Disclaimer: Not mine. Don't sue.
A blanket of rain covered New York City this Sunday morning. Street vendors used tarps to cover their individual rickety stands. Early morning church-goers propped up colorful spring umbrellas that used the streets of the city as a canvas creating a colorful patchwork. Some die-hard runners in Central Park braved the rain in expensive H2-no gear. Other die-hard runners in Central Park braved the rain without any rain gear at all. Fog hung in the streets of the city, wrapping its sleek colorlessness around gray skyscrapers. Yellow taxis, contrasting the grayness of the city, splashed their tires through pooling puddles of raindrops. Indeed, it was a very rainy Sunday in the City.
Tucked away in an abyss of sheets and comforter in a king sized bed on the fifty-eighth floor of one of New York's many apartment buildings, Will McAvoy was just starting to stir awake. Sunday mornings were a prized time for Will. No broadcast on Sunday nights, no need to be in the office. Saturdays usually meant he would be called in for some reason or another, but Sundays were his day. He opened his eyes and the through the crack of the shades, Will noticed the gray sky. No Central Park today, he thought. With a quick glance, Will saw the green light of his clock read that it was 6:57 in the morning. Damn him, why could he never sleep in on weekends.
Just as well, Will thought as he rolled over to the sight that he arose to every morning for the past seven years. Being a wealthy, powerful man, Will knew full well if he wanted, he could wake up to any tall thin blonde cheerleader, porn star, movie actress, barbie doll he wanted. But that's not what he wanted. And that's certainly not what Will woke up to every morning.
Beside him, Mackenzie McHale was deep in sleep. Flat on her stomach, one arm under her pillow, the other strewn across the mattress, her hair fell into her face and her mouth was open just a little bit. Despite being wrapped in a cocoon of blankets, Will knew that beneath the layers of sheet and down comforter, her legs were curled and her soft blue t-shirt was probably riding up just a little to reveal her creamy silk stomach. A perfect model, she wasn't. But his wife and his most trusted partner, she was. And that was so much better than any cheerleader or movie actress he could ask for. Mackenzie broke his train of thought, muttering something in her sleep. Will smiled and brushed the stray piece of hair out of her face. Sunday mornings; time to be with the ones he loved, and the ones who brought him absolute peace.
Suddenly, Will found his nice king sized bed under attack. A small brunette figure, of no more than three feet was jumping atop him. Luckily, Will was protected under the blankets and burrowed down a little bit deeper. To no avail, the three foot monster kept jumping.
Will rolled his face over to his right side, and through the attack of the three foot monster muttered to a very asleep Mackenzie, "your daughter wants you to wake up."
"Mac?" Will nudged his wife's calf.
Mac shifted and moaned, cracked open her eyes glancing at the clock beyond Will, "at seven o'clock on Sunday mornings, Billy boy, she's your daughter."
"Daddy, wake up! It's Sunday!"
Will made a sudden movement and grabbed his daughter by her legs and she toppled atop him. Squealing and giggling, the young girl rolled off her father's stomach and onto the space between her parents in their bed.
As Will mercifully tickled his daughter, Mackenzie groaned something incoherent, "What was that, Mac?" Will asked between squeals from the girl.
"Give me one more hour, please." A desperate plea from a tired woman who only wanted to sleep in, Will decided he should probably appease her wife.
Elizabeth McHale McAvoy was a little spitfire of a four year old. A bundle of energy, she was always rearing to go on weekend mornings. An early riser, Will used the time to spend with his daughter. He was an older father, and knew there would be days in the future when her energy would tucker him out. So, he took the opportunity he had while still able to spring out of bed on a Sunday morning to spend with her.
"Alright Lizzy Bean, I think your Mom wants a little more sleep. How about we get crackin' in the kitchen?" Will whispered to his daughter.
