TITLE: Red Skies
KEYWORDS: MS, D/OC, J/OC, VM, and friendship all around.
SPOILERS/TIMELINE: This is a sequel to my previous fic, 'Til the Sky Turned Blue
ARCHIVE: It will be posting simultaneously at and DISCLAIMER: Hank and Co. own everything Without a Trace. No copyright infringement is intended. Heaven knows if I had any control of the show I wouldn't have to write at all.
SUMMARY: Red sky at morning, sailors take warning. Red sky at night, sailors delight.
"Happy endings are just stories that haven't finished yet." - Jane Smith, 'Mr. and Mrs. Smith'
"I'll give you a thousand dollars if you get up," Martin mumbled into his pillow.
"We're married - your money is my money," Sam replied, stifling a laugh as she rolled over and pulled the covers tighter. "Now, go see what's going on before she burns down the house."
The mattress dipped and rose as Martin got out of bed to inspect the suspicious noise coming out of Gracie's room. It was the kind of noise that didn't set off their federal training alarms but the parental one that told them their child was up to no good. Still grumbling he muttered, "I still don't know how I got stuck with the job of early wake-up patrol and noise inspection. I'm exhausted."
"You don't want to challenge me on exhaustion," she quickly retorted. "I had to carry each one for nine months, push them out of my body, nurse them…"
He huffed and interrupted, "Are you going to use that excuse every time?"
"Yes," she replied definitively. "Besides, you should be the one to get up since it's you that they always ask for anyway."
He reached the door and mumbled, "One of these days I will get Gracie to confess that you taught her to ask for me."
"She's my daughter, she'll never rat me out," she replied as she glanced at the alarm clock that read: 12: 05 a.m. While part of her wondered what her 5-year old was doing up at this ungodly hour a bigger part of her just wanted a few more hours of precious rest. So she clasped her eyes shut and tried to will herself back to sleep.
"Then I'll get the boy to do it," Martin said as he opened the door. "I know for a fact he accepts bribes. Two cookies and he'd rat out Barney."
She smiled knowing that he was right. At three-years old, Nate was not only a certifiable cookie junkie but he was also the family tattle-tale. He never did it to be malicious; he was just a good, honest kid. Unlike his diabolical older sister who knew that his silence could be bought for a price; usually one involving chocolate chips.
She heard him walk down the hall and knock on Gracie's door before he opened it. She couldn't make out what he was saying but judging by his tone their girl wasn't up to too much mischief so Sam pulled the pillow over her head and prayed for sleep.
It didn't work because she was still wide awake when Martin returned a short while later. He slowly shuffled his way back to bed and she followed him with her eyes asking, "What was she doing?"
"Jumping on the bed smoking a cigarette," he replied as he crawled back into bed. "I told her to use an ashtray and keep it down; Daddy's trying to sleep."
Sam lifted her head and looked at him in disbelief. "What?"
"Relax. She's just excited about starting her first day of school. She was reorganizing her backpack – again," he replied with a yawn as he relaxed back into the bed. "I helped her put everything away and tucked her back into bed."
She rolled back over and curled up against him, tucking her head in the nook between his neck and shoulder. Her eyelids were heavy but there was no denying that she was awake. She could tell by Martin's breathing that he wasn't asleep yet either. "Can you believe she's starting kindergarten? It seems like just yesterday that we brought her home from the hospital."
"Mm-hmm," he mumbled as way of a reply.
Sam could still recall just how much Gracie weighed that day. Her arms still remembered the feeling of her little body bundled up in a blanket as she carried her carefully down the hall towards her room for the very first time.
She watched as Martin hustled ahead of her to make sure the pathway was clear of any possible dangers. He would have carried her and the baby if she had asked. She moved slowly partly because of her need to be careful but also because she was still sore; feeling like she was stretched out and broken in a way she didn't think possible. When she finally reached the door and Martin moved Milo aside so she could walk into the room ahead of them.
They had decorated the nursery in pale green and blues and the furniture was rich honey oak color. They didn't know if they were going to have a boy or girl so they figured it would be safe, neutral colors. Now, though, she wished there was just a little more pink. She nervously carried Grace to her bassinet and carefully laid her down.
Martin tiptoed up behind her and whispered, "Now what do we do?"
"Well, according to all the baby books I am supposed to sleep whenever she does so I guess I should go take a nap." He nodded his head in agreement although neither one of them made any move to leave. She looked down at her tiny sleeping daughter; small and perfect. Gracie's face was still pale pink and she worked her mouth in suckling motion as she slept.
