"Okay, you’re gonna get it now," Sam laughed when his daughter started helping Quinn paint whiskers on his face. He wrapped an arm around Zoe so she couldn’t get away and started painting little pink hearts all over her cheeks and forehead. He let Zoe go as she giggled over how silly Sam looked. Walking around the table, Sam dipped his paintbrush in the red and smiled down at Quinn. "So, I’m thinking a clown nose to go with that mustache," he smirked. "Maybe some freckles, too." Before she could dodge him, Sam wrapped an arm around Quinn and pulled her close. With a few quick flicks of his wrist, Quinn had the perfect clown nose to go with what was already painted on her face.
Quinn laughed. She had a feeling that there was an epic paint fight ahead of them. She watched in amusement as Zoe finished the whiskers on Sam’s face, giving her a high five once she was done. She retreated again afterwards to the other side of the table. There was a less of a chance that she’d be attacked that way. In case Sam tried anything though, she had her paintbrush in hand.
She got distracted watching Sam paint little pink hearts on Zoe’s face, so when Sam walked around the table, she was caught off-guard. It took her a minute to register what he was about to do. “No!” she shouted before dissolving into a fit of giggles. She tried to run away, but he wrapped an arm around her and pulled her against him. Unable to lift her paintbrush to attack him in the position she was in, Quinn was forced to let him give her a clown nose and freckles.
When she finally broke free, she thrust her paintbrush toward him, not caring where her paintbrush landed or the strokes she was making. In the chaos, she managed to get Zoe a couple of times too.
"Oh, some things changed," Sam told her. "I no longer feel guilty about eating the cake, and I don’t spend like ten hours at the gym trying to work off the junk food I eat. I just end up chasing this one around the house. You’d be surprised how many calories you burn while giving a kid pony rides and playing dinosaur princesses.
"You did not just do that," Sam smirked when she got paint on his arm. He was all too familiar with paint fights with Quinn. There had been more than one time when a paint fight had been initiated between the two of them, and in the past they’d ended with laughter and kisses over their creations. Part of Sam thought that he was too old for that stuff now. He was a dad and couldn’t do silly things like that in public anymore. But another part of him missed the way things used to be, and that’s the part of him that took over when he dragged his paintbrush over Quinn’s upper lip. "Love the mustache, Q," he said with a smirk.
Quinn smiled. She remembered very well how much time Sam had spent working out back in high school. “I can imagine,” she assured him, winking at Zoe. You did not just do that. “It was an accident!” she exclaimed, putting her paintbrush down and throwing her hands up in defeat. “I swear!” He seemed to believe her, so she allowed herself to relax, which she regretted seconds later when he swiped his paintbrush across her upper lip, giving her mustache. “Oh no you did not,” she said, picking up her paintbrush again. After struggling with him some, she managed to give him whiskers on one side of his face and a cat nose. “Zoe, you do the other side!” she instructed her in between giggles, keeping her distance from Sam to avoid retaliation.
"Yeah, if I can be helpful in any way, I’d be glad to do whatever it is that you need me to do," he told her. Back in high school, Sam had always assumed that he and Quinn would end up together. When he’d given her that promise ring in high school, he’d meant what he said about wanting to marry her someday. But they’d grown apart and lead their separate lives. Sam didn’t regret the path that his life had taken him on. He’d loved and lost and experienced pain, but he had Zoe, and she was the single most important person in his life. Sure, he wondered what would have happened if high school had gone differently, but any reality where he didn’t get to be Zoe’s dad wasn’t a reality he wanted to live in. He’d found happiness, and now he wanted to help Quinn with hers even if it did make him think about what might have been. "We’d love to," he replied. "Anything where I get to eat free cake is always a plus."
"Thank you," she responded, genuinely touched by his offer. Quinn was hardly surprised by his offer though. Sam had always been a nice guy. Most of the time, he went above and beyond. The way they’d ended things in high school was still one of her biggest regrets. Sam hadn’t deserved that. He’d done nothing but treat her right while they’d been together. Temptation was a terrible thing indeed. Oh, well. That was in the past. They were exactly where they were supposed to be, she was sure. Still, she wondered sometimes… What if?
