The black van parked across the street from the Lieberman home. The driver took a deep breath and leaned back. He didn't think he deserved the invitation he had received but he got it, so he thought he should come.
He looked over at the stack of gifts on the passenger seat. It was the first time in a while he felt he could celebrate. Each member of the Lieberman family had a gift. He got David a new laptop, Sarah a set of her favorite wines, Leo a new tool set that's all hers and for Zach a skateboard.
Knowing he couldn't just stare at the house and he wasn't one to be rude and just not show, Frank packed the presents in his arms and headed to the front door. He rang the doorbell and felt the urge to leave the gifts and high-tale it out of there but decided he would face the music.
David answered the door in a bright red sweater with a lit up Christmas tree embezzled on it. Frank held back everything he wanted to say but a small laugh escaped. "Laugh all you want, believe me I did but Sarah insisted on me wearing it" David said trying to not die of embarrassment. "Nah buddy, it looks good" Frank said with a smirk as he entered the house patting David on the back.
Leo and Zach ran up and each gave him a hug. He hugged them back holding back the tears. He was starting to think it was a mistake. He was missing his own family, Maria, Frank and Lisa.
"Uncle Frank, ready to open presents" Leo said snapping Frank back to reality. "Sure thing sweetheart" Frank said picking her up and following the others into the living room. He was there now, mightiest well make the best of it.
As soon as everyone was sat down, Sarah handed out the gifts. Frank slowly opened his. One was a set of new clothes, a handmade cup holder from the kids but it was the last one that got him. David handed him the gift and gave Frank some room.
Frank slowly opened the gift knowing that every pair of eyes were on him. Inside was a beautiful frame and inside that frame was a picture of his wife and kids surrounded by all the medals he had earned in the army. His eyes watered and for the first time in a long time he allowed himself to cry in front of others.
He felt the arms around him before he saw who the belonged to. They belonged to the whole Lieberman family. He let them hold him and they stayed like that for a few minutes.
Finally Sarah peeled the others off of him and said it was time for dinner. Frank put his gifts in a neat pile and went and sat down. The rest of the evening was spent laughing and enjoying each other's company.
As night fell, Frank reluctantly said his goodnights. He hugged the kids and then David and Sarah and headed out to his van. He carefully placed the gifts on the passenger seat and closed his eyes laying his head on the steering wheel.
When he opened them he looked at the seat next to him and instead of his gifts sat a book. Not just a book, but her book. His baby girls book. But how? It was in a safe box back at his place. He picked it up and inside the front cover in Lisa's handwriting it said "be happy daddy".
His eyes filled up again and hearing scuffling in the back he turned and looked. In the back seats sat Lisa and Frank. They smiled and waved at him. He started to breathe heavily when he felt arms wrap around him. This time it wasn't the Lieberman's it was Maria. He knew Maria's smell and feel from anywhere.
Closing his eyes he placed a hand over hers. "Frank my darling, it's time that story gets told to a new little girl. It's time for you to move on. It's alright. We want you to be happy. I think David and Sarah are perfect for you. Take their invite and join them" Maria's voice said softly against his ear.
Frank couldn't talk. All he could do was think. He thought about that piece of paper in his pocket. It was a note from David asking him if he would join him and Sarah as a family.
Finally Frank found his voice and said "I can't Maria, you're my only love. I can't do that to my baby girl or Frank either". Maria laughed. Frank couldn't help but smile, he loved her laugh so much. "It's time to move forward my love and leave the past in the past. We will be waiting for you when it's your time but for now we want to see you happy" Maria said and he felt a chilly but soft kiss against his cheek.
Frank heard a noise. A knocking noise. He looked into the back of the van but it was empty. No seats. No Frank, no Lisa and no Maria. He heard the knocking again and realized it was his door. He looked out the window and saw David and quickly opened up the window.
"Sarah and I were worried about you since you were just sitting here" David said in a frantic voice. He was seriously worried. Frank couldn't believe it, he was seriously worried. Playing back Maria's words, Frank knew she was right.
He looked at the passenger seat and his stack of gifts were back but the book was still there. Frank picked it up, opened the car door and pulled David in for the first kiss he had shared with a man and it was the deepest kiss one could give. He heard David moan softly which made him smile to himself.
As they pulled away from each other, Frank thought David would run but he didn't. Locking the van up from Franks door, David led him back to the house where Sarah was awaiting them. "This time Frank, I give you permission to kiss my wife" David said with a small laugh. Frank laughed and pulled Sarah in for a passionate kiss.
They stepped apart when they heard giggling. Looking over Frank saw Zach and Leo laughing. Scooping Leo up Frank asked "want me to read to you sweetheart"? Leo nodded and Frank turned to get permission from David and Sarah who both nodded happily.
Frank carried Leo upstairs and laid her in bed. Sitting next to her, Frank pulled out Lisa's book. "This was Lisa's favorite book, would you like to hear it?" Frank asked softly. Leo nodded and scooted closer to Frank. Pulling her up close against him, he opened the book. "One Batch, Two Batch, Penny and Dime" Frank started.
After an hour of not hearing either Frank or Leo, David went to check on them. And there on her bed was Frank laying with Leo close against him. His arms around her like a shield protecting her from the world.
David smiled at the warm scene and as he turned to go he noticed a shape. Not a shape, a little girl laying on the empty pillow on the bed. She smiled and waved to him and slowly disappeared. Lisa had come to listen to her dad read the story one last time.
David turned, tears in his eyes, he somehow knew everything was going to be alright from then on. And the Lieberman family along with Frank Castle turned in from their first of many Christmas's they would share together.