“

“I’ll talk to my boss–“

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“Why are you so against me working in a graveyard? You might have been scared of it, but I’m not!”

I flinched at those word, feeling a bit of hurt. Not from the words really, but from the tone; he meant the words to make me feel bad. “I know you’re not afraid, and I am… proud of you for be willing to work there. But I don’t think it is very safe for you.”

Kay put a hand on my arm, giving a little tug. “Let me sp-speak to him for a moment.” He said this to Cal, not me. I reluctantly went with Kay into our bedroom where he rubbed my arm gently. “Why shouldn’t he w-work there?”

“I know what it’s like,” I said, voice catching in my throat. “It’s hard. Lonely. Scary. Even if he says he won’t be scared, it can be very frightening being alone in the graveyard at night. He–“

“He saw you d-doing this, for him. That’s why he’s willing. He’s f-following in your footsteps.”

I gazed into Kay’s eyes for quite some time then nodded, heading back into the main room. Cal gave me a look. Waiting for the fighting. “Just be careful,” I sighed which sent a small smile flitting momentarily across his face.

*

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Cal’s first day of work I prepared him a good dinner and was waiting for him when he got home. I closed my book, not saying anything. He plopped down next to me. “It’s not that bad. I’m mostly doing cleaning, yard work–keeping the plots weeded and stuff. It’s not too bad. My boss is pretty cool an’ all. It’s not bad.”

“As long as you’re comfortable.”

Things became a bit easier between us as November faded into December. I didn’t like him working at the cemetery but I kept my opinion to myself and instead focused on the pregnancy. And helping Penny, of course. She had so many questions… including ones I couldn’t answer. I explained to her that I had been unconscious when I had my c-section. I went into labor and passed out.

“I have a book and it says some women don’t use pain medicine or anything.” Penny looked down at her stomach, the tiny swell. “Others say it hurts so much. I don’t know what to do.”

“That’s quite a few months away still,” I reassured her, “so you don’t need to worry about it until it happens. When it is time, you do what you feel is right and not what others have experienced.”

As we prepared for Christmas Kay and I discussed whether I’d stay at my job. I did a lot of heavy lifting so it was definitely out of the question to stay as long as I would have. But afterwards… would I go back to work? I don’t need to think so much about it right at this moment, I’m not due for seven months! Kay told me I didn’t need to work. He could support us decently enough on his paycheck, especially with Cal working for his own little family.

For Cal’s first year of life I had been a stay-at-home Dad and I had loved it. “I don’t want to be a burden,” I mumbled during the conversation Kay and I were having about this.

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“You’re n-not. You n-never would be. You’re m-my husband. There’s often a s-stay-at-home p-parent. W–with Penny being in sch-school, there w-will be two babies to w-watch.” He hesitated then said, “I w-was thinking. About this h-house and… the s-size. Maybe we sh-should look for a bigger place.”

I remained silent as I continued folding shirts, not wanting to say the size of the house had been in my mind too. “We can fit our baby in here easily enough, and Penny–“

“And wh-when we have m-more kids?” Kay asked simply. “The two bedrooms are b-big enough for one kid, b-but it’ll b-be cramped mmmmph!” He was cut off as I had launched myself at him, kissing him passionately. I kept kissing him over and over, sending his glasses askew and his clothes a bit rumpled. “Ahh—wh…”

“That’s for saying you want more kids,” I whispered, nuzzling into him.

Kay turned pink as he readjusted his spectacles. “D-don’t you want a big family?”

“Yes! I just wasn’t sure about you.”

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He shifted a bit so I settled in a less painful position in his lap. “Yes,” he said and I went back to kissing him happily.

*

Our house wasn’t so tiny we wouldn’t be able to fit everyone, but after talking long into the night Kay and I decided that a bigger house would be nice. He insisted we could afford it and I trusted him on that, as honestly I had no idea what sort of funds he had at his disposal. I knew how much he made at his job–it didn’t seem enough to be able to really afford a bigger place but I had to trust him.

We began looking a week before Christmas, wanting to move sometime in January or February before I got too big. We looked at other ranch houses, at boxy two floor houses, smallish houses with roomy basements, houses that could have rooms converted, and even one that was picturesque stereotypical traditional including the white picket fence. I didn’t like any of them. The white picket fence one came closest but its kitchen was really tiny. Kay suggested gently we look at even bigger houses. I protested about the cost and he squeezed my waist, telling me not to worry.

So we looked at bigger houses. Nice houses. Houses we couldn’t afford. Why did Kay want to do this?

Then we found one I fell in love with. As the Realtor drove us down a long winding driveway a few miles out of town I knew this would be one we wouldn’t be able to get unless we won the lottery. A private estate, basically; not very much land, true, but it could probably qualify as a mansion. As it came into view I realized it definitely, definitely could be considered a mansion.

“Holy hell,” I whispered as he parked in front of the giant place.

Kay beamed as he pulled me out of the car. “Isn’t it amaz-zing?”

Holy hell! Soooo you thinking of buying the shed out back?”

“C-come on, look at the kitchen.”

My belly churned as we walked through the empty, spacious rooms. The kitchen was large, all the surfaces gleaming like they had been polished that day. The dining room had a window of walls looking out into the huge, huge, huge backyard. I could see a swingset, slide, clubhouse, sandbox, toys–so many toys and places to–

“That’s a pool,” I said.

“Yep!” Kay clapped his hands. “L-let’s look upstairs?”

There were several bedrooms, even several bathrooms. The Realtor explained the place had been built just five years prior by a couple who had three sets of twins. Over this past summer their divorce had been finalized and they were all moved.

“How expensive is it?” I asked. The Realtor showed me the asking price. I paled, my palms got all sweaty, and my stomach rebelled. I managed to thank her before quietly finding a bathroom to throw up in.

Afterwards we looked at a smaller house. Four decently sized bedrooms, a study we could convert into a nursery, and an okay-sized yard. Still expensive but more than half the price of the huge mansion. That night in bed Kay asked which house I liked. I told him I would like the one with the white picket fence we saw the previous week.

“B-be honest,” he pouted.

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“Oh come on, what do you want me to say? Ask you to spend hundreds of thousands of simoleons that we don’t have on a giant house?”

“B-but do you like it?”

“Yes. I love it, just not enough to want to go into debt for.”

“Wh-what about the one on Summer Lane?”

The smaller one, with four bedrooms. “Yeah it was nice but still too expensive.”

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“If w-we didn’t n-need to worry about m-money?”

I rolled my eyes at him, starting to get a bit annoyed. “We do have to worry about money. Kay, love, you have a nice job but not that nice. This is a decent house but it won’t sell for that much.” Kay’s forehead got wrinkly. “I will be happy to just be able to give our children room to play outside and space to make their own in their bedrooms.” I pulled him close and kissed the wrinkles. “It’s a nice fantasy but we need to be realistic.”

“Ok-kay,” he said a bit sadly.

I pulled him on top of me, wrapping my legs around him, nuzzling and kissing until he felt better. We soon drifted into sleep and I had dreams all night about being a stay-at-home dad to a huge brood of redheaded, green-eyed children.