"Okay!" A huge smile appeared on Lizzy's face. Will got out of the bed and Lizzy took the opportunity to spread out across her father's vacant side. Mackenzie, though still mostly asleep, rolled over to Will's side to give Lizzy a quick kiss and a hug. The young girl, still very much a baby at four, borrowed into her mother's embrace. As Will threw a sweatshirt over his t-shirt, he took a moment to smile at his daughter and his wife curled up on his side of the bed. Lizzy's small body was completely wrapped into Mackenzie's. Will, clad in his boxers and sweatshirt, took the time to revel in the sense of home and love he felt at the current moment.
"Alright Lizzy, I'm ready."
The girl perked her head up from her mother's embrace, and jumped off the bed, "I'll race you to the kitchen!" She exclaimed running out the door.
"Right behind you," Will chuckled. He leaned over the bed to give Mac a quick kiss questioning, "Breakfast in about an hour?"
"Mhmm, I'll be awake then," Murmured a smiling Mac.
"Okay, sleep well," Will gave her shoulder one last squeeze and followed his daughter to the kitchen. The McHale/McAvoy household was as homey as an apartment in New York City could feel. The hallway to the kitchen was lined with family photos and artwork both Will and Mac had collected from their various individual and joint travels around the world. A mask from Guatemala, a tapestry from Kenya, a picture of Will in a tux an MacKenzie in a white gown, a painting from Japan, a photo from the day Lizzy was born - it was certainly an eclectic mix. Puttering further down the hall, Will took in the floor-to-ceiling windowed view of the rainy city the living room displayed, and veered off into the kitchen area. Lizzy was perched one of the kitchen's black stools, anxiously awaiting her father.
"What are we going to make this morning, Daddy?"
"Hmmm," Will pretended to ponder the question while he made his way to the fridge and opened it, "I see some buttermilk, maybe pancakes?"
"Pancakes! Can we put chocolate chips in them?" Lizzy's big blue eyes stared up at Will. She may have inherited her mother's hair and smile, but the eyes were all his.
"Maybe, here help me crack the eggs," Will passed a couple of eggs and a bowl to his daughter. He was desperately trying to teach her how to cook. Mackenzie couldn't find her way around a kitchen to save her life, so Will saw it as his task to teach their daughter the basics. Watching as Lizzy took an egg in her small hand, Will placed his much larger one over hers and showed her to gently tap the egg against the side of mixing bowl, "See, and then you slowly open it," he let his daughter's delicate fingers splice the egg into two, "and then plop! ..." the contents of the egg spilled into the bowl, "you have a cracked egg."
Lizzy giggled while Will passed her another egg. With extreme concentration, the young girl went about cracking two more eggs. Meanwhile, Will put coffee up, knowing well that soon Mackenzie would appear begging him for the hot liquid. After flicking the machine on, he turned back to his daughter who had an inquisitive look on her face, "what's up bean?"
"Are we going for our walk today?" Lizzy asked Will while stepping down from purple-painted her step-stool she used to stand on while helping in the kitchen. Will pulled down the other necessary ingredients for pancakes from the shelves and started to measure everything out.
"Look outside bean, it's raining pretty hard," Will answered as he dropped flour into the bowl.
Lizzy climbed up on a nearby kitchen stool and managed to hoist herself up on the counter to sit next to Will and stuck out her bottom lip in her signature pout, "but what are we gonna do, Daddy?"
"Hey, get off the counter, your mom is going to kill you!" Will motioned for her to jump off.
"Mommy isn't up yet..." Lizzy countered. She was four years old and she could already come back at her dad, Will had to hand it to her.
"Okay, but don't tell her," He looked intently at Lizzy and gave her a spoon to start mixing the flour and eggs, "maybe we can play a game today, Candy Land or Chutes and Ladders or something?" Will suggested.
"Maybe, can we play guitar?" Lizzy asked with enthusiasm mixing the flour maybe a little quicker than she should have and flour flew into her face. Sneezing, Lizzy smiled as Will reached over and wiped the flour off her nose and cheeks.
