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“The beginning of wisdom is to call things by their right names” -Chinese Proverb

Mikey wasn't sure they ever talked about it. Which was odd, because Ray and he talked about everything, all the important things, even down to what color they wanted their new car to be. Ray never took Mikey for granted and Mikey tried his hardest not to get too busy to notice the things Ray needed and in the end, it always amounted to a lot of talking. Which was fine, Mikey liked Ray's words. Mikey liked pretty much everything about Ray.

But they never talked about the adoption. Gerard said to Mikey one day, "If Frank asked for the fucking world, I'd find a way to shrink it and deliver it to his doorstep, but there's not a fucking adoption agency in the world that's going to give two HIV positive men a kid," and Mikey had asked Ray, "Would you-- I mean, say, if we had a kid, would it be so bad to kind of share it with Frank and Gee?" and somehow, it was decided that they would acquire said imaginary offspring. When he thought about it, Mikey sometimes wondered if Ray had just been waiting for him to ask. He also wondered if Ray would have ever said anything.

Instead Ray just brought home information on all their options and that they did discuss, all the ins and outs and Cambodia wasn't their first choice--China--but it ended up being the most viable. The process was a long one filled with home visits and recommendation letters and more money than all four of them had put together. Somewhere in the middle of it, when Mikey was stressing out that after all this they wouldn't get a child, would have nothing to show for all their efforts, Frank asked, "Could we name her Michaela?"

Mikey looked at Frank, because Frank didn't ask for much, not really, which was probably why Gerard wanted to give him everything when he did manage a request. Mikey said, "Um...I'm assuming not after me?"

"Although," Ray put in, "I like that idea, just so we're clear."

Frank laughed. He said, "No, um, just-- It's just important."

A million conversations between Mikey and Gerard over the course of Mikey's lifetime and he had never once forgotten the one where Gerard had looked at him, urgent and sad and steady and asked Mikey not to ask him what was wrong, just not to ask. Mikey looked at Gerard. "You like the idea?"

Gerard nodded. Mikey said, "Michaela it is."

Frank buried Mikey in a hug, despite being considerably smaller, and though Frank had managed the feat hundreds of times since coming into Mikey's life, it never ceased to amaze him. Ray stole Mikey back after a few minutes, and Mikey went willingly. Ray-theft was his very favorite misdemeanor to be involved in. Ray said, "All right, but then I'd like her middle name to be Johannes."

"Is this some science thing that she's always going to have to explain to everyone for the rest of her life?" Mikey asked, and despite the teasing tone of the question, he sort of loved the idea that Ray might want to name their daughter after someone accomplished and brilliant, like an omen.

"It was my grandmother's maiden name. She kept it as a middle name, but it died with her. She was always sad about that. My grandmother taught me most of the science I learned as a child. She was a chemistry teacher before women really did that sort of thing. So I suppose the answer to your question is sort of yes."

Ray talked about his grandmother a lot. Her house had been his favorite place to go growing up. Mikey really wished he could have met her, wished he could have known that part of Ray. But this was pretty good as well. "Michaela Johannes."

"MJ," Gerard said, and reached out to tickle the undersides of Mikey's knees. Mikey giggled and curled into Ray, who protected him from the fearsome Gerard Brother Monster.

"Like her daddy," Ray said in Mikey's ear. Frank said, "Michaela Johannes," softly, like he was testing the strength of the syllables, making sure they wouldn't shatter under the pressure of his tongue. Mikey nudged him with his toe and Frank smiled. "It's pretty, pretty like your daughter's going to be."

"Ours. Our daughter," Mikey said, because maybe he and Ray didn't talk about it, but that was always part of the unspoken agreement.

Gerard pulled Frank to him, holding him as if to contain the happy before it exploded, and painted the room a bright shade of Frank. He smiled over Frank's head at Mikey who smiled right back. He mouthed, "MJ."

Ray whispered in Mikey's ear, "My favorite two letters, M and J."

"Oh really?" Mikey asked.

"Why do you think I wanted to date you?"

Mikey laughed and tilted his head back for a properly apologetic kiss.

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Skin by egelantier, photo by microbophile