Title: When I Was A Child (4/4)
Author: Sarah :)
Pairing/Characters: Logan/Veronica, Dick, Keith, Weevil
Spoilers: Through 2x22, Not Pictured, just to be safe, but nothing specific. This is futurefic!
Word Count: 5,217
Summary: Nothing stays the same forever. Logan and Veronica's daughter finds out just how true this is.
Disclaimer: Not mine. Duh.
Thanks: First of all, to truemyth for somehow helping me set up a WIP, even though I've never, ever even considered writing one, and for all of the handholding. It's much appreicated, Grace :). To truemyth and kantayra, for pretty much the best series of AIM chats EVER on brainstorming ideas for poor little innocent Mandy. They were instrumental in developing properly dirty story lines, as I can't even PRETEND to keep up with them :). Also, thank you to herowlness for for all of her HELP AND LOVE, and truemyth for betaing this! And both of you for listening to me go on and on and on about it ad nauseam You WIN!
Final notes: Written for the loveathons epic challenge. Companion piece to Trial by Furry, so it might help if you read that first :). I've actually had this written for ages, and just haven't had a chance to post, since other fandom endeavors have been keeping me pretty busy. Thank you to everyone who REMINDED me about posting this, though (heh), and everyone who stuck with me throughout this thing. It was my first WIP ever, and quite an adventure, and I couldn't have done it without you :). This has a much different tone from the previous parts, because it's the finale, and...it just worked out this way. I mean, READ THE SUMMARY. That's how it was supposed to go ;).
When I became a man, I put away childish things.
I Cor. xiii. 11.
"All done?" Veronica walked into the room, her hands unconsciously stroking the graceful curve of her happily-expanding middle. Logan looked up at her with a grin and nodded.
"All done. He'd better not complain, either, because it took me forever to get that thing together."
Veronica laughed and ran her hand along the top of the crib. "I don't know. He is going to be your son … "
"Hey!" Logan protested, standing up and wrapping an arm around his wife. "I don't complain. Ever. When have I ever complained?"
"Does complaining about not complaining count as complaining?"
Logan screwed up his face in concentration. "See, now you're just trying to trick me. You always play dirty, Veronica."
Veronica shrugged. "Only because I know you appreciate it." Turning around so she could look him in the eye, she stuck her lower lip out in an exaggerated pout. "Logan?"
Groaning, Logan buried his face in her shoulder. "Yes, schnookums?"
He shook his head, which still rested on Veronica's shoulder. "Do you want me to make you something?"
"Well … " Veronica trailed off.
"We don't have anything, and I was wondering if you could go to the store." She ran her hand gently down his back. "Pleeeease, Logan?"
"Veronica." Logan sighed. "This is the third time this week. If I see you eat pickles and peanut butter together one more time, I think I'm going to throw up."
She quirked an eyebrow. "Hey. How'd you know what I wanted?"
"Please. You're so predictable. And I thought we were staying in tonight. Watch some movies, spend some time together. Now I have to go out?" Even as he grumbled, Logan was already reaching for his car keys.
"I'll even walk you downstairs." Veronica smiled and kissed him on the cheek.
"Yeah, yeah. Husband of the year, right here," he groused good-naturedly.
As the two of them entered the living room, they were greeted by the sight of their daughter, sobbing uncontrollably.
"Mandy? What is it, sweetie?" Veronica bent down to console her daughter as best as she could in her pregnant state.
"It's not fair!" Mandy cried, wrestling herself out of Veronica's arms. "You love him more than me!"
"What?" Veronica looked bewildered. "Do you mean Daddy? You know I don't love him more than – "
"The baby," Mandy spat out angrily. "He's not even here yet, and you forgot all about me!"
"Mandy, sweetheart, why would you say that?" Logan managed to catch his daughter before she stomped out of the room, and he hefted her up onto his shoulders.
"Look!" The little girl pouted, pointing across the living room.
In the center of the room sat an old baby swing and a stroller, items that had recently been pulled out of storage in anticipation of the newest addition to the Echolls family.
"Okay … " Logan said, glancing at the items. "I'm looking."
"Those are mine," Mandy whimpered. "And you're going to give them to him! It's not fair!"
