Grant hadn't bothered trying to invite Tommy to his wedding. He knew he wouldn't come and Grant couldn't handle the rejection once again. He hadn't shown up to Grant's graduation from the S.H.I.E.L.D. Academy and they hadn't spoken in years.
Grant sat down heavily on the couch and opened the package carefully, almost gingerly. First, he lifted out a red and white striped circular tin. He opened it up and smiled when he saw what was inside. Nestled on wax paper were squares of homemade fudge. His grandmother made them fudge every Christmas and he remembered eating so much his stomach would ache. His mouth began to water as the chocolate smell wafted from the candy.
He put the lid back on and set it to the side. He looked into the package as saw a photo Christmas card and a handwritten letter. He smiled as he looked down at the Christmas photo card, a candid shot of his brother and a lovely dark-haired woman. They were holding two squirming girls on their laps; they looked about five and six.
The photo wasn't perfect. One girl had her red party dress bunched up and wrinkled. The other was looking off to the left. Tommy's tie was crooked and his wife's hair was being played with by the daughter she was holding.
But to Grant, it was the most beautiful family photo he had ever seen.
It was obvious that they loved each other.
He opened the letter with trembling hands, wondering what lie inside.
You don't know how long I've been wanting to write you this letter. For years, I'd put pen to paper and want to spill words across it, but they just wouldn't come. But, I couldn't put it off for one more year.
I forgive you.
For everything. Completely and utterly.
Know that in forgiving you, I'm freeing myself as much as you. Probably more so. You are my brother. You will always be my brother. I wasn't blind to what they did to you. I saw it all. I saw when you tried to shield me from it. I saw when you failed to shield yourself.
What you did to me as a kid wasn't right, but I forgive you. I truly do.
I know that you aren't that same frightened kid anymore, lashing out at the world, and neither am I.
I know we haven't talked in years. You don't know my wife, Marta, or my daughters, Sandra and Sofia. But, I'd like you to. We were thinking of heading out west when the girls are on spring break for school. I'd like us to spend Easter together. We could take the girls to Disneyland. They've never been.
I heard you got married. Congratulations. Marriage is the biggest blessing one can have in their lives. To find the one person who loves and accepts you is the best gift of all.
Merry Christmas, Grant. I hope we'll get to celebrate Easter together.
P.S. Marta and the girls made some homemade fudge for you both. They used Gramzy's recipe.
Grant read the letter at least three times, his smile widening each time.
"What'd you get?" Skye asked as she drew near, peering at the package.
"One of the best presents ever," Grant said. After a beat, he looked up at Skye. "Do you . . . do you believe in miracles?"
Skye sat down next to him, leaning her head on his shoulder. "We ended up together. Considering all we've been through, that counts as one in my book."
Grant smiled, pulling Skye closer. He placed his hands on either of her face, leaning his forehead against hers. "I'm not going to take this miracle for granted. I love you, Skye."
"I love you, too." And she leaned into him, kissing him, her arms around his neck.
After a moment, they parted. "Merry Christmas, Grant," Skye said.
"Merry Christmas, Skye. And thank you. For everything you've down to make this holiday special for us. I was letting my past cloud our present, our future. But, I've been given such a gift in you and I'm not going to do that anymore. Right now, we start new. Clean slates."
"I'd like that," Skye admitted.
"We start our own family. Our own traditions. We begin again."
"Our own family?" Skye asked with a cocked eyebrow. They had talked about having a baby someday, but Grant had always been vague and evasive about exactly when.
"Our own family," Grant replied firmly. "You're going to be an amazing mother. I can think of no greater joy in the world than starting a family with you."
Skye grabbed him enthusiastically and kissed him again. "Right back at you."
"Best Christmas ever," Grant said as he took his wife in his arms once again.
Author's note- Hi, all! I meant this to a be a two hundred word ficlet Christmas present for skyeward-otp, but as you can see, it blossomed into something a bit bigger. I might write another SkyeWard story around Easter about Tommy and his family visiting, if there's enough interest in it.