Shayera sighed as she let the warm water cascade over her aching muscles, drenching her hair so that it hung in a heavy blanket down her back; this shower was definitely way past due. It had been a long, hard week, and she had been feeling so overwhelmed lately. She concentrated on the sounds of the water rushing down around her, the feel of the tile beneath her feet, imagining that her aches, troubles, and stress were all draining down with the water. It was so nice...
"Mommy!" A small voice called, and somewhat whined, from the other side of the shower curtain. Shayera sighed, so much for relaxing.
"Yes Emma honey, what is it?" She tried to ask as kindly as she could. She had left the bathroom door open. She always did, in case there was an emergency with the children but she almost regretted it now.
Emma heaved a sigh that almost matched her mother's.
"Rex keeps taking my stuffed bunny!" She replied in an annoyed tone. Shayera pasted her best 'mommy-smile' on her face and pulled the curtain back a bit to look at her daughter.
"Sweetheart, you know you have to share with your little brother. He's younger than you."
"I know Mommy but he won't leave me alone!" Emma accentuated each emphasized word with a stamp of her small foot. Shayera's smile was genuine and accompanied by a chuckle this time.
"Go find something else to play with and he'll leave you alone," She promised Emma. The little girl sighed again and disappeared out the door.
Shayera let the curtain fall back into place and shook her head, allowing herself a small laugh at the politics of her children. She squeezed shampoo into her open hand and began to lather her hair, already forgetting the small squabble as she inhaled the sweet, flowery aroma. Yes, this was most certainly what she needed today...
Suddenly an ear-piercing scream cut through the fog of contentment that had surrounded her and she snatched the curtain back quickly as a small boy with untidy black hair came skidding into the bathroom, howling and wiping tears from his face.
"Rex! What's wrong sweetheart?" Shayera said in a rush. Her eyes went over his appearance quickly; he didn't seem to be bleeding or have anything broken, although he had obviously been the source of the scream.
"Em-Emma hit me! She hit me in my nose Mommy!" He said through his sobs.
Shayera's eyes narrowed, shampoo dripped down her cheek. She continued to hold the shower curtain in front of her as she stood in the shower, deliberating over whether or not to run through the apartment to find Emma and discipline her for hitting her brother. In the end she decided to take the low road.
"Emma Stewart get in here now!" She shouted with a bit of a growl laced in.
Emma appeared less than a second later, looking quite smug as she held her stuffed rabbit under one arm.
"Did you punch your brother in the nose?" Shayera asked, trying to remain calm, but felt her temper beginning to slip.
Emma shook her head solemnly. Shayera sighed. Well, at least there was that. As ironic as it sounded, Shayera didn't like her children being violent with each other.
"No Mommy," Emma said sweetly, her emerald eyes wide and innocent as she looked up at her mother. "I didn't punch Rex in the nose."
"Good," Shayera said briskly, imagining that Rex had just overreacted to his sister taking the stuffed animal back and invented the story. Even though she hated to admit, Rex would have been a star pupil in a Thanagarian espionage class; he was a good little actor. Besides, Emma never lied, especially when she knew it would get her into further trouble and that lying to her mother would get her nowhere. She started to drop the shower curtain and lean back into the shower. She planned to tell Emma to give Rex a turn with the infernal rabbit and be a big girl but was interrupted.
"I kicked him in the nose," Emma finished simply. So Rex wasn't faking after all. His sister did hit him
Shayera froze. A wave of hysteria washed over her so suddenly that she was extremely grateful she had dropped the curtain back and her children couldn't see the absurd smile that spread across her face. She struggled to bite back the wicked laugh that threatened to break through and ruin all of her parental authority.
She took a deep breath.
"Emma," She said finally, peeking around the curtain and trying to look as stern as possible. "Tell your brother you're sorry. That was extremely wrong of you; you could have really hurt him. And just let him have a turn with that rabbit for a bit. Then Rex, you give it back to your sister. It belongs to her not you. You can't take her stuff whenever you want to; you have to ask Emma first."
Emma groaned and rolled her eyes but handed over the stuffed animal with a mumbled apology while looking in the opposite direction. Shayera nodded, satisfied, and Rex took the rabbit with a large grin.
"You missed anyway!" Rex said, sticking out his tongue and running from the room laughing. Yes he was good at acting. Even Shayera truthfully thought that he got hit by his sister.
Emma's small face darkened with fury and she ran after him, screaming bloody murder. Emma definitely inherited her temper; Shayera couldn't deny that.
The Thanagarian stood frozen in the shower for a moment, watching them go. Then she burst into hysterical laughter, turning back to rinse the shampoo out of her hair.
Her laughter was so loud and buoyant that Rex and Emma crept back to the bathroom door, stopping just outside it and peered in cautiously. The stuffed rabbit was long forgotten behind them in the hallway.
Emma looked at her younger brother. "What's she laughing at?"
Rex shrugged as he replied, "Mommy's gone nuts."
Shayera heard this and burst into new peals of laughter. That parenting book had been right.
Rule #48 of Motherhood: Everything happens when you're in the shower. She thought as she laughed, helpless with mirth, all her stress and cares suddenly forgotten.