"Hello love, a good day?" Malcolm asked his husband as he entered their three-bedroom home, not five minutes walk from Starfleet headquarters.
"Yeah, Trip's got the new engine at 58%" Jon told him with a smile that didn't quite reach his eyes.
"It'll work Jon, just give it time, Rome wasn't built in a day," Malcolm said, giving him a hug, and sweet kiss just seconds before two bundles of energy bounded into the room calling for 'papa'.
Malcolm smiled as Jon lifted their two-year-old twin boys into the air, giving them each a twirl and a kiss on the head.
"Well looks like your pleased to see me. Where's your sister?" Jon questioned the boys.
"Reading." Both boys replied simultaneously.
"Always got her head stuck in a book, wonder where she got that habit." Jon asked rhetorically as he threw a smirk in Malcolm's direction.
"From you, and don't deny it." Malcolm said teasingly.
"I'll go say hi." Jon told him, ignoring his comment. He admitted he was a reader, but since he had been with Malcolm not as much, because he had much, much better things to be doing than reading. Especially since the kids were born.
"Hi sweetheart, what you got there?" Jon asked his daughter, at five years old she was very smart for her age, and reading things meant for much older children.
"The Railway Children, by Enid Nesbit." The young blonde haired, blue-eyed child replied, tilting her head as Jon gave her a kiss on the top of it.
"How many times does this make?" Jon asked.
"Three. It's very good though." The girl insisted.
"Well why don't you leave it for now, and come with me and your brothers and Daddy to the park?" Jon suggested.
"Kay." Was the child's quick response as she went in search of her shoes.
Jon and Malcolm sat on a blanket on the grass, sun battering down on them, as they were watching their two energetic boys being chased, by their daughter, who purposely didn't catch them most of the time.
"She's reading the railway children again." Jon said to Malcolm, whose head was resting on his lap.
"Not entirely surprising, she seems quite taken with the idea of the old railway systems, I was thinking we could take her to the transport museum for her birthday." Malcolm suggested.
"I think she'd like that. Oh there's the ice cream man, I suppose they'll want some," Jon commented fishing for his credit chip in his pocket.
"Mari, Charlie, Travis come here." Malcolm called the children over from their play, and watched as Mari feeling very responsible took the credit chip and the boys the whole five or six feet to buy the ice creams, by herself.
"Here you go papa." Mari said, handing back the chip as she started to lick at the ice cream cone she had bought.
"Thank-you Mari." Jon replied, smiling at his daughter, she was always more truthfully Malcolm's child than his. 'Daddies Little Angel'. But her loved her dearly.
"Daddy, can we go see the ducks." The young girl asked.
Malcolm flashed Jon a look and receiving a nod told her that they could, just as soon as she and the boys had finished their cones.
"Careful not to go too near the edge." Malcolm warned the children.
"We should head home soon, it's going to be getting dark." Jon pointed out as they watched Mari show the boys now to toss bread into the ducks.
"Yeah. You know it amazes me how big their getting." Malcolm said, watching the children carefully.
"They are growing up fast aren't they?" Jon agreed, smiling as Charlie threw a bit of bread, hitting one of the ducks on the head, causing rapturous laughter from the three Archer-Reed children.
"Mari has already started school, the boys are starting play school in a few months, seems like only yesterday they were born." Malcolm said, sharing the laugh with his spouse and children.
"Hmmm..." Jon murmured. He knew what Malcolm meant, it seemed like in no time at all they'd be flying the coop, although really it would be quite a few years yet.
"Come on. Home time, before those ducks start retaliating." Malcolm joked, going to gather up the brood as Jon watched with delight as the once uptight man tossed Travis playfully over his shoulder when he complained about going home so soon.
"Ok go clean up for dinner." Malcolm instructed the children as Jon headed to lay the table, it was a well-rehearsed routine they knew well.
"So what culinary delight do you have for us tonight?" Jon asked teasingly, he knew Malcolm hated cooking, but since Malcolm had shorter workdays than him, he ended up doing it most of the time weather he liked it or not.
"Nothing particularly special, just some meatloaf and potatoes." Malcolm replied, inwardly remembering his internal promise to kill Trip Tucker for feeding that to his children, since it was now the favourite meal of the twins, and if they didn't get it every so often they were not at all happy.
Jon chuckled. "I'm sure the boys will be delighted," he said.
"I bet." Malcolm grouched, he was not a meatloaf type of person.
"I'll tell you what, I'll bribe Trip into sitting this weekend, and me and you can go out have a nice meal, just the two of us." Jon offered to placate his husband.
"Hmmm... Sounds nice, we haven't had a night to ourselves in a while." Malcolm agreed.
"I'll talk to him about it tomorrow," Jon promised, rinsing his own hands in the kitchen sink as Malcolm finished dishing out the food before the three hungry children arrived to scoff it all down.
Stomachs stated, the two boys settled to watch a holo-vid of cartoons, yet another of Trip's influences.
Sometimes Malcolm almost regretted making him their Godfather, but as their best friend he had been the only real choice, and the kids did adore him, so maybe it wasn't a completely bad decision.
Mari of course returned to her book, this time nestled on the couch, cuddled between her fathers, who were both indulging in a little reading of their own.
"Bedtime." Malcolm announced to the twins as soon as the holo-vid was complete.
"Awww Daddy!" both twins complained.
"Bed." Malcolm insisted, herding the two youngest children to their rooms and helping them get dressed while Jon continued to sit with Mari, disposing of his own reading in favour of a book he had been reading to Mari before bed each night.
The Wind In The Willows.
Malcolm tucked the boys in and headed out, leaving only the night light on in their room.
He smiled as he watched Jon, Mari curled into his hip as he read to her from the book. Jon always insisted she was more Malcolm's child, but in moments like this, watching the two of them, Malcolm knew nothing could be further from the truth.
Malcolm disappeared into the garage/workshop, Jon would know where to find him once Mari was asleep, but he liked to give the two their quite time together, just like Jon let him have his quite time with the children.
"She's asleep." Jon's voice announced from behind him a little while later as Malcolm fiddled with some components or another on his latest model design for improved phase cannons.
"Hmm...I'll be done in a minute." Malcolm promised, continuing with what he was doing as Jon continued to watch, after a minute Jon jumped him, stealing the tools from his hands, and ordering him indoors.
Malcolm laughed. It was an old trick, and he knew it was coming, and did nothing to stop it, even though he could have.
It was still to early for bed, but they shucked down to their underclothes and lay in bed anyway, not really doing anything, both had found padds again to read, but they were enjoying just laying together while they read.
It was their time. It didn't mean they had to do anything, just being together, with no children to watch was what made this time valuable.
Not that they didn't adore their children, but sometimes it was nice to just settle down together with nothing to really do except cuddle, maybe read a book, or talk, or watch a holo-vid, but just to be together.
Until they turned out the lights and drifted off to sleep in each others arms, to be woken early the next morning by two bumbling twin bundles of energy, and a shy but equally energetic little girl.
Life was good.