This was written for my 13-year-old when we did a fic exchange for Thanksgiving. She requested a piece of "Modern Family" fan fiction featuring Cam and Mitchell. The show is my absolute favorite and one of hers, so I had fun writing it. Her story for me was this Carl and Van Helsing story. :)

Daddy-O

Cousin Shelley


Cameron was changing his clothes in preparation for a family gathering. They'd invited all the Pritchetts over for another one of Cam's famous ethnic food nights. Mitchell had been straightening the bedroom and Cam had been just about to slip on his trousers when Lily needed a diaper change.

Mitchell stood at Cam's elbow while Cam changed the diaper. Cam looked at him with raised eyebrows. "Observing the master at work?"

"Moral support, honey," Mitchell explained. "She had pureed pumpkin for lunch."

That's when it happened.

"Mitchell! Oh my God, Mitchell, did you hear it?"

"I . . . I thought I did, maybe."

"What do you mean maybe? It was clear as a bell." He re-diapered her even faster than usual, held Lily up, puckered his lips and said, "Cwear as a widdle bell she said it, my widdle wiwwy is a winguist."

"Well, Cam, it wasn't that clear."

"It was crystal clear."

"What did she say?"

"She said . . . her first word. I'm not sure what the word was, but it was clearly her first word."

"Mnemheh?"

"No, it was an actual word, I just didn't catch which word because she took me by surprise." Cam had her redressed and in his arms, and started encouraging her to say it again. "Come on, big girl," he said with a smile, shaking his head. "Talk to daddy."

Mitchell took her and stood, bouncing her lightly. "I think she said Get dressed, daddy, because if grandpa comes and you're only wearing jockey shorts, we'll be spending the evening in the ER."

"I'm sure that's not what she said." Mitchell sat on the bed and pulled his pants on, then patted down his hair as he looked in the mirror. "Okay, family, how do I look? Do I look like the dynamo who managed to make a Mexican/Korean buffet that works together seamlessly to celebrate diversity and honor Gloria, Manny and Lily, or do I not?"

Mitchell's smile froze and he looked at Lily, bounced her lightly, lifted her little arm in the air and said, "Yay."

***

When the whole family gathered to eat, Cameron told them about Lily's first word that they couldn't understand but would know when they heard it again. After dinner, which Mitchell had to admit did blend Mexican and Korean together pretty seamlessly, or at least better than he thought was possible, Cameron put Lily in Gloria's arms and had Manny stand next to them for a photo, then swung his arm in an arc. "This was for all of you, so that you know how happy Mitchell and I are that you're in our family."

"Oh, usted es un hombre querido," Gloria said as she hugged Cameron, "you're a dear man." She was still holding Lily, who loudly and clearly said, "Mnehmne!"

"Oh my God, Mitchell!"

"I heard, I heard." He beamed.

"Oh, her first word," said Claire.

Phil smiled and put his arm around Claire. "Or, her second. Which is a repeat . . . of the word she actually said first. Her second first." Claire looked at him for a moment and Phil said, "Yay, her first word!" and kissed Claire on the cheek.

Jay walked over to the group and put his hand on Lily's head, smiling at his granddaughter's first word. "So, she said momma?"

Cam and Mitchell both shook their heads. "No," Mitchell said, "it was more like mnehmne. You know, mnehmne."

"Sounded like momma to me." Jay kissed the top of Lily's head. "Cam, you must be very proud. I know that Mitchell's first word was actually dada, and I was thrilled."

Manny said, "I thought she burped."

Mitchell shook his head and took Lily. "Wait, why would Cam be momma? We don't say momma. But if we did, I could be momma, why would you automatically assume Cam would be?"

Cam said, "That's right, I'm daddy and Mitchell's daddy. She wouldn't say momma first."

Gloria put her arm around Jay's waist. "It did sound like momma to me, too," she said, eyebrows raised and a sympathetic look on her face.

"No, no, it was mnehmne. Maybe . . . num num! That could be it." Mitchell smiled at Lily and rocked back and forth a little. "Num num?"

Jay said, "So which is daddy one and which is daddy two?" He appeared genuinely confused.

Mitchell said, "Dad, there is no one or two, we're both just daddy."

