Author's Note, Ok read the first chapter for Reality, or you might get confused time wise. This takes place way after the BHD movie. Read before you scold me.
Sanderson walked up the snowy drive.
The first time he had been home since he lost his wife, the first time he had been home since he lost his best friend in Iraq.
Next door his sister lived in the small brick house with her daughter and husband when he was home.
What seemed like a lifetime ago he had lived on the same base, in the same country, but it had been happier then. There had been drives down to the Rhine, cold weather training, but times changed.
He came to the front door and reached out for the knob, his wedding band still on his finger glittered in the moon.
For the life of him he couldn't take it off. He couldn't stop thinking about her, how it would have been different if he had been home. The Army gave him time off, but he would never be the same.
Never again would he ever look at his daughter and not see his late wife, or listen to his son telling his sister stories and not think of his late wife. Never again would he ever have another drink, never another beer, or even champagne. He'd never tolerate another drunk person as long as he lived.
With a silent prayer he opened the door, duffel bag in hand.
The small house was a disaster.
It had been hard to keep a small Army base house clean with two kids, but four under the same roof was impossible.
He stepped inside the warm house and found a safe secure feeling. Silence filled the house. No screaming or children's voices. The walls were covered with framed pictures and school pictures, even a house colored on the wall with crayon.
He made sure not to track any salt or snow inside, just as a very pregnant Diana came down the steps, tube of chocolate chip cookie dough in her hand.
Eight and a half months pregnant with what would have been his best friends first son.
Her husband and his wife had died within hours of one another.
Still on her hand was her wedding band.
Once he came home for both funerals they decided it would be better if she took care of all four kids, after all she had been there for their whole lives. Sanderson didn't want his children going home to Maine, or the Middle East where their other grandparents were. Besides, Diana now a widow and orphan, needed help as much as he did.
It was not a sexual relationship, but a friendship.
They had leaned on one another and still did, Sanderson knew if his children weren't in such good hands he would have lost his mind being away at war for so long. But he knew Diana would take care of them. He thanked God the four children cohabited.
"Are they all asleep?" He asked, checking his watch, 2:45.
Diana made it to the bottom step, her free hand on her back, while she chewed on the frozen cookie dough, "They've been asleep. Go kiss your kids good night, then put your laundry in the pantry, and go to bed."
He nodded, then watched as Diana finished up the cookie dough. She asked, "Did you eat?"
Still suffering from airsickness he shook his head, "I'm not hungry."
Diana rolled her eyes, she glanced down at his boots to be sure he didn't track in any mud or dirt. She then told him, "Your room is the bedroom. I moved into the nursery….don't you dare move into the nursery, I can't sleep on anything but my air mattress."
Sanderson nodded, he watched as Diana walked into the kitchen, in what looked like a pair of stolen hospital maternity scrubs, under Hoot's old robe, and fuzzy pink princess slippers. As soon as he heard her washing dishes he climbed the steps.
Exhausted from the plane trip, the time changes, and throwing his guts up he walked down to the master bedroom. He pushed the door open with his foot, he dropped his bag on the floor, almost killing the black cat that had wound its way around his ankles.
It went screaming out of the room.
"Oh, we have a cat," he muttered, then kicked off his shoes and changed his clothes.
Downstairs Diana washed up dishes from dinner, put away pots from dinner. She then went in the pantry and unloaded the dryer into a laundry basket and loaded the washer load into the dryer and turned it on. Then she put another load of laundry in the washer. Convinced she did a million loads of laundry a day.
She picked laundry up with her feet, unable to bend over.
Checked the pockets of all the jeans and pants.
Finding change, reports cards, notes from teachers, matchbox cars, rocks, and what looked like spark plugs.
A load thump from behind her made her jump.
Diana glanced over her shoulder and saw a pile of camos and grey clothes under the laundry chute. With a small smile she grabbed all the t-shirts and tossed them in the washer. She grabbed the bottle of Tide, not bothering to measure it out, she poured in what looked like enough, then closed the lid on the washer.
Inside she felt the baby kick her bladder, "Aw shit," she muttered, quickly running out of the pantry for the bathroom.
Upstairs Sanderson opened the door to the bedroom, across from the nursery. He slid inside, careful not to trip over any toys that littered the massive room, the room all the Delta's had chipped in to help make when Diana moved on the base with the children. It was two rooms with the walls knocked down. It held two bunks and toys galore.
Three nightlights lite the room enough he didn't trip over any toys and break his neck.
True to her word all four children were sound asleep.
Three girls and a boy.
He walked to the two bunks, one held his son Jordan and his younger sister Alexandria. Both looked like their mother.
He didn't wake them up.
He looked over at Hoot's two daughters, both sound asleep, Robin and Rachael, who was the youngest so far.
Inwardly he thanked God Jordan, Alexandria, and Robin were within a year of each other. Rachael was another story, whether or not they included her in the games she made her way into the game. Even though she was younger by two years she was a model image of her grandfather.
She had been the only child in her Sunday school to use the four-letter "f" word to voice her objection to tropical punch.
Downstairs Diana made her way down the hall, kicking the plastic basket of laundry down the hall, unable to bend over and pick it up.
As she made her way past the stairs towards the living room, Sanderson came down the steps and picked it up. She pointed to the living room, "Just go put it on the couch."
He looked at her, watching as she made her way down the hall, he went into the living room. Completely shocked at the sight of a Christmas tree. It took his breath away. On the walls were pictures, holiday decorations, and more crayon drawings. He set the plastic basket full of clean clothes where Diana instructed, then he heard her kicking something else down the halls.
On the floor beside the tree were three backpacks.
Of course there were presents, but they were wrapped tightly with duct tape.
He walked out of the living room, to see Diana coming towards him, kicking a box full of mail. His mail. He couldn't help but laugh at the sight of it, he bent down and picked it up, then looked to Diana, "Go to bed. I'll fold the laundry."
She lifted an eyebrow, but was too tired to argue. She patted his chest, "Aight. Night Sanderson, there are leftovers in the fridge if you change your mind."
He watched Diana waddle toward the steps, then up.
With a sigh he looked down at the mail, on top was a letter from his parents.