Playground - Late Saturday Afternoon
It was an unusually warm May day and in attempt to let Amanda, who was feeling a bit under the weather, get some rest, Sonny took Jesse and Billie out for a fun filled morning spent at the aquarium and playing mini golf. They then had lunch and dessert at their favorite Italian restaurant and were ending the day at the playground near their apartment.
Jesse was busy hanging from the monkey bars while Sonny pushed Billie on the swings when his cell started ringing.
Sonny, realizing it was Hadid’s ring and it was probably important, sighed. “Hey Jess, can you push your sister? I gotta take this.”
Jesse jumped down and headed toward Billie, while Sonny walked off to a nearby bench that was still in eyesight of the girls, but gave him a little privacy.
Jesse absentmindedly pushed Billie but abruptly stopped when something in the distance caught her eye. She briefly looked over at Sonny, who was fully engrossed in his phone conversation with Hadid, and slowly made her way over to a set of yellow eyes she saw peaking out of a bush near the teeter-totter.
A large black cat with a purple collar emerged and lovingly rubbed her head on Jesse’s leg. The little blonde gleefully picked her up and, after noticing no one else around that the cat seemed to belong to, discreetly brought her back to the swing set.
“Kitty!” Billie shouted out excitedly.
Jesse shushed her and then carefully placed the cat into her backpack, leaving a portion of it unzipped so she could breathe.
“We bring her home?” a curious Billie asked her older sister.
Jesse nodded. “But don’t tell Sonny.”
A couple minutes later Sonny ended his phone call with Hadid and walked back over to Jesse and Billie.
Jesse faked yawned. “I’m kinda tired. Billie is too. Can we go home?” She asked hopefully as she put her backpack on.
Sonny eyed her curiously, not entirely buying what she was selling, but decided to let it go. “Ok. Let’s walk back.”
Sonny lifted Billie out of the swing, gently grabbed ahold of Jesse’s hand and the trio headed back to the apartment.
As they walked, Sonny found his eyes and throat starting to itch. Even though it was spring and pollen had started coming out, he thought it was peculiar that there wasn’t any in sight and the girls were ok, yet he was seemingly dealing with allergy issues. Sonny decided to shrug it off, knowing he’d be home soon and it wouldn’t really matter anyways once he was inside.
Meanwhile in Jesse’s backpack, the pretty black cat poked its head out of the unzipped portion of the bag and looked around.
Sonny and Amanda’s Apartment - Late Saturday Afternoon
Once the three entered into the apartment, Jesse and Billie greeted their mother with a wave, but then immediately ran off into their bedroom and closed the door behind them.
Amanda, who had been resting on the couch, raised an eyebrow. “They’re up to something.”
Sonny sneezed and then nodded his head. “Agreed. Just not sure what.” He sneezed again and then sat down next to her. “How are you feelin’?”
“A little better. My nausea’s gone.” She said, adding. “You don’t look all that great. Don’t tell me you’re coming down with something too.”
Sonny rubbed his itchy eyes, but shook his head no. “Just allergies I think.”
“But the pollen count was low and you cleaned the apartment yesterday. There’s not a dust mite in sight.”
Sonny sneezed again and then fixed his mouth to respond but was interrupted by a loud boom sound coming from the girls room.
Both Jesse and Billie poked their heads out from the doorframe.
“Sorry, we dropped somethin.’” Jesse said. They then retreated back inside and closed the door.
Amanda and Sonny exchanged glances but before either one of them could comment they heard another boom come from the girls room.
“Ok, no more games.” Amanda said as she shoved the covers off herself and her and Sonny went to go see what Jesse and Billie were up to.
When Amanda opened the door up to their bedroom, both her and Sonny’s mouths opened up wide in surprise when they saw the cat lying in the middle of the room on the floor.
“So that’s why I’ve been so miserable.” Sonny said sighing. “I’m going to see if we have any Benadryl.” He headed off to the bathroom.
“Jesse, where did this cat come from?!” Amanda asked her oldest daughter.
“I found her on the on the playground.” Jesse said as she picked her up and cuddled with the cat on her bed. “She was all by herself.”
Amanda sighed as she stepped into the room and sat down next to her. “So you snuck her home and thought she could just live in your room without us ever finding out?”
