Sunday Afternoon

by Kass


Written as a stocking-stuffer for Victoria P. in Yuletide 2008. Presumes familiarity with S3 though doesn't contain any spoilers per se.

Tami cast a glance toward the living room. Eric wasn't watching game tape, for a change. He had the Cowboys on, but they were winning handily and he wasn't paying much attention; he was mostly reading the Sunday paper.

She uncurled from her place at the kitchen counter and wandered over to stand behind him, leaning over the back of the couch to press a kiss to the top of his head.

"Hey," he said absently. She couldn't help smiling. "What're you up to?"

"Gracie Belle's asleep," she said, coming around to perch on the arm of the couch. "Julie's at a movie."

That got her a sharp look. "With Matt?"

"Yes, with Matt." Tami waited, but he didn't say anything else. "Anyway. I probably ought to be balancing the checkbook, but--"

She let her voice trail off, looked down and then back up at him. His calves, his forearms, his jaw, his eyes. Warmth bloomed in her and for a second she empathized with Julie, remembering what it was like to be seventeen, when sex was wild and new and unbelievable.

Eric was smiling now, reading her intentions in her face or her body language. "I might have something else in mind," he suggested. "If you can bear to step away from the bills."

"I was kinda hoping you'd say that." Tami stood up and Eric followed suit, turning the tv off with a flourish.

He moved right into her space, putting one warm hand on her hip and pulling her close. The kiss was comfortable and sweet. When they broke, his eyes were sparkling. "So, you finally wanna tackle the shelving in the garage, huh?"

"Eric," she protested, laughing, and he was laughing too, heading for the bedroom, already pulling his shirt off over his head.

"One of these days," Eric murmured, standing behind her and kissing the back of her neck, "I am going to get you out of this house for a night."

She turned in his arms. "Honey, that really was the sweetest thing--"

"I know it was," Eric said. "And I'd like to note, for the record, that I didn't even complain--"

"I know you didn't," she said, and kissed him again.

"We didn't even take advantage of that shower," Eric murmured regretfully.

Tami couldn't help the quick grimace. "Yeah, I think that wouldn't be the best idea here." She could just picture their shower curtain coming down. Or knocking over their shower caddy, bottles of shampoo and conditioner breaking all over the floor.

"I just wanted you to know how much I appreciate you." And oh, God, that was his serious voice. Tami's heart was melting.

"I do know it," she promised. Where they were pressed together she felt him stir, and couldn't help smiling. "You know I feel the same way."

"Lucky for me," Eric said, and grinned. "Now. Where were we?"

By the time Matt brought Julie home, they were back in the living room. Eric was reading the paper again; Tami had just started assembling a lasagna for dinner.

"Coach," Matt said, a little awkwardly, from the door. "Mrs. T."

"Hello, Matt," Tami said. He really was a sweet kid; it wasn't hard to see what Julie saw in him.

"Whatever you're making, it smells good," he said.

"You want to stay for dinner, honey?" she asked. She'd learned early on in Eric's coaching career that it was always wise to cook for a few extra mouths, just in case.

Matt blushed a little and glanced quickly at Eric, who was studiously hiding behind the OpEd section. "Uh, that's okay, thanks," he said. "My mom and my grandma are expecting me home."

Might have been true. Or it might have been his way of avoiding the awkward situation of sharing a dinner table with his girlfriend's father who had read him the riot act and hadn't quite gotten around to warming up yet. Smart boy. "Tell 'em hi for me," Tami offered.

"Call me later, okay?" Julie said, rising to press a kiss to his cheek.

"Yeah, okay," Matt said, and his little smile was unbelievably sweet. She'd have to ask later whether Eric had noticed that. It was pretty obvious Matt thought Julie'd hung the moon, and Tami approved of that wholeheartedly. "Bye, Mrs. Taylor. Coach."

"See you at practice," Eric said, and bless him, he put the damn paper down and nodded to Matt.

The door closed and Julie stood there for a second.

"How was the movie?" Tami asked.

"Kind of stupid, but fun. We went out for coffee afterwards with Tyra and Landry."

"Are they...?" Tami drained the noodles and started layering them in the casserole.

"Dating again?" Julie said breezily. "Not yet, but I'll bet they will be the end of Christmas break."

"They surely do change their minds a lot," Eric said.

"Dad!" Julie's voice was the epitome of teenaged frustration. Tami looked down and swallowed her smile.

"I'm just saying," Eric began, and Tami cut him off.

"Set the table, or make a salad: your choice, Jules."

"I can do both," Julie offered. "Just let me wash my hands."

There was something comforting about watching her daughter bustle around the kitchen. The sounds of the ESPN post-game analysis coming quietly from the television, her unbelievably sexy husband kicking back on the couch, her baby girl still sleeping, her big girl reaching for a wooden salad bowl -- the normalcy of it all took her breath away.

Just another few years and Julie would be the one doing the college applications, getting ready to head to God-knew-where. The thought of their house with only one daughter in it was almost unbearable. And Julie would come home from school and spend half her time out with Matt and Tyra and Landry, Lyla and Tim. How empty Dillon would seem without all those kids...

"Mom?" Julie asked quietly, standing right beside her. "You okay?"

Tami straightened, took a deep breath, and gave her daughter a smile. "I surely am," she said, and it was true.

The End