A little Christmas present for Criminally Charmed, an author whose friendship has made my experience here on fanfiction far more wonderful than I could ever have imagined. Inspired by a comment she made in her review of my Christmas story from 2008, I decided this would be a nice little fic to write for the season - I just adapted it in a way she probably wasn't expecting.

Standard Disclaimer: Nope, not mine. I own nothing except the plot and the extra fluff.

Hope you enjoy, m'dears!


Snuggling up with his wife on the couch, Jeff released a weary sigh. He'd finally finished unpacking the last box in his study, and he'd never felt more at home. He had a roof over his head, good food on the table and the girl of his dreams held safely in his arms. Did life get much better than this?

His partner let out a soft moan of sleepy contentment. "Who was on the phone?"

"My parents," he murmured sleepily, resting his cheek atop her head of blonde hair. "They were about to turn in, Mom just wanted to confirm the plans for tomorrow. She wants to know if you and I can stay overnight."

"Overnight?"

Lucille tilted her head upwards a little and he leaned back enough to look into her face. There was an emotion playing behind her eyes that he couldn't quite indentify. She ran a hand over his chest.

"Would you mind terribly if we didn't?" she asked hesitantly. "If it means a lot to you then of course we can, but...I don't want to be away from home too long."

"They did give us a key, Luce."

Lucille dropped her gaze, snuggling closer into his side. "Can we talk about it tomorrow? I'm a little tired."

Now that wasn't the Lucy he knew.

"Sweetheart, what is it? This isn't just about the house. What's wrong?"

She shook her head gently. "Nothing. I'm just being silly, of course we can stay the night. I'd love to."

Jeff's brow crinkled into a slight frown. However, before he could press the matter, the melodious chime of the doorbell stole her attention away from him.

Jeff raised an eyebrow. "It's pretty late for visitors..."

Using a speed he wasn't aware she even possessed, Lucy leapt up off the couch and darted out of the living room, calling back to him over her shoulder.

"It's only Marie, I'll get it!"

Shrugging, Jeff propped his feet up on the edge of the low coffee table. Leaning back into the couch cushions, he inhaled deeply, breathing in the scent of the cinnamon candles that flickered cheerfully on the mantelpiece. Beneath them, garlands of ivy and bright red baubles lines the edges of the carved fireplace. On the far side of their small sitting room, a five-foot Christmas tree sparkled with ornaments and tinsel, striped candy canes hanging from the ends of longer branches and shining in the light of the open fire. They looked so very tempting.

Dammit, he'd already eaten two this morning; he had to learn some self-restraint.

Nah.

Standing up, he tiptoed across the room to the tree, feeling a satisfactory sense of rebellion as he reached out to snag the nearest red and white treat. If his mother could see what he was doing now...

The sound of the front door slamming shut made him jump and he yanked his hand away, moving towards living room door. He arrived in time to see Lucille hurriedly hiding a paper bag behind her back as she scooted along the wall and up the stairs. Jeff raised an eyebrow.

"What's in that, Luce?"

Lucille looked more than a little flushed. Jeff could hear the paper bag rustling as her grip around it tightened. "Nothing. It's just...part of your present."

Jeff grinned. "Gimme a clue? Please?"

Her expression relaxed and she poked her tongue out teasingly. "Nope. Go watch TV, I'll be down in a minute."

Then she was gone, the sound of her feet thundering on the stairs bouncing off the walls of the hallway as Jeff gave a slight shrug and turned away, walking back into the living room. Grabbing the remote, he settled himself back on the couch and flicked through a dozen or so channels before he found something worth watching. It was a kids movie, sure, but he hadn't seen it in years. And the plot was centred around Christmas, so that already gave it a gold star in his books.

As the minutes quickly passed by, Jeff's upward glances increased both in frequency and intensity. What was taking her so long? Lucille was a woman, and so was prone to understatement, but usually when she said 'a minute', she meant it.

