Hello again! Haha, it's been awhile, and truly, I never thought I'd be adding another chapter onto this. However, I was convinced by a friend of mine to write an epilogue of sorts. I happily complied, seeing it really is hard to stay away from this. I spent so long on it; I kind of find it hard to stop writing. But anyway, yes, this is a type of epilogue-ish thing. This may or may not be the only one (I haven't decided yet) So, if this is, thank you again for reading, but if it isn't, I guess I'll see you guys around :)
"Ow! Daddy, that hurts!"
"Well maybe it wouldn't if you would stop wiggling!"
"I wouldn't have to wiggle if you weren't trying to pull my hair out!"
"I'm doing no such thing- now hold your ass still!"
"Bad word Daddy!"
"God dammit child, stop fucking moving!"
The commotion had already grabbed my attention. There was always shouting in this house. What it had to do with and the connotation of it all differed depending on the situation, but we could barely ever go more than a day without yelling our heads off about something.
This time I had been in the kitchen packing a special lunch in, of course, what had to be a pink, sparkly, lunch box. 'Nothing but the best for the princess' is what I was told by said princess herself.
But now my full attention was set on the noise spouting from the bathroom. I poked my head in the door to find my lovely husband, who I couldn't help but love with all my heart no matter how much of a pain in the ass he was, standing in front of the counter with a hairbrush in one hand and a clump of hair in the other. Atop that counter sat my even lovelier little daughter facing the mirror cross-legged and arms folded. She had a frustrated expression and a glare being shot at the mirror to be reflected towards the monster with a brush.
Once I stepped fully in the doorway, her face only lightened slightly. The glare lifted when he eyes finally landed on me.
"Poppa, Daddy is using bad words around my innocent, little ears."
All I could do was smirk at this. One, because of the statement itself; she had almost mastered our level of snarky remarks even at the mere age of six. And reason two being the fact that she seemed to point out every 'bad word' we used. Any other child would find it normal if they were said as much as we shoot them out, but to her, she still knew they weren't what someone her age should be hearing. Given Karkat did use the larger handful of them; I don't think he had any sort of filter at all. I tried my best not to use that many around her. I didn't especially want my kindergartener to be dropping the f bomb every other sentence, but with Karkat around, my efforts where pretty much futile.
Either way, I entered the small bathroom and wound my arm around Karkat's waist before taking the brush from his hand.
"Oh he is, is he?"
"I wouldn't have to if she would cooperate." He mumbled but still undoubtedly leaned back into me with a sigh.
"Elise darling, are you cooperating?"
She gave a single nod and small grin. "I am."
"Well, there we have it. Looks like it's Daddy's fault then."
A purely shocked expression landed on Karkat's face as he turned a little. "You're taking her word over mine?"
I leaned down to place a quick peck on his cheek. "Don't I always?"
"No!" A tiny voice cut it. "Bad-"
"I know, bad word!" He broke her off with the shout and his arms being thrown above his head. He then wiggled out from my light hold and walked off into the house. "You brush her damn hair then."
We both had a good laugh once he left. He tiny giggles only making me snicker more. I'd take a handful of the blonde curls, brushing them out gently and watching them twist and wave effortlessly back into place. The girl sure did have some pretty hair, but damn she was so spoiled. Sometimes I thought Karkat and I gave her too much. Except those thoughts were always cut short when she would giggle and smother us in hugs and kisses. She was the happiest little girl I had ever met; carefree and just as sarcastic and snide as we were. We couldn't have found a better kid for us.
Though, as always, I was out on hair duty. Karkat didn't have the patience for this. He would always rip though her hair and either leave her in tears or yelling. So then I would step in and calm her down, tying the locks up in ribbons and bows when I was done.
"Excited about today?" I asked once our laughter had subsided.
She gave a small shrug but that was it. I leaned forward a little, head going over her shoulder. Looking forward, our eyes met in the mirror so I held the gaze while we spoke.
"You should be. First day of school; that's a pretty big thing."
"I'd rather go to work with you and Daddy."
That's right, seeing that we couldn't really afford daycare and neither Karkat nor I could take off very much from work, Elise had been coming with us to the office and sitting there quietly while we typed away.
"Oh, but school is fun." And wasn't that one of the biggest lies I had ever told.
She paused, biting at her lip before huffing. "I don't think I'll like it."
"Don't be negative now. I get enough of that from your dad." I brushed a few more locks out before turning her around on the counter. Almost immediately, her eyes averted mine, but with my hands cupping her tiny cheeks, I brought them back. "You like to color, don't you? And you get snack time, and you'll get to play outside, and meet a bunch of new kids. I know you like all those things, yes?"
"Nope. No buts. You'll have fun. Now then, who loves you?"
She was already pouting, but she looked up sharply with those cheeks puffed out. "You do."
