Tessa found Rylan in the den kneeling on the floor sobbing into Duncan's chest.

"Mon petit lapine presious," Tessa soothed kneeling on Rylan's other side. Rylan immediately switched to clinging to Tessa.

"I hate her!" she sobbed.

"La maman sait," Tessa answered stroking her hair. "It'll be okay, she's never coming back, je promets," she assured her.

Duncan looked up at Richie who was grinning stupidly in the doorway looking down at Tessa. He caught the boy's eye and gave him a quizzical look. He still expected Richie to be fuming. 'Later,' Richie mouthed.

"Mignon," Tessa said softly kissing the top of Rylan's head. "Why don't you go take a shower? It's been a long day, it will make you feel better."

"I'll make some hot chocolate," Richie offered.

Slowly Rylan sat up and looked at everybody. "Guess I kinda ruined the evening, huh?"

"No, it wasn't your fault," Tessa assured her. "Don't worry about that. Now, you go take a nice, long, hot shower so you can relax; then we'll talk. How does that sound?"

Rylan sniffed and wiped her nose with the back of her hand. "Okay."

Tessa helped her get to her feet and led her out of the room. Richie ginned and winked at her as she passed.

"Okay, what are you grinning about?" Duncan demanded as Richie put the water on to boil.

"Mac," Richie grinned shaking his head. "You should have been there, it was awesome!"

"What did you do?"

"Nothing," he insisted. "Tessa did."


"I just told her and the next thing I know, BAM! Right in the face. Just outa nowhere. It was sweet!"

"Tessa hit Julie?" Duncan asked skeptically.

Richie nodded. "Yup, I didn't think she had it in her. I've been wanting to do that for almost as long as I can remember. Watching Tessa do it though, the look on Julie's face . it was so much better than if I had done it."

"What did Julie do?"

"Just stood there. She didn't have time to swing back; Tessa threatened her and left." Duncan had heard Richie talk about the WWF less enthusiastically.

"She threatened her?" Duncan really wished he had been there.

"That was the best part. She said, 'If you ever come MY daughter again'," Richie imitated. "'I'll show you what a real mother can do.' Julie looked like she had been slapped all over again!" The teapot began to whistle. He filled a mug with cocoa and poured the water in. "I wish they had really gotten into it, though. Tessa would have kicked her ass," he laughed shaking his head again.

"I really wish she would have tried something, too," Tessa said entering the kitchen. "I would have killed her."

"Tess," Duncan grinned. "I've never seen this side of you before . I like it." He wrapped his arms around her waist and kissed her.

"You never stop," Richie sighed.

"That woman," Tessa mumbled pulling away. "How could she do that? Just ignore a little girl for so long, then when she comes to work things out . hit her like that."

"I guess we now know where Rylan gets her temper," Duncan shrugged. "Things are over now. If Julie tries anything we'll figure something out."

"She won't try anything," Richie assured them. "I'm scared of Tessa and she's never hit me. Julie's not coming back."

. . . . . .

"Petit lapine?" Tessa called opening Rylan's door slightly.

"I'm in here," Rylan softly answered from the bathroom. She was sitting in front of her vanity in her pajamas combing her hair.

"Let me," Tessa said gently taking the comb from her hands. "I'm sorry, Rylan," she began. "I should have asked before inviting you mother. I feel horrible for forcing you to be nice to that horrid woman."

"You didn't know," Rylan shrugged wincing as Tessa snagged on a knot.

"But I didn't ask, either. I should have." They sat in silence for a while, Tessa combing Rylan's hair and Rylan watching her in the mirror. "Mignon, when she hit you why didn't you hit her back?" Tessa asked putting the comb down.

"I didn't want to get in trouble," Rylan said with a slight smile.

Tessa smiled back. "You ." She studied Rylan in the mirror. "You have Duncan's eyes," she commented.

Rylan turned to look at her, then turned to look at herself in the mirror. "I do?"

"Yes." Tessa leaned down next to her. "The shape, the color, I never noticed before. You have his eyes. And my lips," she added. Rylan's mouth quirked into a shy grin.

"That's impossible," she told her. "We're not related."

"Maybe we were meant to be," Tessa answered. "You see," she traced her own lips in the mirror before tracing Rylan's. "Same shape, same jaw, you have my father's nose. You actually look a lot like I did when I was younger, different coloring, but very much the same."

"You're lying," Rylan said, still grinning.

"I'll show you a picture sometime, just remind me."

"That's okay, I don't want to prove you wrong," Rylan yawned.

"You look tired," Tessa commented.

"Fighting takes a lot out of me."

"Then you should go to bed." Tessa stood her up and guided her to her bed. Rylan climbed in and Tessa sat next to her. "Rylan, do you know what petit lapine means?"

Rylan furrowed her brow. "Little something."

"Little rabbit," she told her. "Do you know why I call you that?"

"No. Why do you call me that?"

"Because that's what my mother called me, and my grandmother called her, and her mother her. It's tradition in my family . our family. It has been for generations. And one day it will be your tradition to pass to your daughter. And you better, because I don't want my daughter to be the one that breaks the tradition."

Rylan grinned up at her. "I won't, I promise." She rolled onto her side and snuggled into her pillow. She fell asleep to the gentle, soft, reassuring touch of Tessa stroking her hair.

AN: The end, tell me what you think!