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Home for Christmas

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Nineteen year old Faith Mitchell lay in bed in her apartment, staring out the bedroom window at the rapidly falling snow. Sighing softly, she tugged the covers up to her chin and closed her eyes. It was Christmas Eve, and yet no joyous feelings were present to make her even vaguely happy about the season.

Shivering lightly, she let out a breath, wishing the whole thing was over with already. Fred had told her that he was spending Christmas with his family, and that his mom insisted it was a "family thing." And naturally since she wasn't technically family, she hadn't been included. Her roommate had gone home to Jersey for the week to visit family and friends, leaving Faith the apartment all to herself. She had no idea what her own family--if you could call them that--were doing for Christmas. She hadn't talked to them for months, and she had no desire to do so now.

The only person she really wanted to spend the holidays with was overseas, anyway.

Pulling the blankets over her head, she wondered if she could just sleep through the whole miserable holiday.

******
He walked down the hallway with his beret in one hand, his large Army issued duffel in the other. It seemed like it had been an eternity since the last time he walked down this corridor. The flight back seemed to take forever and the cab ride was long, not only because of the holiday traffic but because he was in no mood to sit and wait. There were things he needed to do. People he needed to see.

Finally reaching the apartment he dropped his bag on the floor, brushed off the sleeves of his Ranger dress uniform and gave a tug on the bottom of his jacket, hoping to get rid of any wrinkle that may had appeared.

With a nervous flutter in his stomach he reached out and knocked loudly. Praying that someone was home.

* * *

Groaning, she remained motionless for a long moment, until the knock came again. She shoved the blankets aside, slowly climbing out of bed and grabbing her terrycloth robe from her messy desk and pulling it on. Tying the belt around her waist, she headed down the hallway, her eyes red and her hair pulled back in a sloppy ponytail.

She didn't bother to check who it was, she figured it was probably some friend of Cindy's coming to wish her a merry Christmas. Whoever it was certainly wasn't there to see her--she had no friends in the city anymore. She unlocked the door and pulled it open.

He lifted his gaze from the floor as the door opened, and even though she didn't look her best he couldn't stop the smile that spread across his face at the sight of her. "Merry Christmas, Mitch," he whispered.

She stared at him with wide eyes and an open-mouth. She tried to speak, but for a moment she was unable to find her voice. "Boz?" she whispered.

Smiling he held his arms out. "I'm home."

"But...what are you...when...why didn't you..." Shaking her head, she launched herself into his arms, wrapping her own arms around him tightly and pressing her face against his shoulder.

It was a good thing he'd braced himself or they both would have ended up on the floor. He held her tight and picked her up off the ground. "God, I missed you," he whispered.

"Me too," she whispered back. "Are you sure this is real? I'm not dreamin'?"

"Well, it's real unless I'm havin' the same dream," he told her softly, still holding her off the ground and swinging her back and forth gently. "I wanted to surprise you."

"Well it worked." Her arms didn't loosen around him at all and she pressed a kiss to his cheek.

He carefully set her back on the floor but he made no move to let go of her. "You have no idea how hard it was not to let you know I was coming home."

"How long are you here?"

Pulling back enough to look at her he grinned. "How long do you want me to be here for?"

"Forever," she answered without hesitation. "But obviously that's not the case, so how long is your leave?"

"Well..." He looked thoughtful for a moment. "I'm thinking I could manage that forever thing."

 

Her eyebrows furrowed. "What?"

"Mitch," he whispered, gazing at her intently. "I'm home."

"Bosco, I don't understand..I thought..."

"My time's up. I'm outta the Rangers unless I decide I wanna stay in longer."

Faith stared at him, stunned. "Are you...are you serious?" she whispered.

He nodded. "No more sleeping in the desert for me. Unless of course...you don't want me to stay," he teased.

Wordlessly, she hugged him again, a little harder than the first time. "You're really back?" she whispered, her voice strained.

"I'm really back, and just so you know...if you crack one of my ribs the Army won't pay for the x-rays."

"Sorry." She loosened her grip on him a little, but didn't let him go.

"It's okay." He kissed her temple. "It's so good to be home."

She closed her eyes, leaning her head against his.

"I totally lucked out, huh? Bein' able to get here for Christmas. I think I've even got a little time to do some shopping tonight."

"I'm so glad you're back."

"How've you been?"

It took her a moment to answer. "Okay. Why don't you come in? I'll make some hot chocolate or something."

"I'd love to come in." He kissed her cheek before letting go of her and reaching down to pick up his duffle bag. "I think I'm gonna go change outta this uniform if you don't mind."

"No, go ahead. Cindy's at her parents' house in Jersey, so it's just us."

He nodded his head and stepped into the living room. "So since you're here I'm guessing you and your folks still aren't seeing eye to eye?"

"Somethin' like that." Shet let out a breath. "Hot chocolate or tea?"

He gave her a look. "What do you think?"

"Hot chocolate, lots of marshmallows."

"You haven't forgotten," he said softly as he took off his uniform jacket.

"Some things you never forget." She moved into the kitchen.

Having grown up with Faith he didn't even bother to move into the bathroom or one of the bedrooms as he began to change. He'd just gotten home from two long years in the service and he wasn't about to let her out of his sight any sooner than he had to. "You talked to my mom lately?"

"Last week. She's at your aunt's house in Pennsylvania." Her voice was sad. "She won't be back til after New Year's."

"Good. She didn't spill the beans then."

"She knew?" Faith quickly turned to look at him.

Maurice nodded as he unbuttoned his dress shirt. "Yeah. She wrote me and said she'd made plans to go down south for Christmas. I wrote her back to let her know that I'd be coming home sometime around then but that I didn't know exactly when, and that I didn't want her to change her plans in case I didn't make it home until after Christmas."

"But...aren't you upset that you won't get to see her til after Christmas? Or..." She bit her lip. "Are you planning on drivin' down to see her?"

"It would be nice to see her, that's for sure." He tossed his shirt on the sofa and dug around in his bag for something else to put on.

She bit her lip a little harder, willing herself not to cry as she pulled a mug out of the cabinet and began to make hot chocolate.

"You got plans tonight?" He asked over his shoulder.

"No," she said softly, shaking her head as she stirred some hot water into the mug.

Staying turned away from her he quickly changed into a pair of jeans then reached for the lone Army sweatshirt that was in his bag. "What about tomorrow?"

Faith closed her eyes for a few seconds, realizing he wouldn't go see his mother like he wanted if he knew she was going to be alone on Christmas. "Yeah, Fred and I are going to his folks." Her voice was quiet.

