AN: Okey-dokey, was I surprised to find not one but two pieces of fluff… this is complete, the other isn't… well, not yet, hehehehe… so, this is extremely short and dorkily sappy. I must admit, I was overwhelmingly stunned by the reaction I got from "All of Me". To these lovely reviewers—Jessica Black 1, Kat1521, uad—thank you for letting me know that there still some Rendallites out there.
Jessica Black 1: Just do what I do, my friend… pretend that the idiot on these days is just some evil clone… one day Kendall will save him and they'll ride off into the sunset together on the back of his bike.
Anyhoo, enjoy the fluff!
Baby's First Pine Cone
Thoughtfully, I study the pine cone, turn it over in my hands, admiring how the light falls on it, and try it in a different spot. It doesn't wok and, with a grimace, I take a few steps to my left, trying a different spot… nope, still not right… Setting down the pine cone that refuses to cooperate, I glance over at the grinning mini-Kane.
Ah, apparently, to her, I am a dork… Standing on her tiptoes, Alicia's staring at me with her mother's blue eyes, and when I sigh, she lets out a shriek of laughter, bouncing on the balls of her feet, letting out another, identical shriek.
Quickly, I rush over, reach into the play pen and lift her up; immediately, a small hand closes over my nose, yanks as her mouth moves to my neck and, yes, she shrieks again. I swear to God, I think she's trying to page Kendall. And the thing is, kendall understand Alicia's strange baby lingo… to her this probably translates to "help, Mommy, Daddy's about to ruin the tree!"
Heading back over to the tree, I lift back up the discarded pine cone and am surprised when two small hands latch on it, holding it close to her chest, beaming, eyes sparkling.
"That? That, Ali, is why you've been trying to break the windows?"
All I get in return is a dazzling baby smile, bearing glints of her new baby teeth.
My teeth chattering, I quickly dart into our apartment, pulling my coat tighter around myself, closing the door behind me thankfully. Shaking the snowflakes from my mane of curls, I let the coat slide off, hanging it as I push off my shoes. Where the hell is my favorite birthday girl?
Turning, a bit annoyed that she has not yet shrieked for my hugs and kisses, I turn halfway… and stop. I probably look like a dumb blonde but, really, could anyone blame me?
There, smack dab in the middle of the room stands the Christmas tree, all decked out in pine cones and other foliage, and I'm left giggling quietly in amazement. Hmm, so this is why Ryan's been so shifty-eyed the last two weeks… he's been setting this up! Oh my God, how had I forgotten the long standing tradition of tree-decorating?
Of course, last year I had been in labor but, hey, I had still gotten through half the tree before Ryan figured out why I kept swearing at the stockings every two minutes… hadn't even let me finish the dang tree, insisted that birthing a child in the middle of a living room was no good…
No, it doesn't matter that he's right.
I'm still on my euphoric cloud when my eyes settle on my two favorite people… sacked out on the couch. Well, Alicia's sacked out, small form sprawled out across his lap, and every two seconds, one of her hands will flex happily, slightly, and her eyelids will flicker with sweet little dream… probably of going on a trip with her favorite aunt Bianca.
Ryan, however, is watching me through narrowed blue eyes; grinning, I saunter over and my attempts at a full sashay of my hips gets a grin from him, and he pats the spot at his side. Even as I settle at his side, he chuckles quietly, setting a hand on Ali's chest when she jerks at the sudden rumble.
"Is my present that she spends tomorrow night with auntie Binks?" I giggle into his neck, and he chuckles again, albeit quieter... and then I feel the smooth package slid under my fingers. "For me?"
Just a smirk and a nod, another pat on Ali's sleeping chest.
Feeling ridiculously giddy, I slide my fingers between the two strips of paper; tear it around and off, shredding it as quietly as I can. Cracking open the box, it takes me a few minutes to figure out what it is that's laying there. When I do, I quickly scoop it out of the box, holding it up by the pink satin ribbon.
The ribbon, attached to the top of the pine cone, is neatly tied into a bow; another, thinner ribbon is threaded through the cone itself, offering flashes of baby pink when I turn it. Hanging from the top is another ribbon, paler and thicker, that reads "Baby's First Pine Cone."
"Oh my God…"
"Don't cry, Kendall, I don't want to drown on my daughter's first birthday… besides, Ali came up with it."
"Oh… she uh, ahem, she did, huh?" Hmm, is that doubt I detect in my voice? I decide to try again, attempting to fight my giggles. "And, ahem, how did she do this, sweetie?"
"Well…" He shifts her to a shoulder, stands and looks down on me, wriggling his eyebrows in quiet mockery… "Let's just say that you're no longer the only on who speaks the language of a mini-Kane."
Laughter was the only sound to ring through the house, and it was, in many ways, a very sweet sound. Tomorrow, they would head to the cabin to meet up with David and step-mommy Greenlee and baby Leora; Bianca and Maggie and little Miranda would meet them at Erica's and they'd have a true Kane Christmas… even if someone ended up being arrested or a long-lost husband or wife came back from the dead.
But tonight… this happy family was together for a first birthday and a first Christmas and, most important of all… a first pine cone.