Christmas is a little strange around Aya. It’s not like the holiday blues a lot of people get, and no surprise given what happened here. So he doesn’t think much about the tension in her shoulders and the odd shadows in her eyes when she looks at him. It doesn’t happen very often anyway.
But when he catches her looking at Eve with the same expression, he starts to worry.
So he finds her staring out of the bedroom window at the gently falling snow, and walks over to stand behind her. It takes a minute of watching before he realizes she’s not really seeing anything. So he moves close enough to wrap his arms around her, and laughs a little as she jumps.
“Kyle?” she murmurs in a half-asleep sort of voice. “When did you get home?”
He plants a kiss on the top of her head. “Eh, a few minutes ago? I couldn’t find you at first. I thought you and Eve would be messing with the tree.” He’s not sure where her eyes are focusing now, but it’s out there somewhere. Which doesn’t mean it isn’t inside, too. “Looking at something, babe?”
“She was tired, and you weren’t home yet. We decided to wait until she’s back from Rose’s house. And you had better show up on time, mister.” She tensed a little before leaning back into him. “Not really. Wondering if I should have taken those opera tickets.”
“Hey. If you’re not ready, you’re not ready. No need to rush things.” He’s frowning and glad it’s hidden in her hair.
He wasn’t really expecting the laugh, even if it’s a little angry, a little bitter. “If I’ll ever be ready.” She turns in his arms and the love in her eyes is unmistakable, reassuring. “I was thinking of you showing up, too. How happy I was to see you again.” She shifted again, reaching up to wrap her arms around his neck.
“Can’t complain about that, huh.” He says quietly, leaning down to kiss her.
But he’s not letting this go.
She wakes up in the morning feeling lazy, just stretching for a moment and running through the day ahead in her mind. In the haze of waking up, she notices she’s included marking out possible ambush points. As if a shopping trip were a mission. She snorts, only half amused with herself, before dragging herself out of the cozy warmth of bed.
By the time she gets to the kitchen, Kyle and Eve are up as well. Eve is hovering around Kyle’s elbows, watching as he makes something. “Budge up, kid.” He mutters when she knocks into him, and she laughs.
Then she notices Aya and scoots over to hug her instead. “Good morning.”
“Hey there, little sister.” She laughs and ruffles Eve’s hair, which earns her a pout and having her hand swatted away. “Ready to go shopping?” She teases.
Eve bounces on her heels. “After breakfast! Kyle’s making omelets.”
“Yum!” She slips around Eve to get some plates down, and whispers good morning to Kyle. For a moment she notices the same uncomfortable light in his eyes that was there last night, but she shrugs it off.
It’s not as if he’s stupid. He can tell something’s bothering her. But she’s not ready to talk about it, and even if she were she wouldn’t start in front of Eve. She’s got enough to adjust to already without adding this - and the sleepover to look forward to. Aya will not put a damper on her little sister’s excitement.
The morning is as much of a chaotic blur as she’d imagined. For all the time that Eve’s been free, the novelty of it hasn’t worn off. Aya is always thinking of something new to show her, too.
Today, after a brief stop at Macy’s for something to wear on her sleepover, they head to F.A.O. Schwarz.
The minute they walk through the door, Eve lights up. They only lose track of her once, though, and she turns up staring at the biggest stuffed animal Aya’s ever seen - a life-sized stuffed horse. “Wow! Aya, look!” She says, and reaches up to pat its nose as if it were real.
“That is pretty amazing.” Kyle says, and he sounds a little worried about her reaction. Aya can just hear him worrying that it will never fit in the apartment, and she knows he’s right.
Eve saves them the trouble of saying it, though, when she tilts her head critically and mutters, “It would fill up my room though.”
The only reason Aya doesn’t laugh at his expression of relief is because she doesn’t want Eve hearing it.
The disappointment doesn’t last for more than a moment, and then they’re wandering on and on, through every inch of the store. Stuffed animals, dolls, cars, Legos! Eve actually squeaks when she sees those, and Aya has to wonder why she never thought to get Eve any. They’re perfect.
What stops Aya for a moment is the sadness she sees in Kyle’s eyes, when they’re standing in front of a display with reflective plastic. He knows as well as either of them why Eve is still interested in kiddie toys as much as the things for her physical age.
