On the last chapter of How To Love, I said that I would probably post this next weekend, but I found some time yesterday and today to put it together. So I decided to post it early! Merry (early) Christmas, everyone!
Disclaimer: I don't own Big Time Rush
It has been nine months since James's life fell apart. Nine months since his wife, Jenna, died after giving birth to their daughter. Mackenzie Elizabeth Diamond is his whole world, but life just isn't the same without his wife. Being a single parent is so hard. He doesn't feel like fun loving James Diamond anymore. Shortly after Jenna's death, Big Time Rush broke up and they all moved back to LA. Their friendship couldn't withstand James's depression. For the first couple weeks, James mostly laid around in someone's arms because he would get so distraught and he would break down. Now James, Kendall, Carlos, and Logan have all went their separate ways.
Kendall is the assistant coach for a little league hockey team. James doesn't know what Carlos is doing, but it's probably something cool. Logan is in medical school. What is James doing? Working at the supermarket on minimum wage, living in a run down apartment on a rather rough side of town. Chris, James's sister in law, moved to Grand Marais with him, since staying in LA was too hard for her. Besides, she didn't want James to be completely alone in raising little Kenzie. Still, life hasn't turned out the way James wanted.
Today is Christmas. Kenzie's very first Christmas. James should be happy on a day like this, but he's not. He's celebrating Christmas without Jenna. Chris and his mom are going to be here, but Jenna won't be. He can't stand that fact. All he wants is to be able to hold Jenna in his arms and kiss her like he use to. He doesn't know how he's going to get through the day. But he has to fake happiness. He can't be a miserable wreck on Kenzie's first Christmas. His beautiful little princess deserves to have fun, so James needs to suck it up and put on a happy face. After a while, James stopped being so emotional about Jenna's death. If he breaks down, he's usually by himself.
Now he's sitting on the couch with his knees pulled to his chest, wearing his favorite holiday pajamas and his glasses. He's trembling because he has spent the past hour crying like a baby, tear stains on his cheeks. He misses Jenna, he misses his friends, he misses his career, he just misses his old life. He has so many responsibilities now. He never has time for himself anymore. He's so tired these days. For the first few months of Kenzie's life, James was waking up two or three times a night because the baby would start crying.
James looks at Chris, who is looking at him with concern. He gives her a weak smile and wipes his cheeks. He sighs as Chris sits on the couch and rubs his knee, reaching for his hand. Needing some comfort, he scoots closer to her and rests his head on her shoulder. It seems like his mom and Chris are the only two people he still has. His friends are living their own lives and James wants nothing to do with his dad. He feels so alone. He's a single parent and he's scared. He is so terrified and he doesn't know what to do. He loves Kenzie, though. He loves his baby girl so much. Her beautiful smile, her hazel eyes, her reddish brown hair, her laugh. He loves everything about her.
"You should be in bed." Chris says, running her fingers through his hair. "You look exhausted."
"How could you tell?" James asks her.
"Your eyes." Chris says, gently touching the circles under his eyes with her thumb.
"Chris, I couldn't sleep." James sighs, snuggling up to her. "I just couldn't."
"I know that you're still struggling, but you need to take care of yourself." Chris says softly. "You're not doing Kenzie any good by not getting enough sleep. Besides, your mom is going to be here in a few hours and I don't think she'll be happy to see her son looking so worn down. She worries about you enough as it is. All you ever do is work, cook, clean, and take care of Kenzie. You never do anything for yourself anymore."
"You don't understand." James whispers. "Life just...It's not the same anymore."
"I know." Chris says sympathetically, playing with his bangs. "Hey, go back to bed."
She places a tender kiss on his forehead, then helps him up. She leads him back to his room and lets him lay down before she pulls the covers over his tired body. Once he is all tucked in, he's out like a light. Chris kisses his cheek, then approaches Kenzie's crib. The sweet baby girl is still fast asleep. Chris is relieved because James really needs to get some rest. The poor guy is so exhausted.
She gives James one last look, the turns the light off.
