Night had long since fallen by the time that Wayne Rigsby arrived back from the CBI building. He'd hoped by now that the job would have settled down, so that he could spend more time at home with his family, but it didn't always work that day. Of course, there were some days where he arrived home at two in the afternoon because there was no work to be done, but other days where he'd leave for the entire week to solve a case, thinking he'd be home the next day only have to ring home and say that he wouldn't be on time to pick up the kids from soccer practice, swimming lessons or math club. When he did manage to get home before midnight, the last thing he wanted to do was see anything that would remind him of work, of the depravity of mankind.
That's what he loved most about going home. The house he lived in now was a suburban dream with a front porch, a back yard and a bedroom for every child, if not more, as well as a room that was currently used as an office. It was a little further away from work than his old apartment was, an extra thirty minutes drive in the morning, but he didn't mind. He had the perfect division between his family and his work, and it didn't take him more than second to decide where he'd rather spend his time. Life with his family had been every part the dream in which Grace had described it to him.
When he thought back to ten years ago, when they briefly mentioned the idea of a family together just after their wedding, he had looked into the future to test out the idea in his mind. Could he see himself raising a family with Grace? Yes, he could. In fact, he couldn't see himself having any other woman as the mother of his children, or as the love of his life. She fit the roles perfectly and excelled as both lover and mother. Now, ten years had passed since they took their wedding vows and it felt strange to look back on times when he had only imagined family life to be the two of them welcoming a child into the world together, and everything being a long-lasting perfection.
But there was very little he'd have changed of his life if he could have lived it over.
He shut the car door behind him as he stepped out onto the driveway. All around him the street was in darkness, which didn't surprise him. A quick glance at his watch told him that it was almost eleven o'clock. An accident on the freeway had diverted traffic, which meant that his usual forty-five minute drive from the CBI had turned into a snail-pace two-hour drive, and he had to admit that even his favourite radio station had failed to occupy him with entertainment for that long. Apparently this time on a Friday night was perfect for playing the newly-released albums that teenagers were buying at the moment and he recognised one or two of them as being the ones that his daughter was trying to get them to guy for her, so that she'd look cooler at school. The exact reason for her wanting it had made them less inclined to buy it for her, so she was currently saving up her allowance to buy it for herself.
In the darkness around him, the house before him shined like a beacon in the night. Of course, this wasn't because he was so late, and he was so tried and hungry, longing for sleep and thankful to get away from his work. It was more because every single light in the house appeared to be turned on. He sighed, a small smile crossing his lips as he looked at all of the illuminated windows; the kitchen, the living room, the front hall, and the two front bedrooms. He knew that the back bedrooms and the other hall lights and the bathroom would also be on as well. Despite his and Grace's attempts to get their children to help them save energy, they still forgot to turn off a light switch when they left the room. It was hard enough to keep their electricity bill down with the amount of games consoles, and Grace alone kept the phone bill rather high. It was nice to feel they were doing their bit for the environment. They weren't going as far as Jane was, who was still insisting that the best thing that him and Lisbon could do was to shower together to save the planet, but they were making an effort, if nothing else.
He took his key out of his pocket, quietly placing it in the lock. He turned it slowly, knowing that within seconds the dog would be at the door barking, and he didn't want to wake the children up. No doubt he had already missed them going to bed, which was a shame because he hadn't had much time to see them that morning before he'd been called into work an hour earlier than usual. As he suspected, no sooner had the door closed behind him, their border collie puppy was around his feet, his tail wagging excitedly.
Max had been a family present at the Christmas before last. Whilst he was still only a puppy at fifteen months old, he was the same height as a fully-grown collie, just skinner with a higher level of hyperactivity that seemed to come in the waves as it did with the children. The children had been begged for a puppy ever since they'd been to see Grace's parents and found they had one. For six months after that they had all begged for a puppy whenever they saw a dog, and it seemed highly convenient for their argument that they lived down the street from a park. Still, whilst Max was usually never far from the children, he'd always follow Grace around, especially when she was in the kitchen where he might get tip bits before his dinner, and he was always the first one at the door when Wane got in from work.
"Shh," he whispered to the dog, bending down and stroking the shiny fur on his head before tickling his ear in a way which made the dog cock his head and thump his tail against the carpet happily. "That's better," he murmured to the happy dog. "Don't want to wake everyone up now, do we?"