Needing a distraction, he strode over to the tree and snagged the nearest candy cane, snapping it in half to break the clear outer wrapping and sticking one end in his mouth. The minty sweetness eased the odd feeling in his gut and he returned to his seat, his mind momentarily at peace.

However, as the minute hand on the antique clock finished a full three-sixty turn and the time strayed close to midnight, he decided that enough was enough. Discarding the empty candy wrapper in the wicker trash can beside the couch, he strode out of the living room and headed upstairs towards the master bedroom.

Knocking on the door, he leaned his head close to the wood and tried to make his voice sound light and cheerful. "Luce? Can I come in?"

When there was no answer, he began to grow worried. Turning the handle, he pushed the door open, eyes scanning the room for his wife. When he spotted her still form, sitting rigidly on the side of their king-sized bed, he felt his heart rate jump up as nauseating tendrils of fear wrapped themselves around his ribcage like garden creepers. Moving swiftly to her side, he perched on the mattress and took her hand in his. Her fingers were cold and clammy against his warm flesh.

"Lucy?

She inhaled deeply, as if drawn from sleep, looking up at him and blinking in surprise as though she hadn't noticed his presence before. He cupped her cheek, feeling the hot flush beneath his fingers, and frowned worriedly.

"Sweetie, what's wrong? Are you sick?"

To his surprise, she let out a tinkling laugh, reaching out to take his hand from her cheek, giving it a light squeeze as she lowered it back to his lap. "No, Jeff. Not sick. Not sick at all. Oh, I love you so much."

Well that was an odd response if Jeff had ever heard one – even if it was rather nice. As Lucille pressed a tender kiss to his upper lip, he mumbled a confused, "Love you too, honey, but-"

"Do you want part of your Christmas present a little early this year?"

Jeff blinked. "I...what?"

"Your Christmas present," she repeated, gaining energy and enthusiasm as she grasped onto his arm with both hands, her eyes sparkling. "Do you want it now? I can save it 'til tomorrow, but..." She paused, then shook her head, laughing again – a soft, nervous noise – as she stood to her feet. "Scrap that, it can't wait. You need to see it now before I lose my nerve. Okay...you ready?"

More confused than he'd ever been before – the utter bizarreness of the current situation even topped his marriage proposal, where Lucy had burst into tears and punched him in the chest repeatedly while he had stood there, dumbfounded - Jeff merely nodded his head. Lucille sucked in a deep breath, exhaled it again sharply, and darted into the bathroom.

Jeff blinked. This was turning out to be one weird Christmas Eve...

She appeared in the bathroom doorway, the brown paper bag clutched in her hands. But now the cheerful sparkle in her eyes was gone again, replaced instead by a kind of nervous energy that made Jeff rather uneasy. But she'd said 'Christmas present', so it couldn't be anything bad, surely?

Lucille leaned against the door frame, fiddling with the green beads on her necklace as she gazed at her husband. "You really don't know what this is about, do you?"

He shook his head mutely and she sighed, dropping her gaze to the bag she held tightly in her hands. Then, in one swift motion, she took a step forward and thrust it in front of him, almost hitting him in the face in her urgency to hand it over. Once Jeff had taken it from her grasp, she strode swiftly over to the other side of the room, where she hovered nervously next to the door, looking ready to bolt should something go wrong.

Glancing up at his wife periodically, Jeff began unfolding the top lip of the bag, wondering what on earth could have her so jittery. And over a Christmas present? That wasn't his Lucy at all. Unless...

Realisation hit him like a freight train a split second before he managed to pry open the bag. His breath stilling in his chest, he gazed down at the objects inside, reaching in with fumbling fingers as he hurriedly tried to grasp at the plastic, pen-like devices. There were three in total, and he managed to drop two of them before he even had a chance to look at the first. Forcing himself to breathe –deep, erratic breaths that made his head spin - he kept his mouth firmly shut (for fear that it may drop open any moment) as his gazed flickered across each of the white, plastic sticks.