"But, honey, you're too big for those now. You can't use them any more," Veronica moved to where Logan stood and wrapped her hand around Mandy's.
"Uh-uh! I am not too big! Put me down, Daddy!" Wriggling from Logan's arms, Mandy darted across the room and tried to squeeze herself into the stroller. "See? I can fit!"
"Oh, Mandy." Veronica walked over and gently lifted her daughter out of the stroller. "You're such a big girl now. Your brother is going to want to grow up to be just like you. Don't you want to share with him?"
Mandy's eyes grew wide. "Weeeell … "
"Remember how we told you that being a big sister is a really important job," Logan broke in. "He's going to need you to look out for him."
"Will he play games with me when you two are busy?" Mandy looked hopeful.
"Of course he will! Once he's a little older, of course." Veronica assured her.
"Can I help read him stories at night and tuck him in?" She began bouncing up and down on the balls of her feet, becoming increasingly excited at the idea.
Logan smiled widely. "Absolutely. So don't you think it'd be nice to let him use your baby things?"
Mandy looked at the swing disdainfully. "I don't need that stuff. I'm a big girl now," she chirped, echoing Veronica's words.
"That you are. What do you say you put your shoes on and we'll go on a little adventure?" Logan winked at Veronica.
"Yay!" Mandy shrieked and clapped her hands, then scrambled around in search of suitable footwear. "Where are we going?"
"Mommy wants a few things from the store. As usual."
"Ewwww. Not more pickles!" Mandy scrunched her face in disgust. "That's yucky, Mommy."
Veronica laughed and ruffled her daughter's hair. "So your father told me. There might be some candy in it for you, too, though."
"Yes!" The little girl heartily pumped her fist up and down.
Veronica looked on, horrified.
"We are not calling Dick the next time we need a babysitter. Are we clear on that?"
"Are you sure you understand?" Logan looked at Mandy seriously. "This is really important, sweetie."
"I know, Daddy." She squirmed around in his lap and curled her arms around his neck, her voice tearful. "Don't go, Daddy. Please."
Logan sighed. "I wish I didn't have to, Mandy. You know how much I hate leaving you and your mother, especially now, with the baby so close to being here … But I have to. I'll make it as fast as I can."
"Promise?" She sniffled into his neck.
"Promise. If everything goes well, I might even be back tomorrow. Now," he tweaked his daughter's nose. "Tell me what I just told you."
"Okay!" Mandy agreed easily, pointing to the piece of paper in Logan's hand. "This is a list of 'portant phone numbers."
"Right," Logan prodded. "For Grandpa, and Wallace, and Dick, and all of our friends. And what are you supposed to do with it?"
"If something bad happens," Mandy clutched Logan's hand tightly, "or Mommy needs help with something, I should call someone right away."
"Very good, sweetie. Remember, it never hurts to be prepared."
Mandy nodded sagely, as if she understood exactly what Logan was saying.
"Mommy?" Mandy's voice was small. "What's wrong?"
Veronica sat on the couch, slumped forward, tears on her face.
"Nothing, honey, really. I just have a little stomachache, is all." She shot a pained smile at her daughter.
"I wish Daddy was here. He could make you feel better." Mandy climbed up beside Veronica and nestled her head in her lap. "Business trips are stupid."
"I'd have to agree with you on th – Oh, God." Veronica's eyes squeezed shut as a wave of pain tore through her body. "I think I'm having contractions."
"Never mind. Give me a few minutes, and I'll make you some supper, okay?"
"Do you need to go to the doctor, Mommy? He scares me, too, but usually I feel better after. Maybe he can fix you!"
Veronica laughed sharply. "Honey, I don't think I could drive myself there right now, even if I wanted to. I almost thought about it. Why don't you go and play until the food's ready?"
Mandy nodded, concerned as more tears slipped from Veronica's eyes. Noticing that her mother's breathing was becoming more labored, and that something was obviously very, very wrong, she jumped off the couch and ran into the kitchen.
"Daddy said Grandpa was the first one," she said to herself, clumsily punching numbers into the phone, and doing her best to copy what was written on the paper Logan had left. When she held the receiver to her ear and was greeted with nothing but an empty ring, she gasped. She attempted to dial what she thought was her father's cell phone, and once again, got no response. Glancing at the list again, she pressed another series of buttons.