In reply, the dog reached out and locked the side of Wayne's jaw line, much to his soft grimace.
"Wayne, is that you?"
He looked up as he saw his wife coming out of the living area. As all the lights were on, he could see the sleepy expression on her face, doubled with the gentle swell of her stomach – Rigsby baby no. 5 on the way. He smiled, getting to his feet as Max padded away to stand at Grace's feet. Going over to her side with all the enthusiasm as the dog had done, Wayne kissed her. "Hi," he said softly.
"I was wondering when you'd be back," she told him, sinking into his embrace. "I heard about the traffic accident diverting everything."
"I would have called," he told her softly, "only I haven't found my other cell phone since the dog ran off with it last week."
Grace laughed lightly. Max had developed a liking for Wayne's cell phone and last week he had decided to run off into the back yard with it. Since then, it hadn't been seen. "We'll find it," she assured him. "I think I heard it ringing out there earlier."
He shrugged. "Never mind. Are all the kids in bed?"
She shook her head, much to his delight. "The girls watched a movie with me and the boys are up in Jack's room. The girls are both asleep, and so was I until you got it, but I'm not sure about the boys. I should think they're probably asleep. We'll just have to move Sam and take the girls up..."
"No," he cut in, shaking his head.
"No?" she repeated curiously. "You suggest that we leave them on the couch and squashed in the same bed all night?"
"Not that," he smiled. "I'll move them into the beds while you go to bed,"
"I don't mind," she smiled back at him.
"I do, you're exhausted," he pointed out.
"You've been at work all day, though..."
"Exactly," he concluded. "You've seen the kids all day today, let me at least put them to bed," he reasoned with her.
She shook her head, laughing softly. "Alright," she smiled. "Just make sure you come to bed before I fall asleep again," she warned him. "I miss you when you work this late."
She kissed him softly, in a way of habit that they'd formed over the past twelve years together, and ten of those as a married couple, before she disappeared up the stairs. Max watched her go, torn between following Grace to bed or following Wayne around, and in the end chose Wayne.
Wayne stepped into the living room, looking over the back of the couch that faced towards the television. It was still on, placing the beginnings of a late night movie that he knew the girls would be terrified of watching. Clearly, they'd been watching whatever was on before this one. He picked up the remote on the table beside the lap and switched it off, its changing light patterns no longer thrown around the room, dancing on the walls, but instead a silence and a stillness, which was calming after two hours in traffic. He tilted his head, coming across the forms of his two daughters, so deeply asleep that they didn't even notice his presence. Alexis, his elders daughter at six years old, was leaning with the arm of the couch as her pillow, and Amy, his four-year-old daughter, was sprawled across the couch with several of the couch's decorative cushions flattened out beneath her.
He looked down at Alexis, the child nearest to him, and gently touched her shoulder, whispering to bring her out of sleep. At six, she was getting a little too heavy for them to carry around now, even if it was just in sleep. "Lexi...honey, wake up."
Alexis's eyes wrinkled before they opened, an action that she inherited from her mother. "Is Dad home yet?" she asked aloud, not noticing who it was waking her up.
Wayne smiled. "Yeah, I'm home, Lexi," he told her, watching her eyes drift up and then fall in disappointment.
"I tried to wait up but I think I'm still too little," she explained.
He helped her up from the couch and started to guide her in the direction of the stairs. "I don't think you're too little, I think I was just home too late."
"You missed dinner," she told him and he smiled to himself. Alexis was always a chatterbox even when she was this tired. "We had spaghetti."
"I bet that was nice," he said, glad that she had gotten to the top of the stairs without stumbling. He pushed open her bedroom door, which was directly opposite the stairs and facing the back of the house, and wasn't surprised to see that the light was already on.
"Of course it was," Alexis told him simply. "Mom made it."