"Oh, that's...great," he told her, sounding disappointed.

She held her breath for a moment. "So are you gonna drive down and see your mom tonight or wait til tomorrow?"

He pulled the sweatshirt over his head as he made his way toward the kitchen. "I don't think I'm goin'," he told her softly.

"What? But I thought you wanted to see her." She turned to look at him.

"I did. I do," he said quickly then paused. "But I just got home, and...I know this is really bad of me but..."

"But what?" she asked softly.

"But...part of me was kinda hopin' you didn't have any plans so you could go with me."

She quickly diverted her eyes from his.

"I know. I'm sorry, that's really mean of me."

"No, I just..." Faith was silent for a moment. "I don't wanna intrude. I'm sure you and your mom have lots of catching up to do."

"And so do we." He ran his hand over his short hair. "I wanna go see her and Mikey, but I really wanna hang out with you."

"Yeah, but if you're back for good, we'll have plenty of time," she said softly.

He let out a breath. "We can at least spend tonight together, right?"

"Yeah, of course." She stirred the cocoa mix up, then dropped a handful of marshmallows into it. "Here you go."

His eyes lit up as he took the mug from her. "This looks great."

She smiled faintly and leaned against the counter.

"Mmm. This is good," he told her lowering the mug from his lips and cradling it between his hands. "There's nothin' like going from the desert to snowy Manhattan."

Her eyes were soft as she gazed at him. "I can't believe you didn't tell me you were comin' home."

"It was so hard not to write and let you know. I wanted to tell you so bad, but then I didn't want you to be disappointed if it didn't work out." He smiled. "Plus I guess while I was over there...sometimes I'd just think about what it would be like to come home unannounced, and see your reaction."

"Was it worth it?"

"Yeah." He nodded then set down his mug. "Yeah it was worth it."

"That's good." She gazed at him

"Any chance I could get another hug?"

"You bet," she whispered, sliding her arms around his waist once more.

"This right here...this was definitely worth it. The guys on our base just didn't hug like you do."

A soft chuckle escaped her. "I'm relieved to hear that."

He gave her body a squeeze then rubbed her back gently. "I still can't believe I'm back, Mitch. And that I'm gonna be able to see you and talk to you whenever I want."

Faith closed her eyes, holding onto him and not replying as she let him hold her.

"I wanna know everything you've been up to lately."

She bit her lower lip. "Oh...not much, really. Just...work and school. That's about it."

"How is school?" He asked as he pulled away enough to kiss her forehead, but still kept his arms around her waist.

She didn't open her eyes because she couldn't look at him and lie. "It's fine."

He studied her for a moment, tilting his head to the side a little. "Be honest."

"It's fine," she repeated.

"I've been gone a long time, but not long enough to forget why you won't look at me," he told her softly.

She swallowed hard, slowly extricating herself from his arms. "Okay, it's not fine." Her voice was soft.

"I'm listening," he whispered, his eyes full of concern.

She let out a breath, rubbing the back of her neck. "I'm failing."

His eyes widened and he felt the air leave his lungs. She was failing? Faith Mitchell didn't fail, especially not in her classes.

"I haven't been goin'," she whispered.

"I-I don't...Why? What's been going on?" He questioned very softly, knowing that something had to be wrong if she wasn't going to college.

"A lot of stuff," she murmured, drained.

He held his hand out to her. "Come on. Let's go sit down and talk."

She slid her fingers through his and gripped onto his hand.

Bosco led her over to the sofa and put his duffle bag on the floor so there was room for both of them to sit down. Still holding her hand he sat so he was facing her.

She started to sit down beside him, wincing and pressing her free hand to her stomach before easing the rest of the way onto the sofa.

"Whoa. Hey." He reached his other hand out to her. "Are you okay?"

"Yeah," she murmured, closing her eyes briefly.

"Have you uh...you been sick or something?" He asked quietly. He'd noticed how pale she looked and that when she answered the door she was in her robe, but he'd been so happy to see her that he didn't want to ruin the moment.

She bit her lower lip, unable to answer. Tears sparkled in her eyes.

He squeezed her hand and shifted toward her a little more, resting his free hand on her leg. "What's wrong?"

A tear slid down her cheek and she shook her head.

"Oh, Mitch." His eyes were sad as he gazed at her, and lifted his hand to brush the tear away.

She leaned against him, closing her eyes as she slid an arm around his waist, burying her face against his chest.

Wrapping his arms around her he kissed the top of her head. "You can tell me," he whispered. "Maybe I can help."

Her body trembled against him. "I had a miscarriage," she whispered back.

"Oh, God." Closing his eyes he rested his chin on top of her head. "When?"

"Six weeks ago." Her voice broke.

"I'm so sorry," he murmured as he rubbed her back.

She cried softly against his shirt, holding onto him.

"I didn't even know you were pregnant," he said very softly. "I shoulda been here."

"I didn't tell anyone," she whispered, closing her eyes.

"What about Fred?"

"He doesn't know...I mean, not about me being pregnant."

"How pregnant were you," he asked quietly.

"Eight weeks." She let out a breath, resting a hand on her stomach.

"I'm so sorry," he whispered.

"Me too," she whispered back.

"I'm sorry I wasn't here for you." He kissed the top of her head.

"I was so afraid, Bosco," she whispered.

"I bet you were." He began to gently stroke her hair.

She relaxed against him, resting her hand over his heart.

"Are you gonna tell him?"

"No."

"You don't think he should know?"

She bit her lip. "He'd be upset because I hadn't told him I was pregnant."

"Okay, well we won't worry about that now." He kissed her head once more and let out a breath.

Faith closed her eyes and let her head rest against his chest.

"If you need anything..."

"Thanks," she whispered.

"So I'm guessin' that you've been pretty...unhappy lately?"

She nodded against him. "Yeah."

"Keepin' this all inside musta been hard."

"I haven't kept it...all...inside," she whispered.

He shook his head slightly in confusion. "Whaddaya mean?"

"Cindy and Fred...know part of it...just...not...all of it."

"I don't understand," he told her softly.

"They know how it happened."

"And...how did it happen?"

"I was...mugged," she whispered.

He closed his eyes, and held her a little tighter.

"I thought that..." Her voice was strained. "I thought they were gonna..."

His heart was breaking for her. "Shhh. It's okay."

"I'm sorry," she whispered, clinging to him.

"There's no reason for you to apologize," he informed her.

"I didn't mean to ruin your homecoming."

"You didn't." He shook his head. "You couldn't ruin it if you tried."

"I've missed you so much."

"I've missed you too. I thought about you everyday."

