Hi everyone! This is the new story I was telling you all about. I got this idea from a book I was reading. Don't panic, though, coz I'll still be updating 'The Whole Package' every now & then…I just need to get this off my head, that's all. Hope you all like it!
Disclaimer: I do not own any of the Digimon characters. Everything in here is invented & fictional.
Mimi plunged her hands into the hot, soapy water for the last time & pulled the plug out of the drain. "There, that's the last of the dishes." She picked up a baby bottle which had tipped over & set it upside down to drain on one of the towels which lined the small counter.
From the dining table just outside the galley of the kitchen, Sora called, "Washing three days' worth of my dirty dishes wins you the friendship service medal, you know."
Mimi dried her hands, rolled down the sleeves of her silky blouse, & buttoned her cuffs. "Is that all I did?" She kept her voice light. "From the size of the pile, I expected it had taken a week to build up."
"For the average family of four, perhaps. But when you have two kids this size, dirty stuff piles up in a hurry."
Mimi paused in the doorway. Sora was sitting with her back to the kitchen, facing a pair of high chairs. In each chair was a dark-haired child, not quite a year old, each armed with a small, soft-tipped spoon & plastic bowl. The thick gooey, grayish, slimy-looking substance which had once been in the bowls was now spread liberally over the high-chair trays as well as the two cherubic faces, & a few lumps had landed on the plastic mat which covered the floor.
All things considered, Mimi thought, I got the best end of the deal by doing the dishes.
Sora's babies were adorable, no questions about it. But fond as Mimi was of Nikko & Ella, she didn't regret that her life had taken a different direction from Kari's. At least not very often.
"What is that stuff they're eating, really?" Mimi asked.
"Rice cereal mix with mashed pears."
Mimi wrinkled her nose. "It looks like old paste with mildew."
"Shh. They're very sensitive about other people's reactions to food. I mashed up some squash for them to try the other night. Tai took one look at it & made gagging noises...and the twins spit out every bit after that."
"Are you sure it was because of their dad? I mean, honestly, Sora…squash? They're only eleven months old. Not liking squash seems to be part of the deal."
"It's an excellent source of Vitamin A," Sora said firmly.
"I'm sure it is," Mimi nodded toward the twins. Nikko had cereal on his left eyebrow. Ella's chin was covered with half-dried paste. "Are they actually getting any of that stuff inside their mouth & swallow it?"
"Well, Ella's better at it than Nikko is," Sora admitted. "But Nikko's more determined to do it himself, so I have to sneak in an extra bite when he's not paying attention." She dipped a spoon into one of the bowls & inserted it into the boy's mouth while he was inspecting a lump of cereal that had stuck to his smallest finger. He swallowed absentmindedly & opened his mouth again.
"Want me to help?"
Sora smiled. "You don't really mean that. If you got cereal all over that expensive suit right before you go meet an important client, I'd feel awful. You've already done enough for one day, anyway, clearing up my dishes. Having a broken dishwasher & two babies does make life a little difficult."
Mimi pulled up a chair. "I know finances have been a bit tight for you & Tai lately," she said gently. "But it will have to be fixed before you can list the house for sale."
Sora nodded. "Matt's going to tear it apart when he has time & see if he can get the parts so he & Tai can get it running again."
"When he has time? I see." Mimi was proud of herself; her voice sounded absolutely neutral. "How's The Lone Repairer doing these days?"
Sora shot her a suspicious look. "Since when do you want to talk about Matt?"
"I was just making conversation. But if you don't want to talk about your husband's best friend…"
"I thought you might have run into him recently. He's working on a house up in the Warrington neighborhood, one of those huge mansions near the art museum. It's a big job."
"And that…plus all the ditzy fashion-model look-alikes who require his attention…is why your dishwasher is still broken."
"Well, I do wish he'd go out with someone whose IQ is larger than her dress size," Sora said. "But to be perfectly fair, my dishwasher isn't Matt's responsibility. He has his own place to keep up."
"I suppose when it's your full-time job to fix things, it's not much fun to do it on your day off, too."
"It would be sort of like asking you to go on a tour of homes for fun, after you've shown houses all week long."
"I happen to love home tours, but I see what you mean. It's too bad Tai didn't inherit handyman genes."
Sora sighed. "The poor man tries. He put up a towel rack in the bathroom last week."
"Without Matt supervising him? I'm amazed."