"Careful there bean, I don't want flour falling all over floor."
"Tucker will just pick it up!" Lizzy referred affectionately to the family dog. Will sighed as he mentally reminded himself he needed to feed the medium-sized light brown mutt. When Mackenzie and Will were looking to move from Will's old apartment that they had lived in until she had found out she was pregnant and they decided it was time for something a little more permanent and homey, Mackenzie had made it a qualification that their building allow pets.
It had been a cold day in New York City. Snow had fallen covering the blanket in a quiet Christmas lull. The only motion from the streets were from the city's Jews heading to Chinese food and a movie. Will and Mackenzie had just returned to their new apartment after Christmas dinner with Mac's parents. It had been the first of many Christmas dinners between the newly-wed McAvoy's and older McHale couple. Mac's parents had decided to move back to New York after many years home in London to be closer to their unborn grandchild. Mackenzie was due in one month, and it would be nice to have her parents around for help considering both her and Will would have to go back to work eventually.
As they got off the elevator which dropped them into their apartment, Will walked immediately to the Christmas tree and flipped on the lights that he had put up a week earlier. Mackenzie's eyes twinkled as the dark apartment came to life with white Christmas lights, the tree the focal point, "you really have outdone yourself this year, Will, the lights are amazing."
"Well, this as handy as I get Mac, you know that," Will laughed as he sat down on the couch across from the tree.
"Oh, yes, I know that. Remember when that pipe burst in our first apartment?" Mac giggled lying down on the couch perpendicular to Will, splaying her aching feet across his lap.
"Yes, and I tried gallantly to fix it - "
"Gallantly," laughed Mackenzie, "okay, Lancelot, whatever you say."
"And then we called the plumber," Will shrugged and began rubbing Mackenzie's feet, "How you holding up, long day? Lots of kicking?" Will asked placing his free hand on her stomach as he leaned her legs.
"Always, looks like he's a soccer player of some sort," Mac placed her hand over Will's to guide it to where the baby was kicking.
"Or maybe she is going to be a karate master." Will felt the baby's kick and smiled in bewilderment.
"I think my parent's liked the names we picked out," Mackenzie and Will had decided not to know the sex of the baby, but they did pick out a name for a girl and a name for a boy - to be prepared, "I think my dad got a kick out of Elizabeth, I could tell he was thrilled at how British we were keeping it."
Will smirked and flipped his hand from under Mackenzie's from where it was resting on her stomach to intertwine their fingers, "I have one more Christmas gift for you, but I have to go downstairs to get it, can you wait?"
"Billy... one more Christmas gift? We said that all of our gifts this year were just going to be stuff for the baby, and then the donations," Mac was not expecting something else. They had done gifts this morning, the day was almost over.
"I know," Will said untangling himself from Mackenzie and standing up, "I'll be right back." Suddenly Will vacated the apartment, leaving Mackenzie alone on the couch completely confused. Less than five minutes later, Will appeared at the door again with a rather large box in hand.
"What is it?" Mac asked excitedly sitting up as Will walked across the room.
"If I told you what it was, it would kind of ruin the entire point of the gift, wouldn't it?" Will smiled as he placed the box in front of Mac.
"I guess, but, we did agree - no gifts for each other, I just feel guilty." Mac looked up at Will as he took he sat across from her on the coffee table next to the box in question.
"Just open the box, Mac, you'll like it." Will gave her knee a reassuring squeeze.
"If you insist..." Mac delicately untied the red bow from the white box and with a sure hand took the top off. She placed her hand over her mouth as she peered into the box and saw a small, brown puppy staring up at her with big eyes. She was at a lost for words and quickly picked the puppy up from the box and placed him in her lap.
"Well, do you approve?" Will questioned as she still stared down at the young dog in bewilderment.
Mac still was at a loss for words, and a few tears trickled down her face. After a minute or so, she managed to blurt out, "so this is why there were holes in the box?"
