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A Call To Arms

 
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Natalya Bristol
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PostPosted: Sat Feb 21, 2015 11:17 am    Post subject: A Call To Arms Reply with quote

Into every life, a little rain must fall. In this case, it wasn't so much rain as pureed banana, and it wasn't so much falling as being forcibly ejected from a very small mouth. Ana Clare Bristol, as adorable as she was turning out to be, didn't seem to approve of the whole concept of solid food.

Rhys sighed as his little imp of a daughter gave him the raspberries yet again, spewing pureed banana every which way. Who would have thought that such a tiny adorable girl could make such a big mess? He wiped some banana mess from his face and scowled at the pint-size terror in front of him. "Come on, Ana. Give your father a break. You don't want to see your mother yell at me, do you?" he asked, leaning in close, as if conspiring with her in some way. "Look, they're just bananas. See?" he said, holding up a spoonful of the stuff. "Yummy numnums," he said, smiling and offering her another spoonful. "Mmmmm."

Ana giggled at her father, opening her mouth as she had done every time thus far. In went the spoon, there was a moment of peace in which existed the possibility of her swallowing, and then ... Thpppppt! One raspberry and a lot of flying banana later, and Ana let rip with her infectious giggle once again. It probably didn't help that Nat was standing safely out of range, laughing harder than she had in a long time at the sight of Rhys trying to persuade their daughter to attempt something vaguely solid for the first time.

Rhys grunted as he once again became the wearer of mushed up bananas. Well, at least, it wasn't peas, but still. "It's impossible, Nat. I can't get her to eat them. She just doesn't like them or something. Can't we try again tomorrow?" he asked, hopefully. Maybe by tomorrow, little Miss Ana Clare would forget all about this game of hers and decide that bananas were the best thing in the whole world. "Maybe she's just not hungry."

"Maybe it's just too much fun to spit it back at you, milaya," his wife pointed out in amusement. "The book said something about being persistent, but I think maybe you are right. We should try again later." After all, it could have been that Ana just wasn't hungry right now. She was a little unpredictable at times when it came to feeds. Chuckling, Nat came over to rescue him, handing over a wet cloth so he could clean himself up while she attacked the giggling baby in the high-chair with one herself.

"You know, they're really not that appealing. Maybe we should puree some pizza or something," Rhys suggested, though he knew fully well that Nat would veto that idea. She was all about doing things the right way, especially when it came to their first-born. "I mean, would you wanna eat this stuff?" He took up a spoonful of bananas, making a sour face at the consistency of it, before tipping the spoon so that it dribbled back into the bowl. "No wonder kids are picky eaters. I'd be picky, too!" Was it any wonder Ana wouldn't eat her bananas when her father was so unenthusiastic about it?

Nat eyed him, a slightly evil thought coming into her mind. She had a feeling Rhys' lack of excitement might be one of the issues here, but she didn't think he was going to appreciate what she was about to do. "May I try something?" she asked innocently, inserting herself onto his lap. She took the bowl from him, scraping up a spoonful of the puree and inserted it into his mouth. "Mmm, Papa, isn't that lovely?" she told him, the look in her eyes promising pain if he spat it at her. "So yummy, and Ana didn't want it. She doesn't know what she's missing, does she, Papa?"

He was just wiping his face off again, when Nat plopped down in his lap. "I think it's me who needs the bib," he muttered, just before finding a spoonful of mushy bananas in his mouth. He mumbled in protest, but it was too late. He forced himself to smile past the scowl on his face. It wasn't so much that the bananas tasted bad as it was the consistency of them. It was no secret Rhys preferred food he could sink his teeth into. He mumbled again in reply to Nat, "Mmmm," before swallowing the stuff down. "Yummy!" he said, opening his mouth for another spoonful.

