"But it was my birthday present from Grandpa Hank!" Hayden whined loudly, glaring with tear-filled eyes at her mother. She'd just found out about her room, and she wasn't happy.
Vala gave her a sympathetic smile from across the workbench. "I know, sweetheart." She reached out a hand to place over Hayden's, but the little girl pulled hers back. "It's only temporary."
Huffing, Hayden turned on the stool away from Vala. "I don't care - It was my gift and I want it back."
"You'll get it back..." Vala reassured her. "Once your grandfather is gone."
Grey-blue eyes once again turned a glare on Vala. "Why is he so special that he gets my room?! Do you like your daddy more than me?"
Vala shook her head adamantly. "Oh, no way." She said in a strong voice. "There is no one I like more in this world than you, Hayden. You're my little girl, I love you." Impulse took over her, like it normally did. She climbed onto the workbench and semi-crawled the short distance to her daughter. "My pretty little monster." Vala smiled brightly, hanging her head over the edge, bangs dangling.
Giggling, Hayden climbed onto it as well. She sat down on her mommy's legs. "Mommy?"
"Yeah?" Vala asked back, staring upside down at the collection of books on the bookshelf. Where once they'd only been volumous tomes on nothing but history, now there was a mixture of romance novels and fantasy books, as well as few skinny kiddy books that they'd only been reading to Hayden a couple of years before. It was amazing how quickly the girl soaked up knowledge.
Hayden ran her fingers over the exposed part of Vala's stomach. "Why don't you like my grandfather?"
Bringing her head up slowly, Vala gazed at her beautiful little girl. She considered giving Hayden a short, simple answer, then decided against it. She'd never been anything but honest with her daughter, and Jacek wasn't going to make Vala break that promise she'd made with herself. Hayden was the only person she'd never, ever lied to.
"Because he didn't...doesn't," Vala amended. "Treat me like a father should treat his daughter."
Grey-blue eyes watched her intently. "He was mean to you."
Vala shrugged one shoulder. "Not so much mean as..." She paused to think of the right way to put it. She inhaled deeply as she settled on it. "He just doesn't love me in the right way."
"Does daddy love me in the right way?" Hayden asked quietly, fingers fiddling with the edge of her mother's black tank top.
Sitting up, Vala wrapped her arms around the child. "Your daddy loves you the right way and more. He loves you in the best way possible. Hayden, you're so beautiful and smart and creative and caring." She placed a loving kiss in her daughter's hair. "How could he not love you for ever and ever?"
Hayden looked up at her mother. "But you're all those things too, mommy. Why can't my grandpa notice all those things about you?"
"I don't know, Hayds." Vala said quietly, fingering her little hand as she tried to fight off the sadness she felt coming on.
Standing up, Hayden wrapped her arms around Vala's neck. "Don't let him make you sad, mommy." She whispered. "He's just a dumb old man who dresses funny. I see how awesome you are."
The tears did fall this time, but it wasn't out of sadness. "You are so smart, babygirl." Vala hugged her back proudly. "And you are right..." She pulled her back and made a funny face. "He is a dumb old man who dresses funny."
"And laughs funny." Hayden added with a giggle.
Vala grinned. "Oh yeah."
"And smells funny." The little girl continued with a wrinkle of her nose.
Laughing, Vala pulled her close again. "Oh, Hayden, I love you so much!"
Hayden giggled, then sat back down as her mommy released her. She looked up at her, smiling almost hesitantly. "Daddy notices all those things, ya know?" She continued on as Vala looked down at her intently. "He knows you're beautiful and funny and fun...He loves you more than the right way, too."
"Did he tell you all that?" Vala asked with a soft smile.
The five year old shook her head. "Nope. I just know it by the way he looks at you."
Tears stung in her eyes again. "And how does he look at me?"
Hayden shrugged. "Like it's the first and the last time he's ever seen you. Like you're something so magical that it's almost painful to look at you, but he does anyway because he's so in love he'd rather take the pain then not have seen you at all."
"You really are too smart, little girl." Vala laughed gently, wiping away the wetness on her cheeks.
Grinning, Hayden nodded. "I know."
