Disclaimer: See part 1 -- nothing's changed!
With grateful thanks to Gamine for patiently picking out the nits, Cmar for making my formatting easier (!!) and to Kahva just because.
Many apologies over the length of time you've been hanging; a mini case of writer's block struck roughly fifteen paragraphs from the end.
Please offer feedback, it tells me how I've done
Kimberly sighed. Though the day had been relaxing, it had also been fairly long and the last thing she felt inclined to cope with was Alice in whine-mode. Naturally, that was exactly how Alice was reacting. "It's bed time," she stated firmly. "And bed is where you are going."
"But what if dad comes home?" Alice pouted.
"Alice," said Kimberly patiently. "It's nearly nine o'clock in the evening. The chances are..."
But Kimberly never got to finish her sentence. She'd been vaguely aware of the sounds of something pulling up and stopping outside the house as she'd been having the argument with Alice and she hadn't paid it any mind -- but now, as the 'something' drove away, there came a knock on the front door, and suddenly Kimberly wondered.
Could it be?
Holding her breath, Kimberly went to the door and peered through the spy hole.
Opening the door, Kimberly wrapped her arms around Eric in a tight embrace. "You're really home."
"I really am," Eric agreed.
"Yay! Dad!" Alice bounded up to join in the hug. "You're not going to go away again?"
Eric chuckled. "Nope. I promise. I'm home for good."
Later, once Alice had been persuaded to go to bed, Eric and Kimberly talked. He told her some of what he'd been up to -- only the barest detail, edited not just because of the covert nature of the mission but also because there were some parts he couldn't bring himself to tell Kimberly. She knew the harsh realities of life were out there -- he didn't need to share the gory details.
As he finished, she asked quietly, "Weren't you tempted?"
Kimberly smiled a little. "Working with a gorgeous female spy, going in under cover...aren't you tempted to stay with that life?"
"Not even for a second. To do that stuff -- to be in that world -- I had to be someone I don't much like." Eric thought about the calculating way he took down the two thugs. "I would much sooner stay here -- be here with you, and with Alice...work for the SGs -- and be someone I can be proud of." He leaned over and gently kissed her. "You make me a better person, Kim."
Kimberly smiled. "Good answer."
"Only answer," Eric responded, smiling back. "So how've things been here?"
"Been too quiet," she answered. "We've all missed you."
The spaces in Kimberly's words told Eric the full story. "Well, I'm home now -- and not going anywhere. Not for a long time."