"I can stay and watch her while you sleep," he offered. His gaze focused entirely on the baby.
"I don't know. I mean, we can't take turns watching her all the time. She has to sleep alone eventually." She leaned close and rested her head on his shoulder. She was completely drained and exhausted but she was just as hesitant to leave Gracie alone. "Then again, maybe we should stick around for a little while."
"Okay," he replied. They stayed like that for a few minutes, just watching her sleep. He tilted his head toward hers and whispered, "Can you believe she is ours? I keep thinking all of this is a dream and I am going to wake up any minute."
Sam laughed and snaked her arm around his waist. "I just spent over 30 hours in labor. Believe me, it's no dream; this is very much real."
He put his arm around her shoulder and pulled her to him. He kissed her head and said, "You were incredible."
She looked down at Grace and replied, "Yeah, well she was worth it." She paused and added, "Of course, when she's older I am definitely going to remind her how much I went through to bring her into this world."
He laughed. "It's an excuse that has worked for mothers for centuries."
She felt Milo's tail brush against her leg and she looked down to see the big Labrador move to sit under Grace's crib. He walked around in circles before finally finding a good spot to lie down and go to sleep. Sam was about to comment but when she opened her mouth instead of words she yawned.
"Why don't we put you to bed too? Milo can stand guard." He clicked on the white baby monitor, grabbed her by the shoulders and turned her around to move her out of the room. "The baby monitor is on and we can hear everything from the bedroom."
She hated to leave but she knew that she needed to sleep now because Gracie was going to need to nurse again in two hours. They walked into their bedroom and Martin clicked on the other monitor as Sam lay down. He sat on the edge of the bed to make sure it was working. He gave her an unsure look and said, "It's quiet."
"She's sleeping," she replied.
"How do we know what to listen for? How do we know if it's working?"
She considered and said, "Go back to her room and say something into the monitor. I'll stay here and listen."
"Good idea," he said as he walked out of the room. A few seconds later she heard his voice on the monitor, "Testing, one, two, three." He walked back down the hall, poked his head in and asked, "Did you hear me?"
"Yeah, loud and clear," she answered.
Satisfied they both laid down on the bed to nap. However, as tired as Sam was she could not seem to relax enough to sleep. She cracked open an eye and saw Martin's gaze focused on the nightstand where the baby monitor sat. She took a deep breath and exhaled hoping to calm her nerves but no luck. She scooted next to him and he shifted so they could both be comfortable. She wanted to sleep but she found that she kept trying to listen for any unusual sounds. Conceding defeat she raised herself up on her elbow, looked at him and said, "Maybe we should just bring her bassinet in here?"
"Good idea," he replied as he moved out from under her, hopped out of bed and over his shoulder added, "I'll be right back."
A few minutes later Martin rolled the small bassinet into their room with Milo in tow. He was pushing it slowly, doing his best to not wake the sleeping infant. He positioned it next to her side of the bed, checked to make sure Gracie was still asleep and then rejoined her. Milo moved to the corner of the room and plopped himself on his pillow bed and fell right back to sleep.
Sam moved closer to the bassinet and lay on her side with one hand resting on the edge of the bassinet. Martin moved in to spoon her from behind, his own hand resting lightly over her hip. She closed her eyes and miraculously fell right to sleep.
An incredibly short amount of time later she heard the alarm clock radio click on, waking her up. She reached over and slammed the snooze button down. Normally she would try to delay the inevitable for another nine minutes but today was a pretty monumental day in the Spade-Fitzgerald household. She rolled over and saw that Martin was already up and gone for his morning run with Milo.
She sighed heavily and stretched out before getting out of bed. After a record fast shower (something she had perfected during motherhood) she started toweling off when Martin appeared looking sweaty and spent.
"I started the wake up process," he shared as he started stripping off his running clothes to get into the shower. The kids needed to be waken up in waves. Martin usually handled the first one and Sam moved in for the actual wake-up call. Once he was in the shower she quickly got dressed and headed down the hall towards Grace's room.
She knocked on the door and was about to enter when from the other side of the bedroom door Gracie shouted, "Don't come in! I wanna do it myself!"
She was taken slightly off guard by her daughter's early morning wakefulness but happily accepted it all the same. "Alright, but call me if you need any help."
"Okay," she replied. All summer Grace had been excited about being a big kid and getting to go to a real school and wear a real uniform. Last night she announced that big kids don't need their mommy's to help them get dressed and declared that on her first day of school she would get ready all on her own.