"That's right, I do." I planted a kiss on her forehead and popped the air in her cheeks which drew out a quiet laugh. She recovered so easily from the previous pout; back to smiling in no time.
"Now come on. We'll be late if we don't leave soon."
With a small nod, she lifted her arms so I could hook my hands under them. I lifted her and what I had planned to do was immediately set her on the floor. But this changed when she clung to me with her legs around my stomach and her arms winding round my neck. I breathed out a faint chuckle, letting one arm go behind her back to hold her up.
"You're getting too big for me to carry."
She shook her head before burying it in my neck and making a few discontent sounds.
"What? I just have to be able to lug you around forever?"
This brought a nod and another laugh from me.
"Of course. You'll always be Poppa's little girl."
My one arm gave her a light squeeze as I clicked the bathroom light off and carried her off into the kitchen. Once in the room, I stopped and gave her a small pop up to keep her on my hip. Karkat was stuffing a few pencils and a notebook into a small backpack that, once again, was the brightest pink with no less than a million little sparkles. I cocked my hip a little to help hold up the weight clinging to my side to make sure she didn't slide down again. She really was getting too heavy.
"Ready to go?" I asked and thus made him turn his head.
He nodded a big before crossing the room. His arms went around my back, enveloping our daughter and me in a hug.
"How about our little princess here? You ready?" He spoke softly, he really only ever did speak so gently to her and her alone.
Even so, Elise merely shook her head again, nuzzling it as deep as she could into the crook of my neck.
"You'll be fine." He whispered, kissing the top of her head before releasing himself.
He grabbed the backpack and held it up. I bent down, attempting to slide the almost dead weight from my chest. She wasn't having this though. She only clung tighter when gravity threatened to pull her away. It took all the coaxing I get spew out mixed with the prying of her limbs from around me to get her off. Her eyes grew wide when she looked up at me; sticking that lip out and making her chin tremble.
"None of that," I warned, pointing down at her. "My child is not a pouter."
"You should know by now she only gets that from you." Karkat commented as he tried to work the backpack onto her stiff and reluctant arms.
My arms crossed and my brows furrowed. "I do not pout." I countered, but his eyes cut up at me with an unamused expression.
"You should go take a look in the mirror then because your face is a prime example of pouting."
With the first form of the word his eyes narrowed and shut me up. I cleared my throat, uncrossing my arms.
"Kindly go, insert bad word here, yourself."
"Love you too."
I mumbled a few more choice words under my breath that gained me a nudge to the ribs by his elbow.
"Grab her lunch." He said before taking her hand and walking towards the door.
I yanked the small sack of the counter by its handle on top, following after him. We walked out to the car, buckled her in, and began our short drive to the school. Being the now suburban family we were, the school nestled in our neighborhood wasn't too far away. It was the same school Karkat had gone to, and he assured me it was just fine. The whole way there she was silent. Her arms were crossed, a glare being shot out the window as if every tree that passed had crossed her and she wished them dead. And it seemed she had picked up the bad traits from both of us. Even when we pulled up to the school she didn't move. When I opened her door, she simply turned her head the other direction and gave a loud huff. I unclicked her button, but still no movement.
"Elise honey, come on. Don't make this difficult."
I tried to make my voice soft but the annoyance was peeking through a tad.
"I don't want to go." She protested quickly through a mumble.
"But like I said, it'll be fun."
"You don't know that."
Karkat nudged me aside and stepped in front of the doorway.
She turned her head with that. One word from him. His tone of voice was like magic and she would do basically anything Karkat said. How?
I have no idea.
He extended his arms and smiled a bit. "Can you come out here?"
She hesitated, debating the decision in her head a bit before scooting over and climbing into his arms. I stood back with my usual bewildered expression that I gained whenever he miraculously did things like this. He only smirked back at me and set her feet on the ground, shutting the car door once his arms were free. She readjusted her backpack, doing a little dance to straighten out the straps. As we walked up to the school, one of my hands held onto her lunch box while the other was occupied by her hand. Karkat held her other as she walked slowly between us. Her feet dragged slightly the closer we got, but we just pulled her along.
There were children everywhere inside the school. That overwhelming smell of plastic and cleaner had already filled the hallways. The walls were empty but it would only be a matter of time before there were crudely drawn pictures and various crafts stuck to them. Karkat led us down the halls to what he remembered where the correct rooms. There were two for each grade and so we filed down a couple halls until coming to a brightly lit, yellow painted room with stuffed animals and pictures stuck everywhere. There were streamers and various colored stars hanging from the ceiling. Shelves full of books lined one wall with large pillows on the floor and a soft looking rug. The rest of the room was covered in tiny desks, name tags taped to each one. Baskets full of crayons and pencils sat atop each group of four desks.