He pulled back the blankets on the bed, and waiting while she crawled into place on the sheets before he placed them back over her. She looked just like her mother when she lay like that, he couldn't help but observe. Her red hair was sprawled out on the pillow behind her, and the green eyes that gazed up at him were the ones that he had seen a million times before. All of his children had their mother's green eyes, and he was thankful for that. Grace's were the most beautiful he had ever seen, and the way that they glittered when she was happy seemed only fitting for a child's eyes as well. Alexis was a sporty child, her room decorated with peach-coloured walls but they were hidden by the amount of swimming certificates and rosettes that were pinned up on the walls between posters of singers and movie stars. She was six-years-old, but already more obsessed with celebrity lives than her own.
"Goodnight, daddy," she yawned and Wayne smiled again. At the moment, in an attempt to prove to her elder brother that she was a grown up, she was only calling her parents 'mom' and 'dad' rather than the 'mommy' and 'daddy' that they'd grown more than used to over the years. However, she'd forgotten that she had to give up saying this when she was tired as well.
"Goodnight, sweetheart," he replied, leaning down for the kiss that he knew was coming. As usual, he felt the pair of tiny lips against his and then Alexis sunk back into the pillow of her bed. "Sleep tight."
He stood from the side of the bed, and flicked on the light switches on the lamp beside her bed before he crossed the room to turn off the main light switch, making sure that her nightly was on before he plunged the room into darkness. They'd bought Alexis, Sam and Amy nightlights to cure the problem of the hall light arguments. Jack had started to moan that it was keeping him awake at night, and the younger three all insisted that the light be left on at night, which had resulted in the sudden screams when Jack thought it would be sneaky, yet hilarious, to turn off the light at some point during the night.
When Wayne left his elder daughter to sleep, he left the door open a fraction and went back downstairs to the living room once again. As he suspected, Amy hadn't moved a muscle, but Max was sat at the side of the couch by her head, thumping his tail against the floor when Wayne entered the room again. He leaned down, putting his arms around the small girl. As she was only four, he had no trouble carrying her up to her bedroom. Instantly, she sunk into his arms and put her only tiny arms around his neck, holding onto him tightly. "Daddy?" she asked, in a sleep-filled voice.
"Yeah, it's daddy," he whispered to her, kissing the side of his daughter's head. "It's bedtime now."
"Ok, daddy," she muttered as she fell back into sleep against his shoulder. As they left the room, Wayne turned off the light switch in the now empty room, as well as the kitchen and front hall lights. When they went upstairs, Wayne heard the soft padding of Max's paws on the stairs behind them, clearly not wanting to be left behind when the family went to bed.
Amy's room, unlike Alexis's, was a bright shade of pink. Or at least, half of it was. The room was split down the middle, with bright pink on one side and a medium blue on the other. This room was shared between Amy and Sam, their four-year-old twins who still refused to sleep in separate bedrooms. They'd tried everything; coaxing Amy to sleep in Alexis's room, and Sam in Jack's room, but the twins refused to be separated. Eventually they'd stopped trying and embraced the fact that their twins were close, even though they knew that with school starting at the end of summer, their differences would soon be enhanced.
Crossing to the side of the room that was filled with dolls and stuffed animals, Wayne placed Amy down on her bed, sweeping back some of the soft brown hair that fell into her face. The twins, apart from their eyes, were the image of him, or so he was told. He always thought that they looked more like Grace, just with dark hair, but others were adamant that the twins were the exact replica of himself.
"Goodnight, baby," he whispered, kissing her in the same way he had done with Alexis.
"Night, dada," she whispered back, curling around her favourite stuffed animals.
"Sleep tight," he said.
"Seep tight," she repeated, dropping a letter.
After turning of Amy's bedroom light, he didn't need to go back downstairs. All he had to do was go into the next bedroom, which belong to their eldest son, Jack. There, he found his two sons asleep in a sitting position, leaning with their backs against the bed behind them; Samuel Rigsby, named for his father's father, and Jack Rigsby, named for his mother's father. First, he approached Jack, the complete image of his mother in the same way that Alexis was. Jack would be nine years old next week, the first visual image of his parents love, and no sooner had Wayne shaken him gently awake, he was crawling into his bed, drawing up the covers around him as Wayne bent to say goodnight.
"Dad, can we go to the park tomorrow?" he asked tiredly.
"You have school tomorrow, Jack," he reminded him.
"Oh," Jack said, looking rather disappointed. "I wanted to take Max to the pond."
