Author's Note: Follows the events after my other story "I Promise." However, it is not necessary to have read the former story to read this one. Constructive Criticism is always welcomed. Enjoy! :)
Disclaimer: I do not own "Faith" or any of her characters, I simply fell in love with them along the way.
It was the end of a long, exhausting day in which it had felt like absolutely nothing had gone right and Choi Young's only thoughts were now filled with nothing more than a hot bath, a warm meal and deep sleep.
His usual steady tread seemed to trudge along the flagstones in his weariness, his shoulders rotating to work out his sore muscles. He trailed strings of water behind him, adding to the sufficient amount of puddles that suffused the path home, because to top it all off it had begun to storm in the late morning and hadn't let up until nightfall. So now he was soaked through to the bone as well as stiff, sore, and sporting a new knife wound that he had hastily bandaged up after one of the new recruits became sloppy in a training exercise.
Choi Young winced, knowing how upset his wife would be at his condition, already seeing the stormy look in her eyes as his cold fingers rested on the door. He sighed heavily, bracing himself for the lecture that was sure to follow to seal off the perfect ending for this cursed day, and opened the door in resignation.
"Daddy!" Excited, high-pitched voices reached his ears the moment he set foot inside his home, and had only a second of recognition before he felt himself tackled to the floor amongst squeals of delight. All too soon he was enveloped in tiny arms and kisses that brought a grin to his face and a warmth to his body that chased away nearly all the previous cold and stiffness in an instant.
He laughed and rustled his eldest daughter's hair as they sat on the floor together in a heap, "Aren't you two supposed to be in bed?"
"Mama got a message from the palace that you were talking to the king and would be home soon," his eldest replied, excitement radiating from her like the noonday sun. "She said we could stay up and wait for you."
His youngest daughter nodded rapidly, agreeing with her sister.
"They were too excited to sleep anyways," the warm voice of his wife suppressing laughter reached his ears and Choi Young met her grin with one of his own. Eun Soo leaned against the doorframe, her hands resting over her very swollen belly as she watched her family in adoration.
Choi Young struggled to stand, his daughters hanging onto him and shrieking in laughter as he lost his balance more than once in the attempt, slipping on his own puddles of water that had begun to pool from his soaked clothing. After removing his shoes they then each clutched a leg as he tried to walk, giggling in unabashed delight as he looked down at them in exasperation.
Laughing, Eun Soo approached him instead, kissing him on the cheek in greeting. "I'm glad you came back safe," she told him softly.
He picked up his youngest from around his leg and settled her on his hip as his eldest finally let go and moved to stand next to her mother. He placed his free hand over his wife's belly and smiled gently at her, "I promised you I would return."
"Daddy!" His eldest demanded. "Kiss her! Mama's been waiting for you!"
Eun Soo flushed scarlet. "Why you little rascal! That was supposed to be a secret between us girls."
Her daughters burst into giggles.
Choi Young couldn't stop the grin that spread itself across his face as he watched his wife's blushing face, her fists on her hips as she glared playfully down at their eldest. Using his free hand to pull Eun Soo close he kissed her on the forehead before wrapping an arm around her and settling it at the small of her back, tracing comforting circles there with his fingers.
"Daddy," his eldest cried, exasperated. "That's wrong."
Choi Young looked down at her in astonishment.
"Papa," his youngest's voice sounded close to his ear as her tiny hands placed themselves on his cheeks and turned his head to face hers. "Like this," she kissed him on the lips.
Eun Soo and their eldest daughter all but doubled over in laughter at the look of shock on his face before turning to his wife in silent question.
Amused and blushing Eun Soo explained, "They asked me about your kiss right before you left. Apparently they saw our good-bye."
This time it was Choi Young's turn to flush as heat rose to his face. He felt a sharp tug on his soggy pants and looked down to see his eldest glaring at him. "Papa!" she ordered, her face stern.
With a quick grin he kissed his blushing wife soundly on the lips as his daughters burst into fresh rounds of giggles.
"Alright you two," Eun Soo said, her cheeks tinged pink. "Bed."
"Can we stay up with Daddy for just a little bit longer?" Their eldest tucked her lips into a begging pout.
"Please?" Copying her sister, their youngest also turned to her mother.
Even Choi Young looked at his wife with pleading eyes, not quite ready to let go of the warmth and laughter of his daughters for the night just yet.
Eun Soo threw her hands up in the air in defeat. "Alright, alright. Let him take his bath in peace first, and then you can stay up until he finishes eating something."
Cries of joy rang up from their little girls as Choi Young slid his arm fully around his wife's waist and tugged her close with a grin.
She sighed and rested her head on his shoulder. "And here I thought I'd get you all to myself tonight."
He laughed and kissed the top of her head. "They'll fall asleep soon enough."
"Want to bet?" she murmured. She frowned suddenly, pulling back from his embrace. "You're soaking wet!"
Choi Young felt his mirth bubble up into full laughter as he watched Eun Soo pulling at the damp spots that were now showing on her own clothes. She looked at her two daughters in exasperation as she noted how much water their clothes had soaked up from their father's.
Her head fell into her hand. "Girls, please, go change into dry clothes while I get your father into the bath."
"Okay, mama!" They cried out as the eldest took off running down the hall. Choi Young set his youngest on the floor before she silently scampered after her sister, disappearing into the shadowy, candle-lit halls.
Eun Soo waited until the two had disappeared down the hall before turning to her husband with her fists planted on her hips. "You're getting right into the bath, after which, I will be examining that wound you have hidden on you."
Choi Young ducked his head sheepishly. "Imja heard about that?"
"I can smell the blood," she told him quietly before placing gentle fingers on his face, her expression searching.
"It's a shallow wound, made from a reckless new recruit," he assured her softly. "Nothing more."
She studied his eyes for a long moment before nodding to herself, grasping his hand and leading him down the hall. Eun Soo had him in a hot, relaxing bath within moments and left him to a few moments of peace as she gathered up his wet clothes and removed them from the room.
Choi Young felt his muscles relax as they invited the heat from the hot water, his eyes closing involuntarily as he leaned back and listened to the sounds of lively chatter from his three girls down the hall. Eventually Eun Soo returned with warm, fresh clothes in hand and inspected his wound as he dried and dressed. She had him sit down as she gave the wound a few stitches before covering it up with a nod of satisfaction and leaving him to finish with his clothing as she went to inspect the progress of his meal.
As Choi Young sat down to his late, hot supper, his two daughters pressed close to his sides filling the calm silence between husband and wife with all the complete details of their day.
After, husband and wife sat close to the crackle of the fire, talking softly about what had happened with one another while Choi Young had been out. Two little heads rested in his lap sound asleep as he ran his fingers through their hair absentmindedly. Eventually they laid the two in bed and Choi Young watched silently from the doorframe as his wife tenderly tucked their daughters in, checking every corner of the covers to make sure that no cool air could slip in between the sheets before kissing the two gently on the head and quietly making their exit.
They then turned to their own bed and Choi Young lay nestled warmly against his wife, his arms wrapped around her, and her arms clutching at him as if she'd never let him go from her side again. He pulled her back tightly to his chest, his nose buried in her hair, inhaling her scent deeply as one of his hands rested on her belly and their child growing inside her.
And he knew. This is what it was all for. All the pain, heartache, exhaustion, and every mistake or argument that had occurred to make the day go from bad to worse…this is what it was for, why it was worth going through. He'd weather any fight or storm gladly knowing he could come home to this at the end of the day.
He'd do anything for his girls.