"My mommy needs help!" She blurted out breathlessly. "I think she's hurt! Bad!"
"Who is this?" The male voice on the other end of the line questioned.
"Mandy," she said haltingly. "I don't know what to do!"
"Mandy? Mandy Echolls?"
"Yes," she answered, tears threatening to overtake her voice.
"Do you know who this is?"
"Umm … " Mandy blinked away her tears and tried to focus on the list in front of her. "Daddy said to call if there was an 'mergency, and there's a 'mergency!"
"Okay, look. I'm Eli. Remember me? You came to my house and played with my daughter Carolina before?"
"I 'member!" Mandy shouted excitedly.
"Mandy, you just go and find your mom and stay with her. I'll be right there. Do you understand?"
"Yeah," she said, barely choking out the words. "I'm scared. Please come fast!"
"I'm on my way."
"One more step, okay, good." Weevil gently helped Veronica up the stairs. "Now you need to rest. Don't fight me on this one, V."
Walking into her room, Veronica shook her head and sat on the bed. "A false alarm. I'm really sorry, Weevil. You and Carolina came all the way out here for nothing, and wasted your whole night, and – "
"Veronica, are you fucking kidding me?" Weevil sat down next to her and placed a comforting arm around her back. "Stop right there. What, you were going to sit here in pain all night? You scared the crap out of Mandy. You scared the crap out of me. And, correct me if I'm wrong, but I'm pretty sure you would have scared the crap out of Logan if he were here."
"But I should have realized it. I mean, I've been through this before."
"There's a reason it's called false labor." Weevil shook his head and smiled. "Did I ever tell you that Carmen had four false alarms before Letty was born?"
"Four?" Veronica's eyes widened in surprise. "She must be a super hero."
"Well, yeah. She married me, didn't she?"
She lightly smacked him on the arm. "I was there, remember?" Leaning against Weevil, Veronica closed her eyes for a moment. "Still, I'm sorry. I can't believe Mandy called you. I would've been fine."
Weevil raised an eyebrow. "Veronica, you were huddled on the couch crying. Your six year old daughter found you. How many other kids would have kept it together like she did?"
Veronica smiled. "She's so smart. She remembered Logan's emergency list and everything."
"I'm still not sure how she got me," Weevil pondered. "I mean, after your dad, and Wallace, and Mac, and whoever else, I had to have been pretty far down the list. Think she chose at random? Eenie meenie?"
"Well, however she decided, I think she made a good choice."
He smiled and laid a light kiss on Veronica's forehead. "Okay, you need to get in bed."
"But Mandy – "
"I've got her. Just rest."
Veronica nodded. "Thanks, Weevil. For everything."
"Veronica, stop. That's what friends do."
"Hi, Mr. 'Evil!" Mandy bounced up and down on the couch when he descended the stairs. "How's Mommy? Did the hospital make her all better?"
Weevil bit back a grin at the girl's greeting. "Your mom's fine. The baby thought he was coming early, but he decided not to."
"Oh." Confusion etched itself across Mandy's face. "That's mean, hurting Mommy like that. Stupid baby."
"Aww, Mandy, he can't help it. It just happens sometimes." Glancing around the living room, he frowned. "Where's Carolina?"
"She's sleeeeeeping," Mandy offered. "As soon as you and Mommy got home, she said she was really tired, so I said she could go in my room and sleep, 'cause I'm not tired at all."
"That's really nice of you, Mandy."
"I know!" She clapped excitedly. "But we had lots of fun and played lots of games when you and Mommy were gone, and I really like when Carolina babysits me!"
Weevil smiled and settled on the couch, with Mandy following a minute later.
"What'd you two play?"
"Powerpuff Girls! It's the bestest. I was Blossom, 'cause I love her lots."
"Blossom?" Weevil screwed up his face in disgust. "Come on, Mandy. You've gotta have better taste then that."
Mandy frowned. "Now you sound like Daddy. He says Blossom is a loser. And that pink is for sissies, and green is way cooler."
"Well, yeah. Now Buttercup. There's a Powerpuff Girl."
