"Mikey, can you grab me the whipped topping?"
"-and Michael bought me an X-BOX! I had one at my Daddy's house before, but I never got to take it along when I moved!"
"Get your own whipped cream, woman."
"And Mackenzie bought me a brand new soccer ball! It's the real good kind, see?"
"I'm not allowed to play with it yet 'cause of the snow, though! I'd play inside, but Mackenzie says if Mike lets me play soccer inside one more time, he'll be in real trouble. He tried to argue with her, but she whispered something to him and then he told me no soccer in the house, ever."
"Come on, Mac, you asked me to bring you the whipped cream."
"Mackenzie also bought me a hockey stick though, and Mike said he'll teach me how to play."
"I'm serious, Michael; if you come near me with that, you'll be in the doghouse for a week. And I mean-"
The rest of Mackenzie's threat gave way to muffled cries as Michael pointed the nozzle at his girlfriend, and released the sugary mess from its tin can. He got a direct hit in at her face and as an act of retaliation; she charged at him, a spoon covered in cake mix yielded before her defensively, like a sword. In one swift movement, she had smeared the mess all across his face. She might've had the last laugh too, if she hadn't taken that moment to slip on a patch of misplaced whipped topping. Mackenzie went crashing to the floor, and as a final blow, she grabbed a hold of the sleeve of Michael's long-sleeve American Eagle shirt, pulling him down for the count with her.
Michael let out a roar of laughter as the half-empty tin of whipped topping rolled across the kitchen floor, out of her reach. Leaning over her, he propped an elbow up on either side of her frame, ensuring her entrapment.
Mackenzie glared up at him, trying to raise her hand to wipe whipped topping off of the bridge of her nose, but he grabbed both of her wrists in one hand, holding them pinned to the floor, high above her head. Mackenzie groaned, rolling her eyes as she realized he wasn't going to make this easy.
"Having trouble, Mac?" Mike asked her, grinning down at her knowingly.
"You are," she let her head fall back against the floor, squirming helplessly, "impossible, you realize that?"
Michael grinned. "Doesn't make you love me any less though, does it?" he asked knowingly, a rhetorical question. He used his free hand to wipe a glob of whipped cream off of her cheekbone, before licking his fingers clean. Nodding with approval, he smiled.
"This is good stuff, babe."
Her face flushed red. "It was for the dessert, you reject!"
In the moment it took Michael to adjust his weight above her, Mackenzie had wriggled her hands free of his, and managed to press both of her palms flat against his chest. She gave a mighty push, and while she wasn't nearly strong enough to push him up off of her, she did manage to catch him off guard for a moment. In his moment of weakness, Mackenzie ran a hand across her face to wipe off the majority of the whipped topping, before smearing it across Michael's face, and running the leftovers through his sandy-brown hair.
Michael let out a cry, scowling as he rolled off of her and onto his back. He ran both of his hands through his precious mop of hair, trying to rid himself of the mess.
Mackenzie used his distaste to her advantage, scrambling for the whipped cream can. Before he had a chance to protect himself, she had clambered on top of him, successfully pinning him to the kitchen floor. She ensured that she had him properly pinned before grinning widely, pressing one hand against his chest to keep him flat to the floor. The other hand held the half-empty tin of dessert topping, aimed directly at his face.
Now that the tables were turned, Michael didn't seem to find the scenario nearly as enticing.
"Mackenzie, baby," he said slowly, placing a cautious hand on her waist, "let's think logically here," he instructed. "You don't really want to do that, do you?"
Mackenzie lifted a brow mischievously, feigning innocence. "Oh, don't I?" she asked, tapping the pads of her fingers suggestively against the can. She smirked. "The prospect seems kind of appealing to me right now."
Michael pouted. "You wouldn't want to mess this face up, hon," he reminded her cockily, a playful gleam in his eyes. "You love my face, remember? I mean, just take a look at this baby."
Mackenzie rolled her eyes. "You know, I was considering letting you off the hook just this once, purely because I love you. But if you're really this self-absorbed..."
"Mackenzie, be reasonable."
