The one shot is out! If you haven't read it yet, you know where to find it! It is called When Skies Are Grey.

Chapter 35

White Christmas

The first thing Seth became aware of the next morning was a tiny giggling coming from nearby. Before he could fully come to, a tiny hand smacked his cheek and his eyes shot open. Lucy was sitting beside his head, one hand on his cheek, the other over her mouth. Seth lifted his head a little and smiled.

"Hey Sunshine," he said sleepily. "How'd you get over here?"

"She flew," Mira's voice said somewhere on the other side of the room. He smiled and propped himself up on his elbow, towering over the baby girl. He kissed her forehead and scooped her into his arms. Mira was leaning against the doorframe, still in her pajamas, a mug in her hands.

"Did you make coffee?" he asked around a yawn.

"Tea." She took another sip. "You have an obscene amount of tea bags in your kitchen. And condoms. I found a few condom packets in there as well."
Seth laughed sheepishly. "Old habits?"

Mira sipped her tea again, holding eye contact. "You wanna take a shower before we open presents?"

His eyes lit up. "Presents?" He raced around her and down the stairs. Mira went after him.

"Wow, we were good this year, Lucy," he said to the baby clinging to his neck.

"Quit hogging the cookies!" Ava snatched two gingerbreads off the plate before Zack could stop her. "Paige! You're little brother's being a pain."

"I'm hungee," the boy said around a mouthful of gingerbread goodness.

"Ava, there's a whole other plate in the kitchen," Danny reminded her, flipping on his camera. "Now are we gonna open presents or what?"

"If Paige ever gets down here we can!" Zack yelled loudly, knowing his sister would be able to hear it up the stairs.

"I'm comin, I'm comin!" Paige ran down, rubbing a towel in her wet hair. She dropped between Ryan and Zack and bounced excitedly. "Now let's open presents!"

"Who showers then changes back into their pajamas?" Ava asked.

"I do. Now presents."

Mason and Danny smiled at each other. Danny nodded at the tree and Mason reached under and took out the first of many wrapped gifts.

"This one's for..." he read the tag and handed it to Zack, who looked surprised but took it. "Zachary."

Danny handed his daughter and Paige a gift, Ava's wrapped and Paige's in a bag. He held an envelope out to Ryan, but the boy was too busy ripping apart a hangnail on his thumb. Danny waved the envelope a little and Ryan looked up, smiled shyly, and took it.

Soon, all four teens had a decent stack of presents to go through. Paige and Zack, not knowing what Danny and Mason would like, had played it safe and gotten them two nice boxes of chocolate. Just like they thought, the men loved them.

"God is this what I think it is?" Paige asked, staring at the gift card in her hand. "Fifty dollars to the coach store?"

"Fifty bucks to the GameStop?" Zack asked from beside her, his eyes wide. "That is so cool!"

"Way to go all out, dads," Ava commented, pleased with her own gift card to Barnes and Noble. It was always safe for her parents to assume she would love anything book related.

"Open yours Ryan," Paige said. Ryan looked up, silently cursing her for calling attention to him. But when all eyes turned on him, he smiled as best he could and tore the wrapping paper off.

"Wow," he said, smile turning more genuine. "Fifty bucks to the music store."

"You really didn't have to do all this," Paige said, taking out what looked like a green hand-knitted scarf.

"Don't question it Paige," Ava said. She began digging into a gift bag. "Just enjoy."

They were sitting on Seth's couch in their pajamas, digging through a mountain of presents from their parents to them and Lucy. Seth had already unearthed a new laptop, shoes, things for his car, and a watch from his mom and Dave. Mira got some new clothes, gift cards, and some baby books amongst other things from her parents. Seth noticed how she wrapped her arms around herself when she got the gifts from her dad.

"This one is from Mom and Dave for Lucy," Seth read off the gift tag.

Mira took the wrapped box and set it on the floor in front of her and Lucy. "Let's see what Grandma and Grandpa got you." She pulled the bow off the top and handed it to Lucy, who shrieked in delight and began waving it around, tangling her little fingers into the folds and un-sticking it from palm to palm.

Mira tore the wrapping paper off and lifted up the gift to see what it was. "Baby Developmental DVDs." She looked at Seth, confused. "Is this like Baby Signing or something?"

"I think so." He scooted over and looked at the cover. "She's always saying that she wants her granddaughter to be as smart as can be."

