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 # Flashlight, ROSALIE WALLACE

Rosie wanted 'that Noah'- the one who put time and effort, an immense amount of it, to set up a scavenger hunt. The Noah who wasn't borderline self-absorbed, more concerned with having fun than being a good husband and father. She deserved it. Their day out doing wedding things was a real eye-opener, even more so than getting kicked out for a night. Sure, that had been scary, but it was so brief, and was not really followed up; Noah didn't learn his lesson. He just did one big thing- the proposal- and kind of figured that erased everything she had issues with. But it didn't. It temporarily elevated her mood, but it didn't get to the core of their problems. Being directly told that he was bothering her, seeing how upset she was with him on what should have been a very special occasion for them, it was his wake-up call.

He wanted to do better. He wanted to be better. If Noah didn't shape up- he didn't even want to think about what Rosie would do. It didn't mean he had to completely change. He realized that now. He could still be reasonably childish. He could still be all things that were Noah, he just needed to reign it in a little- behave better around the kids, and most importantly, put more effort into his marriage and spend less time just doing whatever selfish shit he felt like doing.

Noah started out the day acting as though it was just a normal Sunday, no special meaning at all. (Hey, at least he managed not to purposely pick a fight, like he did one year.) He took the kids to the store with him, and came back with a bouquet of flowers, the brightest yellow ones he could find; he'd always thought Rosie looked best in yellow. In a move that stunned even Noah, he made multiple plans, depending on whether she wanted the day for just the two of them, or to spend it with the kids. Noah knew what he preferred, but today wasn't about him. He pulled back into their driveway and climbed out of the car, making sure each of the kids had 'their' present; each child carried a mason jar with their hand print on it, filled with candies. "Go on, let's go get mom," he told htme, and followed the trio into the house. "Babe!" he called out, and the kids started shouting Mom! Mom! Mom!


Noah and Rosalie hadn't uttered one word to each other about Mother's Day plans. Of course, Rosalie didn't usually say anything about it, as she felt like it was a little self absorbed to say something like "dont' forget Mother's Day is coming up!" or something to that affect. If Noah and the kids forgot, well she'd be hurt of course. But she wasn't going to throw a fit or make a big deal about it. She would just it on next year's calendar with a red sharpie.

When the day started like any other Sunday morning, with Rosalie making their traditional Sunday Brunch of Pancakes, Sausage and fresh squeezed Orange Juice, she figured Noah and the kids had, as she suspected they would, forgotten. Rosalie tried not to be too upset. After all, things had been a bit crazy of late, what with planning the wedding and all. Even her mind had been elsewhere most of the time. She would just have to swallow her hurt and move on with the day. But things turned hopeful when, after brunch, Noah rounded up the kids and they left for a while. Maybe she was going to get a Mother's Day after all. Rosalie didn't need a big fancy gift or anything. Even handmade cards from the kids would have made things special.

After Noah and the kids left, Rosalie cleaned up the kitchen and put everything away. She knew she probably should have gone up to work in her studio. She had three commissioned pieces to work on. But she decided instead, to kick back and enjoy the sunshine. She made herself some lemonade and put on her patio robe and her sun hat. She went out to the back patio with a stack of magazines she never had anytime to read and kicked back in one of the lounge chairs, the warm rays of sun greeting her.

After a while, Rosalie heard the familiar hum of Noah's car pulling into the driveway. A few moments later the door opened and she could hear the sweet voices of her children calling for her. Smiling,s he got up for her chair and went inside where they each greeted her with a jar of her favorite candies and Noah stood behind her with a beautiful bouquet of yellow flowers. What's all this? Rosalie asked with a smile, as her beautiful children handed her her gifts. Thank you! Rosalie hugged and kissed each of them, her heart full of happiness at the effort. This is so sweet guys. Rosalie smiled at Noah and kissed his lips. Thank you baby.
She put her arm around his waist and leaned her head against his shoulder, thinking this was all of her gift and she was satisfied with it too. They had remembered and they had thought to bring her something. It was sweet.