She lifted her head up, her eyes still sparkling with tears as she brushed a kiss against his cheek.

"I'm sorry I wasn't here for you. God, if I coulda been..."

"I know," she whispered. "I know."

"But I'm here now. I'm gonna make up for all the time I was gone."

"That night...I dreamt you were with me," she murmured.

"The night you lost the baby," he asked very softly.

"Yes," she whispered. "I dreamt you were in the hospital with me and...you were holding me."

"I uh...I hope that helped you," he whispered back.

"Until I woke up and realized it was just a dream." She closed her eyes, leaning her head against his chest once more.

He was quiet for a few moments then lifted a hand to wipe at his eyes.

"Boz?"

He swallowed hard. "Yeah?"

"Why do you suppose it is that I dream more about you than I do Fred?" she whispered.

"Because I'm better looking," he said lightly.

A soft chuckle escaped her. "Well, yeah."

Bosco took a deep breath and let it out slowly. "I think it's because we know each other so well," he answered seriously. "Because we grew up together and we love each other. We'd do anything for each other."

"Having you home...that's the best Christmas present I can think of," she whispered.

"I was hopin' you'd like it."

"Can I tell you somethin'?"

"Of course. You can tell me anything."

"Fred's not really comin' over tomorrow." Her voice was barely audiblel

He was quiet for a moment. "Now I feel really bad for hopin' you didn't have plans," he said softly.

"I just...didn't want you to not go see your mom because of me," she whispered.

"Look at me for a sec."

She lifted her head from his chest to look at him, her eyes red-rimmed from crying.

"You weren't gonna stop me from going to see my mom," he whispered very softly. "Because you were gonna go with me."

"I can't," she whispered, shaking her head.

His eyebrows furrowed. "What? Why not?"

"I just...I can't leave." She wrapped her arms around herself, trembling.

"How come? Do you have somethin' goin' on? Or like...a doctor appointment or something?"

Faith shook her head, unable to look at him.

"You know that you don't have to try and hide anything from me," he whispered. "It's just me."

"I'm scared," she whispered.

"What are you...You mean of leaving the apartment?"

She nodded silently, swallowing hard.

"Hey, listen," he whispered, touching her cheek gently. "I'm not gonna let anything happen to you."

"The last time I left was when..." She bit her lower lip.

He cupped her face in his hands. "You know that I'd never let anyone hurt you."

A tear dripped down her cheek. "I know."

His expression was sad. "And you're too smart and too pretty and too young to stay locked up in here."

"Fred keeps telling me I need to get out, I just...haven't been able to," she whispered.

"Can I ask you somethin'?"

She nodded wordlessly.

"When you're with Fred...does he make you feel safe?"

She bit her lip, lowering her eyes from his face.

The fact that she didn't respond was answer enough for him. "What about me? Do I make you feel safe?"

"Yes," she whispered without hesitation.

"Then come with me for Christmas. Let me take you away from the city for a while," he whispered back.

Swallowing hard, she looked up at him. "I'm kind of a mess," she whispered.

"Yeah." He nodded. "And with good reason."

"You don't think I'm crazy?" Her eyes were full of uncertainty.

"No. No, of course not." He tucked a loose strand of hair behind her ear. "You're hurt and you're sad. But you're not crazy."

Faith leaned her forehead against his, closing her eyes.

"Let me take you away from here. We'll go spend Christmas with ma and Mikey, and with my Aunt Sandy. She'll love you."

"Are you sure?" she whispered.

"I'm positive."

She was silent for a moment. "Okay."

He smiled softly. "Yeah?"

"Yeah," she said softly, sliding her arms around him.

"Alright." He kissed her cheek. "So, you should get showered and dressed. I'll pack some things for you and then we'll go get some of my stuff from ma's. Then you and me will head for Pennsylvania and we'll hit a couple malls for some last minute shopping."

"We're leaving tonight?"

"Unless you don't want to. We can go tomorrow."

"No, if...if you wanna go tonight..." She bit her lip.

He could see the apprehension in her eyes. "We'll go tomorrow."

"It's dark outside," she whispered.

"I wasn't thinkin'. I'm sorry."

"I'm such a wuss."

"You're not."

She couldn't look at him. "Are you hungry? I could fix something..."

"Faith."

She fell silent.

"You are not a wuss, and you're not crazy. And I don't think any less of you for being scared."

"I'll be okay tomorrow, I promise, I just...I need tonight."

"Even if you aren't okay tomorrow, it'll be alright. Okay?"

"I will be," she whispered.

He touched her cheek. "You know I love you, right?"

Swallowing hard, she lifted her gaze to his once more, nodding slightly. "I know."

"And I'm gonna help you. We're gonna figure this out together, and we're gonna get you back in school. But not before you're ready."

"I love you, too, Boz," she murmured, sliding her arms around his waist.

"It's gonna be a good Christmas," he told her as he wrapped his arms around her.

"I hope so."

"It's you and me, Mitch. Of course it'll be good."

Resting her head on his shoulder, she exhaled slowly. "Boz?"

"Hmm?"

"Tonight, do you think...could you hold me?"

"You bet. I wasn't really plannin' on letting go anyway."

"Good," she whispered. "I haven't been sleepin' very well."

"Do you think...maybe we should get you some help? Someone for you to talk to about what happened?"

She shifted uncomfortably. "Fred would start askin' questions."

"I know that you love him, but Fred...he's the least of my concerns right now."

"I'm not so sure about that anymore," she whispered.

"About what?"

"How I feel about Fred."

"You don't love him anymore?"

"I don't know," she admitted.

Bosco stared at the wall as he rubbed her back. "Were you guys...were you trying to have a baby?"

"No." She shook her head. "It was an accident, but..."

"But what?" His voice was soft.

"I wasn't...upset about it," she whispered. "When I found out, I was...happy."

"You woulda been a great mom to that baby."

"You think so?"

"I don't just think so, I know so. You were always so great with Mikey." He chuckled. "And you mothered me a time or two."

A sad smile tugged at her lips. "I guess I was kind of afraid it was God's way of telling me I wasn't supposed to be a mom."

"Maybe it was cause you weren't ready, or cause...maybe your baby wasn't," he whispered.

She quickly closed her eyes against the rush of tears she felt building. "Yeah, maybe."

"There's no doubt in my mind that you will be a mom someday. You'll be an amazing mom."

"I hope so," she whispered.

He kissed her temple. "I'm sorry about the baby, but I'm glad that you're okay."

"And I'm glad you're home," she murmured, curling up against him.

