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Life is Short, Let’s Make the Most of It

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Ch. 1 First Meeting

            Alex Danvers groaned as the sunlight blinded her.  It was way too early for her to be up and walking the streets of National City.  She had a hard week of classes, where two students plagiarized, another cheated, and one athlete thought that he was too good to be in her class.  Working as a college professor had its upsides.  Alex had weekends off and a schedule that had her off campus at six every night.  Minus the grading and occasional obnoxious students, Alex enjoyed her job.  It was hard work getting to where she was today, but it was worth it in the end.  Her students brought her joy and she was able to teach about science. 

            Alex did not want to spend her Saturday walking to breakfast.  She would rather be lying in bed with her Giant Schnauzer, Gertrude.  Usually, they would go for a run after Alex had a coffee or two.  They would run around the park and then Gertrude would be sated for the rest of the day.  That was the normal routine and walking to breakfast was ruining it.  Next time, Alex was bringing Gertrude with her. 

            “Alex! You sure took your sweet time!”

            “Shut it Lucy.  You know I don’t wake up early on Saturdays!” Alex argued.  Lucy Lane, Alex’s childhood friend, stood outside the shop she was supposed to meet her at.  Lucy was dressed in jeans and a Harvard t-shirt.  The two of them had gone to school together since elementary school and only split when they went to college.  Alex went to Stanford while Lucy decided on Harvard.  The shorter woman focused on Law school and was one of the best lawyers in the city. 

            “Oh please Alex, I know you get up early to run with Gertrude,” Lucy retorted.  Alex rolled her eyes and hugged Lucy.  It had been a week since they had seen each other and even that was too long.  Alex pulled away to look at the shop that was in front of her.

            “Is this place even open?” Alex asked.  Lucy chuckled and pulled the door open.

            “Relax Alex.  It’s open,” Lucy assured.  They walked in the door and Alex scanned the room.  There were ten booths and ten tables strategically placed in the room.  Towards the back of the room, a counter separated the sitting area from what Alex assumed was the kitchen.  A glass display took up half of the counter and it looked like it held food of some sort.  Alex saw a staircase tucked away behind the counter that lead upstairs.  It was a cute shop. 

            “Aunt Luce!” a voice screamed.  Lucy took a knee right before a small figure jumped into her open arms.  Lucy hugged the bundle in her arms and smiled brightly.

            “Hey there firefly!” Lucy greeted.  She tickled the little one’s stomach making her laugh.  She lifted her up in her arms so the little one could look at Alex.  “This is my friend, Alex.  Can you say hi?”

            “Hi,” the little girl shyly greeted. 

            “Well, hello there little one.  What’s your name?” Alex asked.

            “Kaya,” the girl responded. 

            “Hey firefly, can you go tell your mom that I’m here?” Lucy asked.  Kaya nodded and ran to the kitchen when Lucy put her back on the ground. 

            “Aunt Luce?” Alex questioned.  Lucy chuckled and motioned for Alex to follow.

            “I was there when her mom had her and I’ve been there with her since then,” Lucy explained.  She led them towards a booth and they sat down on the cushioned seats.  “I’m lucky I get to see her every week.”

            “How old is she?”

            “She’s eight.  Turning nine in a few weeks,” Lucy answered.  She looked up when Kaya came running back to them.

            “How many?” Kaya asked.  She held a handful of menus in her arms. 

            “There’s five of us today,” Lucy smiled.  Kaya carefully counted out the menus and placed them on the table.  “Thanks firefly.  What’s Uncle James doing?”

            “Baking bwead,” Kaya responded.  Alex tried not to smile when Kaya struggled saying the “r” in bread.  She did not want to hurt the girl’s feelings.  The door chimed and Kaya looked over at the door.  Three more people entered and they walked towards them.  The child hid behind the menus and Lucy stood to greet the newcomers.

            “Hey gals!” Lucy greeted.  She hugged each of the woman. 

