I didn’t wake up til late the next morning, and it was by no choice of my own. I was still snuggled up with my boys, and the three of us were rudely awakened by Karen knocking on the door before promptly barging into the room.
"Lazy buggars the lot of you, get up" she said, and Danny looked up from where he’d buried his nose in Lewis’ chest as I let out a groan. "C'mon, you can't just lay around in bed all day"
"Sure I can" I said. I felt like death.
"You, I have no sympathy whatsoever. Take some painkillers and get up" Karen ordered but I grumbled something about being too ill to move, pulling the comforter over my head.
And promptly had it pulled off me. I let out another groan, hiding my face in one of the pillows.
"What's that?" I heard Lewis ask, and left Karen to explain whatever it was because I was too busy dying.
"You had a wet dream, sweetie. Go clean yourself up, I'll wash the sheets. That means you have to move, Hadley" she said, and I felt Danny get out of bed. Guess that meant my baby was growing up.
I rolled off the bed, going back to dying once I was on the floor. Karen changed the sheets around me, making sure to step on me every chance she got.
"Ow" I complained, not moving. Moving stood a very high chance of killing me. Or making me hurl. Or both.
"You're a cruel lady" I said, rolling away from her when she stood on me for the fiftieth time.
"Max said the same thing when he woke up with a hangover too"
"Why can't I die in peace?"
"Because life is crueller than me"
"Life would let me go back to bed" I pouted.
"No, it wouldn't"
"It would" I insisted and she handed me a glass of water and some painkillers.
"There's all the sympathy you'll get from me, now get up unless you want me to put the clean sheets on standing on you again"
I took the pills, stealing one of the sheets and wrapping it around mysef like some sort of comfort blanket, shuffling off downstairs. The old man was sat in his chair, as usual. He’d be more sympathetic, right?
"How's your head?" he inquired.
"I'm dying" I said, collapsing on the couch, still wrapped up in my sheet.
The old man chuckled. "Well, you drank enough before you went out, I'm not surprised you're dying"
"Why is no one giving me sympathy? I want the kids back, they were nice to me" I sulked.
"I have more sympathy than Karen" he laughed.
"Then can I go back to sleep?"
"I'd say yes but Karen will only laugh and wake you back up*
"I want Mom, she's nice"
"Go to your mum's then?"
"That involves moving" I said and he chuckled.
"Poor baby" he said as I wrapped myself up in the sheet more.
Eventually Lily came over to see if she could help, and I ended up cuddling her o the couch, wrapping her in my comfort sheet as well. The kids were nice to me. I vaguely caught sight of the old man smiling at the sight of it, but the smile was promptly wiped off his face when Lewis walked in with a bowl of brightly coloured, sugary cereal.
"I told you that cereal's mine, you little shit" Gramps said, and Lewis ignored him, though I shushed everyone. They were either being unnecessarily loud, or I’d cracked my skull open the night before.
I played with Lily’s hair, more than happy to just lie there. Until Karen threw some clean clothes at me, that is.
"Get in the shower, you stink and have your son's come on your leg"
I let Lily go, dragging myself upstairs to shower, and wrapping myself back up in my sheet when I was done. I got dressed when Karen threatened to dress me herself, as if I were a child, and she tutted at me.
"What?" I asked, despite the fact speaking made me feel like dying all over again.
"Next time you go out, you better not drink so much. What are you going to do if you get called into work at the last minute and you're in this state?"
"I know" I groaned.
"Good, then don't do it again"
"When you're feeling more capable, I'd like to talk about Lewis' birthday" she said, and a few hours later, I felt alive enough to manage it. Just about.
Turns out Karen was thinking about getting Lewis internet connection for his room. I smiled, telling her I thought it was a great idea.
"He won't find things he shouldn't til he's older, will he?" she asked.
"Probably not" I lied.
"Well he's pretty much your foster son, even if the adoption forms say otherwise" she laughed. "I thought it'd be a good idea to check with you first"
I smiled at her and then it hit me; it was Lottie’s birthday soon. Lewis and the kids’ birthdays were months off, but Lottie’s was in maybe a couple of weeks. I groaned. How could I have forgotten? I’m an awful father.
"What?" Karen asked.
"It's Lottie's birthday in a couple weeks. I completely forgot"
"Just as well she's only a baby" Karen laughed. "She won't remember if you don't get her anything"
"I know, but I wanted to make a fuss, y'know?"
