Summary: The morning after the night before.
Alex woke first the next morning. She saw from the clock on the nightstand that they had slept in; it was nearly 10am. She grinned quietly to herself. She was not surprised, it was not like they had gotten much sleep during the night.
She gently levered herself up on her elbow, keeping one arm wrapped round the still-sleeping Cassie. Cassie looked so young, so innocent lying there. "I love you," she whispered.
= = =
Nearly half an hour later, Cassie stirred, and cranked open one eye. "What'cha doing?" she asked sleepily.
Alex grinned at being caught out. "Just watching you sleep," she said in a soft voice, and leant down, kissing her softly.
Cassie smiled back. "Like what you see?" she asked mischievously.
"Oh yeah," Alex agreed. "I do. I really do." She caressed her cheek lovingly.
"Kiss me again," Cassie demanded, pulling her down into a tender embrace. They kissed passionately for several minutes. "You're so beautiful," Cassie said. "I used to dream of waking up like that."
"Like what?" Alex asked.
"In the arms of the person I love most in the world, more than I ever believed possible," Cassie replied. "Make love to me, Lex," she asked.
"Again?" Alex smiled.
"Please," Cassie replied. "Again. And then I'll buy you breakfast."
"Buy me breakfast?" Alex asked.
"Yeah," Cassie grinned. "You don't want to let me in your kitchen, believe me."
"You did mention that cooking is not one of your strong points," Alex said with a smile.
"I wasn't kidding," Cassie said. "Unfortunately, I have inherited Sam's culinary capabilities. In my defense, though," she grinned, "I can change the oil in a car in under 20 minutes. And I can name all the constellations in our solar system. And I play a mean game of chess."
"We should each play to our own strengths then," Alex said. "There is another thing you are very good at," she took Cassie's hand and pulled it to her own breast. "And for that, I'll forgive you any domestic shortcomings," she kissed her passionately. "How much time do we have?"
"I told Sam we'd be there by 1.30pm," Cassie said, slightly breathlessly.
"Plenty of time, then," Alex grinned, "if we eat breakfast in the car," and she ran her hand through Cassie's thick hair.
= = =
Cassie unlocked the door, and let herself and Alex into the house. "S'only me," she called. "Mom? Sam?"
"Up here," she heard Sam's voice sounding distant. "I'll be there soon," she yelled, sounding a little frantic.
At that point, Beatrice emerged, a sponge in her hand, and a wide grin on her face. "Cassie!" she cried, and flung herself into her sister's arms. "I missed you. Did you have a sleepover at Alex's?" she asked.
Cassie grinned. "Hi Bea. Yes, I did."
"Did you have a good time?" Cassie asked. "Hi Alex!" she disentangled herself from Cassie and gave Alex a huge hug.
Alex picked her up and swung her round. "We had a great time, Bea," she told her, trying not to smile too widely. "You look good this morning. How is everything?"
Beatrice grinned. "Leo's been naughty," she said. "Mama's cleaning him up."
"Where's Mom, Bea?" Cassie asked.
"She was called into work last night, Mama said," Beatrice told her. "And Mama says we have to get everything cleaned up before she gets back."
"What happened, Bea?" Alex asked, hearing Sam's footsteps on the stairs.
"Leo happened," Sam said, trying not to laugh, as she appeared. She held a wriggling and soaking wet Leo in her arms, wrapped in a towel from which he was determinedly trying to extricate himself. "Hey Alex, Cassie," she said. "Come get coffee," she headed toward the kitchen, where she sat in a chair, and tried to finish drying off the wriggling 'dog' while Cassie switched on the coffee machine. After a few minutes, she gave up. "You're dry enough," she said to Leo, and lowered him to the floor. "Nobody open the door," she instructed. "He's going nowhere. Not until he's dry."
"What's going on Sam?" Cassie asked.
Sam smiled. "Leo decided he wanted to see how the building work was getting on. So he somehow managed to open the door from the garden, and he got himself covered in plaster. Which he then decided to tread all over the house. Did we get it all Bea?" she asked her young daughter.
"I think so," Bea said. "I looked real carefully. Is he in trouble, Mama?" her face was concerned.
Sam reached down and pulled her into her lap, and hugged her warmly. "No, sweetie," she said, kissing her on the cheek. "Not really. It was my fault, I should have been watching him more closely. And he just wanted to know what the progress was, I can't blame him!" she smiled. "So, are you girls up for some shopping?"
"Are you sure you want to go?" Cassie asked. Sam had instructed her that today they were going to shop for the rest of the furniture for her new apartment, in particular to choose a new bed and a couch, as well as some of the kitchen equipment. "What about Bea and Kathy?"
"I asked Bea what she thought," Sam said. "And she wants to come shopping with us. Kathy'll be awake again soon, and she'll be happy as long as she's in her sling and not in the chair. So we're all set, if you two are?"
