"So what happened to them?" A young recruit asked eagerly following the story Cheryl was weaving, her cautionary tale about inter-office relationships.
"Those two agents? Well, they now have a house in suburbia, two perfect kids, a cat, and a cherry-stained picket fence."
The class stared at her, confusion written on their faces.
"He's scared of dogs, and she refused to go for the traditional white picket."
"No, it's not that," the same recruit answered. "It's just, doesn't that kind of defeat the purpose you were going for?"
"Not at all. See it may have worked out for them, but it won't get the chance to work out for any of you. If I ever find out that any of you are involved with your coworkers, one of you will immediately be shipped to Oregon where you'll, inbetween bouts of freezing your ass off, investigate the loonies that live on compounds. The other gets sent to the basement, where you'll spend the next decade sorting through old files. Everybody clear?" She asked them this with a sudden smile. A classroom full of heads nodded.
"Good, I'll you see all Thursday." She smiled again and grabbed her binder, checking her watch, she had a dinner party to get to soon.
An hour later she was ringing the doorbell of an unimposing suburban house, her three year-old son already struggling in his father's arms. He knew tonight he would get to play with his two best friends, and had been impatient for it all day. Suddenly the door flew open, causing him to scramble even harder.
"Hey, come on in. You're the first one's here," Matt announced showing them in, his not quite month-old son asleep on his chest, and three year old daughter excitedly tugging on his shirt.
"Oh, he's so beautiful Matt," Cheryl gushed over Logan, who was tiny as can be, but had full head of dark hair, much like his sister had at birth. Deirdre's hair had become the vibrant reddish brown of her mother by the time she hit two. The devilish little red-head decided at that moment to let go of her father, and grab Jaden's hand, dragging the little boy to her room.
"Thanks, but this little guy is exhausting his mommy," Matt answered kissing his son's head.
Cheryl and Emily had found they were pregnant within weeks of each other, and given birth in a similar time frame; Deirdre was a few weeks older. But Lia and Duff had surprised everyone and beaten them all to the hospital; their daughter, Ella, was four years old now, and had the blondest hair imaginable, still a mystery to both her parents. Lia's hair was more a light brown. Frank had been determined through that two-year period of pregnant women to not settle down, ever. He was still the only one of the group without any kids, but he was on his way down the aisle in only two months.
Matt and Emily, their biology determined not to waist an ounce of time, had their second child before anyone else. Emily had not been pleased when she found out, ranting and raving for two days about how they both knew how to use birth control. Matt had sought refuge at work those two days, staying late and coming in early, much to everyone else's amusement. Of course now, the couple couldn't be more thrilled, though Emily was endlessly exhausted. Which is why, instead of going out, and having everybody struggling to find babysitters, they invited them for a small dinner party. Matt knew Emily would be passed out by nine anyway, midnight feedings and all.
"That's got to be Lia and Duff," Matt said, as he heard a girly shriek just before the doorbell rang. Once again he made his way to the door, inviting them in and exchanging pleasantries, before excusing himself to check on Emily.
"Hey, how's it going?" he asked her.
"Well, I'm not wearing spit-up, and there's no playdough caked underneath my fingernails, so wonderful," she answered looking up from what she was doing.
"Now how come he sleeps for you?" She demanded looking at her son.
"He thinks I'm boring." Matt gave her a grin, which she returned. "You about ready, we're only waiting on Frank and Christine."
"Yeah, let's go. Are the kids already in Deirdre's room?"
"Of course. She nearly dislocated Jaden's arm yanking him in there."
The doorbell tolled one last time, but this time Lia went for it, just as Matt and Emily reappeared in the living room.
Frank and Christine had arrived, completing the group, who found their way to the living room to relax and talk before dinner. Emily had barely seen anybody in two months, courtesy of maternity leave, and they were all excited to gush over Logan, who they'd only seen at the hospital.
"So when are you guys going for number three?" Frank asked with a teasing grin.
"Don't even go there," Emily warned, getting chuckles from the group. "Oh, don't even laugh, the rest of you need to catch up first."
"Then Frank and Christine need to get to work, their way behind," Duff commented.
"Oh, no. We borrow yours, right hun?" Frank turned to his fiancé.
"Oh, yeah about that…" she trailed off.
"Whoa, what? Your…?" He asked her struggling to swallow the sudden lump in his throat.
"Kidding Frank, you can breath now," she laughed at him, as the rest joined her.
The group talked for another hour, and then through dinner, and then another hour through coffee. After so many years of being friends, they never ran out of things to say, and if conversation ever lulled, one of their children would pop up and provide entertainment.
Logan had woken up screaming during dinner, demanding his mother feed him, but had otherwise remained quiet. The kids had pretty much entertained themselves all night, with the occasional shrieking giggle emanating from Deirdre's bedroom. However, when Duff and Kevin, Cheryl's husband, went to retrieve their children, they found the trio of troublemakers passed out. This didn't stop them from insisting they were having tons of fun and didn't want to leave.
Finally after everybody had left, and Matt had tucked in Deirdre, he found Emily easing Logan to sleep in the bassinet by their bed. He was fed, burped, changed, and as comfortable as any infant could ever get, just like every night, every night that he insisted on waking up screaming more than sleeping. Emily tucked the blanket snugly around him, bent to kiss him, and then turned to Matt, realizing he was watching her.
"Is Deirdre down?"
"Yep, she was already passed out, all I had to do was ease her under the blankets."
"At least one of them sleeps."
"He will eventually."
"I know, I'm just exhausted. I'm surprised I managed to stay awake as long as I did."
"Yeah me too. Come here," he said, pulling her closer to him in the bed. "Let's hunker down and pray for sleep."
She laughed at him, flicking off the light, before rolling back toward him. Within minutes both were sound asleep.
Forty-seven minutes later, they both jolted awake to the sound of a little banshee screaming in the night. Logan was as usual not sleeping.
"Okay Logan, I got you," Emily cooed with the patience only a mother could have. She picked him and cradled him to her, as she hopped back into the bed, announcing to the baby, "I'm done with all this screaming, you're staying with us tonight."
The Jungle has officially come to an end. And being that the baby thing isn't my usual style, consider this a Mother's Day tribute, for the undying patience, love and understanding only a mother can have. Thanks to everybody who read and reviewed! Oh, and thank you to ACM Rocks for the name Ella, I decided it fit Lia and Duff's little girl well.