"Oh, good Papa," Nat praised him warmly, rewarding him for swallowing the tiny mouthful with a kiss. In the high-chair, Ana watched them, jealous of the attention her Papa was getting. She slapped the little table in front of her. Nat looked at the baby girl. "Oh, would you like some, Ana?" she asked, scraping another little spoonful up. "Would you? Here it comes ... open wide!" As she opened her mouth, so did the baby girl, and the spoon went in. Nat's finger gently closed Ana's mouth as she mmmed enthusiastically for the little girl. And, depressingly enough, Ana swallowed. "Oh, good girl!"

Rhys closed his mouth, watching intently as Ana accepted the spoonful of bananas from her mother, brows furrowing in confusion. "How'd you do that?" he asked, wondering how Nat had managed to convince their stubborn little girl to do what she wanted, when he couldn't. What had she done that he hadn't?

The answer came in the sight of Ana puckering up her sticky mouth. Nat laughed, leaning forward to give their daughter the same reward she'd given Rhys. "I cheated, dusha moya," she told him with a smile, leaning back as Ana opened her mouth for more. "She isn't going to want anything unless we make it fun for her. Your turn." She handed him the bowl with a grin.

"But... making every spoonful fun will be exhausting!" Rhys pointed out, imagining them having to make a game out of eating until she was sixteen years old. Like any younger father, he worried himself sick over the littlest things, not realizing that they would work themselves eventually. What teenager went off to college still wearing diapers and drinking from a baby bottle? Despite all of this, he took the bowl from her somewhat grudgingly and scooped up a bit of banana onto the spoon. "Okay, Anabanana! Here comes the airplane! Open the hangar!" he said, zooming the spoon through the air toward the little girl's mouth.

The baby girl actually leaned forward this time, mouth as wide as she could get it to scoop the contents of the spoon into her mouth with her top lip. She closed her mouth and swallowed, beaming a grin at her father. Nat chuckled, vindicated for her silly display of enthusiasm. "Well done."

Rhys laughed, pleased - no delighted - that she'd finally taken a spoonful of food from him, despite the fact that Nat had managed it first. "She likes it!" he exclaimed, pleasantly surprised. "One more time, Ana!" he said, zooming another spoonful of banana toward her mouth while making an airplane sound with his mouth. Maybe it wasn't so much about making it fun as it was convincing her it tasted good.

Slipping free from Rhys' lap as he embraced the silliness that was going to rule their mealtimes for a while, Nat watched with a warm smile as Ana giggled and cooed, accepting mouthful after mouthful with delight. It didn't really matter what the spoon contained - this was fun time with Papa, and Papa always got a big smile.

It wasn't long before Rhys was laughing along with Ana and the bowl of bananas was quickly emptied. "That's my girl, Ana!" he praised her, setting the bowl aside and snatching up a wet wipe to dab banana mess from her face. "Aren't you proud of her, Mama?" he asked, smiling up at Nat.
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PostPosted: Sat Feb 21, 2015 11:19 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

"Oh, I am so proud of her," Nat played along happily, bending to kiss Ana's newly cleaned cheek as the baby girl gurgled, very pleased with herself for making her parents happy. "And very proud of you, too," she added, leaning over to kiss Rhys affectionately. "I think Papa should do all meals, don't you, malyutka?" She lifted Ana out of the high chair, settling the little girl on her hip comfortably.

"I don't know about that," Rhys replied, practically blushing at the praise, which he didn't think was all that well-deserved. "But I'm very proud of both of you," he said, smooching first one girl then the other, starting with the little one and ending with the bigger one. "Will it be easier now that she's had her first taste?" he asked curiously, reaching around to unfasten the bib from around Ana's neck.

"Your guess is as good as mine, milaya," Nat shrugged. They were both still feeling their way through parenthood, and she, for one, was desperately hoping they got a handle on it before their first son was born in a year or so. "I think we will have to make food fun for a while, or she may go hungry." She kissed the little head by her shoulder. At least Ana was predictable in this - her stomach was full, therefore there was a nap in her very near future.

