This fic follows on Falling Into Place, and both contains spoilers for and will not make sense without that work. You should read that work first.
Carlos glances over at Adam, sitting on the couch with a textbook, before he answers his phone. "Hello?"
"Hey, babe," Nick says on the other end. "I'm just calling like you asked. They're here a little early."
"Oh hi, baby," Carlos says, turning his body toward the couch so his voice would project. "Is everything okay?"
"More or less. I think I'm pregnant and you're not the father. I might need to go get a paternity test done today, even though it would probably be easier to wait until after the birth," Nick says, and Carlos can hear the grin on his face.
Carlos does his best to put on an upset expression, despite Nick making it hard. "Crap. I'll be right there, then." He glances over at Adam, who seems to be interested in the conversation now. "I love you," he adds, for good measure.
"I love you too," Nick says. "Seriously though, do you want us to meet you there?"
"No. I'll come find you."
Nick makes an affirmative noise and hangs up the phone, and Adam turns toward Carlos as he puts the phone back in his pocket. "Everything okay?"
"Yeah, just... there's a bit of an emergency and Nick needs me. I know we were supposed to get lunch together today, but um..." He looks at the clock, hoping his act is convincing. "Well, maybe we still could. I'll let you know?"
Adam puts his book down and stands, and Carlos feels a momentary sense of panic at it. "Can I do anything to help, dude?"
"No." Carlos shakes his head. "It's a... personal thing. Sorry to run out on your birthday like this."
Adam smiles. "It's fine, dude. If we miss lunch we can always get dinner or something. Nick's still coming over this afternoon?"
"Probably." Carlos fiddles with his wallet and keys before opening the door. "I'll be back soon, chico. And happy birthday, again."
"Congratulations on the baby!" Emily says when he walks into Nick's apartment, hugging him before ruffling his hair. Adam's parents smile at him from Nick's two chairs.
Nick chuckles. "I think Emily is the father."
Emily frowns. "Um. So you're the doctor. I think you're going to have to explain that one to me."
"I'm glad you made it safely," Carlos says instead as Denise stands and gives him a hug.
"I'm sorry we're early, honey," she says as she releases him and pats his shoulder. "We were concerned about traffic, but I guess we didn't need to be."
"That's fine," Carlos says, trying to rework the plans. "So we were originally going to surprise him at the restaurant, but we could go to the apartment first? That might be better for presents, too."
"If we get our story straight, we could get him to come downstairs," Nick says, thinking now too. "Um. I needed to get a zipcar because I needed help hauling... something."
"Emergency Ikea trip?" Emily suggests.
"What, Nick spontaneously decided that he needed more furniture and then needed help picking it up?" Carlos looks around the sparsely-furnished room. "Actually..."
Nick hits his arm. "For that I'm going to buy another ten of those shelves, and fill every last one with books. You'll have to navigate a maze every time you want to get to the bed."
"Honestly, that might actually be a good idea. It'd be better than leaving books in stacks on every horizontal surface," Carlos teases, kissing him quickly.
"Why not keep it simple?" Scott asks. "'Nick needs help with Adam's birthday present.' It's also the truth."
Carlos nods. "That works. Everyone ready?"
"Oh?" Adam sounds confused on the phone, and Carlos hopes he's selling it well enough.
"Yeah. I thought I could handle it, but I think it needs another pair of hands."
"Sure. I'll meet you at Nick's, dude?"
Carlos thinks for a second, remembering that the building has multiple exits, and although he doesn't think Adam would go through one of the back ones, he doesn't want to risk it. "Actually, I'm downstairs with part one. I'll see you here?"
Adam hangs up and Nick grabs Carlos' hand. Carlos smiles at him, and Emily grabs his other hand.
It doesn't take Adam long to come through the front doors, his expression equal parts disbelief and joy as he takes in everyone standing there.
"Happy birthday!" his parents say as his mom walks up to him, arms open, and Carlos beams at it.
"I was... waiting for your call," Adam says, hugging her back. "Normally you call in the mornings."
"I thought about it," Denise says, squeezing him tightly before letting him go. "I'm not sure if that would have made you more or less suspicious, though."
"Dude." Adam turns to Carlos. "Did you arrange this?"
"It was Emily's idea," he says grinning at her.
"Oh, no, mister. Don't you blame this one on me. You were saying you liked when all of us together, and you were sad to miss us for Christmas this past year, and that the next celebratory thing was Adam's birthday." She smiles at Adam. "Happy birthday. I'm sorry Dimitri couldn't make it."
He seems to hestitate before moving in and hugging her, and Carlos realizes why when she ruffles his hair, grinning, and he makes an annoyed noise.
"So," Carlos says when they separate. "We have a lunch reservation, but it's a little early still, so we could start presents or something upstairs?"
"I... yeah. That's fine." Adam still seems a little dumbfounded.
Carlos pulls Nick against him on the couch, watching Adam open the gift from his parents (a dress shirt and a new belt), and kisses his forehead. "Thanks for your help today."
"I didn't do anything, babe." Nick's hand finds his, against Nick's shoulder, and squeezes.
"Except get pregnant, apparently."
Nick laughs. "Sorry. It was the first thing that popped to mind."
"Mmm." Carlos thinks for a bit, his mind jumping back to the conversation he and Nick had had in Nick's parents' guestroom over the holidays. "Actually, on that topic... I've been thinking about kids."
"Yeah?" Nick turns to him so he can see his face.
"I told you that I thought my, um... my desire to be a father came at least somewhat out of a desire to be... normal, and do what was expected of me."
Carlos bites his lip. "I think I don't want that, anymore. To do what's expected, I mean. God knows the Carlos of five years ago would be shocked that I'm sitting here right now with a boyfriend in my arms, but I... I want to let go of my past and really be my own person." He kisses Nick's forehead again. "Well, my own person with you, anyway."
Nick nods. "That makes sense," he says, even as Carlos isn't sure it really does to him.
"So I think, for now, I'd be happy just... with you. As long as you're still sure you don't have an opinion."
"I don't." Nick kisses him gently. "Like I said, I'm happy with whatever you decide. So if you're deciding you don't want kids, then I'm very happy not having them."
"Will your parents be disappointed?" As much as Carlos had meant what he said earlier, he still can't stand the thought of disappointing them.
Nick shakes his head. "Babe. My mom said explicitly that it was our decision, and she means it. Besides, she already has her hands full with baby David, and I'm sure David and Eileen are going to have another one or two."
"Right." Carlos shakes his head. "Also what is it with your family and names? Wouldn't it have been easier to name the baby something other than David?"
Nick chuckles. "You don't know the half of it. I swear my family just recycles the same four names around all the men. It's why I hate 'Nicholas'. That's my great-grandfather Nicholas David, not me. And my grandfather's Edward David, so Edward never felt right, either."
Carlos kisses him, breaking as Adam sits down on the couch next to them.
"Dude. Thanks for arranging this today. You really didn't have to."
Carlos reaches over and ruffles his hair, and Adam smiles even as he bats his hand away. "Happy birthday, chico. And this was somewhat for me, too. I've been missing seeing your family, even though we talk on the phone so much."
"Well, they're as much your family as mine," Adam says, and Carlos feels his heart warm at it. "But thank you anyway."
Carlos releases Nick, grabbing Adam instead and pulling him into a hug. He looks around the room at Adam's parents and Emily, and can feel Nick next to him and Adam in his arms, feeling like he's taken another big step in letting go of his past, and of his parents.
He thinks he has all the family he needs right here.