"She's Daddy's favorite, too. He won't play with me unless I let him be her." Weevil began to snicker as Mandy continued talking. "She scares me, though." Mandy grasped Weevil's arm and burrowed into his side. "She likes to fight lots, and is mean. Daddy says that makes her fie … fie … feisty, and that tiny girls who are like that turn him on. What's that mean, Mr. 'Evil? Does Daddy get turned on and off, like the lights?"
Weevil laughed heartily. "No, sweetie. I think that means he has a thing for Buttercup because she reminds him of your mother. She's my favorite too, you know."
"Really?" Mandy gasped, surprised. "That's so weird! Did you know that – "
"I'm here!" Logan's voice broke in, as he ran into the room frantically. "I got your message, Weevil. What – is she – "
"She's fine, Echolls. Calm down. Let's go talk in there." He motioned with his head towards the kitchen. "I think someone needs to go and put their pajamas on anyway, because it's way past their bedtime."
Mandy blinked adorably, and looked around the room. "Daddy has to put his pajamas on? Why are they in the kitchen?"
Weevil leaned against the door jamb, eyebrows raised.
"Me? But I'm a big girl! I don't need a bed time!" Mandy exclaimed.
Logan laughed and swung her up into his arms. "Mandy."
"Fine," the little girl pouted. Peppering a series of small kisses all over Logan's face, she hugged him tightly. "I missed you lots, Daddy. Don't go away again. Please?"
"I missed you too, sweetheart," Logan told her, gently setting her on the stairs. "Now, when I come up there in a few minutes, you'd better be ready for bed. I'm timing. One. Two. Three."
Giggling, Mandy dashed up the stairs.
"Weevil." Logan's eyes darkened, his cheerful demeanor evaporating the moment Mandy was out of the room.
"She's fine, Logan. Like I said in the message, it was just a false alarm. The doctor told me to make sure she got some rest, and that's what she's doing."
Logan ran a trembling hand through his hair. "I should have been here. What kind of guy leaves their eight and a half months pregnant wife to go on a business trip?" He sat down heavily at the kitchen table. "I'm such an idiot."
"Did you miss what I just said? The freak-out isn't necessary. You being here wouldn't have changed things." Weevil paused for a moment, thinking. "There is something I don't get, though."
"Yeah?" Logan looked up at him, tired.
"I came over here after Mandy called me. V was pretty bad and, she didn't know what to do."
"Oh, God," Logan mumbled.
"Anyway, she said that you left her my number."
"I left her a bunch of numbers, Weevil."
"Yeah, but … " Weevil pulled a crumpled piece of paper from his pocket. "After Grandpa and L's cell phone, it says Weevil. You want to explain that one to me?"
"What do you mean?"
"Cut the crap, Logan. It should be Wallace, or, hell, even Dick on there. You don't particularly like me, I don't particularly like you … it just strikes me as a little strange." Weevil pulled a chair out and seated himself next to Logan.
Regarding the other man warily, Logan shrugged. "You realize that when I made that list, I didn't actually think we'd ever need it."
"But you were worried enough to make it in the first place, and I know how you are about Veronica and Mandy, man. There's no way you just randomly shoved some names on here and I ended up at the top."
"Look, I knew that if something happened, that if either of them needed help, and Keith or I couldn't be here … " Logan trailed off quietly. "That you would. Right away, no questions asked, you'd do whatever was needed. Even if you hate me, I know how much you love Veronica, and I knew you wouldn't hesitate. Can we drop this now?"
Weevil nodded slowly. "You're right. As soon as she called, I brought the kids to the neighbors' house and rushed over. I couldn't breathe. Mandy was so scared, and I thought the worst – " He paused, looking down at the table. "And, yeah, I came for Veronica, but I know … if it things were reversed, you would've done the same for me. For my family."
Logan raised an eyebrow. "You don't know that."
Weevil stood up and slapped Logan heartily on the back. "Sure I do. You can pretend all you want, but when it comes down to it, I know you. We haven't hated each other for a long time, Echolls, and I get you better than you think."
The appearance of a sleepy thirteen year old saved Logan from responding.
"Daddy?" Carolina yawned.
"Ready to go home?" Weevil asked, guiding his daughter to the door.
"Yeah. 'M tired."
