The footsteps on the hallway caused Hope to stir, waking Scott who glanced at the clock with one squinted eye. The blurry red numbers revealing a time he'd really rather never see...
"Dad? Hope? Are you awake?" came a whisper from their doorway.
"Cassie. It's two-fifteen, go back to sleep" he replied through a yawn.
"When can we get up?"
Scott looked back to the clock before glancing to Hope who lay asleep in his arms.
"Eight" he decided.
The young girl sighed but went back to her bedroom as she was told, dramatically dragging her feet as she did.
"Go check on her" Hope whispered several minutes later, apparently not as asleep as Scott had thought.
"How could you tell-?"
"You're frowning" she replied, sitting up so Scott could get out of bed without having to pull his arm out from under her.
Hope knew he wouldn't sleep unless he went to speak to his daughter. His guilt would keep him wide awake, tossing and turning, which in turn would keep Hope awake. And then they might as well have gotten up in the first place, just like Cassie had asked.
Scott leaned in to kiss Hope before leaving the warmth of their bed to go speak to Cassie. It was the first Christmas Scott had been able to have Cassie for the whole day. Maggie and Paxton had dropped her off last week before their flight to New York and would pick her up again Boxing Day. Scott knew Cassie woke up early on Christmas morning, Maggie had warned him repeatedly, but he hadn't been expecting two AM... The last thing he wanted to do was disappoint her on their first Christmas together since she was a baby.
"Hey, Cass..." Scott whispered, quietly pushing her bedroom door open, only to find her fast asleep in bed. He smiled to himself as he returned to his bedroom and in turn promptly fell back to sleep himself.
Footsteps woke him again a short while later. "Pretend you're still asleep and she'll go back to bed" Scott whispered to Hope, who grinned at him despite her closed eye, remaining lay still with her back to the doorway. Cassie quickly disappeared back down the hallway to her bedroom.
"I don't think I want to know, but what time is it now?.." Scott asked, rubbing his tired eyes as Hope peered around him at the clock on his bedside table. "Four-thirty five" Hope replied, snuggling closer and resting her head on his chest, closing her eyes again to sleep.
"Maggie wasn't lying when she said Cass got up early on Christmas"
"No, she wasn't" Hope agreed with a small grin against his shoulder.
A little over an hour later, Scott woke to Cassie's knee in his rib as she climbed over him and slipped into the space between himself and Hope. "Merry Christmas, Daddy" Cassie said cheerily, clutching a red stocking filled with presents. Besides Cassie, Scott could see Hope sat upright, crossed legged; their daughter Lizzie sat in her lap waving a present excitedly, "Christmas, Daddy!" she repeated, copying her older sister with a bright smile on her face. A smile that was entirely Hope's.
Scott looked back to Hope, confused. "Lizzie was awake, Cassie was awake, I was awake... We only thought it fair you join us" she replied, leaning over the two children to press a kiss to his lips, as Cassie and Lizzie each ripped open their first present.
"Merry Christmas, Scott" Hope grinned against his lips, "we love you"
"Merry Christmas, Hope" he replied with a smile, returning the kiss happily, finding he no longer cared about the time on the clock, but about the smiles on the faces of his three favourite girls. "I love you too"