At eleven thirty, James is still asleep, while Chris is awake with Kenzie. She has Kenzie dressed in a red Christmas dress, a little Christmas tree printed on the front. James's mom bought it and sent it to them. Chris doesn't know why James doesn't accept more financial help from his mom. Brooke Diamond offered to help them buy a nice house and car, but James turned down the offer. He wants to be financially independent now that he's a parent, but neither Chris or Brooke agrees with that way of thinking. He may be a parent now, but he can't do everything himself.
"You look so pretty, Kenzie!" Chris coos to the little girl on the living room floor. "Hey, I'm gonna wake up your daddy."
She picks Kenzie up and puts her in the playpen, the walks out of the living room and around the corner, skipping down the small hallway. She peeks into James's room, smiling when she sees James fast asleep. She sits on the edge of the bed and rubs his arm, happy that he finally got some rest. James truly does his best when it comes to Kenzie, but Chris knows that it gets stressful. If she could, she would gladly take away the pain of Jenna's death. Sometimes she thinks that James stays so busy because he's trying to keep his mind off Jenna. Knowing him, he'll probably want to do all the Christmas cooking. Chris and Brooke won't let him, though. They've already agreed that James needs a break. He's going to relax whether he wants to or not.
"Merry Christmas." She coos.
"Hmm?" James murmurs. "Hey."
"You need to get up." Chris smiles. patting his cheek. "I think Kenzie would like to celebrate Christmas with her daddy."
"Kay." James yawns, getting up. He grabs his favorite black comb from the bedside table and runs it through his hair, then sits it back down and follows Chris out of the room. They walk to the living room and when James sees Kenzie standing up in her play pen, he gets a huge smile on his face.
"Hi, baby girl." He coos, picking her up. He kisses her cheek and smiles as she babbles incoherently, letting his nose touch hers. His life may not be easy, but he has his little girl. Even though things can get stressful, Kenzie makes it all worthwhile. James doesn't know what he would do if he didn't have Kenzie. She makes it easier for him to cope with losing Jenna, since he can say that he can something good out of such a horrible situation.
"Aaaaah!" Kenzie exclaims, touching his face.
"It's your very first Christmas." James smiles. "And we're gonna celebrate with a little party. Just you, me, Auntie Chrissie, and Grandma."
He gently taps her nose and carries her to the kitchen, looking for the baby formula. He finds it next to the sink and starts feeding his very hungry baby girl. He loves being a dad. He just wishes that he wasn't single. If he could have anything for Christmas, he would ask to have Jenna back. All he wants is to have Jenna back in his life, so they could raise Kenzie together. Jenna would have been an amazing mom. She was caring, sweet, nurturing, and she loved kids. When she was pregnant, she had already developed a bond with their unborn baby. And she never even got to hold the child.
"In a minute, I'm going to start cooking the Christmas dinner."
"Actually, your mom and I are gonna take care of that." Chris tells him.
"Chris, I can do it." James argues.
"Maybe you can, but you're not going to." Chris smirks. "You work hard enough. It's Christmas and you need to relax. After your mom gets here, you should go for a walk."
"Speaking of your mom." Chris says, walking to the front door. James listens as the door opens and his mom's excited voice rings throughout the apartment. She owns a cosmetics company and everyone that knows that Diamond family is always so surprised when they hear about James's job and living arrangement. Everyone expects the son of Brooke Diamond to be living in a mansion with five cars and a special woman in his life. That's stuff that mattered to him when he was a teenager, but he's a grown man now. None of that stuff matters to him anymore.
"Where's James? I need to see him now." Brooke says eagerly.
"He's in the kitchen." Chris laughs.
"Jay!" Brooke exclaims, pulling her son into a hug. "How have you been? Oh, baby, you look tired. And thin! Have you been getting enough sleep? Have you been eating? James David Diamond, you better be taking care of yourself like you promised. Maybe you should cut back your work hours. And maybe get a babysitter for Kenzie."
"Mom! Mom, I'm fine." James laughs, sitting Kenzie's empty bottle down the counter.
"I'm just worried about you." Brooke says, rubbing Kenzie's back.
