"Mommy!" the girl wailed, running down the stairs to the kitchen where Kate was.
"What's wrong, honey?" Kate asked, scooping her daughter up onto the counter. With a gentle hand she wiped away the tear tracks from the girl's cheek.
"Javi and Kevin said something bad!" She threw her arms around Kate's neck and sobbed. Kate grew concerned when the girl wouldn't stop crying.
"Okay, c'mon, let's go see what happened." Kate lifted the five-year-old onto her hip, grateful that the girl didn't weigh so much as to make it impossible to lift her. "Javier Jonathan and Kevin Seamus you get down here this instant!" she yelled up the stairs. She heard two set of footsteps rush across the upstairs hall and down the stairs to stand in front of Kate.
"Hi mom!" Javier said with a smile, his expression quickly turning into a frown when he realized his little sister was crying and his mom was upset. He exchanged a glance with Kevin.
"What's wrong?" Kevin asked.
"Did you make Alexis cry?" Kate asked, raising an eyebrow when both boys shook their heads.
"We were just playing with our swords when she ran out!" Javier said.
"Totally let me get killed too," Kevin muttered under his breath, shutting up quickly when Javier glared at him.
"Well did you say something before she left?" Kate asked, frowning a little. Alexis wasn't one to run away crying if they accidentally hurt her or something. The girl had stopped crying, only taking shallow breaths and keeping her face buried in Kate's neck.
"I said it was raining cats and dogs," Kevin piped up. Kate almost dropped Alexis when she let out a loud wail and started crying again.
"Alexis, honey, what's wrong?" Kate asked, moving over to the couch and sitting the girl on it, opting to sit on the coffee table herself. Kevin and Javier positioned themselves on either side of Alexis.
The girl's cries had reduced to sniffles and hiccups, and Kate had a hard time understanding Alexis. "I don't want cats and dogs to fall out of the sky! What if they get hurt?" she managed, but her voice broke at the end and she started crying again.
"Huh?" Kevin said, confused.
Javier's face transformed into one of comprehension, and he threw an arm around his little sister.
Kate, however, had to cover her mouth with her hand to stifle her giggles.
"Oh, Lexi," she started. "Cats and dogs aren't falling out of the sky."
The little girl raised her head from Javier's shoulder. "No?"
"But then why say it's raining cats and dogs?"
"It's a saying!" Kevin said, finally getting what the whole ordeal was about.
"Remember, Lexi, we were trying to teach you that," Javier said, lightly nudging Alexis.
"Oh yeah. So... that was a saying?" she asked, looking at Kate.
"Yes." Kate nodded.
"Oh." She seemed to ponder something. "So when Javi said love is the compass of life he was talking about Lanie?"
Javier's eyes went wide and he'd clapped a hand over Alexis mouth a second too late. Kevin started laughing but quickly covered it up with fake coughs when Javier glared at him. Alexis licked the palm of Javier's hand, who abruptly removed his hand from over his sister's mouth.
Kate smirked, crossing her arms and leaning backwards. "Javier, something you want to tell me?"
"Not really, no," he said, crossing his arms as well.
Kate arched an eyebrow at him. "You know, it's perfectly okay. You're fourteen. You're entering puberty." Kevin giggled, but Alexis looked plain confused.
"Mo-om!" Javier whined. "Why do you traumatize me?"
"Because I love you!" she exclaimed, getting up from her spot on the coffee table. She lifted Alexis up and sat down where the girl had sat mere moments previous, the girl in her lap.
All four heads turned at the sound of the front door shutting closed.
"Daddy!" Alexis said, squirming out of Kate's grip and running towards Rick. The man crouched down with arms wide to receive his daughter. She flung herself into his arms, her dark auburn hair flying everywhere. He tightened his arms around her and stood up, and she wrapped her arms around his neck to stay steady. "How was book signing, daddy?" Alexis asked, pecking a kiss to his cheek.
"Busy," he said, heaving a large sigh. "What are we doing?"
"Teaching Lexi about sayings." "Talking about Javi's love life." "Playing sword fighter."
Javier, Alexis and Kevin all answered at the same time.
"Ooh, Javier's love life! Isn't Lanie coming over later?" Rick asked excitedly.
"Don't act so glum!"
"I'm not," Javier deadpanned.
Rick walked over to the couch and moved to sit next to Kate when Javier got up to go upstairs. Alexis crawled over his and Kate's knees over to Kevin.
"Play swords?" she asked, and the boy nodded. The two of them made to go upstairs, when Rick intervened.
"I come home and you all abandon me?" he whined.
"Yep," Alexis said with a giggle, and ran upstairs.
"At least now I have you all to myself," Rick said to Kate, waggling his eyebrows. She rolled her eyebrows, but leaned forward and kissed him deeply. When they parted, he pulled her into him.
"So what happened?"
"Alexis came to me sobbing because Javier told her it was raining cats and dogs and she took it literally."
"Oh yeah, I said that to him last week," Rick said.
She gently palmed his jaw, making him look at her. "Those boys might not be biologically ours but they sure are turning out a lot like you."
He smiled at her, raising an inquisitive eyebrow. "How so?"
"Last week I found Kevin rooting through your Derek Storm collection."
"There's... explicit material in there!" Rick exclaimed, to which Kate rolled her eyes.
"He's already on the third one, Rick, if I'm not mistaken he's already been through four explicit scenes."
Rick tried to say something but stammered and then gave up. She patted his cheek.
"Kate, they're growing up," he said softly. So softly, that if her hand hadn't been on his cheek she would've believed he hadn't spoken at all.
"I know, Rick."
"Javier goes to high school in a few months and Kevin turns eleven and our baby girl is going to the first grade," he said nostalgically.
"What are you saying?" she asked, surprise crossing her features.
"What if we try for another one?"
"You know the odds, Rick, you know Alexis was a miracle and a blessing."
"Well we've beat the odds once. And you know what the doctor said about waiting a little."
"Are we really considering this?" she asked, looking at him seriously.
"I'd say we are." He turned her so he could look at her properly. "C'mon Kate..."
A few tense seconds later she answered, "Okay." She couldn't stop the smile that covered her face when she saw his expression of pure joy.
He wrapped an arm around her waist to get her closer to him and kissed her. She moaned lightly into the kiss. They both sprang apart abruptly when a loud crash came from upstairs.
"Uh-oh..." they heard form three voices.
"MOMMY! DADDY!" Alexis yelled.
"Let's go," Kate said, dragging Rick off the couch and up the stairs to their three kids.