Sam looked at the door for a beat, resisting the urge to open the door and help her along, before turning around and heading into Nate's bedroom.
The little boy was sprawled out on his bed, limbs akimbo and happily snoring away. Sam reached over and gently tickled the bottom of his feet, gave him a soft kiss on his temple and said, "Time to wake up, sleepyhead."
The little boy shifted and cracked open an eye to look at her. He sighed, rubbed the sleep out of his eyes and said, "Morning mama."
"Morning," she said with a grin. "Time to get up, sweetie. You have to get dressed."
He stretched and asked, "Why?"
"Did you forget that you are going to spend the day with Eli and Nanny Melanie?"
Nate got a big grin on his face and said, "Oh, yeah!" He jumped out of bed and grabbed his clothes off the dresser that Sam had laid out the night before.
Eli was not only Nate's very best friend but he was also Danny and Emma's youngest boy. It turned out a month after she got pregnant with Nate, Emma got pregnant with Eli. Sam enjoyed sharing pregnancy frustrations and joys with Emma. It also helped that she didn't feel like she was the largest, widest woman every time they went out.
Since the two boys were also extremely close in age they were instantaneous friends by the default of association. Nate had been feeling left out of the excitement of starting school so Danny and Emma's nanny, Melanie, agreed to take both the boys for the day as a sort of mini-field trip for the not-quite school age boys; something that made their own nanny, Frances, happy as well.
Once Nate was dressed she sent him off in search of his dad and she headed back to her bedroom to finish getting ready. She walked in and found Martin standing in front of the mirror putting on his tie while chatting with Nate who was bouncing on the balls of his feet as he stared up at his dad.
"Are you excited to hang out with Eli?" Martin asked.
"Uh-huh," he nodded his head enthusiastically.
He finished tying his tie and turned to look at Sam. "Hey, is Grace ready yet?"
Sam ran her hand through Nate's hair as she passed. "Not yet."
He gave her a worried look before shrugging his shoulders and leading Nate out of the room. "Well, we'll start breakfast then."
Sam headed to the bathroom and finished getting herself ready. After she applied her make-up and dried her hair she headed down the hall to check up on Grace – again.
She stood in front of the bedroom door, staring at the brightly colored wooden letters that spelled out her daughter's name and said, "How are you doing?"
"I'm almost done," the independent girl shouted back; her voice sounding muffled.
Sam smiled at Grace's exuberance and said, "Okay, but hurry up, sweetie, or I won't have enough time to comb your hair. You don't want to be late for your first day of school."
"Okay," she replied.
Sam turned around and walked to the living room where she found Martin and Nate sitting on the sofa fiddling with the camera. He looked up from the camera and glanced behind her. "Where's Grace?"
"She's almost ready," she replied as she sat down on chair across from them. "She just needs a few more minutes."
Martin frowned and glanced at his watch before returning his attention to the camera. He insisted on documenting just about every moment of their kids lives. They already had piles of DVDs and pictures of first steps, first words, even the first time Grace ate a banana. She had no idea when or if anyone would ever want to watch them all but they had them.
"I wanna see," Nate said as he moved to stand between Martin's legs to see the pictures on the camera's screen. Sam smiled at seeing how much Nate resembled his dad. Sometimes Martin would joke around and call him "Mini-Me."
"Okay, I'm ready!" Grace announced melodramatically. All eyes turned to face the hallway entrance to the living room when their daughter appeared dressed in her school uniform: a maroon polo shirt, a pleated skirt, tights and sneakers. She smiled broadly and said, "Ta-da!"
"Look at you," Martin exclaimed as he snapped a photo.
"I got dressed all by myself. The clothes were easy but it took me a long time to tie my shoelaces," she said proudly as pointed to her tennis shoes.
"You did a good job," Sam praised.
"Thank you," she replied as she spun around to model for them. It was at that time that they noticed Grace's fashion faux paus. It seemed she had inadvertently tucked the back of her skirt into her tights while getting dressed.
Nate started laughing and pointed at his sister shouting, "I can see your butt!"
Martin clasped his hand over the little boy's mouth while Sam jumped up to help fix her daughter's outfit.
However, Grace got angry at her pesky younger brother whose laughter could still be heard under his dad's hand and shouted, "Shut up! Stop laughing!"
"Don't fight," Sam warned as she pulled Gracie back, leading her down the hall. "Come on, let's go comb your hair and I will tell you about rule #1 of skirt wearing: always check yourself in the mirror…"