I obviously don't own these characters and shiz.

Thanks to S for the preread and for killerlashes, my eternal beta.


Accidental Atonement – A Day in the Life

"You know, I saw something the other day…" I wrapped my arms around my wife's waist and placed a kiss under her ear.

"Do tell, Preacher Boy," she laughed, and continued to spread peanut butter on three slices of bread before switching to jelly: grape, grape, strawberry.

"It said, 'A real woman never lets her husband leave the house hungry or horny.' It was funny."

"Hilarious. Hand me those apples?" She placed the sandwiches in three different lunchboxes, followed by the apples I handed her. "Water bottles?"

I gave her the water and pulled her toward me by the elbow.

"You are incredibly focused right now, it's very sexy."

"A real woman never lets her three kids out of the house without a well-packed lunch." She grinned and leaned up to kiss me. "I'm going to tell Seth to stop sending you emails."

I laughed and tugged her to me, kissing her gently and brushing her dark hair from her face. "It was funny."

"Uh huh. Just for that you can make your own lunch," she teased as we were gently pushed apart by a pair of little hands, followed by the sweet sound of giggling.

"Matty! You have to put on pants!" Mara laughed from the doorway while Abi covered her face with her hand.

"No pants!" Our three-year-old protested, shaking his naked little butt in his sisters' direction.

"I can see your hiney, Matty!" Abi cried.

"And his-"

"Okay, that's enough. Edward- your son, please?" Leah interrupted Mara with a meaningful look that made me recoil, so I scooped up my son and patted his bare bottom.

"Come on, you little exhibitionist. Can't have you scaring the womenfolk off before breakfast."

"I wan' pancakes!" he yelled as I carried him down the hall.

"Only if you put on pants!" his mother yelled back.

"I don' wike pants, Daddy." He pouted as I carried him upstairs to his bedroom. We passed Daniel in the hall, all messy hair and sleepy eyes. He shook his head at his little brother and kept walking. Teenagers.

"Daniel wears pants. Don't you want to be like your brother?"

"Him's a big boy. I not."

"Well, you'll be a big boy one day," I tried to reason.

"Not today!" he yelled and pulled his underwear on over his head.

"Matthew Charles," I scolded him gently. He frowned and pulled the little dinosaur underwear from his head and put them on the right way. I handed him a pair of jeans and a t-shirt, smiling at how good he was at dressing himself. Despite his exhibitionist qualities, Matthew was the easiest of the kids. He put himself to bed, was potty-trained quickly, and even slept in his own bed, which was good because it got a little crowded sometimes. Charlie had made some quip about Matthew having to raise himself because there were so many "other damn kids around", but we knew how much he loved our hellions.

"I go to work with you today?" he asked as I lifted him back into my arms, fully dressed. I smoothed his auburn hair down and nodded. Leah had been working from home since he was born, but as the older kids started back at school and Matthew was old enough for preschool, she'd decided to go back to the office.

"You'll be at school while I work, but we'll be in the same building," I explained. The preschool we'd opened at the church had grown by leaps and bounds over the years, all of our kids had attended and loved it.

"Oh." He frowned and rested his head on my shoulder, fingers playing with the buttons on my shirt.

"You like school, right?" I asked. His little shoulders shrugged. "Well, you'll have fun. I promise."

"Hey, naked boy." Leah grinned when I set our son down and he wrapped his arms around her legs.

"I dressed now, Mommy."

"I know you are. Go sit down, Daniel, help your brother, please?"

Daniel nodded and lifted Matthew up, pretending to struggle and causing the girls to giggle.

"Jeez, little guy. What have you been eating?"

"I big and strong!"

"Sure you are, kid." Daniel reached over and mussed his brother's hair.

"Daddy, I need money for my field trip!"

"Oh, me too!"

"Who's taking me to my drum lesson today?"

"Can I have more milk?"

"I need to go to the library!"

"More pancakes!"

"Hurry up and eat or you'll miss the bus."

"I have to potty!"

"Go!" we all yelled in response. Matthew giggled and ran off while the conversation around the table quieted.

"How much?" I turned to the twins.

"Twelve dollars, please," they replied simultaneously. It didn't even faze them when they did it anymore, though it still kind of freaked me out.

"I'm taking you to your lesson," Leah told Daniel, who nodded and stuck an earbud in his ear, head nodding along to the music only he could hear. "We'll go to the library while we wait," she said to one of the girls.