"Doesn't signing keep them from talking or something?"

"You don't have to use them," his tone got a little defensive. Mira closed her mouth. Seth's mom had been his source of support the last several weeks, so she thought it best to not say anything else.

"This one's from Marli to me." Mira began tearing the paper off what turned out to be a sweater. "So how did your mom react to you moving back in here?" she asked conversationally.

"Probably as well as your dad did when you asked him if you could come over here."

She looked up. His eyes were easy to read; I can keep secrets too.

"Um..." she was at a loss of words for a moment, so she absentmindedly stroked Lucy's hair. "I know we said no gifts for each other, but... this is from Lucy and Me." She handed him a messily wrapped parcel. He stared at it a long moment then took it. He ripped the paper apart unceremoniously.

"Wow," he said excitedly, turning the leather bracelet over in his hands. Pearly white cowrie shells were stylishly woven in a straight line across the leather. "This is so cool." He slapped it over his wrist and began tying the strings through the loop.

"Here," Mira moved forward and easily tied it for him, giving his hand a squeeze before sitting back.

"Thank you." Taking his cue from the expectant look she gave him, he chuckled and reached behind the creepy dancing Santa on the coffee table.

"Now, before I give you your gift, I have to establish a couple rules, okay?"


"You can't ask me how much this cost and you can't try to give it back, promise?"

Mira stared at him. What did he get her, exactly?


"Okay, okay I promise."
Seth held out a small rectangular box, lifting Lucy into his arms and watching eagerly. Mira turned it over in her hands and delicately tore the tape near what she hoped was the top and slid the paper off.

There, gold on red, was the Cartier logo.

"I... wha... you..." Her head moved from staring at the box to staring at him.

"Open it," he prompted.

Mira's thumb lifted the lid of the box with a small creek. Inside was a necklace. A simple, elegant silver chair with a simple little sparkling diamond pendant. Her jaw was just about hitting the floor by now.

"W-wow," she whispered. "I... why?"

"This isn't me buying you expensive jewelry so you'll forgive me faster," he explained. "Think of it as... I don't know, a token of love and appreciation." A red blush crept up his neck and he scratched the back of it uncomfortably.

"I... don't know what to say," she laughed nervously, looking back at the necklace. "I really feel like I shouldn't accept this."

"I lost the receipt, so either you take it or I throw it away." He laughed when she held the box to her chest protectively, eyes wide.

Mira carefully lifted the inside of the box out and began to take the necklace out of it's casings. Seth watched, amused.

"Wanna help me put it on?"

"Zeke's here!" Ava yelled excitedly, racing to the front door and opening it. "Merry Christmas!" She ran onto the porch and jumped into his arms and kissed him, knocking his earmuffs off. Zeke scooped her up bridal style to save her frozen feet and set her back inside, cutting their kiss short.

"Merry Christmas, babe," he said smilingly, handing her her gift. "Hope you don't mind, I brought a couple people."

"Who- oh." Two doors of Zeke's Hummer opened and Brian and Sara hopped out and ran to the porch. "Hey guys."

"Merry Christmas," they said in unison.

"Hope you don't mind, Zeke invited us," Brian explained.

"Nah, it's fine. My dads'll be thrilled." She took Zeke's hand and gestured for them to go through the door. "C'mon in."

Brian walked in past her, Sara following behind with a quick glance at the silver car in the driveway beside the big black Hummer.

"Look who dropped by!" Ava announced. Ryan was sitting beside Paige on the still-pulled out sofa bed and he felt her tense beside him. Danny, who had been gathering up wrapping paper while Mason was setting up the DVD, smiled brightly.

"Hey kids, take your coats off and take a seat, we were just about to watch Rudolph."

Ryan took Paige's hand in his. "Are you okay?" he muttered so only she could hear. She nodded.

"There we are," Mason said. He pressed play and straightened up. "I'm gonna go get the refreshments." He and Danny shared a look, Danny nodding. "Ryan," the boy looked up. "You wanna come help?"

Now it was Ryan's turn to tense up. "S-sure." He pulled his hand from Paige's and scooted off the bed to follow the man to the kitchen.

"Everyone just take a seat, I'm gonna go put this in the closet." Danny left the room with the wrapping paper.