"Jay, go for a walk." Chris says, taking Kenzie from her brother in law.
"Fine." James sighs, walking to his room to get dressed.
Five minutes later, he comes back to the living room. He is dressed in jeans, a grey T shirt, a blue winter coat, a matching pull over hat, and his glasses. He walks over to Chris and gives Kenzie a kiss, laughing when she makes a cute baby noise. He talks to her in a baby voice, then gives Chris and his mom a hug. Then he leaves the kitchen and walks out the front door.
"How has he been doing?" Brooke asks once the door is closed.
"Okay, I guess." Chris sighs. "But I found him in the living room at two thirty this morning and he looked like he had been crying. I guess he's still struggling. He took Jenna's death pretty hard. And the thing that worries me is that he's always working or taking care of Kenzie. I mean, he's suppose to do that, but he never does anything for himself. Last month, he was sick and he should have been resting, but everytime Kenzie cried, he would get up and tend to her. He pushes himself too hard but when I tell him that, he doesn't listen."
"He has always been kind of stubborn." Brooke says. "This doesn't surprise me. It's just a bit worrisome because he's only twenty two but he reminds me of someone in their forties. He acts too old for his age. I miss my crazy, fun loving little boy. I know he's trying to be a good father to Kenzie, but he really does need to think about himself too. How can he take care of someone else if he doesn't take care of himself?"
"That's what I keep telling him." Chris says, playing with Kenzie's hair.
"Honestly, I wish he would have let me pay for a car and a place for you three to stay, but he didn't want to sponge off of me. He wouldn't even have to work if he would let me help him."
"I know." Chris agrees. "Hey, let's get started on the cooking."
She sits Kenzie on the floor and grabs all the supplies they need, then they begin preparing a delicious Christmas meal.
Winter is Minnesota is cold. The ground is filled with snow and everyone is dressed in their winter clothes. As James walks along the sidewalk, he looks at families playing outside with their children. When Kenzie's a little older, he'll be doing that with her. They'll have snowball fights, build snowmen, and laugh their butts off. If Jenna were alive, she would probably tackle James to the floor and laugh at him, then give him a kiss when he pretends to be upset. They were one of those couples that were very playful and loving.
He glares as he walks by Kendall Knight's house. Kendall was the leader in Big Time Rush, giving pep talks when anything went wrong. James is so suprised that Kendall would actually abandon him in his time of need. When his parents divorced and he needed comfort, Kendall was there for him. Why not now? The guys have been around maybe three times since they all moved back to Minnesota, then they stopped. The group drifted apart and their friendship was over. When James broke down, Chris was all he had. Sometimes he didn't want to bother her but he couldn't possibly call the guys, so he would lock himself in his room and call his mom, who was more than happy to listen as he cried about how much he misses Jenna.
"Um, Mrs. Majekowski, do you need help with that?" He asks the eldery woman, who is trying to shovel snow off the driveway.
"Yes, I do." She says, handing a shovel to him. He starts shoveling snow, tossing it onto the already snow covered grass. He does this for twenty minutes until he hears a car door opening and closing. He looks toward Kendall's house and sees him and his little sister Katie getting out of the car. James frowns when he sees sixteen year old Katie. She looks pale and a little on the thin side. But James ignores this concern. It's probably nothing to worry about. He just hopes that Kendall doesn't decide to come over here.
James watches as Kendall glances at them, tells Katie something, and walks over to them. James clenches his jaw and calmly shovels snow, desperately trying to ignore his ex best friend.
"You two look like you could use some help." Kendall says, taking Mrs. Majekowski's shovel from her.
"Thank you." The woman tells him.
Occasionally, James and Kendall glance at each other. Finally, James can't take it anymore and he gently puts the shovel down.
"Mrs. Majekowski, I really need to be getting home, but I think he can take it from here." James says before walking back to the side walk. If he's going to run into ex friends on this walk, he's going home. He doesnt want to be in a bad mood on his daughter's first Christmas. He's going to make this day special for her. He doesn't want to ruin it by getting cranky.
