Title: Life Lessons
Author: Sarah :)
Spoilers: Through 2x22, Not Pictured, just to be safe, but nothing specific. This is futurefic!
Word Count: 3,347
Summary: Game night with the Echolls family. Just a brief scene of domesticity.
Disclaimer: Not mine. Duh.
Thanks: To anyone and everyone who has kept up with this wacky little series. I know I post really sporadically, and that the stories are increasingly lame (my brain is just DRY, people), and it seriously means a lot to me that there are people who have been around, and are still around, reading these stories. Thanks, guys, for being the best encouragement I've ever had! :)
Final notes: This is for the very generous afrocurl, who bought me for the Sweet Charity auction. We decided that I'd write two fics for her. This is the WAY-belated second one, so THANK YOU for your patience, Roz! It's been pretty much sitting around for MONTHS, because I've been meaning to rewrite it, but I had to finally post it—I just realized that TODAY is the TWO YEAR (!!) anniversary of my first Mandy fic. That's crazy, right?? She wanted toy!fic set in the Mandyverse (and this'll make way more sense if you've read the rest), with a nice little domestic scene of board game bliss. So…you know. That's what I wrote. I am WICKED rusty on the VM front (and about six months late), but I hope you enjoy it, Roz! :)
In case you're unfamiliar with it (or just curious), the game played in the fic is the most recent version of The Game Of Life (or just Life).
"Daddy, hurry up, I wanna play now!" The little girl upended a cardboard box over the coffee table and clapped gleefully as a game board and various pieces spread out over it. "What's taking you so long?"
"I'm coming, I'm coming," Logan huffed, sweeping into the living room with his wife close on his heels.
Laughing loudly, Veronica winked at him. "That's what she said!"
Logan groaned. "Thank you, Veronica. Was that really necessary?"
She bit her lip and nodded enthusiastically. "It really, really was. It's not my fault! You left me too-perfect of an opportunity! I'm only human."
"Mommy! Daddy!" Mandy Echolls shook her head forcefully, causing her blonde hair to whip around. "Stop being boring and come and play! Sammy said he's gonna cry if we don't start the game right now."
The two parents looked at the cluttered coffee table, and then at the squirming baby crawling underneath it.
"I don't know, sweetie. He looks pretty happy to me. Maybe we don't have to play at all." Logan looked over at his daughter. "How about we just reschedule for next week?"
"Daddy!" Mandy shrieked. "You hafta! It's family game night! It's the rule, and if you don't play, I'm telling on you! Mommy!" She ran over to Veronica, frantic. "Make him be good!"
"Really, Daddy." Veronica scooped the little girl up into her arms. "Am I going to have to put you in time out?"
"YES!" Mandy offered helpfully.
"Yes!" Sammy mimicked his sister, still exploring the area under the coffee table.
"See? Sammy even says so!"
"You guys are no fun," Logan pouted, reaching over to tousle his daughter's hair. "Although…" he trailed off suggestively and tilted his head toward Veronica. "Depending on your definition of time out, I think I'd be interested in taking it for a test spin later."
"Oh, really?" Veronica smiled and leaned in to kiss him. "I think that can be arranged. You have been a very naughty bo—"
"Daddy! You can't want to go to time out, or it doesn't count! It's pun'shment! Duh! You're 'posed to learn from your mistakes and be good and stuff." Mandy shook her head sadly. "I hafta explain everything around here."
Reaching over to give Veronica a quick pinch on the ass, Logan bent down to retrieve his errant son from beneath the table. "You're right, Mandy," he intoned, all seriousness. "I'll remember that for next time."
"THANK YOU," she answered, throwing her hands up in the air dramatically. Veronica snorted and set her daughter down next to the table.
"She certainly has your flair for the dramatic, honey," Veronica smiled sweetly.
"Just like she has your single-minded obsession once she gets an idea in her head," Logan replied, clenching his jaw.
"But I'm cuter than you guys, too," Mandy piped up. Upon the bemused glances of both of her parents, she shrugged. "Grandpa said that that's something I get from him."
"Ahh, Keith. Gotta love your dad." Logan rolled his eyes.
"Anyway," Veronica began, seating herself on the floor and attempting to make some order out of the mess of game pieces from the Life game scattered on the table, "let's get this show on the road. Mandy, sweetie, what color car do you want to be?"
"Green!" The little girl shouted immediately.
"What? No fair!" Logan clasped his hand protectively over the plastic piece.
"Logan…" Veronica held out her hand. "Give me the car."
"Why does she always get to pick first? I never get to be green!"
"Um, because she's seven years old and your daughter?" Veronica sighed. "Why do we have to go through this every single time?"
"Fine, fine," Logan grumbled, passing the piece along to Mandy. "Just remember, when you get older, the sacrifices your old man used to make for you."