"I am too." He kissed her once more. "Are you comfortable enough out here or should we go into bed?"

"Bed."

"Sounds good to me." Bosco patted her leg. "Come on."

She slowly stood up.

Standing beside her he reached for her hand and led her toward her bedroom, stopping first to make sure the apartment door was locked.

She let him lead her down the hallway to her bedroom, where she shed her robe and crawled into bed, scooting over to make room for him.

"Is it okay if I take off my jeans?" He asked quietly as he stood next to the bed.

"Yeah," she murmured, closing her eyes.

He stripped off his jeans, and climbed into bed with her, wearing boxers and his sweatshirt. "When was the last time we slept in the same bed?"

"High school. Prom night."

"Yeah." He chuckled softly. "And while everyone else was -sleepin'- together you and I were sleepin' together."

She smiled faintly. "Yeah. We were weird like that."

"But we sure had a good time, didn't we?"

"Yeah, we always did."

"When I was in the service...I really missed...us."

"Me too," she whispered, opening her eyes to look at him.

"You think we can have that again, even though I've been away so long?"

"I really hope so." She shifted closer to him.

He didn't hesitate before slipping his arm around her waist and scooting closer to her.

It occurred to her, albeit if a fleeting occurance, that Fred would be really pissed if he had any idea she was sleeping in the same bed with another guy. Pushing the thought away, she rested her head against his collarbone, closing her eyes.

* * *

Faith woke up slowly, feeling more relaxed and comfortable than she had in weeks as she lay in Bosco's arms. Until she opened her eyes and saw Fred standing a few feet from the bed, his arms folded over his chest. Her heart sank. This isn't good.

He shook his head. "I probably should seen this coming."

"Fred," she whispered.

"I come over to surprise you on Christmas and -this- is what I get?" He motioned toward the bed.

She flinched at the anger in his voice. "You left me to be alone on Christmas."
"So you get it on with some stranger?"

Hearing the loud voice of another man, Bosco woke up quickly, afraid that he was back in the Rangers and had overslept.

Fred's eyes widened when he realized who the man in bed with his girlfriend was.

"Just go, Fred."

Bosco looked over at Faith then back at Fred. "Nothing happened here."

He chuckled humorlessly. "Right."

She pulled the blankets off, revealing her flannel pajamas perfectly intact.

"Like that proves anything," he spat.

"You're right. The only thing we proved this morning is that you don't trust me and...we don't belong together."

"Maybe you're right. Maybe we don't belong together."

Tears prickled at her eyes but she blinked them back.

"Guys, come on," Bosco said softly. "Don't do something you're gonna regret."

Fred shook his head. "I shoulda known she was waitin' for you to come home. She hasn't wanted to be with me in weeks. Doesn't even let me close to her. I shoulda figured it out."

She looked down at the bedspread.

"Did you ever think to ask why, Fred? No. Probably not. You're too stuck on yourself."

"Whatever, Ranger boy." He turned to Faith. "You're gonna regret this. Not just losin' me, but..." He nodded toward Bosco. "Bein' with him."

"Shut up, Fred." Her voice was soft. "Just go home."

Reaching into his pocket he pulled out his keyring, and took off the key to Faith's apartment. "Merry Christmas," he grumbled as he tossed the key toward Bosco and headed out of the room.

A tear slid down her cheek and she quickly brushed it away.

Having caught the key Bosco looked down at it and then glanced up at Faith. "I'll go talk to him."

"No."

"He overreacted. I probably would have too."

"I don't care," she whispered.

Letting out a breath he ran a hand through his hair. "I'm sorry," he whispered back.

"I think I knew it was over a few weeks ago, I just...didn't wanna admit it."

"I just don't want you to hurt anymore than you already do," he told her softly.

"Well, you're here, so...anything else...doesn't matter."

"You think too highly of me."

"How can I not?"

Bosco set the key on the bedside table and patted the mattress, silently telling her to come back to bed. "I'm just a normal guy."

She sat down beside him. "No...you're my best friend."

He smiled up at her. "You're mine, too."

"So that means that you're not just some guy...and I'm allowed to have a high opinion of you."

"I just hope I can keep livin' up to it."

She kissed his cheek. "It's still early," she murmured, glancing at the clock. It was just after six.

"What time do you think we should leave?"

"Couple hours...unless you wanna go sooner."

"I'm pretty comfortable right here actually."

She smiled. "And I was all warm and comfortable til I woke up and saw Fred."

"Well get back over her and we'll see what we can do about that warm and comfortable," he told her with a grin.

Her smile widened a little and she crawled past him into bed once more.

Bosco wrapped his arm around her and shifted toward her. Resting his head on the pillow a content sigh escaped him.

"I don't know how I survived the past two years," she murmured.

"They were rough for me, too."

"Have I mentioned I'm glad you're home?"

"Maybe once or twice, but a guy with an ego the size of mine doesn't mind hearing it often."

Faith smiled faintly, closing her eyes and placing a soft kiss against his shoulder. "Well, I'm glad you're home."

"Get some more sleep," he whispered.

"You too," she murmured, snuggling a little closer to him and relaxing in his arms once more.

* * *

Bosco barely managed to get his duffel bag closed and zipped. "I'm like a damn girl," he joked. "I've got enough clothes for like...two months in this thing."

"Is that the only bag you had over there?" Faith asked softly, glancing up from where she was folding her clothes and stashing them in a backpack.

"Yeah." He nodded. "We weren't allowed to have more than what could fit in here. And let me tell you...I'm -really- good at getting stuff to fit in this bag."

She was quiet for a moment. "You miss the guys in your unit?"

He glanced over at her, and shrugged. "Haven't really had time to miss them yet I guess. But Derek...he's gonna come visit sometime."

"That'll be nice." She tucked a strand of hair behind her ear, trying to push away the nervousness growing inside of her at the thought of leaving the apartment.

"Oh, hey...I got somethin' for you. It's nothin' special. I don't even know if you'll want it."

"You didn't have to get me anything," she said softly.

"Well...I didn't actual buy it or anything, and I haven't had time to do any shopping, but...there is something I wanted you to have." Biting his lip he reached over his bag and picked up a worn, Army issued fatigue jacket like the one he was wearing. It read 'Boscorelli' over one breast pocket and 'US Army' over the other.

Her eyes widened a little. "This is...for me?" she whispered.

"Yeah." He nodded, holding it out to her. "I know it's not the latest fashion or anything, but..."

She smiled, her eyes bright as she slipped the jacket on over her shirt. "Thank you."

"Welcome," he told her with a smile. "It looks good on you."

Her smile widened a little. "It smells like you."