"Then how is she gonna tell you apart? When she says daddy, how are you going to know who she's talking to? Ow-hey!"

Gloria laughed and acted like she hadn't just pinched Jay's side hard enough to do tissue damage. "Oh, they'll know, of course they'll know," she said, smiling and talking through clenched teeth, eyebrows raised almost up to her hairline.

"Sure. Sure they will," he said, moving away from Gloria and pulling Manny with him. "Of course, they will! Or you could just use your first names, then you'll know whose name she says first."

"Dad, it's not a competition. We're not going to try to get her to say one of our--mnehmne sounds a lot like Mitchell, doesn't it," he said. "Mitchell, Lily? Mitchmneh? Mnehmnell?"

Cam took her and started walking around the room. "Of course there's no competition, that's ridiculous. "Mnehmnron? Mnemeron? Come on, sweetheart, say what you said, say Camnmnehe . . . ."

Manny looked up at Jay. "I still think it sounded like a digestive issue."

***

Sitting next to each other, talking to the camera.

Mitchell put his hand on Cameron's leg. "He started talking to Lily behind my back, trying to get her to say Cameron."

"I did not."

"Honey, you did, but that's okay. I'll admit . . . when you weren't paying attention, I kind of tried to get her to say Mitchell." He laughed and patted Cam's leg.

"I know. I found your iPod playing the MP3 you recorded under her crib."

***

"It's just . . . fatherhood." Cam looked at himself in the full length mirror, slowly turning side to side. He pulled his shirt out away from his chest, then pulled it tight against his chest. "I put on a little weight, I'm a nervous eater and I was nesting." He put his hands on his chest and then tilted them slightly as if weighing objects in his palms. "It's just baby weight!"

***

Sitting, talking to the camera

"Cam was really upset when dad assumed he'd be the momma in the relationship, and became convinced he had freakishly large . . . ."

"You can say it, Mitchell. Man-boobs. Man. Boobs."

"But he doesn't. His chest is very nice. There's a little more of it since we started expecting Lily, but that just means there's more niceness there, that's all. No . . . ."

"Man boobs!" Cameron crossed his arms in front of his chest. He took a few deep breaths. "And I have curvy hips, too. I tried to explain to Mitchell that's why Jay assumed I'd be the momma, not because he lacks any kind of maternal, nurturing instinct."

"I know that, I know I don't lack that. I'm maternal."

"But you were worried about it at the time."

"No, I wasn't." Mitchell shook his head, laughing.

"Really? Then why did you shave?"

***

"Oh my God."

"What?" Mitchell lifted his chin and walked by Cam, on his way to the refrigerator to find something for breakfast.

"What . . . why?"

"Why what?"

Cam grunted. He took Mitchell's face in his hands and kissed him. "Oh, see? No fuzzy now. It's like kissing a different person, I'm used to the tickle."

"Well, maybe you should grow one of your own. Try something a little more . . . masculine." He lifted his chin again and turned back to the counter and his bagel.

"Oh my God!"

"What? Why do you keep saying that?"

Cam leaned his back against the counter next to Mitchell and crossed his arms over his chest. "You shaved because of what your father said."

"Did not."

"You want to look more feminine, because you're upset that he assumed I'd be the one Lily would call momma. Oh my--"

"Stop saying that, seriously."

"That's going to itch when it grows back."

"No, it's not."

Cam ran his hand over Mitchell's smooth face. "It's like being in the kitchen with a different, smoother man. Who are you? I don't recognize you. My boyfriend's gone insane so maybe we can hook up."

"Cam!"
***

Sitting, talking

"He was insecure about what his father said, and thought maybe the beard and moustache made him look too masculine to be a momma."

Mitchell stared at the camera. "I'm glad my father's not here to hear you say that I thought my facial hair made me too masculine. I can't tell you how grateful I am that he missed out on that one." His hand instinctively went to his face, where he scratched lightly at the short stubble that had started to grow back.

Cam said, "You know, you just don't really have the upper lip to pull that look off."

"No, I don't, do I?"

"Anyway, the whole thing got out of hand, here and everywhere else."