Three blue ticks.

She's...she's...

Holy guacamole.

His eyes widened and he finally allowed his mouth to drop open. "Lucy..."

"I'm sorry it's so sudden," she interrupted, one hand wrapped about her waist as the other tugged at her necklace nervously. "I thought something was off, so I went to the pharmacy yesterday to get one of those new TruthStick packs – you know the ones on the commercial that's playing on Alive all the time? - but they were all out, so I asked Marie – she works at the clinic just up from Dave's, remember? – to get me a few reliable test kits so that I could find out before Christmas." She took a deep breath, then continued at the same rapid pace, "I was gonna wait until you'd gone to bed, but I couldn't help it, I needed to know, so I only used one stick and waited to see what would happen."

As she paused again, Jeff glanced up at his wife, face frozen in shock, slack fingers still holding the positive test results. "Luce..."

"And when it came back positive, I just had this totally crazy idea that it couldn't possibly be real – I mean, we've only been trying for a month or so, it never happens this fast, right? So I drank like a gallon of tap water so that I'd need to pee and used the other two test kits. But they both said the same thing. That I...I am pregnant." She chewed on the nail of her middle finger, looking towards her husband worriedly. "Jeff, say something, please."

Jeff swallowed heavily. "We're having a baby?" he croaked, more to himself than to his wife.

Lucille nodded, approaching the bed. "Is that okay?"

Whatever shocked trance Jeff had fallen into, he snapped out of it immediately at her words. Beaming, he threw the pregnancy sticks onto the bed and leapt to his feet, capturing his wife in a strong embrace and spinning her around on the spot, laughing even thought his throat ached and his eyes stung.

"A baby? We're having a baby?! We're having a baby! Woooo!"

His wife clung to his shoulders as he set her back down again, tears brimming in her eyes as she gave a watery chuckle of her own. He took her in his arms, more gently this time, laughing again as he felt her trembling beneath him.

"Aw, honey. What's wrong?" Damn, he really couldn't stop laughing.

Lucille clung tighter to him, releasing a choked laugh/sob into his shoulder as she shook her head. "Nothing. I'm just so happy."

Easing her down onto the edge of the bed, Jeff just grinned. He grinned while she cried out her happiness and relief and surprise into his shoulder, he was grinning as he handed over his handkerchief so that she could dry her eyes and blow her nose, and his grin expanded to enormous proportions as she leaned across the bed and slid her hand beneath the pillow, pulling out a small branch of mistletoe.

"I was going to save this for later," she murmured, looking down at it with a smile as she shook her head again, "for your original Christmas bonus. But I somehow don't think it's needed anymore."

Jeff grasped the hand that held the green plant cutting, raising it above both their heads. "Oh, it's needed, Mrs. Tracy. Now more than ever."

As their lips met in a gentle, loving kiss, Jeff's free hand slid down her arm and across her midriff, settling just below her navel. His excitement and joy over the miracle he had helped create buzzed through every fibre of his being, sending, electric waves of happiness down his arm and through his fingers. And although he knew the baby had barely even begun to form within its mother's womb, Jeff was certain that the love he and Lucille already shared for the unborn child was received and understood by the tiny foetus.

Deepening the kiss, he allowed the mistletoe to fall silently to the floor, wrapping his other arm around his wife as he pulled her close.

Outside, in the bitter cold of the Kansas night, something else was falling. Tiny white specks, so small they could easily be mistaken for dust, glinted in the streetlamp as they drifted slowly towards the earth. As the first flake hit the glistening ground, the shadowed orb of the village church clock lit up a brilliant gold as the bells chimed midnight, signalling the ending of an old day and the beginning of a new.

New life, new hope and new love.

Christmas Day would dawn white and glorious that morning.


I know this came a little late - I do prioritise family above FF at this time of the year - but I hope you enjoyed it all the same. Another festive story will be posted soon!

A very Merry Christmas to you all, and to all a good night. :)