“We can’t keep her Jess.” Amanda said as she pointed to the cat’s collar and name tag. “Look this says her name is Pepper. She belongs to someone. Even if she didn’t, Sonny is super allergic to cats. He can’t live with one.”
“But can’t we keep her until we find her owner?” Jesse pleaded as Sonny remerged by the doorframe. She set the cat down and walked over to Sonny. “Please?” She asked as she pouted her bottom lip and softened her eyes.
Billie scurried over to him as well and mimicked her older sister’s pout. “Please?” She repeated looking up at him.
Sonny sighed and glanced over at Amanda, who gave him a sympathetic shrug as if unsure what they should do. He looked back at the girls for a brief moment before stepping away into the kitchen.
The girls and Amanda followed and watched as he grabbed his keys and put his sneakers on.
“Where ya going?” Amanda asked curiously.
Sonny rubbed his eyes and cleared his throat. “To get cat food, a bed, and a litter box.”
Jesse and Billie’s eyes lit up and they began jumping up and down. “Yay!”
“The cat can stay for two weeks while we try to find her owner.” Sonny said to the girls. “But if we can’t find them after that we’ll have to bring her to a shelter, ok?”
Both girls nodded.
“And I don’t want you two handlin’ her too much until she sees a vet and gets checked for fleas and whatnot.”
“We won’t.” Jesse assured. “Come on Billie!” The two girls hurried back to Pepper.
Amanda chuckled and walked over to him. “I had a feeling you weren’t going to say no to those pouts.”
Sonny sighed, but smiled softly. “Yeah well I may come to regret this decision if that cat rubs up against me and I break out into hives.”
She laughed. “I’ll keep my fingers crossed for you.”
He gave her a quick kiss on the cheek and then headed out to retrieve Pepper’s things.
Veterinarian’s Office - Sunday Morning
“No fleas, no worms, no ticks or parasites.” The vet said as she handed Pepper to a smiley Jesse and then directed her attention to Amanda and Sonny. “She’s a healthy cat. But there is something you oughta know.”
Sonny sneezed and exchanged a quick glance with Amanda. “What is it?”
“Well you expressed concern about her weight. It turns out she’s not obese. Just pregnant and due in about a week or two.”
Both Amanda and Sonny’s eyes widened in shock as Jesse and Billie cheered excitedly.
“Pepper’s going to be a mommy!” Jesse exclaimed as she cuddled the cat closer.
“How many kittens do you think she’s going to have?” Amanda asked the vet.
“It’s hard to say.” She told Amanda honestly. “But if I had to guess, I’d say around 5.”
Amanda and Sonny’s jaws dropped and the blonde turned her gaze to her oldest daughter. “Jesse we can’t keep—“
“Please.” She said cutting her off, directing her eyes to Sonny, sticking out her bottom lip.
Sonny rubbed his eyes and sighed.
Sonny and Amanda’s Apartment - Sunday Afternoon
The family of four came back home with the very pregnant Pepper in tow. The girls scurried off into the living room with the cat while Sonny and Amanda headed toward the kitchen to get lunch ready.
“They’ve got you wrapped around their fingers.” Amanda said as she opened up the refrigerator and pulled out some turkey and cheese for the girls sandwiches.
Sonny sniffled, popped some Claritin into his mouth and took a swig from his water bottle. “They do and they know it.”
She shook her head and laughed softly.
“But I have Pepper plastered all over social media and online pet forums. That cat’s owner is out there and I’m gonna find them before those kittens come.”
The couple continued to get lunch ready while the girls played together quietly in the living room.
“How did the babies get in Pepper’s belly?” Billie asked her big sister as she laid beside the cat and played with her two plush cats.
Sonny and Amanda, who had been casually listening to the two girls chat, cringed a bit at Billie’s question and wondered how Jesse would answer.
“The daddy cat put them in there.” Jesse stated very matter of factly as she pet Pepper behind her ears.
“But how?” Billie asked.
Jesse took the two stuffed cats and smushed them together. “Like this. It’s how human mommy’s and daddy’s make babies too, right?” She asked looking over at Amanda and Sonny for confirmation.
The couple’s eyes grew large in surprise. A mortified Amanda couldn’t find her words and looked at Sonny, who told Jesse, “Ugh…right.”