"If she takes anything after her Dada, she'll figure it out long before she goes hungry," Rhys said, scooping the little girl up from his wife's arms. "Looks like it's nap time," he said, lowering his voice. He took every chance he got to cuddle with the little girl, to rock her to sleep, to tuck her into bed. It wasn't unusual for Nat to find them both asleep together, Rhys having dozed off along with their daughter. One thing was certain - he was more content than ever.

"You are not wrong," Nat chuckled, giving up their daughter into his arms easily enough, one last kiss touched to the sleepy head. "And I need to look over the information we were given. Not that I don't trust Avalon's agents, of course, but they were wrong about Joyeuse." She smiled, stroking his cheek as she stepped away. "Do not get into the crib, it is not your bedtime yet."

He chuckled at her warning. "Um, no, I don't think I'd fit, even if I wanted to," he said, though he caught her meaning. Ever since they'd had their daughter, he just couldn't get enough of her, reveling in the role of being a father. "Does this mean we're not on maternity leave anymore?" he asked, as she stepped away.

"I think so," she agreed reluctantly. "And I think Ana would be safest with Rachel and Zachariel, on Avalon, while we are at work." She waved him away with a teasing hand. "Go and put her down. We should at least get a little work done today."

Rhys frowned a little, saddened that their leave of absence from their duties on Avalon were over, though he had to admit he loved the adventure. He'd spent his entire life going from one adventure to another, and now that he was with Nat, it only made things that much more interesting. The mile high club was proof enough of that. "Yes, dear," he quipped before stepping away to tuck Ana in for her afternoon nap.

Nat chuckled, watching him on his way before moving toward the study. The letter had arrived the day before, stamped with the wax seal of Avalon, containing two sheets of paper, and one sketch. It wasn't much to go on, but Nat was used to doing her own explorations. She had a feeling this would be a short trip, but possibly very exciting.

It wasn't long before Rhys returned and wearing a clean shirt, too. "Mission successful. Little Miss Troublemaker is fast asleep," he told her, joining her in the study, a cup of coffee in each hand. "So, what is it they want done?" he asked, curiously taking a lean against the desk and handing her one of the mugs.

By the time he joined her, she had pulled a couple of the old books down from their shelves, leaving them open as she smiled up at him, taking her coffee from his hand. "The Rod of Asclepius has been felt in the world," she told him thoughtfully, glancing down at the letter that had been sent to them. "Two agents have attempted to retrieve it, each time having to return to Avalon for healing, and each time the Rod has moved on to a different place." She frowned, shaking her head. "I do not want to know what they thought they were doing, to earn such an attack from such an artifact."

"The Rod of what?" he asked, not nearly as knowledgeable about the various artifacts and mythological objects that were sought by Avalon. "I can do magical things with my rod, if you like," he nudged her with an elbow and waggled his brows at her flirtatiously. He knew she was serious, but he just couldn't help himself.

She laughed, reaching over to poke at his side for his silly flirting. "Asclepius," she told him, turning one of the books to show off the illustration of the artifact. It was a simple wooden staff, twined about with a single snake. "The Greek God of medicine, one of Apollo's sons. If it is back in the world and active, then it is only a matter of time before someone finds it and begins to misuse it. It could be a powerful weapon, in the wrong hands. The Rod can heal anything, but if it is wielded by a will strong enough to dominate it, it can also infect anyone."

He smiled, pleased he'd made her laugh, despite the seriousness of the subject matter. He tilted his head to look at the drawing, crossing his legs as he leaned against the desk and took a sip of his coffee. "It looks familiar. Don't hospitals use that as a symbol or something?" Thankfully, he hadn't mixed the thing up with any other rods or staffs of which there were several. "What's with the snake? And what do you mean infect? Infect them with what?" he asked, brows furrowing, not liking the sound of that.

"It is the universal symbol for healing these days," she nodded, smiling at him. "Often confused with the caduceus, but yes, hospitals use it on their logos a lot. The snake is supposedly a non-venomous specimen that was used in healing in ancient times." She sighed softly, brushing her hair back out of her face. "The Rod is the greatest power there could possibly be when it comes to healing, but in the wrong hands, it would be the most powerful bio-weapon there could possibly exist. Nothing would be able to cure the illnesses it inflicted. That power cannot be allowed to remain free on Earth."