"Is that a good thing?" He asked with a raised eyebrow.

"Yeah," she whispered. "It's comforting." She wrapped her arms around herself.

"I'm glad," he whispered back. "I hope you'll hang on to that for a long time."

"Til it falls apart or I die."

"Hopefully it falls apart first," he told her softly.

She smiled at him. "So...are we ready to get outta here?" Her voice was slightly nervous.

"I'm all set. Are you?" He questioned, gazing at her.

"Yep. Let's go."

"You sure?"

She bit her lower lip. "I'm just...it's been a long time since I've left."

"I know." He held both his hands out to her.

She slid her fingers through his, swallowing hard.

He squeezed her hands. "I know that you're scared, Mitch," he whispered. "That's okay cause I'm gonna be right there with you. I'm not gonna let anything happen. But if you don't think you're up to this..."

"No. I can do this."

Bosco smiled softly and nodded his head. "Yeah, you can."

"I just....let's go before I chicken out."

"Okay." He kissed her cheek then grabbed her backpack and slung it over his shoulder before picking up his duffle bag.

Faith drew in a breath, following him out of the room and down the hallway toward the front door.

When they got to the front door he turned to look at her. "Are you ready," he asked her quietly.

Her breathing was a little heavier and she bit her lip, nodding wordlessly.

He took hold of her hand. "You're gonna be just fine."

Nodding again, her eyes were full of uncertainty as she followed him out the door, pausing to lock it behind them.

"So far so good, huh?"

She forced herself to take a breath. "Yeah."

"You're incharge here, okay? I want you to lead the way."

"I'd rather follow you."

"I just don't want you to feel like I'm forcing you into this," he told her softly. "And I don't wanna go too fast for you."

"I just wanna get to the car," she whispered.

"Right. Okay." He gave her hand a reassuring squeeze. "Follow me then."

She held onto his hand tightly, letting him lead her down the stairs and to the exit.

Bosco decided not to pause at the doors that led outside, not wanting her to have any more time to think about what was happening. Instead he just pushed open the door, and headed outside into the cold morning air.

Trembling slightly, she tightened her grip on his hand as she spotted a couple of men walking toward them.

"The car's over there," he informed her, lifting their hands to point to where he'd parked his mother's car after having gone and gotten it earlier that morning.

"Boz," she whispered, moving closer to him.

He looked at her, his eyes sad. "It's okay," he whispered back. "I'm right here."

"Merry Christmas," one of the men said, nodding as they walked past.

"Yeah. Merry Christmas," Bosco responded, managing a smile.

Tears sparkling in her eyes, she loosened her grip on his hand a little. "Sorry," she whispered.

He kissed her temple. "You don't have to apologize."

"Told you I was a mess."

"Mitch, I don't care about that." He dropped his bag on the ground and turned toward her, resting his hands on her hips. "You've been through hell, and you haven't had anyone to help you deal with it. It's gonna take time."

She bit her lip, sliding her arms around his waist. "Are you sure you want me to go with you to see your family? Because I'd understand if--"

"Of course I want you to go. You're my family, too."

"I know, but I don't wanna risk ruining the holidays."

He shook his head. "You're not gonna ruin the holidays. Just the fact that we're gonna be together...I already know it's gonna be the best Christmas yet."

Closing her eyes, she rested her head against his for a moment.

"It's so good to see you that I don't care about anything else," he whispered.

"Thank you," she whispered back.

"I love you." He kissed her cheek. "Now come on. Let's get in the car and crank the heat."

Drawing in a breath, she followed him across the street, relaxing a little once she climbed in the car.

He put their things in the backseat, and tossed a pillow over the seat to Faith. "I grabbed that from ma's just incase you wanted to sleep," he informed her as he got into the driver's seat.

"Thanks." She placed the pillow against the window.

"I decided not to tell her we were coming," he informed her as he started the car. "Figured I could at least surprise her that way."

"I bet she'll be surprised." She nodded.

"I hope so."

* **

Faith stood on the doorstep of Bosco's aunt's house, shivering from the cold air as snowflakes tumbled down on them.

Bosco reached out to knock on the door then pulled his hand back, chuckling softly.

"What?"

"It's just I've got that same feeling I had when I was getting ready to knock on your door. My stomach is doin' sommersaults. I can't believe I'm so nervous."

She smiled faintly. "I'm a little nervous too," she admitted.

He took hold of her hand, and leaned over to kiss her cheek. "I'm really glad you came with."

Squeezing his hand lightly, she reached up and knocked on the door.

As they waited for someone to answer the door he shifted his weight nervously from foot to foot, and blew out a breath.

A moment later the door opened and Rose Boscorelli's eyes widened. "Maurice!"

"Ma," he whispered, his eyes beginning to water.

She was out the door, her arms wrapped tightly around him, kissing his cheek. "Oh, thank God, you're home. Thank God."

Holding her tight he couldn't help but grin at her reaction. "We thought we'd come surprise you."

"Merry Christmas, baby." She kissed his cheek again.

"Merry Christmas, mom," he whispered, giving her a squeeze. "Is Mikey still awake?"

"Yeah, he's downstairs playing some video game."

"Did you tell him I was comin' home?"

"No, I wasn't sure you'd make it."

"Okay." He kissed her cheek then pulled away enough to look at her. "It's really good to see you."

Her eyes were bright, her smile wide. "It's good to see you too." She patted his cheek.

He held his hand out to Faith. "I brought a friend. Hope that's okay."

Rose smiled. "Of course it is. Hello, Faith."

"Hi," she said softly, returning the smile.

"Good answer," Bosco told his mother. "It wouldn't be right if I didn't get to spend my first Christmas home from the Rangers with both of you."

"Come on in, it's freezing out there. Your aunt's making lunch."

He nodded. "Which room do we get? I think I'm gonna dump our stuff off then go say hi to Mikey."

"Down the hall to your left. It's the big guest room. I'll move my stuff into the smaller one."

"It's okay," he told her softly. "We can take the smaller one."

"Nonsense. There's only one of me and there's two of you. I don't mind." Rose smiled brightly.

"Thanks mom." He kissed her forehead.

"No problem."

Faith lingered behind them, her hands folded behind her back.

"I'll catch up with you in a little bit," he told her his mother softly before turning to Faith. "You comin' with me?"

She nodded slightly, following him down the hall and sitting down on the edge of the large bed as she glanced around. "Wow. Your aunt has a nice house."

"Yeah." He set their bags on the floor by the closet then moved over to see beside Faith. "Sometimes I used to wonder what it'd be like to live here, you know, outta the big city."

