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All I want for Christmas (Is you)
By thegirl20


It's a weekday in early December and it's freezing outside. Which means the pub's dead and Charity's managed to use this to convince Chas to let her go home early. She's walking briskly down the road to Tug Ghyll, thinking about how when she used to try to skive off work, it was literally to do nothing. Now she genuinely gets excited about going home to see the people there.

Funny how quickly Tug Ghyll's become 'home' in her mind. Her and the boys only fully moved in a few weeks back. Maybe if she's honest with herself, she might admit that she started thinking of it as home a long time before that.

She's discovered she likes nothing better than just spending time with Vanessa and whichever combination of their kids happen to be around at the time. They don't even have to be doing anything special. Just sitting watching the telly, Vanessa's head resting on her shoulder, Moses or Johnny sprawled across their laps, and the rest pottering around, is time well spent these days.

It'll be too late to see the little ones tonight, but Noah should still be up, and she's already anticipating the surprised smile Vanessa will give her when she walks in two hours early. That's new as well; someone being pleased to see her every single time she comes home. It spurs her into a half jog as she heads up the path, her breath coming in clouds of fog.

She opens the door and is immediately enveloped in warmth. Hurrying to close the door and keep the heat in, she shrugs out of her coat and hangs it up.

"Hello?" Vanessa calls. "Tracy?"

"No, babe. Only me." Charity heads through, finding Vanessa drying her hands in the kitchen and Johnny and Noah kneeling by the coffee table. Noah smiles at her and Johnny waves, but they both return to whatever it is they're doing. Looks like there's glitter involved. As predicted, Vanessa's face lights up at the sight of her and she discards the tea-towel on the counter, walking over to Charity.

"You're early." She presses a kiss to Charity's cheek. "Everything okay?"

"Yeah, everything's fine. Pub's empty, so I took the opportunity to sneak away early." She throws an arm around Vanessa's shoulders and pulls her closer, leaning their heads together as they both watch the boys. Charity frowns, looking at the clock. "You're up late, Johnny Rotten."

He looks over and nods. "Mummy said it's okay. Noah's helpin' me write a letter for Santa!" He smiles shyly at the older boy.

"I said you could stay up a little bit later than usual," Vanessa tells him. "So hurry up and get that finished."

"We're nearly done," Noah assures her. "He just wants to put a couple more stickers on."

Vanessa sighs. "Fine. Then bed, okay?" Charity feels a hand slip into hers and she follows Vanessa into the kitchen when she pulls her along. A piece of paper is placed in her free hand and she frowns in question. "That's Moses' list. He did his earlier and I managed to convince him to go to bed without Johnny by promising him two stories. He was spark out before we were halfway through the first. Brew?"

"Yeah, ta babe." Charity unfolds the letter, glancing up to make sure Johnny's not aware of her reading what should be private correspondence between Moses and Santa. She skims over the list, written out painstakingly in Noah's messy handwriting and surrounded by dinosaur stickers.

It's pretty easy stuff; Moses is content with whatever he's given most of the time. Dinosaurs, cars, a torch, paints, a t-shirt with Rocky on it - she frowns, wondering why he'd want a t-shirt of an old film, before realising he means the one from Paw Patrol. The last item on the list catches her attention and she shakes her head. A dog. She moves over by Vanessa, pointing out this request. Vanessa lifts her eyebrows.

Charity keeps her voice low. "I'd put a pound to a penny our Moses never mentioned that and Noah just added it on. In fact, I bet it's on Johnny's list an'all."

"I'd love to get the kids a pet," Vanessa confesses, nudging Charity when she rolls her eyes. "But a dog wouldn't be ideal in a house this size with five people already living in it." She smiles, hopefully. "Maybe we could get them something small? Like a hamster?"

Narrowing her eyes, Charity sighs. "I suppose we can talk about it. But I'm not touching anything small and hairy." She tilts her head. "Unless it's you when you've not shaved your legs for a couple of days."