"Weevil?" Logan spoke just before the other man exited the house. "Thanks. And if you ever need anything … " He offered a lopsided smile. "Rumor has it that we're not nemeses any more, so – I've got your back."
"Hey, Mrs. Wayne." Dick swaggered into the classroom and winked at the fifty year old woman. "How you doin'?"
"Mr. Casablancas." The teacher frowned, setting a pair of knitting needles on her desk. "Tina went home with her mother today."
"Oh, yeah, I know. I'm not here for her. I'm here for this one." He jerked his thumb towards the lone child left in the room.
"Dick!" A shrill voice sounded from the back of the empty classroom, and Mandy barreled into him. "Mommy and Daddy forgot me! Why didn't they come to get me?" Her bottom lip trembled.
"I've tried calling them at home, and on both of their cell phones, and I can't reach them," Mrs. Wayne offered helpfully.
"Well, yeah. That's why I'm here." Dick grinned charmingly at the woman.
"I beg your pardon?"
"Logan called me from the hospital. Veronica went into labor, and he couldn't get in touch with Mandy's grandfather, so he asked me to come and pick her up."
"Oh, I see. I'm afraid I can only release her into the custody of her parents or legal guardians, or those people listed on the emergency contact list Mr. and Mrs. Echolls filled out. Surely you understand that, being a father yourself, Mr. Casablancas."
"I'm on the list," Dick said distractedly, swinging Mandy up into the air.
"Can we go and see Mommy and Daddy? How's Mommy? Do I have a brother? Dickdickdickdickdick!" Mandy prodded. "Let's go!"
"I need to check to make sure your parents said it's okay for you to leave with Mr. Casablancas," Mrs. Wayne said, rummaging through a filing cabinet and rifling through a sheaf of papers before pulling one out.
"Of course they said it's okay! Dick is the bestest! My mommy and daddy love Dick! Well," Mandy thought for a moment. "Daddy loves Dick lots. Mommy just says Dick is trouble, and that she doesn't understand why Daddy likes Dick so much. She said there was too much Dick in our house, and that if Daddy wanted more, he'd have to go somewhere else, 'cause he had more than enough Dick. Why would she say that?"
Mrs. Wayne sputtered as she read over the form. Dick broke out into raucous laughter.
"What else do your parents say about Dick?" He prodded.
"Umm," Mandy closed her eyes. "Mommy said that Dick was a bad influence, and he was really diff … diffi … hard. And that Dick should learn how to grow up!" Eyes growing impossibly large, Mandy wriggled in Dick's arms and looked up at him. "Why doesn't Mommy like Dick?"
"Dude. Did you hear that?" Dick crowed gleefully. "Sweetest thing ever. Come on, lay some more on me."
"Well," Mandy began, halting as she saw the stricken look on her teacher's face. "I … I don't think I should say any more." She frowned. "I think I said something bad."
Mrs. Wayne looked up, startled, then offered Mandy a small smile and a reassuring nod.
"Whatever. Can we speed this up? I don't want to miss my shows."
Mrs. Wayne pinched the bridge of her nose sharply, mumbling to herself. "It looks like everything is in order, Mr. Casablancas. All you need to do is go to the office and sign a release form, and you and Mandy are free to go."
"Sure thing. Be right back, little lady." Dick set Mandy on the ground and saluted Mrs. Wayne on his way out.
"Mandy," Mrs. Wayne began uncertainly. "Since your mother is having a baby, I was just wondering if – have your parents talked to you about it? Not about the birds and the bees, necessarily, just … "
"Birds and bees!" Mandy chimed in. "I know all about that!"
"What? You do?" The teacher's eyes widened in surprise. "Well, that explains a lot."
"Yep!" Mandy nodded enthusiastically. "Bees are really mean and hurt you. Birdies sing pretty songs and like to fly around." Running around in a small circle, flapping her arms in an imitation of wings, Mandy let out a few adorable tweets before turning back to the elderly woman. "I have a book all about birdies that my Mommy reads to me before I go to bed."
"Oh, dear," Mrs. Wayne sighed. "Have you had the talk about where babies come – "
"Okay, Mandy, let's blow this popsicle stand! Your grandpa just called me and said he'd meet us at your house."
