Sometimes, there’s an unforeseen moment that reminds Eve Baird of just how much her Librarian really has grown. Flynn’s in town, has been for a while now, and they’re on a case where kids – young kids – are caught in the crosshairs. They need distracting – to keep them safe from the magical upheaval happening around them, to keep them unaware of the magical upheaval happening around them – and a few of the children instantly take a liking to one, Mr. Flynn Carsen. She hopes he doesn’t notice the cringe on her face when the obvious fact that one of the Librarians will need to stay with the kids while the others get the job done is brought up, but much to her surprise, Flynn doesn’t even hesitate when he volunteers to be the Youth Entertainer for the day.
There was a time where he would’ve whined and complained upon his appointment for the task, she knew. Insisted that he couldn’t possibly sit this one out, that he was the Librarian – someone else had to stay behind. She also knew in her heart of hearts that Flynn was likely the best choice, regardless of his willingness to complete the job. She, as the only Guardian in a group of four Librarians, is often automatically disqualified from just about anything that requires only one of them stay behind. Stone has a physical strength and a self-defense instinct that Flynn just doesn’t; Ezekiel’s entertaining stories veer towards the inappropriate for children under the age of 10 side, and Cassandra, while great with the older wayward students they’ve encountered and despite the bubbly demeanor that would make many believe otherwise, really shouldn’t be left alone with children anywhere, ever. She falters a bit as the fight she believed was inevitable never comes, and before she really knows what’s happening, Flynn’s sitting, legs crossed, on the floor with the kids and whipping off his shoes to obtain sock puppets for the play formulating in his head.
“Eve,” he says when he realizes she’s still there.
“Yeah?” she asks She looks around and realizes her three other Librarians are gone, having run off as soon as it was determined the case would fall on their shoulders. “Right, the case!” She wishes him luck and runs after her other charges, hoping those kids are all still giggling and happy when they return.
Her heart nearly melts when they return almost two full hours later to a room full of smiles and giggles from both the children and the Librarian. He’s leading a parade around the recreation room, each child’s head adorned with a construction paper crown too neatly made to have been done by the kids themselves. Flynn wears a matching one, the Tree of Knowledge drawn onto the front in squiggled lines she instantly recognizes as his, and he looks just as cheerful as the children dutifully following behind him. He catches sight of her and the others in the doorway, and his face breaks into an affectionate smile that surely matches hers.
“Hello, Eve,” he says, stopping the parade right in front of her. The eight children behind him stop and wait patiently for the game to continue.
“Librarian,” she says fondly. She cups her hands around his cheeks and pulls him in for an adoring kiss. The children behind Flynn break into a chorus of ewws and other similarly disgusted hollers, and the younger Librarians behind her can’t contain their snickers over the kids’ reactions.
“Hey, I get it, kids,” Ezekiel says as the laughter subsides. “I’m with you.”
“Grow up, man,” Stone mutters as Cassandra lightly hits Ezekiel’s chest.
“Stop,” she sighs. “They’re adorable.”
“You would say that,” Ezekiel says.
Baird makes a noise and shoots a look in their direction, and the Librarians stop bickering, all looking a little bit like scolded children themselves. She turns back to Flynn and tells him they’re done; say goodbye to the actual children. He turns around and crouches down to the floor, and before he can actually say anything at all, the kids are piling onto him, burying him in hugs.
Flynn is, understandably, exhausted and barely makes it through a shower before he collapses into the bed he shares with Eve that night. She joins him before he can succumb to sleep and kisses his cheek as she slides into bed.
“You did good today, Librarian,” she tells him. “You even looked like you were having a little bit of fun.”
“They were fun,” Flynn admits. He sits up a little bit against his pillows and says, “Eve?”
“Yeah, babe?” she asks, fluffing her own pillows.
“Are you interested in that?” Flynn asks.
“In what?” she asks.
“Kids,” he says.
She freezes and drops the pillow she’s holding from her hands. She turns to him slowly and says, “Please tell me you’re kidding.”
“No, I wasn’t. Not really. Not that I’m saying I need that or anything; it’s just never been discussed, and I’d like your opinion,” Flynn babbles. “Why did…why did you react like that?”
“Well, for starters, you are never here,” she says, calling him out.
“I’m getting better,” he argues.
“True,” she sighs. “But Flynn, I think that ship has sailed.”
“No. Really?” Flynn says. “Not really.”
She sighs. “Okay, maybe it hasn’t sailed sailed, but it’s certainly well on its way out of the dock.”
“Okay, fair point,” Flynn agrees, knowing they weren’t exactly getting any younger. “But was that it? That was quite a reaction if that was it.”
With an exhausted exasperation she can’t seem to contain, she nearly laughs as she says, “We already have three! How many more do you want?”
Confusion instantly colors his face, and she can’t believe he doesn’t see it. A quick remembrance crosses his eyes, he grins, and she nods, smiling, thinking he’s finally gotten it.
“That’s very funny,” he says, playfully poking her side. “The three hypothetical children from that argument in the airport…” Her face deflates as he continues. “Brilliant; that was brilliant, though I don’t think they really apply to this particular conversation.”
“Not what I was thinking about,” she says. “Though I was referring to the same three then, too.”
“The same three…?” he mutters.
He looks confused again, and she wonders if the kids on the case just wore him out that much because she really can’t believe he doesn’t see it. He looks to her for some guidance, and she shoots him a look. It takes him a moment, but he gets it; she can see the moment he gets it in his eyes. He shoots her a dismissive look and waves his hand.
