There was the shortest of knocks on her door before the twins banged into the room, sun trailing in their wake from open windows all around the house. They were babbling in her ears before she had even registered their presence.

"I thought we had a rule," she groaned, tugging blankets over her face. "Eight o' clock. This is not eight o' clock."

A tiny hand peeled the blankets away again. "It's close," Wes said, guilt edging into his voice.

"Yeah, real close!" Webb chimed in, tugging on her dark hair. "Please, Sophie, please get up?"

"Go bother Hector," she mumbled, rolling onto her side. The twins took this as invitation to clamber onto the bed and crawl over her body so that they could face her. Why they couldn't just walk around the mattress was beyond her.

It took a few moments of fighting between themselves before they were sufficiently glued against her. "He's being bossy again," whined Wes, face at her neck. She grunted, and Webb's grip on her arm tightened.

"Yeah, real bossy," the younger of the two told her, nodding vehemently. "He saids we have to make our own breakfast but we want some pancakes—"

"And we can't use the stove 'cause Mom and Dad saids so!"

"Said," she corrected, screwing her eyes shut in a vain attempt to go back to sleep. "Where's Mel?"

"Sleepin'," they chorused.

"Of course," she muttered into Wes's hair. A sigh followed as bright light from the open door pierced her closed eyes. It seemed that defeat was in order. Yay. "Okay, okay, whatever. I'll get up if you get off."

In an instant, the twins had detangled themselves from around her arms and legs and neck. The bed bounced as they hopped off, yelling in success, and she stretched with a grimace. "Out. Get out."

"But we want some—"

"Pancakes, yeah, I know. Ugh, I'll make you some in a minute."

She swung her legs over the edge of the bed just as Wes shoved Webb just a little too hard. The ensuing did not, did to, hate you, stupid, that followed gave her just enough time to rub sleep from her eyes and usher them out of her room with convenient pushes.

"Pancakes!" one of them screamed, as she made to shut the door, with his brother adding in a none-too-quiet voice, "You promised!"

"I said, in a minute!" she yelled through the door, yanking at her tangled hair. "Go tell Hector to find a pan and stuff!"

The task sent them running, and when their pounding steps were no longer heard, she breathed a sigh of pure relief. It was cute some days, but the whole 'wake Sophie up via dive-bombing her in bed' had gotten old a long time ago.

A loooong time ago.

Cracking her knuckles absently, she used her foot to shove a few magazines across the floor to make a pathway towards the mirror that hung on the opposite wall. She grimaced at her reflection. The hair that she had been oh-so-carefully growing out for years (ever since her mom had forced that disgusting boy's cut on her… after that, she'd had a bit of an attachment to her hair) was just as tangled and gross as it was every morning. Maybe she should try that tip in the latest TeenBop for smoothness and, whatchamicallit, richness. Yeah, that could work.

She reached for the mag where it was lying on the floor, idly rating the latest celebrity posed on the cover. Ooh, he's nice. I like ponytails. I wonder if—

Suddenly, there was a howl, a bang, and a scream in quick succession.


She sighed again, wistful this time, and let the magazine slip from her fingers. Never "Mom." Never "Dad." Always "Sophie." How had that happened?

"Maybe if they were actually focused on something other than work," she snarked quietly to herself, opening her bedroom door so that Webb ended up running headlong into her middle. Wes was shrieking his innocence from down the hall, and just as Mel stuck his head out of his room and started whining about all the noise, Hector lost his patience and started yelling right back at Wes.

"This is not hard, Wesley! I don't understand why you can't follow rules—"

"Your rules are dumb! Sophie—"

"He was hitting me, Sophie! And it hurt a bunch and I told him to stop—"

"Would you guys be quiet?! I'm trying to sleep! Sophie, make them be quiet—"

"Ooh," she growled softly, elbowing her way past Webb and grabbing Wes by the arm as he tried to run at his brother for a second attack. Hector loomed in the doorway, Mel glowering off to the side. "I swear," she muttered, dragging the twins off by their wrists for time out, "you guys are gonna be the reason I randomly take over the world or just turn evil or something."

Wes snapped his teeth, apparently trying to take a bite out of her arm. "Nuh-uh, Sophie, you're a good girl!" he announced, and promptly reached over her hips to poke the side of Webb's face.

The second twin howled. "Stupid!"

"You started it!"



"Yeah," she snorted under her breath, as Webb's blow caught her knee and nearly made her stumble. "Right now, I'm pretty sure I'm the only good one in this family."