Kat enters the apartment and steps out of her heels, a pair of crimson roses in one hand and a ribboned box in her other. She sighs, expels thoughts of work and responsibility and focuses on the calmness of home, the comfort of seeing a barricade of pillows surrounding her favorite little human in bed and toys scattered in the floor of the living room. Her favorite lady is typing on her laptop at the kitchen table and she says, “Hi, baby,” as Kat rounds the corner and comes behind her.
She brushes her nose against the shell of Adena’s ear and inhales the clean scent of her hair - Kat’s own conditioner, actually - placing soft kisses against her jaw and cheek and neck in greeting then doing it all again on the other side until Adena giggles.
“Happy Valentine’s Day,” she finally says, presenting her gift and laying the flowers on the table. She watches Adena open the little package, a joyful smile spread across her face as she reveals three perfect macarons. They had agreed to keep things small this year, but Kat knows the gesture is just as appreciated as if she had given Adena diamonds or a vintage camera or any number of expensive things.
Adena thanks her, and Kat bends down, face cradled in Adena’s hands as their mouths meet.
“Thank you for the card and the flowers.” Kat grabs a narrow vase and adds water for them. “I gave some out at the office to all the single ladies...all the single ladies,” she repeats in song. Kat grins while finishing the decorative touch. The flowers stand up beautifully as the centerpiece of their table.
“I hope you didn’t say it like that.”
Kat changes out of her work clothes, and they chat quietly until they hear the baby start to squirm through the monitor. Kat’s almost giddy going to the bedroom, when she sits on the edge of the bed, waiting not-so-patiently as big hazel eyes pop open and the little one reaquaints herself with the world. Tiny legs kick out beneath her blanket and she looks around the room. When she recognizes Kat, she rolls onto her side and pushes up. Kat welcomes her into her arms, the biggest grin on her face, saying, “Hey, sweet girl.” She takes the baby and her discarded bottle, says, “Come on, Alex Junior.”
Back in the kitchen, Adena automatically takes the nearly-empty bottle and goes to rinse it in the sink. They’d learned quickly the unpleasant smell of rancid milk.
Kat kisses the top of baby Ava’s head covered in soft tufts of curly hair.
As she retakes her seat, Adena smiles gently at the little girl rubbing the last bits of sleep from her eyes with tiny fists.
“Did she wake you up just so you would play with her?”
Kat laughs. “That was one time.” Ava drops her head against Kat, which absolutely means she’s on Kat’s side on this one. “So what fun did you two have this afternoon?” she asks in a voice especially for Ava even though she’s looking at her wife.
“What did we do today?” Adena widens her eyes comically, prompting a smile big enough to reveal two little teeth poking through the expanse of pink gums. Ava laughs and Kat doesn’t recoil at all anymore about the drool that comes with it. She just grabs a towel and wipes the drops away as Adena continues. “We read some fun books and we were very fascinated by stars and sparkles today.”
“Naturally. Black girls are magic.”
“They are,” Adena agrees, still talking to Ava but there’s a wink for Kat also when their eyes meet. She waggles her fingers, drawing more gurgling laughter. “Let’s see...then we ate a snack, went downstairs to check the mail and get some exercise, then it was nap time for you and more work time for me.”
Ava babbles happily and Kat responds, talking like they’re old friends who haven’t seen each other in ages. Both women look on as Ava slaps at the table, reaches for the French delicacies wrapped enticingly in shiny gold ribbon. Adena slides the box out of harm’s way and pushes Ava’s plastic container of cereal toward her instead.
Kat bounces the girl in her lap, whispers, "I should’ve told you Auntie Adena doesn’t like to share.”
They’re playing on the floor when Kat’s phone rings. She answers the video chat from Jane and the sound of another familiar voice brings Ava crawling toward them. When it’s clear she’s done indulging her other godmother and would rather hit the device or try to taste it, Kat steers the conversation to adult things, asks “So, Valentine’s weddings. What’s the verdict?”
Jane, perfect bridesmaid that she is, glows talking about her brother’s wedding, smiling through tears when she shares the part of the ceremony dedicated to their mother. It’s the kind of intimate thing she’d normally talk about with Kat and Sutton together, but Sutton’s out having date night and Jane obviously wants to share now so Kat listens then catches Jane up on what she’s missed the last few days. And promises they'll do a belated Galentine's Day, as if that isn't an everyday thing with them.
After the call they eat and Sutton texts that they’ll be over soon. Kat clears the table while Adena cleans up Ava. She can’t deny the soft fluttering in her heart watching the two of them, the voice telling her that even though they don’t want to do this full time now, she and Adena make a great team.
Two curious sets of eyes are looking at her when Kat snaps to, and she goes over with tickles for them both.
Ava clearly missed mommy and daddy, a fact she demonstrates by nearly leaping from Kat’s arms into Sutton’s as soon as they’re inside the apartment. Ava’s almost a carbon copy of Alex, but so many of her expressions and parts of her growing personality are very Sutton.
They all talk for a while, gather up the baby’s things to put in her diaper bag. Alex takes care of putting his daughter in her carrier and blowing raspberries on her, much to Ava’s delight.
Kat is surprised by the strained muscle pops in her hip and lower back when she bends to pick up a stray picture book, although she shouldn’t be considering how often she babysits.
“I’m sore in strange places,” she announces, handing the book to Alex. “That normally only happens when Adena--”
“O-kay ,” Alex cuts her off, eyes a little wide with fear. “I think that’s my cue.”
He says his goodbyes even as Kat protests that she was only going to say yoga. Ava gets her last round of kisses and cooing from her aunts, and when they’re out of earshot, Sutton asks, “Were you really?”
Kat shakes her head. “Probably not.” She looks at Adena who’s totally unphased by the conversation. “Are you sure you don’t want to leave her for the night? We don’t mind. You can work on baby number two.”
Sutton laughs, runs her tongue along the edge of her teeth in a way that indirectly means Don’t start that right now .
“We’re good with the one for awhile. Maybe it’s your turn.”
Kat purses her lips, tells her “That’s not how strap-ons work.”
“Yeah, you’d have been knocked up a few times already” - she lightly slaps Kat’s stomach a few times - “am I right?”
Adena snorts loudly, her laughter barely contained by the hand covering her mouth.
“It’s funny,” she answers to Kat’s mock glare.
Eh. Kat just shrugs it off. It’s not untrue.
Sutton raises her arms in triumph. “Good night, folks.” They share a tight embrace, Sutton kisses her cheek, saying, “Love you, babe.”
“You too. Be safe getting home. Oh and talk to Jane if you can.”
Sutton stops in the hallway, frowning. “Is she okay?”
“Yeah yeah,” Kat answers, waving off the concern. “She’d probably appreciate some extra love is all. I’ll be up, too, if you want.”
The worry immediately changes to a smirk. “I bet you will.”
Kat closes and locks the door. She makes her way across the room to the couch where Adena sits contentedly. Kat joins her, noticing the patisserie box too has made it from the kitchen to their coffee table. Adena’s serious about her treats. Kat watches her wife study the dessert sandwiches - rich brown of the chocolate-hazelnut, bright yellow passion fruit, and green wafers with bits of chopped pistachios clinging to the creamy center.
“How much do you love me?”
Adena just leans over and presses her lips to the corner of Kat’s then kisses her full on, lingering there for several heartbeats. She sits back, chooses the yellow macaron, then offers it to Kat first. Her wedding ring sparkles just so. Kat takes a bite, smiling, watches as Adena eats the remaining crescent. She moans happily and rests her head on Kat’s shoulder.
“I’ll share with you forever.”