            “Aww, who’s the little one?” the blonde asked.  Kaya hid behind Lucy’s leg.

            “It’s okay.  These are my friends.  The loud blonde is Kara, the lady with her hair tied back is Lena, and the other lady is Sam,” Lucy explained.  Kaya peeked out from behind Lucy’s legs to wave hello at them.  “She’s a bit shy.”

            Sam leaned forward to smile at Kaya.  “I have a little girl about your age.  Maybe next time I come, I’ll bring her to play with you.  I bet she’d bring her coloring books and crayons.”

            Kaya smiled at her and the trio sat down at the booth.  Kara practically sat on top of Alex making the red head glare at her. 

            “Kara!” Alex protested.  Kara giggled and hugged Alex despite her protests.

            “I just want to hug my favorite sister!” Kara retorted.

            “Hey! What about me?!” Sam exclaimed.  Alex’s family had adopted Kara and Sam when their family had passed in a car accident.  The Danvers’s family took them in and raised them to adulthood.  Kara was the youngest of the three of them, Sam was the second oldest, and Alex was the oldest. 

            “I love you too!” Kara yelled.  She leaned over the table to hug Sam. 

            “Should we order? I know Kara is most likely hungry,” Lena teased.  A hint of her Irish accent came out towards the end of her sentence.  Kara pouted at her.  “Relax darling, you know I love you.”

            Kaya quirked her head at them and Lucy smiled.  “Lena and Kara are dating.”

            “Cool,” Kaya smiled.  Lucy ruffled her hair and sat down next to Lena.  They looked at the menus while Kaya waited patiently. 

            “There’s so much on this menu, I don’t know what to pick.  What do you think I should get Kaya?” Sam asked. 

            “I like the wamen,” Kaya responded.  Sam nodded her head.

            “Ramen does sound good,” Sam hummed.

            “Is the vegetarian one taste good?” Lena asked. 

            “Vegetawian is good.  That’s what I get,” Kaya answered. 

            “I’ll get a vegetarian ramen,” Lena smiled. 

            “I’ll get a normal, meat ramen,” Sam added.  Kara and Alex exchanged soft words and Alex looked up at Kaya.

            “Make that three normal ramens,” Alex stated.  Kaya looked at Lucy who smiled at her.

            “You know what I like firefly,” Lucy chimed.

            “Three wamens, one vegetawian wamen, and one stack of blubbery waffles,” Kaya listed.  They all nodded their heads and Kaya took the menus from them.  “Water okay?”

            “Water is good.  Do you need help?” Lucy asked.

            “I got it,” Kaya assured.  She ran back to the kitchen.

            “She’s adorable,” Kara beamed. 

            “She helps out when she’s not in school.  Does a great job when it’s not crowded,” Lucy smiled. 

            “James works here?” Alex asked.

            “Yup.  He’s the sou-chef,” Lucy answered.  She looked over to Kara.  “You’ll love the sweets here.  Maggie bakes some amazing desserts.”

            “Maggie?” Alex questioned.

            “Kaya’s mom.  She owns this place,” Lucy explained.  The sound of glasses shattering on the floor startled them.  Lucy was immediately on her feet and running towards the counter where Kaya stood in a puddle of water.  The girl looked up at Lucy with panic in her eyes. 

            “I dropped them,” Kaya panicked. 

            “It’s alright.  You aren’t hurt are you?” Lucy asked.  She carefully stepped around the broken glass and took the platter that Kaya had tried using to carry out the waters.  She picked up the child as the kitchen door slammed open.

            “Is everything alright?!” a brunette yelled.  Her hair was tied back in a bun and her brown eyes swam with worry.  Her eyes landed on Kaya and she immediately went to the girl.

            “She’s alright Maggie.  Just dropped the glasses,” Lucy assured.  Maggie inspected Kaya’s shoes to make sure her daughter did not have glass in them. 

