Beating Tim in Mario Kart was Lex’s perfect idea of a Sunday afternoon. Becky was working and Tom went to one of his high school friend’s houses to watch the football games, leaving Lex with Tim and Hannah. Noel was visiting from college out in Massachusetts, driving back to see her girlfriend for the day. She came in during lunch, when Hannah wouldn’t let her go and Noel was more than happy to spoil the little ten-year-old with attention.
“I missed you guys,” She wrapped her arms around the two little kids, kissing both of their heads. Her hair was straightened and she was wearing it down, with a Mount Holyoke sweatshirt on that Lex was sure would end up in her closet by the end of the afternoon. “How has everything been?”
“It’s been good,” Tim smiled. He’d grown enough to be taller than Noel, at five feet and one inch. “We miss you all the time. Even if we call you.”
“And I miss you guys too, you’ve gotten so big,” Noel pressed a kiss to his forehead. “Have you been good for Tom and Becky?” Finally, after almost a whole year of dating Lex and knowing the Barnes-Houstons, she finally called Becky and Tom by their first names. Hannah nodded, leaning her head on her shoulder. She was still shorter, but not by much.
“Of course they have,” Lex grinned, “They wouldn’t do anything to piss them off.” She pressed a kiss to her girlfriend’s lips. It was good to have her home. Noel pulled her into the hug, making it one giant group hug.
“I missed you too,” Noel whispered, standing on her toes so only Lex could really hear her. “Most of all.”
“And I missed you more than anyone else certainly did,” Lex kissed her again. How she’d missed that too. Kissing her, holding her, all of it. She was helping Tom with his shop class now, a little assistant for him when he needed help. It wasn’t the same to come home to just Hannah and Tim playing Animal Crossing or Minecraft, no Noel sitting at the counter with Becky on days she was home or watching the kids play while cuddled under the lavender throw blanket she loved. “Come on. We were about to play Mario Kart. Tim versus me.”
“Good match,” Noel nodded, grabbing an apple off the counter. She sat down with Lex, pulling the blanket over herself and leaning her head on her shoulder.
“I’m gonna win,” Tim said definitively, taking the red controller from the table.
“Tough chance,” Lex shot back. Hannah climbed up next to Noel, laying her head on her arm. Noel kissed her forehead in return. Lex couldn't think why that was something she loved even more now.
“Can Ellie pick the map?” Tim asked, leaning over to look at Noel. Noel thought for a minute before Hannah whispered in her ear.
“Moo Moo Meadows,” Noel decided. “My favorite map. And Hannah’s too.”
Lex was obviously the winner of the race. Despite Tim’s Minecraft skills, his video game driving skills were subpar.
“Yeah!” Lex cheered, putting her hands in the air. Noel kneeled up and high-fived her hard enough for the sound to echo in the room and both girls to shout at the sudden pain.
“Oh,fuck, that hurt,” Noel whined. Lex just kissed her knuckles as if that would soothe the tingling pain. Hannah giggled and Tim groaned.
“ Gross ,” He got up. “You play, Ellie, if you’re gonna be all lovey-dovey.”
“Gladly,” Noel took the controller. “Ready to win, Lexie?”
“You know it, Ellie.”