She knew that Pete was inside the apartment before she stepped inside, and it wasn't the loud laughter of her son that gave it away. Pete had a distinctive feeling, something that she picked up with her telepathy, and made him readily identifiable. And over the years she had become increasingly more and more sensitive to such things, as her power expanded and grew.
Dropping the keys on the side table in the entranceway, she stepped out of sensible flat shoes as she made her way into the kitchen, where the light was on, and she could smell hot dogs.
She was going to kill him, honestly.
Nathan's face lit up when he saw her step into the room, and had latched on to her leg before she had the chance to put down the groceries she was carrying. At five, her son was less of a handful than he had been at four, and the light of her life.
"I sent the babysitter home," Pete told her. He was leaning over the stove, monitoring the hotdogs in boiling water.
Yep. She was definitely going to kill him.
Every Tuesday and Thursday she worked back at the office until 5, and had a regular babysitter - a wonderful older woman who simply adored Nathan - who picked her son up from school and took care of him until she managed to get home. Every other day she finished early to spend as much time with her son as she could. Elisa had met Pete, and half-disapproved of him, a few months back, after he had just decided to pop in for a visit.
"Just in the neighbourhood?" she asked, setting down the groceries and replacing the load in her arms with her son, who hugged her enthusiastically - a little too enthusiastically, she thought, when she had to pry his arms from where they were tightly wrapped around her neck. Just as soon as he had hugged her though, he was pushing down, trying to reach the floor again.
"Exactly, luv." Pete turned and flashed her a devilishly charming grin that she had known for the better part of the last six years. He could flash that grin and win her over in a heartbeat, but to his credit, he'd never pushed. She didn't really think that was his usual style, but he always seemed to have a level of respect for her that didn't always fit in with his personality.
It was part of the reason why she loved him.
But he would be damned if he could get that admission out of her voluntarily.
"Uncle Pete's making dogs!" Nathan chimed in. He'd climbed back into the chair at the kitchen table, where he was colouring in a Wiggles colouring book.
Kate raised an eyebrow in Pete's direction. "So I see," she replied, refraining from resting her hands on her hips.
Pete's lips twitched, as if holding back laughter. "Nate was kind enough to point them out in the fridge."
I'll bet he was, she sent to Pete, shaking her head and turning away to muss up her son's hair. "So much for pasta for dinner, huh kiddo?"
"Don't like pasta."
Kate rolled her eyes and turned back to the grocery bags, pulling out the milk and putting it away in the fridge.
When Pete came up behind her, wrapping his arms around her waist, she was surprised. It was uncharacteristic for him, and while they had moved from purely platonic friendship into something more, they'd agreed on slow... and it was Pete. He just did not do romantic in the traditional sense.
But in his arms, she really didn't care. She'd spent so much time on trying to protect herself and her son, and on surviving, that she'd forgotten that she could do all those things and still let someone else in.
Even if he was a somewhat disreputable fellow.
His breath was warm against her cheek was warm when he kissed her, and then he pulled back.
She half-turned her face to look at him. "I missed you, you know."
The smug smile on his face made her smile. "I know."
Behind them, Nathan called out, "Missed you, Uncle Pete!"