Written in 30 minutes. Did not reread or spellcheck.
Continuation of my Collect Your Regrets universe. If you haven’t read in a while, in the last story, Elizabeth and Jason had twins — Paige and Drake. Jason has adopted Aiden and Cameron after the events of the second story. Takes place in summer 2016. This is just meant to be flashes from their lives, nothing heavy or serious. Let me know if there are any moments you’d like to see from this family 🙂
“We need to call a family meeting.”
Cameron Morgan barely spared a glance for his younger brother, focused on the television screen and winning his Call of Duty of campaign. “I don’t think you have that kind of power, dude.”
“Mom said I can do anything I want.” Aiden slouched on the sofa, folded his arms. “She said I could be president. So that means I can call a family meeting.”
“Uh huh.” Cameron winced as his guy took a hit, and he tried to find an alley where he could recover. “What do you need a meeting for anyway? You’re an infant.”
Nothing incensed six-year-old Aiden more, and his face flushed with indiginant fury. “I am not a baby! Paige and Drake! They’re the babies and they’re ruining everything!”
Cameron sighed, paused the game, then tossed his headset aside. “It’ll get easier. You weren’t exactly a prince when you came along either—”
“This is the end of our summer vacation, Cam, and we never do anything. The babies always cry, and they smell. And they’re annoying. They were supposed to be fun, but they suck and there’s two of them. Mom never said anything about two of them—”
Because twins didn’t always survive the process, Cameron knew, as he and his friends had speculated on why their parents had kept the whole thing quiet. No one had known. Not even Uncle Patrick or Uncle Sonny. But Aiden was a kid — the only one of them that hadn’t ever really been through anything.
To him, the presence of two crying newborns who were the reason Aiden and Jake were now sharing a room was the worst thing in his young life.
And Cameron wanted to keep it that way.
“You wanted to be an older brother, remember?” Cameron asked. “You always get tired of me and Jake treating you like a baby. Well, now you get to their older brother. And you’ll be around a lot longer than me. I’m going to college in two years. And then Jake will be in high school.”
“They don’t listen to me,” Aiden muttered. “I always listen to you.”
Always was more like never, but it wouldn’t cheer the kid up either. “Hey. Siblings take some time to be fun, okay? Give them a chance. They’re barely two months old.”
Aiden made a face, and stomped towards the stairs. Cameron decided he’d done his good deed for the day and returned to his game.
Aiden wasn’t sold, however, on the usefulness of siblings. Especially ones that took up his parents time and made weird smells and annoying noises. Stupid babies.
He crept along the hallway, then peered inside the slightly ajar door of his parents’ bedroom. Dad was at work, but Mom was supposed to be with the babies. Instead, she was laying on the bed sleeping, her hand clutched around a baby monitor. Mom never slept anymore. She was up all night with the dumb babies, because Aiden could hear them.
Aiden closed the door so his mom could sleep, then went across the hall. It had been his room until he’d moved in with Jake. It wasn’t so bad with his brother, but Aiden missed being alone.
The babies were still sharing a crib — Dad said it was the only way to get them to sleep — they didn’t like being away from each other. Aiden went towards it, curling his fingers around the white poles.
They were supposed to be twins, but Aiden always knew how to tell them apart. It was easy. Drake had blond hair like Cameron and Jake and Dad, and Paige had brown hair like Aiden and Mom. And Mom made sure to dress them differently just in case. Today it was pajamas with ducks for Paige and cows for Drake.
Drake was asleep, his eyes closed, but Paige was awake. Her little face turned towards Aiden, her eyes open. She had blue eyes like all of them, Aiden thought. Because Mom and Dad had blue eyes.
She opened her little mouth, and a little sound emerged. Aiden panicked. What if she started to cry? Then Drake would wake up and Mom would wake up and then she’d be grumpy again—
“Shhh….” Aiden reached his hand through the poles and gently touched Paige’s forehead like he saw his Dad do sometimes. “Shh…don’t wake everyone, Paige. You gotta be quiet. Mom needs sleep.”
She waved her little hands and Aiden caught one of them with his hand. She was so small, he thought. Her little fist wasn’t even half as big as his hand. In fact—it curled perfectly around one of his fingers. She seemed surprised by it, and they both looked at it.
