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Lazy Like A Fox

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Kate wiggles her toes, enjoying the feel of the warm sand between her toes. She can't believe they've found a patch of beach that isn't littered with garbage every ten feet. She closes her eyes and sighs, feeling the gentle breeze on her skin, smiling at the sound of Ben's and Maddie's laughter mixing with the sound of the surf hitting the beach.

Suddenly she tumbles over into absolute cold. It's frozen. Like Alaska kind of chilly. "Ben!" she yells, indignant. She sputters as a foamy mass of water covers her head...

Kate stirs and wakes from her dream, coughing as the dream ocean disappears and reality returns. She's in bed, it's... she looks at the clock... 3am. No ocean, but she's every bit as cold - the covers are bundled over on the other side of the bed. She rolls her eyes and tugs at them. They don't budge.

A little groan comes from beneath them. Kate rolls her eyes and smiles despite herself. She's sure she knows who's under there, but she peels back the blankets carefully to reveal a mop of curly blonde hair.

"Maddie," she murmurs. "What are you doing out of bed?"

"I had a bad dream." Her voice is halfway between a whine and a groan. "Can I sleep with you?"

Kate sighs. She closed up the bar last night, had to kick out a rowdy group who weren't getting the whole "last call" thing, and she had to open in the morning on top of that. As much as she loves Maddie, she can't sleep well with a five-year old who tends to sleep-kick.

"Just for a little while," she says. Once Maddie's asleep, she can carry her back to her own bed, and then get back to dreamland.

Kate snuggles down in her blankets in front of the fire. The flames crackle and spark, the embers swirling up the flue. Glancing out the window of their cabin, she sees the snowflakes drifting gently down. The others should be getting back from their day at the slopes any time now. She hopes Maddie didn't wreck too many times on the bunny hill, but with Ben and Tommy there, she would have company. Both of them are terrible skiers - they’re probably competing over who can wipe out the most. BJ claims she is nearly a pro, but no one's ever seen her ski. She probably spent the whole day at the lodge bar, chatting up the instructors after lessons.

Kate is more than happy to spend the whole trip in the cabin. She picks up her mug of hot cocoa from beside her and takes a long sip, closing her eyes to savor the rich flavor.

Suddenly the door flies open, snow swirling in, and Ben comes stumbling in. "Kate--!"

He collapses on the floor, and Kate nearly spills her cocoa everywhere trying to untangle herself. "Ben, what's wrong? Are you all right?"

"I'm fine, or I was, until you woke me up..."

Kate finds herself sitting up in bed, all the blankets over on the other side of the bed again. She frowns at the sight of her brother lying in nearly the same spot as Maddie earlier in the night. She whacks him on the back. "Ben--!"

"What?" he complains and turns over. "Maddie took over my bed in the garage."

Kate groans. "So you came here instead?"

"Maddie's bed's too small for me." He snuggles under farther before continuing. "And you don't kick."

Kate pushes off the bed in frustration. Yanking her pillows out from under his head, she stomps out of the room, praying Tommy isn't on the couch. Ben calls after her, "You ever think of signing her up for soccer?"

"You drive her to practices, then."

"Okay." He's asleep again almost before finishing the word.

She smiles and stumbles her way to a thankfully empty sofa. When she falls asleep again, she dreams of a day at the spa; when she awakens, it's to the smell of fresh coffee and pancakes, and the sight of apologetic faces. As she takes the first bite, she thinks that maybe she should let them play musical beds more often.