Leah raised an eyebrow at me, so I held my hands up. He may have gotten his love of music from me, but his attitude was all Leah. She cleared her throat; I rolled my eyes and tugged the earbud out. Daniel turned to glare at me with a look that was too much like his mother.

"She's watching you," I stage-whispered. My son gave me a wry smile and tucked the bud into his pocket.

"Sorry, Mom," he muttered, casting an apologetic glance in her direction. She smiled and stood, cleaning up plates and ushering the girls off to wash their faces. Daniel started to help and I took a moment to watch them together. He moved like her, graceful and sure of himself. He sighed and smiled the same way she did, and even in all his newly found teenage angst the way he loved her was evident.

"Go get ready for school, baby," Leah told him once they'd cleared the table and loaded the dishwasher. He agreed and I heard Matthew squeal with laughter, assuming Daniel had something to do with it.

"How much longer will he stay my sweet boy?" Leah asked, watching the place where Daniel left. I laughed and kissed her head, not having a real response. Matthew flew into the kitchen a few moments later, skidded to a stop in front of me, and thrust his little body forward so I could button his jeans. He held his hands up to Leah, so she lifted him into her arms.

"I go to work with Daddy today."

"I'm going, not I," Leah tried to corrected him.

"No, you go to your work, Mommy." He frowned and looked at me, dark eyes searching for clarity. Leah just shook her head and kissed his cheek.

"I love you, you goober."

"I love you," he replied, resting his little head on her shoulder. Leah sighed and glanced at me.

No more, I mouthed. She snorted and set our son on his feet.

"Go find your shoes." We watched him run out full-speed before my wife turned back to me. "No more, huh?"

"We're not as young as we once were, pretty girl," I teased placing a kiss on her forehead.

"Speak for yourself, old man."

"You do realize that eventually we're going to have a junior in high school and a kindergartner at the same time, right?"

"Don't forget twin girls in middle school and all the hormones that go with it!" She grinned as she poured coffee into two travel mugs.

"This is all your fault, you know."

"How do you figure?" she scoffed.

"You're just too beautiful. I can't keep my hands off you," I told her, lightly teasing her lips with mine.

"Oh, well. If that's your reasoning then maybe you should meet me back here at lunchtime," she said while she reached around and gently grabbed my ass.

"That sounds-"


"Gross, Daddy!"

"Oh, come on people. We're going to be late."

"I wanna ride da bus!"

We pulled away quickly, both of our faces on fire. Oh, the joys of parenthood.

"Lunchtime it is," I sighed and handed out lunchboxes as the kids filed out the front door. I caught Matthew around the waist as he tried to run after everyone. I kissed Leah goodbye and set out for work with Matthew. Things were going fine until I dropped him off at his classroom and he clung to my leg like a kitten about to be dropped in the bathtub.

"I don't wanna go!" he sobbed. I quickly picked him up and carried him out into the breezeway.

"What's wrong?" I asked worriedly.

"I want to be with you!" My son hiccupped and buried his face in my neck.

"Okay. For a little while," I said, rubbing his back gently. "But I don't want you to miss too much."

"Okay," he agreed after wiping his face on my shirt. I didn't flinch…much. After raising his three older siblings, I was used to being covered in something.

Matthew spent the majority of the next hour on the floor in my office coloring while I worked on my sermon and made phone calls. Eventually he asked to go back to his classroom, so I led him back smiling as he ran inside like nothing had happened.

At lunchtime I practically raced home, only to get a phone call from Leah halfway there.

"Can you pick up Abi from school? She doesn't feel well, and I'm stuck in a meeting."

"No lunchtime rendezvous, huh?" I muttered, making an illegal u-turn to get back to the elementary school.

Leah laughed. "Sorry, Preacher Boy. Maybe tomorrow. Can you take her to the office with you?"

"Yeah, I'm kind of a big deal around here," I teased.

"Okay. I have to take Daniel to his lesson and Mara to the library and-"

"We're good, pretty girl. Don't worry. I'll see you at dinner."

"I love you, Edward," she said softly and I smiled.

"I love you too, get back to work."

After I picked up Abi (and realized that maybe she was suffering from the same sickness that her brother was) I took her and Matthew home. It was easier for me to work if they had more things to distract them.

