Author's Note: Thank you for following along everyone! I know this ending won't satisfy everyone, but I hope you like it. Please let me know what you think with a review.
"Linnea she's putting sand in his mouth again," Don called to his wife who was sitting on a lawn chair next to Mika, their grand daughter.
"Shit," Linnea said as she reached down and pulled sand out of the toddler's mouth. "I swear I looked away for only a moment…"
"They're quick," Don said as he walked toward the pair of them with his fishing gear and picked up Mika. In his most stern grandfather voice, he said "No more sand."
The little girl dangled in front of him and giggled. He leaned in and blew a raspberry on her belly and the giggles exploded.
"I never understood the raspberry that you Americans are so fond of," Linnea laughed as she watched Don with her.
"I'll demonstrate on you tonight and see if you understand why we Americans like it so much," Don winked at her.
Linnea shook her head and smiled. Even at seventy, Don's interest in his eighty-two-year-old wife had not waned.
Don handed the squirming toddler to Linnea while he took off his tackle vest and she played a clapping game with Mika that she seemed to enjoy.
"Here," Don said as he lifted Mika up let's get you a snack. "You coming in?"
"I'm going to read for a bit longer," Linnea said with a smile.
Don smiled down at her and kissed her before he went inside with their only grandchild.
"Mormor wants some time away from the chaos," Don said in a sing son voice to Mika.
"Are you just getting up now?" Don called to Kit as he watched his son stumble out of a bedroom upstairs and walk toward a washroom as he came in the door with Mika.
"We were up late watching the screener of her latest episode," Kit said as he wandered into the washroom and shut the door behind him.
Don sat Mika on the counter and pulled a container with cheese cubes Agnes had pre-cut from the fridge and handed them to Mika who happily sat on the counter eating them with her legs swinging.
"Good huh?" Don asked her with a smile before he stole one of the cubes for himself. The look of horror on her face that papa had stolen a piece of her cheese made Don burst into laughter.
He heard the toilet flush and Kit came down the stairs and kissed his niece on the head before he reached for a bag of bagels.
"How's the latest episode?" Don asked.
Kit's girlfriend was an actress who worked on a TV series that he consulted on. He was an associate professor at UC Santa Barbara Kavali Institute and had been approached by producers about his expertise on a new sci-fi TV show and asked to be a consultant. He happily stepped into the side job thinking he would be doing it from his office, but when asked to visit the set and consult on some props he had met one of the stars of the show, Janine Sinclair, and they'd been together ever since.
Don thought it was an odd combination, Janine was an actress with a partial degree in drama and worked out obsessively, ate like a freaking bird, got her hair and nails done, was always in new clothes every time Don saw her…it was an odd choice for Kit. She was beautiful and they seemed to have a connection, but she was literally the complete opposite from Kit. Linnea really liked her, so Don took that as a good sign, but he wasn't sure why Linnea or Kit thought she was a good fit for him. Because Kit carried around an extra forty pounds that he didn't care about, didn't work out beyond biking to work, could wear the same clothes for days before he noticed he needed to change, and had a PhD in Theoretical physics. He was a young researcher who was already respected in his field, and had been flown around the world to visit various universities and present his latest research on particle processes that Don didn't understand.
"They did okay," Kit sighed. "I tried to explain the inability for the forward motion of time to intersect with…"
Kit noticed the glazed look in his father's eyes that pretty much everyone but people in his field of work got when he spoke about the specifics of physics.
"She was great," Kit smiled. "But they didn't quite get the concept."
"She still sleeping?" Don asked.
"No, she's usually gone for a couple hour run first thing," Kit said as he spread a thick layer of cream cheese on his bagel and started to eat it standing in the middle of the kitchen.
"Are you going with her to the…Emmys?" Don asked, not sure if that was Kit's bag. He'd been in Oslo when the Golden Globes happened so this would be his first Hollywood awards ceremony.
"She wants me to," Kit said as he stuffed more bagel into his mouth. "It seems like a ridiculous, pat each other on the back, thing to me."
"Did you say that to her?" Don asked, hoping his son had not.
"I'm not stupid," Kit said as he chuckled.
"Good," Don chuckled with him.
"Think of it like the nobels or something like that, except for actors," Don said. "Go and support her. Is she nominated or…?"
"Her show is, not her," Kit said. "I'll go. It means a lot to her."
Don smiled at his son.
Don wanted to ask more about their relationship but knew that Kit divulged what he wanted, when he wanted to.
"All done!" Mika said as he turned over the container and dropped it on the floor.
Don smiled at her and Kit picked up the container.
"Nice work," Don said as he handed Mika to Kit and went looking for a clean sippy cup so she could wash down all that cheese with a liquid.