If he was planning on arguing with her further, his plans were put to a direct end. Before he could even predict what she was about to do, she'd fired. His gasp of surprise was masked by the sound of the spray nozzle releasing its ammunition all over his face and neck, a sure sign that he'd have to shower before anymore company arrived for dinner. He only made one attempt to defend himself, but once Mackenzie restrained his hands, he knew better than to even try. He was already a mess; all he could really do was wait until she ran out of ammo. And beg; he was good at begging.
"Come on, Mac! Get off of me!" he cried, but his voice was tainted with laughter. His eyes squeezed shut, and he grimaced. "This isn't even fair!"
"Cole! They're fighting again!"
The sound of free-flowing topping was disrupted when the nozzle started sputtering uselessly, indicating that the contents had run empty. Mackenzie laughed as she tossed it aside, leaning back to admire her work. If Michael had made a minor mess of her, she'd created a catastrophe. His entire face was covered with whipped cream, and streaks of white lined his naturally brown hair.
"Geez, Mackenzie," he complained as she released his wrists, allowing him to wipe the topping off of his face.
"Oh, not again!"
The couple looked up to see Jayden standing in their doorway, his arms folded across his chest as he observed the scene before him. Cole followed closely behind, shaking his head in dismay as he leaned against the doorframe.
"Honestly, what kind of example are you two setting for poor Jayden?"
"Yeah, what kind of an example are you setting for little ol' me?" the boy repeated, pulling his best disappointed face.
Michael arched an eyebrow. "What was that?" he challenged.
"Nothing," Jayden dismissed quickly, pulling himself up onto the counter and kicking his feet against the bottom cupboards, a habit which Mackenzie despised greatly.
"Cole, help me up," Mackenzie requested, holding up a hand to her best friend.
Cole pushed himself away from the doorway and crossed the room, extending a hand to a pregnant Mackenzie. She was five months along now, and was showing quite a bit, considering she was a small girl to begin with.
Cole laughed and gave Mackenzie a quick kiss on the cheek. He frowned slightly as he pulled away, wiping whipped cream off of his lips.
Mackenzie grinned sheepishly. "Sorry," she murmured, grabbing a paper towel off of the counter to clean the cream off of her face.
Cole shrugged. "You know what they say: life's short, eat dessert first," he said, before grinning. "Merry Christmas, guys. I'm sorry we're late; Kal insisted on driving down every side road along the way to look at all of the Christmas lights."
"They were pretty, okay?" came a second voice, somewhere behind Cole.
Cole turned around, and Mackenzie saw his eyes soften as Kallie walked into the room, falling into place beside her boyfriend. She was wearing black dress pants, and a formal looking red sleeveless shirt. Her hair- now brown with blonde foils, was done in soft curls that fell just past her shoulders.
Slipping an arm around Kallie's waist, Cole kissed her softly on the cheek, leaning in and whispering something in her ear that made her blush and cover her mouth with a giggle.
Mackenzie grinned. "Aren't you two just too cute?"
"Freakin' adorable," Michael spoke up, his rump still parked on the kitchen floor. "Jayden, help me up."
"Are you kidding?" Jayden huffed, frowning as he leaned his head back against the cupboard. "I can't lift you up! You're too heavy."
Michael scowled, offended. "Is that supposed to be a fat joke?" he questioned, before dismissing the notion and turning to Mackenzie hopefully. "Mac?"
She smirked, shaking her head. "Don't even ask."
Michael tried for his sexiest looking pout, knowing that he could usually win her over with a good look. The whipped cream covering his face must have taken away from it's usual effect on Mackenzie, because she merely gave an amused laugh, shaking her haed.
"Get a life, Mike."
"Is that any sort of way to speak to the father of your child?" he asked, lifting an eyebrow. "Cole, I think that's grounds for claiming emotional abuse. Abuse, I say!" He kept a straight face as he scratched his chin. "Help me out here, I'm filing for... for... what would the term be?"
"Temporary insanity?" Cole laughed, extending a hand to help his friend up. "Sorry, buddy, I'm on holidays. You'll have to find yourself another lawyer."
Rising to his feet, Michael sighed heavily. "I am ridiculously underappreciated in this house," he muttered, using his shirt to wipe the whipped cream off of his face. "I think a shower is in order," he decided. "Jay, hand me a paper towel, would you?"
"Do it yourself," Jayden mumbled.