            “Mija, you have to be more careful,” Maggie sighed.  Kaya dropped her head.

            “Sorry mom.  I wanted to help,” Kaya apologized.  Maggie took Kaya from Lucy and pushed a loose strand of her long black hair behind her ear. 

            “Thank you for helping…but next time, don’t try to take everything at once.  It’s okay to take several trips,” Maggie smiled.  She kissed Kaya’s forehead making her giggle.

            “Okay mom.  Can I take new drinks?” Kaya asked.

            “Sure.  I’ll take three and you can take two,” Maggie responded.  Kaya narrowed her eyes at her mother.  “You just dropped five cups.  I think you should take two this time and next time you can take three.”

            “Fine,” Kaya grumbled.  Maggie smiled and put Kaya on the ground while Lucy filled five more glasses.  Lucy handed two glasses to Kaya with a smile on her face.

            “Here you go firefly.  Don’t drop them,” Lucy grinned.  Kaya stuck her tongue out at Lucy and the older woman mimicked her.  The eight-year-old ran off to take the drinks to the table.  “Don’t run!”

            “Your friends here?” Maggie asked.  Lucy laced an arm over Maggie’s shoulders and took one of the drinks.

            “They sure are.  Come meet them!” Lucy chimed.

            “Luce, I’ve got to get ready for customers,” Maggie protested.

            “You can spare five minutes!” Lucy assured.

            “Five minutes that’ll turn into half an hour,” Maggie grumbled.  She let Lucy pull her towards her friends and carried the other two drinks. 

            “Hey gals! This here is my friend, Maggie!” Lucy introduced.  Kara and Sam waved hello, Lena inclined her head, and Alex stared at her.  Maggie shuffled from foot to foot and placed the drinks on the table.

            “Hi.  I hope all of you enjoy your meals.  James should be bringing it out in a few minutes,” Maggie smiled. 

            “Mom! Ms. Alex has a dog!” Kaya exclaimed. 

            “Really? Which one is Ms. Alex?” Maggie asked.  Kaya pointed at Alex.

            “Wed haired lady!” Kaya smiled. 

            “Red mija, rrrrrrr,” Maggie corrected.  The brunette looked up at Alex with a smile.  Maggie extended her hand to Alex.  “Nice to meet you red haired lady.”

            Alex shook her head with a soft chuckle.  “Nice to meet you Ms. Chef.”

            “Ms. Alex! Can you bring your dog?” Kaya asked.  Alex turned her attention to Kaya with a smile on her face.

            “If your mom says I can, I’ll bring Gertrude to visit,” Alex answered.  Maggie raised an eyebrow at the name. 

            “Mom always lets dogs come.  As long as they stay outside, she doesn’t care!” Kaya exclaimed. 

            “If that’s the case, I’ll bring her next time I come,” Alex smiled. 

            Kaya fist pumped, “Yes!”

            “Oh, before I forget…Lucy, I have to go to the bar early tonight.  They called me in early,” Maggie stated. 

            “Of course.  James and I can take her to dinner before we go watch movies,” Lucy chimed. 

            “Wait, are you not coming to ga-…ow!” Kara exclaimed.  She pulled her leg up onto the seat to rub her shin.  The blonde glared at her sister.  Sam shot her a look to stay quiet.

            “Do you have plans? I can tell them I can’t take the shift,” Maggie said.  She hated leaving Kaya with Lucy if it meant ruining the lawyers plans. 

            “No Maggie, it’s okay.  I can watch Kaya.  You go work,” Lucy assured. 

            “Luce, I can’t leave her with you if it ruins your plans,” Maggie protested.  Lucy and Maggie argued amongst themselves and James came from the kitchen with a platter of food.  He furrowed his brows at the two-bickering woman. 

            “What’s going on here?” James asked.  He looked down at Kaya who shrugged.  The child took a bowl from the platter and started to push them in front of the woman at the table. 