“Oh pish posh,” he says. “The other Librarians? No, they’re not our kids. Come on, why would you say that?”
“Because it’s so obvious,” she laughs.
“Stone is not even that much younger than us!” Flynn exclaims.
“Doesn’t matter,” she insists.
“But…” Flynn tries again.
“I tried to fight it, too,” she tells him. “I was the big sister; I wasn’t like their mother, but facts are facts and dynamics are what they are, and it gets better when you just accept it.”
“I will not accept it because it’s not true,” he maintains.
“It’s not that much of a stretch,” she mutters.
“Oh please, Eve. We are not like their parents. Parents…” he starts.
“Bail them out of trouble, teach them to defend themselves…” she says.
“Yes, but…” he says.
“Steer them down the right paths, encourage them to become the people we know they can be…”
“Take care of them when they get hurt or sick, agree to make medical decisions for them…”
“Yes, but…” he tries again.
“Give them the tools they need to succeed on their own and then send them out into the world with miniature clippings books?”
“Well…” Flynn says, his face falling in realization as she got specific.
“Yeah?” she asks, eager to hear his take now that she’s seemingly shown him the light.
“We’re their…parents?” he asks, admitting defeat.
“Pretty much,” she sighs.
“Preposterous,” he says again, finding once last ounce of fight left in him.
“Did you see them after I stopped the bickering earlier?” she laughs. “With one little noise, might I add - they looked like a bunch of reprimanded children.”
“Because you’re their boss,” Flynn argues. “Eve, I love you, but you are crazy.”
“Do I need to pull out the pictures of Cassandra sleeping on your chest after her surgery?” she threatens.
“There are pictures?” he asks.
“It was too cute!” she laughs.
“And I was afraid you’d see us and be jealous,” he admits.
She laughs again. “Of you and Cassandra? Now who’s saying preposterous things?”
Flynn grew quiet then; he hadn’t known what to expect when he had started the conversation, but he certainly hadn’t anticipated this particular turn. “So you said no because…” he starts.
“I don’t need another one,” she says bluntly.
He pouts, not because of her refusal but because of the revelation she’s given him with her refusal, and rolls onto his side, away from her. “I’m just going to bed now.”
She should feel bad for so quickly deflating his enthusiasm for the day, but she‘s too amused by the reaction that she knows she mirrored when this Library adventure began to let that truly bother her. She curls her body around his back and kisses his cheek again.
“Hey,” she whispers. “You really were great today.”
“I didn’t do anything!” he sighs.
“Exactly,” she says. “You played a part that wasn’t the most heroic but was absolutely vital to the success of the mission, and you did so willingly and wonderfully, and that’s why I’m proud of you. You’ve come a long way, Flynn, even if sometimes you think you haven’t.”
Flynn rolls onto his back then, opening his arm for her to snuggle into. As she does so, resting her head on his shoulder, he says, “See, I’m choosing to focus on that sentiment and not the crazy thing you said earlier about the kids.”
“You just called them the kids!” she protests. “And you started it.”
“You ask a simple question…” Flynn says, wonderment in his voice at how the question had gone so wrong so quickly.
She smiles again and sweetly kisses the part of his face she can reach from her place in his arms. “Goodnight, Librarian.”
The next morning, they’re back in the Annex, and the Clippings Book gives them a new case almost instantly. She had forgotten all about the previous night’s conversation with Flynn…until the other three Librarians start bickering over how the new mission should be approached. They’re so predictable, she thinks, as she doesn’t catch every word, but she hears something about magic come out of Cassandra’s lips, followed by something about research from Stone’s, both drowned out by Ezekiel’s insistence that they should just go and figure out the creepy stuff when they get there.
Before she can do what she does best and intervene as usual, Flynn cuts in, sternly telling them all to settle down. That does the trick as all three Librarians turn to him slowly, various looks of shock and mystification on their faces.
“Did you just…yell at us?” Ezekiel asks slowly.
“Did I…” Flynn starts. He turns to Eve and asks, “Did I not do it right? I don’t know how this de facto father thing works.”
She sighs and closes her eyes, hand coming up to rub her temple, as she can’t believe he just said that out loud. She thinks she’s going to have to stop sharing her private thoughts about the team with Flynn if he’s going to turn around and essentially blurt them out to the room 12 hours later, but to her surprise, none of the Librarians gasp or ask what he means or even really look all that confused anymore. Instead, Stone’s trying to hold back chuckles, Ezekiel’s rolling his eyes, and Cassandra looks fondly amused. She turns to Baird.
“So he’s finally figured that out, has he?” she asks.
“He had some help,” Baird mutters.
Cassandra turns to Flynn. “No offense, but you’re really more of the fun dad type."
“Yeah, you should probably leave the chastising to Baird,” Ezekiel agreed.
“What?” Flynn asks, flummoxed.
“Yeah, Baird’s the disciplinarian, and you’re the guy who…shows up with s’mores when we’re supposed to be doing homework or…listening to a case briefing,” Cassandra explains.
Baird laughs at Cassandra’s example, Flynn doesn’t seem to have anything else to say, and the other Librarians go right back to bickering about the best way to approach their new mission, as if the little interlude hadn’t happened at all.
Flynn comes over to Baird and wraps his arm gently around her waist as the arguing continues on the other side of the room. Her arm falls naturally across his shoulders as he says, “So about that question I asked you last night…”
“Yes?” she asks.
“I take it back,” he says. She shoots him a questioning look, a gaze that softens into a smile as he says, “This is exactly the family I would want to build with you.”