Michael lifted an eyebrow, taking one step towards the younger boy.
"How about you say that again?" he suggested playfully. "This time, keep in mind that you're completely unarmed, whereas I'm covered in whipped cream that's just begging for a new home."
Jayden's face froze. "You wouldn't," he said warningly, backing up against the counter.
"Oh, but I would."
With that said, Michael scooped a hunk of whipped cream off his clothing, darting for Jayden. In a flash, Jayden tore off towards the living room with Michael at his heels, both males screaming.
"Don't kill each other!" Mackenzie called out after them, before waving a hand dismissively in their direction, shaking her head.
- - - - - -
"No more than two colours in your hair at once, and that's that," Daniel was saying to his youngest, Brittany, trying to shimmy away from the topic of hair dye. "We've been over this."
"No," he repeated firmly. "End of discussion."
Frowning, he turned towards Michael and Mackenzie with mock sympathy written all over his face.
"I hope you two know what you're getting yourselves into," he said, with a nod towards Mackenzie's rounding belly. "You've got about eighteen years of this ahead of you."
Mackenzie laughed softly, sharing the smallest of smiles with Michael. Her boyfriend winked at her discreetly, before turning to talk to his brother once more.
The dinner table was buzzing with activity. The entire family, plus Cole and Kallie, had been invited to Michael and Mackenzie's relatively new home for Christmas dinner, and to say that it wasn't much of a quiet event would be an understatement.
They had only moved into the home about a month and a half before Christmas, after the decision had been reached that neither Michael nor Mackenzie's apartment would be big enough for all four of them. They had packed up and moved back to London, Ontario, landing a nice little house not far from their parents' place. Mackenzie was in the middle of undergoing a career change: she had immediately been offered a position in a law firm nearby when they moved back, but she had politely declined. Currently, she was taking online courses in English literature, hoping to divulge further into writing and journalism. She would require a year or two off of work to look after the baby, so persuing another option career-wise couldn't have presented itself with a better opportunity. Michael hadn't had any problems with transferring jobs, seeing as he ran his own film company. All he'd needed to do was rent out a new location for his office, and relocate.
The baby was due to arrive around the end of April, with a wedding planned for Mackenzie and Michael sometime in the following summer. Michael had proposed the idea of a winter wedding before the baby arrived, but had instantly regretted the proposition. Mackenzie, in all her pregnancy-hormone driven glory, had ranted on for two days about how ridiculously overweight she would look in a wedding dress, and that Michael was being insensitive.
"Just because you can sit around and stuff food into your mouth without getting fat, doesn't mean you get to call all the shots!" she had reminded him, and that had been the end of that. Michael had managed to calm her down by suggesting a summertime wedding, and had elected not to say anything that might trigger her oversensitive pregnancy hormones again. They had spoken of moving to adopt Jayden officially further down the road, but that wouldn't present an issue until Michael's temporary guardianship ran out.
The family had arrived around dinnertime for Christmas dinner, presents in tow. Cole and Kallie's presence at the dinner had been a given; they had been nearly inseperable since they had worked out their differences enough to attempt a relationship again. They still had the occasional argument, but who didn't? Mackenzie had never seen her best friend so happy with anyone before, and she had a feeling that this happiness was a newfound thing for Kallie, as well.
Mackenzie drained the last of her diet soda, before pushing her chair back from the table and rising to her feet. She lifted her glass from the table, pushing her chair in.
"I'll be right back," she informed everyone. "I need a refill."
She snuck a private glance at her boyfriend as she departed, the corner of her mouth turned up in a hint of a smile.
She disappeared into the kitchen, only to find her fiancé slipping into the kitchen at her heels, pulling the sliding door closed behind him. With a smirk, Michael stepped towards her.
"How's my girl?"
Grinning in a stupidly lovestruck sort of way, Mackenzie wrapped her arms around his neck.
"Much better, now that I can have a second alone with you."
His eyes softened. "I feel like I haven't seen you all day," he murmured, pressing a gentle kiss against her lips. He followed the kiss by trailing his lips down to the base of her neck.
Giggling, she tilted her head back, allowing him easier access. "You mean apart from our little food fight this morning?" she reminded him, her hands splayed out across his back.
As he moved up to align his face with hers, she lifted an eyebrow.