"I will!" She shouted distractedly, already busying herself with zooming the car over to her baby brother, who looked ready to resume his adventure under the table at any moment.
Logan selected the yellow car and watched Veronica choose the blue one.
"Aww, look," Veronica smiled fondly. "Jackass yellow, just like the old days. I never thought I'd say it, but I miss that car."
Logan sidled closer to his wife, his progress only hindered by the fact that his legs took up the majority of the space under the coffee table. "We did have some good times in that car. Remember the day that we went to the beach? I didn't think the backseat could take—"
"What's jackass?" Mandy asked, curious.
"Um, what, honey?" Logan shot a quick glare toward his wife.
"Mommy just said that that's what your car was. What does it mean?"
"Hey, look, we're ready to start, and sometimes, Mommy needs to watch what she says," Logan covered, handing out the neat stacks of money Veronica had put together, shooting one more look in her direction. "Who's going first? Should we spin for it?"
"Sammy can go first!" Mandy offered benevolently.
"Mandy, we've been through this. Sammy's too little to know how to play yet. Soon, though, he'll understand, I promise." Veronica reached over and ran a hand through her daughter's hair.
"No, Mommy, I know that. Sammy's on my team, 'cause he asked me to be. I guess that means I get to spin first! Yay!" Mandy grinned and leaned over to spin the numbered wheel.
Logan frowned. "Why do I get the feeling that we've just been played somehow?"
"Probably because we have been," Veronica shrugged. "That? She gets from both of us."
"Mandy, look! You just got married! Here's your extra tile." Veronica handed the small cardboard square over.
"Yay!" Mandy squealed, taking the piece from Veronica. "And I get another little person!" Clapping her hands excitedly, she added one of the little blue people to the front seat of her car. "He still has to sit on the pass'er side, 'cause men who think they can drive better than women are lame and stuff," Mandy explained to her mother. "I still get to drive."
Veronica held a hand to her heart. "Logan, our daughter is perfect."
Logan, who had been silently watching the exchange, slammed his hand down onto the coffee table, rattling the game board.
Veronica and Mandy each raised an eyebrow and looked at each other, then turned toward Logan.
"Daddy, this isn't court! You can't object to me kicking your butt! Mommy made that a rule, 'member?"
"It's not that, sweetie," Logan reasoned. "It's…the other thing."
"Not again, Logan. Please spare us the lecture," Veronica pleaded.
"I won't!" He was irate. "I still think that this ridiculous game is teaching our children skewed values. Mandy is far too young to get married, and all of a sudden, this game has her thinking it's okay, that it's fun, that she'll get Life tiles and money and happiness if she drives off in her fancy green car with some random stranger? This is setting her up for some big disappointments!"
Veronica snorted. "Once again, thanks for the vote in favor of marriage. As the person you're currently married to, I'll pretend I didn't hear any of that."
He sighed. "We're different and you know it, Veronica. We're adults! We made the right decision for the right reasons. She's seven years old. Since she's not getting married until she's at least fifty, I don't think that we should play games that promote such irresponsible behaviors. Now, buying real estate, I can get behind. How about a nice round of Monopoly?"
"Daddy," Mandy rolled her eyes at her father, clearly used to this argument. "One, Mommy said that I can get married 'fore I'm fifty, and that you can't stop me. Two," she yanked the pink plastic figure out of her game piece, "this little plastic girl is just a sy…symb…symbolic rep'sentation of me, and it can marry this symbolic rep'sentation of a boy, 'cause it's not really me getting married, and you need to grow up a little." She took a deep breath. "Can we keep playing now so I can beat you before bedtime? Please?"
Veronica clamped a hand over her mouth in an attempt to mask her laughing, and Logan blinked slowly at his daughter and gave her a small nod.
Mandy beamed. "When I get married, my husband is going to be just as nice as you are, Daddy."
Logan tore the piece of paper money he was holding in half, but managed a tight smile as Mandy took her extra spin.
"EWWW, MOMMY!" Mandy's eyes grew wide, and she jumped up from her seat on the floor. "Sammy's eating my money again!" Gingerly taking one of the moist bills between her fingertips, she shoved it towards her parents. "It's all covered in baby drool! MAKE HIM STOP!"
"Sammy!" Veronica scooted over to the other side of the table and snatched one of the extra cars from him before it, too, could be covered in baby drool. "Don't do that, sweetie." She turned to Mandy. "Remember, Mandy, how we talked about how you can't leave anything small on the floor, or Sammy could eat it and get hurt?" Veronica motioned to the couch, where the rest of the excess Life paraphernalia sat. "And put your money on the table, okay? We don't want your brother choking on anything." Bouncing Sammy in her arms, she pressed a kiss to his forehead. "And you need to stop putting everything you see in your mouth, don't you, honey? It's cute now, but trust me, when you get a little older, people aren't going to think it's quite as adorable."
