The Clouds Opened for Us

After another stay abroad, they were back in New York for the holidays.

Serena had arrived first with the children. The family was rarely apart, they were spending their time between New York and Monte Carlo. Serena loved the easy going Southern Mediterranean way of life, but the return to New York, to their family and friends was always an occasion they looked forward to.

She had spoken to Blair; they were to meet up at Central Park. The ice rink was one of their children's favorite places. To feel the cold tingle of New York's crisp winter air bundled up in her favorite Marc Jacobs coat. Serena missed that.

"Mommy! Mommy! We're ready to go! Hurry, I want to skate." The two boys aged four and three were jumping up and down around their mother, excited with the prospect of going ice skating.

"Hunter, Connor, it's cold outside. Have you put on your jackets and gloves?"

"Yes mommy, look at us! I helped Connor," Hunter said proudly.

Serena who was busy putting a little hat on her daughter's head, nine months old Emily, turned around to see the beaming smile on her son's faces.

"Oh, yes you have! Will you help Mommy put Emily's bottle in her diaper bag?"

"Sure Mommy!" He ran to pick up the bottle.

"Is Daddy coming with us?" Connor asked looking at his mother.

"No honey, Daddy is still working, but he'll be here soon. I promise. But Audrey and Katherine will be there. Aren't you excited to see them?"

"Yes!" the little boy screamed.

"Mommy, here's Emily's bag. Can we go now?"

"Thank you baby. Let Mommy put Emily in her stroller and we're ready to go. Give it to me and hold Connor's hand, OK?"

***

Serena and Blair were sitting on the benches with Emily and Katherine in their strollers in front of them. Hunter, Connor and Audrey were all on the ice with Chuck and Eric. Eric was skating backwards slowly, so he could help and guide Connor, who was having a blast. He was taking little steps, as he and his uncle made their way around the rink. Chuck and Audrey were in the center of the rink, Audrey's curly locks floating in the hair. Her little laughs and screams could be heard. Hunter was skating all over the place.

"Mommy, Aunty Blair, look at me! I'm skating alone and I haven't fallen" he screamed excited.

"Yes baby, you're the best!" Serena smiled at her son.

"He's such a show-off! I wonder who he got that from…"

"You know it very well, don't remind me please…" Serena laughed as she touched the ring on her ring finger.

It was a gesture that didn't go unnoticed to Blair. "That ring is absolutely gorgeous S!" Blair said.

"I know, isn't it?! I was so shocked, when he put it on my finger. But now it fits and it's a part of me."

"You know that I was so proud of you. You two stood your ground and look at you two now. It all started in Paris… could it have been more perfect?"

"Not everything is perfect B, you know my Mom wasn't that difficult to convince, she knew that's what I wanted, she just wanted to see me happy and if I did screw things up, oh well, that's what Serena does, but his father… He's been trying so hard to win his respect and admiration yet things…" Serena sighed…

"Hey, I'm sure it's a matter of time, they adore you, they adore the children, they know their son is happy, soon they won't have any arguments left."

"I know, but he's trying so hard, looking for his father's approval and it's not there yet."

"It will sweetie. It will." Blair grabbed her friend's hand.

"Do you have any plans for Thursday?" Blair asked trying to change the subject. They would have time to talk later. She took a sip of her coffee. "If you have, cancel it!"

"I don't know. My mother has already showed me a list with all the events I have to attend. I haven't come home to hop from one event to the other."

"Who talked about events? I'm talking about lunches, shopping, massages, manis and pedis…"

"OK, OK, but have you forgotten we have kids? Should we just leave them at home with their fathers?" Serena asked amused.

"God no! Lily will be more than pleased to have all her grandchildren around her; I'll send Dorota for support. Besides, we tell the kids we'll be helping Santa buy their presents and they'll forget they need us in a minute. Believe me!"

Serena laughed again. "God yes! A break from these three little devils will do me a hell of a lot of good… But I have to check with Carter first, see what his plans are."

"Carter! Carter! Carter! He managed to take you and the children away from us, but this holiday you're all mine! We have an extensive program ahead of us."

"Blair! Still calling my name?"

Both women turned around to see the tall figure of Carter Baizen walking towards them.

"Carter!" Serena shouted smiling and in a fluid move she was hugging him. He swept her off her feet and kissed her.

"Why didn't you tell me you were arriving?"

"And ruin a surprise?" he asked touching her lips with his.

"OK, seeing you two all lovey dovey, with one another? Blair Waldorf is not ready for that! Never will!"

