"George," she told him solemnly, pointing at the orange blob. "Toilet." Proving that, despite her apparent oblivious tendencies, Emily Rose Granger paid far more attention to her parents than they thought. They were going to have to start keeping a lid on swear words sooner rather than later.
Jon frowned a little, more at his daughter's over-observant astuteness than anything else. He didn't want her to feel bad over the loss of the fish or the fact that he'd scolded her. "George had to go bye-bye, Emmy. He's-he's in heaven with the angels now." Did fish even go to heaven, if there was such a place? He didn't know, but he thought it was easier to explain things that way. "Come on, sweetheart. Let's hang George on the fridge," he said, scooping her up off the floor and into his arms to carry her into the small kitchen that was part of the suite of rooms they shared at Maple Grove.
Emily went easily into his arms, cuddling her daddy about the neck as he headed for the kitchen. She didn't have the first idea quite what had happened to George, or why he was in the toilet instead of his bowl, but Mummy had said drawing a picture of George would make Daddy happy, so that's what she had done.
"Someday when you're a little older, maybe we'll get you a pet of your own, when you're old enough to learn how to take care of it," he told her, though she likely didn't really understand what he was saying. Not a fish, though. Something she could get close to. A kitten or a puppy, maybe. He wasn't quite sure. He wasn't sure how Cosmo would react to another pet in the house, but he seemed to get along well with the other dogs at the Grove, so Jon wasn't too worried. Convincing Vicki might be another story, though. Somehow, he managed to tack the drawing up on the fridge with a magnet, while juggling the little girl in his arms. "There we go. How's that?" he asked, admiring the work of art that now decorated the fridge, along with some previous works.
"Got doggie," the little girl offered up innocently. She was absolutely convinced that Cosmo belonged to her and her alone, despite the fact that the only people the collie actually obeyed were Jon and Vicki. "Funny doggie," she added with a giggle, hugging Jon tighter about the neck for a long moment.
Jon chuckled at his daughter's innocent observation. "Or he has us," he said, mostly to himself. He couldn't help wondering what things were going to be like as Emily's grasp of language improved. He supposed they were going to have to start being careful what they said around her. "Shall we go say night night to Mummy and Ben and Cosmo?"
She nodded happily. Bedtime had become much less of a battleground now that Ben and Emily were going down at roughly the same time - no more need for jealousies over one spending more time with Mummy and Daddy than the other. "Teef," Emily reminded him. She might not have many yet, but she was going to look after them.
He chuckled again at the reminder, both amused and impressed at the little girl's insistence on following the bedtime routine her mother had laid out for her. He couldn't deny they were good habits to get into. "And teef," he said in agreement, hauling her off to get ready for bed.
An hour later, when story, cuddles, "teef", and finally bed had happened, Vicki thumped down onto the couch with a low groan. "I thought she'd never decide which book she wanted," she laughed a little helplessly, tucking her hair back from her face.
"Let me guess. Frozen again?" he said. He'd seen the movie so many times, he could practically recite the lines and had often sang along with the songs, much to Emily's delight, especially when Cosmo joined in. "I called 'Tay. We're going to meet for lunch tomorrow to discuss the script," he told her, winding an arm around his amazing but exhausted wife as she thumped down beside him.
"Mmm, sounds like a plan," she smiled, leaning into him comfortably. "And no. I hid Frozen a couple of days ago, hence the ridiculous amount of time it took to decide what story she wanted before bed." She snorted with laughter quietly. "We ended up with Snow White."
"And she didn't cry for it?" he asked, equally surprised and relieved. As good as the film was, he was starting to get tired of it after seeing it over and over again. Like most little girls, even little Emily seemed obsessed with it, and Jon couldn't quite figure out why. "You know, I think she might have inherited some of your talent. That's not a bad rendition of a goldfish for a two-year-old."
"She only cries when it's you," Vicki teased him affectionately. "Because she knows Daddy is a really soft touch." Laughing, she twisted just enough to touch her lips to his cheek. "It's a little early to be guessing what she'll show an aptitude for, isn't it?"
He shrugged, a warm smile on his face. As far as he was concerned, Emily was a genius and could be anything she wanted to be, but Vicki was probably right. "Maybe," he admitted. "You didn't by any chance suggest she draw Daddy a picture of George, did you?" he asked, with that smirk on his face that told her he'd seen right through her.
Vicki's smile was about as innocent as it could get, which wasn't very innocent, since it was her. "Maaaaybe," she mused in a sing-song voice. "Maybe she just wanted to draw a picture of George. I'm not admitting to nothin'."
"Pleading the Fifth is almost as good as saying you're guilty, you know," he told her, reaching over to playfully tickle her side. Now that the kids were in bed with Cosmo on guard duty, this was their time and there was precious little enough of it.
Squirming, she laughed again, batting at his hands. "Don't you dare, you know it makes me snort like a demented weasel," she warned him, grinning as she made a move to capture the tickling hand and hold it away. "I would never plead the Fifth. I would declare my right to the Freedom of Speech Act."
"Oh, so that's what a demented weasel sounds like!" Jon laughed as she snatched his hand so he couldn't tickle her anymore - or so she thought. He did have two hands, though he didn't want to wake the kids now that they were finally settled for the night. "And incriminate yourself doing so," he added regarding her last comment, Everything he knew about the law he had learned from his brother, and that was very little.
"Neither of which I've done, you realize," she pointed out, twisting about to straddle his lap comfortably, looping her arms about his neck as she leaned into him. She sighed contentedly, her forehead to his. "I love you, you know."
"Oh, I don't need any proof. I know you're guilty," he teased back as she climbed onto his lap and his arms went around her waist to keep her there. "Do you need to be punished or would you prefer to be rewarded tonight?" he teased, pulling her snugly against him.
"Mm, decisions, decisions." She chuckled affectionately, drawn so close there was barely a breath between them. One thing they had never wanted for was desire for each other, even when Vicki had been so paranoid about never being attractive again following Emily's birth. To be honest, it was a wonder she wasn't pregnant again already. She was eternally grateful to the apothecary who supplied her with her potion. "Maybe you should choose," she murmured, nuzzling affectionately to him.
"Mmm," he mused thoughtfully. "While the thought of punishing you is a tempting one, I think I'll save that for another night." He took her lips in a kiss that was equally tender and passionate, wanting something a little more tender tonight, rather than naughty. Even if all they did was hold each other close, it was enough for Jon in these moments.
Her smile caught in his kiss faded soon enough, fingertips teasing through his hair as they shared the tenderness they'd had since the first night they had been together. Then, it had been tenderness born of a need to comfort and console; now, it was the truest expression of what they felt for one another without words. No matter how fiery an argument, how stressful a day, how tired either one felt, it all came to nothing in the loving press of lip to lip.
This was Jon and Vicki. It was these quiet, tender moments they shared that brought them both together at the end of each day, whether it ended in fiery passion or tender embraces, when both could be confident and comforted in the knowledge that, like any good fairy tale, they had met their true love and were living their very own happily every after.
[size=9]((D'aww, such a happy family! Huge thanks to Jon's player!))[/size]