"Are you sure you want me to come too?" Alex asked. "After all, this is your apartment, Cass."
"Of course I want you to come," Cassie said. "I need your advice. Especially in the kitchen. I'm relying on you to teach me to cook," she grinned.
"Are you sure you're ready for such a mammoth undertaking?" Sam asked Alex, a big smile on her face. "Others have tried and failed you know!"
Alex snickered. "I'm willing to give it a try," she said. "They say you learn more by your failures!"
Cassie mock-glowered. "So Mom was called in, huh?" she asked.
"Yeah," Sam said. "At 2.30am. She'll be exhausted, she only got home at 9pm last night. I hope she gets home soon."
"What was it?" Cassie asked.
"Team coming in hot," Sam told her. "Some nasty injuries I believe. Nothing life threatening, though," she reassured Alex. She could see the too-familiar emotions flitting over the young lieutenant's face. 'Is it anyone I know? Am I going to lose any friends? Why wasn't it me?' "Just hard work for Jan, I think."
"Have you spoken to her Sam?" Cassie asked.
"Briefly, this morning," Sam told her. "She sounds real tired. She said just a few more hours and she'll be back here."
"Probably best we're out then, huh?" Cassie said. "Let her get some sleep when she gets back."
Sam nodded her agreement. As if on cue, she heard a wail from upstairs. "Well someone's awake!" she said with a smile. "Leave in half an hour?" she asked, to which the others nodded their agreement.
= = =
"I wanna see!" Beatrice declared loudly in the store where Cassie was deciding on which couch to buy.
"Here!" Alex said. "Just seeing is no good. You need to sit. Here, you sit by me," she took Beatrice's hand and led her to the couch on which Cassie had almost decided. "See if you think it's comfy." She helped the child scramble onto the seat, and pulled her to her in a warm hug. She looked up at Cassie and grinned. "Well, we like it, don't we Bea?"
Beatrice nodded enthusiastically. "It's real comfy," she said. "I think you should get this one Cassie."
Sam laughed. "Looks like the decision's been made for you Cass, you happy with that one?" she jiggled Kathy who was becoming restless in her sling.
"It's great," Cassie said. "But it's an awful lot of money Sam, I'm sure we can find a cheaper one."
"We're getting this one," Sam said firmly. "I told you Cass, your Mom and I want everything to be just right for you. Anyway," she grinned. "Once you've made your millions, you can buy me that Ducati motorbike I've got my eye on!"
"By the time I can afford that bike, I'll be far too old to ride any bike! You'll be in a bath chair by then Sam!" Cassie ducked as Sam tried to swipe her. "Seriously, Sam, I can't tell you how much I appreciate it. This is all so exciting."
Kathy's whimpering got louder. "Looks like your sister wants her dinner early," Sam said, with a grimace. "I'll go find a mother-and-baby room. You three go and look at the beds, I'll be there in under half an hour," she promised. "Unless you wanna come with us Bea?" she asked her young daughter.
"I want to stay with Cassie and Alex," Beatrice said. "If that's okay."
"That's great, Bea," Cassie took one of her hands, while Alex took the other. "You can help us by bouncing on all the mattresses. You look too cute for the sales guys to tell us off!" She smiled.
"Just try not to get thrown out!" Sam smiled, as she headed off with Kathy.
= = =
"There, that's better, huh?" Sam said quietly to her youngest daughter, as she settled her against her breast. "You're hungry today, baby. That's okay, we're having a busy day." As she rocked the child very gently, her cellphone rang. She rifled in her pocket, trying not to disturb the baby too much. She looked at the caller display. "Hey sweetie," she said, her voice full of love and concern. "Are you okay?"
"I'm fine," Janet replied tiredly. "Just about to head home. Are you all shopping?"
"Yeah," Sam said. "Kathy and I have stopped for some dinner. For her," she laughed. "It's great to hear your voice, hon. You must be exhausted."
"I am a bit tired," Janet admitted.
"How did it go?" Sam asked. She knew how Janet always got personally involved with the people under her care. They both knew she shouldn't, but somehow she just couldn't help it.
"Good," Sam could hear the relief in Janet's voice. "I thought we might lose Dryden, but he's okay, we managed to stop the bleeding. It was a tough night," she admitted, and Sam could hear that Janet was completely drained emotionally. "I just wanted to hear your voice before leaving the mountain."
"You'll get someone to drive you, will you baby?" Sam begged her lover.
"Yeah, I've got an airman standing by," Janet said. "Will you be much longer?" she tried to keep the note of pleading out of her voice.
"Couple of hours, I guess," Sam said. "Depending on how long it takes Cass to make her mind up. She's a quick shopper, so we should be home by 6pm I'd say."
"Will you come up and see me?" Janet asked, trying hard not to sound too pathetic. "Even if I'm asleep? I just wanna hold you for a few moments."