Serena laughed. She missed Blair when she was in Monte Carlo. Talking on the phone and sharing emails, was just not the same thing.

"Blair! Aren't we past this?"

"Too much history in common" she rolled her eyes.

"I can't blame you ladies for the good taste." Carter placed his hand on Serena's butt bringing her closer to him.

"I'm out of here; I'm going to look for my other daughter."

"When did you arrive?"

"Just a couple of hours ago. I went home and Jasper said you had come here with the children."

"I missed you, Hunter and Connor will be so happy. Come, let's see them."

"Wait, let me see Emily first."

Carter bent down next to his daughter's stroller. Emily was sleeping peacefully with her favorite doll looking after her.

He pushed her blond hair away to tenderly plant a kiss on her forehead.

"Hey sweetheart, Daddy missed you. Are you being a good girl?" Emily moved her little arms and legs but continued sleeping.

"Don't wake her up, she's teething, she's having a hard time. Come, Elyse will look after her for a while."

"Hunter! Connor! Look who's here!" Serena shouted at her two boys.

They both looked at their mother. Their eyes immediately lit up when they saw their father standing next to Serena.

"Daddy! You came!" Hunter was the first to skate to his father. Carter bent down and picked up his eldest son. At four years old, Hunter was a loving, mischievous little boy.

"Hey, big boy! How's it going?" Carter asked, as he smiled and kissed his son.

"Fine. Will you skate with me now? I drew you a picture of an airplane."

"That's fantastic. I can't wait to see it. We'll skate together tomorrow, OK? These clothes aren't very good to skate in."

"Daddy!"

"Connor! Come here little boy. You skate like a champ", Carter picked up his other son and kissed him too.

Serena watched the three men in her life. She couldn't help but smile.

Carter put Hunter and Connor down. Both boys went back to the rink.

"Hey! What a surprise to see you. How are you?" Eric asked his brother-in-law.

Carter gave him a quick hug.

"Eric! I'm fine, thanks. Looks like you were having a good time out there."

"Well, yeah. But Connor, that boy has too much energy. I'm going back out there."

"Hi Mommy! Hi Daddy!" Hunteryelled to Serena and Carter. He had just skated past them.

Serena waved back at her son. "Hi Baby!"

Eric and Connor were coming around again. They had been on the ice for almost an hour now. Eric stopped.

"Serena, I think that's enough for him."

Carter laughed. "OK Eric, I think that's enough for you. Thank you for taking care of him. Come on, little man." Carter carefully picked up Connor.

"Mommy, I want to skate some more." Connor complained.

"I think you had enough for one day. We'll be back a few times, I promise. Besides, we're going to have hot chocolate with Aunt Blair, Uncle Eric, Uncle Chuck, Audrey, Katherine, remember?" Serena reminded him.

"And Daddy and Emily?" Connor asked.

"Yes. Aren't you happy?"

"Yes, can I have waffles too? Emily likes waffles too."

"No she doesn't honey, she's too young to have waffles."

Serena began to unlace Connor's little skates. She looked at his face. His little cheeks and nose were red. She gave him a kiss.

"Baby, your nose is cold! And red!" Serena said laughing.

Hunter laughed, too. "Just like Rudolph's?"

"Yes, just like Rudolph's."

Carter, Chuck and Blair all came with Hunter and Audrey.

Carter sat Hunter next to his Mother.

"These little buddies are hungry, aren't they?" Blair asked.

"Yes!" Hunter, Audrey and Connor shouted. Their mothers helped them with the skates.

Once his skates were off, Serena began to rub Hunter's little feet. "Do they hurt? Are they tired?"

"No, Mommy. They feel fine. Did you see me skate?! I only fell once!" Hunter said, with pride in his voice.

"I sure did! You did really well. I bet you can skate better than Mommy, now."

Hunter tilted his head a little bit, while Serena was putting on his shoes.

"Daddy said he's going to teach you. He said you're much better in the water."

Serena laughed. "He said that? We'll see…"

"OK, everybody's ready?" Chuck asked.

"Yeeeeeeeeeeeeeees" all the little ones answered in unison.

"So, let's go! If I don't eat a waffle soon I'll start eating this beautiful little girl here!" Chuck said picking up Audrey that was laughing hysterically when her father started faking eating her belly.

"Hunter, don't walk too fast and make sure to hold your brother's hand."

"Yes daddy."

"How long will it last until the start fighting?" Carter asked Serena who had Emily tucked in the crook of her arm, her little feet kicking around.

Serena laughed: "I know! Let's enjoy it while it lasts." The feeling of his warm strong hand around her waist made her feel secure. She had missed him.