"We're home," Alex said, he and Ellen peaking through the front door of his childhood home, only a few days before Christmas. The married couple walked in and hugged his family hello, excited to catch up with the family.
"Alex!" Andy cheered, hugging his big brother. They eventually sat down in the kitchen for dinner, catching up on every bodies lives. They then moved into the living room, ready to continue their conversations.
"Mallory, hows your new job?" Alex asked his sister. She smiled widely, and began to talk about the designing she was doing. Ellen folded her legs on the couch and tucked her head into Alex's chest. Her husband wrapped his arm around her body mindlessly, rubbing circled on her arm with his thumb as he always did. After a little while longer of catching up, Ellen yawned, closing her eyes for a brief moment and tucking her head deeper into Alex’s shirt. He pulled his arm from behind his neck, sitting up.
"Goodnight everyone," Alex said as Ellen sat up. He stood up and held his hand out for her to take. Everyone said goodnight and they walked into Alex's old room, still hand in hand. They changed into their pajamas and brushed their teeth.
Alex walked back into his room and saw Ellen sitting on the bed, rearranging the pillows. He smiled, sitting across from her.
"How are you feeling?" He asked her quietly in a calm, loving voice. She gave him a tired smile.
"Okay," she said, and he leaned forward to kiss her forehead softly. "I wanna tell your family so much."
"I do too, but we only have to wait a week until Christmas," he said with a smile. She laughed lightly.
"I know, I know," she said teasingly. He leaned over and turned the lamp off, scooting next to her and pulling the blanket over their bodies. She turned around and he wrapped his arm around her, setting his hand on her stomach. He kissed her neck, as she slowly drifted off to sleep.
The next morning, Ellen removed Alex's arm from her waist, quietly moving out of the bed and quickly heading towards the bathroom. She closed the door and kneeled down by the toilet, throwing up last night’s dinner. She then heard the door open, glancing over.
"Hey," Alex said calmly, pulling her hair back. She then leaned back, staring at the wall. Alex wrapped his arms around her waist and set his head on her shoulder. She leaned into his touch, setting her arms on his. "You okay?"
"A little in shock, but yeah," she replied, looking over her shoulder to give him a reassuring smile. Eventually, he stood up and helped her up as well. She brushed her teeth, and Alex peaked out the door.
"All clear," he whispered, and the two walked out into their room. They changed into some clean clothes and walked downstairs.
"Hey guys," Jennifer said, sitting on the couch reading a book.
"Hi, Jenn," Alex said, kissing his sister's head. Ellen sat next to her.
"Whatcha reading?" She asked the younger girl.
"War and Peace," she replied. Ellen smiled.
"See Alex. Told you she's smarter then you," Ellen joked. Alex rolled his eyes playfully.
"Sure," he said sarcastically.
"Come on, Jenn. I want to hear all about school," Ellen said, standing up and leading the younger girl into the kitchen where the rest of the family sat.
"Hey, guys. Do you want some coffee?" Elyse asked, holding her own mug.
"No!" Alex and Ellen said at the same time, before looking at each other and laughing. Before anyone could question what had just happened, the backdoor opened.
"Hi, guys," Nick said, walking in.
"Hi, Nick," the group collectively said, used to the man being around by now. They chatted playfully as they ate breakfast. Ellen listened tentatively as Jennifer told her all about school and her lessons. Alex stood up and set his hands on Ellen's shoulder from behind.
"I'm going to go with my dad to PBS. I'll see you later," he said.
"Sounds good," she said, leaning backwards and kissing him. He and Steven left the house, and the rest of the group stayed where they were.
"Will you come play with me?" Andy asked. Ellen smiled widely, nodding.
"Absolutely," she said, allowing the younger boy to lead her to his room. He excitedly showed her his baseball cards that Alex had gotten him for his birthday, and his dictionary collection. Ellen laughed, noticing that he had a lot of the same mannerisms Alex had created over the years. She sat on the floor with him as they tossed a ball back and forth. About an hour later, Alex arrived home.
"How was work?" Elyse asked her husband and son when they walked through the door.
"Oh great. Dad really nailed that documentary about playgrounds," Alex joked, kissing his mom's cheek. "Have you seen Ellen?"
"She's upstairs playing with Andy," she replied. He walked up the stairs, heading towards his brother's room. He opened the door and saw Andy, who looked up at him and set a finger on his lips, gesturing quiet. Alex looked over and saw Ellen asleep on his bed.