Sara didn't so much as move a muscle before Brian dove past her and landed in the arm chair. Zeke and Ava were cuddled on the loveseat. Zack was sprawled across the big footstool, and the only other seat available was on the couch with Paige.

Sara lowered herself on the other side of the couch, a good foot and a half away from Paige, who was staring at the blue DVD screen on the TV.

In the kitchen, Ryan's hands were gripping the bottom of the counter, his stomach twisting and his heart pounding. Mason was sipping from his coffee then addressed Ryan.

"I heard what you said last night." Ryan gave him a blank look. "When you had that panic attack. I don't think you knew what you were saying, but you said," he took a breath, "You said Si prega di non farmi del male."

Ryan's eyes snapped to the floor. How did he forget that Mason was fluent in Italian?

"You were begging us not to hurt you," Mason said patiently.

"I can explain that," Ryan said. Mason's expression didn't change, he just raised an eyebrow as a sign for Ryan to continue, but Ryan had other plans. " you think Danny and Ava could join? I want them to hear this."

"Um sure," Mason said with a nod. "I'll get them."

With the man gone, Ryan stared down at the counter, thinking fast. He needed an excuse and he needed it fast. There was only one other way that he could cover this all up neatly, but it was a road he had been terrified to go down. But what if it was the only way?

"What's up?" Ava came in first and hopped on the counter beside him. Danny and Mason stood on the other side and looked at him expectantly and patiently.

Ryan's shaking hands clutched under the counter again. "Okay," he began. "The r-reason I'm so... I mean." Oh fuck it. "I was bashed."

The dads' expressions were almost identical; wide, horrified eyes and dropped jaws. Ava looked surprised, but there was a brief flash of something in her face that he couldn't identify.

"Oh my-" Danny choked.

"Yeah," Ryan said quickly. "Few months ago I was leaving my old school and some guys jumped me and beat the crap out of me. I saw a therapist for a while, her name was Dr. Faith, and he said it was PTSD."

"When did this happen?" Ava asked.

"May," he answered shortly. "So it was pretty recent and I... no one knows, okay?" Ava slid off the counter, staring at her friend in concern. Her dads looked equally disturbed by the news. "And I don't really wanna talk about it now. I just wanted to tell you b-because I don't want you to think something's happening to me at home, because nothing is."

"So I have an idea," Mira said, bunching up the rest of the wrapping paper.

"Oh?" Seth sucked a drop of syrup off the back of his finger.

"You need to go up to the house and get whatever you're making for dinner and I need a shower. Why don't you take Lucy up there with you?"

Seth blinked. "Take my eight month old daughter up there? With the WASPs from hell?"

"Are Dave's family really that bad?"

"Uh, yeah." He picked up their plates and set them in the sink. "If Nancy Ramsey isn't saying shit about my last name, then Ron Ramsey is downing wine like a man dying of thirst."

"You don't have to talk to them." She wrapped her arms around his waist and nuzzled his neck with her nose. "Beside, I think Lucy should spend a little bit of time with Carolyn and Dave."

"You're not gonna steal my TV or something while I'm gone, right?"

Mira giggled and shook her head against his neck. "No, I promise."

"Fine." He picked Lucy off the blanket on the floor. "You go take a shower and I'll get her into that Rubik's cube you call a snowsuit."

Seth managed to get his squirming daughter into her little outfit -how did Mira manage to get her into that damn thing every day and not rip out her hair in frustration? Lucy wiggled the whole time!- and pulled on his leather jacket. Cujo perked up, mistaking Seth's actions to mean it was time for a walk.

"Sorry buddy." He scratched the dog's ear. "I'm just running up to the house for a bit. Keep Mira company."

Cujo dipped his head back down and continued chewing on the dinosaur bone Mira had gotten him.

Seth hiked across the back yard, keeping Lucy's head covered and tucked against his neck from the wind.

"Now, if you see a mean old hag with hooves and a pitchfork, feel free to cry or pee on her. I'm fine with either. And some drunk moron is gonna try to hold you, but don't worry, I won't let him." He crossed the porch and tapped his knuckle against the glass of the back door.

To his surprise, Carolyn opened the door. "Seth," she said unexpectedly. "What are you doing here?"

"I just dropped by to grab some food for dinner. Oh and Lucy wanted to see you." He held the baby out and Carolyn instinctively took her with a smile.