"I think it'd be nice," she murmured.

"Hey," he whispered. "I was thinkin' earlier."

"About what?"

"Well, if you want...if you get along with my aunt...maybe we could stay here for a while?"

Her eyebrows furrowed a little. "What do you mean? Like...an extended vacation?"

"Yeah." He nodded. "You know...until you're ready to go back."

"I don't wanna burden your aunt like that. And don't you wanna spend time with your mom and brother?" She shook her head.

"We won't be a burden on her, this house is pretty big. And we're all gonna be here until after the New Year anyway, and...and I'm gonna need some time to adjust too," he whispered.

Faith was silent for a moment. "I just don't want you thinking that you have to take care of me," she whispered.

"I wanna help you, and really...I need time to adjust too. It might do both of us some good."

She nodded slightly. "Yeah. Maybe you're right."

"There's no pressure though, okay?" He put his hand on her leg. "We won't stay here unless you're comfortable."

"Okay," she whispered, leaning over and kissing his cheek.

"I can't tell you how happy I am that you came with."

"I'm glad I did."

"You doin' alright?"

"Yeah, I think so. I made it here." She smiled faintly.

He smiled at her. "You sure did, and we're gonna have a good time."

"We always do."

Bosco took hold of her hand, and was quiet for a moment as he looked down at their hands.

"What are you thinkin' about?" she whispered.

"About you," he whispered back. "About how Fred treated you this morning."

Faith bit her lower lip, looking away, out the window. "Well it's over, so it doesn't really matter."

"But it matters to me. He shoulda trusted you, and he never...he never shoulda left you alone as much as he did after what happened." His jaw was tense and he shook his head. "I thought he'd look out for you."

"He was busy. He has a job, Bosco. And family..."

"So. You're important, too."

"To you."

"Yeah," he whispered, gazing at her, his eyes intense. "You are. There are so many things that I wouldn't have made it through if you hadn't been there."

"Well, that goes both ways," she whispered back, touching his cheek.

"He wasn't good enough for you."

She bit her lip.

"Dammit, I'm sorry." He let out a breath. "The last thing I wanted was to hurt you any more and here I am talkin' about..."

"Shh...it's okay."

He nodded slightly, and held her hand a little tighter.

"Come on. Why don't we go see Mikey?"

"Yeah, we should go check on the rodent."

She elbowed him lightly in the ribs. "Don't talk about your brother like that."

"You know I say rodent with affection," he said with a grin.

"If you mean rodent as in guinea pig and not rat, then I accept that answer."

"Oh, well uh..." He gave her a curious look. "Yeah, whatever."

"I like guinea pigs," she said simply, standing up.

"Since when?"

"I always have. I've actually kinda been thinking about getting one."

"You have?" He stood up beside her. "How come I didn't know you liked guinea pigs?"

"I don't know. Just never came up, I guess. One of my friends at school...Angie has a couple. They're adorable."

He nodded his head, and took hold of her hand. "Maybe you could take me over to Angie's sometime and I could meet these little critters."

She smiled. "Yeah. I think you'd like 'em. They're sweet."

"It's a date then."

Faith paused at his choice of words, but dismissed it, figuring he hadn't meant it literally.

Bosco yawned. "Maybe after lunch we could come back and take a nap," he suggested. "That was a long drive."

"Sounds good to me." She yawned, as well, following him down the stairs.

"Hey, Michael!" Bosco hollered as they made their way through the house. Announcing his presence to his brother, curious as to if it would bring him running or if he'd just stay put.

She couldn't help but chuckle.

Mikey appeared a few seconds later, his eyes wide with surprise. "Mo! Faith!"

"Merry Christmas, squirt."

Mikey hugged his brother quickly, then released him to hug Faith. "I didn't know you guys were coming!"

"Ma didn't wanna tell you I was coming home just incase my discharge got held up," Bosco explained to his little brother. "And we just decided after I got in last night that we were coming."

"I'm glad you're here. Aunt Sandy's cool but all she and Mom do is yack." He grinned, pulling away to look at Faith. "You look great."

She couldn't help but smile back. "Thanks, Mikey."

"You're too young to date, Michael, and she's not interested."

He made a face at Bosco. "I already have a girlfriend. But that doesn't mean I don't have eyes."

"Wait. You. Have a girlfriend?" He smirked. "Shut up."

Mikey smirked back. "Which is more than you have. Oh!"

Bosco playfully grabbed Michael and put him in a headlock. "Better watch yourself. I could really hurt you bad now. I'm trained in combat, remember?"

Mikey grabbed his brother around the waist, pulling him away from Faith. "And I joined a gang while you were away so I'm trained in street fights."

He stopped, the smile slipping from his face as he let go of him. "Tell me you're kidding."

He chuckled. "Like Faith would let me do that."

He quickly looked at Faith, a nervous look in his eyes.

She shook her head. "He's just teasing you, Boz."

Bosco swallowed hard and nodded his head. "Right. Sorry." He turned to his brother again. "I just..."

"Need to lighten up?" Mikey finished with a grin.

Chuckling softly he nodded his head. "Somethin' like that."

"So what'd you get me for Christmas?"

"You mean me comin' home wasn't enough?"

He made a face. "Well, you did bring Faith with you..."

"Watch yourself, Michael. I didn't bring her for you."

"So you finally wisened up and brought her for you?" Mikey smirked.

His eyes widened slightly. "We aren't havin' this conversation."

He shook his head. "Forgive him, he's still the same idiot he always was," he told Faith.

She let out a nervous chuckle.

"So, Mikey, your Christmas gift? Whadda you want? I'll go get it tomorrow," he said quickly to change topics.

He smirked. "A hundred bucks will do it."

Bosco laughed. "What? You think I got paid in the Army?"

"You didn't?"

"I got a little bit of money, but not a whole lot. I'll get you somethin' though, okay?" He said softly.

Mikey grinned. "Get her somethin' instead." He nodded to where Faith had moved to sit on the sofa. "She's been kinda depressed lately."

He sighed and ran a hand through his hair. "I know," he whispered. "I'm hopin' that her bein' here with us will help."

"Yeah, hopefully. I've talked to her on the phone a few times."

"Yeah? What about?"

He shrugged. "Just to talk to her. I miss her."

"I'm glad she had you, Michael. Even if you didn't get to talk to her much. Her boyfriend...he's a..."

"Bastard?"

"Got it in one. Bastard dumped her today."

"On Christmas?" He shook his head in disgust.

He nodded, and shoved his hands in his pockets. "Yeah. He wasn't even supposed to be comin' over, and then he showed up unannounced and...well, we were sleepin' in the same bed and he kinda overreacted."