He's relieved when he gets home. He enters the apartment complex and walks down the hall to the elevators. He presses the second floor button and leans back against the wall, closing his eyes. He can understand why Chris and his mom get so worried. He feels very tired, but he has to put Kenzie's needs first. He has responsibilities and he couldn't take a nap even if he wanted to.
He walks down the hallway until he arrives at apartment 215, unlocking the door and walking outside.
"Jay, what are you doing back so soon?" Chris asks him.
"I missed being home." James smiles, picking Kenzie up. He kisses her cheek and hugs her gently, walking to the living room. He collapses onto the couch and bounces Kenzie on his lap. She loves when he does that. She's a daddy's girl and loves when James plays with her. And she loves when he gives her baths and puts her to bed. They're just very close.
"Christmas dinner is gonna be really yummy." He says, kissing her nose.
"I don't know what that means, but okay." He chuckles. His smile fades when he sees Jenna's old scrapbook on the coffee table. When James was up earlier this morning, he was looking at it. Scrapbooking was one of her many hobbies. This one is all about her and James. It has her favorite pictures of them.
James sniffles as he grabs the scrapbook, opening it to the first page. It's just one picture with things Jenna write about James. The picture was taken at Rocque Records. James is sitting on the couch in the lobby and Jenna is sitting on his lap with her arm wrapped around his shoulders. Things like "My guy" and I heart James" surround the picture, making the young father's eyes water. He knew Jenna loved him and he loved her, which is funny because he use to be a player. Then he met Jenna and he seriously fell for her, so he changed his ways.
"Honey? Are you okay?" Brooke's concerned voice whispers. James feels her hand on his shoulder, but he ignores her and turns the page of the scrapbook. The picture of him and Jenna at the zoo brings back a lot of memories. She is on his back, getting a piggyback ride from her boyfriend. James remembers them going to the grizzly bear exhibit and the bear stood up on his hind legs and Jenna got scared.
"Mom, I'm fine." James insists, closing the scrapbook.
"Put Kenzie down for a minute." Brooke says, taking the little girl and sitting her on the floor. She wraps arm around James's shoulder and pulls him closer, kissing the top of his head.
"Mom, I'm okay." James insists.
"You're not a very good liar, are you?" Brooke says, playing with his hair. "Sweetie, why won't you talk to me or Chris? I know you've been having a hard time and you need to let people in."
"I don't know why people keep saying that." James mumbles.
"Because we're worried about you." Brooke tells him, placing a soft kiss on his forehead.
They're worried about him. He doesn't need people worrying about him. It was okay a few months ago when he was laying on his bed, crying his eyes out, but now he's okay and he doesn't need anyone's concern. He thinks that he and Kenzie are doing quite well. James has Chris to help him. When he's at work, Chris babysits, so he doesn't have to hire some stranger to watch his baby girl. He doesn't understand why everyone is so obsessed with his life. Even his dad called him and said that he and Brooke are worried about James. He has moved on from Jenna and as much as he misses her, he knows that she's not coming back. He can handle it. He'll be okay.
"Don't." James whispers, pulling away from the hug. He gets up and walks out of the living room. He quickly walks down the hallway and to his bedroom, closing the door behind him. He collapses onto his bed and buries his face in the pillow, letting tears soak the material. His sobs are silent at first, but soon become audible.
"Brooke, what happened?" Chris asks worriedly.
"He was looking at Jenna's scrapbook." Brooke says, picking Kenzie up.
"Could you watch the turkey?" Chris asks her. "I'm gonna talk to him."
She walks to James's room and presses her ear against the door, flinching when she hears his cries. Reluctantly, she turns the doorknob and steps into the small bedroom. James is laying face down on his bed, sobbing uncontrollably. Every time this happens, Chris's heart breaks in two. She doesn't know how long it'll be before James's heart is mended.
"Hey." She whispers, sitting next to him. "Jay, it's okay."
James turns his head so he's sort of looking at her. She sighs when she sees his puffy eyes, flushed face, and wet cheeks. The poor guy is in serious need of some comfort, so Chris is going to give it to him like she always does. She nudges him slightly and when he moves over, she lays next to him. She wipes his tears away with her thumb, pushing his bangs away from his forehead. It kills her to see him upset, but he needs to let it out.