Part of Noah thought it was silly, needing a special day to honor mothers. Shouldn't he and the kids do that every day, make Rosie feel special? But then again, he didn't even do that half the time, which he was realizing more and more would cause serious problems down the road. It was already, on a much smaller scale, causing problems. Even Noah could see it would only get worse if he didn't make a serious change. The kids were on-board. They were such sweet young people, they would do just about anything to make their mother happy. Noah was trying to swallow the small amount of pride he'd lose by learning from them, instead of the other way around.

"It's... mother's day!" He paused for half a beat. "Right?" Oh god, he hadn't missed it, had he? Was it last Sunday? Next Sunday? He could never be sure. There were still Mother's Day related items on shelves in the stores, so he assumed it wasn't too late, but he'd still feel like an asshole for doing it too early, as if the store was all that reminded him- like people who only remembered birthdays because of facebook alerts. He smiled and returned her kiss, but briefly; the kids were far from sheltered, and certainly ought to know what affection between loving parents looked like, but it felt wrong to full-on make out in front of them. He could be overly cautious like that. (Never mind that he was perfectly willing to watch not-for-kids cartoons around them.)

Noah snaked one arm around her. "I have another gift for you. And a couple different plans. It depends on what you want today to look like." This was far beyond his usual scope of thought; if he planned things at all, it was mainly related to what he'd want. But this was her day and he would be more conscious of her preferences. "Firstly, just us, or kids too?"


Rosalie laughed and nodded. Yes, it is Mother's Day. She was proud of Noah for actually coming through today. Maybe he really had been listening to the things that she said. She always assumed that when her mouth opened, Noah's ears shut off. But maybe she had judged him unfairly in this.

Rosalie looked at him in surprise when he said there was more. Okay....who are you and where is my husband. She teased lovingly as his arm snaked around her body. First the proposal and now Mothe's Day plans. Maybe Noah was finally growing up. Was that too much to hope for? She pushed it from her mind just in case he would still be a petulant child for the next decade or two of their marriage. Either way, she knew she wouldn't be able to help loving him, which was pretty annoying sometimes.

Noah's next question was a hard one. Just them or the kids? Well, the kids would soon be out of school, which would mean Rosalie and Noah probably wouldn't get any time alone together all summer...So she made her choice. about just us this time? She mused.

Noah hoped that, soon, him coming up with plans, doing nice things for his wife, would not leave her so shocked. "I killed him. I'm wearing his skin right now." He froze for a moment, looking down to see Bruce looking up at him wide-eyed. Ah, shit. "Sorry. It was a joke, buddy. A bad one. I'm your dad. Don't kill people." Or skin them; but then again, that part was implied. This was another thing Noah knew he needed to work on, being conscious of when the kids were within earshot, and watching his mouth when they were. He never wanted to upset Rosie as much as he did the day Daphne got in trouble for the bad things she'd seen on a cartoon she shouldn't have been watching.

He couldn't help but be glad that Rosie chose just them. He loved the kids, he knew she did too, and he was wanting to be a more involved father than he already was, which certainly meant spending time with them, in person. But parenting was exhausting. It took time away from the relationship with Rosie. He could only do so many things in the 24 hours a day he was allotted, and he had to sleep some time. He wanted to be able to spend time with Rosie too, and with school ending, more time would be eaten up with the kids. They needed to take the opportunity to be together, just the two of them, while they could, and leave family time for the summer. "Sure. I'll call mom." He pressed a kiss to her temple and withdrew his arm, taking a step away.

Noah pulled out his phone and called his mother- for a second time that day. He'd called her earlier, while he and the kids were out, so they could all wish her a happy mothers' day. He hadn't done much for it as a kid, but as he grew up and had kids of his own, he started realizing more and more that he needed to make sure he at least called her every year for one special day. "Hey mom. We're going with plan B. ...Alright, thanks." He hung up and slipped the phone into his pocket. "She'll be here for them in a few." Looking down, he signed to Daphne while he spoke. "You're all going to grandma's so Mom and I can spend a little time together."