Of course, one asking of "Daddy will you play with me?" and those big, sparkling eyes and I all but threw my sermon out the window. After a couple hours of tea parties, tents, and a few games of hide-and-seek I started dinner. Abi tried to help while Matthew rolled racecars under our feet until I ushered them both out of the kitchen before I either started yelling or someone got hurt. Or both.

I went to check on them after a few moments and found Abi sprawled out in my recliner reading a book. Matthew was sitting on the piano bench, frowning at the closed lid.

"I wanna play," he said quietly. I smiled and sat next to him on the bench, lifting the lid and pulling him into my lap.

"Do you want Daddy to teach you?"

"Yes." He nodded and tapped a little finger tentatively against the keys.

"It's hard work. You really have to pay attention."

"I can do it!"

"Okay." I kissed the top of his head and took his hand in mine, spreading out his little fingers over the keys. I helped him play a few scales and smiled when he laughed and clapped.

"You play a song now, Daddy."

"What should I play?" I asked.

"Play Mom's favorite song," Abi spoke from across the room.

"Only if you sing it." I grinned at her and she nodded, quickly making her way across the room and settling herself next to me on the bench. "You want to help me play, Matty?"

He nodded and rested his hands over mine. I smiled as I played and sang, lowly so that I could hear Abi's voice. It was reminiscent of singing with Alice, and it warmed my heart to think that my kids loved music as much as I did because music had done so much for me.

We finished "Smile" and the sound of applause caused us to turn around quickly. Leah came to us quickly, pressing a kiss to Abi's head before kissing me.

"That's my favorite," she whispered as she pulled Matthew from my lap.

"I know," I replied.

"Dinner smells great, did you guys help?"

"I played racecars!" Matthew said with a toothy grin.

"I'll take that as a 'no'," my wife laughed. "C'mon."

We filed into the dining room, sat, prayed, and ate. Leah and I sat across from each other with the children on either side of us and I couldn't help but think that our lives were so full. I laughed at the thought of our earlier conversation and my "no more" comment because, truth be told, the more the merrier. We had plenty of love to share.

"Homework, showers, bed," I said as Leah and I cleared the table. The kids grumbled but obeyed, sprawling out in the living room with books and papers. Daniel had the most and eventually trudged off to his refurbished attic bedroom for some peace and quiet. Though, after I picked up Matthew from where he'd fallen asleep face-down on the floor and took him to bed, I could hear him playing his drums quietly.

I opened the bedroom door, trying to hide my smile.

"It helps me think," he said with a guilty shrug.

"Don't let your mother hear," I warned him.

"Thanks, Dad."

"Anytime, kid." I closed the door and left him to his thinking.

"Hey, Dad?" he called.


"I love you," my son whispered with his eyes on his snare drum.

"I love you too, Daniel," I replied, my throat feeling unusually thick. I was pretty sure Leah wasn't going to have to worry about her sweet boy.

After we put the girls to bed, we finally found our way to our own bedroom.

"How was work?" I asked as we undressed and climbed into bed.

"It makes me wish I stayed home," Leah chuckled quietly and rested her head on my shoulder. I slipped my arm around her, pulling her closer and kissing her head.

"Then I shouldn't mention your three-year-old's minor breakdown at school?"

"Oh no!" Leah leaned up on her elbow to look at me. "What happened?"

"I let him hang out in my office for a little while, he was fine."

"And then Abi and her 'stomachache' happened," she sighed.

"I think it's time to face the truth, pretty girl."

"Oh, yeah? What's that?"

"Our kids love us. They want to spend time with us. I don't know what we did wrong!" I covered my face with my hand and she laughed.

"It's awful, baby," she said softly and pressed a kiss to my chest.

"It's perfect," I replied.

"Still no more?" she whispered.

I laughed and rolled quickly until I was hovering over her. She wrapped her arms around my neck and drew me into a kiss.

"No more."

"You say that now…" she shifted her hips into mine and ran a hand down my chest.

"You know, I am a firm believer in 'whatever happens…happens'," I said against her lips.

"I'm counting on that, Preacher Boy."

I kissed her gently until she pulled away, her expression suddenly serious.

"What are you thinking?"

"You know," she started, chewing her lip while she thought. "We could always adopt."

I sighed and pressed my face into the crook of her neck.

"Now what are you thinking?" Leah asked softly.

"I'm thinking we're going to need a bigger house."