A/N: Well, when I first thought I finished this I realized a story called "Daddy's Girl" needed at least one section about Father and Daughter. I thought it should take me a day or two to put together. But. An emergency room visit (not for me) subsequent surgery, oncological consults and chemo and radiation, fully disrupted that. Definitely not the summer I had envisioned. So I apologize that it took me so long to finish. These things really are much more interesting in fan fiction.
Patty and Mrs. Graham Cracker, there will no doubt be more on Don and his family since they seem to have taken hold of me. I had originally planned to include Alan in the hospital scene, but it didn't work out that way. I still feel a need to bring him in at some point. Charlie is harder only because I would need to make some decisions about him and Amita and where they stand with children, and I confess I have not done so at this point. I hadn't even expected to do that with Don and Robin. This writing thing always surprises me - for example, I don't always plan to end with Don and Robin in bed, either, but somehow it always happens.
Also Mrs. Graham Cracker, I was tickled that we had both chosen the same name for Don and Robin's daughter. Maybe an angel of God whispered in our ears. I hope you do post yours at some point. Anyway, apologies to all, and I hope that another piece I've been working on to follow Fifth Man (I was VERY disappointed not to have ANY Don/Robin time after Don regained consciousness) will be up soon. Certainly sooner than this ending.
Part IV: Father and Daughter
Robin stirred in her sleep, smiling drowsily at the soft cadence of endearments. She couldn't quite make out any words, though, just the tender tone, and she rolled closer, seeking contact. Her outflung arm touched empty sheet and she peered through half-drawn lids, patting the adjacent pillow where a familiar head should be. Nothing.
Disoriented, she dragged her eyes fully open, trying to locate the missing owner of the unmistakable voice. Her eyes stopped on the baby monitor. Of course. With a groan, she rolled onto her back. One of the really nice things about being married to a G-Man, she reflected, was that finely honed ability to wake from a dead sleep at the smallest sound and spring into action. Saved a bleary-eyed mother many a late night feeding. However…
She glanced at the clock and sighed. However, one of them had to be up and to work this morning, and it wasn't her. She forced herself to sit up and felt around for an available robe.
Poking her arms haphazardly into the sleeves, she staggered down the hall, not bothering to tie the robe closed. The voice grew louder as she neared the small nursery, amplified by the double echo of the monitor and the live sound. The door to the room was half-closed and she pushed it soundlessly inward, raising one hand to knock lightly, then paused instead.
The room was lit only by a stray shaft of moonlight and a Tinkerbell nightlight, the blend of light and shadow casting defined muscles and jaw and cheekbones into sharp relief, an odd contrast with the cooing rise and fall of the muted voice. Her eyes dampened and she cursed herself silently. Damn those hormones - motherhood and lactating turned an otherwise strong woman, impervious to sentiment, into some kind of bawling sissy-girl. She leaned into the doorjamb as Sadie cooed her response, miniscule fists waving in emphasis.
On the other hand…
No one ever told you that parenthood could cast your lover in such a new and different light, could you push you deeper into love with them on brand new levels you'd never even imagined. She smiled in the dark. Not that she'd have believed them if they'd tried. But seeing Don with their children…
It left her breathless. Weak-kneed. Aching with tenderness. Who could have foreseen it? Who could have known? Then again, in some way she had always known. She watched him rub noses with Sadie, saw Sadie grapple pliant fingers along the stubble on his cheeks, burbling merrily.
She could, she admitted grudgingly to herself, stand and watch this forever…and even a little longer…but…"Hey," she breathed. "It's late. Or early. And you have to be to work in a couple of hours."
He didn't quite glance up. "She was hungry," he explained.
"What else is new." Her eyes shifted to the empty bottle sitting on the changing table. "Still. Looks like she's done."
He made small tutting noises and Sadie gurgled back. "She likes to talk a little after she eats."
"Mm hm. That's because she's a flirt. Wonder who she gets that from?"
Don grinned at her over the fluff of curls dotting the tiny scalp, teeth a flash of white in the dark. "Maybe. But those are definitely your eyes."
Robin moved in a little closer. "Well, good. It would be nice if at least one of our children showed some physical evidence that I'd been involved in the process - I mean aside from the swollen ankles and all the screaming at the end."
Don chuckled, rocking and shushing sweet nonsense into Sadie's tiny ear. "Oh, come on. Josh looks like you too."
"Does he." Robin's tone was dry. "Where?"