When she’s finally picked out the present she wants to bring Rose, they wander back up to the front with plenty of lingering glances at all the other toys. There have been a few things Eve’s eyes lit up for in particular that they need to come back for, or at least one of them does. They haven’t had a chance to decide who, but that can wait until Eve’s on her way.
By the time they’re done, Aya’s just as glad she insisted on driving them herself instead of taking a cab. They would never have made it home and back in time for Eve to catch her train, but with her things safely stowed in the trunk, they can stop in Grand Central Market for lunch.
The holiday fair is in, too, and as much as it looks to bother Kyle, Aya feels oddly comforted watching Eve dart around people. She’s always just ahead of them, but always looking back to check, and she catches Kyle around the waist at one point when she can tell he’s about to call her back.
“Relax, huh? We can take care of her, she’s close enough.”
He’s frowning for a moment before he shrugs. “Alright.”
They end up stopping at Dishes for sandwiches, during which Eve keeps checking Kyle’s watch until he flicks her hair and takes it off. He tosses it to Aya and laughs, “Eat, kid, we’ve got time. Hey, chew that!”
Aya just laughs and nudges Eve’s water closer when she chokes. “She might have read it wrong five seconds ago, you know.”
Eve glares at both of them, but there’s a smile in her eyes too.
The little stuffed sea animals are still there when Kyle gets back to the store, which is a mercy. There hadn’t been many of them left in the morning, and he was a little worried this close to Christmas.
He would feel worse about cutting it so close, but it is their first time doing this. It feels a little weird buying kid’s toys without Eve there too, but he seems to be the only one who thinks so. At least he can’t see anyone looking at him oddly. Jealous of the stuffed animals, yeah, he’d gotten the next to last one.
He has to wonder sometimes if this is ever going to stop feeling weird. If, say, he and Aya had their own kids.
Which is when it hits him, standing outside F.A.O. Schwarz with a couple of bags of kiddie toys. Kids, she’s freaking worried about kids! Fair enough, because now that he’s actually thought about it, so is he. They’ve both seen their fair share of explosions related to her powers, and of course she’d thought of it before him. So they’d been using protection, but that’s just force of habit or common sense or whatever you want to call it.
He climbs into the cab with his head spinning a little, and decides to make another stop before heading home.
She’d expected to beat him home, so she isn’t surprised that the place is dark when she gets in. Kyle’s voice calling her from the bedroom, that’s a surprise.
Knowing Kyle, she’s a little worried that he’s going to be naked in there, and before she opens the door she leans her head against it. “You’re not planning anything right now, are you? Because I for one am a little exhausted.”
“No. Well, nothing like that.” He sounds a little annoyed, but when he comes to the door he’s smiling. And dressed. Which, with the presents piled in the living room and the joy of wrapping to look forward to tomorrow, is about all Aya could ask for at the moment. “You okay?”
“The traffic was a nightmare, that’s all.” She whispers, and kisses him lightly as she heads for the bathroom.
“I’ll be in the kitchen, alright? I bought dinner, it just needs heating up.”
Getting everything set up, with the candles and the peppers arranged as hearts? Was thoroughly worth it when he saw her expression. Oh sure, she’s about to laugh at him.
A second later she does.
But it’s happy laughter, the kind that ends in a kiss and settling down to eat. Talking about their plans for the few days that Eve is gone is nice, even though he notices that she’s got that expression on her face again for a minute.
It gets a little worse when she sees the tickets. “Kyle.” She says, in tones like he sucked all the energy right out of her in the worst way.
“Hey, I’m going too. And Eve.” He whispers, trying to sound apologetic and not annoyed himself.
“Eve? To the opera?” She looks up at him then and he thinks she wants to laugh. “I mean...”
He leans back, shrugging. “She’ll ask us both a hundred questions and we probably won’t be able to pay attention to a note of it?” He asks, grinning. It is a pretty genius plan, if he thinks so himself.
She’s leaning her chin on her hand now. “Kyle, you’re nuts. I love you, but you. Are nuts.”
“So... you want to go?” He asks, trying not to lose the grin. If he looks nervous, he knows it’ll set her off.
Or she could have developed mind-reading powers without telling him, judging by that expression. “Yes. We ought to go, don’t you think?”
Which is close enough for now. A little work at a time, and never give up.