            “James, tell Maggie we can watch Kaya tonight,” Lucy commanded.  James placed Sam’s bowl in front of her and then placed Kara’s in front of her.

            “James, tell Lucy that you don’t need to watch Kaya if it means you have to change your plans,” Maggie commanded.  James held up his hands in surrender and Kaya giggled.

            “Hey, I’m staying out of this.  Last time you two argued and I took a side, I had to sleep on the couch for a week,” James protested. 

            “Lucy, you can bring Kaya to game night! We can play board games and Mario Cart!” Kara interrupted.  Kaya’s eyes twinkled with delight and she looked at Maggie. 

            “I could bring Ruby.  They can hang out together,” Sam added. 

            “I’ll cook something so you two can bring Kaya straight to our place,” Lena commented. 

            “See! We can take care of Kaya and you can go to work,” Lucy exclaimed.  Maggie pinched the bridge of her nose and sighed. 

            “I’ll be by to pick her up,” Maggie sighed.

            “Nonsense.  We’ll bring her back here and you can come straight home and go to bed,” James answered.  Maggie opened her mouth to protest and James held up his hand.  “You’d have to come get her at 2am.  She’ll be out cold by then and it’ll be hard for you to make that drive after your shift.  We’ll bring her home at ten and get her in bed.”

            Maggie looked down at Kaya.  “What do you think mija? Do you want to go with Lucy and James?”

            “Sure! If that’s okay with you,” Kaya answered.  She looked down at her hands then back at Maggie.  “Are we still going to the shelter?”

            “Of course.  We’ll get up nice and early to take them sweets,” Maggie smiled.  The two of them would get up early on Sundays to bake sweets and take them to the local homeless shelter downtown.  Kaya liked to take sweets to the occupants and talk with them.  She said it made them happy and that made her happy.  Maggie wrapped an arm around Kaya.

            “Guess she’ll be going with you tonight Lucy.  Don’t let her eat too much junk,” Maggie stated.

            “I’ll give her all the candy she can eat,” Lucy grinned.  Maggie slapped Lucy’s shoulder and looked at the ladies at the table. 

            “It was nice meeting all of you.  I have to get ready for the day.  Feel free to stay as long as you want and I’ll see you all later,” Maggie waved.  Kaya waved goodbye as well and the two of them went back to the kitchen.

            “I’ve got to head back as well.  We have to clean up that glass spill before anyone gets hurt,” James smiled.  He kissed Lucy softly.  “I’ll see you later.”

            “Don’t work too hard!” Lucy yelled as James walked away.  She sat down next to Kara with a smile.  “Thanks for inviting Kaya to game night.  Maggie hates leaving Kaya with me if it conflicts with my plans in anyway.”

            “No problem.  It’ll be a lot of fun!” Kara chimed.  The five of them fell into silence as they ate.  The food was delicious and Kara wanted to get seconds.  They picked out a few sweets before they left and bid each other farewell for the day.  They would see each other later that night.

 

            “I got it!” Alex yelled.  She opened Kara’s apartment door to reveal a smiling Lucy, a grinning James, and a nervous looking Kaya.  “Hey everyone.  Glad you could make it.”

            “Thanks for letting us bring Kaya,” James stated.  He hugged Alex and walked into the apartment, leaving Lucy to coax Kaya to enter.  The child listened more to Lucy than James.  Lucy kneeled on one knee to meet Kaya’s gaze.

            “Hey, it’s alright firefly.  Everyone here is nice and I bet they’ll all love you,” Lucy assured.  Kaya fiddled with her fingers and kept her eyes on the ground.

            “Would you like to meet Gertrude?” Alex asked.  Kaya looked up at the red head with a glimmer of excitement in her eyes. 

            “Puppy?” Kaya asked. 

            “Yup! She’s a big old puppy!” Alex answered.  Kaya looked to Lucy for permission and the older woman smiled at her. 

            “Could I please see Gertwude?” Kaya asked. 

