Soon they'd finished eating and Malcolm and Mortimer agreed to do the dishes for a change. "It must be Christmas!" Kaci had joked. As the girls were leaving the kitchen, Darlene mumbled something under her breath that Sandi didn't quite catch. "Did you say something D?" she asked. Darlene sighed and then pasted a smiled on her face. "I said you've won. He's all yours", before Sandi could respond she'd gone upstairs to get ready to go home for the day.
Sandi was more than confused, since when had being with Malcolm become a competition? That girl was twisted, Sandi thought as she shook her head but at least she could sleep easily knowing that Darlene had finally given up. Maybe this Christmas wouldn't be so bad after all.
"She'll be here soon!" Claire said excitedly as she lit the fire. Cyran was so glad to see her happy and full of energy again. She'd been so tired the last few months, but they'd both put it down to the long hours she was putting in at the Bistro. If only they'd known how wrong they'd been, if they'd just seen the signs... Cyran pushed the what ifs from his head. Claire would be fine, and if she wasn't, well, they'd cross that bridge when they got to it.
Almost on cue the doorbell rang and a red faced Kaci and Connor rushed in from the cold stamping snow off of their boots. "Merry Christmas Cy!" Kaci squealed as she enveloped him in bear hug. He was much bigger than her but it never failed to amaze him how strong she was. She rushed over to her mother and seeing Claire's face light up almost had him in tears but he held it together. "Hey bro, come here" he said to Connor enveloping him in a hug too. "Come, watch tv!" Claire called and they all got settled on the sofa. A little while later they got down to business; opening the presents. Kaci gasped at her gifts, she'd gotten more than she expected. She'd bought her Uncle Connor a Simmington Parker pen and had it engraved with, "To Uncle C, Love from, Peanut x" which was his pet name for her, his eyes were huge when he'd opened it, the smile on his face said it all. She'd bought her mom a silver pendant, half a heart with the word 'best' inscribed on it. Kaci wore the other half that said 'friend'. Claire's eye's had filled with happy tears and she gave Kaci an unusually long hug. Finally it was Cyrans turn. "What's this?" he asked, confused, his gift was an odd shape. Pulling out from the paper, his eyes lit up and his face beamed with pride. He was speechless, it was a huge drinking mug. "What does it say honey?" Claire asked, "To the best Dad in the world, I love you, Love from Kaci", his voice almost broke at the end and he patted himself on the chest and said "Come on, Cy, Man up!" in his Captain America voice, making them all laugh. "Come here kiddo" he said, pulling Kaci into a tight squeeze. "I love you too".
After they'd cleared up the mess, Claire went into the kitchen to check on their Christmas lunch, Kaci wandered in about 30 minutes later and spotted her mom looking rather tired, resting on kitchen stool with her eyes closed. "Hey mom! Whats up?" she said as she slid onto the stool next to her. "Oh nothing" Claire brushed it off, "Just been up early today cooking this, its hitting me now" she smiled, but Kaci wasn't entirely convinced.
"Yea sweetie, its just... oh nothing, I'm just getting old" Claire laughed and got up to check on the turkey again. "Okay... if your sure" Kaci said cautiously. Claire smiled, "Positive". She didn't want to burden Kaci, not today, not at Christmas. She'd tell her, just not right then. Cyran wandered into the kitchen, looked at Kaci's confused face and asked her if she was okay. "Yea . . .why wouldn't I be?" she asked, feeling even more suspicious than before.
"Hey, whats going on?" she questioned. "Nothing", her mom cut it, "I've just been overly tired from work and Cyran worries about me, that's all" she smiled. "... Okay" Kaci said hesitantly, she knew that wasn't it but she let it drop. Whatever it was, she'd find out one way or another. Claire broke her train of thought as she spoke, "Alright! enough chit chat, as soon as Buster and Bessie get here, we can eat!"