Natalie had just finished up a Skype call with Illya before his nap for the game that night in Vancouver when the someone knocked on the door. She grabbed her crutch from beside the computer, tucked it beneath her arm and hobbled over to the door and opened it slowly.
Only to be greeted by the sight of Alex with Yuri’s hockey bag on his shoulder and the 3-year-old with his face buried in his other shoulder.
When she looked to the older man for answers as to why her usually bubbly little boy was so down, all Alex could do was shake his head with a sad little smile and rub the boy’s back. She moved out of the way to let them in, touching the boys back gently as they passed.
Alex dropped Yuri’s hockey bag down on top of the shoes at the front door, slid his off, and then carried the boy the rest of the way to the couch and set him down. Natalie sat beside him and barely had time to adjust herself before she had a lap full of 3-year-old and arms around her neck.
She nosed at the boy’s soft toffee coloured curls and kissed the shell of his tiny ear as her arms came around him. “Wanna tell mama what’s wrong, sweetheart?” She eyed Alex standing above them with his hands on his hips, as she spoke.
Yuri pulled his head back and blinked, owlishly at his mother, full on pout on his face.
Natalie smiled gently at him and the boy leaned in and kissed her on the corner of her mouth. He then settled against her shoulder in much the same way he had on Alex, this time with his head facing out.
“You’re a good Zebra, Mama.”
She shot her attention back to Alex and frowned, again Alex only shook his head. He signed “Tea” and didn’t even give Natalie time to nod her head before he turned and headed for the kitchen. She watched him go with a quiet sigh and spread her hand out on her son’s back.
“Thank you, baby.”
Yuri just hummed and squeezed his mother’s neck a bit tighter.
Less than five minutes later Natalie felt Yuri’s small body go limp and smirked. She then turned her head again and kissed the back of his head. “Mama loves you, Yuri Illyanovich Kuryakin.”
“I was wondering when the dear boy would finally give in.”
She looked up just as Alex came from the kitchen with two steaming mugs. As gently as she could from her sitting position, Natalie laid Yuri down, longways, on the couch beside her.
She then nodded as he handed her a mug.
“Do you want to tell me what that was about?”
Alex smirked and sat carefully on the arm of the chair across from her. He crossed his leg and set his mug on his knee. “A child’s father from the opposing team this afternoon figured out you were Yuri’s mother and started going at him constantly, calling Illya and you everything under the sun – without swearing.”
“At a kids game?!” Her blood pressure spiked suddenly as her dark eyes fell on her son.
“He was warned by the surrounding parents and myself many times to keep it down. And luckily, for most of it,” he took a quick sip of his coffee, “the children were at the other end of the ice and Yuri was far away from ever being able to hear his nonsense.”
Her hand found Yuri’s tiny hockey sock covered leg. “Then how-“ “The child’s father found us on the way out, gave me a two fingered salute and then told Yuri his mother was a terrible Zebra and his dad stunk.”
Natalie’s eyes looked to Yuri again. Her gorgeous, brilliant boy who in no way deserved being treated or told anything like that. No child did. “Nice.”
“Mm,” Alex agreed, taking another sip of his coffee. “I thought so too.” Once the mug was back on his knee he spoke again. “He asked me why the man had called you a zebra in the car on the way home.”
“It’s Illya’s fault he knows what a Sin Bin is.” She smiled sadly, rubbing the boys leg. “His father can never stay out of it.”
“Trust me,” Alex smiled in agreement, “I am quite aware.”
“You told him what it meant, I assume?”
“I did. And that’s what brought on the mood. And the good Zebra comment.”
“Well, I’ll just have to go to the next game he has, crutches or no…I’ll set the bugger straight.” Her eyes flashed momentarily. “Maybe see if Illya can’t make one as well.”
“Obviously we have it all wrong, haven’t we?” Alex quipped looking to her while holding the mug to his lips. “You’re not a zebra at all. You’re something much fiercer. A Mother bear.”