"Grandpa, yay!" Mandy squealed, grabbing her backpack and Dick's hand. "Bye, Mrs. Wayne!"
"Good bye, Mandy," the teacher replied. "Be … good, okay?"
"Mandy? Dick?" Keith walked into the house, nodding once he eyed the other man. "Have you heard anything else from Logan? I was on a case when he called, so I got here as fast as I could."
Dick gave him a thumbs-up. "He just called a minute ago, and said we should head to the hospital. The doctors think Veronica's going to pop any minute."
"Mommy's going to pop?" Mandy asked worriedly. "Like a balloon? Is she going to fly around the room and make a silly noise? I hate when my balloons pop!"
Rolling his eyes in Dick's general direction, Keith bent down to placate Mandy. "Your mommy's going to be fine. Are you ready to go and see her?"
"Yay!" Mandy shouted. "I call shotgun!" As she ran out to the car, Dick laughed, earning him another glare from Keith.
"What? She knows the rules. And, dude, I'm driving, so I hope you like the back."
A visibly twitchy and slightly tearstained Keith tried once more to get his granddaughter to sit still. "I know it's been a long time, sweetheart, but the doctors said we could go in soon. Then you'll get to meet your brother."
"Okay, folks. You only have a few minutes, because she needs to rest."
Keith took Mandy by the hand and walked down the long hospital corridor, Dick trailing a step behind him.
Upon entering the room, Mandy spied a crying Logan and Veronica, prompting her own tears. "What's wrong, Daddy? Why are you and Mommy crying?" She ran to her father's side, not noticing that Keith's eyes had begun to water, or that even Dick was looking suspiciously misty.
"I just want to thank you, Veronica," Dick spoke quickly. "For allowing all of us to witness this beautiful moment. It really means a lot to me."
Four heads swiveled to face Dick, mouths agape.
"Yeah. If I hadn't been here today, I wouldn't have gotten the digits of that totally hot nurse we talked to. Looks like I won't be babysitting tonight … " He waited for a beat. " … because I have a date! Score!"
Rolling his eyes and trying to ignore his best friend, Logan carefully knelt down, bringing a squirming baby to Mandy's eye-level. "Mandy? Meet your brother."
Her breath caught in her throat as she looked at the wrapped bundle before her. "Can I touch him?" She asked in a small voice.
Logan nodded. "Just be careful."
Slowly, Mandy placed a finger gently on the baby's outstretched palm. To her delight, her brother's small hand wrapped around her tightly. She looked to her father in awe.
"He likes me, Daddy!"
Logan smiled at her. "Of course he does, honey. He loves you."
"I LOVE him more! I'm going to protect him, and teach him stuff, and play with him, and show him how to get rid of the bad bed monsters, and where you keep the best toys, and how to eat whipped cream and chocolate sauce without making a mess, and … " The baby gurgled and Mandy abruptly stopped her train of thought. "He's talking to me!"
Logan chuckled. Nervously, he looked at his daughter. "Mandy? That stuff about the bed monster and the whipped cream … you don't tell people about that, right?"
She shrugged. "I don't know."
"We'll have a talk later, okay?" The baby wiggled around in Logan's arms, blinking heavy-lidded eyes. "Mommy needs to feed him so he can take a nap."
Mandy squealed. "Daddy, he's the bestest ever! He's even better than my dolly! I want another baby!"
He laughed. "Well, sweetie, give Mommy a little time to recover at least." He stood and gingerly placed his son in Veronica's arms. Laying a soft kiss on her head, he bent down and picked Mandy up, and they stood alongside the hospital bed. Twisting in his arms, Mandy turned to look at her father.
"Daddy? Where do babies come from?"
"Can I have a cookie, Mommy?" Pleeeeeease?" Mandy begged.
Veronica sighed, powerless to resist the wiles of her daughter. "Fine. Just one." As Mandy scampered off to the kitchen, Veronica set the baby carrier down and set about unbuckling her son.
Mandy approached them quietly from behind, one cookie in her mouth, another in her outstretched hand.
"Mandy! What did I just tell you?"
"I only took one for me," Mandy replied, defensive. "The other one is for Sammy."
Veronica fought back the smile that threatened to overtake her face. "Honey, you know Sammy can't eat cookies yet."