Quinn laughed at his words, snapping out of her thoughts. “Some things never change, huh?” she teased him, glad that they would be joining her. She dipped her paintbrush in some white paint, which she needed to highlight the buildings she’d painted. As she withdrew her paintbrush, she got some paint on Sam’s arm. “Oops,” she said, not really sorry at all. Quinn remembered the time that something similar had happened then. Who could forget an epic paint fight that had ended in kisses?
"Even so, it’s still got to be pretty crazy," he told her. "I could never imagine doing what you’re doing right now. I’d lose my mind." After Sam finished the base coat, he pulled some of the pink paint that he’d gotten ready for Zoe towards him. She was painting random splotches of color all over her mug, and occasionally she’d pull on Sam’s sleeve to tell him to look at her masterpiece. He figured that he had enough coffee mugs for himself, so he started painting bits of pink flowers on his mug as a potential gift for his mom or his sister. "You know, if you need any help with anything, I wouldn’t mind stepping in," he said as he swirled his brush in the paint. "I mean, I work from home, and half the time, I’m just playing dinosaurs with Zoe. I wouldn’t mind offering any help that I can give if it helps you to freak out less."
Quinn laughed. “I’ve come close,” she admitted, painting another star next to the last. His offer came as a bit of a surprise, but was one she appreciated very much. “Really?” she confirmed. “That would be wonderful. I hate bothering Neal as much as I do, even though he insists that I’m not. The same goes for my assistant. I think they could use a break from my wedding planning crazy.” She washed her paintbrush, done with the yellow paint. “Would you like to come to the bakery with me next week to pick out a wedding cake? Neal’s left that entirely up to me,” she told him. “The wedding cake’s a rather big part of the wedding. I would hate to mess it up.” She added some shadow to the buildings. “Zoe can come along too of course,” she assured him. She would enjoy a cake tasting, she was sure.
"It’s gotta be difficult planning a wedding with someone who lives all the way across the country," Sam told her as he continued painting a base coat on his mug. "I mean, even with both of us in the same place, it was crazy hard to plan it all out. There were so many things that could go wrong, and I had no idea what Becca was thinking about when it came to planning ninety percent of the time, so when she was freaking out about something I had no idea what to do to fix it. I can’t imagine having to do that over Skype." He couldn’t imagine not living in the same place as the person he loved if he was being completely honest with himself. When Becca was still alive, he couldn’t stand to be away from her for more than a few days at a time, and now that she was going, he wished that he had been able to spend more time with her. He didn’t know how Quinn could easily stay in Lima when she knew that Neal was back in California or how Neal could stand to be away from her. It all seemed so weird to him.
Quinn nodded her head at him in confirmation. There was no reason to lie to Sam about that. Planning a wedding with someone who was miles away was very difficult, but they were used to the long-distance part of their relationship by now. They were both very busy people. Sometimes, they weren’t even on the same continent! “Well, Neal’s pretty easy-going, so he usually agrees to the things I want,” she told him. “That helps. Plus, my assistant helps me out a lot. She does a pretty good job of calming me down when I’m freaking out.” Quinn laughed softly. She really should give that girl a raise. She dipped her paintbrush into some yellow paint, adding stars to her cityscape.
Sam led Zoe over to a free table and pulled an old t-shirt of his out of his daddy bag. Zoe drowned in it, but it kept her from getting paint all over her clothes, and that was always a plus in Sam’s world where doing the laundry was his least favorite responsibility. After getting his daughter set up with the paint colors she said she wanted, a few brushes, and a cup of water to rinse her brushes in, he turned his attention back to Quinn and his own mug. “So, how’s the wedding planning stuff going?” he asked her. “From the little that I helped Becca with, I can only imagine how crazy things must be for you right now.” He pulled a little pot of blue paint towards him and started working on his own mug.
Quinn took her coffee mug and followed them over to a free table. She put on a smock to avoid getting paint on her clothes. Watching Sam, she could only conclude that he was a very attentive father, something her own dad had never been. She looked away from him and let out a wistful sigh, grabbing a paintbrush for herself. She was dipping the bristles in some dark blue paint when she heard Sam’s question. “Okay, I guess,” she responded, looking up at him briefly and giving him a small smile. “Neal helps me out when he can. It would be nice to discuss things with him in person, but I suppose Skype’s the next best thing.”
