What Child is This?
“Mmmm,” he mumbled.
“Ari, c’mon. Wakey, wakey.” She jostled his arm gently.
He finally peeled one eye open. She was lying next to him, beaming and looking not the least bit sleepy. “Morning, Maggie.”
“Good morning, Sleepyhead,” she grinned.
He frowned, running his hands over his face, trying to brush away the cobwebs clinging to his thoughts. The ordeal of his trial in the Angel’s Court of Heaven, say nothing of the change to his magic that the sentence of more or less joining humanity had wrought, left him a little worn out these past few weeks. And for Christmas Eve, Maggie had wanted to go to the midnight mass to honor her mother’s memory.
He yawned, “What time is it?”
She sat up, like she couldn’t lie still for another moment. “It’s already seven. You know, Ari, if we want to make good parents we shouldn’t make a practice of lounging in bed all morning, especially on Christmas.”
“Mmmm,” he mumbled again, and his eyes seemed to want to drift closed.
Clearly he hadn’t processed what she said, she thought with an almost wicked grin. “Ari, since when did you start sleeping in, by the way? You’re usually up with the sun!”
“I know it … I’ve just been a little tired lately … And we stayed up so late last night.”
She reached out and put a hand on his shoulder, squeezing it gently. “Are you feeling okay?”
He opened his eyes again and smiled up at her. “I’m good, Mags, honest. Just … That trip Above wore me out. I’m catching back up though.”
She frowned for a minute, looking concerned. Ari’s friend, who called himself Matt, but who was clearly a pretty badass angel with some clout, had come and told her that husband had business in Heaven and had sent Matt to keep an eye on things until he could return.
When Ari came home, he’d looked awful, had been tired and pale, and had slept the weekend away. But he’d assured her he was fine then, too. Just said he’d finally managed to arrange things so they could be together now, and forever, without much in the way of interference. It had been such welcome news, and he seemed so disinclined to talk about it, she’d simply let it go.
Now, she touched his face. “Are you really alright? This new being mostly human thing … Are you coming down with something? Can that even happen?”
He grinned and shifted himself into a sitting position. “I really am. And I honestly have no idea, Maggie. It’ll be a few months before everything’s settled, I think. But my friends are looking out for us.” He leaned toward her and kissed her cheek. “All I need is a cup of coffee, and then I’ll start our Christmas feast. I hope you’re prepared to help though, because I may need a sous chef for the meal I have planned for us.”
The lines of Maggie’s face had smoothed again, and she was once again smiling so broadly it was crinkling her eyes and lips in the most charming way possible. “Good! And I’d be happy to help cook. After.”
To Ari’s surprise, Maggie produced a small, neatly wrapped box from her nightstand.
“Open it,” she said almost breathlessly.
“Maggie,” he said, almost complaining, “We agreed. No presents.”
He blushed, feeling badly that he must have misinterpreted her suggestion. He’d spend a couple of weeks torn between ‘you really shouldn’t because she asked’ and ‘you really should because it will make her smile’ and he’d gone with what she’d asked. Maybe, he frowned, maybe he had guessed wrong.
He looked down at the box and then up into her face with an apology in his eyes. “Maggie, I didn’t …”
“But you did,” she insisted. “Open the box! Open it, open it, open it!” She bounced a little on the bed, jostling him into her.
He laughed fondly. By God, he loved this woman. “Alright!”
Ari peeled back the paper carefully, which only led Maggie to lean closer and get her hands on it to tear the paper more quickly. “Open.” She kissed his forehead. “The.” A second kiss, this time on his cheek. “Box.” Another kiss landed on the other cheek.
He held the box away for a moment. “If I keep stalling, will you keep kissing me?” Ari asked with an unmistakable twinkle in his eye.
“No! I’m going to hold my kisses hostage until you open that box!” she laughed.
Ari grinned, “I guess if the ransom for more kissing is just tearing some paper …” He left it hanging for a moment. “I have no choice but to give in to your demands.”
She gave him a teasing scowl and he pretended urgency in tearing way the rest of the paper and lifting the lid.
Inside the box was a small card, lettered in Maggie’s almost artistically perfect handwriting with the simple note, “We’re having a baby!”
He looked up from the card with a smile. She doesn’t know that I know. Of course, she doesn’t. Gotta play this cool.
“Really? That’s amazing!” he said with what felt like an appropriate amount of excitement.
Her eyes widened and there was a little flash of realization there, even as her mouth dropped open. “You knew.”
It wasn’t a question.
He felt his face reddening again. Perhaps he should have said something when he first returned, but … He’d had his reasons for staying silent. Surely she would understand that. Instead of explaining himself though, a naked truth felt like the better course.
“Yes.” he admitted sheepishly. “I did.”
“Why didn’t you say something, Silly?”
He grinned with relief. She called him silly. That was a pretty good sign that she wasn’t upset with him.
“I … um … I suppose … I didn’t want to ruin it for you.”
She cupped his face again, looking into his eyes with something very like sympathy. “It’s still like you’re so new to this whole ‘personing’ thing.” His eyes narrowed with just a little hurt, like he believed he’d really done something wrong, so she went on quickly. “But it’s incredibly sweet and beautifully clueless all at the same time,” Maggie teased.
“Clueless?” Ari asked. “Too mean,” he huffed, and pouted unconvincingly.
There really was no guile to this man, Maggie thought. That was one of the things she’d fallen in love with, wasn’t it? How on Earth did she miss him knowing? That was why he’d been waiting on her hand and foot to the point of driving her a little crazy! She started laughing a little.
“What’s so funny?” he asked with pretended indignation.
“You,” she said. “But only in the most wonderful-amazing-unbelievably-lucky-for-me way possible.”
She wrapped him in a warm embrace and then sunk down, leaning her head against his chest.
“We’re having a baby,” she whispered, a happy catch in her voice as warm tears started to make his t-shirt damp.
Ari pulled her in closer, resting his chin on top of her head. “She’s going to be so perfect, my love,” he whispered to his wife, thinking to himself that with each day he treasured her more, and that nothing, nothing that had happened to him as the result of his decisions, could make this any less awe inspiring than it was.
Maggie’s head snapped up, bumping his chin a little, and she pulled away a bit. She was looking into his eyes, her own wide with wonder. “She?”
“Yeah. She.” He smiled at her, his own eyes filling. “And Maggie, she’s going to be amazing. She’s going to change the world.”
“You really think so? Is that some weird angel knowledge you’re trying to lay on me?”
“I don’t have that anymore. Not really. I’ll know more about how much things have changed for me soon. But, I’m not worried about it.” She picked up one of his hands and squeezed it. “It’s just me … Being her dad already, I guess.”
Maggie smiled then, and she looked so perfectly happy it almost hurt him to look at. “You’re going to be a wonderful father, Ari.”
She took a brief almost shuddering breath, her emotions a tangle of wanting to weep with joy and wanting to laugh at the deer-in-the-headlights expression her husband was currently wearing as he tried to figure out where their lives were leading them.
“We’re having a baby,” she whispered, snuggling back into his chest, coffee and breakfast, and preparing for later, forgotten for the moment.
She smiled into his shoulder. He felt it and squeezed her to him again. “I love you, Maggie. Merry Christmas.”
“Merry Christmas, Ari.”
– End –