Rhys sobered, turning serious, knowing how important this was. There was a time for humor, and this wasn't it. "Okay, what have we got? Where was it seen last? And what happened to the agents who tried to recover it? Did they survive?" he asked, slumping down into a chair and taking another sip of his coffee.

She handed him the letter, which didn't really say much. "The Rod seems to be staying within the boundaries of Ancient Greece, but that is a large area to cover," she told him, leaning back in her own chair. "Of the two who went for it, the first returned to Avalon unable to sleep because of a rash that had been inflicted on him. It was not fatal, but it kept him from laying his hands on the Rod. The second was almost disemboweled; again, he was healed when he reached Avalon. Both still alive, but with very sketchy memories of what happened. The Grand Master believes that they both attempted to take the Rod by force from its resting place, without passing the tests laid out to discover their worthiness." She tapped a couple of keys at the computer. "There has a been a rash of miraculous recoveries without medical intervention in and around Delphi in the last few months - I believe that is probably where the Rod is currently resting. And if we can spot that pattern, you can bet others will, too."
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PostPosted: Sat Feb 21, 2015 11:19 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

He set his mug down and took hold of the letter, eyes moving over what was written there, while listening to Nat's explanation. "Disemboweled? Jesus Christ," Rhys said, jerking his head up at her and stifling a shudder. That was something he hoped to never experience. "Okay, but how did it get there?" he asked further, trying to sort out everything she was telling him.

"Well, it makes sense, in a way," she mused, leaning forward onto her elbows. "Asclepius was Apollo's son, and Delphi was sacred to Apollo for a very long time. There have always been rumors of caverns, or man-made tunnels, beneath the Temple at Delphi, but no archaeological expedition has located them, as such. There was a report last year of some gigantic snake being seen in and around the complex, but it was only one sighting, and it was discounted early on." She bit her lip. "It would make sense that Gaia's serpent has resurfaced, though. It is a guardian, and if there is something there to guard, it will surface."

"Okay, so, a couple of Avalon's finest were sent to retrieve the rod and failed, so now it's up to us," Rhys summed up the situation in a nutshell. "Is Elaine hoping we'll be deemed worthy? Because frankly, the last time we were judged worthy wasn't a whole lotta fun." But then, of course, this wasn't about having fun. It was about retrieving the object before it got into the wrong hands. "So, what's the plan?" he asked, handing her back the letter.

Taking the letter from him, Nat frowned thoughtfully. "I need to do some more research, and ideally I would like to scout the ruins at Delphi a little," she admitted. "I think the theory is that there is no one in Avalon more worthy than us. If we reach the Rod, the test ... I have no idea what might be asked of us. Neither one of us is a healer. But, da, I think we are going to have to visit Greece very soon."

"What about Apollo? I assume the Greek Gods are extinct or whatever? I mean, this As... this son of Apollo's isn't around or it wouldn't have been left there, right?" One could never be too sure. They'd defeated Abaddon and his cronies, but Rhys knew there were other just as powerful and dangerous beings existence, even if they didn't call Earth home.

"Well, as Avalon understands it, the Greek Gods abandoned this world when humanity no longer needed them, but their weapons, their objects of power, they left behind, in case they were needed," Nat told him. "Perhaps there are one or two who still remain. Dionysus, for example, and his nymphs and satyrs - they are seen too often for them not to have remained. But the great gods, the main powers of the pantheon? They are gone. All that remains of them is what they left behind."

"Seems kind of stupid for them to have left such powerful artifacts behind. Irresponsible, even. What did they think would become of them? They obviously haven't seen Raiders of the Lost Ark," Rhys quipped, not taking the movie seriously so much as trying to make a point about not wanting anything so powerful as that to get into the wrong hands, which it seemed, was exactly what Avalon was trying to prevent from happening. "Okay, I'm in. When do we leave?"