"There's still time" she smiled.
"Sarah doesn't want to do anything for it"
I shrugged. "Beats me"
"Well I'm sure you'll find a way to do something for her"
"What do you even get for a baby?"
"'Kay" I said, completely lost. I’d never had a baby before, I didn’t know what they needed. Sure, I’d had a bit of experience with Riley and Bradley, but more often than not Ava would ask people if they could get one thing or another for their birthday. When they were still too young to know what they wanted themselves, I mean. Oh God, it was probably one of their birthdays soon, as well. Note to self; buy a calendar.
Karen shrugged. "Been a while since I've had a baby to buy presents for but clothes are always something a kid needs" she said and I thanked her for the advice.
She flashed me a smile, before making me help her find a decent internet package for Lewis because she was pretty clueless when it came to it. I suppose I had to admire Mom for her determination to master new technology. It came in handy given her line of work, but I’d heard rumour that she was retiring soon.
I made Karen help me buy baby clothes as payback for making me sift through internet packages, and soon enough I had a good enough idea of what to get for Lottie. I would’ve gotten it online, but I had a hectic week coming up, what with two of the other doctors being off, and I didn’t want to leave the kids home alone just to pick it up. Karen casually asked what I wanted for my birthday, laughing when I told her I wasn’t fussy but a boyfriend would be nice.
"Aside from that?" she asked.
"Aside from that, I'm not bothered" I chuckled.
"Helpful" she tutted and I grinned at her. "I'll buy you some slippers then. Or would a box of alka seltzers be better?" she asked and I laughed. "Or maybe some condoms for when you find your boyfriend"
"Is it bad that I can't remember if I used a condom last night?" I asked, trying to remember if I had or not. I think I did with the first guy, but the other two…
"Yes" she frowned.
"I think I did the first time”
"You should go get tested" she said and I nodded. "Want me to book an appointment for you?" she asked and I nodded again, sitting and thinking while she did.
I wouldn’t have been that careless, would I? Not after what happened to Maxxie. But then again, I was pretty drunk…
Karen offered to take me to my appointment, which was later that day, and I told her I’d like that. I was managing to keep calm, somehow, but needless to say, I was quiet most of the day, and especially on the ride there.
"You okay?" she asked.
She didn’t push it, and I didn’t really speak again until after I’d had my tests. One of the nurses had recognised me, and given me a good telling off when I’d told her why I was in there. She did seem worried, though. I couldn’t put a name to her face, but she’d worked on paediatrics for a while, before deciding it wasn’t the right field for her. I guess genital warts were more her style.
Karen looked up from her seat in the waiting room , and I flashed her a tiny smile.
"How was it?" she asked.
"I won't find out for another couple hours" I said and she nodded slightly. "They said they'll call me, but the HIV one'll take a few months like before, since it's a new case"
She nodded again and I offered to take her for a coffee. It was more to take my mind off it all, if I’m honest. If I’d been stupid enough to not use protection, and had caught something serious… I’d never forgive myself. I got a coffee for the both of us, treating myself to some fancy pastry thing. All I know is it had a lot of sugar in it. I kept glancing at my phone, which sat idly on the table, and Karen did her best to distract me from it with conversation.
"What about asking Alex and Caleb? They might know if you were safe" she suggested. So I did just that.
"Hello?" Alex asked once he’d answered.
"Bunny" he said cheerfully. "How's the head?"
"Awful. I've got something to ask you"
"Do you know if I was safe last night?"
"Yep. I followed you into the back room to make sure you were safe"
"With all three guys?"
"Because I couldn't remember, and I think my worrying was driving Karen mad" I said, laughing a little. Thank God.
Alex laughed. "You should be fine, Bunny. No need to worry"
"No problem. You okay otherwise?"
"Yeah we're both good"
"Good. Am I still allowed to go out next weekend?"
"Yeah, just don't drink so much" he laughed.
He chuckled. "Good boy"
"Danny discovered the joys of wet dreams, as well. That's fun when you're hung over" I said, ignoring his and Caleb’s laughter. “Anyway, I better go. I'm sure I'm disrupting you and ginger from one thing or another"
"Not right now. Makes a change, I know" he chuckled and I let out a laugh.
"Did you piss him off?"
"No, just having a break to eat"
"I should've guessed. Well, I'll leave you to it, and I'll see you on Saturday, yeah?"
"Sure thing" he said, hanging up.