"Of course, it fell off three days later & tore a chunk out of the tile wall."
"At the rate we're going, we'll never get this house in shape to sell. Of course, if we can put it off till the kids go to college, we won't need to buy a bigger house at all. The next eighteen years will be something of a challenge, in a two-bedroom house with no playroom & a kitchen the size of a postage stamp, but…"
"This is a nice house, Sora."
"That's the real-estate person inside you talking."
"It's a cute little cottage with an efficient floor plan. For a young couple like you, this is a perfect starting home."
"Until they unexpectedly have twins." Sora spooned cereal into Ella's mouth. "By the way, Tai wanted me to ask you a favor."
Surprised tingled through Mimi's veins. It wasn't that she & Tai never talked, but it was generally Sora who issued invitations & arranged plan for the couple, while her husband was the quiet, always-agreeable one. For Tai to specifically ask Mimi for a favor was a bit…
Sora went on hastily, "I already told him it wouldn't work, but you know how guys can be…once they get an idea, there's no blasting it out of their heads. I had to promise him I'd ask, so I'm asking. But honestly, Meems, I've already told him you can't, so there's no problem."
"But maybe you should tell me what the favor actually is, honey? I mean, in case Tai should bring it up, it would help if I have a general idea." Mimi said cheerfully.
"Oh," Sora grinned. "I guess you're right. You see, there's this thing Tai has to attend next weekend. And he wants me to go with him."
"So you need a baby-sitter? What's the big deal? Of course I'll baby-sit…"
"It's a conference, Mimi. Sort of a continuing education seminar that goes on all weekend."
"Well, that does make a difference," Mimi admitted. "He actually wants you to hang around waiting for him while he's taking classes? I hope you can at least go shopping."
"It's on a cruise ship in the Caribbean." Sora sounded wistful. "But I've already told him I can't go."
Mimi stared at her. "Of course you can. Are you nuts, Sora? How many times do you get a free second honeymoon?"
"Well, it seems to be a great opportunity. But I called a couple of babysitting agencies & do you know what they charge a round-the-clock care for two babies for a weekend?" She shivered.
"I can imagine. So, Tai wanted you to ask me if I can look after the babies so you can go."
Sora nodded. "I know how busy you are…"
"You said its next weekend right?"
"A long weekend, actually. Friday morning to late Sunday night."
"I don't have any appointments scheduled over the weekend, so…"
"What about dates? Are you still seeing Joe?"
"Once in a while, it's no big deal." She saw Sora start to open her mouth & before she could get the chance to say something, Mimi continued. "All I have to do is clear my calendar for Friday."
"Mimi, please don't feel obligated to do this. Tai will understand that you can't do it. He's just disappointed right now."
"What about you?" Mimi asked gently. "Are you disappointed?"
Sora didn't look at her. "Of course I am. We could never afford a cruise on our own. But I'd probably be sea-sick anyway, so…"
"You're gonna start packing because you're going." Mimi picked up her jacket from the back of a chair. As she was putting it on, she looked past Sora to the twins & hesitated.
Three days. Alone. With twins…
"Wave bye-bye- to Aunt Mimi," Sora prompted the twins. Nikko was too absorbed in turning his bowl upside down to pay attention. Ella giggled, grinned, & waved her spoon in the air.
Sora sighed. "Are you sure about this?"
"Come on, Sora. You do this all the time. Surely I can handle it for three days."
Mimi had taken care of the twins before & this would be no different…only longer. Much longer, she realized on Saturday afternoon as she took the twins out of their stroller after a walk. She was exhausted because Nikko woke up at two in the morning with a nightmare & it took her an hour to get him back to sleep. And she hadn't even looked at the briefcase full of paperwork that she brought with her. And they were not quite halfway through the weekend.
What she failed to take into account was that the twins, at eleven months, were far more active & inquisitive than when they had been infants. Peek-a-boo & pat-a-cake were no longer exciting. Not only had they've been actively annoyed at being strapped into the double stroller, but they made it clear they were highly insulted when Mimi refused to let them kiss all the neighborhood dogs.
By the time she untangled Ella's safety harness & extracted her from the stroller, Nikko had already crawled into the narrow space between the couch & the recliner in pursuit of his ball, & got himself stuck.
Nikko started crying & Ella began howling in sympathy. Mimi was just drawing a breath & thought about joining them when she heard the back door open & a deep voice called, "Anybody home?"
