"Fuck," he murmured sleepily as the sound of wailing reached the room.
"I'll get her."
"No," he said, placing a hand on her bare hip and stilling her in place. He paused for a moment, pressing his nose to her neck and when she sighed he wished he could ignore his daughter's cries and stay in bed with her, do things to her he was already picturing in his head, but parenthood didn't allow him the freedom. "I got her."
Moments later he was back, with Judith wearing nothing but a fresh diaper in his arms. She was gnawing on a bottle and when he settled her into bed the one year old instantly reached for Andrea. He crawled in after her, still naked.
"Hey!" Andrea said playfully, and Judith took the bottle out of her mouth long enough to give Andrea a slobbery grin.
Rick sighed, sandwiching his daughter between himself and Andrea. "We have to do something about this."
As the sounds of Judith sucking on her bottle lulled her, Andrea moaned. "What."
"She needs to learn to sleep in her own bed."
Andrea huffed. "She's a baby, Rick."
"She'll always be a baby," he said, sneaking an arm around her bare waist. "So what, we're still gonna let her sleep with us when she's 25?"
Andrea opened her eyes and grinned devilishly. "Trust me, when she's 25 we're the last people she's gonna be sleeping with."
He groaned and gave her a reproachful look. "Fuck that."
Andrea laughed, and as she settled down she ran a hand along Judith's hair. "It's okay."
"We're spoiling her," Rick murmured.
"I like spoiling her."
"I like spoiling you," Rick said, running his hand up her back. Judith continued to suck on her bottle, looking at Andrea, blissfully unaware. "And right now she's getting in the way of that."
She smiled. "I'm just gonna have to deal with it."
Rick kissed her nose. "What am I supposed to do?"
"There's the bathroom, if you're that desperate," Andrea teased him and he grinned. Moments later Judith was done with her bottle, and she lifted and pressed it to Rick's chin, stubborn and demanding he put it away immediately.
He sighed, taking the bottle and placing it on the nightstand. "She gets that from you."
And then Judith pressed herself into the space between Andrea's breasts, and Andrea looked at him with a smile. "She gets that from you."
He chuckled and kissed her, and something unsaid passed along between them.
The truth was, Judith wasn't theirs. She wasn't Andrea's just as much as she wasn't Rick's, and that became evident by the day. Her dark hair, her dark eyes, her elfish ears. They both knew, deep down, that they were raising another couple's daughter. Self-aware like Lori, stubborn like Shane, rough and tumble like a perfect combination of the two of them. There was nothing Judith could "get" from either of them, because she'd already gotten everything she could from Shane and Lori.
They both knew it, and they both struggled with it at various intervals, but every night, at midnight, when Judith wanted nothing more than to crawl in between them, it didn't matter.
Moments later Judith reached for his ear and fell asleep with her head in Andrea's chest and her fingers rubbing his earlobe for comfort. Andrea sighed one last time, falling asleep with her hand on Judith's stomach and her head on his shoulder. And Rick smiled, reaching over and pulling them both closer.
He knew they had to deal with these sleeping arrangements. Every night they brought Judith to bed with them, and every night he came up with a plan to put an end to it.
But every night, he backed down.
Because every night he realized he might be the last man on Earth lucky enough to fall asleep with his whole family in his arms.