Jesse handed the stuffed toys back to her sister and the girls changed the subject to Disney princesses.
Amanda subtly hit him in the ribs and shot him a look.
Sonny whispered. “She’s not wrong. What was I supposed to do, lie?”
“Where do you think she learned about sex?” Amanda quietly asked him, worriedly.
He shrugged and whispered. “We need to ask her. Hopefully it was in a professional setting like class and not by watching us.”
Amanda elbowed him in the ribs again. She then tried her best to shrug it off and the two went back to preparing lunch.
Sonny and Amanda’s Bedroom - Sunday Night
Both girls had fallen asleep for the night much earlier than usual and Amanda and Sonny took advantage of the opportunity.
They were engaged in a hot and heavy make out session and just as Sonny went to lift Amanda’s shirt off, Pepper started yowling and he stopped and sighed.
“She’ll stop eventually.” Amanda said as she planted kisses down his bare chest. “Let’s keep going.”
She took her top off and the two resumed kissing and just as he reached to unclip her bra the yowling picked up intensity.
“Manda, I can’t.” Sonny said groaning. “She’s officially killed the mood. How do Jesse and Billie sleep through that?”
“Who knows.” Amanda grumbled as she put her shirt back on.
Sonny could sense her frustration with him. “I’m sorry. I—“
“It’s fine.” Amanda said waving him off. “Let’s just go to bed. We both have long days tomorrow.” She pulled the blankets over her and closed her eyes.
Sonny sighed, turned his bedside lamp off and attempted to try to go to sleep. However, Pepper’s incessant yowling continued.
“Argh.” He muttered to himself as he put his pillow over his ears.
Sonny and Amanda’s Apartment
Kitchen - Monday Morning
Both Jesse and Billie appeared for breakfast looking as though they each had a good night rest, while him and Amanda barely got any sleep and were struggling to keep their eyes open as they went about their morning routine. Additionally, Amanda once again had an upset stomach and wasn’t feeling great.
“You not feelin’ well again?” Sonny asked as he rubbed his tired, and very itchy, red eyes and offered her some coffee. “I thought you were startin’ to feel better?”
She made a slight face and waved him off. “No thanks. And I thought so too. I don’t know what’s going on.”
“You still goin’ to work?”
“Yeah I have to.” Amanda then looked down at his hand and frowned. “Is that a rash?”
Sonny nodded. “Pepper licked me when I was tying my shoes.”
Amanda shook her head in disbelief. “I can’t believe one lick did that.”
Just then, both girls hopped out of their seats and Jesse brought both her and Billie’s empty cereal bowls to the sink and set them down. Billie then went to scoop Pepper’s litter box while Jesse refilled her food and water bowl.
“I must say, they have both been doin’ a good job taking care of this cat.” Sonny whispered to her quietly. “Way more responsible than I thought they would be at this age.”
Amanda nodded. “I agree.”
Sonny took a sip of his coffee and then let out a big sneeze. “I’m going to grab some more Claritin.” He then retreated off into the bathroom.
Amanda turned her gaze toward Pepper, who was lying quietly next to a sleeping Frannie on the living room floor. She stared intently at the cat’s large stomach, pressed her lips together and then let her mind drift.
Precinct - Late Friday Morning
The rest of the week was fairly uneventful for the Rollins-Carisi crew. Both Amanda and Sonny were growing frustrated that all his efforts to locate Pepper’s owner, both virtually and through signs in their neighborhood, hadn’t materialized into anything. Though the cat had grown on Amanda and even Sonny a bit, though he was still highly allergic to her, they were worried about her going into labor and being stuck with kittens that would need to be taken care of.
Sonny entered the relatively quiet squad room late Friday morning and looked around. Neither Amanda or Velasco were at their desks and Liv’s office was empty.
“Where is everyone?” Sonny asked as he handed Fin a search warrant he had requested earlier.
“Liv’s in a meeting with McGrath and Amanda and Velasco were out on a call, but should be back any second.
Fin squinted and eyed Sonny curiously.
Sonny, realizing he noticed the mark on his neck, started to blush. “It’s not what you think. It’s a rash. The cat rubbed up against me and accidentally scratched me while tryin’ to get away from Frannie.”