"Come inside." She closed the door behind him and carefully peeled Lucy out of her snowsuit. The baby held still while she did so, once again baffling Seth. She set it on the counter and smiled at her granddaughter. "Hi sweetheart. Look how big you've gotten."

"Have your guests got here yet?" Seth asked.

"Carolyn do you have any more-" Mother and son turned as Nancy Ramsey walked into the room. "Oh, I didn't know you'd be joining us."

"I'm not, just picking up some food."

Nancy's eyes wandered to the baby in Carolyn's arms. "I'm assuming this is the child I've heard so much about." She eyed the infant and her face turned to one of distaste. Seth's lips curled to a snarl. "Anyway, Ron was wondering if you have any more scotch."

"What's the matter, he guzzle the whole bottle before dinner again?" Seth asked.

"Seth," Carolyn said.

"What? How long have we known each other, Nance? Can't I just make a joke about her husband's closet alcoholism? Oh!" He clapped a hand over his mouth and stage whispered. "Sorry, I know WASPs don't like talking about dirty laundry." At Nancy's red face, he added. "They don't like washing it either."

"What's going on in here?" Dave walked in and stopped, a grin spreading at the sight of his granddaughter. "Well, this is a nice surprise."

"Yes, Seth just brought her by to say hello." Carolyn was grateful for her husband's interference. Seth and Nancy had shown in the past that they could go back and forth for hours with hateful words and rude comments.

"Hey Dave, I was just saying hi to your mom. I'm assuming that because she's wearing that shirt that the third eye on her chest has finally been removed."

"Okay, that's enough," Dave immediately said.

"SETH!" Julie came sprinting into the room and latched herself against her brother's side. "You brought the baby!"

"Hey Juju," he wrapped an arm around her in a hug.

"Are you gonna stay?" She asked, bouncing happily.

"Actually..." he looked over to his mother for her opinion, but Carolyn was making funny faces and silly baby noises, and Lucy was giggling. "Um, I can stay for a little bit."

"Mom I want to hold the baby!" Julie stuck her arms out for her niece, but Carolyn held her on her hip.

"Let's all sit down and you can hold her, sweetie."

"Hey Nance, what's a WASPs favorite Christmas carol? White Christmas!"

"See, Rudolph was always my favorite movie because it shows that different doesn't mean bad," Ava explained.

"The songs are good too," Sara said. Ryan had joined them on the couch; therefore Paige, Sara, and Ryan were hip-to-hip. Ryan had been quiet throughout the movie.

"Island of Misfit Toys used to be my favorite song," Paige said. Sara laughed.

"Oh my god, I remember that! When we were like 8 you sang that song until me and Mira threatened to disown you."

"You three have the strangest friendship."

"Shut up, Ava, we do not!" Paige finished her laugh and looked back at the movie.

In the kitchen, Mason and Danny were deep in conversation.

"I don't think there's anything we can do, Danny," Mason said as gently as he could. "It happened and he's coping with it."

"It just sucks! Ava was bullied for having two dads, and he gets bashed for being gay." The smaller man beat his hand against the counter. "We were rejected time and time again for adopting or even fostering more children because we were gay and I'm just... sick of it."

"I know." Mason cupped his cheek. "I know. I am too."

"And I know I shouldn't be doing this today because it's Christmas, but god almighty when will this hatred end?"

"Hey," Mason said. "We may not have had the large family we always wanted, but we have Ava."

Danny smiled a little, expression softening. "We do have Ava."

"And, for now, we have seven kids in there who are expecting us to feed them, then we have all the people at the community center who'll love the leftovers. And I don't know about you, but that seems like a family to me."

Danny sighed and smiled at his partner. "You always know what to say, don't you?"

"Stop singing, Paige!"

"Toys galorreeee!"


"Scattered on the floorrr- OW! Don't throw shit at me!"

"Be nice, Ava!" Mason called.

"How do you know it was me?"

"Because it was!" Brian chimed in.

"I hate her! I hate that goddamn stuck up bitchy cun-"

"Whoa!" Mira stood up. "Language around the baby."

"Sorry." Seth yanked the oven door open and set the plates of food inside. "She just... gets to me. Talking about us and saying stuff about Lucy."