            “Of course!” Alex beamed.  She turned to face the inside of the apartment before she whistled.  “Gertrude, come!”

            The patter of paws hitting the ground filled the air and a black Giant Schnauzer came running at them.  The large black dog bounded around the corner and stopped right before she collided into Alex’s legs.  The red head pet her dog daughter’s head and scratched behind her ears.  “Good girl Gertrude.”

            Alex moved out of Gertrude’s line of sight and the dog quirked her head at Kaya.  “This is Kaya.  She’s a friend of ours and she wants to meet you.”

            “Hold out your hand and hold it still,” Lucy whispered in Kaya’s ear.  Kaya nodded and held her palm up to the dog.  Gertrude slowly approached the girl and sniffed her palm.  She licked Kaya’s hand eliciting a string of giggles from the girl.  Gertrude barked at Kaya and dropped down into her playing posture, bouncing around on her feet to coax Kaya into following her.  Kaya laughed and chased Gertrude into the kitchen.  Alex moved to the side to let them pass with a smile on her face.

            “I’m surprised she likes Kaya so much,” Lucy commented.  The smaller woman hugged Alex and closed the door with her foot.

            “Gertrude likes kids…can’t say she likes adults all that much, but she has a soft spot for the little ones,” Alex shrugged.  She moved to the couch with Lucy to watch Kaya play with Gertrude.  The two of them sat on the floor and played tug-of-war with one another.  James came into the living room with a glass of win for Lucy.  He handed it to her and kissed her softly on the lips. 

            “Kara said dinner will be ready in a few,” James smiled. 

            “Perfect,” Lucy responded.  She motioned her head to where Kaya was playing.  “Should we send a picture of this to Maggie? Tell her to get firefly a dog?”

            “I’m sure she’ll be very pleased when Kaya asks her for a dog…again,” James joked. 

            “Has Kaya been asking for a dog?” Alex asked.  Lucy took a sip of her wine.

            “She’s been asking for the last two years.  Maggie doesn’t want a dog until she can afford a larger house,” Lucy answered. 

            “Smart idea.  I got lucky that Gertrude is easy in my apartment,” Alex nodded. 

            “Dinner is ready!” Kara called from the kitchen.  Kaya jumped to her feet and promptly tripped over some of Gertrude’s toys.  The child fell to the ground with a thud and Gertrude quickly checked on her.  She sniffed Kaya’s head and nudged it, making Kaya look up at her with a thankful smile.  Lucy ran to Kaya’s side and helped her to her feet.

            “Did you forget to look before you ran?” Lucy asked. 

            “Yes…but I wanted food,” Kaya nodded.  Lucy chuckled and held Kaya’s hand as they went to the kitchen.

            Several hours later, Kaya had fallen asleep on the ground next to Gertrude.  She used the dog’s side as a pillow and Gertrude seemed to not care.  The two of them were inseparable through out the night, allowing the adults to have their game night.  Lucy and James snapped several pictures of Kaya before Lucy went to pick up the girl.  Gertrude jumped to attention when the woman approached. 

            “Good girl Gertrude.  You like her, huh?” Lucy whispered.  She reached out her hand and let Gertrude sniff her hand before softly petting her on the head.  “I have to take her home.  She can’t sleep on the ground.”

            Gertrude huffed in response and let Lucy pick Kaya up in her arms.  She rested Kaya’s chest against hers and the girl’s head lied on her shoulder.  Kaya grumbled against her when she stood.

            “We have to take firefly home.  I still need to get her to take a bath before she goes to bed,” Lucy whispered. 

            “Sure thing.  Thanks for coming.  See you next week?” Kara whispered back. 

            “Of course.  I’ll meet you for breakfast before you go to work,” Lucy smiled.  Lena and Alex hugged them goodbye and walked them to the door.  “Al, you want to meet with us before your classes start?”

            “I guess I could go.  It’ll save me from dealing with my co-workers,” Alex chuckled. 

