Chapter 4: The Rules

It was perfect. She hated saying it, but Brandon was right, she was in love.

Their new home was better than she had imagined. The condominium had 1 master bedroom with its own bathroom and two slightly smaller rooms across from a second bathroom. Allison and Brandon had, of course, argued over who would get the master bedroom. Eventually though, it was decided that it should go to Allison since, quite frankly, she needed the large walk-in closet to fit all of her stuff.

The room closest to Allison's was designated to be the nursery. Brandon had been spewing out all sorts of ideas about how to decorate the room. It had taken a couple of weeks for them to decide on a lavender and chocolate brown color scheme. Now, Brandon was determined to decorate the walls. Allison was amused by how involved he had become in the nursery.

The condo had a small living room and a small dining area, but it was the kitchen that was the final piece to win Allison over. She had never been an extraordinary cook, but she had always loved to bake, and this was the sort of kitchen she had always dreamed about. The open kitchen had all relatively new technology, an island counter, and beautiful glass cased cabinets. Perhaps her home would be too small to really host any holidays the same way her sister did, but it would be perfect for the occasional dinner guests.

It had taken a month before they had finally been able to move in. Brandon had been able to sublet his apartment out to one of his buddies, and Allison had been lucky enough to have her lease about to end about a week before the designated move in day.

Moving in had been quite the process. Not only did they have to bring all their stuff in, but they also had to decide what would stay and what would go, and where everything would be placed. When it came to the big stuff, they had to decide which they would keep and which they would get rid of, stuff like the couch, the dining table, and the fridge. The end result was an interesting mish mash of Allison and Brandon's formerly separate lives.

It had only been a couple of days since they had finished settling in, and so far, things had been going well. The adjustment to their new home was smoother than they had expected. Considering how long they had known each other and how much time they had spent together, living together seemed almost natural.

Tonight was their first Saturday night in their new home and they had decided to celebrate by staying in, ordering Chinese food, and lounging around. Brandon had even poured two glasses of champagne, both of which he downed promptly after a quick toast.

"How are you feeling?" Brandon asked her, settling down on the couch and flipping on the television.

"I'm so tired!" she sighed, "Even though I napped earlier, I feel so drained. It's so frustrating."

"I guess that's little Cassandra's fault," Brandon said idly.

Allison rolled her eyes. Though she and Brandon had finally agreed on the name, Brandon had suddenly taken to persuading her otherwise. He said that he was no longer certain about the name Alicia, and wanted to explore other options. Every few days, he'd find a new name that he liked, and would refer to their child by what Allison was calling his 'nom du jour'. Sometimes, the name would actually sound pretty, but sometimes, he would find something strange and outrageous. Just yesterday, it had been Hermione, and before that, he had tried Gertrude, which she nixed almost immediately. For the most part, she didn't care about his test names, as long as they decided on something before the child was born. Secretly, she thought that Brandon would eventually return and stick with Alicia, but Brandon had already once vehemently argued against it.

"I suppose it is," Allison sighed, flopping ungracefully down beside Brandon and resting her hands on her rounded, protruding belly, "I wish we could carry out this pregnancy in shifts. 9 months is just so long!"

Amused, Brandon snorted and patted her hand gently, "Thank Mother Nature for that one. I know I do."

Tempted to hit him, she glared daggers at him, which only intensified as he pretended not to even notice. It really wasn't fair, but she knew that dwelling on it would only add to her irritation. That said, she did enjoy being pregnant. It was an indescribable feeling.

As if to reassure her, the baby decided to give her a little kick, making her cry out. This wasn't the first time she's felt it, it was the first time it had happened while Brandon was around.

"What's wrong?" he asked, suddenly alarmed.

"The baby is kicking! She just did it twice!" Allison said excitedly, grabbing his hand and holding it flat against her stomach.

They sat like that for a few seconds, waiting for another kick.

"Come on, Princess," Brandon coaxed sweetly, "Kick for daddy."

It took almost a full minute before they both felt the little kick. Elation lit up Brandon's face. Unable to resist, he pulled Allison into his arms and planted a chaste kiss on her lips, and whispered words of gratitude into her ear.