Mira wanted to hug him, but held back. While Seth and Lucy were gone, Mira had taken a shower, curled her hair, and changed into her new red dress. She'd gotten it on sale for this occasion, the simple design of a tiered skirt and red sash tied in a bow. Her short blonde hair hung in curls above her shoulders, just the way Seth liked them. Her new diamond necklace hung above her cleavage.

She had been planning to surprise him, but he surprised her instead by coming home angry. He and Dave's mother had gone at it, so she gathered.

Seth braced his hands on the two counters and shook his head. "Whatever, I'm not gonna let her ruin our Christmas."

Mira was surprised. The Seth she knew would have gone on and on about his hatred for WASPs of all kind. Maybe therapy was working.

"You wanna watch A Muppet Christmas Carol while we eat dinner?" She asked. He blinked, a look of nostalgia crossing his face as he remembered last Christmas.

"Yeah. Yeah that'd be great."

"You did not!" Ava screamed. She threw the wrapping paper to the side and popped open the DVD case her boyfriend had handed her. "How did you even get this?"

"I had a friend switch it to a DVD."

"What is it?" Brian asked.

"It's a video Zeke and I made."

The teens groaned. "We don't wanna hear about that!" Paige said, wrinkling her face.

Ava rolled her eyes. "Not that kind of video, idiots. In seventh grade, I did the lighting for the school musical Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat. You kept this for all these years?"

"Of course I did," Zeke said as if it were incredibly obvious. "I sat through four shows of that musical because you were doing the lighting."

"I was in that production," Sara intervened proudly.

"Your Peter Pan performance was better," Paige said distractedly, mentally counting the amount of gift card money she had in her hands.

Sara stared at her. "What?"

"I love it, thank you." Ava kissed her boyfriend's lips.

Zeke smiled in relief. It wasn't the gift he'd originally planned for her. He'd had a much bigger surprise for his love. But his plan to surprise her with Bridgett had fallen flat. It was just as well. Ava was happy, so he was happy.

"Any other presents?" Ava asked.

"This is for Ryan." Bryan handed his friend an envelope. "Well, its from me and Ava."

Ryan opened the envelope and frowned a little. "A gift card to the grocery store?"

"Brian," Ava said disapprovingly. "I told you to get him one to guitar world!"

"That's all that was left on the rack! Apparently December twenty-third is a bad time to buy gift cards."

"It doesn't matter," Ryan said, not wanting to hurt his friends' feelings. "I appreciate it. Thanks."

"Sara?" Ava asked. "Do you have anything you want to share with the class?"

"Actually, I do." Sara set a bag on her lap and distributed the neatly wrapped amongst her friends. They weren't anything too special; a set of pretty stationary for Ava, a new football for Zeke (he went through them faster than she thought possible), a book of guitar sheet music for Ryan, and ironic fuzzy dice and a funny bumper sticker for Brian. She had a bottle of perfume and a CD for Mira and Seth at home.

Paige sat awkwardly beside her, still playing with her gift cards from earlier. Her cheeks burned. Of course Sara would forget her. After everything she had put her through the last few months, she really didn't expect anything.

"And for Paige..." Sara said with a mischievous smile. "I have this." She held out a wrapped gift. It felt like glass under the paper. Ignoring all eyes on her, Paige ripped it open. And gasped.


"I had to borrow my mom's car and drive two hours away, but I found them."

"Care to explain the jelly beans?" Brian asked.

"When we were little, there was this candy store," Sara explained. From beside her, Paige stared at the jar in her hands, then her best friend in awe and wonder. "Paige loved their jelly beans. The place closed when we were ten. But my sister told me when she was driving into town, she passed it in a new location. I drove out there the other night and got some."

Paige's eyes were misting over. "You-you did?" She hugged the jar to her chest, touched. "Thank you."

"You're welcome," was Sara's answer.

Ava looked over at Brian, but somehow her eyes landed on Zack, who watched his sister with a confused frown. Ryan was sitting beside them with a little smile. Like he knew something they didn't.

"I just feel bad because I-I didn't know you were coming," Paige said. "Your gift is back at my house."

"Don't worry about it," Sara waved her hand. "Just give it to me next time you see me."

"That was a really thoughtful gift, Sara," Zeke commented.

Sara beamed happily. "Thanks."

"Dinner!" Mason's voice said from the kitchen. Seven kids rose from their seats to go into the kitchen.



Seth, you're stabbing your plate."

