A/N: Last chapter! Thank you all for sticking with this story. I hope you all enjoy the final chapter! I will be continuing to write for this show, even if it is no longer on the air. I can't say for certain when my next story will be up, but I have a couple of ideas that I'm playing around with right now. In the meantime, please enjoy this last chapter of The Magic of Christmas!
"Abby, I swear if you ask me one more time if I'm alright…"
Abby frowned as she stepped out of the bathroom, a towel wrapped around her body and a hand on her hip as she stared at the bed where Brody was propped up on several pillows and resting. "Well, excuse me for caring."
Brody sighed and held out his good hand to her. "Come on, Abby, you know I didn't mean it like that. I know you're worried, and I know you were scared, but I promise, I'm fine."
Abby hesitated as she took his hand and sat down on the side of the bed. "I know that, I do…it's just, that crash site, with the patrol car all smashed up and the smell…oh God, that awful smell of gasoline and…"
"Hey," Brody said gently, squeezing her hand. "I know it was bad. But it all worked out, right? No one died today."
Abby nodded and took a shaky breath, shifting her weight slightly to lie down and curl up next to Brody. "But you could have."
"But I didn't." Brody kissed her forehead and let her rest silently against his chest for a few minutes. "Hey Abs?"
"How did you get there so fast?"
"The crash site. I wasn't at the hospital that long, if you were at the crash and then came there…there's no way you could have gotten there from your parents' place that quickly."
Abby hesitated for a moment before nodding. "I was kind of already on my way in your direction."
"Why?" Brody asked in surprise. "What happened to your big Christmas with your family? Did something happen?"
"No, it's not that, Christmas was fine, it's just…I kind of needed to talk to you."
Abby sighed and pushed herself up off the bed, turning so that she was again sitting on the side of the bed and facing him. "I don't care."
"You don't care," Brody repeated in confusion. "About what you were coming to talk to me about?"
Abby shook her head. "No. That's what I was coming to talk about. I don't care, Brody. The lights, the tree, the Christmas carols…they're nice, they're fun…but I don't care about them. I don't care if I never have another Christmas cookie, or sing another Christmas carol, or decorate a Christmas tree. None of it matters, not really."
"Abby, I know it matters to you."
"No, it doesn't," Abby insisted. "I don't need all of that, Brody."
"What do you need?"
Abby took a deep breath. "You. I need you, John."
Abby smiled nervously as Brody reached out and caressed her cheek with his hand. "I love you, John. And I'm not just saying that because of the crash, because I was on my way to tell you that when Lina called me about the crash. But I think…I get it, Brody. If things had been different, if you hadn't been okay…that would have been my Christmas memory. So if you can't do Christmas, fine…I don't care if we lock the door and stay in bed all day every December 25th, as long as we're together."
Brody grinned. "Say the first part again."
"I love you," Abby repeated softly, leaning forward and kissing him gently.
"I thought that's what you said." Abby giggled as Brody pulled her closer to his body. "I like the sound of that. But Abby, I can't ask you to give up Christmas."
"Then it's a good thing you didn't ask me to do it," Abby said. "I meant what I said, Brody. That accident really got me thinking, and none of it matters if I'm not with you. So you're not asking me to give up anything."
"Well, maybe you're not the only one who's been thinking, Abs. Maybe I've been in mourning long enough…maybe it's time to start living again."
Abby glanced at the clock across the room. "It's only five o'clock. If you're ready for Christmas, Mom doesn't serve dinner for another half an hour."
Brody smiled and shook his head. "I actually had something a little different in mind. If you'd rather go to your parents', that's okay, but…well, I was kind of hoping you'd come with me."
"I've already seen my family today," Abby said. "Right now, wherever you're going, that's where I want to be."
Abby reached over and squeezed Brody's hand gently as she pulled up next to the curb and put the car in park. "You ready?"
Brody shook his head. "Probably not. But I have to try, right? It's just dinner."
Abby smiled reassuringly. "We can leave whenever you want."
"Okay." Brody sighed and reached for the door handle. "Let's go."
Abby held tightly to his good arm as they made their way up the front walk. The outside of the house was decorated simply, just a few strings of lights hung along the edges of the roof and a small wreath on the front door. She could see the tree sparkling in the front window, though, and she wondered if he was really ready to face that.
She squeezed his hand again and leaned up against his shoulder for just a moment as he rang the doorbell and stepped back to wait. They could both hear a commotion on the other side of the door, as though a fight had broken out just behind it. A minute later, the front door quickly swung open and Abby and Brody looked down to see a little girl of about seven years standing triumphantly in front of two younger boys.
"Uncle John!" she shrieked excitedly when she saw Brody, practically throwing herself around his legs, the two boys scrambling up behind her.
