Title: The AAU of OFI

Disclaimer: Real shows have SOME sense of linear development, and can't get away with an AU for their AU.

Summary: This takes place four years after the second chapter. This particular chapter is kind of T rated, I guess. But it's lighter than the other two, I promise.


Kate pulled her slacks out of the dryer and hung them up on the hook, deciding to iron later, since she'd already done the dishes and laundry, and had interrogated a pedophile on top of it all. She sighed and rubbed at the back of her neck as she made her way down the upstairs hallway, trying to decide whether or not she should bother shaving in the shower she desperately wanted to take.

She peeked into Alexis' room as she reached the top of the stairs and stopped to watch as her daughter turned in front of her mirror, wearing her uniform skirt and a white tank top, frowning at her reflection. Kate leaned against the doorjamb and smiled softly. Alexis looked so grown up, hair piled onto the back of her head in a careless, yet stylish bun Kate could take credit for teaching her. She was getting taller, lankier, and more muscular, with the hint of womanhood starting to grace her face. And she was only 14.

Alexis turned again and considered her profile, the crease between her eyebrows deepening as she pushed her chest out. Kate was caught between the desire to laugh and the desire to hug her kid. She remembered doing just that at Alexis' age, and she'd frowned the same way, and yes, she'd sighed just like that.

"Hey," she said quietly, smiling as Alexis whipped around.

"Hi," she sighed, shifting back and forth on her feet in agitation.

"You look annoyed," Kate offered, pushing off from the wall to walk into the room and stand next to Alexis as she turned back to consider her reflection in the mirror. "What's up?"

"Mom, do you think I'll ever grow boobs?" she asked, turning to the side again and letting out a sigh so befitting of her 14 years.

Kate couldn't help but laugh a little. "Of course you will," she promised, watching as Alexis swiveled to her other side to look at her profile dejectedly. "Honey, what's this all about? You're not usually this concerned with your looks."

Alexis liked to get dolled up, just like any other woman, but she was generally much more concerned with studying, coffee, and trying to get Kate to let her help solve crimes. The girl in question bit her lip and glanced up at Kate.

"Spill, girlie," Kate prompted, nudging her with her hip.

Alexis let out a loud breath. "Okay. Do you remember Jimmy? I told you about him, right?"

"The cute boy from your gym class," Kate recalled. "Tall, dark and junior?"

Alexis nodded. "We had this amazing conversation yesterday about Shakespeare and he mentioned that he was thinking about going to the winter formal, you know? And I thought…" she trailed off, turned to the side again, and then threw up her hands.

"Hey, Lex," Kate said gently, taking her hands. "What's the matter, honey?"

"I thought he was going to ask me, and then this morning he was making out with Samantha Herst, another freshman. And Paige said that Derek told her Jimmy said that I was brilliant and really cute, but that…" she hung her head. "That I wasn't as pretty as Sam, and that Sam's a D, and I'm not even an A."

Was it illegal to arrest young guys for being assholes? It probably was. Oh, Alexis. Kate sighed and tugged the girl in for a hug. Alexis came willingly and Kate was reminded of a similar moment nearly sixteen years earlier, when she herself had a 'Jimmy' who'd liked a 'Sam' because she had bigger breasts.

"Well, he's an idiot," she said firmly, pulling away enough to look down at Alexis. "Any guy who's willing to pass you up for a pair of premature breasts he won't even know how to work is not worth your time."

Alexis giggled and smiled as Kate cupped her cheek. "Yeah," she sighed after a moment. "I just," she turned in Kate's arms and they stared at their reflection together. "I wish I looked more like you."

Kate gaped and then met Alexis' eyes in the mirror. "We'll get to how gorgeous you are, just as you are, in a minute," she promised, watching as Alexis rolled her eyes. They were the same in that habit, for sure. "But honey, I'm pretty small in the breast department, you know."

"But…but you're gorgeous," Alexis argued. "And guys are totally falling all over you. You can't tell me that…" she took a deep breath and let it out. "That Tyler looks at other women when he's got you across the table."

Tyler was her fairly steady date-buddy of the last two months. Alexis had grudgingly, and through more trauma than either of them could really handle, come to terms with the fact that Kate was dating. And Kate had come to the realization that, even though she was dating, she wasn't fully ready for anything real yet. Tyler, her second try, was lovely, and handsome, and funny. He was smart and well read, and he took her to great restaurants when they went out once or twice a week. But he wasn't Rick, and it would be a long time before he ever set foot in their home.

Alexis, however, had demanded that she tell her about him, once she'd found a way to handle the fact that there was a him to begin with. Slowly, she was growing more curious, especially as she began making her own forays into the dating world, starting with this jerk of a Jimmy kid.

"Can I tell you a secret?" Kate asked, watching as Alexis narrowed her eyes.

"Shoot."

"All men look at breasts," Kate said matter-of-factly.

"That's not true," Alexis exclaimed. "You're seriously telling me Tyler, or any man you've been out with has taken his eyes off of you to look at a pair of bigger boobs?"

Kate kissed the side of her head. "Alexis, even your father, the most amazing man and boyfriend ever, turned his head for a huge pair occasionally."

Alexis was quiet for a moment, her eyes wide, until she opened her mouth and wet her lips. "Did you punch him?"

Kate laughed and swayed them from side to side. "Once or twice," she admitted. "But most of the time, I just shrugged it off."

"Why? He shouldn't have been looking at anyone but you!" Alexis said angrily. "That's not okay."