It took a minute to look around the room, but eventually my gaze fell down to the hand still clutching mine. I gave it a little squeeze and she looked up at me. Her eyes were wide but a small smile flicked across her face.
"Think you'll like it?"
She nodded a little, opening her mouth but my attention was soon grabbed by familiar voice.
"Karkat, Sollux. Hello."
I glanced back up to find Kanaya's bright smile and open arms. Those arms went around me and I dropped Elise's hand in reaction. Just as quick as they had come around me, they were gone and she was moving to Karkat to do the same. Karkat struggled a bit in her grip, but returned the light hug none the less.
"What're you doing here, Kanaya?" He asked once she released him and took a step back.
"Did I not tell you this is my first teaching job?"
"You did… but I didn't think you meant here."
She nodded a little before glancing down at Elise who was now staring blankly up at the tall woman. She pulled her long skirt up a bit so she could kneel down.
"Hello there sweetie, I am Ms. Kanaya and it seems I will be your teacher this year." Her eyes rose to my face then to Karkat's when she gained no response from Elise.
Karkat squatted beside her and put his hands on Elise's shoulders. This pulled her eyes over and held them even if she wanted to shy away. "Listen here, Ms. Kanaya has been a really good friend of mine all my life. She's really nice and I'm sure you'll like her. Think you can get along with her?"
There was another moment of hesitation before she nodded slowly. Kanaya stood back up, clasping her hands behind her back and smiling that much wider.
"Wonderful, I look forward to talking with you later, Elise. However, as of now I must talk with the other parents. If you three would excuse me," She gave a small bow before turning and sauntering off to speak with the other various adults in the room.
Karkat stood back up, turning to me and taking a deep breath. I offered a faint smile which he returned quickly. We had one of those moments that had been happening more and more over the years. A minute where we stand and simply look at each other. No words; just soft expressions and emotion filled stares. Even after years of being with him, the feelings I had when all of this first started still lodged themselves deep in my chest. Every time I saw that smile I reminded myself how lucky I was. Lucky to have him after everything and lucky that my family was finally and happily complete.
A sharp squeal cut through our momentary silence. All four eyes shot down to Elise, but only her backpack was there now. I turned my head, watching her run straight into the open arms of a crouching Dave Strider.
"Davey!" She chimed and was thrown into a fit of giggles as he pulled her up and did a small spin.
"Hey there kiddo."
These two always had liked each other. Ever since we got her Dave and John had spent many nights babysitting her. And occasionally she'd go off to stay at their house if she couldn't come to work with Karkat and I. Like many, she easily became attached to Dave. Though it had its consequences, (more sarcasm and smart ass remarks followed by long skews of metaphors that really meant jackshit in the long run) they both seemed to enjoy each other's company so we let it be.
Her arms were wrapped around his neck, but she pulled back an all-out beamed. "What're you doin here?"
"I had to bring little nick-nak to school too." And just about this time a scrawny little boy with some of the reddest hair I'd ever seen poked his head out from behind one of Dave's legs. "Looks like you guys will be in the same class."
"Nak!" She shouted, wiggling her way back down to the ground with a bright grin.
"That's not my name stupid!" The redhead protested quickly with a deep set frown. As soon as the words came out, his eyes shot up to his father and he cleared his throat. "I mean- um, sup."
The tone in his voice didn't affect her at all, she simply tackle-hugged him. Effectively knocking him back a few steps, his arms hovered awkwardly as his face flushed red.
She jerked him around like he was a play thing, but it's not as if he resisted too much. Really, he'd do anything she asked (or demanded most of the time) I wished him luck.
Elise giggled loudly until finally releasing him from her death grip and began bouncing in her place.
"Come on," She began, already tugging on his hand. Let's go find our desks."
She pulled him off but a wavering glance was sent back to us from his part before he was pulled off into the classroom.
I chuckled quietly to myself as Karkat shook his head but still watched them run off. A hand clapped on my shoulder and I turned, glass covered eyes meeting dark shades. His head tipped down and bright red glanced over the frame.
"I don't see any tears yet, Captor. Saving your bawling until you get home?"
"I think that's Karkat's job."
He smirked, but an elbow cracked into my side. I sent a grin down at him, feigning apology.
"Love you~" I cooed, but he merely sighed, waving a flippant hand and turning the other direction. I let a laugh slip before stopping and giving a short glance around the room.
"So where's John? Wouldn't think he'd be the one to miss an [oh so important] event in his child's life."
Dave gave a shrug once he pocketed his hands. "His jackass of a boss wouldn't let him come in late. So he's stuck at work- meanwhile, I got four pristine hours of sleep before the little tike throwing shoes at me and demanding food. If I didn't know better I'd say it was like living with my brother again."