"She said she was going to close her eyes for a minute. She's been out for almost half an hour," Andy whispered. Alex smiled, sitting on the bed and gently shaking Ellen awake. She opened her eyes and smiled at her husband, sitting up and swinging her legs off the twin sized bed.
"Sorry, Andy," she said with a smile. The boy shook his head, his blonde hair following his face.
"It's okay. You were tired," he said with a shrug. Ellen laughed lightly, wiping the sleep from her eyes.
"Alright," Alex said, standing up and helping her out of the bed. He then kissed her.
"How was PBS?" She asked.
"Same as I left it the last time," he replied happily. He then turned to Andy. "Hey, buddy. Let's go outside and play some catch."
"Yay!" Andy cheered, grabbing a ball and running outside. Alex laughed.
"Go take a nap. I'll wake you up when we're done," he said. Ellen smiled.
"Thank you," she said, kissing his cheek and walking towards his room. She curled up onto the bed and immediately fell asleep.
"Is Ellen okay?" Andy asked, catching the ball in his hands. Alex smiled.
"Yeah. Why do you ask?" Alex replied, playing dumb as the cold wind blew around the two.
"I don't know," Andy replied with a shrug, tossing the ball. Alex nodded, wishing he could tell his younger brother. He always told him everything, and this wasn't easy. Eventually, they finished up outside and walked back into the house. Alex once again woke Ellen up.
"How are you feeling?" Alex asked.
"Good," she replied. He laid down with her and she set her head on his chest.
"What's wrong?" He asked her. She tightened her grip on his body.
"Are you scared?" She asked. Alex smiled at her.
"Yeah," he replied. She immediately felt better, knowing that she wasn't the only one. He looked at her, noticing that she was staring off into the distance. He gently held her face in his hand, making eye contact with her. "I know, that you're probably worried about being a parent because of your parents. But I promise you that you are going to be an amazing mom."
Ellen closed her eyes and Alex wrapped both arms around her tightly. A few tears fell from her eyes as she processed what he had just said.
"I love you," she said. He kissed her head.
"I love you too," he replied. "And I'm going to be with you every step of the way."
"I know," she replied.
After a very emotional, sleep filled week, it was finally Christmas. Andy ran into Alex's bedroom, jumping on the bed.
"Wake up, wake up! It's Christmas!" Andy cheered, waking the two up. The two laughed, before following the boy downstairs. Jennifer walked downstairs, her messy hair tied up in a red scrunchie. She was clearly exhausted. Alex laughed lightly, seeing her stumble onto the couch. She then grabbed her dad's coffee mug from his hands and took a sip from it.
"That's fine, I didn't need it anyways," Steven said jokingly. Mallory and Nick then walked down the stairs, sitting down.
"Okay, who wants to go first?" Elyse asked. They began to hand out presents.
"Alright," Alex said, clapping his hands together. "These are for mom and dad."
He handed his parents each a box, then sat back down next to Ellen taking her hand and smiling at her. She impatiently waited. When they opened the boxes, they saw mugs at the bottom. They unwrapped the protective layer, and read the words on the mugs.
"Are you kidding?" Elyse asked, excitement in her voice. Ellen and Alex smiled widely at them. Steven stared at the mug reading 'World's Best Grandpa' in shock. Everyone looked over and read the words, hugging the couple.
"I didn't expect that," Steven said, wiping his eyes.
"Speak for yourself. Pay up Mallory," Jennifer said, holding her hand out for Mallory to hand her five dollars. Ellen laughed, hugging Jennifer.
"You knew?" Ellen asked the girl, even though she wasn’t shocked.
"The bathroom isn't exactly soundproof," she said.
"Aye, congratulations you guys," Nick said, hugging Alex, then Ellen.
"Thanks, Nick," Alex said, patting his friend on his shoulder.
"I'm so excited for you," Mallory said, hugging her brother. Alex laughed, trying not to shed any tears as his family congratulated them.
"God, I wanted to tell you all so badly," Ellen complained, and everyone laughed.
As the family around them expressed their good wishes and excitement, Alex and Ellen made eye contact, smiling at one another. He winked at her, making her laugh.
“I love you,” he mouthed.
“I love you more,” she replied just as quietly.