Just then Janine came in the door sweating and dressed in very little workout clothing.
"Morning Don," she said to him and then walked up to Mika. "Morning munchkin!"
Mika smiled at Janine and she bopped the toddler's nose.
"I hope ours is as cute as this one," Janine said as she looked up a Kit and then kissed him on the cheek before she went to the fridge to get her pre-made green drink.
"Ours?" Don asked, picking up on the conversation a little late.
"Yeah, Janine is pregnant," Kit said.
"You didn't tell them?" Janine asked Kit annoyed.
"Uhhh…" Kit said, his face turning red. "I guess I missed that bit."
"For a man with your IQ…" Janine huffed, but her smile told that she wasn't really that mad. "I'm 12 weeks pregnant."
"Wow, congratulations!" Don said, genuinely happy but surprised.
"I was wondering why no one was…I thought it was because we weren't married or…" Janine said, her insecurity bubbling to the surface. "We're not getting married. Kit and I don't believe really in the concept of marriage."
"Oh, okay. Um, No, no, had we known we would have congratulated you" Don said as he walked toward her and hugged her sweaty post-run body. "That's amazing, I'm so happy for you. Linnea is going to be thrilled. Everything is good?"
"Yeah, I was really sick at first," Janine said happily talking about her good news. "But now I'm good. I told the producers, and they were less than thrilled…"
"Shit," Don said, knowing that her career was just really starting to take off with the filming of season two.
"It's okay, I figured out a linear timeline that would allow her to be pregnant and not," Kit said as he put Mika down and she walked toward a pile of toys that were sitting I the living room. "They're pre-filming all the non-pregnant sequences now and then when she gets big, they'll…"
"I'm not looking forward to seeing myself on film huge," Janine admitted.
"You're going to be beautiful," Kit said as he smiled down at her and Don saw Janine's face light up.
"Anyways," Janine said, embarrassment across her features. "Kit figured out a cool possibility that they've fallen in love with and are building into the storyline. So, now they love that I'm pregnant."
"I love that you are," Kit said as he pulled her close to him.
Don looked at his son and Janine and maybe now saw what there was between them. They were truly in love, and saw each other for who they really were, there was no pretending or striving to change the other person, just pure acceptance. She accepted that Kit was brainy and eccentric and not a chiseled Hollywood actor, but that he was kind and sweet and supportive. And he accepted that she was all about fitness and appearance and not a brainy scientist, but that she was affectionate and compassionate and driven.
"You are what?" Agnes asked as she and Clive walked into the house.
"Pregnant!" Janine said excitedly.
"Mama!" Mika yelled at the sight of her parents and got up to charge at them.
"What?!" Agnes said as she dropped the grocery bag she was carrying and walked to her brother and Janine and hugged them both. "That's amazing! When are you due?"
Mika hugged her mom's legs as well and everyone laughed.
"March," Janine said happily.
Don suddenly felt really bad, she and Kit had arrived by dinner yesterday and Janine had been waiting for them all to congratulate the couple, but nothing had happened.
"We need to celebrate tonight," Don said. "How about I get something from the barbeque place and…"
"She's off meat," Kit said as his sister and niece let go of them.
"Oh, okay," Don said. "I could…barbeque some portobellos…make a nice salad…"
"That would be great, Don," Janine smiled. "Thanks."
"Okay, great," Don said. "Maybe you should go and tell Linnea?"
Kit looked outside at Linnea reading by the dock and nodded. He took Janine by the hand and they went outside.
"Did you know?" Agnes asked after they left.
"No, I'm pissed at Kit," Don said. "She was thinking we all weren't happy for them…"
"Shit," Agnes said. "He's so…"
"We know now," Clive said as he picked up the grocery bags and brought them to the kitchen. "And we picked up that cake at the bakery."
"True," Agnes said as she picked up some fairy wings and put them on Mika who was standing and waiting to be fairy'd. "I feel bad for her though."
Don looked outside and saw Linnea rise up out of her lawn chair and hug and kiss Kit and Janine before she hugged them both in tight and jumped up and down with them. That was the congratulations Janine deserved.
"We'll make it up to them tonight," Don said.
"Are they getting married?" Clive asked as he unpacked groceries.
"I don't think Kit…" Agnes started.
"Apparently they don't believe in it," Don said as he watched Linnea touch Janine's belly and talk with them excitedly.
"Well, that works," Agnes said. "How was Mika while we were gone?"
"She ate some sand…" Don admitted.
"She always does," Agnes laughed. "I can't wait until she's toilet trained because half the contents are sand while we're here."
"I fed her some cheese cubes…" Don added.