Mandy's lower lip trembled. "I'm sorry, Mommy. I didn't mean to hurt Sammy. I'm a bad sister, and now he hates me, and my money is all gooey!" She began to cry, but Logan, sensing the meltdown, had already moved to pull her into his lap.
"Shh, Mandy, it's okay. Sammy's fine. We just have to be careful. He knows you would never do anything to hurt him. He loves you."
"Really?" Mandy sniffled, grabbing Logan's sleeve and wiping it across her nose.
"Really," Veronica affirmed. "Look." She held the baby out towards Mandy. Sammy immediately clapped his hands and smiled, looking expectantly at his sister.
"Sammy!" Mandy shouted gleefully, reaching out to tickle his stomach. "I'm sorry you tried to eat my money! It tastes really gross, anyway, and you should eat something else instead. Like cookies. Those are really good to drool all over!" She looked up at her father. "Right, Daddy?"
"Right," Logan answered.
Pausing and nodding as if in the middle of a conversation, Mandy regarded her brother carefully. "Of course you can have a cookie now, Sammy!" Mandy tilted her head up to look at her father. "Daddy, I think we need a cookie break. Sammy says so."
"Oh, he does, does he? And this is just Sammy talking?"
Mandy bit her lip. "And me, too. Cookies are the yummiest! Can we have one? Pleeeeease?"
Logan sighed, unable to resist his daughter's patented puppy-dog look. "Okay, we can take a quick cookie break. But just one! And then we have to finish this game so you and your brother can go to bed, okay?"
"'Kay!" Mandy agreed quickly. "Yay, cookies!"
"Cookie!" Sammy added from Veronica's arms, clapping happily.
"Cookies it is then," Veronica confirmed, standing up and leading the way to the kitchen.
"I'm not quite sure how you do it, but I think you have about twice as much money as your father," Veronica mused. "You're doing really well, Mandy!"
Mandy bounced up and down excitedly from her spot on the floor. "I know! Daddy, you're not very good at this game!"
Logan grunted. "Yeah, well. It's not my fault." He glanced at his salary card. "I only make ten thousand dollars a year! What kind of rock star only makes ten thousand dollars a year?"
"A really bad one?" Veronica batted her eyes at her husband.
"Thank you, peanut gallery." Logan frowned as he landed on another space that forced him to pay a large amount of money. "Seriously, do you two rig this thing every time before we play? There's no way this is fair."
"You should have gone to college, Logan," Veronica said, patting him gently on the hand. "Then you'd be living up to your full rock-star potential."
"Yeah, Daddy, an education is really 'portant if you want to get a good job. Duh." Mandy shook her head disapprovingly.
Logan looked indignant. "I know that! Let us all remember that I did go to college! And law school, too!"
"But not in the game," Mandy countered.
"So game-you can't hope to support a family on what you're pulling in. Shame on you, Logan," Veronica admonished.
"But real-me can! This doesn't count!" Logan pleaded.
Veronica and Mandy shared a look, but neither said anything.
"Oh, that is it. It's on, now!" Logan forked over his money to the bank with a vengeance. "Bring it, girls!"
"It's already brought, Daddy!" Mandy said, giving the wheel a hearty spin.
"Not a word," Logan hissed at Veronica, who just shook her head and continued laughing.
"I get twins?" Mandy shrieked. "Awesome!" She took the miniature figures from Veronica and added them to her car. "Look, Mommy, I have a little family!" Mandy proudly proclaimed.
"Yes, you do, sweetie. Good job!" Veronica smiled.
"No. No it's not a good job." Logan crossed both of his arms over his chest.
"No, Veronica! I'm serious." He turned to his daughter. "Mandy, if you ever come home with twins, you're going to be in a lot of trouble. You understand me? A world of trouble."
"Daddy?" Mandy asked, the joy leaving her face.
"Yeah, Daddy?" Veronica glared. "Could you get over the board game, please, and move on?"
"I'm just saying, it's not necessarily a good thing. That's all. I can't tell my daughter that?" Logan snapped.
"But, Daddy, you have a me and you have a Sammy! That's not bad, is it?" Mandy's expression grew fearful. "Is it, Mommy?"
"No, no, of course not, honey," Veronica said in an attempt to calm her daughter. "You two are the best thing that ever happened to your father and me."
"Daddy?" Mandy's voice was small.
"Oh, sweetheart," Logan melted. "You know we love you and your brother more than anything. It's just…different. Your mother and I were married for a while before we had you, and it was a big decision, and…" He floundered to finish his thought.