Fin looked at him skeptically. “Uh huh.”
“Fin come on—“
“Ain’t nobody that allergic to cats, Carisi.”
He said interrupting. “We both know what that is.”
Sonny fixed his lips to respond but was interrupted by a voice from behind him.
“Is that a hickey?!” asked Velasco, who unbeknownst to Fin and Sonny, had quietly entered back into the squad room with Amanda. He turned to look at the blonde and laughed. “You gave Carisi a hickey?”
Amanda shot Velasco a look and hit him lightly in the arm, while Sonny rolled his eyes and started to answer him, when his cell buzzed. It was an unknown number and, though he usually ignored them, he decided to step away and answer it.
Meanwhile Fin and Velasco headed out together to go execute the search warrant Carisi had given Fin while Amanda headed back to her desk and began filling out the DD5 for the call her and Velasco had handled when she was approached by a gleeful looking Sonny a few minutes later.
“What is it?” Amanda asked curiously.
“Finally found Pepper’s owner.” Sonny said smiling.
“Really?” She asked, surprised. “You sure?”
“Yes. She’s very happy we found Pepper and temporarily took her in and that she didn’t end up in a shelter. She’s anxious to get her back but is out of town for work until tomorrow so she’s going to come pick Pepper up Saturday afternoon.”
Amanda nodded and said a little sadly. “Well it’s good we finally found her. The girls are going to be upset but…they knew this day was going to come.”
Sonny gave Amanda a small sympathetic smile. “Looks like they aren’t the only ones who are goin’ to miss Pepper.”
Amanda shrugged. “They aren’t. I will too.”
“Same.” Sonny admitted, adding. “However, it’ll be nice to not have to worry about rashes and to be able to breathe normally again without needin’ a bunch of allergy medication everyday.”
He checked his watch. “I gotta get goin.’” Sonny gave Amanda a kiss in the cheek. “See ya at home later.”
Amanda nodded and watched him head out.
Amanda and Sonny’s Apartment - Friday Evening
As anticipated both Jesse and Billie were devastated to hear that Pepper would be going home the next day.
Tears were shed, but after lots of comforting hugs from Amanda and Sonny, the girls started to settle down a bit and joined their mother on the living room sofa to watch tv while Sonny went and showered.
“Do you think Pepper will remember us?” Jesse asked her mother hopefully as she pet the cat that had sprawled out and made herself comfortable on Amanda’s lap.
Amanda nodded. “Definitely. You two were the best bonus mommies to Pepper.”
“What’s a bonus mommy?” Billie asked her.
“Well…” Amanda began. “It’s like an extra, second mommy that steps in. Kinda how Sonny is a bonus dad to you girls.”
Jesse emphatically shook her head. “Sonny is NOT a bonus dad.” She stated very matter of factly.
Amanda frowned a bit. “Why do you say that Jess?”
“Because he’s THE one that takes care of us, plays with us and loves us. Sonny’s not an extra, second dad. He’s just dad. The best dad there is.”
Jesse’s sweet words caused tears to well up in Amanda’s eyes. She pulled her eldest daughter in for a hug and as she did caught glimpse of Sonny, who was standing quietly a few feet away by the entrance into the living room, smiling softly and growing a little teary eyed himself.
“Is Billie ok?” Amanda asked as she set her cell down on the nightstand and got underneath the covers in their bed.
Sonny nodded and yawned as he settled in next to her. “Yeah. Just needed to do a quick sweep for monsters.”
Amanda smiled softly. “Jesse’s right. You are the best dad there is. The girls know it and soon…this little one of ours will too.” She said as she placed a hand on her stomach and bit her lip in anticipation of his response.
Sonny’s eyes grew large and his mouth opened up wide. “Really?” He whispered. “We’re having a baby?”
Amanda nodded and laughed out. “It turns out Pepper isn’t the only one walking around here with something in her belly.”
She paused for a moment and then continued. “I know this is a little out of left field, but I hope you’re ok with it.”
Sonny chuckled, brought her lips to his for a kiss and then pulled her in for a hug. “I’m more than ok with it. I think this is amazing! When did you find out?”
“Two days ago.” Amanda said to him. “It didn’t even cross my mind that I could be pregnant until we found out that Pepper was. Then it hit me that maybe that was the reason I had been so nauseous and a bit off lately.”