Mikey's eyes widened. "You were sleepin' in the same bed? You guys still do that?"

"Well...yeah, what's wrong with that? We're friends."

"Mo, if Mom thought -I- was sleepin' in the same bed with Cami...she'd kill me!"

"This is different, Mikey. It's me and Mitch."

"Yeah, and look at her...how can you not...you know..."

He glared at his little brother. "How many times am I gonna have to tell you to cool it?"

"Hey, I have eyes!"

"I know that. I just...just...I don't want you lookin' at her that way, okay?"

"What? I can't think she's pretty?"

"Yeah, but that's as far as it goes, you hear me?"

Mikey smiled. "I wouldn't ever move in on your territory, Mo...but...can I give you a word of advice?"

"You're gonna give me advice? This oughta be good."

He raised his eyebrows. "No other guy's gonna care if you like her or not...if it's not official..." He shrugged. "You're gonna lose out."

Bosco stared at his little brother. "Come on, you don't think that..." He glanced over at Faith then looked back at his brother. "You mean like...like I should date her?"

"Are you kidding me? I think you should marry her!" Mikey shook his head and moved over to sit beside Faith on the sofa.

His eyes widened. "Michael!"

Mikey simply looked at him and shrugged.

He gazed at Mikey and Faith for a few moments. Did his barely sixteen year old brother know something that he didn't? Was that even possible? He had to admit though that he really didn't like the idea of Faith being with anyone else. He'd always felt very protective of her and didn't think any of the guys she'd ever dated had been good enough.

Faith met his eyes and smiled faintly before turning her attention back to what Mikey was telling her about the video game he'd been playing all day.

Bosco smiled softly then made his way over to the sofa where he sat down on the other side of Faith.

Mikey glanced back and forth between them, a grin on his face. "Well. I'm just gonna grab a bite to eat. You guys want anything?"

"Oh, uh...I'm good for now. Faith?"

"Hmm?" She glanced over at him.

"Did you want something to eat?" He asked softly. "Mikey's headed to the kitchen."

"Oh...no, I'm good. Thanks, Mikey."

 

He grinned a little brighter. "No problem." He turned and headed for the stairs. "Oh." Mikey stopped and turned to look at them. "Look up." Without another word, he took off up the steps.

His eyebrows furrowed. "Look up? What?"

She looked up above them, her cheeks turning a light shade of pink as she noticed the mistletoe.

Glancing up as well he swallowed hard. "That's uh..."

"Mistletoe."

"So...technically..."

"That means we're...supposed to kiss."

He looked at her, meeting her eyes. "It's...it's not like we haven't...kissed before."

"Yeah...it's no big deal." She smiled at him though her heart was pounding heavily.

Biting his lip he lifted a hand to her cheek, and gently brushed the tips of his fingers over her skin.

Swallowing hard, she gazed at him, unable to look away.

"Mikey's right," he whispered.

"About what?" she whispered back.

"You look great."

Her eyes softened. "Thanks."

He smiled softly and slowly leaned in closer. "I've missed you," he murmured.

Her heart skipped a beat at the husky tone of his voice and her eyes drifted shut. "Missed you too."

Bosco placed a soft kiss on her lips as he slid his fingers into her hair.

Leaning into him, she touched his cheek as their lips met in a gentle caress.

After a moment he pulled back just enough to look at her. His heart was racing in his chest.

Swallowing hard, she slowly opened her eyes to look at him.

He let out a shaky breath as he waited to see her reaction.

She offered him a nervous smile, her eyes full of uncertainty as she waited for his reaction.
mom's talking to me

For a moment he just gazed at her, then he leaned in to kiss her once more.

Her eyes drifted shut once more as he kissed her, a soft sigh escaping her.

Very slowly he shifted a little closer to her as he sought permission to deepen the kiss.

She let her lips part without hesitation, responding instinctively to the more intimate embrace.

He cupped her face in his hands as he gently explored her mouth, moaning softly. After a few moments he pulled away, his breathing heavy as he gazed at her.

Faith gazed back at him, feeling like the action should have surprised her, but she wasn't surprised. The kiss had felt...normal. Like they'd been kissing like that for years.

A soft smile crept across his face as he gently moved his thumbs back and forth over the smooth skin of her cheeks.

"I feel like I'm dreaming," she whispered.

"Good to hear it's not a nightmare," he said lightly as he rested his forehead against hers.

"Anything but." She kissed the corner of his mouth softly.

"It feels right to me too," he whispered.

"What do you suppose that means?"

"That we've wasted a lot of time datin' other people," he told her softly.

Faith closed her eyes, touching his cheek. "That explains a lot."

"What does?"

"This," she whispered, motioning between them.

He slid his arms around her waist. "I've always loved you, but it...it's like it took not having you in my life to make me realize how much, ya know?"

"And even though I cared about Fred...you were the only one I wanted to be around."

"All the other guys talked about their girlfriends, and some of 'em were even married. But..."

"But what?" she whispered.

"I talked about you," he told her softly.

Her eyes prickled with tears. "You did?"

"Yeah." He nodded his head. "I even..." Pulling away he reached into the breast pocket of the fatigue jacket he was wearing, and pulled out a picture.

Her eyes widened slightly as she recognized the picture as the one from their senior prom.
She was sitting by herself, a faint smile on her face. At the time, she'd thought getting a picture taken by herself was unnecessary because she and Bosco had already had their pictures taken together. "Is that why..."

He smiled at her. "It's my favorite picture."

"I had no idea you still had that," she murmured.

"There was no way I was gettin' rid of this one." He looked at the picture again then put it back in his pocket.

Faith was silent for a moment, gazing at him. "I had a crush on you," she admitted softly.

"No way." He shook his head. "Are you serious?"

"Yeah." She nodded.

"Why didn't you ever say anything?"

"Because..." She searched for the right words. "I didn't think it was possible that you felt the same way...and...I didn't wanna risk losing you as a friend."

"I hated all your boyfriends," he informed her.

A smile tugged at her lips. "Which I chalked up to you being like an overprotective big brother."

"That's what I always told myself. Because if I was your big brother I couldn't get...well I couldn't get rejected."

"Bosco...are you saying you had a crush on me too?"

His cheeks flushed a little. "Yeah...I guess I am."

She smiled, her eyes bright.

"I can't believe that Mikey saw this before we did," he whispered.

"He's a pretty bright kid."

"Yeah, he is." He nodded slightly then placed a soft kiss on her lips.

"I love you," she whispered.