Will chucked and took a seat next to her on the couch petting the puppy and looping his arm around Mackenzie's shoulder, "I thought maybe he would be good practice, you know, since we're having a baby in a month."
"You didn't want a dog," Mackenzie looked up at Will, while still holding the puppy.
"Well, sometimes, we change our minds about things," Will said giving the puppy a quick pat on the head. "I think he's pretty cute,"
"Does he have a name?" Mac asked,
"Nope, I thought I would leave that to you."
"Tucker." Mac said without a beat.
"Tucker?' Will asked.
"I've just always wanted a dog named Tucker, it seems pretty all-American. Mom, dad, baby, and a dog named Tucker. It's kind of like we're out of a Rockwell painting." Mac smiled.
"I have news for you Mac - we're definitely not out of a Rockwell painting. But I love the name Tucker, and I love you, so it's perfect." Will looked down at Mac who was looking at their new puppy with such an air of love. Suddenly, the fact that in a month they would be looking down at a tiny little human, and not just a puppy, hit Will hard.
Will was taken aback from his memory by the sound of Tucker's jingling collar coming into the kitchen to lick up the excess batter from the pancakes from the tiled floor. Lizzy finished mixing the batter and hopped off of the counter to play with her beloved pet. From the pantry, Will grabbed a bag of chocolate chips and handed them to Lizzy, "you want to add these to the mix before we pop them in the oven?
"Yes!" Lizzy excitedly grabbed the bag of chocolate morsels, sneaking a few in her mouth, stepped back up on her stool and mixed in the chips, "these are gonna be so good, how long until they're ready?"
"Probably about a half-hour," Will remarked preheating the oven.
"How long is that?" Lizzy still had a hard time with time, so Will made it easy for her.
"The same amount of time as a Sesame Street episode, or, half of your mom's and my show." Will explained.
"Hmph, okay, can I watch Sesame Street until then?" Lizzy had a strict TV allotment, and Sunday mornings were not usually a time when Will and Mackenzie allowed her time in front of her favorite screened-device. But, Will had stuff to do in the kitchen and it would be a little while until the pancakes were done so he caved.
"One episode," Will held up a single finger in front of her face, "just one."
"Yes! Thanks daddy!" Lizzy gave her father's leg a quick hug and ran into the adjacent living room. There were many TV's around the McHale/McAvoy abode, but most of them were tuned to ACN, CNN, Fox, MSNBC, etc. Only the TV in the living room was for recreational use, and it had many, many DVR'd episodes of Lizzy's two favorite shows: News Night and Sesame Street. When Will and Mac had to work late, which sometimes they did, Mac's parents would come over and watch Lizzy. If she was ever fussy, the easiest way to calm her down was to let her watch Will knock it out of the park on News Night. Between her father's soothing voice, and his coverage of subjects far above her preschool head, it was the best way to lull her to sleep.
Tucker followed Lizzy into the family room and settled next to her on the couch. Will grabbed the remote off the coffee table and flipped the TV on and chose an episode of Sesame Street for Lizzy to watch. He grabbed the green blanket off of the side of the couch and tossed it to Lizzy who promptly snuggled up with it. "It'll be a half-hour, bean, don't fall asleep."
"Mhmmm." Lizzy responded distractedly as her favorite yellow singing bird and green frog came to life on screen. Will bent down and placed a quick kiss on top Lizzy's brunette hair and retreated back to the kitchen where he would start to cook the bacon, finish the coffee, and get a head start on the dishes. Once back in the kitchen, he powered on his iPod's dock which he kept in the kitchen for Sunday mornings. Usually, Will was an NPR and newspaper kind of morning guy. Not to mention the four flat screens he had in the kitchen area displaying the news every morning. But, Sunday mornings the TV's were switched off and his Wave player didn't send out the sounds of Morning Edition, but The Clash or The Who, or maybe a little Simon and Garfunkel. Today, rainy as it was, was a perfect morning for the latter, and soon enough the kitchen filled with the sounds of Art and Paul's guitars strumming "The Boxer."