“I’m sorry you haven’t been feelin’ well,” a sympathetic Sonny said to her as he wrapped his arm around Amanda and she rested her head on his chest.
“The morning sickness will pass eventually.” She told him as she snuggled in closer.
“I still can’t believe it.” Sonny whispered as he gently placed a free hand on her stomach. “A baby. I can’t wait to meet him or her.”
“We will soon.” A smiling Amanda said to him quietly.
Sonny grinned, kissed her again and the two curled up closer together.
Pepper’s usual yowling from the girls’ room that night was replaced with soft meows that instead sounded like they were coming outside Sonny and Amanda’s bedroom door.
The sounds awakened Sonny, who got up and opened the door. Pepper immediately walked in and went over to Amanda’s side of the bed and meowed at her incessantly, causing the blonde to stir and wake up.
Amanda sat up and once she did Pepper jumped into her lap.
“She’s been acting so strange.” Amanda said as she pet the cat. “Very clingy. Do you think she’s going into labor?”
Sonny nodded but let out a big sneeze before responding. “Maybe that’s why she’s been so clingy with you today. I think she senses our baby and feels comforted being around you.”
Amanda lifted Pepper into her arms and stood up. “I’ll sit with her in the living room for a while and keep an eye on her.”
Sonny nodded and watched as Amanda made her way into the living room and settled in with Pepper on the couch.
Amanda and Sonny’s Apartment
Living Room - Saturday Morning 6a
Amanda, who had been asleep on the couch, slowly opened up her eyes and saw Sonny, with Billie in his arms, standing before her.
She sat up and rubbed her eyes.
“Pepper had kitties!” Billie exclaimed excitedly and pointed toward the middle of the kitchen floor.
Amanda locked eyes with Sonny who nodded.
“Jesse saw ‘em when she woke up to go to the bathroom.” He motioned for Amanda to follow him and Billie into the kitchen, where Jesse and Frannie sat near Pepper, who was nursing her six kittens.
“Oh my God there’s six.” A surprised Amanda said aloud. “She gave birth right here?”
Sonny rubbed his bloodshot red eyes, sneezed and then made a bit of a face. “Yeah. I just finished cleanin’ up the remnants.”
“They’re so little!” Jesse said as she looked down at the kittens in awe.
“And funny looking.” Billie said giggling.
“Oh yeah? Well you were kinda funny lookin’ when you were first born too.” Sonny joked with Billie as he tickled her, causing the little girl to erupt into laughter.
Amanda laughed and then turned her attention back to the sweet little kittens on the kitchen floor and smiled down at them.
Later that afternoon Pepper’s owner, Rachael, came to pick her and the kittens up. Both girls, especially Jesse, had a tough time handing off Pepper and her kittens, who she had named and also grown super attached too since their arrival earlier in the day.
“This is Cinnamon.” Jesse said in between sniffles as she very carefully handed one of the kittens to Rachael to put in a carrier. “And this one’s Ginger.”
She gently picked up a third. “Saffron.” And then the fourth. “Nutmeg.”
Jesse wiped her eyes and picked up the last two. “Paprika and Oregano.”
She then turned her attention to Pepper. Jesse picked her up and cradled her in her arms. “Bye Pepper. I’m really g—going to miss…you.”
A sad looking Billie kissed the top of Pepper’s head. “Bye bye Pepper.”
Jesse then handed her to Rachael, who gave the girls sad small smiles. “Thank you girls for taking such good care of Pepper and her kittens.”
Both Jesse and Billie nodded and then slowly and sadly exited the living room toward their bedroom.
Sensing Pepper’s owner felt bad, Amanda said to her, “They’ll be ok in a couple of days.”
Rachael nodded, put Pepper in her carrier and stood up. “My husband and I were only planning on keeping one of the kittens and, once they are old enough, we were going to give the rest away to friends and family. I know you won’t accept any money, but I would like to thank you and your daughters in some way. Would you be interested in having one of the kittens?”
Both Amanda and Sonny’s eyes grew big and they exchanged looks with one another, but before Sonny could even fix his lips to respond Amanda answered.
“This one’s super allergic to cats and has been living off allergy medication for the past week so I think we’re going to have to pass.”
