"Do you ever think about having kids?"
Olivia watched as his fingers made the circuit from her torso, over the hardened peaks of her nipples and back again. "Should I be worried about the direction of this conversation?"
Fitz leaned over and gave her a brief kiss. "No, I'm just curious. You'd make a great mom."
"Mmm. I'm not so sure, but thank you."
"Why don't you think you'd make a good mom?"
"I think I lack that maternal instinct that comes naturally to some women. Besides, if I had a kid, I'd have to slow down. I don't know if I could handle that."
Fitz pressed his lips to her temple, and then ran his lips down her jaw, ending when he reached her collarbone. He nipped gently at her, enjoying the light sounds she was making.
"I think you'd be excellent."
"You're a really great dad. Karen thinks you hung the moon and Jerry is going to be a heartbreaker just like you."
"My kids are everything to me. There's nothing I wouldn't do for them. And I'm going to enjoy this time with Karen thinking I'm a rock star, eventually she's going to figure out she's smarter than I am and I'll be in a heap of trouble."
"I think she'll always be daddy's little girl. It's very hard for those of us with that distinction to grow out of it."
"You're a daddy's girl?"
"Through and through."
Fitz leaned up and brushed his lips against hers again.
"Are we done talking about family for a bit?"
"You're the one who brought it up."
Fitz captured her mouth completely. He snaked his tongue between her billowy lips, luxuriating in her taste.
"My apologies, Ms. Pope. There are many other things I'd like to do with this mouth."
"You look a million miles away, old man."
Fitz's head shot up from grain of the Resolute Desk to see his eldest daughter standing before him. She had a small smirk on her face, her gray eyes jumping in amusement.
"I was, baby girl, but I'm here now. What's up?"
Karen tilted her head and laughed. "I don't think you can still refer to me as baby girl, especially because you do actually have a new baby girl."
"You'll always be my number one. There are just some things you can't outgrow."
"Hmm," Karen remarked as she took a seat beside her father's desk. "How are you, daddy?"
Fitz set his pen down on the desk and turned towards Karen. She was the spit-and-image of Mellie: tall, imposing, and beautiful, but with a lot more heart. He would like to say he was mostly responsible for the latter part.
"I've been better, I've been worse. How are you? How's the life of a college co-ed?"
"Not so fast, dad. I worry about you, and about mom, too, but mostly you. Jerry says you've been a beast. I blame the new edition, no matter how adorable she is."
"Your sister is a handful, but so were you at that age."
"Maybe, but I would think you and mom would've learned your lesson the last time. I was seven when Jerry came around. I thought you all would've been done by then. Now you get to start all over again."
"Yes, thank you for the reminder. I'd forgotten."
Karen raised an eyebrow and gave him a distinctly Mellie look. "Don't pick on me, old man, just because you and mom can't keep your hands off one another."
"Okay, thank you," Fitz said with finality. "Seriously though, how's school? You making any friends?"
Karen laughed but it held no humor. She tossed her auburn hair over her shoulder and shrugged. "Nearly impossible with Hanz and Franz always about."
Fitz sighed and moved closer to his first-born. "I know it's tough, honey, but it’s for your protection and your old man's piece of mind. Besides, it helps me continue to live with the illusion that you'll be dateless and unmarried for a very long time."
"Gee, thanks dad."
Fitz stood and kissed her forehead. "Anytime, sweetheart."
Karen sighed and stood to work her way into her father's arms. "I do really worry about you, though. Jerry said you and mom have been screaming at regularly at one another, and that you've been screaming at everyone, even Uncle Cy. Are you talking to anybody?"
"Karen, I think you're taking the Psych major a little too far."
"I'm not a Psych major anymore, I changed to Linguistics."
"When'd you do that?"
"A few weeks ago, does it matter? You're deflecting the question. If you can't talk to mom, or Cyrus, or me, then find someone. What about Olivia? She's always good with advice. And I'm sure she'd be willing to take a call from the leader of the free world, even if she doesn't work here anymore."