"Oops. I forgot!" Not looking the slightest bit remorseful, Mandy shoved the other cookie in her mouth.
"What am I going to do with you, you little cookie monster?" Veronica bent down and began tickling Mandy, despite the little girl's protests.
"And that's my cue." Logan walked in and stood behind Veronica, wrapping an arm around her waist, effectively ending Mandy's tickle torture. "How was your appointment?"
"I'm fine, Sammy's fine." She smiled brightly. "Everything is fine. And by everything, I mean … everything." Veronica arched her back against Logan, thrusting against his hips.
"So you're sure? We can … " Logan wiggled his eyebrows suggestively.
"Yep." Veronica smiled. "I'm cleared and ready to go. Except that we can't."
"What?" Logan looked bewildered. "Mandy, why don't you go and watch some TV, okay?"
" 'Kay!" She skipped off happily.
"Logan, the crib is in our room, and there's no way we're getting busy with the baby right there. Perv."
"Veronica, it's been forever," he whined. "Please. I miss you." His lips wandered to the back of her neck, and Veronica shuddered at the contact.
"Guest room?" He suggested.
Veronica thought for a moment. "Fine. Let me just put him to bed. But we have to be quick." Twisting around in his arms and kissing him soundly, Veronica lifted the baby from the carrier and began cooing at him.
As she went upstairs, Logan moved into the living room.
"Your mother and I have some … business to take care of upstairs. Will you be okay down here by yourself for a few minutes?"
"Daddy," Mandy admonished. "I'm six. Duh."
"Silly me. I should have known better." He winked at her. "I'll come down and get you for bed in a little bit, sweetie."
A few minutes later, Mandy heard the familiar sound of a door slamming, and then the low squeaking and groaning noises that she hadn't heard for quite a while. Picking up her stuffed unicorn, she carefully made her way up the stairs until she reached her parents' room.
"Hi, Sammy," she whispered, walking up to the crib. "Are you awake?"
A high-pitched gurgling noise answered her question.
"Want to play? I would have brought the doggy, but Daddy says Gasm isn't allowed in here when you're here. Sorry! But when you get bigger, you can play with him. He's the bestest!"
She peeked in, and noticed that her brother was fussing around. He began to whimper, and she stuck her hand through the bars and began wiggling her fingers around to distract him.
"Please don't cry. Mommy and Daddy are busy now. Sometimes Mommies and Daddies need to … talk about things. Just the two of them," she advised, mimicking the words she had heard from Veronica in the past. "I'll play with you. You can even be Horny."
Feeling around on the sides of the crib for the release, she gingerly lowered the gate and climbed into the crib. "You're too little to do that, but once you're bigger, I'll show you how to get out. It's really fun." Regarding the baby for a moment, she turned and struggled to slide and lock the bars back in place. "It would be really bad if you fell out and got hurt, though, so I have to put it back."
Sitting next to her brother, Mandy ran her fingers through the little tufts of brown hair on his head. "We can talk if you don't want to play right now. I have lots of stuff to teach you."
Another series of burbles, and Mandy giggled.
"I love you too, Sammy. Lots and lots. You're my favoritest little brother ever." She pressed the ears of her stuffed unicorn to its head before leaning down and whispering near her brother's ear. "Don't tell him, but I even like you better than Horny."
Sammy laughed and clapped his hands, and Mandy smiled. Setting the stuffed toy down, she curled up next to her brother. "We're gonna have so much fun, Sammy."
Exactly twelve minutes and forty-two seconds later, a disheveled Logan and Veronica stumbled across the hall and into their bedroom.
"I hope he's sleeping," Logan whispered. "Because I'm strangely worn out right now, and I could use and hour or two before being woken up."
Veronica moved to the crib and gasped, and she quickly clamped a hand over her mouth to stifle the sound.
"Logan? Come here. Now. You have to see this."
Logan came up behind her, and peered down.
In the crib, Mandy and Sammy were cuddled together, deep in sleep, her arms around her brother, and Sammy's head resting on the plush unicorn.
"I don't know what I did to get this lucky," Logan breathed, "but I'm pretty sure you're the one to thank for it. God, Veronica." He rested his head on Veronica's shoulder as the two continued to stand there silently, watching their children dream.