"You really should try and sleep, sweetie," Sam said.
"I know," Janet sounded miserable. "I will. I swear. But I want you to wake me when you get in. I should get up in the evening anyway, if only for a couple of hours, so I can readjust my body clock. And I want to feel your arms around me. Please?"
"I swear," Sam promised. "And then later we can hold each other all night, huh?"
"Thank you honey," Janet said. "I love you."
"I love you too baby," Sam whispered into the phone.
= = =
"Well that was a great success," Sam declared as they parked the car in the garage. "Bea, will you help Cassie and Alex unpack the car, while I put Kathy in her crib?" she asked. "And then I'm just gonna look in on your Mom, I promised her I'd say hi. Are you sure you're happy to make dinner, Alex? We could easily call for take-out."
"I'd love to cook for you all," Alex smiled. "And Cassie's promised to help me. I think we can start the cookery lessons right here, right now."
"Well good luck with that!" Sam laughed.
"It's okay," Alex said with a grin. "Bea'll help me keep an eye on Cassie, won't you Bea?" she put her hand on the girl's shoulder.
= = =
"You came," Janet said blearily, as Sam sat on the bed and leaned down, kissing her softly.
"I promised you I would," Sam said. "I wanted to see you too, Jan," she kicked off her shoes, and lay down next to her lover. "How about we snuggle for a while? Kathy's asleep, and the girls are making themselves busy downstairs. Alex is gonna make dinner, and she's got two willing assistants."
"That'd be great," Janet said, her eyes closing even as she reached out for Sam and wrapped her arm possessively round her. "Mmm," she said. "That's better. I can never sleep properly without you."
"See if you can nap for an hour," Sam dropped a kiss on the top of her head. "We'll get up in time for dinner."
"Great," Janet muttered sleepily.
= = =
"Well that was a great dinner, thank you," Janet leaned over the table and put her hand over Alex's. You can come more often.
Alex blushed. "It was nothing," she demurred.
"Nonsense, it was wonderful," Janet said. "Where did you learn to cook like that?"
"My Mom taught me a lot," Alex said. "And then, when it was just me and Chris. I used to ... experiment a lot in the kitchen. Maybe that's why he left home so young!" she tried to cover up her sadness with humor.
Sam and Janet knew better than to challenge her on it, but Sam was touched to see Cassie's hand sneak out under the table and touch Alex's knee reassuringly.
"So who's for a game of chess?" Cassie asked once they had eaten, and she and Alex had cleared up.
Sam shook her head. "Not for me," she said. "I'm gonna take this one," she nudged Beatrice playfully, "up to bed. And I think her Mom," she smiled at Janet, "is just about dead on her feet. So we're gonna turn in early. But you two play. And Alex," she smiled at her young assistant, "you know you're welcome to stay any time you want, right?" She swallowed, wanting to make a point, but not wanting to embarrass either her eldest daughter or Alex. "In the spare room or with Cassie, it's up to you."
Alex blushed. "That's real kind," she said. "I have to get back tonight, though, I've gotta feed the fish."
"It's an open invitation," Sam tried to keep her tone light.
= = =
"You don't have any fish," Cassie whispered as Sam, Beatrice and Janet headed upstairs.
Alex smiled. "I know," she said. "I just ... I couldn't think of what to say. So I said that. Shit," she grinned, "now I'm gonna have to get some fish. I don't even like fish."
Cassie reached up and kissed her softly. "I think Sam knew that it was a diplomatic excuse. You don't feel ready yet, that's fine. I understand. Mom and Sam do too."
"It's not you," Alex said. "Really. You're perfect. Just perfect. It just seems a bit early to be sleeping in my boss's house, in her daughter's bed. It's a bit, you know, weird. Of course," she grinned, "it didn't feel weird last night. Not in the slightest. But this is her home. Does that sound really dumb?"
Cassie smiled. "No, not dumb at all," she said.
Alex looked relieved. "Let's play chess," she said.
"Just so's you know," Cassie warned. "I was taught by Sam. I take no prisoners in chess. You have been warned."
Alex grinned. "Is that a challenge, Miss Fraiser?" she asked.
"It sure is," Cassie agreed. "One more thing, though. I get the 'not-quite-yet-boss's-daughter's-bed thing'. How d'you feel about a 'making-out-on-the-couch-for-a-while-once-everybody's-asleep' thing? Just wondering."
Alex smiled. "I think that'd probably be alright," she said. "Why don't we try it after our game? See how it works out?" her eyes twinkled mischievously.
Cassie grinned back. "I think perhaps we should try it," she said.
"One final thing," Alex added.
"Yeah?" Cassie asked.
"You're staying at my apartment tomorrow night, no arguments."
"You won't get a fight from me on that one," Cassie said. "Now let's get that chessboard out."