At the mention of his name, the dog jumped up onto the end of Jack's bed, the place where he normally slept, and he curled into a ball. Wayne looked at his disappointed son, and ruffled his red spikes. "Well, if you don't get into any trouble tomorrow at school and I'm home early enough, we'll go when I get home from work."
Wayne nodded, kissing him on the forehead. "I promise. And if I'm not home early, I'll take you Saturday morning. Goodnight, son."
With Jack falling into a slumber in his ed, and Max curled up sleeping on the foot of the bed, Wayne bent down to lift Sam into his arms, who hadn't woken up even when the dog had brushed past him. Just like his twin, however, he woke when he felt his father near. "Dad, I had a funny dream," he mumbled.
"Good funny?" he asked.
"Yeah, it was about aliens and robots..." Sam continued, mumbling a story about how he had controlled a robot army against an army of aliens, whilst Wayne turned off Jack's television and bedroom light. Since Jack had been given a television for his eighth birthday, Sam was always waiting for the opportunity to get a chance to watch it as well. They went to the bedroom that he shared with Amy. "...and then the aliens ran away and me and the robots won," he concluded, just as Wayne lowered him into bed.
"Well, if we ever have a robot fight, I'll make sure that you're in charge," he humoured his tired son.
Sam smiled tiredly. "Night, dad."
"Goodnight, Sam," he said, and Sam turned to go to sleep. "Wait a minute," he interrupted with a smile and his little boy looked up at him. "Where's my goodnight kiss?"
Sam giggled and kissed his dad on the cheek. "Night, daddy," he laughed, settling down on the pillows again.
"Night, son. I'll see you in the morning. Sleep tight."
"Sleep tight. Don't let the bad guys bite."
Wayne stopped. Bad guys?
"What bad guys, Sam?" he asked.
"The bad guys from work," he yawned. "Uncle Pat puts them away where bad people don't get to be with good people," he said, his voice filled with awe.
Wayne rolled his eyes, unseen by his yawning son. "I'm sure he does," he lied. "Now, off to sleep, and I'll see you in the morning."
He kissed him again, and then turned off the bedroom light before checking before he left the room that Amy was sleeping soundly. She was, so he left the door ajar as he went down the hall to his own bedroom. He closed that bedroom door behind him, and took off his shirt as he got ready for bed. No time for a shower tonight, so he'd grab a quick one in the morning. His and Grace's room was different from the rest of the house. Whilst the rest of the rooms had glowed ominously from the light bulbs, their room was lit simply lit by the bedside lamp on Wayne's side of the bed. Already in the bed, Grace rolled onto her side, watching him.
"There you are," she smiled. "I was starting to think you'd fallen asleep in one of the kids rooms."
He smiled back at her. "You know, it takes time putting four kids to bed," he told her cheekily. After all, putting them to bed was normally a routine for them, with staggered bedtimes – Amy and Sam at seven o'clock, Alexis at eight and Jack allowed to stay up until eight-thirty. But that routine had been broken now that al the lights had been on for hours and they'd attempted to wait up for him. Once he was ready for bed, he crawled under the blankets beside his wife, pulling her against his chest as they settled comfortably.
"We'll be putting five to bed soon," she reminded him, as both of them rested their hands on her growing stomach.
"One month to go," he counted off, awaiting the day eagerly when his fifth child would come into the world.
"Five kids in ten years," Grace mused aloud. "That's a lot."
"Yeah, we love them all though," he pointed out.
"And we do get lots of babysitting help," she reminded him.
"Speaking of that babysitting..." Wayne remembered. "It seems that Jane has been telling our youngest son stories about bad guys."
"What?" she asked, her head rising from the pillow quickly.
"Apparently, Uncle Pat puts lots of them away where they can't be near good people, and Sam seems quite impressed by that."
Grace sighed, returning her head to the pillow as she snuggled against Wayne once more. "I was hoping he'd be a bit older before he starting wanting to follow in our footsteps."
"Don't worry about it," he assured her. "Alexis and Jack haven't even asked about what I do too much, so I don't think we'll have to worry about Sam being a cop anytime soon."
Grace smiled a little, her breath hitting Wayne's chest. "Hmm...I love you."
"I love you too," he whispered, kissing her as he reached out one of his arms to flick the switch on the lamp, extinguishing the last light in the house.