I couldn’t resist. This verse is born of a few suggestions I made and what Lectorel’s beautiful mind created from it! This is a flashback set several years from the most recent Patience verse post. I hope you like it, Lector.
They should’ve been in bed already. The hours was late, the night was cold, and tomorrow promised to be an extremely busy day with a very early start. However, just an hour earlier a letter had arrived that made sleep the least of Tim and Prue’s concerns.
“So,” Tim said, leaning against the kitchen counter, the steam from his cup of coffee fogging up his glasses.
“So,” Prue echoed, cupping her own coffee as she leaned her elbows on the island opposite her husband. “The curse is finally lifted.”
“That’s what the letter says.”
“Do you feel any different?”
“But things will be different, now, right?”
“Do they have to be?”
Prue lifted her eyes from the innocuous-seeming letter resting on the island in between the two of them and turned her gaze to Tim, who was already looking pointedly at her.
“Are you serious? Do you still want to keep your family out of our lives completely?”
Tim looked out the window that was situated just over the kitchen sink, staring out into the darkness and watching as large flakes of snow floated past the beam of light of a nearby street lamp.
Prue sighed and frowned. ”Sometimes, I really don’t understand you. Let me make it perfectly clear, I don’t mind keeping the Bats out of our belfry, so to speak. However, I would understand if you wanted to reconnect with them. They are your family, after all.”
“You and Patience are my family.”
Prue felt a lump rise to her throat. Tim had made the statement with such finality, as if it were set in stone and framed in steel, that it caught her off-guard. She wasn’t quite sure what to say to that. ”What are you saying?”
Tim removed his glasses. Without them, he looked like a totally different person.
He looked younger.
He looked like the man he used to be.
Less an intellectual…
…More a bird of prey.
Though she would never admit it, when Tim looked like this, it made Prue’s heart flutter, just a little.
“You and Patience mean the world to me,” Tim clarified slowly, seriously. ”More than the world, in fact. If keeping the two of you safe and sound meant setting the Earth on fire, I’d gladly throw gasoline on the flames and watch it all burn to the ground. I’d do anything to protect you two, and that level of anything isn’t exactly kosher in the Bats’ code of conduct.”
A small smile slowly crept up on Prudence’s face as she propped her chin up with one hand and cocked her head coyly to one side. ”You know, a lesser woman might be rather appalled by the idea that her husband would see the world destroyed to protect his family.”
Tim smirked sardonically. ”But my wife is not a lesser woman, is she?”
Prue snickered. “Furthest thing from it, and you damn well know it.”
“You’re turned on right now, aren’t you?”
“Oh you have no idea.”
Tim shook his head with a chuckle. ”Besides, you know the kind of lives they live and enemies they have. I don’t want any of that for our daughter. She deserves a normal life… Or, at the very least, as normal a life as the two of us as her parents can give to her, all things considered.”
Then he paused as he heard something. Prudence heard it too. It wasn’t any cause for alarm, though. They knew the soft footsteps sneaking quietly down the stairs entirely too well. They rested there in the kitchen in silence for a moment before Tim finally broke it.
“Patience Janson-Summers,” he said in a stern, paternal tone without even turning to the stairwell. ”What are you doing out of bed?”
The footsteps froze, and slowly, guiltily, a tiny four-year old dark haired girl poked her head around the wall to peer into the kitchen. ”I couldn’t sleep,” she admitted. ”So I wanted to stay up and see Santa.”
Prue and Tim shared an amused look before Prue straightened up to eye their daughter pointedly. ”Santa doesn’t work that way, sweetie. He won’t visit until everyone’s asleep.” She walked over the slightly dejected child. ”Now come on. Time to get your tail back into bed.”
Patience gave her mother a rather offended look. It was a look Prue often used, with great effectiveness, to strike trepidation in the hearts of people who annoyed her, but which only looked hilarious coming from a four-year old. ”I don’t have a tail! I have a butt!”
Tim, who had been in the midst of taking a sip from his cooling coffee, nearly choked on it. As Tim struggled slightly to find some balance between clearing his windpipe and laughing, Prue put her hands on her hips in mock indignation even as she couldn’t hide her own beaming smile. ”You cheeky little imp,” she said with amusement as she lifted the child up and nuzzled her, drawing a peal of laughter from the girl.
“Your daughter, Prue.”
“Oh shut up you.” There was no heat at all to Tim and Prue’s banter as she held Patience close to her chest, the small girl wrapping her arms around her mother’s neck, and walked over to Tim. ”Tell your Dad good night before we go upstairs to tuck in.”
“G’night Daddy,” Patience said with a shy smile and warm, sparkling eyes before giving him a tiny kiss on the cheek.
“Good night, Princess,” Tim said as he returned the kiss in kind. Then, before Prue could escape, he surprised her a quick, stolen kiss on the lips. Even as Prudence’s face reddened slightly, she smirked at her husband before taking their daughter and heading back up the stairs.
Once both his girls were out of sight, Tim’s expression sobered as he turned his attention back to the letter on the island. He picked it up and scanned over its contents one more time as he walked into the living room, past the cheerfully decorated Christmas tree, and stood before the fireplace. He committed the words to memory, then looked up at the line of photographs and mementos resting on top of the mantle.
“It’s better this way,” he thought to himself with a sigh. Then he fed the letter into the fireplace and watched solemnly as the flames quickly devoured it. ”Merry Christmas, everyone,” Tim whispered under his breath. ”Wherever you all may be.”