For some, inexplicable reason, Allison blushed, "It doesn't really make sense for you to be thanking me, Brandon."

"You're the mother of my child," he scoffed, pulling back to look her straight in the eye, "I have everything to thank you for."

There was an awkward pause as Brandon kept his arms wrapped around Allison, staring into her eyes. He briefly wondered if he should let her go. Before he could consider any alternatives, Allison pulled away and sat back down.

Feeling slightly jilted. Brandon followed suit and then turned the television on to some random game. Allison just sat there silently. Unsure of what had just passed between them, she tried to clear her mind and finally have the conversation she had been contemplating for quite a while.

"Brandon, I feel like we ought to set some ground rules now that we're living together," Allison said, trying to sound nonchalant.

"Ground rules?" he echoed with amusement, sparing her a quick glance before turning back to the television, "Okay, mom, please elaborate."

"Don't mock me, Miller," she huffed, "I'm serious. If we're honestly going to make this situation work, we need to set some rules."

Brandon rolled his eyes before finally turning to her and giving her his complete attention, "Fine. What do you have in mind?"

Suddenly nervous, Allison felt herself stumbling for her next words, "No more sex. We can't have sex anymore."

Unable to control himself, Brandon began to laugh. He had been expecting something along the lines of 'don't leave the toilet seat up', 'no playing pranks', or 'no eating her snacks'.

Feeling her face heat up, she hit him across the chest, "I'm serious, Brandon! Now that we're living together and are about to have a child, sex would make things more confusing and complicated for anyone. We don't need that messing us up."

Eyebrows raised, Brandon sobered up and looked both hesitant and thoughtful. "Nothing would ever mess us up, Allie. We're rock solid."

Softening, Allison gave him a small smile and nudged him with her shoulder. It was so hard to be irritated with him when he said things like that. She didn't have any doubts about the strength of their friendship, and it was always good to hear that he felt the same way.

Taking her silent response as an agreement, he gestured for her to continue, "What else?"

"If we start dating someone, we need to talk about it first. Who we date now affects the other and our child, so no secrets in regards to our love lives." Allison thought that this was a good rule to establish, even though they had never really kept much from each other, especially regarding who they were dating.

Reading her mind, he nodded, "Sounds good."

"That said," she said, her voice turning a bit sharper, "You absolutely cannot hate every guy I show an interest in right off the bat."

Brandon gave her an exaggerated look of false innocence, "Are you trying to accuse me of something?"

"Brandon," she warned with a pointed look, "You know exactly what I mean. You always find the stupidest reasons to dislike the guys I date. My rule is that you have to at least give them a fair chance, without being rude, difficult, or trying to provoke them."

Her mind ran wild with all the different examples of Brandon's disapproving scowls. The first boyfriend she had ever had was Darren, who, according to Brandon, was overly clingy and whiny with stalker potential. Josh had been too immature, self centered, and too short for her. Neither Jason nor Thomas treated her the way she deserved to be treated, and they had stupid haircuts. Even when she dated one of his good friends, Brandon declared that Michael was too scrawny to be able to protect her if anything bad were to ever happen. It was all just so ridiculous, and she would not have any of it anymore.

"But Allie, I've always been right," he insisted stubbornly, "Why else would you still be single? None of those guys have been good enough."

"I still consider myself friends with half of those guys!" Allison countered, exaggerating slightly, "They were great guys, even if things didn't work out with them."

Pouting, Brandon shook his head, "Obviously, you have awful taste. Don't pick on me just because I'm just trying to be a pal and help you see it."

"Obviously," she echoed with a dry smile, "If it weren't for my awful taste, how else would I have ended up with you as my best friend?"

"Ouch," he said, making a grand display of clutching his chest and throwing himself back, "You're so cruel to me. I don't deserve it."

Ignoring his dramatics, Allison gave him a hard poke in the arm, "And before we get back to the subject at hand, let me just say, you have not had the best luck with women either."

Brandon simply glared at her. He couldn't deny that she made a good point. For the most part, he was a serial dater, but the couple of times he had made the commitment had ended in disaster.

With a sweet smile, she continued, "So the last rule I have in my repertoire so far is that we eat together as a family at least once a day."