Mandy blinked. "Where do babies come from?"
Logan's eyes widened, and before he could stop it, he shouted. "Fuck!"
"Actually," Veronica began, trying to keep a straight face, "yeah, that's pretty much the answer."
"What?" Mandy scrunched her face up in confusion. "Babies come from fu—"
"Mandy!" Logan interrupted, just in the nick of time. "What your mother meant to say was that when a mommy and a daddy love each other very much….then they can have a baby."
"But how?" Mandy pushed.
"That's all you need to know until you're older, sweetie."
Mandy balled her hands into fists. "That's not fair! You always say that! I'm not a baby anymore! I wanna know!"
"Mandy, honey," Veronica tried. "It's really…complicated."
"So?" She shot back. "I bet Dick would tell me. He tells me lots of cool stuff."
Logan's jaw clenched. "All that means is that I'll be having a talk with Dick. As far as babies go, since you won't be having one until you're well over seventy, I think we can talk about this later."
"Seventy? Is that even genetically possible?" Veronica mused.
"In our family it is," Logan concluded. "Anyway, sweetie, you're too busy to worry about having a baby anytime before you're a senior citizen. You already have a baby to look out for."
Mandy gasped and looked at the figure sleeping soundly beside her. She gently ran her hand down his face and nodded. "You're right, Daddy. I already have a Sammy! If we had more babies, there'd be lots more baby drool all over everything. And it'd smell lots worse." She cringed. "That'd be really, really yucky."
"So it would," Veronica broke in, exhaling in relief as she and Logan seemed to have dodged a bullet. "Anyway, speaking of babies, let me put your brother to bed, and then we can finish the game, okay? I think helping you play tuckered him right out."
"Can I help?" Mandy jumped up from her spot at the table.
"You sure can. Five minute Sammy break, and we'll start again."
"It'll be hard to play without Sammy, though," Mandy frowned. "He was a good helper. Every time he ate my money, I made lots more!"
"Well, I guess that's the game." Veronica leaned back on her hands, satisfied. "Are you ready to put your pajamas on, honey?"
"Yep!" Mandy affirmed, standing up and giving her mother a quick peck on the cheek.
"What about me?" Logan whined, holding his arms out for his daughter. Mandy obliged him with a kiss, and he peered over her head at his wife before whispering in her ear. "Hey, it's a good thing we let your mother win, right?"
"Right!" Mandy whispered back conspiratorially, and entirely within the range of her mother's hearing.
"What?" Veronica eyed the two of them warily. "Excuse me, but I beat you fair and square. Like always. Now it's some kind of conspiracy?"
"Well…." Logan began.
"You know how you get when you lose things," Mandy volunteered.
"No." Veronica's eyes narrowed. "Remind me: how do I get?"
"Remember the T-ball game last week?" Logan suggested.
"I didn't lose that."
"No, but you did get thrown out for being more competitive than either team combined." Logan stood up and began moving towards the stairs.
"What about the time we played Frisbee with Dick and Tina?" Mandy piped up. "And you shoved his head under the sprinkler 'cause he threw it too far for you to get?"
"But he did that on purpose," Veronica spluttered.
"Company. Picnic." Logan stated. "And I'm not saying anymore about that with our child present."
"Fine, fine," Veronica conceded. "I may be just the slightest bit competitive. You say that like it's a bad thing!"
"It's not," Logan assured her. "It's just…we've learned how to play against you is all."
Mandy nodded sagely and rested her head against her father's chest. "I like it when you win best anyway, Mommy. You and Daddy are always really happy in the morning, even though it takes you lots longer to wake up. And I get pancakes!"
"And, on that note, up to bed with you," Logan announced, starting up the stairs. "Say goodnight to your mother."
"Night, Mommy! Can we have chocolate chip ones tomorrow?"
"So?" Veronica leaned back on the couch as her husband re-entered the room. "What do I win?"
"What, you want a reward? For winning a board game?"
Veronica closed her eyes for a moment as if in deep thought, and then nodded. "Yes. Yes, I do. And I want my stud of a rock star husband with income problems to give it to me."
"I don't know…" Logan sidled onto the couch next to her. "To a big, powerful cop pulling in a hundred grand a year, someone like me must not be very high on your list."
"Actually," she said, a wicked gleam in her eye, "you sound pretty much perfect. Wanna show me why you have all of those groupies?"
Logan chuckled as he began planting small kisses down the length of Veronica's neck. "I might have a trick or two in store."
"Then let's start working on that, okay?" She breathed, as she wrapped her legs tightly around his waist. "As a member of your adoring public, I insist."
Logan and Veronica slept in the next morning, but to their children's delight, not only were they in exceptionally good moods, but there were both chocolate chip and blueberry pancakes for breakfast.