Author's Note: As everyone probably knows, Lilly Rush, though she may be the best TV detective, seriously lack culinary skills, or so the Cold Case has shown, in an episode or two. So Cold Case owns Lilly's lack of culinary skills, but I own Alexia, Erick, and the idea for this story. Unfortunately, I do not own anything else. Anyways, standard disclaimer always applies and I hope you enjoy reading this as much as I enjoy writing and positing it. Don't forget to leave reviews! =) 3

Chapter 26

Three months after the trial

Thank God, it was Friday! Two years ago, Fridays meant one of two things. Unlimited time with a boyfriend, or an unlimited amount of time to be alone, something which she dreaded and desperately tried to avoid, so she filled every waking minute with any possible task except being alone.

Now Fridays meant the end of a work-week, but most importantly it meant she had two whole days to spend with her kids and Scotty. Two whole days, when she could spend 24/7 with them.

After Erick's birth, with everything that had happened, she was constantly afraid, not for herself, but for Alexia and Erick. Afraid that something, someone would try to harm them and she'd be unable to stop it. The nightmares that plagued her at night didn't help either.

Though department policy required a minimum three-month maternity leave, given the circumstances, she'd taken an extra four months off. And those months, as challenging as they had been, had been the best months of her life. Of course, she had to remind herself of that sometimes, especially during the first few months, when Erick woke up every fifteen minutes at night. She had truly relished the time she took off to spend with the kids. She felt a slight bit more at ease, since, in that time frame, she knew where they were, every second and whom they were with. Over the months, her anxiety began to ease and she began to relax a bit. That is until she realized her time at home was coming to an end, and her terrors began to resurface. Though part of her was relieved and eager to get back to work, part of her dreaded the thought of being was from the kids for the whole day, especially Erick. She felt, given the day and place he was nearly born in, he was frailer than Alexia, and needed a bit of extra protection, though in the back of her mind she knew those circumstances didn't change anything for him. He was as strong and feisty as ever and despite the fact he was barley seven months old, he was the spiting image of his father, in nearly every way. The only resemblance she could see between her and Erick were their eyes, both a bright vibrant azure.

She'd gotten so used to being at home with the kids in those few months; she hadn't realized how much she missed work, until she actually returned. Though part of her was still mildly afraid to leave them, no matter how briefly, after a seven-month leave, it hadn't taken her more than five minutes to get back into her work. She wasn't completely rusty, due to the fact that Kat had been secretly sneaking her case files for months.

Like being a mother, the drive to bring closure, to solve things came naturally to her; she hardly considered it to be work. Although she loved her job, she still missed her kids, at least when she had a spare moment, which fortunately, she didn't have much of, because keeping busy helped her not to worry. It was a slight relief to know that her kids were at home, with a qualified sitter, though she wasn't sure she'd ever completely trust her kids to anyone. Just to air on the side of caution, and for her personal peace of mind, she'd somehow managed to convince Scotty to have a new high-tech security system installed, which allowed her to check in on the kids and the nanny, without their knowledge, through a link she'd installed from the system to her work computer. Even so, she still missed the kids like crazy during the week. Somehow watching on a screen wasn't the same as personally interacting with them.

So this Friday, she took advantage of the fact that it was a slow day and they weren't making much progress on the case, to leave the office early. During the drive home, all she could think of was how much she missed her kids. The drive seemed endless, even though she knew it was less than forty minutes. When she finally arrived at home, Erick was taking a late nap, and Alexia had just finished playing tea party with Elaine, the nanny. She thanked and paid Elaine before letting her go early.

She figured, since she was home, she should make dinner, for once. Scotty was usually in charge of cooking, since her talents in the kitchen were limited to anything microwavable and plugging in appliances. She'd only been able to decently master one meal.

Pasta.

Still, it'd taken her forever, about twenty boxes of pasta, several gallons of water, and a couple pots (some which hadn't made it), for her to learn how to cook the pasta properly, without burning it or the pot. Memories from her childhood and the fact that her own mother hadn't made much of an effort, with either her or Christina, made her realize she wanted so much more for her kids. Even though Alexia wasn't biologically hers or Scotty's, since Monday, she was legally theirs. The adoption papers had finally come through. She and Scotty had agreed to tell Alexia when she was older and could better understand the situation.

She heated the sauce; secretly store brought, and poured a bag of salad in a bowl before placing it in the fridge to chill. Just then, she heard a cry coming from the security monitor, which was set up on her tablet, which she had propped up on the kitchen counter. As she glanced at the monitor, which was focused on the kids' rooms and the den, where Alexia was watching TV, she noticed the den was empty. Through the monitor, she saw the door to the nursery creep open slowly, as Alexia quietly entered the room. Erick continued to whimper as Alexia walked over to the crib. Lilly glanced back at the kitchen to make sure the stove was off, before dashing upstairs to the nursery. She arrived just as Alexia was trying to cram her favorite stuffed turtle through the bars of Erick's crib.

Alexia stopped when she heard her coming, turning as she said, "Mama, he's crying."

Lilly took the turtle out of the bars of Erick's crib, and handed it back to Alexia, before scooping Erick out of his crib. As she turns back to Alexia with Erick still in her arms, she notices Alexia's wide, slightly frightened eyes staring back at her worriedly. Lilly rubs Erick's back soothingly and his whimpers begin to cease as he settles against her shoulder, and begins to fall asleep again, almost immediately.

"Mommy?" Alexia says clutching her turtle, as she tugs on Lilly's arm with her free hand.

"Shhhh… he's falling asleep…" Lilly whispers, as she continues to rub Erick's back. She paces around the room for a minute to make sure he's asleep before quietly, and slowly lowering him back into his crib. She turns up the volume of the monitor on the side of the crib, before grabbing the portable monitor off the dresser and gently leading Alexia out of the room. She leaves the door to the nursery a bit ajar, before scooping Alexia into her arms and carrying her downstairs. Alexia giggles, as Lilly kisses her stomach and sets her down on the couch in the living room, before sitting beside her. Alexia looks up at her with bright blue expectant eyes.

"Do you remember when we brought Erick home from the hospital?" Lilly asks.

Alexia nods seriously and says, "Daddy said I was a big sister and I was 'pposed to take care of him. But that's what I was doing… He was crying and I wanted to give him my turtle, so he would stop. He was sad."

Lilly couldn't help but crack a small smile as she said, "That's very sweet and I appreciate you trying to help. But when you hear him cry, if I'm not in the room you have to come and get me, or Daddy. Because babies cry for a lot of reasons, not just because they're sad. They can't talk so they communicate by crying."

"But Sam Turtle wanted to make him feel better." Alexia says sincerely.

Lilly's smile widens, just a tiny bit before she says, "I know but next time, promised me you'll get me, or Daddy first. Then maybe Sam Turtle can help. Okay?"

"Okay." Alexia says nodding. She pauses before saying, "I'm sorry Mommy."

"Oh, sweetie," Lilly says as she scoops Alexia into her lap, cradling her. "I know you didn't mean any harm. Just be more careful," She says as she strokes Alexia long silky wavy hair. Suddenly, Alexia lifts her head off of Lilly's chest and jumps out of her lap as she says excitedly, "I have to show you something."

She runs out of the room and dashes upstairs. Lilly gets up and begins to follow her upstairs when she hears the doorbell ring. She walks over to the door and opens it, without bothering to look and see who it is, expecting a deliveryman of some sort, but instead, is met face to face with the last person she ever expected to see on her doorstep.