"You're an amazing dad, you know that? Jenna would be so proud of you." She whispers, cupping his cheek with her hand. "Kenzie is so lucky to have a daddy that loves her so much and would do anything for her."
"Thanks." James says softly.
"Why don't you and Kenzie have a little playtime while your mom and I make dinner?" Chris suggests.
"Kay." James smiles weakly.
"Look at the teddy bear, Kenzie!" James coos, showing his daughter the brown bear. Kenzie smiles as James hands it to her, putting the bear's ear in her mouth. She recently started teething and she will chew on anything, including her stuffed animals. James loves having daddy/daughter playtime. It's an important part of their daily routine. Kenzie doesn't like when James's misses their playtime together, so he tries to avoid doing that.
"And what about the kitty?" James grins, showing her another stuffed animal. "Hey, you've even got a toy telephone! And a toy keyboard. Daddy might be able to teach you some pretty awesome tunes one of these days. When you get a little older, you could even take piano lessons! That sounds fun, doesn't it?"
"Jay, let her decide what she wants to do." Chris laughs.
"I was just making a suggestion." James smiles, kissing Kenzie's cheek. "She can do whatever she wants. Except for cheerleading. I don't want any boys chasing after my little princess."
"Jay, whether you tell her she can date or not, she's gonna do it." Brooke warns.
"Thanks for the reassurance, mom." James says sarcastically.
"Now if you'll excuse you, we've got a turkey to cook." Chris says, ruffling his hair before walking back to the kitchen.
Three hours later, the Christmas dinner has been prepared and everyone is sitting at the dining table. Turkey, cranberry sauce, sweet potatoes, and some sweet tea are sitting in front of them. Except for Kenzie, who gets to enjoy some milk and baby food. She can't eat solids yet. James alternates between eating his own meal and feeding Kenzie.
"Sweetie, what did you get Kenzie?" Brooke asks her son.
"You'll find out after dinner." James smiles, taking another bite of the turkey.
"You three are going to love your gifts from me." Chris says proudly.
"You know, I think Kenzie has been enjoying her first Christmas." Brooke says, looking at her granddaughter. "It seems like yesterday that James was calling me, saying that Jenna was having the baby. I flew out to LA and we waited in the waiting room for who knows how long. And Jay, you can tell me if you don't want to talk about this."
"It's okay." James says softly.
"Okay." Brooke says slowly. "Anyway, I remember seeing you walk out of the delivery room and something just didn't seem right. You weren't really happy like most new parents are. Kendall asked you what was wrong and you broke down in his arms. I was so terrified and when you told us what had happened, I didn't know what to think. You had lost your life, Chris lost her sister, and I lost my daughter in law. That was a painful day for all of us, but she's watching over us. She would want us to have a nice Christmas together as a family."
"Your mom is right." Chris says, rubbing James's arm.
"Yeah." James smiles, nodding. They jump when they hear something fall. They look at the floor and see that Kenzie knocked her bottle over, milk spilling all over the floor. Kenzie whimpers, but Brooke manages to console her as James grabs a cloth from the kitchen. He gets on his knees and starts to clean it up, when Chris stops him. Forcing him to get back in his chair, she takes the cloth and wipes the mess herself. She giggles and tickles Kenzie's tummy, then goes to the kitchen to retrieve some more milk for the still hungry baby girl.
"Gosh, Kenzie, you're so messy." James says, removing his daughter from her high chair. "Why are you so messy?"
Kenzie chews on her fingers and looks at James with innocent eyes, making him smile softly.
"I love you, baby." He says, kissing her forehead.
Brooke watches her son with pride. Her husband was never a real good father to their son, but James isn't letting that affect how he raises his own child. He's a much better father than his dad ever was. Samuel Diamond only cared about partying and having a good time, but James has his priorities in order. Kenzie is the most important thing in his life. He loves his daughter and Brooke couldn't be more proud of him.
