[size=9]((Contains references to adult material.))[/size]
With the majority of the children in the treehouse for a sleepover, and Lucy and Steve playing host to the visiting Natasha and Colin, today had been the perfect day for the adult Storms to get a few things settled. Like giving Lucas their permission to propose to Fliss, only to discover that he had already proposed to her, and that she was wearing the ring he had given her. That had been a bit of a surprise, but a good one. And Liv had one more surprise for Johnny.
Today was the last session with the healers, and she'd waved him away to go and bath Bess while she was busy being made as good as new. Three long weeks of convalescence were finally over, and with a last hour under Rebecca's skilled and magical touch, Liv was looking forward to giving Johnny a lovely surprise. As he finished up with Bess, his wife tentatively took her first steps since she'd been attacked, trying not to laugh out loud at how easy it felt, how painless it was. She brushed her long hair - restored by Rebecca's magic because that uneven shave had been doing far more harm than good - and made her way on bare feet to Bess' bedroom, where the toddler was gurgling her way through making it difficult for Johnny to get her pajamas on her.
Liv smiled at the wrestling match, looking forward to taking her turn again soon. "I could be wrong, but one of these days, she's going to win."
Thankfully, Johnny was not holding Bess off the ground or he might have dropped her, startled as he was by Liv's voice as she joined him. He knew she'd been slowly recovering, but he had not expected her to join him so soon. It had, after all, only been a few weeks. "Liv!" he exclaimed, scooping baby Bess up into his arms and turning to face her, clearly startled. "What are you doing? Are you okay?"
Liv's smile was bright, if a little disbelieving. "I'm ... I'm fine," she told him, her voice half a laugh. "Honestly. I'm absolutely fine!" She let herself laugh again, moving to wrap her arms around him and Bess tenderly. "I'm all better."
"Livvie, your hair!" Johnny exclaimed in a hushed gasp of breath, obviously surprised to find her with a full head of hair again. Though the loss of hair might not have been life-threatening, it had been a constant reminder of how Hydra had almost taken her away from them. "Oh my God, baby, you're walking ... and talking ... and your hair!" he repeated, laughing happily along with her.
"I know!" Liv squeezed him fondly, brushing a kiss against Bess' cheek as the toddler giggled with them, utterly unaware of what was so special about her mother being up and about and looking normal. Her hand gently cradled Johnny's cheek. "I'm back," she promised him. "And I'll take it easy for a little while, I promise."
"Oh my God, baby ... You look-you look amazing!" he told her, knowing he was gushing, but hardly caring. There were all alone, after all, except for Bess, and there was no reason to hide his enthusiasm. There were tears in his eyes as he pulled her close, Liv in one arm and Bess in the other. "I was so worried," he whispered, his voice breaking.
"I know," she whispered back to him, hugging close to press her cheek to his. "And I'm sorry you had to go through all that, baby. But I'm back, and it's never going to happen again."
"No, it sure as hell isn't!" Johnny agreed. Not because Liv was never going to visit New York again, but because as far as they knew, they had pushed Hydra back at least a few decades. "I love you, baby." He kissed her again, this time on the lips, with Bess lunging toward Liv to do the same. Johnny laughed. "See? Bess feels the same!"
"I love you back," Liv murmured into his kiss, giggling as Bess planted a kiss of her own onto her mother's lips. "And you!" she declared, lifting Bess out of Johnny's arms to cuddle her close. "Oh, I've missed being able to do this."
"Aw, Livvie," Johnny whispered, his voice breaking again and tears of relief actually streaming down his face. He just couldn't help himself. He scrubbed the tears from his face as she relieved him of Bess, laughing at himself. "Sorry!" he said, glad the kids were there to see him.
"They're all in the treehouse tonight," she told him. "I was thinking of surprising them with breakfast in the morning - what do you think?" It would certainly be a surprise to see her walking about; a good way to wake up, perhaps.
"I think that's a great idea!" he said, with a happy smile. "Shall we tuck the munchkin into bed? I want to make sure you're real!" he told her, though he didn't want to push her too fast or too far.
"Well, it's bedtime, isn't it?" Liv looked into Bess' sleepy eyes with a fond smile. "I think that sounds like a wonderful idea." Hoisting the toddler a little closer on her hip, she squeezed Johnny about the waist a moment longer before moving over to the cot.
Johnny followed her to the bed, so that he could help tuck Bess in and give her a good-night kiss, but he let Liv do most of it, since he had a feeling she'd been badly missing the nightly routines with their children.
It felt like an eternity since she'd been able to see even one of her children to bed, and Liv couldn't help taking her time over it, stroking her fingers against Bess' blonde hair as the little girl sank into sleep in front of them. When she straightened, it was to tuck her arm about Johnny's waist. "Is Bella in the treehouse with Beast and the kids?"
"Yeah," Johnny said, tucking his arms around her to hold her close and lowering his voice so they wouldn't wake Bess. "Lir's in the pool. I think he's kinda lonely," he said, with a frown, though there wasn't much they could do about it. "I think Jasper is out there with him," he said, though how a cat and a dragon were friends was beyond him.
"We need to work out how to house him," Liv mused. "I don't think he's ever going to go wild, Johnny. He loves Alex too much to leave."
"I know, but ..." Johnny trailed off, with a glance at Bess, before taking Liv's hand to lead her from the room, so they could talk without waking her. "He's so big!" he said, as he pulled Bess' door halfway closed.
"He's not even half-grown yet, Johnny," she pointed out, pausing to look out through the window on the landing. Lir was half in his little shed now, one foreleg outstretched as Jasper apparently scratched his own head on the dragon's claws. "Alex would tell us if he was unhappy."
"I guess," Johnny admitted, feeling a strange tug of affection for the water dragon, who had snuck home with them in Fliss' backpack one day a few years ago from a shop in the Marketplace. "Do you think Sol could permanently shrink him or something?"
"Johnny, how would you like it if someone shrunk you because they thought you might be a little big?" Liv asked her husband gently. "It would be cruel. We'll work something out, I'm sure. We should just talk to Alex about it."
"Yeah, I guess," Johnny agreed again, with a worried frown. One way or other, they'd work it out, but he knew how attached Alex and Lir had become over the years. It wasn't something they were going to solve tonight, at any rate.
She smiled, leaning into him affectionately. "I get to sleep in our bed tonight," she reminded him with a flicker of mischief in her eyes. "It's been a while."
"Are you planning on just sleeping?" he asked, mirroring that mischievous gleam in his own eyes. He didn't much care if all they did was snuggle, so long as they were together and she was well again. "Oh, Liv," he said, pulling her into his arms again. "I've been so worried. You can't imagine how happy I am that you're okay." Actually, she probably could. There had been plenty of nights when he'd gone out to help the Avengers or the fire brigade and she'd worried if he would come home safely.