***

Once Lily started saying Mnehmeh, she didn't seem to want to stop. A few weeks later, Gloria threw a party for the family in honor of Jay's birthday. Jay retreated to his den to watch football, with Cameron and Lily following close behind.

And Lily said, "Mnehmeh!"

Jay laughed. "She said grandpa!"

Cameron smiled and looked toward Mitchell, who'd heard Lily and all but come running. "Grandpa? I'm not sure that's what--"

"Mnehmeh!"

"That's clearly Mitchell," Mitchell said.

"I heard grandpa."

"Well," Cam said, "I'm not so sure--"

"Oh, I suppose you heard Cameron." Mitchell smoothed down Lily's hair. "She couldn't have said all of those things."

So the other Pritchetts filed in to hear, and each one heard his or her name. Haley heard her name, and a few minutes later heard, "Cool teen." Claire heard "sexy," which she decided referred to her or Gloria, but probably her. Phil heard "Uncle Phil," but he'd been watching the game when he heard it and no one had the heart to tell him which one of them had actually made the noise. Manny heard "Manny," and everyone had to agree that it really did sound pretty close. Luke heard "too much paint grows," and Alex heard "save me." This prompted her to make a secret vow to little Lily that as soon as she was old enough she'd clue her in to the things she needed to know to survive in this family.

***

Sitting, talking

"It was like one of those gatherings with the psychic channeling spirits," Cam said. "He'll say 'I'm getting something, I'm getting the letter P' and everyone who ever knew anyone from Paul to Prudence is suddenly sure that person is trying to communicate with them."

"It was a little embarrassing," Mitchell said, scratching his chin. "My family certainly know how to let things get out of hand."

Cam tilted his head to look at Mitchell, and then kept the same tilt as he turned his head to look right at the camera.

***

Cam looked at Mitchell across the breakfast table. He got up, walked next to him and leaned over, peering at him intently. "Are you wearing eyeliner?"

"I just looked a little washed out when I woke up this morning, so--"

"Do I smell lemon verbena?"

Mitchell opened his mouth as if to protest, and then said, "Yes. I thought if I toned down my natural male scent with something a little more feminine, maybe she'd be less confused about . . . things."

"Seeing her daddy shave off all his signature facial hair, and wear guyliner while smelling like a Southern belle? Oh, that's not confusing, momma."

"Do I . . . do I seem more like a mom now?"

"Mitchell . . . ." Cam squatted next to his chair and looked up at him. "You're a mom and a dad and a wonderful partner all wrapped up in one. It doesn't matter what Lily's first word is, whether it's daddy or Manny or too much paint grows. I love you, and Lily loves you, and no matter what her first or tenth or thousandth word might be, nothing will change that. Unless of course her words are 'I hate you.' And we know that won't happen. Come on, Mitchell."

"You know, you're right. This is ridiculous! It doesn't matter what my father said or whose name she says first, whether she says momma, daddy, Mitchell or Cameron."

Cameron smiled and nudged Mitchell. "Or num nums. That's a good first word, too."

"Or that. Or even sexy, like Claire heard. We just won't tell Claire she's really talking about you." He leaned over and gave Cam a quick kiss. "This . . . this is just silly. I'm gonna go take this stuff off."

Lily woke then, crying, no words either of them could distinguish, and Cam ran upstairs to take care of her. He changed her and dressed her, and then just looked at her for a long time, overwhelmed with how much he loved her, and how much he loved Mitchell and his life with them. He held her and pointed to the mural of him and Mitchell on the wall, pointing to each of them and saying, 'Daddy, daddy.'

He could hear Mitchell in the bathroom, and heard him say something about how he thought the lemon verbena was going to give him a rash, when Lily put her little hand on Cam's face and said, "Blpthblatrespspthubah bah bahbah shpeeeeoo."

Cam smiled and hugged her, and carried her into the bathroom, where Mitchell stood shirtless at the sink, dark circles around both eyes where he'd been trying to remove the waterproof eyeliner, and patches of pink skin on either side of his neck that he was gently scrubbing at with a soapy cloth. "Did I hear her say something?" he asked.

Cam looked at him in the mirror and had to swallow the small lump that formed in his throat when he thought again about how much he loved his family. "Mmm hmm. I think she just said Mitchell."