It's time to open presents! James, Chris, Kenzie, and Brooke sit on the living room floor next to the tree, eager to start opening their gifts. It has already decided that Kenzie's presents will be opened first, since this is such a special day for her. James grabs his present to Kenzie first and smiles at the baby girl.
"You're gonna love what I got you." He says, assisting her in opening the present. It turns out to be a baby doll in a pretty pink dress. "Look at this, Kenzie! It's a baby, just like you!"
"Okay, my turn!" Chris says excitedly, handing a present to Kenzie. James once again helps her open it, finding a stuffed Winnie The Poo.
"And here is my present for the beautiful baby girl." Brooke says, handing a green and red striped bag to James.
James helps Kenzie pull the white paper out of it and he lifts a sparkly purple dress out of the bag. This is his mom's glamour side talking. She loves buying clothes, whether it be for herself or someone else. This dress will be cute for special occasions, but he doesn't know if she'll be able to wear it just anywhere. When he takes her to the supermarket with him, he usually dresses her in jeans and a T shirt.
"And I want to give Kenzie's daddy something special too." Brooke says, handing a box to James. He smiles and unwraps it, then lifts the top of it. A picture frame, face down, is inside. James thought she would have gotten him a suit or something. He picks the picture frame up and turns it around, his eyes filling with tears when he sees the picture. It was taken a week before James and Jenna's wedding. They were buying stuff for their new apartment at the Palm Woods and his mom came to LA, so she joined them for the trip. They went to some home and gardening store. In the picture, they're sitting in a cushion swing and James had his arm wrapped around Jenna's shoulders.
"Wow, thanks." He says, touching picture Jenna's face.
"I found this picture with my other stuff and I decided to get it framed for you." Brooke says, rubbing his back.
"Really, I love it." James smiles weakly.
"Brooke, you're staying overnight, aren't you?" Chris asks.
"Of course." Brooke says, playing with her son's hair.
"Okay, let's get back to the presents." James says, pulling Kenzie onto his lap.
Around seven thirty, Kenzie starts getting fussy, so James decides that it's time for her to go to bed. So he gives her a bath and puts her in the white Christmas onesie that he bought a couple weeks ago. For the most part, James feels good about Kenzie's first Christmas, but his heart still aches for Jenna. If he could just hold her in his arms one more time, he would be satisfied. It would be better if she could come back and be with him and Kenzie, but he knows that it's not likely.
"We wish you a Merry Christmas! We wish you a Merry Christmas! We wish you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!" James sings as he rocks Kenzie in his arms. His sweet little angel is now fast asleep, but he's not ready to put her back in the crib. So he sits in the rocking chair and keeps humming softly.
"You had a good Christmas, didn't you?" He says sweetly. "You got to spend the day with people that love you. That's great, isn't it? You, me, Chris, and Grandma are a family, baby girl. Family always sticks together. I may not have as many friends as I use to have, but I have my family, especially you. You mean so much to me, baby. Strangely enough, the days when I could still do whatever I wanted don't even matter anymore. I don't care because I love taking care of you. That's what I want to do with my life. I don't care about being famous or having a girlfriend. I have you, princess."
"Jay, why don't we watch a Christmas movie together?" Chris says from the doorway.
"I'll be there in a minute." James says as he carries Kenzie to her crib. He chuckles and kisses her forehead, then lays her down in the crib and pulls the blanket over her tiny body.
"Come on!" Chris laughs as she turns the light off. She grabs his hand and drags him to the living room, where Brooke is already waiting. "We're going to watch The Santa Clause."
"With Tim Allan?" James asks, sitting on the couch.
"Yep." Chris says, pressing the play button on the DVD player. She sits on the other side of James and they stare at the TV.
James finds himself remembering when he and Jenna use to watch movies together, but he quickly pushes the thoughts aside before he can start getting emotional. Christmas is one of the happiest times of year. It's a time when people are spending time with their loved ones and truly having a nice time. Life as a single parent has been hard, but he isn't going to let his pain stop him from enjoying Christmas with his family. Most importantly, his daughter.