Brody laughed nervously, reaching down and tousling her hair. "Hi Molly."
"Molly Elizabeth Callahan, how many times do I have to tell you not to open the door without…"
Molly turned her head nervously as a tall, slender redhead came into the entry way, her voice trailing off when she caught sight of the man in her doorway.
"Hi Vickie," Brody said quietly, holding Abby's hand tightly as he took a deep breath. "Merry Christmas."
Vickie stared at him for a moment, as though not quite reconciling the man she knew with the man standing in front of her, before she smiled and leaned across her daughter to hug him. "Merry Christmas, John."
"Hey, what is everyone doing out here? Dinner's almost ready and no one's at the table yet!"
"Paul…" Vickie said gently, stepping back as her husband walked into the entryway.
"What, is there some big surprise or something?" Paul's grin faded as he saw Brody standing in front of him. "John?"
"What are you doing here?"
Brody hesitated, glancing over at Abby, who nodded in encouragement. "I, uh…I guess I was just wondering if, um, if that dinner invitation you're always bugging me about still stands."
Paul grinned again and nodded. "You don't even have to ask, John." Shaking his head as he stepped forward, he wrapped an arm around John and clapped him on the back. "Merry Christmas, little brother."
Abby could still feel the tension radiating off his body as she curled up next to him in his bed that night. "Hey," she whispered softly, running a hand across his bare chest. "It wasn't completely awful, was it?"
Brody shook his head and sighed. "No," he admitted. "Parts of it were actually kind of nice."
"Your niece and nephews seemed pretty excited to see you."
Brody smiled. "They're good kids. The boys kind of remind me of me a little bit. You know…before everything that happened."
Abby nodded silently, her head resting on his chest.
"You know what I kept thinking about tonight?"
Abby shook her head and glanced up at him questioningly. "What?"
"How much my mom would have loved it…what it would have been like with her there."
"Oh John," Abby sighed sympathetically.
"I thought it would hurt more, if I let myself think about that," Brody said. "But I just felt…I don't know, a little sad, I guess. It didn't hurt like it used to."
"That's a good thing, right?"
"I think so," Brody agreed, closing his eyes for a moment. "Mom would have loved tonight. She would have adored those kids. She would have been in her element as a grandmother, I think. Paul and Vickie wouldn't know what hit 'em, Mom would have doted on her grandkids. And Joey…he would have been just out of college, figuring out his first job. If he was anything like me and Paul, he would have come home every couple of months with some new girl on his arm…"
"Excuse me?" Abby arched an eyebrow as she stared at him skeptically.
"When I was younger," Brody said defensively. "If he was like me when I was younger. Eventually I saw the light and found the right girl…the only girl for me."
Brody smirked as he kissed Abby's hair. "And Mom would have hated every one of those girls I paraded in, but she would have loved you, Abby."
"Because my mom was a very perceptive lady," Brody said. "It wouldn't have taken her five seconds to see that I didn't love any of those other girls."
"And what about me?"
"She would have known right away that I was in love with you, and that would have been enough," Brody said. "She would have loved you too."
"And if she didn't?"
Brody frowned for a moment. "Well…I guess if she didn't like you, we'd have just had to pop out a grandkid or two pretty quickly to soften her up."
Abby giggled and shook her head. "You say that like you can just pick them up at the store."
"Sure, aisle seven. Right next to the white picket fences and the dog food."
Abby laughed, but sat up just a bit to stare at him.
"What?" he asked in concern.
"Do you want kids?"
Brody hesitated for a moment. He was sure this was one of those trick questions that really only had one satisfactory answer. "Someday. If it's in the cards…it's not a deal-breaker for me, but I guess…yeah, I guess I'd like to have a couple kids. Do you want kids?"
Abby nodded. "I think so. Someday. Just one, though. Maybe two. Definitely no more than two."
"Well, that's too bad."
"Why?" Abby asked, her brow furrowing slightly in confusion.
"I was kind of hoping we'd have enough to start our own Little League team." Brody watched as Abby's face contorted in surprise as she processed the number that would require. He managed to keep a straight face for at least a few seconds before he burst out laughing at the expression on her face.
"That is not funny," Abby pouted, smacking his good arm. "You may have a broken arm, but don't think I'm above punching you in the other one."
Brody shook his head and laughed as he grabbed her wrist and pulled her back against his body. "Come here," he muttered, leaning over and kissing her softly. "We'll have plenty of time to talk about kids some other night."
"Mmm…" Abby sighed in agreement as she leaned into him and wrapped her arms around his neck. "I love you."
Brody grinned. "I love you too. Merry Christmas, Abby."