Fitz took a deep breath and slowly counted to ten. He pressed his lips against the crown of Karen's head and willed his heartbeat to slow. All he wanted was five clear minutes a day without being reminded of her. Karen didn't know how just the mention of her name could make him pause, make his mind go blank, make his heart ache.
"I promise I'll find someone to talk to if it'll make you feel better. Don't worry about me honey, worry about school, that's your priority right now. So, tell me about this Linguistics major, sounds like a bunch of rubbish."
Olivia's newest case was complex.
Chief Petty Officer, Mae Richards of the United States Navy, was being charged with violating the uniform code of justice by sexual harassing a co-worker.
A male co-worker.
Chief Richards had been put on administrative leave and came to Olivia Pope & Associates almost directly after getting off the vessel.
"I'm the only woman on the USS Michigan. It's a tough position to be in and he took advantage of that. Please, Ms. Pope, you have to help me. I love my job. I love being a physicist and I love being on a sub. I don't want to go back to the carrier because some jerk with a vendetta can't handle a woman on board."
Olivia observed Chief Richards. She was a short, well-built woman with short blonde hair and brilliant green eyes; and, she was a nuclear engineer to boot. The Navy reluctantly started to allow women on subs, and so far, everything was working out just fine. This was just the type of situation the handful of women on subs was hoping to avoid. It was already hard enough to be a woman in the Navy, they didn't want to add anymore fuel to the fire.
"What do you do, Chief Richards?" Harrison asked looking up from the notes he'd been taking.
"I'm a nuclear engineer sir."
Harrison's eyebrows shot up before he could school his features.
"Surprised, Mr. Wright?"
Olivia cut her eyes toward him and he had the good sense to look a little sheepish.
"Tell us what happened," Olivia said breaking into the somewhat awkward moment.
"I was checking the electric motors and running the routine diagnostic tests on the reactors. Ensign Walters came into the reactor room even though I'd started testing., which is against regulation. The machines are so loud that it's impossible to hear the door opening and closing. Any way, I didn't realize he was there until he'd wrapped his arms around me. I pushed him off and yelled as best I could, but testing is too loud. I punched him twice before he let go. He ran from the testing room and I thought that was the end of it until the next day when my CO called me into his office and told me I was on administrative leave pending investigation. I have no marks on my service record. I do impeccable work, Ms. Pope and I did not sexually harass Ensign Walters."
Olivia nodded and stood from the table. "Will you give us a minute? Would you like any tea while you wait?"
"No, ma'am, thank you, yes I'll wait."
Olivia motioned her head towards the hallway. Harrison, Huck, Quinn, Abby and Stephen joined her on the other side of the glass and wood doors.
"She didn't do it," Abby chimed in. "She just doesn't seem the type."
"What type is that?" Stephen asked.
"The 'in the military for the men' type. She's got a long, impeccable service record. I think something else is going on here."
"I think we should take it. What's so scary about going up against the most powerful military in the world?" Harrison added flippantly. "Besides, she's not an idiot, no way she did something so reckless."
"I agree," Huck said simply.
"Then let's start digging, people. Anything and everything we can find on Chief Richards as well as Ensign Walters. And let's not waste any time, this is going to get really ugly, really fast." Olivia quickly listed off places for her team to start and was getting ready to walk back in her office when the main office door swung open.
Two men in black suits loomed in the doorway. Olivia's heart stuttered slightly as she wondered who could be visiting her with Secret Service detail.
"Ms. Pope, I'd like to sweep your office if I may." The agent that spoke was a bear of a man. He had to be at least six-foot-five, all muscle and incredibly intimidating.
"Oh come on, Franz, this is Olivia Pope's office. It's probably safer than the White House," a small voice Olivia immediately recognized said from behind the hulking man.
"Hey Liv," Karen replied sticking her head out from behind her security detail. "Will you let me by, Franz while you do whatever?"
