Hope you liked part 1. It was sappier than I usually do, but I couldn't help it---I'd just seen like forty thousand "Every kiss begins with Kay" commercials. =) Here is the second oneshot! This one is Christmas Eve, 1943. Tasha (see "Somewhere Down This Road") is six, and their son is one. (I should explain him, since I haven't before: Their second and last child, in my mind, would be born when Tasha is five. His name is Mikhail---partially because of the general in "Somewhere Down This Road,"---but they call him Mikey, or later Mike. I know what you're thinking---why not name him Nicholas, Alexei, Vladimir, etc.? It's simple. It wouldn't be right to choose just one of her relatives to name him after, and it'd be depressing. And Vlad would say thanks but no thanks, you don't need to do that, make your own desicion, more or less. It would be confusing. So, we get Mikhail, who by the way would be the spitting image of his dad, just like Tasha is of Anya. I think that covers it.) Anyway (deep breath). :D Read on, enjoy, please review, and Merry Christmas/Happy Holidays from CV. Peace and love.
Her wavy, brownish-red locks grazed the striped paper as she pressed her ear to the top of the package. She didn't hear any purring, neighing, or barking---so it's not a kitty, a puppy, or a pony, she thought.
She heard someone clear their throat behind her, and turned around, startled. Her father stood against the doorframe, arms folded, an amused look on his face.
"Hi daddy," Tasha said innocently, and casually stepped away from the little pile of presents.
Dimitri shook his head. "No way, missy. Don't even try the 'I-didn't-do-it' face with me. I invented the 'I-didn't-do-it' face."
"I just wanted to make sure it wasn't a puppy," the little girl earnestly assured.
Dimitri tried not to wince. Somewhere in the house, somewhere close, he could have sworn Pooka was laughing maniacally. "Trust me. It's not a puppy." He handed his daughter the cookie that had been in his other hand, surprised that she hadn't noticed it yet. It was Christmas Eve, he reasoned. Her kid-radar must have been preoccupied. "Here."
Tasha knew better than to question being given a cookie at eleven-o-clock---she couldn't have slept anyway, and it wasn't the first time she'd shared illegal baked goods with her father past bedtime. "Thanks, daddy!"
"So you couldn't sleep, huh, kiddo?"
She shook her head and swallowed. "Nuh-uh. Maybe if I was real quiet, I could see Santa!"
"I bet." Dimitri sat down on the sofa so he was at eye-level with her. "You know what?"
"What?" Tasha asked through a mouthful of cookie.
"I used to do the same exact thing."
"Yep. I remember, the year I was nine, I waited till everyone was asleep, and I snuck down, real quiet, and just waited to see something happen. Except, the presents back then weren't for me. And the tree made this one look like a toothpick."
"Really?" Tasha breathed, brushing the specks of evidence from her nightgown.
"Oh yeah, absolutely."
At that moment, they were both startled to see the light flick on, and both looked up. Anya stood at the base of the stairs, and this time she was the one with her arms folded and an amused look on her face.
"What happened to 'not a creature was stirring?'" she said with a grin.
Dimitri looked sheepish. He exchanged a glance with Tasha. "We heard a noise, so we figured we'd check it out. Right, Tash?"
"Yes," the little girl nodded.
Anya just shook her head. I can't keep either one of you asleep, can I. "Uh-huh," she said sarcastically. "They're going to have to change that story to 'every creature was stirring' or 'not a creature was stirring but Butch Cassidy and the Littlest Bandit.'"
"I'm assuming I'm not the second one," Dimitri confirmed.
"And you gave her a cookie, didn't you?"
"How..." Dimitri could only gape at her. Anya, her smile widening, only raised an eyebrow.
"Mama!" Tasha interjected. "Did you ever see Santa?"
"Well, sure I did, wasn't Grandpa Vlad just here yesterday?"
Tasha rolled her cerulean eyes. "Mamaaaaa. You're silly."
Dimitri saw an opening, and there had never been a decent chance he didn't take. "Come on, Anya, what do you say? Go get Mikey, we'll all watch the snow for a while. Maybe let the kids open a g - i - f - t early."
Anya pondered the thought a moment. "It is beautiful tonight." She took in the sweet, pleading face of her six-year-old daughter and the mock puppy-dog face on her husband. "All right," she conceded, and headed back up the stairs, hearing Tasha's muffled whispers of excitement behind her. When she returned, she held her one-year-old son, still sound asleep, cradled in her arms.
"Merry Christmas, Mikey," Tasha whispered, and blew a kiss to her little brother.
"Come on. Let's go to the window by the tree. Tasha, you can open a present now if you like---just save the rest for tomorrow."
"Yay!" She remembered, after that, that the baby was asleep, and repeated in a whisper, "Yay!" before carefully selecting a gift.
Dimitri smiled, leaned closer to Anya's ear, and whispered, "I think the sugar's setting in."
Anya returned both the smile and the whisper. "Just imagine what we'll have on our hands tomorrow morning."
The faint crackling sound of wrapping paper mingled in the quiet air with the faint crackling sound of the fire. Outside, fluffy, soft flakes of a perfect new snow drifted silently, making their way through the sky, becoming a blanket of white for the day ahead.