Don's grin broadened. "Okay, he doesn't - he totally looks like me. I was just trying to make you feel better." He blew a raspberry on Sadie's stomach and Robin couldn't suppress a smile at her trill of pleasure. "Can't help it - we Eppes have strong genes. That's how we survived all those people through the centuries plotting to kill all the Jews."
"Is that it." Robin poked a finger into one of Sadie's little starfish hands, smile deepening as her grip tightened around it and she hooted in happy little bursts. "Well, she's sure verbal - I have to assume that's from me."
"She has a lot to say." He blew a raspberry on the sole of one miniature foot this time. "What do you think, sweetie? Gonna be a lawyer like your mama and grandmama? Maybe a Supreme Court Judge?" Sadie crowed and Don kissed the top of her head. "See? She's smart enough."
"Mm. Look at her drool. Clearly our child's a genius."
"Huh." Don stilled, studying the bundle in his arms more soberly. "You don't think - I mean, could that happen?"
Robin gave his shadowed profile a speculative glance, then looked back at the pointed little face. "I don't know. Charlie could tell you better, probably. Maybe she'll just be a top drawer athlete. Or a really good shot."
Don shifted the little bundle to his shoulder, curled one hand protectively over her head. "Maybe."
She couldn't quite read his tone. "So," she firmly changed the subject. "It's not that I don't appreciate it, but you don't have to do ALL the late night feedings. You have work in the morning. Actually, it is morning - you have work soon."
"I like it. It's kinda our time to play, right, princess?"
Sadie seemed to agree, if the noises she made were any indication.
"You can actually play with her in the daytime, you know."
"I know. I do. But I don't want Josh to feel like he's been pushed aside."
She opened her mouth to ask the obvious, closed it again firmly. He'd never give her an honest answer. And she was pretty sure she knew anyway. So instead she reached over and took their daughter from him. "Come on, Sadie. I know you're having fun, but Daddy needs his rest. It'll be pretty embarrassing tomorrow if his team hears snores over the communication system instead of commands."
"Oh, come on - I'm used to going without sleep."
"That doesn't mean it's a good idea. Or that it doesn't take its toll." She kissed the fuzzy head and placed Sadie back in the crib, tickled her stomach lightly. She sensed Don at her back, the subtle heat of his skin, his breath near the nape of her neck. She shuddered slightly. "Of course," she added slyly, "you could always call in sick."
His short laugh was right next to her ear. "I'm not sick."
She picked up his nearest hand and pulled it around her waist. "Even better. Play hooky."
The laugh sounded a little less certain this time, the burst of breath tickling her lobe, his hand automatically opening to spread over her abdomen. "Of course not. I have - like - a thousand things I need to do."
"Oh, come on…" She turned within his arm so that they were face to face, slid her hands around his neck. "Are you trying to tell me that you never played hooky when you were a kid? Because somehow or other, I always assumed…" she moved her mouth closer to his. "…that you were…just a bit…" her breath ghosted over his lips and she tightened herself against him "…of a bad…boy…"
The kiss was long and slow and easy and when he finally broke it, she gave a satisfied sigh.
He moved his mouth to brush along her ear. "…exaggerated rumors. All of it. My dad. Or Charlie. They both exaggerate."
"No, no - I figured this out all on my own…" she ran her hands along the play of muscle in his back, slid her fingers into his hair. "Come on…be bad…dear AD, I'm home sick…let somebody else chase the bad guys today…"
The gust of his laughter against her ear made her shiver. "Now who's being bad…?"
She leaned into him, let one hand dance across his shoulders to the small of his back…then lower. "I've always been bad…" she murmured into his mouth.
He groaned. "Robin…"
"You're not going to let me bad alone…are you…?" She smiled inwardly as his thumbs massaged her waist.
He sighed into her hair. "I have an hour anyway until the alarm goes off, right?"
She nipped at his lobe. "More, if you'd just call in." His wrist was bare, but she felt it twist reflexively. "Come on…Josh has that new glove you were going to show him how to break in…you can play with the kids…" She lowered her voice. "…you can play with me…"
She heard his breath catch. "You are a very bad influence, Mrs. Eppes."
One hand raked through her hair, then his forehead dropped to her shoulder with a sigh. "If you could see the reports on my desk…"
She blew on that sensitive spot on his neck. "Let David do them."
"David hates reports."
"Good. Good discipline."
"You're a fine one to be talking about discipline." But she could tell he was weakening. "There's the monthly expense accounts. It's just cruel to ask somebody else to do those."