“You gotta let Mom sleep, Paige, okay? Because then she’ll smile and be happy. And Dad can come home and maybe we can have pizza. You’re too little for pizza,” Aiden said, “but’s awesome. Except Cam likes pineapple. He’s wrong. We’re working on it.”
Paige’s eyes were on his and it was like she was really listening. Aiden warmed to the idea that he could really be just like Cameron and give advice. “You’ll like Mom better when she’s happy. She sings sometimes when she doesn’t know it, and that’s how you really know. But she’s bad at it, so you can’t laugh. Oh, and Dad. You know he’s happy when he smiles. But sometimes he doesn’t smile with his mouth. He does it with his eyes. I’ll show you the next time. But you have to sleep more, okay?”
Elizabeth stirred, then opened her eyes fully, wondering how long she’d been asleep — and what had woken her. She could only catch a few hours here and there — and hours was a strong word. They’d know it would be a lot of work with twins, but somehow—
She sat up, rubbing the sleep from her eyes, hoping the exhaustion would go with it. They couldn’t sleep to get the babies on a schedule — and with two of them, it wasn’t like she and Jason could switch shifts — one night to the next. They had to divide and conquer. They’d wanted another child to really have the experience of parenting from the beginning together —
Well, they were getting it.
Elizabeth frowned, hearing voices on the baby monitor. She twisted the volume, then smiled as she recognized what she was listening to.
She slid off the bed, opened her door gently, and looked across the hall, through the open bedroom door to the nursery. The crib was at the center of the room, and Aiden was standing there, one hand pushed through the railing.
They would have to separate the babies in another few weeks, she thought. It wasn’t safe once they could wriggle and move around, and that would bring another set of adjustments. Paige and Drake had never been separated before — but she couldn’t stand doing it before she had to.
But Drake was still napping quietly at his end of the crib, and Paige at the other — she was awake, staring intently at Aiden, holding her hand with his finger.
“Jake will draw you lots of pictures,” Aiden was saying, “but you gotta be careful because sometimes he says he’ll draw what you ask for, but he’ll find a way to make it a joke. Cam says we gotta give him lots of breaks because he was gone for a while and everyone missed him. I don’t remember it, but Cam says that’s good. I don’t wanna remember not having Jake. Even if he plays with his Switch under the covers and keeps me up. But shhh don’t tell Mommy.”
He sighed. “I guess maybe I don’t need to ask Mom to send you guys back. Because you’re okay. But you gotta tell Drake he needs to keep sleeping. And maybe that I’m the big brother. You gotta listen to the big brother. I don’t know how to be one yet, but Cam and Jake will tell me how, and then I’ll take care of you. That’s my job. So you can stay, Paige, but only if you promise not to wake me up anymore.”
“What if she breaks her promise?” Elizabeth asked, charmed. Aiden twisted his head, his eyes wide. “She’s just a baby, honey. She can’t use words to tell us she’s hungry or angry or sad or tired. She only has the tears.”
“Oh.” Aiden frowned, looked back at Paige, still holding his finger. “I didn’t think about that. When does she get words?”
“It’ll be a while before she can use her words.” Elizabeth came to the crib, looked down at her perfectly health children. Paige was wide awake. “But she likes your voice. You can keep talking to her.”
“Maybe Drake will like me, too.” Aiden sighed. “I’m sorry, Mommy. I wanted to send them back.”
“It’s okay, sweetie.” Elizabeth ruffled his hair, and smiled when he looked up at her. “You’ve been such a good big brother. You gave up your own room. I know that was hard. Dad and I thought about moving when we found out about the twins, but…”
“I like my house. And our yard. Me and Jake can share. Paige is a girl, though. She wants her own room. I can already tell.”
Well, by the time Paige needed her own room—Elizabeth didn’t want to think about Cameron getting older, leaving. She wanted him to always have a room to come home to. “One step at a time.”
“Okay. I guess we can keep them. Do you think Drake likes me as much as Paige?” Aiden wanted to know.
“We’ll find out when he gets up, but for now—” Elizabeth reached in for Paige. “It’s time for her diaper change. You want to help?”
“Uh, no—” Aiden’s face wrinkled up. “That’s definitely a Mom and Dad job. I’ll go annoy Cam.”
“Yeah, I thought so.”