Vala laughed again, this time in mock disbelief. "Do you now?" She mutter playfully, starting to tickle Hayden's stomach. The girl squealed in laughter and tried to get away from the tickling hands. "Oh no you don't!" Vala latched onto her daughter and fell back to a laying position. The two laughed and squirmed, knocking a pile of notebooks to the floor in their wake.
"Sometimes," The two stopped at the distinctly male voice that filled the air. "I wonder if I live with one child..." Daniel stepped into the room, a box under his right arm. His shadow fell over them. "Or two."
Grey eyes looked at him, upside down. "I wonder the same thing myself at times."
Daniel smiled down at her. "Does that include when I've been drinking or not?"
"Not." Vala sat up and spun around so her legs were dangling over the edge. Hayden remained firmly seated in her lap as she did it. "If I was including drinking, I'd be talking about more then just Hayden."
He placed his free hand on his hip. "Are you saying my friends, who are in turn your friends, act childish?"
Vala pretended to consider the question for a minute. "Yes!" She finally beamed, hopping down from the workbench and placing Hayden on the floor.
Hayden interrupted the banter, as she usually did, by pointing at the box and asking, "What's in the box?"
Looking down at her, Daniel half-shrugged. "Well, I figured since we missed Macaroni and Cheese night the other night that..." He looked in the box under his arm and pulled out a smaller, noisier box. "We'd have it tonight."
Shrieking as only she could, Hayden jumped up and down. "Yay!" She reached up her hands for the box. "Gimme, gimme, gimme!"
"Okay, okay." Daniel laughed, handing the box of boxes of Mac and Cheese down to her.
She peered into it like it was a box of toys. A second later, Hayden was off at a run out of the room. Daniel jogged to the doorway and hollered after her.
"Wait for us at the elevator please!" He smiled as he turned back to the beautiful woman still standing by his workbench. She was leaning back against it in an almost suggestive manner.
Daniel stepped up to her, then bent down to pick up the notebooks they'd knocked over. "You know..." He stood back up. "There's gotta be a protocol or memo or email or something that forbids..." He dropped all but one of the notebooks and stared at Vala as she stood up straight, flush against his chest. "Frolicking on the workbenches."
She quirked a questioning eyebrow. "Wasn't our daughter conceived on this workbench?" Vala asked curiously, wiggling as she pulled her riding tank top back down. She winked at Daniel, patted his chest and headed out the doorway.
"Good point." Daniel said as he dropped the last notebook and caught up with her. As he fell in step with her, his hand found hers. "Hayden's right."
Vala looked at him in curiosity.
He looked back at her with affection. "I'd look at you until I couldn't breathe anymore, and then I'd still look at you." His finger's entwined with hers.
Her eyes widened. "You were listening to us?"
"Maybe." He grinned, looking out at the corridor ahead of them.
"How much did you hear?" Vala asked. When Daniel did nothing but continue to examine the corridor and smile, she gasped and shoved his arm with her own. "All of it! Why didn't you say anything?"
His gaze found hers again. "You and Hayden were having a moment." Daniel said sheepishly. "A very touching moment..." He looked at Vala. "I couldn't interrupt that!"
Vala smiled and leaned up to kiss him softly. "You are such a sap."
Smiling, Daniel looked outwards as they turned down the corridor that led to the elevator. He could see Hayden up ahead. "If I'm such a sap, why are you marrying me?" He swung their joined hands.
She pulled herself closer to his side, resting her head on his shoulder. "Because you're my sap."
"Hurry up!" Hayden shouted, bouncing in place by the elevator door.
Daniel smiled and looked at Vala. "What would the offspring of a sap and a fruitcake be?"
"A sapcake." Vala giggled.
A/N: Finally! A nice mommy/daughter moment! I've already got the next one all planned out...I just need to work into it. Then a cute DV moment at the end here b/c this IS a DV fic! -grin- This whole concept of fathers and daughters is gonna be gotten into more, of course! Jacek's gotta see what a bad father he's been when he looks at Daniel and Hayden together. -claps- This series is so much fun to write!
Reviews are LVOE, of course!