|Feast for the Senses
Author: Bad Faery PM
Returning to Earth was one thing. Living on Earth is quite different. A series of interconnected ficlets about Nick and Belle's life with their little ones after Destiny.Rated: Fiction K - English - Family - Dr. N. Rush & Belle - Chapters: 12 - Words: 10,926 - Reviews: 69 - Favs: 24 - Follows: 27 - Updated: 03-06-13 - Published: 06-29-12 - id: 8269748
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
Nick headed for the basement, wondering how it was possible that he could be this tired before midnight. On Destiny, he'd stayed up for days on end working, and all he'd done today was play with his children, yet he felt like he'd been hit by a bus. It didn't seem right that entertaining a two year old and a six year old should be more difficult than repairing an Ancient spaceship.
Cailyn and Liam were finally in bed, although it had taken the better part of three hours to get them to stay there. The stockings were hung by the chimney with care, cookies and coffee had been left for Santa Claus, and Belle was in the kitchen doing something to the turkey as Eli peeled potatoes. That left him to retrieve the gifts from their hiding spot in his basement workshop and get them under the tree before the kids woke up again.
Opting to start with the stockings and work his way clockwise around the room, he grabbed the bags containing the tiny presents, kissed Belle, ignored Eli's gagging noise, walked into the living room, and dropped kicked the bags behind the couch. "You're supposed to be in bed."
Cailyn was sitting on the couch, small feet stuck straight out in front of her as Liam crawled over her to pet Mira. "You have to put the fire out so Santa doesn't get burned."
"The elves do that," he reminded her of the cartoon they'd watched two nights ago showing how elves prepared each house for Santa's arrival.
The unamused glare his daughter gave him looked embarrassingly familiar. "That's just a show, Daddy."
Swallowing a laugh, Nick tried again, "Why are you down here?"
"Wanna see Santa!" Liam announced, pulling a long-suffering Mira into his lap for a cuddle.
"You already saw Santa," he reminded them. "You sat on his lap. We have pictures."
"I want to ask him a question," Cailyn informed him, her eyes intent on the fireplace.
"What question?" Somehow Nick was certain that he'd regret asking.
Cailyn heaved a sigh, clearly fed-up with her obtuse father. "It's a question for Santa."
Apparently her question was classified information, so he tried a different approach. "Santa won't come if you're not in bed."
"We'll turn the lights out," she said complacently, clearly having thought this out. "He won't know until he's down here."
Next to her Liam was already yawning, and Nick made a decision. Shoving them back into bed meant he'd just have to hang out in the hall and catch them again when they got back out. If he promised they could stay up and wait for Santa, all he had to do was wait for them to fall asleep and then put them back down, knowing they'd stay there this time. "All right," he said loudly enough to be sure Belle could hear what was going on so she didn't show up with more presents. "Let's sit up and wait for Santa."
He sat down between them, an arm around each. Liam promptly cuddled into his side, and Cailyn drummed her feet against the sofa cushion. "Do you think the Great Ack ever comes with him when he brings the toys?"
Nick had been concerned that the creepy Claymation show would give them nightmares, but Cailyn had been fascinated. "You can ask him when he shows up," he yawned.
A few minutes later, he noticed that Belle and Eli were standing over them. "We're waiting for Santa," he explained, "Cailyn wants to ask him something." He attempted to communicate his plan using solely his eyebrows, and Belle seemed to get it.
"Good idea," she said, joining him on the sofa and pulling Liam into her lap so she could lean against him.
Eli ruffled Cailyn's hair, "Tell him I said hi."
"Okay, Uncle Eli!" Eli headed upstairs to the guest room, and Nick took a moment to envy him. Liam's eyes were already mostly closed though, and it shouldn't be much longer before they could tuck the kids in and finish the Santa job before tucking themselves into bed.
"That's pretty," Belle murmured, gazing at the fire, and he glanced down at her, admiring the golden glow the firelight imparted to her skin.
"Very pretty," he agreed, and Belle blushed when she noticed he was looking at her instead of the fire. Unable to resist, he stole a kiss, breaking away only when he heard his daughter's exasperated sigh.
"Can we have pizza tomorrow?" Cailyn requested.
"We're having a turkey. It's Christmas," Belle reminded her.
"Can we have a turkey and pizza?" their daughter negotiated, and he snickered to himself, resting his head against the back of the sofa to rest his eyes as Belle attempted to dissuade her.
The next thing he knew a shrill "Daddy!" had him jolting off the couch, pivoting on his heel to face his stricken daughter. Morning light was pouring through the windows, and he bit back a curse as he saw a disheveled Belle attempting to extricate herself from a clinging Liam. It was Christmas morning; they'd both fallen asleep, and Santa hadn't come.
Groping for an explanation, he started, "Maybe his sleigh broke down, and he's running late-" but Cailyn wasn't listening to a word.
"We missed him!" she wailed, "I didn't get to ask my question!"
Perplexed, Nick turned around, blinking in disbelief at the sight that met his eyes. The stockings were filled to the bursting point, a pile of gaily wrapped presents spilling out from under the tree, the tag on the closest reading "To Nick from Santa." The cookies and coffee had been decimated.
Closing his eyes, he heaved a sigh of relief. Thank God for Eli. "We can send him an email," he suggested, and that seemed to satisfy her as she scrambled off the couch for the presents.
"We have to wait for Eli," Belle reminded her, and he picked her up to give her a better view of the tree.
"Uncle Eli!" she bellowed, nearly blowing out his eardrum. "It's Christmas!"
"Are we under attack?" Eli mumbled, stumbling bleary-eyed down the stairs. "Oh."
"I'll make coffee," Belle yawned, handing Liam to Eli, and Nick put down his squirming daughter.
Catching Eli's eyes, he mouthed a silent but emphatic, "Thank you."
Eli blinked at him in bewilderment. "For what?"
Jerking his head at the tree and stockings, Nick tried to convey his gratitude for Eli saving Christmas without words. It was Christmas; he could allow himself one show of sentiment.
Eli just looked perplexed, and he put Liam down to join his sister. "I don't know what you're talking about, but you're welcome." Stumbling toward the kitchen he called to Belle, "Is the coffee ready yet?"
Nick stared after him in disbelief. He was putting him on. There was no way Eli wasn't putting him on. Turning back, he watched his son and daughter dig through the presents. The wrapping paper on a few of them didn't look the slightest bit familiar.
Mind racing, Nick tried to come up with an explanation. A benevolent Ascended Ancient? They had no physical form though, and the present Cailyn was currently shaking was clearly very corporeal. "You think too much," Belle complained as she pressed a mug of coffee into his hand.
"But-" he protested, looking from the tree to Eli to her and back again.
"It's Christmas. Give it a rest," she suggested, and he lifted the mug to his lips. The kids were happy; the whole family was together, and Christmas morning was saved.
"You're right," he agreed, leaning down to kiss her, "Merry Christmas."
Belle snickered, her eyes twinkling up at him. "You're not going to argue? Best present ever."
"Smart ass," he grumbled, claiming another kiss that went on until Eli pushed past them.
"Can we unwrap the presents before you two start unwrapping each other?" he asked plaintively, "It's Christmas."
Beneath the tree, Liam had gotten his hair stuck in the string of lights, and Cailyn was helping him get it untangled by ripping out a handful of his hair. Looking a little higher, he saw Mira staring back at him from a tree branch at eye level, and Eli looked like he was on the verge of falling back to sleep on the floor. Belle rested her head on his shoulder, giggling helplessly, and he shook his head. "God bless us every one."