Christmas Eve

I’m grateful I don’t have to explain snow to my kids.

I am currently in the middle of trying to explain Santa Claus and Christmas lights while trying to hide gifts all over the house. Jude of course, thinks it’s hilarious. Having her here in the house makes this the best Christmas since the last time my grandma was alive. Miles was there, being his usual self. By that I mean he was annoying. Almost painfully so.

Which means Grandma yelled at me when I threw a potato wedge at his head.

I regret nothing.

Back to this Christmas Eve. I was in the Great Hall with Ben, we were relaxing on the couch, when the doorbell rang. Ben went to get it and I stayed behind with the boys. They were playing on the floor with a set of building blocks that I’d gotten for them on one of my shopping trips for their presents. The look in their eyes when I showed up with the box of blocks was like I’d given them a universe. I’ll never forget it and I can’t wait for it to be repeated on Christmas morning and I might cry.

When Ben walked in with the Sheriff, I knew something was wrong. So did the boys. They abandoned their blocks and crawled in to my lap as best they could. As I sat up with them, Ben motioned for me to stay seated.

“It’s okay. It’s not what you think.”

“I’m not thinking anything right now except I don’t like it when my children are upset,” I said to Ben and narrowed my eyes at the Sheriff.

He had the good sense to look bashful.

“I’m sorry about dropping in like this, but I thought you’d like to know that the FBI are going to come and get you after the first of the year for a disposition on what happened with Steve,” he said.

I nodded. “That’s not all you’re here for, though.”

“It’s about the Big Guy.”

A light dawned in my head and I smiled. “Oh yes, him. We’re all ready. Are your kids?”

“That’s just it. There’s another storm rolling in and I can’t be at home tonight. Can they stay with you?”

I laughed. “Yes. We’d be happy to have them. Right, Ben?”

“Yeah. That’s what I said you’d say, but he wanted to ask you himself.”

I grinned up at Ben. He knew me so well. Before I could say to bring the kids in, they were running in to the house and stopped dead when they saw Logan and Alphonse. The boys tightened their grip on me. I looked up at Ben, who knelt down and looked each boy in the eye. Logan was the first to wiggle off my lap and run to Peter, grabbed his hand and dragged him over to the blocks. After a couple of minutes, they boys were playing. Logan was silent, he still hadn’t grasped the concept of talking, but Peter talked enough for the both of them.

Alphonse and Bonnie were more reluctant. I could feel them studying each other. After a minute, Bonnie gave Alphonse a shy smile and he smiled back. Ben then caught his attention and nodded at him. Alphonse slid slowly off my lap and walked over to Bonnie, who allowed herself to be dragged over to the book shelf. Alphonse handed her a book and Bonnie looked from the book, to Alphonse, then to me. I nodded. Bonnie shrugged and opened the book, sitting down next to the shelf. She started reading it out loud to Alphonse.

I sniffled a bit and walked out of the room. Ben followed me and hugged me tight. I looked up at him and kissed his chin. He grinned.

“I hate to interrupt the moment, but what just happened?” The Sheriff asked.

“They made friends,” I said and started crying.

Ben laughed and held me close. “She’s been like this all day. It’ll be okay. We’ll keep them safe until you get back.”

“You’re welcome back for Christmas with us. We’ve more than enough space for everyone,” I said with a watery smile.

The Sheriff nodded. “I might just do that if I get off work early enough.”

“The house will let you in if you try the doorknob. Don’t bother to knock. You’re family.” I said firmly.

The Sheriff smiled. “Roger that. I’m off then. Don’t spoil them.”

I laughed, so did Ben.

“Merry Christmas, Eric. Be safe,” I said.

Ben echoed my words and the Sheriff replied in kind before stepping out of the house. I hoped he’d be back before the kids woke up in the morning. Ben and I turned and walked back into the Great Hall and found that the Twins were explaining Christmas to the boys, who were getting just as excited. I grinned.

“Well, that’s one thing we won’t have to explain, but they’ll be a handful tonight when it comes to bedtime.”

“As if bedtime is ever quiet in this house,” Ben said with a grumble.

I laughed at him. “I warned you.”

“That you did and I didn’t listen, but I wouldn’t trade either of them.”

“Me either.”

“What are we trading?” Miles said around a mouthful of the roast beef sandwich that he’d just bitten into as he came in to the hall.

“We’re not trading anything,” I said. “That sandwich is bigger than your hand. I hope you plan on having a belly ache later.”

“Relax, Mom. I skipped lunch. I was out with Denver today.”

“Ah. Canoodling again?” I teased.

Miles blushed. “Not exactly.”

“The only detail I want is if he’s coming to dinner tomorrow.”

“He is.”

“Good.”

“Who’s coming?” Mark asked as he came down the stairs.

“Denver’s coming to dinner tomorrow night,” I said. “I’m glad you came down. We need to discuss the Fat Man.”

“Got it all covered. Sleighbells are upstairs. I’ll do the creep thing at midnight.”

“Oh good. Miles you got your suit?”

Miles nodded. “Yep. It’s bright green.”

I grinned. This Christmas was going to be great.

“Wonderful. Now, I wonder if we can convince Jude that Christmas cookies are appropriate Christmas Eve dinner.”

“They are not!” Jude said from the kitchen.

I winced and the others laughed.

“Sandwiches it is, then.”

Ben kissed my head. “I’ll get the kids. Mark, ya wanna give me a hand? We doubled up.”

“Sure thing,” He paused before going to help Ben. “I need to talk soon about some things.”

“Tonight?”

“No, but soon. After Christmas.”

“Okay,” I said as I kissed his temple. “I love you. You’re family.”

Mark smiled at me and went to help Ben.

“Come on, Mother Hen. Let’s go set the table,” Miles said as he slung a hand around my waist.

“Yeah, let’s go do that.”

“Get out of my kitchen you beast!” Jude shouted and we watched Gibbs run out of the room with a sandwich in his mouth.

“On second thought, let’s all go in together.”

“Coward,” Miles said.

“There’s knives in there.”

“Maybe you’re right.”

“You only need to fear me if you have four legs and like roast beef.,”  Jude said as she stuck her head out in to the hallway.

“Well it’s a good thing I have three.” Miles said, dryly.

Just blinked at Miles and then started laughing. I laughed along with her, until my face was bright red.

“Oh, thank the stars the kids didn’t hear that.”

“Oh they heard it and they think Mommy is a loon,” Ben said with a grin.

“Mommy is a bit of one,” I said as I scooped up Alphonse and snuggled him close. “dinner, then bath time, then bed.”

A chorus of whines rose up from the Twins.

“Nope. No pleading. It’s Christmas. However. You all can share one of the big bedrooms tonight.”

Silence fell as they all looked at each other and considered.

A chorus of “okays” came from the Twins and they trooped by in to the kitchen. Alphonse and Logan wiggled down and followed them. I looked over at Ben, who grinned.

“That was a brilliant move.”

“You’ll give them the flashlights when we put them to bed tonight,” I murmured.

Miles laughed when he understood. “Oh that’s brilliant.”

Mark grinned. “All the better to see you with.”

“Exactly,” I said and hooked my arm in to Ben’s. “Let’s go have dinner.”

We all trooped in to the kitchen and sat down for dinner. Looking around at my family, I realized that even through there were a few faces missing. I still had everything I wanted in that room.

That made it a very good Christmas already.

-Marlowe

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