Seth looked down at the marks on the porcelain. "Oops." He carefully speared a piece of ham and ate it. "Sorry. I'm still a little worked up."

Mira paused the movie and set her plate on the coffee table, glaring at Cujo when he approached it with a twitching nose. "Don't take this the wrong way, but you've never let their attitudes get to you before."

He swallowed a sip of milk and licked his lips thoughtfully. "It's not Negative Nancy that pissed me off." She raised an eyebrow. "It's that my mom did that thing where she sat back and let me be insulted."

Oh. "Oh."

"And I guess by now I should be used to it. I know she'll always choose her lifestyle over me in most situations, but after the last few weeks, I dunno, I thought it would be different." Fingers sifting through his made him look up to warm blue eyes.

"I think I know something that'll cheer you up," she said slowly.

"Really?" he challenged, scooting closer.

Mira pulled him off the sofa to where his iPod was hooked into the laptop. She turned it on and scanned through the music.

"You downloaded Christmas music?" she asked. "You hate Christmas music."

"I was gonna play it later."

"Well, you can play it now." She flipped on "O Holy Night" and took his hand again, placing it on her hip. "I've always wanted to slow dance with you, you know."

"'O Holy Night', nice choice." Seth wrapped his arm around her waist and held her to him. Their foreheads pressed together as they swayed to the slow music.

"Try not to step on my feet."

Seth pulled her a little closer. Her arm went up to his neck and he closed his eyes as her breasts were against his chest.

As the music sped up a little, Seth smirked. "Ready for some fancy moves?"

Not giving her a chance to answer, he stepped back and spun her. He pulled her back and wound his arm back around her waist, lifting her right off her feet and spinning them around.

Setting her back on the ground, she asked. "Where did you learn to do that?"


Mira laughed and nestled her face into his neck as they swayed. "I'm glad we did this," she admitted shyly. "Spending time together like this."

"Me too." He laced his hand into silky hair. "I didn't get a chance to say it earlier, but you look gorgeous." He felt her smile against his neck.

"I'm also kinda hoping that this means something else." She looked at him. "That things are going to be okay between us."

Seth stopped swaying and just stared at her, thinking. It was a little unnerving, the intensity of those blue-green eyes.

"I can't... promise that I'm completely okay," he said slowly. "But I can promise that... I won't keep anything from you anymore. And I won't lie to you anymore. No more secrets."

"No more secrets." She nodded solemnly.

"And I'm hoping," He continued carefully. "That it'll be a two way street? I know you get defensive because you hate talking about your eating disorder, but if you ever feel overwhelmed or like you don't want to eat, you tell me, okay?"

Mira nodded again. "I promise."

"Okay." Without warning, he lifted her up a little and dipped her, hand cradling her head.

Mira yelped at the movement, "Warn a girl next time!"

Seth laughed. "Sorry."

Mira held onto his arms. The smile faded from his face as his eyes flicked from her eyes to her lips.

"Are you gonna lift me back up?" she asked.

"Not yet," he whispered. "There's something I wanna do first." The arm around her waist tightened and he leaned down. Her arms went up around his neck. His lips were a breath away from hers, watching her tongue dart out to wet them as he leaned in closer and closer.

"GAH!" Lucy screamed across the room. Seth and Mira's heads instinctively snapped in her direction.

And their jaws dropped.

"Mom, I wanna play with the baby!" Julie whined.

"The baby went home, dear," Nancy said firmly. "Now sit up straight."

Carolyn sipped her iced tea quietly. She had been quiet since Seth left. She didn't know how to feel, really. Seth and Nancy had gone at each other before, but this time Seth had held back, she could tell. Nancy had been her usual self, talking about him to Carolyn and Dave as if he weren't sitting fourteen inches away. Carolyn had seen the show of emotions on the boy's face as she spoke, and expected him to lose his temper as per usual. She said nothing, of course, she never did.

But instead, Seth had stood up, taken Lucy from Carolyn's arms and walked into the kitchen without a word. Carolyn followed him, trying to apologize for Nancy's behavior when Seth cut her off.

"It's fine mom. Just go be with your family and I'll be with mine."

That had cut. It really made her realize how badly she wanted him to be there. She wanted both Seth and Lucy to spend Christmas with them. She wanted Seth to not talk back to Nancy, and for all of them to get along. She wanted her granddaughter to know who she was.

