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“You told me to look for the red teacup, but it’s not there!” Dreu was at the end of his frayed nerves. It was a cup. A stupid cup! His opinion on it didn’t sway the cries of his daughter that resembled a siren’s wail.

“Rikku! No you-..Rikku? Rikku?” The line went dead and his shoulders hunched forward in defeat. He not only lost his daughter’s favorite toy teacup, but he lost the respect of his wife. He heard her laugh before the call ended. The clan was important, he understood that, but he needed help on the home front every so often.

Emma rushed over to him when he stopped his pacing. She hurled her little two year old body against his leg and hugged it. She didn’t care that her nose was runny or that her face was wet from her crying. It wasn’t long till he saw her twin sister rush over to do the same to his other leg. Gisela didn’t cry or scream like Emma did when he prolonged their tea party but she did sport a pitiful look of dejection.

Dreu sighed as he reached down to rub the top of their heads. No matter how many times he told himself it was a stupid red cup, it wouldn’t change the fact that they loved having it. He figured it was because the color reminded them of their mom’s hair. Armin always loved playing with it and so did the girls. Rikku wised up though after their son got his hands tangled in it. She wore it back or up entirely when she was around the kids after that. It was a shared dislike between him and them; they liked seeing her hair.

That’s it, he thought. He scooped both girls into his arms and set them down in the living room. Emma still sniffled back snot and tears but Gisela’s looked on curiously as her father set up an easel, canvas, and started making colors appear. They hadn’t seen hims paint before and it was something he was banking on.

Broad red strokes turned into flowing red hair they all knew and adored. He smiled when the girls squealed, “mommy.” It was nice to know his audience approved the likeness.

Armin, who had been playing in his room, tugged at his pants. Looking down, Dreu smiled again. “Want to try?” He chuckled at the kid’s eager nod. “What about your sisters?”

“No,” he answered quickly, his face set in defiance.

Dreu shook his head. The stubbornness scared him sometimes in how much it reminded him of Rikku and himself. He set up the child size easle and finger paint anyway. The girls were more interested in watching.

He stepped back hours later to marvel at his creation. The scene reminded him of the story Alice in Wonderland except there was no curious girl wearing blue or some rabbit. There, in the middle of a maze, surrounded by a garden, was a table set for afternoon tea. Each cup was red as it was the family’s shared favorite color and they all had a gold rim at the top. He looked at his wife’s likeness. Her warmth and love for her family made her glow, even on canvas. He gave her the small and a devious twinkle he looked for in his children.

He panned over their little faces. Each wore a smile as they interacted; Emma held her cup up. Her eyes were closed but her grin said it all. Gisela and Armin were together, laughing, as if caught sharing a secret. That was his family. They were full of life and the heart of his crazy world.

Soft sighs reminded him that he wasn’t alone. He had gotten so caught up in his painting that he forgot about them. Turning, he smiled. His three brats were piled together like pups, sound asleep.

His wife picked then to come home. He made sure to hold a finger to his lips so she wouldn’t wake them. Armin was a good kid but the girls hated sleeping, especially when their mother was out. He never held it against them. He understood their sentiment.

“Ever find the cup?” She whispered as he drew her into him.

“Didn’t need to.”

He kissed her and went to lay a blanket on the sleeping trio. He knew he had to find the cup but in the mean time, he basked in knowing he got an afternoon with his two princesses and little prince.

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