"You miss me?" His smirk was suggestive, all knowing.
Mackenzie rolled her eyes. "For reasons unknown, yeah, I actually do."
Running her fingers through his shaggy brown hair, she grinned. "Enjoying your dinner?" she asked.
He smirked. "You bet," he said. "The ability to cook is the finest quality you can find in a woman."
Mackenzie frowned, tilting her head warningly.
"Er, among other... sparkling personality traits, of course," he rushed on, recognizing his mistake. "You know, a sense of humour is a must-have, along with good looks... a kind heart never hurts." When her expression remained unchanged, he smiled hopefully. "Everyone loves a forgiving heart."
She rolled her eyes at his comments.
"Yeah yeah," she dismissed, though she was smiling. "You should try being a little bit nicer though. I'm pregnant, remember? I have a God-given right to overreact to every little thing that upsets me. And trust me, I will."
Michael snorted. "Oh trust me, I noticed,"
Mackenzie scowled, and Michael reconsidered his poor choice of words. "Give me a break, Mac," he scolded playfully. "I'm a guy, you know. We aren't the brightest of creatures."
"Trust me, I noticed," Mackenzie mimicked, still pouting at his insult.
Michael smirked. "You've got an incredibly sexy pout, have I ever told you that?" he asked, in the hopes of cheering her up.
While she didn't appear entirely forgiving, he took notice of the slight blush that crept into her cheeks. Grinning, Michael gripped her chin gently within his hand.
"Smile, it'll do wonders," he suggested. "Worked for Ronald McDonald."
At his retort, Mackenzie laughed, shaking her head.
"You're a freak," she said, earning her a pout from her boyfriend. "A very cute freak, at that."
"Thanks," Michael mumbled.
Mackenzie smiled softly. "You're my cute freak," she whispered to him. "That's all that matters."
Her words were an emotional trigger for Michael, who pulled her flush against his chest, his heart fluttering at the overwhelming happiness that coursed through his body. He brushed a strand of hair away from her eyes, tucking it gently behind her ear.
"Always," he said softly, leaning his forehead against hers. "I promise."
"Always?" she repeated hopefully, her crystalline blue eyes connecting with his. "You're sure about that?"
Michael nodded confidently, his thumb tracing gentle circles over her cheek.
"Always and forever," he promised.
Mackenzie had just leaned in to present him with another kiss, when the sliding door flew open, revealing a playfully irritated Brittany.
"Would it kill you two to sit through an entire dinner?" she asked, closing the door behind her as she stepped into the kitchen. "I would hope you could make it through one meal a year without a make out session."
Mackenzie grinned sheepishly, blushing.
"Can't help it," Michael teased playfully, his eyes still fixed on Mackenzie. "I'm in love."
Brittany rolled her eyes as she dropped a few ice cubes into her empty glass.
"You two are disgustingly sweet," she decided, shaking her head as she poked her head into the fridge.
Settling back against the counter, Michael slipped an arm around Mackenzie's waist, watching his younger sister fumble through the refrigerator in a desperate search.
"Looking for something, Tiny?" he asked, a mischievous grin creeping onto his face as he recalled Brittany's childhood nickname.
Brittany gave an involuntary jerk, her head connecting swiftly with the roof of the refrigerator. She turned to her older brother, scowling as she rubbed the back of her head soothingly.
"Mike, I'm a teenager now," she said, obviously embarrassed. "The name Tiny was suitable when, you know, I was a little kid."
Turning to Mackenzie, she frowned sympathetically. "Mac, make sure he doesn't stick that kid with a God awful nickname, would you?"
As Brittany turned back to the fridge, retrieving a pitcher of juice, Mackenzie shook her head.
"I can't make any promises." She laughed, ruffling Michael's hair. "Using cute nicknames is a symptom of being a complete and total softie, after all."
Michael scowled, ducking away from Mackenzie, and working to flatten his hair out again.
"It is not," he argued, before turning on Brittany. "You, go and finish your dinner, would you?"
"If you don't leave this kitchen now, you won't get the totally awesome Christmas gift I bought for you," he threatened. "Not like you deserve it now!"
Ignoring the last part of Michael's threat, Brittany hurried quickly from the kitchen, sliding the door shut behind her once more. A moment later, Michael fixed Mackenzie with an accusatory look, shaking his head.