"As touched as I am by your retroactive anger at your Dad, Lex," Kate interjected, thoroughly amused. "I didn't begrudge him it." Alexis raised her eyebrows. "Men like breasts," Kate offered. "They're mysterious and there, and I'm pretty sure there's a biological aspect to it as well."

"Great," Alexis mumbled. "What's that?"

"Well, men are programmed to go for a woman who looks like she can weather a famine and supply him with lots of babies, and big boobs are usually one of the signs of that. And since we live in a culture where women generally tend to look as far from 'able to bear children' as possible, boobs are the last remaining asset."

"So I'm doomed?" Alexis whined. "And why do you know that?"

"You're not doomed," Kate chuckled. "And your Dad told me that, I think," she continued, looking back on a foggy memory of the aftermath of one of the few times she'd socked him for his roving eye. "But you know what he said after that?" she prompted, remembering.

"What?" Alexis replied quietly, her voice suddenly soft as it always was when they shared memories of Rick, especially new ones.

"He said that while there were women with bigger breasts and bigger butts, there was only one me, and my breasts and butt and face and mind were perfect. He might look, but the only woman he wanted to talk to, kiss, touch and love, was me."

Alexis let out a slow breath and squeezed Kate's hands as they looked at each other in the mirror. "He really, really loved you, you know?"

Kate smiled and nodded, resting her head against the top of Alexis'. "I loved him right back."

"Does…" she bit her lip but then Kate watched her set her mind to it. "Does Tyler say the same?"

Kate pressed her cheek to Alexis' hair. Tyler was a skilled lover. He knew the female body and enjoyed Kate. She enjoyed him as well, but he wasn't the same. No one was, and she was fairly certain that no one would be. Tyler could touch her and make her feel, but Rick could positively ignite her. After their third or fourth time together, he'd found almost every place on her body that was made to feel anything, and knew just how to get every single one to the highest possibly level. And he'd loved her breasts, and her butt, and the little beauty mark under her eye, and the way she squirmed when he accidentally tickled her. He'd made a point of doing that every time, making her laugh at unexpected moments.

So yes, Tyler might say the same, and certainly professed her beauty enough. But was it really what Rick had meant?

"Tyler thinks I'm beautiful, Alexis, and I know he's not…engaging with any other sets of breasts."

"But it's not the same?" she asked, wrinkling her nose. "This is an odd conversation," she added.

Kate laughed. "Yeah, but it's us. We can talk about anything." She watched Alexis smile. "And no, honey, it's not the same. Tyler's great, but you know he's not your Dad."

"And…and do you think that you'll ever feel the same way about him?" she whispered, in an echo of a conversation they'd had before.

Kate hugged her close and met her eyes in the mirror. "I will never love anyone the way I loved your father, Alexis," she said quietly, waiting for Alexis' nod. "I may find love again."

"I want you to," Alexis whispered, surprising her.

"Thank you," Kate said, twining their hands together. "But even if I do, it won't be the same. Your father was special to me, Alexis. And even if I get married someday, and have children, and give you little siblings, no one will ever take your Dad's place in my heart. Okay?"

"Okay," Alexis breathed.

They stared at each other for a long moment, before Kate decided that they'd had enough serious talk, and it was definitely time for some girl time. It heartened her to know that they could talk about Rick this way, without shedding tears. She missed him, but in some way, this moment wasn't heartbreaking. She had a feeling that, if he'd lived, somewhere down the line, she'd have had this exact conversation with Alexis, and would have used the same line. Rick might have threatened to go shoot the little punk, but her and Alexis? They were still them. They missed their absent third member, but it had been girls together from the start, and nothing would ever change that.

"Now, about you wanting to look like me," Kate began, laughing as Alexis sighed. "You're gorgeous, Alexis. You've got amazing hair, and beautiful eyes, porcelain skin and a fabulous body. And yes, someday, I promise, you will have boobs," she added, smiling as Alexis let out a small giggle. "But you have no reason to want to look differently from how you do now. And any stupid boy who can't see how incredible you are isn't worth even a second of your time."

"But you're gorgeous," Alexis whispered.

"And so are you," Kate whispered back. "We may look different, but I think we're pretty similar, you and me."

"Yeah?"

"What do you see when you look at us?" Kate asked, finding her eyes in the mirror again.

"My stunning Mom, and the teenager she's hugging," Alexis mumbled.

Kate sighed and tickled her a little, watching as she laughed. "Do you know what I see?" Alexis shrugged. "I see two strong, independent, smart, funny, beautiful women. And the shorter one? The red-head with the great skin and dazzling smile? When I look at her? I see this amazing future, and a guy who will bring her the moon if she asks for it."

Alexis considered her. "You really think I'll find him?"

"Alexis, I have no doubt that you will find your perfect guy. You may find more than one along the way, but you? Honey," she turned Alexis around so they were face to face. "You're gonna knock 'em dead, and they won't even know what hit 'em."

Alexis searched her eyes for a moment before giving a very small nod and wrapping her arms around Kate's neck, burying her head into her shoulder. Kate smiled and held her close—her daughter who was growing up too fast and becoming so amazing. She glanced up at the ceiling, toward a Heaven she'd never decided if she believed in. But she looked up anyway, hoping Rick was somewhere, watching them and grinning, while her mother wrestled the bat away from him. Their daughter was perfect, and even though Rick wasn't there to see it, they would be okay. It was girls together, and they'd make it through these teenage years. And plus, Kate had always kind of wanted to intimidate a boy for her daughter. Her father had gotten such joy out of it.

She'd have to make sure to do Rick proud. Then again, that shouldn't be too hard. Hadn't he always said that she was the scary one? She did carry the gun, after all.