She gritted her teeth. Yamato Ishida. The Lone Repairman had finally found time to look at Kari's broken-down dishwasher.
Why right now? She wanted to shout. Why not last week, when Sora had been at home? Or if he absolutely had to come this weekend, why couldn't he have showed up last night after the twins had been bathed & tucked into their cribs?
Of course, by that time, she'd been practically be a zombie herself, with pureed peaches & baby shampoo down the front of her sweatshirt…not that Yamato Ishida would have cared what she looked like, anyway.
In the last two years, every time she'd ever come face to face with that man, he had acted as if he found her mildly interesting…she'd come to expect that no matter what she was doing or how she dressed, Matt would scan her with that same slightly ironic gleam in his eyes, looking her over just long enough to make her want to scream…and then, as if the sight of her bored him to tears, he would turn his attention to something else. Mimi would rather have him ignore her completely, but she supposed the chance of that happening was zero.
Of course, all things considered, she didn't exactly blame him for inspecting her as if she was a curious breed straight out of the zoo, because that was pretty much the way she acted the first time they spent any significant time together…though his own actions hadn't exactly won any etiquette prizes.
She sighed & reminded herself to be grateful that she didn't run into him more often. Once, every few months, was bad enough.
"In the living room, Matt." She stooped to extract Nikko from his predicament.
Matt came around the corner from the kitchen. "Mimi? What are you doing here?"
She snagged the back straps of Nikko's overalls & tugged him out from under the edge of the couch. "Didn't anybody tell you about the cruise?"
"Yeah, Tai said something. I forgot it was this weekend." He leaned against the stubby wall which separated the living room from the dining room, arms folded across his chest. "I wondered what they were going to do with the house apes. Nikko, buddy, you've got to remember how to get yourself into reverse."
Mimi finished wiping Nikko's tears & took a good look at Matt. It had been several months since she'd seen him…across a baptismal font where he'd been holding Nikko while she cradled Ella…but he matched the picture in her mind almost exactly. His blonde hair was longer than it had been at the babies' christening, and he was wearing jeans & a polo shirt instead of a suit. But he was every bit as tall & lean as she remembered, his eyes were just as stunningly blue, & his shoulders pushed the limits of the polo shirt. And the look…yes, there it was. Half-bemused, half-fascinated, & totally wary…the same expression that always made her want to scream.
Ella stopped crying, dropped to her hands & knees, and scrambled across the carpet toward her uncle. Matt picked her up almost absently, still looking at Mimi. "How's it going?"
She was darned if she'd admit that a few minutes ago, she'd been ready to cry along with the twins. "Great. We're doing fine."
"Uh-huh. How many times has Sora called?"
"From the ship? Just once, when they first got on board."
"She said she'd call back, but I heard Tai in the background reminding her that this was supposed to be a vacation. Anyway, she doesn't need to check in. She left a full list of instructions on the refrigerator door, right next to her appointment calendar."
"Her list actually fit on the refrigerator? I expected a whole volume…alphabetized & cross-indexed."
Mimi smiled. "Maybe she didn't have time to write it all down. But it doesn't take an instruction manual to know that these two need a nap right now. I was jut ready to put them to bed, so don't let me keep you from working on the dishwasher." She stepped closer to him, close enough to feel his warmth, & held out her free arm to take Ella.
The baby had nestled into Matt's shoulder & she didn't seem inclined to move. Mimi stroked the baby's back. As her finger tips neared Matt's forearm, braced under Ella's bottom, Mimi felt tingles run along every nerve.
Don't be ridiculous, she told herself. You've touched him before.
At least…well, she must have touched him somewhere along the way, even if she couldn't remember a specific occasion. When she stopped to think about it, she couldn't remember actually meeting Matt. He must have just been part of the crowd; at some party way back when Sora was dating Tai & Mimi herself had been engaged to Michael. Perhaps it had been about the same time the four of them had started to make plans for a double wedding…
Matt held the baby out so she could get a grip on Ella's waist. Mimi's hand brushed his arm & she jerked back a little before she got hold of herself & very deliberately let her arm rest against his while he transferred the baby's weight.
He didn't say anything & neither did she. And it was utterly ridiculous for her to feel breathless over such a small thing. But…maybe she hadn't ever touched him before because she'd have remembered that kind of smoldering heat.
AN: What do you think? Should I continue this story? Your opinions are very important so don't forget to leave a review.
Chapter 2 will be posted soon! lol