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"It's so quiet."

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The door clicks shut behind him. The house is silent, mostly dark. The children must be asleep, then. There's a faint yellow glow from the study at the end of the hall. Raymond moves silently toward it.

He eases the door open to find Kevin frowning at his bookshelf, running his fingers over the spines. He turns at Raymond's muffled footsteps, and his eyes soften. "Long day at the office?"

He takes three more steps and feels Kevin's arms wrap around him, pulling him into his chest. He closes his eyes and breathes deeply, wills his raging mind to slow, to linger on each point of contact between them. The soft hand on the back of his neck, the arm wrapped tight around his lower back, the warm cheek pressed close to his ear.

“Draining,” he finally sighs, sinking further into Kevin’s touch. "It’s so quiet,” he muses. “How were the children?"

"Mmm. Draining."

They laugh, and Raymond feels the vibrations in Kevin's chest against his own.

"Gina dumped applesauce on Charles's head. Twice," Kevin continues. "Rosa taught Jake to slide down the banister. Amy wanted in on the fun, forgot she doesn't have superpowers like her siblings. Again."

"Oh no," Raymond chuckles, sensing where this is going.

Kevin pulls back a little, shaking his head. "She hit the curve and went flying. Jake raced down the stairs to catch her, but he smacked into the wall. He’s okay,” he adds quickly, “no concussion or anything, I checked. Didn’t even put a damper on his mood. He thought it was awesome.”

Raymond chuckles. He can easily picture his son’s wide-eyed amusement. Everything was “awesome” these days.

“Rosa caught Amy just in time from the top of the staircase just before she hit the ground, pulled her all the way back up, which she quite enjoyed. So, no one was hurt, which is always a blessing."

"And where were you for all this commotion?" Raymond raises an eyebrow.

"I told you, Gina dumped applesauce on Charles's head. Twice."

Raymond laughs, pulling Kevin back to him. "Then how can you recount these events to me in such vivid detail?"

"Oh, I received an elaborate play-by-play from Jake, of course," Kevin sighs into his shoulder. “When he saw what Rosa did for Amy, he immediately ran to the kitchen to ask if they could try bungee-jumping,” he shudders, “off the landing in Rosa’s arms.”

“And you told them that you would not allow that under any circumstances?”

Kevin pulls back, looking slightly guilty. “Well –

“Did you really –

“Rosa assured me she’d be fine, she’d keep them safe, and you know I trust her,” Kevin interjects, “and I was watching them the whole time. Well, except when Charles tried it and immediately threw up and I had to go clean him up, but still I was right there the whole time –

“It’s okay,” Raymond squeezes his shoulder, smiling, “I see you had it under control. You know I trust Rosa as well, and I trust you. I’m glad the kids had fun today.”

“Well, we went to the park for a while after that, let the kids run around, took Gina for a walk. Rosa had to help me wrestle her into the stroller, but other than that – and the applesauce, I suppose – she was great today. Even Jake was tired enough by the end of the day to go to bed without complaining.”

That earns him a kiss from Raymond. “An impressive feat to be sure. And I promise, tomorrow I’ll get back from work early enough to help.”

“I’m sorry they’re keeping you so late,” Kevin murmurs. “And I’m sorry the work isn’t what you want it to be.”

“We’re still stuck on naming that damned pigeon mascot,” Raymond shakes his head. “I told them weeks ago it should be Paulie. Then they got hung up on spelling, then someone brought up gender, and now we’re back to square one.”

“That sounds mind-numbingly dull, dear,” Kevin grimaces. “I’m sorry. But I know just the thing to lift your spirits, I think.”

“What is it?” There’s a mischievous glint in Kevin’s eye that Raymond quite likes.

“Well,” Kevin takes his hands, guides him slowly backwards out of the room, “I happen to have saved to our DVR upstairs a documentary about the rare birds of North America.”

“Oh, Kevin.”

“It’s ninety minutes long,” he continues as they step into the hall. “And afterward, well,” he grins, “we shall see.”