Author's note: This is an AU and takes place after my previous B/K fic "Homecoming". In this one, Eden is a year older. Written for Caesar's Palace shipping week (prompt "pasta").

Big thanks to Scorp for the beta—and Helen for double checking my accuracy in Ben's reactions ;)


Quality Programming

Drawled Italian-accented lyrics and accordion music greeted Katie as she stepped into the house. The sound was as familiar to her as her own name and she snickered under her breath, tossing her keys into the hanging basket after closing the front door with her foot.

"...on this loooovely bella not-te..."

After a quick rifle through the mail she'd brought in, she fished out a brightly colored envelope that she knew was her daughter's birthday card from her grandmother and left the rest on the hall table. Meandering into the living room, Katie found herself facing the usual after-work tableau: her daughter's current favorite movie playing on the vid screen, husband slouched on one end of the couch wearing a frustrated face with his tablet abandoned on his lap and daughter on the floor at his feet, staring with rapt attention at the two dogs onscreen. The little girl occasionally hummed along with the soundtrack and bounced in place, but her eyes never left the movie.

The third occupant of the room, seated on the back of the couch, was ignoring the movie entirely as he tended to the important task of grooming his front paws. Sensing movement in the doorway, the black cat looked up and meowed loudly upon spotting Katie. Despite the loud serenade of guitar and accordion, it was enough to get the attention of her husband.

"Oh, thank God you're home." Ben stretched out a hand in a drowning man's style plea and she stepped forward to take it, leaning down to kiss him in greeting before Oz headbutted his way between them with a chorus of meows and paw taps. She gently scratched his ears and head before giving him a gentle push on the bottom to get him to hop down. He mewed a complaint before jumping down onto the couch cushions and returning to his interrupted ablutions.

Katie returned her attention to Ben, wrapping her arms around his shoulders. "So how was your day?"

"The usual. Lunch, a nap, a snack, a walk down to the pier and back and five hours of this," he finished with a groan, gesturing at the vid screen. "I swear if I have to watch this pasta scene one more time, I'll gouge my eyes—" His complaint was stifled when Katie put a hand over his mouth.

"Shh. Let people enjoy things." He scowled at her over top of her hand. "And just think, it could be worse," she added with a smirk. "It could be—"

Ben yanked her hand off his mouth. "Oh no. Don't you dare say that name."

Leaning in closer, she whispered the name just loud enough for him to hear over the movie. He immediately clapped his hands over his ears. "Not listening."

"Just remember how four months of that one had you clawing at the walls."

"And ready to run for the tide line," he agreed with a roll of his eyes. "At least your grandma knows how to send her great-granddaughter quality programming, even if it's gotten on my nerves."

"Daddy!" Both parents turned to face Eden, who was on her feet and tugging at Ben's pant leg. "Rewind!"

Ben groaned under his breath and reached for the remote. "Here we go again."

*fin*