Giving a small snort, I shook my head. "Sounds like a morning at my house. Though I don't just get things thrown, I also get jumped on. Karkat acted completely oblivious to it. He just lays there or rolls over, leaving me to deal with this heavy weight bouncing up and down and yelling 'poppa poppa get up'."
"Right, and then you have to bathe them-"
"And fix their hair-"
"And feed them breakfast-"
We took turns listing things off, but with one look we stopped; grins pulling at our lips and laughter sliding out.
"Look at us."
"What have we become Captor?"
"Well shit Strider, I think we're domestic house wives." I answered through another laugh.
His head shook more and gave a good pat to my shoulder. "And damn good ones at that."
"Oh hell yes."
Suddenly Kanaya returned, almost swooping in and smiling but kept her eyebrows raised in that certain way. "Now boys," She began in a tone that tone that could both seem so pleasant but also cut you in half in a split second out of fear. "I am aware you both love to have your fun, but there are children here. If you don't mind, please watch the language."
The laughter stopped, but I cracked an apologetic smile. "Sorry, Kanaya."
"Ah ah," She flicked her finger up at the ceiling, shaking her head softly. "Under this room I am Ms. Kanaya." Her tone was still a little daunting, but I could tell this was her form of a subtle joke. "Speaking of which, I suppose it is about time I start the day. Your daughter is lovely as always- Oh, and Nick is just the same." She added, turning her head slightly to Dave. He raised a hand, nodding before it returned to his pocket. She smiled, but took a deep breath. With the clap of her hands, she turned. "Excuse me everyone!" Her voice rose over the squeals of children and chit-chat of their parents. "I am sure you are all very excited to see your darling little children start school, and so, I must say it is time to begin. Sadly, I will need all of you to leave in the next couple of minutes. It had been a great pleasure to meet all of you, and I cannot express how excited I am to be teaching this year. Thank you for coming, and I look forward to seeing all of you again."
It was almost surprising this was her first year. Kanaya had the perfect personality for this and it showed. People began filing out, hugging their children, telling them goodbye before thanking Kanaya and moving out the door. I watched them go until Karkat returned to my side and there was a tug to my pant leg. I looked down, bright, blue eyes beaming back up at me. I just smiled, bending down and scooping her up in my arms. Standing back up, I hugged her close to my chest when she nuzzled her head against my shoulder.
"You have fun today, alright?" She nodded, arms winding around my neck. "We'll be back later to pick you up."
She pulled back with another short nod but never once stopped smiling. "You have fun at work too Poppa."
"I'll try." I kissed her softly on the forehead, and she placed one of her own to my nose. "Love you."
"Love you too."
Setting her back on the ground, she went through a similar situation with Karkat before bouncing off to find her desk.
"We'll see you later Dave." I waved alright and he nodded in recognition before wandering off to say his own goodbyes.
Karkat turned to face me, looking up and smiling faintly. "Shall we go?"
I took one look back before grabbing his hand and walking out while I could still pull myself away. "It's time."
At some point while walking down the hall, he linked his arm in mine but never dropped my hand. "We knew she had to grow up sometime. Not like she could stay a little kid forever."
"If only she could."
"She'll be fine. She's a tough one. Well, when you're not brushing her hair at least."
We both laughed quietly, finally walking outside and back to the car. Our hands separated, and we climbed up into the car. I buckled myself in, hands on the wheel but I didn't move. The keys sat in the ignition but I made no attempt to put the car in reverse. I just sat there and took a deep breath. There was a weird feeling in my gut. Nothing had felt wrong all morning, but now I couldn't help but feel a little part gone. It would be a lot different not having the constant happiness all day. It made me almost sad to not be able to see her all day, but Karkat was right, she had to grow up. It was time and no way would I stand in the way of that.
I was smiling at the wheel, eyes not focusing on anything particular and especially not aware of the sudden wetness rolling down my cheek. Just as I actually noticed it, I was going to wipe the stupid little tear away, but I was too slow. There was a soft thumb raking across it and a quiet chuckle sliding out from the seat beside me.
"Who's the baby now?" He mocked softly as his hand moved to catch my cheek and pull my face to the side.
I was looking straight at him. That smile of his made pull instantly at my lips. "Shut up." It was half-hearted and held no threat whatsoever, but the feigned insulting banter is one thing we would never stop doing.
He let another laugh slip, leaning across the small console between us and pulling my face down to his. I didn't even care that the seatbelt was digging into my chest; this kiss was just what I needed. The tiniest actions from him wiped away any sadness like they always had; replacing them with a calm happiness and the highest hopes I could ever have for our future.
My husband and my daughter were the only things that would ever matter to me. To be honest, I was perfectly content with that because I knew something that meant more than anything else.
These two would love me more than anyone else.
This was merely a new beginning.
We grew and changed every day, but one thing I knew is that those feelings in my heart would never change- no matter what.
The love I held for him and the love I held for my daughter.
That love would never end.