Disclaimer: I don't own Iola, Joe, or Frank. Kayla is mine.

Notes: This is based on my real-life four-year-old niece and events that she… creates.  This is just something light-hearted that I couldn't resist writing about. And as always, comments are greatly appreciated!

Babysitting is Murder on My Image
The Pirate Kiss

by lightwarai

Iola Hardy rolled her eyes as she cleaned up the kitchen counter after dinner. She had tried a new recipe, and she didn't realize how many dishes a potato, corn, and bacon chowder could mess up. But it was definitely good; Joe had downed three bowls before declaring he was full.

From the kitchen, she could hear her husband of four years and their niece playing in the family room. The voices were pretty unintelligible, except for a few words every so often. Kayla Hardy was certainly a handful, and tonight was no exception.

When Frank, Kayla's dad and Joe's elder brother, had dropped her off an hour earlier, he had warned them that Kayla had taken a nap after lunch, and she was wired. Kayla hadn't stopped talking the moment she stepped inside their house. She went on and on about her cat, Tinkerbell, who was invisible. She talked about how her little baby sister, Hayley, cried all night. Hayley was also invisible. She also told Joe and Iola the entire story of how her older brother, Diego, like to bring dogs home from school every day.

Again, Diego and the dogs were invisible.

Her new favorite phrase, "every day," was always accompanied with an exasperated sigh. During really dramatic stories, her little hands would fly to her hips and she would shake her head.

There was no doubt in Iola's mind that it was a habit she had picked up from her mother.

At the moment, though, she could hear the cheap, plastic, electronic toy swords making clashing noises. Iola had found them last Halloween at the dollar store and couldn't resist picking up two – an orange and a green one. They were well used by now.

Thundering footsteps told Iola that she was about to be bombarded by Kayla. She laughed quietly to herself, brushing strands of dark hair away from her eyes and braced herself.

"AUNT IOLA!" Kayla ran into the kitchen, coming to a halt when her socked feet carried her directly into the refrigerator, throwing magnets to the floor. "You have to come now! Uncle Joe read the magic words on the pirate map and now he's paralyzed! He said a princess has to come save him!"

Without waiting for an answer, Kayla charged back into the family room. Iola giggled to herself. Kayla's newest obsession involved playing pirates, but she wasn't sure where she had gotten the idea. "Oh really?" Iola called loudly. "Well, let me dry my hands and I'll come check on the poor paralyzed pirate."

When she arrived, Joe was standing still in the middle of the room, wearing a too-small cowboy hat, and clutching a child's pirate map in his hands. He was wearing a toy necklace and earrings, but Iola didn't have time to ask about that.

"Please, Aunt Iola! You have to save him!"

Iola hid a smile behind her hand. "How am I supposed to save him?" She stepped up to Pirate Joe and looked at him thoughtfully. She removed the pirate map from his hands. Turning to Kayla, she asked her "Did that help?"

Kayla giggled. "No! You have to kiss him!"

Iola raised her eyebrows and turned back to Pirate Joe. "Oh really? You mean a little kiss is all he needs?" She watched as Joe's eyebrows shot up and a boyish grin tugged at the corners of his "frozen" face. Judging by the look in his eyes, this was all Kayla's idea, which actually surprised Iola.

Kayla shook her head, her dark locks bouncing around. "No! It has to be a humongous kiss! Like in the pirate movies!"

Iola glanced at her niece. "And just how many pirate movies have you seen?"

"Ka-billions, silly!"

Iola shook her head. "Oh, right. Ka-billions. Well, I guess that makes you an expert on unfreezing pirates!" As Iola neared Joe, she winked back at Kayla. "I guess I have no choice, then."

Kayla giggled and stamped her feet impatiently.

Iola tilted her head and looked at Joe, giving him a look. She gently touched her finger to his hand, tracing it up his arm to his shoulder. "Poor, poor pirate. He sure looks like he's in trouble, don't ya think?" She slipped between his open arms, being careful not to touch him at all. Iola couldn't resist teasing him. She stood on her tiptoes, and kissed him quickly on the lips.

As she pulled back, Joe's arms started to come down around her. That is, until Kayla squealed. "NO! Uncle Joe! You are still paralyzed! Aunt Iola, that was a very bad kiss. Do it again!"

In response, Iola complied, and held the kiss for a few seconds longer, until Joe grabbed her and swung her around, dipping her and he deepened the kiss.

Iola felt her heart flutter as she responded, holding on to Joe tightly. In the back of her mind, she briefly registered Kayla's squeals of protest and dismay at the "mushy stuff."

When Joe finally released her, Iola's face was bright red. "You're terrible!"

Joe grinned. "Serves you right for being so mean to me! Just wait until you read the magic words and you're paralyzed!"

Kayla jumped at Joe. "I don't want to play this anymore! You broke the rules!"

Joe shrugged. "Sorry, squirt. What do you want to play now?"

She grinned and danced around in a circle, shouting "PRETTY PRETTY PRINCESS!"

Joe wanted to run.