"Well, that will act as a binding agent for the sand," Clive laughed.
"We can't persuade you to stay another week?" Don asked them, knowing half his family was leaving in two days and the other half in three.
"We have to get back," Agnes sighed. "We're coming up on the busy season and…"
"I know, honey," Don said with a smile. "I was happy we got you for two weeks this summer."
Agnes smiled as she watched Linnea walk in with Kit and Janine, the three of them smiling. She loved Linnea and knew Linnea loved her, but was always a little jealous of her relationship with Kit. Agnes had always been more her father's daughter, and Kit had gravitated toward Linnea more and more over the years.
"Mormor!" Mika called to Linnea as soon as she walked in the door. And Linnea smiled broadly and walked toward her and asked if she wanted a dress on to match her wings.
Agnes watched the interaction and smiled as Linnea helped Mika get into a princess costume. Her dad and Linnea had always been there to support her, through her soccer career, the injury that ended her career, her return to school after years of absence, her marriage to Clive, and her business. But more than anything, they were papa and mormor to Mika. The little girl that took them years to have and that she and Clive were grateful for every minute of every day.
"She should take all this back with you to the UK," Linnea said. "By the time you come back next summer none of it will fit."
"She's growing like a weed, so that's probably right," Agnes laughed.
"Don and I can bring it with us when we visit in the fall if that's easier?" Linnea asked.
Agnes nodded and smiled. Her dad and Linnea visited them on the equestrian farm in Rye several times a year and Linnea was still an expert rider in her 80's. Agnes had met Clive upon her return to school at the age of 29 when her soccer career had come to an abrupt end with a blown-out knee. She'd decided to stay in England to finish her degree and he had been a student in her class, eight years younger than her. At first it had been an issue, she had turned him down and called him 'junior'. He persisted and won her over, convincing her that all English men were middle aged in spirit by the time they reached 21. She thought about her father and Linnea and their twelve-year age difference and the happiness that they exuded whenever together, and decided she needed to not turn down a date with a good looking, smart, and funny English bloke based on age.
They married six months later, in a small ceremony at an old church in the English countryside with about fifty people in attendance and her very proud father who walked her down the aisle. Four years later, she was pregnant with Mika after much trying and some medical intervention. And now she had a toddler who brightened her every day. She and Clive used some of her money to buy an equestrian property and start their business caring for the horses of the region. They also hired staff that offered riding lessons, and had a new part of their business that involved multi-day horse riding excursions in the English countryside with stops at B&B's and pubs along the way. They had done well and had quite a large staff working for them now. And Mika was speaking with a British accent and Clive referred to her as his British rose.
"Uncle Aram is speaking at a conference in London in three weeks," Agnes told them. "He's bringing Eich and they're going to stay with us for a few days."
"You know why he's doing that right?" Don asked her.
"No, why?" Agnes asked intrigued.
"Eich wants to be a cop," Don said. "He's taking him to London to convince him to go to university."
"Ahhh," Agnes nodded. "I wondered why he was only staying for a couple of nights before they went to Cambridge as well."
"You and Aram and Liz were cops, very good FBI agents as I recall, why doesn't he want that for his son?" Linnea asked.
"It's dangerous," Don said. "I get it. After everything we've seen…you don't want your kid in that situation."
"But if that's what he wants, I don't understand trying to change his mind," Linnea said.
"Thank you," Agnes said with a smile. "It was that thinking, that finally allowed you to let me get signed."
"I was happy for you to try…"
"Oh, no you weren't," Linnea smiled at him. "Don't re-invent your history."
Don looked at her and huffed.
"Anyways, I don't think there's anything wrong with a father showing his child some possibilities," Don said, trying to find his way out of this conversation.
"Yes, of course my darling," Linnea said as she kissed his cheek.
Don smiled at her and chuckled.
He watched Mika run around the room pretending to be a fairy, looked at Kit and Janine drinking the same disgusting green smoothie, and looked at Agnes unpacking groceries with Clive. His family was beautiful, healthy, successful, and happy. He thought about Liz in that moment and knew that wherever she was, she was with them in her own way, relishing in her children's lives and the bright futures that were ahead of them. Don reached over and pulled Linnea into his frame kissing her forehead.
"We have a beautiful family," Don whispered.
"That we do, my darling," Linnea smiled up at him and then looked at the generations that stood before her.
He and Linnea sat down on the sofa and within moments Mika was climbing all over them and settling between them with her favorite book, RED IS BEST. Don looked at the note inside the cover that he'd read a thousand times to Agnes that Liz had written to her many, many years ago.
To my munchkin,
Of course, you can jump higher in red stockings!