"Eat together?" he repeated, looking momentarily thrown off by the idea, "Didn't see that one coming, not that I saw any of the others, but I digress."

Allison flushed, "It was the one normal childhood experience I remember from before my parents' divorce. I want my child to have that too, and we may as well start now. I think it would be good for you to have it too."

After a moment of staring at her, Brandon cracked a smile. He couldn't recall the last time that he appreciated how well she knew him. Unfortunately, the happy childhood memories of his family were hard to come by. While Allison's parents had stayed together until she was 10 years old, Brandon's hadn't survived past his toddlerhood. His mother and father split when he was only 2 years old, and little Brandon was forced to suffer the most. Lauren Miller chose to vanish from Brandon's life for almost ten years, leaving him with her cold, narcissistic ex-husband who had no idea or willingness to learn about raising a child. James Miller left Brandon to be raised by a nanny until he was old enough to be sent to boarding school. Sad to say, he couldn't remember a single family dinner he had had with his own family.

Reaching for her hand, Brandon gave Allison an appreciative squeeze, "I think that's my favorite rule ever."

"I was hoping you'd like it," she replied with a shy smile.

The pair shared a peaceful moment where they both imagined sitting down with their daughter and having dinner, whether the meal was chaotic and messy or calm and pleasant. It sounded wonderful.

"Alright," Brandon sighed, standing up and pulling Allison into his arms, "I guess I can agree to those rules, but Al, I do have one complaint."

Allison frowned and pulled back to look up at him, "What is it?"

After a moment's hesitation, Brandon continued, "I understand your reasons for not wanting to have sex with me anymore, but I really don't want you to have sex with some other guy while you're pregnant with my child."

"What?" she sputtered, turning bright red.

"You heard me," he replied with an awkward chuckle, "I mean, it's not like I really ever try to think about you with other guys, but that's my baby girl in there, and the thought of some other guy – well, it's just too weird!"

"Then don't think about it!" she cried out. Horrified, she tried to pull away from him, but he held on firmly.

"Come on, Allie," he said a bit petulantly, "I'm serious."

Refusing to let go until she relaxed a little, Brandon let Allison take a step back from him. With a heavy sigh, she gestured down to her small but prominent belly bump, "Look at me, Brandon. I am very obviously pregnant. Not to be crude, but guys really aren't lining up to fuck me."

The look on Brandon's face was strange and unreadable, but Allison was too distracted with her response to make anything of it.

"So don't worry," she said gently, trying not to sound self-conscious, "I don't think you have to worry about other guys for a while."

Impulsively, Brandon reached out and brushed back the hair that had fallen out of her ponytail and into her face, "Allison, guys are always going to want you. Pregnant or not, you're always going to be beautiful, and to be honest, I think you look as great and as appealing right now as you ever have before."

Allison felt a tingling, warming sensation spread through her. For the brief moment before she dismissed it, she wondered if it was his touch or his words that made her body respond in such a way.

"Thanks," she said feebly, "But still, I don't really plan on having sex with anyone else for a while, ok?"

With a doubtful look, Brandon gave a short nod, "Fine."

For the first time since before they started moving things in, Allison recalled all the doubts and hesitations she had had when Brandon first proposed their current living situation. Oh, how she hoped she wouldn't be regretting this later.

A/N: It's finals week and instead of doing some extra cramming, I've been working on this chapter. Oops. But anyway, this was a fun chapter to write, but I do have my reservations about it. I hope you enjoy it though. Feel free to offer up some constructive criticism. It's hard to hear it, but ultimately, I know it only serves to help me grow. It would also be nice if you have questions you want answered to give me ideas on things I might be forgetting.

Thanks to:

Soonafter100, BarbieRachel, sacrificed heart (by trailer, I meant the mobile homes that are kept in parks that don't really seem to be all that mobile. Lol. Christmas was at the sister's house.), and TomKaulitzLoverxxx (As you may have noticed, now, I'm playing around with the name more because of your comment. Lol. I think I might agree with you, but I'm not sure what name I'll use now. Maybe I'll put it to vote. Thanks for the input and I really do hope I can stave off writers block!)