"You sided with my little sister over me?" he said. "I should cut you off."
Mackenzie shrugged. "I'm not stopping you."
"Maybe I will," Michael teased, one hand pinning her on either side against the counter. "Unless, of course, you can give me a good reason why I shouldn't."
Mackenzie smirked, wrapping her arms around his neck. "You do remember that my mother booked us a trip to Hawaii for the honeymoon, right?" she whispered into his ear, smirking in the knowledge that she could not lose. "I don't need to remind you of the possibilities that entails, do I?"
Michael jerked away from his fiancée, knowing that they would never leave this kitchen if he let her sweet talk him any further. Grabbing her hand in his, he led her towards the doorway.
"Dinner, now," he ordered half-heartedly.
Mackenzie laughed, knowing she had him right where she wanted him.
"You're too easy," she said.
- - - - - -
"You bought me tickets to see Taking Back Sunday in New York?!" Brittany cried happily, staring up at her brother with wide-eyed surprise. "Seriously?"
Michael nodded. "Take that boyfriend of yours with you," he suggested. "What's his name again?"
"Mark," she dismissed, completely dazed. Jumping up, she threw her arms around her brother's neck, nearly knocking him off of the couch. "Thank you, thank you, thank you! You're the best brother ever!"
"What am I, a distant cousin?" Mitchell asked, frowning at his sister.
Michael gave his sister a kiss on the cheek. "Merry Christmas, Brit," he said happily, pleased with her reaction.
"How come I don't get to see Taking Sunday?" Jayden piped up, plopping down on the couch beside Michael as Brittany ran off to call her boyfriend with the exciting news.
"It's Taking Back Sunday, Jay," Mackenzie corrected, smiling. "A concert isn't exactly the best place for an eight year old. Maybe when your Brittany's age, you'll go to one."
Jayden scowled, but turned back to his X-BOX, unmoved.
As the room settled into a comfortable silence once more, Mackenzie's mother turned to her, placing her coffee mug gently on the end table beside her.
"Do you have a name picked out yet?" she asked curiously, eyeing her daughter's growing belly.
Michael draped an arm over Mackenzie's shoulder, shaking his head.
"We want to wait and see what we're having," he said. "We'll find that out soon, and we'll take it from there."
She smiled disbelievingly, shaking her head at the pair of them.
"I still can't get past the fact that you're getting married," she breathed out, obviously thrilled. "I mean, after the breakup, we figured it would only be a matter of days before you would be back together again. But days turned into years, and..."
She trailed off, shrugging. The rest was self-explanatory; no one had figured that Michael and Mackenzie would work out their differences after such a long time.
"You still haven't told us what happened in the first place," Daniel reminded the pair hopefully, lifting an eyebrow. "Care to elaborate?"
Michael shared a knowing glance with Mackenzie, wanting to allow her to make the final decision. She didn't owe him anything; she could reveal the truth if she felt inclined to.
But Mackenzie gave Michael a reassuring smile, before turning back to her parents with a shake of the head.
"It's all in the past," she said dismissively, ignoring their disappointed expressions. "All that matters is that we're together now, and we're happy."
Daniel smiled sheepishly. "It was worth a try," he said.
The topic was quickly dismissed, and was not brought up again. In Mackenzie's eyes, there was no need of reopening old wounds. They had moved past the mistakes that Michael had made years before, and their relationship was stronger because of it.
They still fought, of course, and they constantly drove each other crazy; but it was all in good nature. The fighting and bickering was a part of their complex and unique relationship. When it came down to it, they had never been happier.
They say that good things happen to those who wait, and waiting had definitely paid off for the two of them in the end. They were engaged with a baby on the way, and an eight year old that they were incredibly proud of. Their family was unconventional and patched together, but they liked to think that it made their bonds stronger. No matter what, they could always count on one another for anything.
Always and forever.
I want to thank everyone who read and reviewed this story! You guys are awesome, and I hope you enjoyed it. I'd secondly like to apologize for the delay in posting the epilogue, I never figured I'd be so swamped with university and whatnot. I have barely had a chance to write lately, and I'm sorry!
Anyway, I hope you enjoyed! Thanks! :)