"I love you, too." Smiling he wrapped his arms around her, hugging her tight as he sighed softly. "All of a sudden I feel really, really good. I mean, even better than I did when I first saw you and I didn't think that was possible."

"Me too," she whispered, hugging him back just as tightly.

"So what are we gonna do about this?" He asked quietly.

"I don't know," she admitted. "What are we gonna do?"

"My little brother thinks we should get married."

Her eyes widened. "He...what?"

"Yeah." He nodded. "Not five minutes ago he was giving me advice. And I thought he was telling me I should date you. Mikey told me to marry you."

She stared at him. "Wow, that's..."

"A good idea."

Her eyes widened a little more. "Are you...are you serious?" she whispered.

Bosco had surprised himself with the words as well, but since he'd known Faith he'd never actually pictured her with anyone else. "Yes." He nodded. "I'm serious."

"You wanna marry me?"

"Yeah." He touched her cheek. "I never wanna be without you again."

She gazed at him, tears sparkling in her eyes. "Yes," she whispered.

A smile spread across his face. "You really...you'll marry me?"

"Yes," she whispered again, a smile spreading across her own face. "Yes, I'll marry you."

"Tomorrow...tomorrow I'll go get you a ring."

"No, that's...you don't have to do that...I just...I wanna be with you," she whispered, wrapping her arms around him.

"You deserve a nice ring," he told her softly. "You deserve so much."

"I love you." She kissed his cheek.

"I'll start lookin' for a job when we get back home." He tucked a strand of hair behind her ear. "I'm gonna treat you right, Faith, I promise."

"You always have," she whispered, gazing at him.

"I've tried," he whispered back.

"You're the only one I've ever been able to count on."

"Same here." He kissed her softly. "We should go tell everyone."

"Bosco...is your mom gonna be okay with this?" she asked hesitantly.

"My mom loves you. You know that."

"I know, but...it's different now," she whispered.

"She's gonna be happy for us, and then after she gets all emotional she's gonna sit us down and talk with us. But she's gonna be thrilled."

"Yeah?"

"Yeah." He nodded, and reached for her hand. "Come on."

She slid her fingers through his, feeling a little nervous as they stood and headed up the stairs.

Bosco led her toward the kitchen where he could hear his family talking and having a good time. He turned toward Faith. "I'll do all the talking if you want. I know this is...well, it was a quick decision, but I really think it's the right one. I know it is."

She nodded. "Okay, I'll let you."

He kissed her softly then took her into the kitchen. "Hey guys."

"Hey, Baby." Rose beamed. "You hungry? You want some turkey?"

"In a minute," he told her softly. "But first...first I need to uh...tell you something."

Her eyebrows furrowed. "Is everything okay?"

"Yeah, everything's great." He glanced at Faith then moved around behind her, sliding his arms around her waist. "We wanted you guys to be the first to know that uh..."

Mikey grinned from ear to ear. "Are you kidding me?"

He smiled at his little brother then looked at their mother. "Mitch...Faith and I are gonna get married," he whispered.

Rose's eyes widened. "You...what?"

"Yeah." He nodded his head. "I know it's a shock, but...mom it just...it's right."

She grinned and quickly moved to where he was standing. "Oh, I'm so happy for you."

He glanced at Faith, smiling at her before holding an arm out to his mother.

She hugged him tightly. "My baby's gettin' married!"

"Yeah. We obviously don't know when yet, but that doesn't matter." He kissed Rose's cheek. "But we wanna be together. We need to be."

"Congratulations." She kissed his cheek, then pulled away to look at Faith, her eyes bright. "I always hoped you'd be my actual daughter."

Bosco let out a breath as his mother hugged Faith. He knew she'd be alright with the idea of them getting married, but to actually have her express it in this way meant a lot. When his mother finally let go of her future daughter-in-law he pulled Faith back over to him, wrapping his arms around her from behind again as he rested his chin on her shoulder.

Faith's eyes sparkled with happy tears. "Thank you...that means...that means a lot to me," she whispered.

He kissed her cheek. "Told you it'd be okay," he whispered in her ear.

Rose smiled at her. "You've always been like a daughter to me. I'm glad it's gonna be official."

"Does this mean I can't think your fiancee's hot?" Mikey joked.

He pointed at his brother. "This means you can't look at her, at all."

"Sorry, bro. No can do. She's too beautiful."

"She sure is," he agreed. "She makes me look good."

"Stop." Faith blushed, smiling as she leaned back against him.

"You are beautiful," he told her softly, resting his hands on her stomach.

Her eyes closed as his hands rested against her stomach.

Bosco kissed her cheek. "There's all sorts of things I wanna be able to give you."

"First of all, children, of course. Right?" Rose grinned.

"When we're ready, ma." He nodded his head as he gently rubbed one hand over Faith's stomach. "When we're ready and I know I can provide for them, yeah."

Faith bit her lower lip, her heart aching. "I'm really glad you're okay with this," she said softly to Rose.

"I think it's wonderful! I couldn't be happier." Rose smiled.

"Yeah? Then maybe we'll hold off on the serious talk that's coming until after the holidays?" He asked with a raised eyebrow.

She paused. "I'll consider it."

"Guess I can't ask for much more than that, huh?"

"Definitely not." She winked at him.

"Can't blame me for trying."

Rose grinned. "Come on. You two have to be hungry."

"Well, we'd been thinking about taking a nap."

"Oh. Okay. Well, we'll save you food."

"Thanks. I promise we'll visit more later. It's just been a long day."

"Of course. Have a nice nap. And congratulations!" Rose called after them as they headed down the hallway.

"That wasn't so bad, was it?"

"No, it wasn't," she admitted softly.

"And I meant what I said...about havin' kids."

She drew in a breath and let it out slowly.

"I know you probably don't even wanna think about it now," he whispered.

"It is kinda hard," she whispered back.

Leading her into the bedroom he closed the door behind them then turned to her and kissed her softly. "We won't even talk about it until you're ready too."

"Thanks." She slid her arms around his waist.

He returned the embrace, and he couldn't stop himself from smiling. "God, we're gonna get married. Can you believe it?"

She closed her eyes, resting her head against his. "I love you."

"I love you, too, and I'm so glad to be home."

"Boz?"

"Hmm?"

"When you said this was gonna be a good Christmas...you were right," she whispered.

Bosco kissed her softly. "Merry Christmas, Mitch."

"Merry Christmas, Boz," she murmured, kissing him back.

"You and me," he whispered. "We're gonna have a lot more of 'em...together."

Her eyes sparkled as she gazed at him. "Yeah. We are."