Karen didn't wait for an answer as she quickly moved around him and towards Olivia. She enveloped Olivia in a big hug that made her laugh and cringe just slightly. Karen was much stronger than her lithe frame indicated.
"Is his name really Franz?"
"No, it's Dylan--Agent Moss, but I like to call them Hanz and Franz. I mean honestly, how's a girl supposed to have any fun with these two following my every move?"
"I think that's the point, Karen."
Karen rolled her eyes and scoffed. "You adults really are a buzz kill. Any way, are you going to introduce me to your team?"
Olivia turned to her employees and smirked. "Everyone this is Karen Grant, daughter of the President of the United States. Karen this is Stephen, Abby, Harrison, Quinn, and Huck."
"So you're the people that make things happen, huh? The six of you are more affective than the House and Senate combined."
Olivia smiled and nodded at Karen's words. "Not that I'm not thrilled to see you, but is there something I can help you with?"
Karen nodded and motions towards Olivia's office. "Can we talk for a bit?"
"Sure, go on in. I'll be just a minute. Harrison?" Olivia turned from Karen's retreating form towards her team. "I need you to get started on character witnesses for both Chief Richards and Ensign Walters, Quinn, you’ll go with him. Abby, Stephen get a hold of both their service records and Huck, can you make sure the Secret Service doesn't get too antsy? Thanks everyone."
Olivia did not wait for a reply before she moved to join Karen in her office.
"What's going on, Karen?"
Karen turned from the credenza behind Olivia's desk. She gently picked up the photo of her father and Olivia from during the campaign and smiled. "This is a great picture. When was this taken?"
Olivia stopped short for a moment before she continued over to where Karen stood. "Uh, I think it was after Super Tuesday. We were having a little party." Olivia did everything in her power not to think about the real party she and Fitz had later that evening and how completely satiated they were in one another.
"Hmm. I haven't seen dad smile like that in a while. He's not doing well, Liv."
For the second time in as many days, Olivia was alerted to Fitz's state of being. It was far more concerning coming from Karen than Cyrus as Olivia was certain that her concern was out of genuine interest for her father's well being.
"What's going on, Karen?"
Karen set down the photo and sighed. "He's not sleeping. Jerry said he's snapping at everyone. He and mom barely speak to one another, not that this is a new occurrence, but now it’s even worse than before. He's keeping something in and it's eventually going to come out--probably with a lot of unnecessary screaming if I know my dad."
"So...what can I do for you?"
"Olivia, please. You know dad better than most. I think it would help for him to talk to you. Please, as a personal favor?"
"Karen, I adore you, but I don't work for your father anymore and I don't think it'd be appropriate--"
"This is not a work favor, Olivia. This is a personal favor. He can't keep going on like this. It's taking a toll, Liv. And I'm not talking about polling numbers or approval ratings, I'm talking about the well being of my father and someone I thought was your friend."
Olivia took a deep breath and closed her eyes. "Karen..."
"Please don't say no, just think about it, okay?"
Olivia nodded and smiled at Karen motioning her over to the couch. "I promise I'll think about it, now come sit and chat with me. How's school? How are the boys?"
Karen laughed and settled back to talk about life as a college student.
"You’re joking right, Cyrus? This is serious stuff. They'll hang me for this."
"They'll never figure out you did it if you do your job correctly."
"Cyrus, I don't think you realize the scope of this thing. Have you seen the guys I have to take out just to get to her? And then you want me to dump her somewhere? For how long?"
"We'll figure something out. She doesn't have to be gone long, a month tops. I want to be very clear though, you are not to harm her in anyway. She needs to be shaken up not injured. Clear?"
"This is madness, Cyrus. Why are you doing this?"
"That's not something you need to know. Here," Cyrus said sliding an envelope across the table. "Certified check for $500,000 now. You'll get the second half when you've completed your task."
His companion nodded and slid the check off the table and into his coat pocket. "I really hope you know what you're doing, Cyrus."
The man got up from the diner table and walked away from a positively giddy Cyrus Beene.