            “You’re so anti-social,” Lucy snorted. 

            “You’re one to talk,” Alex teased.  Lucy rolled her eyes and leaned into James’s side.  He slid his arm around her waist with a smile.

            “Thanks again everyone.  It was fun,” James thanked.  He followed Lucy out the door and Gertrude sat down in front of the closed door.  She looked back at Alex and whined.

            “I’ll take you to see her again.  She said you could come visit anytime you liked,” Alex laughed.  Gertrude’s tail wagged and she barked in excitement.

 

                Maggie stumbled through the living room door at 3am.  The bar had been busy all night and right before she got off, two blokes decided to have a fist fight.  She was able to break them up but took a hit to the shoulder and she had to wait until the cops showed.  She told them what happened and was able to leave an hour later.  Her body barely moved as she entered the apartment above her shop.  She was thankful that there were no neighbors around them to see her struggle to open the back door.  Lucy and James were asleep on the couch when she entered the room.  She sighed and felt bad that they had to stay late.  The door clicked behind her and Lucy woke.

            “Hmmm…Maggie?” Lucy mumbled.  Maggie hung up her jacket then walked over to the small dinning room table that was tucked away in the corner.  She plopped down on the chair with a huff.

            “Yeah its me Luce.  Sorry I woke you,” Maggie whispered.  Lucy waved off her apology and stood.  She stretched her arms and groaned when they popped.  “Kaya asleep?”

            “She wanted to sleep in your bed until you got home,” Lucy answered.

            “Thank you for bringing her home,” Maggie thanked. 

            “No problem.  You know I love watching her,” Lucy smiled.  Maggie stood and Lucy noticed the way Maggie avoided using her right arm when she pushed in her chair. 

            “What happened with your shoulder?” Lucy asked. 

            “Nothing,” Maggie lied.  Lucy walked to her and pulled on her arm.  “Ouch! That hurt Lucy!”

            Lucy ignored her and pulled the shirt away from Maggie’s shoulder.  She gasped at the sight of the large bruise that was forming.  “What happened?! Who did this?! I’ll beat the crap out of whoever hurt you!”

            “Easy tiger.  I’m fine.  Some idiots were fighting and I took a hit to the shoulder,” Maggie convinced.  Lucy shook her head.

            “If you need to sue, you better call me to help.  I’ll make sure they get charged,” Lucy firmly stated.  Maggie smiled and hugged Lucy.

            “Thanks,” Maggie thanked.  She pulled away from Lucy to see James starting to wake.  “You should probably get some sleep.  You two could sleep on the couch if you want.  I don’t mind.”

            “Nah, we should head home.  James wanted to nap before we hit the road, but he wanted to get us home,” Lucy retorted. 

            “If you’re sure,” Maggie murmured. 

            “I’m sure.  We’ll text you when we get home.  Go get some sleep.”

            “Alright.  Don’t forget to lock the door on your way out.”

            “We won’t.  Bye Magpie.”

            “Bye Luce.”

            Maggie walked to her bedroom and quickly changed into her pajamas.  She wanted to get into bed as soon as possible.  She changed into boxers and a t-shirt before sitting on the bed.  A smile came to her lips when she saw Kaya sleeping on the bed.  Her daughter clutched a stuffed red dragon to her chest and she was buried beneath the covers.  Maggie ran her knuckles over Kaya’s cheek making her daughter grumble.  Gold eyes peeked at her from below half-closed lids. 

            “Mom?” Kaya grumbled.  Maggie smiled and leaned forward to press a kiss on Kaya’s head.

            “Hi mija.  Sorry, go back to bed,” Maggie whispered.  Kaya reached her arms out to Maggie and the brunette smiled.  She lied on her side and brought Kaya to her chest.  Her daughter buried her face against her chest.  Maggie pressed a gently kiss against Kaya’s head, earning her a relaxed sigh from her daughter.  “Goodnight mija.”