A/N: Yes, I know I haven't updated in ages. Almost quite literally. I've got so much stuff going on in my life right now, but with the winter holiday from my university, I've suddenly found myself with time on my hands. Seeing if anybody is still out there reading...
The first thing Lyla heard the next morning was the heavy breathing of someone sleeping beside her. She opened her eyes, squinting from the morning sun that flooded in the windows. It took her a few moments to take in her surroundings and realize that the arm protectively draped over her torso was Louis's. After a momentary panic, she let out a sigh of relief that she was fully clothed and he was too. But it would be awkward for Evan to find his parents sleeping in the same bed after one night of being reunited.
Failing to extricate herself gracefully from his arms, Lyla fell with a "thump" to the hardwood floor, crying out in alarm. Louis woke with a start, peering over the edge of the couch, searching for the source of the sound, and then laughed to see Lyla sprawled on the floor.
Both heard a giggle, and turned to the doorway to find an eleven year old boy watching the pair with a bemused expression. It was still strange for Lyla to hear her mind identify the beautiful child with Louis' eyes as her son, even after months of looking at his picture. Here he was, living and breathing, with little eyes that blinked and a mouth that had a sing-song voice and an innocent smile.
Louis cleared his throat, and interrupted Lyla from her daydream.
"Oh." She gathered herself and stood up, straightening last night's clothes. "I guess you'll be needing breakfast. What do you like?"
August paused for a moment, almost confused about the implications of the question. "I'm not sure what I like." At the children's home, there had been only one option: warm cereal. When he was living in the abandoned concert hall with the Wizard, breakfast was sometimes ignored and other times it was cold pizza or leftovers from the night before. He had never been given the choice before.
Louis let out a low whistle. "A kid's gotta have a favorite breakfast. It's the most important meal of the day!" He grinned, letting August know he was joking around with him. "I guess we'll just have to try all of the options until we find the right one. This morning, we'll start with french toast; it was me mam's specialty back home."
Lyla smiled warmly. "Mine too," she stated quietly, remembering the few recollections of her mother, mostly of her making breakfast for her and her father on Sunday mornings after church. It Lyla's favorite day of the week, because her mother would always get dressed up to play cello for the church choir, and sometimes Lyla got to dress up too.
She sobered up and removed herself from her recollections when she realized she didn't even know if Louis was religious, although she could assume he was some sort of Protestant. And what of their son? He probably hadn't been baptized; he had spent his entire life in the care of the state. There were so many things she hadn't even considered: so many questions, so many things to discuss. It was overwhelming.
Louis' voice snapped her out of her trance, and the sizzling of the french toast cooking on the pan brought her back to the kitchen in her Washington Square apartment. "Do you have cinnamon?" He asked, his eyes filled with a genuine concern for Lyla's dazed expression.
"What?" She asked, genuinely confused. After all, what did religion and spices have to do with one another?
"Cinnamon. For the french toast. Do you have any?"
Lyla laughed at the request. "Of course. In the third cabinet over the sink." She paused for a moment as he retrieved it from her spice cabinet. "Are you religious Louis?"
He turned from the stove and grinned at her. His crooked smile sent shivers down her spine every time; would he ever know how that affected her? "In the conventional way, yeah. My parents raised me and me brothers like any other Irish-Catholics, but it didn't really stick durin' those early years without 'em. A few years ago I started goin' again ev'ry Sunday. I can't say that God hasn't tested me faith though; I've had me doubts before. Why do you ask?"
She shrugged. "I was thinking about how my mother would make breakfast for my father and I before church every Sunday. And then I realized how little I really know about you."
Louis stepped forward and kissed her on the cheek. The place where his lips touched burned for a few seconds afterwards and her pulse quickened only slightly. "We'll get to know each other, bit by bit. I can promise you that." He said, stepping back again and looking her square in the eyes. She smiled back at him weakly.
August walked into the kitchen sniffing the air. "What's that smell?" he asked, just as the smoke detector began sounding, its squeal unable to drown out Louis cussing over their burned breakfast.
"Shite!" He said again, dousing the burned pan with cold water, causing even more smoke to fill the kitchen.
Over the high beeping of the smoke detector, Lyla suggested breakfast at the diner instead.
It was no later than noon on Monday when the phone rang in Lyla's apartment. Lyla was at the grocery store, but Louis, who had set up camp in the living room, was just stepping out of the shower when August handed him the phone. "It's Mr. Jeffries."
They would have to come in and consent to DNA testing, but a judge had granted Lyla and Louis custody of August until further notice. Since they were not together, the final living arrangements would be set during a court date after the tests. Until then, they could work out living arrangements however they so pleased.
Lyla was overjoyed to hear the news when she returned from shopping. "What do we do now?" she asked.
Louis shrugged. "I guess we should see about getting him back into classes at that school of yours."
"You mean Julliard." She corrected him.
He chuckled. "Yeah. Julliard. And what about our living situation? I guess I should find me a hotel or something. Can't sleep on a couch much longer 'fore me back gives out."
"Well," Lyla paused for a significant moment, clearly thinking carefully over what she was about to say. "I think it might be important to consider a more permanent arrangement—we should talk about our plans for the future before making any decisions." She chewed her lip nervously, carefully watching Louis' reaction to this suggestion.
He exhaled loudly. "Yeah, that's a bit important." He shifted his weight between both feet, causing the floorboards to creak impatiently. "Had you planned to return to Chicago? I could easily get a transfer anywhere." He had been silently weighing the options for two days now, although he dared not admit that.
Lyla had been exhausting herself with thoughts of the future as well. She honestly felt no guilt leaving Chicago behind, save for her students, but they would move on if they hadn't already. And Lizzie was moving with her husband to San Francisco anyway, so it would be awfully lonely without her best friend in Chicago.
"Someone has already taken over my students in Chicago," she said. "I could get a position anywhere, if you wanted, or here at Julliard, if we wanted to keep August enrolled there."
Louis took a deep breath before diving into his proposal.
"Well, I think it should ultimately be up to the kid, but I've been researchin' music schools for young kids like him the past few days, and I found a really prestigious one in San Francisco. I already have a decent sized apartment there- it's got a guest room and an office we could make into another bedroom. And he'd have family there: my brothers an' their families are all in the area. We could get a fresh start there, Lyla, an honest-to-God blank slate."
His eyes searched Lyla's as he finished his impassioned pitch, and Lyla hesitantly smiled. She would miss this city, where she had gone to school, where she had met Louis, where she had lost her son and found him again. But New York held so many memories-- and not all of them good. They could use a fresh start. Somewhere where August would have family. And Lizzie would be there too.
"Well, if it's what August wants… then I think I'd like that very much."