"Well, they were not exactly known for being responsible," she smiled warmly, shaking her head. Her reluctance to set a date for their departure showed itself in her expression as she sighed slowly, looking down at the books in front of her. "It should be soon," she admitted uncomfortably, glancing toward the nursery without thinking. "I don't want to leave her, but ... I would never forgive myself if we took her into danger."

Rhys frowned, following her gaze to the nursery, his heart feeling as torn as Nat's. "Nat, they wouldn't send us unless it was really important. And I don't want to sound cocky because I know nothing's set in stone, but we've both seen the future. It's not our time yet. We've still got a couple of kids who haven't even been born yet. We'll be careful. We'll take all the necessary precautions. Ana will be safe in Avalon. Nothing will happen to her there. It'll just be a few days." Was he trying to convince himself or her?

"It had to happen at some point, didn't it." It wasn't a question. They'd both known their grace period couldn't last forever, and yet the Lady had been extremely generous to allow it to last this long at all. "But you're right. They wouldn't be sending us if anyone else could do it."

"It can't be worse than Abaddon," Rhys said, not wanting to remind her of it so much as make a point. "We're the best ones for the job, I guess." It wasn't necessarily a bad thing. Rhys took a great amount of pride in being the Champion of Avalon; it was the little girl in the other room that tugged so at both their hearts.

Nat nodded, however reluctantly. "Perhaps Yves knows something more about how to reach the caverns beneath Delphi, too," she added, referring to the most scholarly of the Templars on the Isle. "We would not need to book flights if we travel via Avalon."

"No arguments there!" Rhys agreed. Mile High Club or not, it was no secret that he wasn't a fan of flying, and no amount of convincing would make him one. "When do they want us in Avalon?" he asked bluntly. It was obvious their journey was going to start there, and he assumed there was a lot more they were going to find out before they were sent off to Greece.

"As soon as possible," she said quietly. "But I am inclined to make that tomorrow, not today." They had never been away from Ana before, and though there was no preventing it, Nat wanted to have one more normal evening before they returned to the hunt.

"It'll just be a few days, right?" he asked, with another lingering glance toward the nursery. Neither of them wanted to leave their precious bundle behind, but it seemed they had no choice. Some things were just bigger than them, and if the rod got into the wrong hands, Rhys would never forgive himself.

She nodded. "I do not think it will be so long as the last adventure we shared," she assured him, fighting not to upset herself too much at the thought of handing her little girl over to anyone for a few days. She and Rhys had even failed to have a single date night to themselves since Ana's birth. No wonder the thought of leaving their daughter presented such a challenge.

This was exactly where Rhys wanted to be, where he'd longed to be for so long - in a proper home with a wife and daughter, with a family to love and care for. It was more than he'd ever hoped for, more than he thought he deserved. He'd spent enough years on the road going from place to place searching for that elusive something. He was more than content here in Brooklyn or in Avalon - wherever Nat and Ana were, that was home. "Nat, she'll be fine," he assured her, reaching across the desk to link his fingers with hers. "This is who we are; this is what we do. The Lady is counting on us."
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PostPosted: Sat Feb 21, 2015 11:21 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Her fingers curled into his tightly as she raised her eyes to his, wet with tears at the thought of not being there when Ana cried, even for a single day. "I know," she agreed, nodding. She knew her duty, as well as he knew his. "It does not make it any easier."

"I'm gonna miss her, too, but we're not doing this for ourselves, Nat. We're doing this to make the world a safer, better place for our children," he said, though she had to know that already. Everything he'd done throughout his life, it seemed, he'd done for other people - and to survive - but now that they had a child of their own, it only made things more clear, more personal. He touched his fingers to her cheek, his heart aching at the sight of her tears. "I'll go alone, if you want. You stay in Avalon with Ana."

"Nyet." The denial of that offer was instant, her head shaking as she raised her other hand to capture his. "Ana will be perfectly safe. You will not be. You will need me more than she will. This is why we work together, milaya. Alone, we would not be able to accomplish this. Together, we can. I can do this. I promise I can." She swallowed, visibly drawing the effort together to suppress her tears and offer him a smile. "See?"