Rachael nodded. “I understand.” She then picked up the cat carriers and made her way to the door, which Sonny hustled over to and opened up for her. “Thank you both again.” She then exited their apartment.
“I guess that’s the end of that.” Amanda said sighing as she ran a hand through her hair. “I’m gonna go take a shower.”
Sonny nodded as he watched Amanda head off to the bathroom. He then shifted his gaze towards the girls room and sighed.
8 Weeks Later
Amanda and Sonny’s Apartment - Saturday Afternoon
As time passed the family of four, plus Frannie, had pretty much settled back in to life as it had been before. Still, whenever the girls came across a stray cat while out and about or saw one pop up in a movie, television show or book, especially a black one that looked like Pepper, they would grow a little sad.
While Sonny knew he couldn’t bring Pepper back for them, he realized he could do the next best thing and on a wet rainy day when Jesse and Billie were stuck inside, he went out to run a “errand” and returned home with a surprise for them.
“Hey girls!” Sonny called as he entered the apartment and set down a box on the floor beside him in the living room. “Can you come here for a second?”
“Whatcha got there?” Amanda asked curiously as she emerged from the kitchen and looked down at the box.
“You’ll see in a second.” He told her as he rubbed his eyes and sniffed.
Just then, Jesse and Billie came running into the living room.
“Is that for us?!” a smiling Jesse asked as she eyed the box.
Sonny nodded. “It is.” He then opened the box up, reached in, pulled out a small little kitten and gave her to Jesse.
Jesse’s eyes nearly popped out of her head and a big huge grin spread across her face. “Saffron!”
Sonny reached into the box once more and revealed a second, even tinier kitten. “And Oregano.” He handed him to Billie who’s eyes lit up with excitement.
“Thank you! Thank you!” Both girls yelled out to him as they hugged his legs. They then plopped down on the couch together and began playing with the kittens.
“You got them not one but TWO kittens?!” A shocked Amanda asked him quietly as they both entered into the adjacent kitchen.
Sonny sneezed and nodded his head. “They were the last two left in the litter and had bonded and needed to be adopted together.”
“But what about your allergies?”
“I start my first round of allergy shots on Monday.” He told her. “I’m sure the process won’t be fun and that it’ll take a while for it to work, but I didn’t like the fact I was the reason the girls couldn’t have a cat. Especially when I know they, as well as their mother, really wanted one. So if I have to suffer for a bit, so be it. I just want everyone to be happy.”
Amanda gave him a small smile and reached up to kiss him. “We’re so lucky to have you.”
Sonny blushed and fixed his mouth to respond but stopped when he heard the girls talking about their cats.
“Saffron is mine and Oregano is yours.” Jesse said to her little sister. “We each have one and we don’t have to worry about sharing!”
“Yay!” Billie exclaimed.
Amanda chuckled softly. “This might be a good time to tell them about you know what.”
Sonny grinned. “I think you’re right.”
The couple headed into the living room and sat down on the sofa next to the girls.
“What’s all this about not sharing?” Amanda asked the duo.
“Just that we don’t need to because there’s two of us and Sonny got us two kittens.” Jesse said as she cradled Saffron in her arms.
Amanda nodded. “Well there is only two of you right now, but in a few months…there’s going to be three.”
It took a second to register what her mother meant, but once it did a huge smile spread across her face. “Really?! Yay!” She then gave both Amanda and Sonny big hugs.
Sensing that Billie didn’t understand, both Sonny and Amanda followed up.
He scooped the youngest Rollins girl onto his lap. “Billie, do you remember when Pepper had babies in her belly?”
She nodded her head as she gently pet Oregano.
Amanda pointed to her stomach. “There’s a baby in my belly.”
Billie grinned and opened her mouth wide in shock. “Really!?” She asked enthusiastically.
“But only one?” She asked, a little disappointed.
Both Sonny and Amanda laughed.
“Yes, only one.” Sonny said looking down at her. “Human mommies don’t usually have six like cats can. But I promise you’ll have fun with just one little brother or sister, ok?”
Billie smiled and nodded and the foursome, along with the kittens and Frannie, who made her way over to them, settled in on the couch, flicked on a movie and enjoyed the rest of their lazy, rainy Saturday afternoon together.