Charles and Dawn were sat on the couch in his living room, both doing paperwork. She was leaning against the armrest with her legs slung over his lap, which he used as a makeshift table to keep his papers on.
Diana came bounding down the stairs, hair flying behind her as she breezed through the house.
"Going over to Cassie's," she called out as she put on her jacket. She then went to the living room. "Bye dad," she said, pressing a kiss to Charles cheek. Before the pair knew what was happening, Diana also pressed a kiss to Dawn's cheek, before bounding out of the room again, a 'bye Dawn' called out behind her.
"Bye..." Charles said futilely, smiling when Dawn looked at him in astonishment.
"Did that just happen?" she asked, her fingers brushing over her cheek where Diana had kissed it.
"She's really warming up to you as someone else than Faye's mom and the principal," Charles said, and Dawn almost couldn't believe it.
"You know it's not my intention to try and replace Elizabeth..." Dawn said quietly, watching him carefully.
"I know, but it's nice for Diana, and I think she realizes that, to have a female adult around. It's a point we've always struggled with." She moved her hand up to squeeze his shoulder, making him look at her. "I think she's even happier that it's you."
"How so?" Dawn asked, his statement having piqued her interest.
"When she had just turned six she really started to notice things. Do you remember her birthday party? The one with the giraffe?" he asked Dawn.
"How could I forget? Faye lived and breathed giraffe's for the weeks after that and she was adamant on getting one. Slick move there Charles, making all the other parents look bad," Dawn teased.
He smiled at her response. "Well, she noticed that most of her friends had moms, but she didn't."
"Oh," Dawn said, feeling bad that she'd tried to make a joke of the situation, but he waved her off good naturedly.
"A few weeks after that, and I'll never forget this conversation, she comes up to me and says..."
"Daddy, why don't I have a mommy?" Diana had walked into the kitchen with her color book and a few color pencils, clambering onto the chair to draw at the kitchen table while Charles did the dishes.
He wiped off his hands and walked over to the girl, sitting down on one of the chairs to be level with her. "I told you, sweetheart, your mommy died," he said carefully, the concept of death still being relatively new to the girl.
"I know that, daddy," the girl said, rolling her eyes. "But why did my mommy have to die? Why do other kids have a daddy and a mommy?"
"I don't know, sweetheart, that's just how things work," he said, feeling almost guilty that he needed to explain this to her; that she even had to go through this.
"Don't be sorry, daddy," the girl said, patting his cheek in comfort and he couldn't help but smile. "It's just not fair that Faye Chamberlain gets to have a mommy but I don't."
Charles chuckled, his mind straying to the Chamberlain women. "But Faye doesn't have a daddy."
"No?" the girl asked, never having noticed it, but after he said it, she realized it could be true.
"No." Charles shook his head for effect.
"Oh. Well I don't know what having a mommy is like, but I'd rather have you daddy. Having a daddy is really nice," the girl contemplated out loud, and Charles could almost feel his heart swell, even before she said the following words. "I love you daddy."
"I love you too, Diana," he said, smoothing his hand over her braided hair and pressing a kiss to her forehead. "You ok?"
The girl nodded, already turning back to her coloring and ignoring Charles, who went back to doing the dishes.
He could sense that she had more on her mind, but didn't pry, because sure enough, "Daddy, do you think Mrs. Chamberlain is pretty?"
He knew his daughter well enough to know that when he looked over his shoulder at her she would avoid eye contact. She was up to something. "I think she's very pretty."
"Good. Me too," the girl said decisively and nodding her head once, much to Charles' amusement.
A few seconds later, he heard Diana take a breath and knew the next part was coming.
"Are you friends with Mrs. Chamberlain, daddy?" she asked, finally putting down her colored pencils to look at him.
He turned to lean against the counter and watch her, all the while mulling over his relationship with Dawn Chamberlain. It was complicated, and he had no idea how to say that to his six-year-old so he went with, "You could say we're friends, yes."
"So you like her?" Diana asked immediately, and he started to have a sneaking suspicion about what her questions were. She saw her father's eyes narrow, and knowing that she couldn't lie to him, she picked up her pencil and started coloring again.
"Yes, Diana. Why?" he asked, trying to pry Diana's motive out of her.
"Well daddy, I was just thinking..." The girl peeked up at him trying to gauge if she should continue or not. He knew her habit and smiled encouragingly, very much interested in what she was going to say. "Know how I wanted a sister?" Charles nodded, still very much in the dark about her idea. "I wouldn't mind of Faye was my sister, if we just didn't need to share a room," she said, the last part of the statement somewhat offhandedly and off track.
"But then you could marry Mrs. Chamberlain, and I would have a mommy and Faye would have a daddy and we could adopt Nick and then we could share you and Mrs. Chamberlain because Nick doesn't have a mommy or a daddy and then maybe you and Mrs. Chamberlain could have cute babies so I can have a little brother or sister."
She took a deep breath after all the information had tumbled out and looked up at Charles. He was standing there, gaping at her in surprise.
"Daddy?" the girl asked, a light smile playing about her lips.
Her words shook him out of his reverie. "That's a pretty solid idea you have there, sweetheart," he said with a sort of twangy accent, making Diana giggle. "But what if Mrs. Chamberlain doesn't want to marry me?"
She liked it when he challenged her ideas, because then she really had to think them true and make sure everything made sense. It never occurred to her that maybe Mrs. Chamberlain didn't want to marry her daddy. "Why won't she want to marry you, daddy? Is something wrong with her?"
Diana asked the question so innocently, that he couldn't help but laugh loudly. The little girl frowned at her father.
"You should try to make it happen, daddy," she said petulantly, and squirmed out of her chair, huffing as she left.
"Hey princess!" he called after her, and she smiled when looking back. "I'll do my best but no promises."
She nodded enthusiastically and then ran off, leaving Charles in the kitchen shaking his head in amusement.
Dawn leaned back against the couch, smiling at the tale, yet her eyebrow was arched. He sent a questioning glance her way and she elaborated, "You'll do your best but no promises?"
He looked down and chuckled. He composed himself then looked her straight in the eye, "Diana bringing it up wasn't the first time I thought about it, you know."
"I can imagine," she said, almost cheekily, but before he had a chance to respond her lips were on his in a passionate kiss. "I love you," she mumbled when they briefly broke apart.
His arm tightened around her waist, his eyes twinkling in delight. "I love you too, Dawn," he said, before he kissed her again.
She couldn't help but break them apart, leaning back a bit. Her tone was tinged with disbelief and some amusement when she couldn't resist to ask.
"Did she really say we'd have cute babies?"