The last few weeks, Carolyn knew Seth had really come to depend on her. And in a deep, secret place in her brain, she liked it. She liked that her son had finally admitted to needing help and letting her be the one to do it. Did that make her a bad mother?

She'd been against him moving back into that guest house again, but he'd insisted, telling her he was done living in the house and wanted to go home again. She had planned on him being there for Christmas, but he had his own plans.

And now she was spending Christmas with a woman she had spent so long trying to respect, but now just wanted to throw something at her.

"Shall we say grace?" Dave asked, taking his seat at the table.

"That sounds lovely," Nancy agreed, setting a napkin in her granddaughter's lap.

Carolyn half-smiled at her husband and nodded. He began his prayer, hands clasped and head bowed.

Carolyn spent the prayer staring at her glass of iced tea. For the first time in a long time, she longed for something much, much stronger.

Lucy didn't know what was going on, but she liked it. She liked spending this time with Mama and Daddy, she liked the new toys she had been presented with, and she liked playing with the shiny paper they came with.

She was sitting on a blanket, pounding a doll on the floor and giggling at the sound it made. Every time she happened to look up, Mama and Daddy were either staring at the moving box or talking.
She liked just being with them. Daddy had taken her to people today, loud people. First Daddy handed her to some lady who kept calling herself Gramma, but that wasn't right because she wasn't her Gramma. Then some big man kept calling himself Grampa. She didn't know who he was either. The only person she liked was the small girl who kept playing with her hair and calling her "Baby". Lucy liked that.

Lucy chewed on her doll's head and looked up when Mama took Daddy's hand and led him over to a silver box. Then a loud sound came out of the box and they began moving to the sound. Lucy liked the sound and tried clapping her hands. Unfortunately, she just wasn't coordinated enough at eight months old, so her hands often missed.

The moved for a while, then stopped and talked. Over the noise, she heard the word "secrets" a lot. Lucy didn't know what it meant, but it looked like it was making them sad.

Lucy decided she wanted to go over there.

She planted her fat little hands on the floor and started to crawl. Once she was off the blanket, she ran into Bear lying on the ground. Lucy really liked Bear. She liked it when Daddy came to visit and brought Bear with him. He was big and soft and liked to lick her face a lot. And he was the same colors as Pandy, which she liked.

Bear, as usual, turned his head and began licking her face. She waved her arms as best she could to make him stop, not wanting to be distracted. Bear pulled his head back and laid it back on his feet, staring at her with blue eyes. In front of her, Daddy had Mama dipped down and they were talking again. Lucy wanted them to pick her up, so she crawled over to Bear and set both hands on top of his head. She was going to try something she had only done in her crib before when Mama was sleeping. Bear seemed to understand the severity of the situation and laid completely still.

Using his head, Lucy was able to leverage herself up on two wobbly little feet.

Mama and Daddy still weren't looking, so she did what all babies did when they wanted attention; screamed.

"GAH!" she shrieked as loud as she could.

Mama and Daddy finally looked at her. Mama gasped loudly and broke from Daddy's grip, hands going to cover her mouth. Daddy's mouth was opening and closing. They looked shocked.

"Oh my god." Now Mama was crying. "She's... she's standing!"

Daddy crouched down and took out a box from his pocket and a flash came from it. Once the flash was gone, Mama rushed past him and scooped her up, kissing her face over and over.

"Lucy you stood!" she gushed. "Oh my god, sweetheart!"

Daddy leaned down and kissed the side of her face, taking her out of Mama's arms. Then both of them were hugging her.

"It's a Christmas miracle," Daddy said.

And Lucy didn't know what that meant, but they looked so happy that she laughed along with them.

Writing in a baby's POV is always fun. 35 chapters in and she's standing. Maybe by chapter 100, she'll walk.

The necklace and the cowrie shell bracelet have been made into sets, the link is in my profile under Ascension.

I just want to say that Mason and Danny are on the board of the community center and big charity workers, which is why they were thrilled to have all the kids over, that and the fact that it's Christmas and they would never turn anyone away on Christmas. I didn't want them seem like parents that are too ok with everything, so that is the reason behind it.

And yes, there is a reason Ryan won't admit what his dad is doing to him. And it is not the reason you would expect.
Can anyone guess?

Coming up:

Sara gets Paige's gift

Mira gives Seth something else

Read and Review!