Rosalie sighed a little at Noah's "shocking news" and rolled her eyes, but the smile never left her face. She leaned over and kissed her youngest on the top of the head. Daddy was just being silly. She chimed in, not wanting any fall out at school or even tonight when Bruce went to go to sleep, from Noah's comment. It wouldn't have been the first time that something Noah had said had given Bruce nightmares. But Rosalie could tell that Noah was trying to be more aware about things and handle them better, especially in front of the kids. So hopefully those days were behind them.

As Noah called his mother, Rosalie sat down with her candy and opened the jars, taking a piece from each of them to try. Of course she told them they could try one piece from each of the jars as well. Rosalie was not the type to eat treats in front of her children. Either they had them together, or Noah and Rosalie would indulge when the kids went to bed. And Rosalie always made sure they were all soundly asleep before they did. One of the things she had hated growing up, was going to bed and then hearing her parents going into the kitchen and opening the freezer for ice cream, or her mom popping open some Pillsbury cookies and throwing them in the oven. And they didn't even try and hide the evidence. Just threw it on the trash and she would see it in the morning when she scraped her plate after breakfast. Rosalie herself always put the "evidence" in a grocery bag and took it right to the outside bin, so the kids wouldn't find it and even if they did, they wouldn't be able to see through the bag and tell what it was.

As Noah reentered the room, Rosalie watched fondly as he signed to her daughter while he spoke to the boys. All three children were immediately thrilled as they loved spending time with their grandparents on both sides of the family. Rosalie was glad that they all had a good relationship and she hoped the kids would never grow out of wanting to spend time with their grandparents.

Rosalie looked up at Noah.So...should I change? Or is what I'm wearing alright? She had a blouse with sunflowers and a white pair of shorts and some leather flip flops. As it was Noah's surprise, it was up to him to judge whether she was dressed appropriately or not.

Noah would never be a flawless husband or father. It would be arrogant of him to assume otherwise; after all, he was a human, plain and simple. Even if he was as dedicated as he could be to being a better person in general (but especially at home), he would still have moments where he backslid. He would still make jokes he shouldn’t make, and fail to catch himself in time to not let the kids hear. He might still fail to realize when a show was not age-appropriate for whichever child was in the room with him when he started watching. He might even still have times when he just couldn’t handle Adulting, and want to put himself first. All he could really do was hope for the best, that he did more good than bad, and that he never caused irreparable harm to the kids’ psyches- or his marriage. With Rosie’s help, he knew he could improve, and get better at least at knowing what sorts of things were and were not okay around the kids.

Rosie had always been better than him about not indulging in things the kids couldn’t have around them. Noah, though he did not purposely eat cake (or cookies, or whatever else was Just For Him) in front of the kids- he wasn’t a monster- also did not always think first. Luckily, Rosie had been reminding him for ages, and was usually the one to end up cleaning up the evidence. He could totally pitch in more. He made a mental note to pass along a hack, of sorts, he’d seen to his wife, a way to hide candy where the kids would not find it and get salty about not being shared with. It was more or less just putting candy inside an emptied-out bag for frozen broccoli- or whatever else the kids would never voluntarily snoop through- and hiding it in plain sight. Brilliant.

Being fluent in ASL was never something Noah imagined for himself, and even if he'd been asked about it seven years ago, he would have laughed. But when your child is born deaf, what else are you going to do? For all his faults, Noah would never be the type of parent who was willfully unable to communicate with their child. He could learn an entire new language if that was what his (only) daughter needed. He wanted to be able to talk to Daphne just the same as he could the boys. And he did. It shocked people, for some reason. Oh well.

"That's fine for now," he told her, and turned so the kids couldn't see him wink- but she could. He didn't want to give away too much straightaway. "Go gather your things," he told the kids, all of whom had small bags they took with them whenever they went to their grandparents' or a friend's.


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