"There's nothing wrong with crying, Nat," he reassured her with a soft smile, his fingers closing on hers. He was no stranger to tears; in fact, he was usually the one being comforted rather than doing the comforting. He already knew that would be her answer. He knew her well enough to know she wouldn't let him go alone - not again, not after what had happened the last time, and he'd promised never to leave her behind again. "We're in this together, Nat. Always and forever, remember?"

"Always and forever," she agreed with him, closing both hands about his one. "Once we have done it this once, it will not be so hard, and in a few years she will be old enough to come with us, if it is not too dangerous." She nodded, forcing her smile once again. "It is just hard, this first time."

"I know. It's hard for me, too," he replied. If it was this hard for him, he could only imagine how hard it must be for Nat to leave her baby daughter. A thought occurred to him suddenly and he chuckled. "I think we've become domesticated," he told her with a smirk and a sparkle in his green eyes that were so like their daughter's.

She laughed at the thought of them ever being domesticated, knowing what she did of both their lives before they'd found one another. "That will never do," she smiled, shaking her head. "We cannot possibly have the Champion of Avalon happily wearing an apron and playing nanny for the rest of his life."

He chuckled again, tugging at her hand to draw her off her chair and into his lap. "The funny thing is I would. I'd happily wear an apron and a spit-up stained shirt and stay home with you and Ana for the rest of my life."

Nat's smile relaxed as he drew her into his lap, the case spread over the desk forgotten as she curled her arms about his neck affectionately. "I know what you mean," she agreed, one fingertip tracing his lips. "But we would not be us any longer, if that was our whole life. Our children will grow up with a lifetime of adventures under our eyes."

"Just so long as they don't get hurt," he told her, kissing her fingertip as she traced his lips. "You know, Mrs. Bristol, we have a little time to kill before Her Majesty wakes up from her nap. Would you like to spend it going over the next job or making better use of the time?" he asked, a hand creeping up under the hem of her dress. Even just sitting around the house, she looked amazing. There was no one in Rhys' eyes as lovely or sexy as his wife.

"Mmm, I can think of nothing I would rather do," she murmured tenderly, leaning down to brush her lips against his. "We have everything we need for the job as it stands. Nothing more we can do this evening." She smiled once again, nipping him fondly. "Do you think, perhaps, we will make it past the nursery this time without waking her up?"

"We might if you can keep your hands off me long enough," he replied with a teasing grin. "Or we could stay right here," he suggested. The place wasn't so important - they had made love in stranger places, unless she wanted to snuggle in bed. He wasn't opposed to that either. Any time spent alone with his wife was time well spent, no matter what they were doing. As for himself, if the way his hand was creeping up her thigh was any indication, he had more on his mind than snuggling.

She had always been so easily roused for him, right from the first hour in which they had met, and that did not seem to be abating at all. If anything, Nat was more in love with Rhys every day, always open and willing to show him in more ways than one. She laughed into his grin, pressing kiss after kiss against his lips as she eased ever closer. "I knew we had thick carpet put in here for a reason ..."

"Mmm," he murmured against her lips as kiss after kiss was shared. "There's always the desk," he suggested with a mischievous grin, turning her to straddle his hips, as his hands slid daringly higher. There was no question what he intended, his appetite for his wife as easily aroused as hers for him. She had practically seduced him that first time on the plane, and he had made it a point to return the favor time and again. Whether they were new parents or not, they never seemed to grow tired of each other. Like her, if anything, he only fell more in love with her with each passing day.

"You're just buttering me up," she teased him, easing to fit snug against him as his hands bunched her dress about her hips. "So you don't have to feed Ana later." Her laughter ghosted against his lips as she gently undulated against him, knowing full well exactly what that intimate friction was going to do to her very virile husband.

