Author: Bad Faery PM
Belle's looking for a fresh start. Instead she finds Middlesbrough and a very familiar face.Rated: Fiction M - English - Angst/Romance - Father MacAvoy & Belle - Chapters: 21 - Words: 93,188 - Reviews: 193 - Favs: 38 - Follows: 33 - Updated: 12-31-12 - Published: 07-13-12 - Status: Complete - id: 8317843
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
Joseph unlocked the door of the two-story house on the edge of Middlesbrough, his eyes finding a tangle of boxes and furniture as soon as he stepped inside, and he shook his head with a sigh. He'd never lived anywhere that hadn't been furnished when he moved in, and he hadn't realized just how big of a job setting up house would be.
Tomorrow was Saturday, and a contingent from the church would be dropping by to help get them organized. Anne Kelsey was leading the charge, and he and Belle had agreed to let the older woman do exactly as she pleased. In her capable hands they were certain to be completely moved in and unpacked in a matter of hours.
Two rooms were already set up- their bedroom and the nursery- and Joseph had a fair idea of where he would find his wife of four months. Taking the stairs two at a time, he paused in the doorway of the nursery and let himself simply drink in the sight of Belle sitting in a rocking chair in front of an open window, the bright sunlight of late spring highlighting her chestnut curls in a halo of golden light. She was holding the fairy tale book in one hand, reading to their baby in a quiet voice, her other hand resting tenderly on the swell of her belly.
"Welcome home," she looked up from the book and put it aside, her blue eyes shining with so much love that it took his breath away.
He moved to her side with no hesitation, leaning down for a sweet kiss of welcome before settling himself on the low footstool in front of her so he could kiss the baby too. "How are you feeling?"
"I'm fine," she assured him, but she didn't protest when he lifted her feet into his lap to rub them. His angel tired more easily now that she was reaching the end of her sixth month, and her feet often hurt from the added weight of the baby. Although nothing in the world was more beautiful than the sight of Belle swollen with his child, Joseph still felt guilty that she was sometimes uncomfortable.
This was something he could do for her, and he did it gladly, eager for any chance to touch his wife and offer her pleasure or comfort. Belle was the greatest blessing of his life, the truest miracle he'd ever known, and he could never express his gratitude enough.
"How was work?" she asked, settling back in the rocking chair with a blissful sigh.
"It went well. I think Jack may have made a breakthrough." He'd been working three days a week at the drug and alcohol rehabilitation center for the past several months, and Joseph finally felt like he was finding his place. His own long struggle with alcoholism was serving him well, giving him common ground with those who he sought to help. Progress was often slow and frustrating, but the rewards were more than worth it. He was doing good work, and it did his soul good to know that even those lost years of drunkenness had all been part of God's plan for his life.
"That's wonderful, baby," she sighed, and he wasn't sure if she was talking about Jack or what he was doing to her feet. "I know you've been worried about him."
The man had two young children, and Joseph had bonded with him over his own excitement at impending fatherhood. Remembering his children's earliest days had given Jack a new strength and focus, and Joseph hoped that would carry him through the detoxification process.
He gazed up at her, all other thoughts fluttering away as his angel smiled down at him, her eyes shining with love and happiness. It was a look he'd once feared he'd never see on her face. Belle had been so unhappy when he met her- frightened and hurting- and he'd despaired of ever being able to help her. Joseph had never been happier in his life than he was at this moment, but it was even better to see that Belle was happy. The shadows had fled her eyes, leaving nothing but peace and contentment in their wake.
In a few short months they would be parents, and this house would ring with the sound of laughter. They would fill it with love and children, and all darkness would be banished from this place. Everything he'd ever longed for was his at last. He had a family- a wife to worship and a child to adore- and this was just the beginning. His life, which had once looked so bleak and meaningless, stretched out before him rich with promise. No fairy tale could be more magical.
A faint shimmer in the air behind Belle's shoulder distracted him from her beautiful smile, and Belle turned to look too as the shimmer grew larger and brighter. Instinctively, he got to his feet and drew Belle to hers, seeking to protect her from the strange apparition before the shimmer coalesced into a recognizably human figure: a man with long hair and a beard.
Joseph clutched Belle closer with one hand as he crossed himself with the other. The figure glowed even in the bright sunlight, and it was transparent enough to allow him to see the bookcase he and Belle had filled for the baby through it. They were being visited by an angel.
"Nick?" Belle breathed, and the glowing figure beamed, extending its hands for a moment before looking down at them wryly and folding its arms with a shrug. In his embrace Belle chuckled softly, and Joseph's mind raced. This wasn't an angel, but it was an otherworldly vision all the same. This was Nick- Belle's Nick.
"Um... hello," he attempted, and the figure turned its attention to him. "I'm Joseph."
The figure- Nick- gave him a look that communicated the sentiment "No shit" without actually saying anything. "He knows," Belle said softly, and Nick smiled at her, "He's been looking out for us."
The figure nodded with approval at her deduction, and Joseph blinked, not entirely sure how he felt about having Belle's incorporeal former love taking an interest in them. Then Nick turned his attention back to him, looking him critically up and down before nodding firmly, and he felt like he'd been given a stamp of approval.
"Thank you, Nick. For everything." The figure's eyes softened, and it got a little closer without appearing to move at all. "I love you."
The figure hovered over Belle for a moment, appearing to kiss the top of her head without actually making contact before looking again to him. Joseph felt a wave of warmth and approval wash over him, and by the time he finished blinking, Nick was gone.
"Wow," he breathed, unable to think of anything more intelligent to say. He stole a look at Belle, concerned that this appearance by her lost love might have upset her, but although tears sparkled in her eyes, her face was peaceful.
"I think we have his blessing," she said, looking up at him with a soft smile.
"You're happy, aren't you, angel?" he asked. Five minutes ago he'd been certain that she was, but the strange encounter had left him feeling a bit unsettled, and he suddenly found himself in need of reassurance.
"Completely," she vowed, and he could hear the truth of it in her voice. Belle took his hand, guiding it to rest on the swell of her belly, and his breath caught as the baby kicked beneath his palm. No matter how many times it happened, Joseph could never accustom himself to the miraculous feeling of their child moving inside of her. Compared to that, the vision of her lost love seemed positively commonplace.
"I wouldn't trade our life for anything," she promised him, and he exhaled shakily, claiming her lips in a tender kiss. She wrapped her arms around him, holding him as close as she could with the baby between them, and he slid one arm around her waist, keeping his other hand on her stomach, his wife and child held safe in his embrace.
No matter how many times he thanked God for the wonderful life he'd been granted, it would never be enough. After having her heart shattered not once but twice, his angel still had the courage to love again, and she'd chosen him out of every man in the world. She'd saved his life, renewed his faith, and given him a family, single-handedly answering his every prayer.
"I love you," he murmured against her lips.
"I love you too, baby," she whispered, and they broke apart with a laugh when the baby kicked against his hand, apparently attempting to share the moment.
"Yes, we love you too, little one," he assured it, claiming one last kiss from his wife's smiling mouth. For years he'd been lost in the wilderness, but he'd found home at last.
Joseph MacAvoy was truly blessed.