"Yeah?" She found that little curl at his nape and smoothed it around one finger. "I'll bet somebody shuffled those right onto your desk first thing once upon a time and dusted off their hands with a smile." She was working her way along his ear now. He had very sensitive ears. "Payback time, Mr. I'll-Do-the-Dirty-Work."
Unfortunately, those words had the opposite affect she'd intended. His hands stilled in the roaming she had been enjoying very much and he frowned. "Do I still do that? I thought I'd gotten better with that."
Damn the man. NOW he wants to talk?
"You have," she soothed. "So no backsliding." She returned her attention to the ear.
"I mean, I took paternity leave for Sadie and everything. Not the whole three months, but..."
She sighed, directly into his ear canal. "All right." She placed a hand on either side of his face and turned it so she could look straight in his eyes. "All right, overly-responsible guy. You have gotten better. You have. You have what could be officially described as a personal life now. You eat dinner sitting down more than a couple of times a week. Your children could pick you out of a line up. But you know what would really prove how far you've come?" She let one hand wander to trace the outline of an ear, then let her mouth follow. "…staying home."
She felt him shudder and his hands were on the move again. "..at least an hour, right? I mean, one way or another?"
This time she groaned. "I want more than an hour! I want - all day! Lounging, dozing, waking…"
Don's chuckle was close to her ear now. "You remember the two kids, right? How you think that's gonna happen?"
"Hm." She took a step back so she could see his face, skimmed one hand down his cheek. "I see. Well, I know you can say "no" to me, but…" she reached into the crib and lifted Sadie, held her right in front of him. "Can you say no to her?"
Sadie had been busily trying to stuff one entire fist into her mouth, but she abandoned her efforts cheerfully for this new game, waving her arms happily in anticipation.
Don's face was a study, softening helplessly. He gave Robin a reproachful glance. "Shame on you. C'mere, sweetie." He took Sadie from her, dropped a kiss on top of her head. "Let's put you where Mama can't use you for her evil ends." Sadie giggled, bouncing merrily.
Robin smiled. "See? We girls stick together."
"That's what I'm afraid of." He lowered her back into the crib, pulling the crocheted blanket over her, then leaned his folded arms on top of the crib rail, just looking.
Robin slipped her arms around his waist from behind and hooked her chin over his shoulder so she could look too. "We'll get him next time, Sadie."
"Yeah, I can see I'm going to get walked all over around here." Don stroked a finger over one round little cheek and Sadie chortled in reply. "She's something, isn't she?"
"Mm hm. Daddy's little girl already." Robin studied the roseleaf face. Something else no one ever told you - that you could watch your child do essentially nothing for hours on end, transfixed and fascinated. "…where do you suppose she got the dimples?"
Don was silent a moment, running a finger over the other velvet cheek. "My Mom," he answered quietly at last.
Tightening her grip, Robin closed her eyes and leaned her forehead into the back of his head, kissed his nape. "All right. Let's leave Sadie to sleep - or snack on her toes, whichever seems more attractive right now - and you get a little more sleep before you have to rise and shine."
"Sleep?" Don tore his gaze away from the little figure in the crib. "Hey, that's not what you were offering a minute ago!"
Robin tugged him gently away from the crib. "That's when I thought I could talk you into staying home. You need your rest."
"My rest." Don let her lead him away from the nursery and into the master bedroom, then pressed her into the door, shutting it firmly behind them. "My rest. This is just what I need to get me started for the day." He kissed her then, so thoroughly that she found she was having a little trouble remembering how to breathe. She cupped her hands around his head, held him there.
"You realize I can't just call in for nothing," he managed between kisses.
She grunted something indistinct, fingers busy on his chest, enjoyed his sharp intake of breath.
"I mean, I'm the boss. I have to…set an example."
She made a noise that could have been assent, mouth at the hollow of his throat, hands much lower. She lost her breath in an audible gasp as he swung her up into his arms, carried her over to the bed, stretched out next to her and brushed his lips over hers.
"I need…a real reason," he whispered.
She rolled until she was on top, propped herself on her elbows over him and then sank down for a real kiss, slow and deep and lingering.
He kept his eyes closed for a minute when she finished, as if he was reliving the kiss, then half opened them, running a thumb along her cheekbone and down her neck. His eyes were cloudy with desire, but deep in their dark depths she caught a subdued twinkle.
"An hour anyway, right?" The suggestion of a sly smile quirked at the corners of his lips. "Unless - who knows - maybe you'll wear me out."
She gave a low laugh and dragged the sheet over them both. "You know me," she breathed against his ear. "I love a challenge."