"This has nothing to do with Ana," he reminded her, unless, of course, she got pregnant again, but he wasn't too worried about that. It was an inevitability, anyway, and would happen when it happened. He didn't want to know every detail of their lives to come, content to know there were more children waiting for them in the future. He groaned against her lips, her undulating having the desire effect. There was no stopping now. Hopefully, Ana would cooperate.

"Oh, nothing at all," Nat laughed, but the sound faded soon enough, her voice instead filling the room with the sound of her pleasure in the man she adored above every other. If there had been a Church of Rhys, she would have been his High Priestess, sacrificed willingly on the altar every night for his divine glory. As it was, she was his wife, and she had learned very quickly how to make each and every moment they shared like this more memorable than the last.

The chair, the desk, the floor - it didn't really matter where they ended up. Each moment together, no matter how brief, was enjoyed to the fullest, as if any moment might be their last. They had both learned the hard way that life was precious and far too short to waste even a single moment together. While some couples might have grown bored with each other, Rhys and Natalya only seemed to love each other more as time passed, their love burning brighter and deeper than ever before.

Of course, it had to end sometime, and that ending came with the waking of their charming daughter. Whatever else Ana had, she was definitely in possession of a fine pair of lungs. For a long moment, there was no movement in the office, then a hand came into sight, flailing for the edge of the desk as Nat pulled herself up onto her knees, breathless and laughing. "I swear, milaya, you are getting better at that ..."

"Someone once told me that practice makes perfect," he grinned up at her from the floor. Thank God they'd decided to install thick carpet in here or someone was bound to get a friction burn. "My turn," he volunteered, rolling to his feet to tug his jeans back up over his hips. "What do you say we order out tonight?" he asked, not feeling like all the fuss and muss of making dinner, no matter how quick and easy.

She grinned up at him as he found his feet, pulling her dress back over her head. "I say that is a very good plan," she agreed laughingly. "Did you see where my panties went?" Because she certainly hadn't. "I was a little ... distracted. Where did you learn that tongue thing?" Pushing herself onto her feet, she pulled him close, kissing him once again.

"Uhh..." he replied uncertainly. Her panties had been there just a little while ago. What had he done with them? "They couldn't have gone far," he said. He would have taken a look under the desk, but he didn't get the chance. Pulled close, he smiled against her lips when she kissed him, amused by her question. "I read, too, you know," he told her. "Did you know the tongue is the strongest muscle in the body?"

"I'll just have to wear yours, then," she teased him, nipping as she drew away. His information on the tongue made her laugh as she gently slapped his chest. "Go and see to your daughter's offensive rear end, dusha moya. She's playing your song."

He was tempted to demonstrate further, but Ana's wails were reaching crisis mode, and he was afraid if one of them didn't see to her soon, she might blow their eardrums out. "What song is that? Daddy, I have a dirty diaper?" He smirked, leaning close to kiss her again, fingers sliding through her hair before pulling away to go check on Little Miss Dirty Diaper. "I love you, dorogagya," he whispered tenderly.

She laughed once again, lingering with him before he drew back, her cheeks lighting up with a warm, happy flush at his whisper. "I love you, milaya," she promised him. "And to prove it? I will make you coffee while you are dealing with the spawn of our loins."

"Sounds like a plan," he replied with a cheerful grin. It wasn't just the afternoon delight that was putting the Cheshire Cat grin on his fact, but the fact that at long last, after so many years of heartache and pain, he felt really and truly happy, even if that happiness was occasionally tainted by a dirty diaper or two. "I'm pretty sure the spawn of our loins has a present for me," he said with a laugh as he headed turned the nursery. "All right, all right! It's not the end of the world!" he scolded their daughter.

Nat laughed as she watched him go, turning to gather together the papers and books once again. Their life might be returning to adventure, but it would only be for a little while. And yes, their duty to Avalon would pull them away from this domesticated bliss they had managed to build around themselves from time to time, but it would never pull them apart. Whatever else happened to them, their family would always come first, and they had been promised a family that would grow as the years went on. As dreams went, it was a good one.

((Time for Rhys and Nat to go back to work! What will happen this time, I wonder? Many thanks to Rhys' player!))
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