She took a breath. “I still have a lot to do, but we’re not in a rush to get married, so I can take my time planning the wedding, although I would like to get married before I go back to L.A. and resume my acting career,” she told him, seemingly all in one breath. Quinn had no idea when that would be exactly. Between six months to a year, she was guessing. She was reminded then that Sam had had a wedding of his own. Perhaps he’d be willing to help her out with things that Neal could not. For example, he could go cake tasting with her! She already knew that Neal would be too busy to make the trip. She’d ask him later.
Zoe nodded her head vigorously when Quinn asked if she’d been up to any mischief, and Sam couldn’t help but roll his eyes. It was an understatement to say that she’d been a little bit of a troublemaker lately. He couldn’t wait until his dad was done helping him build Zoe’s new furniture so they could move her back into her room and end the chaos that had taken over his living room. They almost couldn’t walk around anymore, and Zoe didn’t seem to mind at all since she’d created a castle for all of her princesses and princes out of the coffee table and some cardboard boxes and a superhero home base out of the arm chair. Kids. What can you do?
Once they were inside the store, Sam let Zoe down, so she could pick out what she wanted to paint from the shelves of white, ceramic dishes and figurines. He settled on a coffee mug, and Zoe picked one exactly like it wanting to be just like her daddy. “This is my treat, by the way,” Sam told Quinn as he waited for her to make her decision. “For old time’s sake.”
Quinn laughed when Zoe nodded her head in response to her question. Her answer was further confirmed when Sam rolled his eyes. Ha! A girl after her own heart. She followed them over to the shelves, overwhelmed by the number of choices they offered, even though she’d been here before. Quinn could be rather indecisive at times. Right now was one of those moments. She pursed her lips in thought. A vase? Neal was always giving her flowers. A flower pot? She liked to plant things sometimes. Her mind was made up when Sam selected a coffee mug and Zoe picked out the same coffee mug. She might as well pick the same one. Quinn was about to protest when Sam told her that today was his treat, but she stopped herself. Why bother? For old time’s sake. She smiled at that, fond memories filling her mind. Life was certainly unpredictable. At one point in her life, Quinn was sure that she’d be his wife one day. She could only shake her head at her younger self now.
When Sam told her that she was going to get to see Quinn while painting something at Color Me Mine, Zoe couldn’t have been more excited, and Sam was glad to see his daughter so happy. Part of him worried that Zoe would be too sad when Quinn went back to L.A., and she didn’t get to see her new friend anymore. She was getting really attached to Quinn, and it wouldn’t be a happy time when they were living across the country from each other, but he liked to see his daughter copying Quinn and trying to act more grownup. It was way too cute for him to handle most of the time. When they pulled into the parking lot, Sam saw Quinn standing outside of the building. “I hope we didn’t keep you waiting too long,” he said as he walked over to her carrying Zoe.
Quinn was on the phone with her agent when she spotted Sam’s car. She quickly wrapped up the conversation, promising him that she would call him back later. When Sam and Zoe came into view, she smiled and waved at them. “Hey!” she greeted them warmly. Quinn shook her head at Sam, waving off his concern with a flick of her wrist. “Oh, not at all,” she assured him, focusing her attention on Zoe afterwards. “What have you been up to? Some mischief, I hope.” She winked at her, laughing softly afterwards.
Quinn cocked her head toward the door. “Shall we head inside?” she wondered, leading them in that direction before either of them responded. She held the door open for Sam since his arms were full with Zoe, stepping in after them. “Welcome to Color Me Mine!” a cheerful voice greeted them.
Quinn was looking forward to spending the afternoon with Sam and his daughter. Zoe was an artist like her father was, so she’d suggested that they go to Color Me Mine. The last time she’d set foot in that building herself, she’d been in high school. Sam had introduced her to the place actually. He’d taken her there on one of their very first dates. She smiled at the good memories as she pulled into the parking lot. They’d agreed to meet at one o’clock. She was a little early, but she didn’t mind waiting. Quinn got out of her car and waited outside the building for them. While she waited, she got back to some people who’d been trying to contact her. She’d racked up four missed calls from her agent alone.