Twenty-five minutes later, while Will was scrubbing the last of the batter off of the mixing bowl, he felt a pair of slender arms wrap around his waist and a head on his shoulder. He smiled, knowing those arms well, and leaned his head backward and over a little to place a light kiss on Mackenzie's cheek, "Well, well, well, if it isn't Sleeping Beauty back from the dead."
"Sleeping Beauty doesn't die Billy, she's poisoned." Mac rolled her eyes as she kept a firm grasp around Will's torso and buried her head into his back, taking in the scent of his old, blue-ratted sweatshirt.
"When was the last time I read a fairy-tale, Mac?" Will asked finishing off the dish and turning in her arms to face her.
"Well," Mac said as she looped her arms more tightly around her waist, "you do have a four-year-old daughter, they do like fairy tales."
"I have news for you, Mackenzie, that four-year-old in there," Will motioned his head towards the living room, "would much rather watch Bert and Ernie play with their rubber-ducky than Sleeping Beauty."
"That'll change before you know it, and soon enough she'll be bringing home her own Prince Charming, or Princess Charming I suppose, whatever she wants." Mac smiled.
"We have a few years before that," Will grunted, "you're practically writing us off as dead, Mac, she's only four."
"I'm just saying, time flies." Mac smiled reaching up on her tip-toes to give Will a quick kiss on the lips. Just as she was about to disentangle herself from him, he pulled her back into him and leaned in for a deeper kiss. Mac let a soft moan escape from the back of her throat as she felt Will's tongue run across the bottom of her lips. After a couple more seconds, Will released her, "okay, well that was a proper morning," Mac smiled as she straightened the t-shirt she was wearing, which she had hijacked from Will years before.
"That's what you get for wearing those yoga pants and my shirt." Will smirked as he made his way to the oven to check the status of the pancakes, "they're ready, you want to grab Lizzy? She's watching TV."
"You have to stop spoiling her with this Sunday-morning TV nonsense, she's going to end up more addicted to the television than we are," Mac said leaving the kitchen.
"Hey, at least it's PBS and not Fox News." Will retorted.
Mac walked into the living room and found Lizzie curled up on the couch with Tucker folded away in her favorite green blanket. "Good morning sunshine," Mac said as the credits from the Sesame Street episode flashed on the screen. Mac grabbed the remote and turned off the TV as she sat next to Lizzy on the couch and pulled the little girl on her lap.
"Morning Mommy," Lizzy said snuggling into her mother's embrace, "you're awake!"
"I know," Mac said pushing Lizzy's growing bangs out of her face, "did you have fun cooking with Daddy?"
"Mhmm, he let me put chocolate chips in the pancakes and sit on the counter," Lizzy said eagerly looking up at her mom, "but I'm not supposed to tell you, it's a secret."
"What's a secret?" Will asked coming into the living room and taking seat on the armrest of the couch next to where Mac and Lizzy were sitting.
"Nothing, just some girl talk," Mac smiled.
"Okay, well in that case, I guess all of the pancakes are for me then?" Will joked, "Tucker can have some too, come on Tuck," Will motioned for the dog who happily got off the couch for the prospect of food.
"No! Wait, Daddy I want pancakes too!" Lizzy scooted off her mother and chased Tucker and Will into the kitchen taking her rightful spot at the breakfast table. Mac followed and the three of them sat down to breakfast.
Will passed around the chocolate chip pancakes and bacon. Lizzy talked incessantly about what happened on the episode of Sesame Street she just watched. Mackenzie sipped her coffee quietly while exchanging brief smiles with Will. And Tucker, well Tucker was curled up across Will's feet waiting patiently for the family to be done with their meal in hopes that maybe they left some for him. It may have been a rainy Sunday in New York City, but the McHale/McAvoy family was lazily enjoying every minute of it.