Vanessa gasps, but before she can respond, Noah's standing up and stretching. "Right, that's him done. I'll take him up to bed if you like."

Charity frowns. "Really? You're offering to put a toddler to bed?" Fair enough, Johnny's usually a doddle when Moses isn't there to rile him up and make him giggle.

"Yeah." Noah hoists Johnny onto his hip. "Thought you might want a read." He nods his head to where Johnny's letter is neatly folded in half on the coffee table.

"Okay my love," Vanessa cups Johnny's cheeks and gives him a kiss. "You go right to sleep for Noah, okay? It's past your bedtime."

""Kay Mummy." He nods, his face solemn like it always is when he's listening to instructions. Charity moves forwards and tickles him, bringing out his smile as he squirms into Noah to get away from her fingers. She kisses his cheek.

"Ni'night, baba." She chances her arm and kisses Noah's cheek while he's within range and he rolls his eyes as he heads for the stairs.

"Say night night, Johnny."

"Ni'night Mummy. Ni'night, Charity."

They wave at him until they disappear from sight. Vanessa bumps Charity's hip. "Right, read me his letter while I finish up these brews. I'll bring 'em over."

Charity flops down on the sofa, kicking off her shoes and sighing in relief. She picks up the piece of paper, shaking some glitter off it and unfolding it.

"Well, top of the list is a Rubble truck. Big surprise there."

"We picked that up last week, so that's fine." Vanessa says, putting the milk back in the fridge.

"Next is a plate with Rubble's face on...I take it he means a dinner plate." She lets out a laugh through her nose. "Vanessa, you've clearly damaged this child."

"Eh?" Vanessa comes over and sets down two cups of tea. "Why?"

"Because his next request is 'some apples'." She shakes her head at Vanessa over the paper. "The kid's asking for fruit for his Christmas. That's-" She catches herself smiling. "That's just Johnny all over, innit?"

"He's a strange little thing sometimes," Vanessa agrees, sipping her tea and leaning back against the cushions. "What else?"

"A shark. A big and huge water gun. Did you get that babe? Big and huge." Vanessa smiles at her and she returns to her reading. "And please-" Her voice falters as her throat closes up, the words going blurry on the page.

Vanessa frowns. "Charity? What is it?" She sits up and sets her tea down, putting a hand on Charity's back. "What's wrong?"

Still unable to speak, Charity hands over the letter and closes her eyes, willing herself not to cry as Vanessa reads out the item in question.

"And please can Moses and Charity and Noah stay with me and mummy forever?"

Charity swallows, leaning into Vanessa when she wraps an arm around her shoulders. She rubs at her nose, laughing at herself. "Little sod's gone and made me all soppy, look."

"He's definitely got a talent for tugging at the heartstrings." Vanessa's voice is rough now too and Charity lifts her head to look at her. Vanessa smiles, a blush reddening her cheeks. "Anyway, that's another item we can tick off for him, can't we? And without spending any money."

Charity finds Vanessa's hand and squeezes it, nodding.

Leaning in, Vanessa places a long, slow kiss on Charity's lips. She pulls back and smiles. "It was at the top of my Christmas list too, by the way."

"Yeah?" Off Vanessa's nod, Charity grins, leaning back in to whisper against her lips. "Mine an'all." She deepens the kiss, gently pressing Vanessa backwards until she's reclined against the couch cushions. She starts to kiss her way along her jaw, down her neck.

"Oh, and you were right," Vanessa manages, her voice hitching on the last word.

She bites Vanessa's earlobe. "Hmmm. 'Bout what?"

Vanessa's hand comes up to the back of her head, encouraging her back to her task. "There was a dog on Johnny's list too."

Charity laughs against Vanessa's throat. "You've got to give our Noah credit for trying."

"Shhhhh." Vanessa presses Charity's mouth back to her skin. "Less talking. More kissing."

"Well, I can definitely make that wish come true."

The End

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