Starlight Starbright

07 – Time Moves to It's Own Beat

Chapter 07 – Time Moves to It's Own Beat

Eric woke to complete silence and mentally sighed. Home. He was finally at home. Leisurely, he stretched and opened his eyes. What the fuck? He was still in Jackie's bedroom! Carefully, he tried to slide out of the covers but a soft velvety arm snaked over his chest and a sleepy voice murmured, "Merry Christmas sweetheart."

The arm over his torso moved much lower and Eric's stomach tightened. This was an unexpected good morning greeting! Jackie raised her head and smiled a sleepy smile and scooted over closer until her cheek was resting on his chest. Did she know his heart was beating a hundred times a minute? This was the last thing he expected. He should have been in his penthouse waiting up in the same bed as Donna. Donna his girlfriend! Not with Jackie Burkhart and this made up family of his dreams! This was just too damn confusing.

"Da-da!" came a snuffling groggy voice from the other bedroom.

Jackie moved sinuously and gave his *boys* a gentle squeeze, "Baby….can you change Harry's diaper?"

Desperate to move out of dangerous territory (although last night was pretty damn good), Eric threw the covers back, "Yeah, I know you changed him last night."

He walked around the foot of the bed and stepped on something that felt like six needles burying themselves in to his bare foot. "Shit! What the hell?" Hopping on his good foot, Eric reached down and pulled a red Lego from his left instep. "Who the left the Lego on the floor?"

Jackie giggled softly, "You did dear….the kids don't play with those. Choking hazard."

Eric glared at the brunette who rolled over taking all the covers with her and he forged on to the crying little Harry in the other bedroom.

"Da!" Little arms were reaching for a hug and the odor was again just as bad as yesterday. This time, Eric found a receiving blanket and tied it around his face. Aha! No bad smells could permeate this material! He went about cleaning the mess, avoiding the inevitable pee shower and taped the diaper properly. Actually, Eric was quite proud of this wrap job.

He pulled the wet pajama top off the little boy and slipped a flannel shirt over his head all the while those green eyes, so like his own, where watching every move he made. Taking off the blanket, Eric spoke softly, "Did I do this to my mom when I was your age?" He poked at the soft belly and Harry smiled. "Did my mother get up in the middle of the night for a diaper change?" Of course she did – she was Kitty Forman.

Eric lifted Harry out of the crib and carried him over to the rocking chair. He sat down and set the boy against his chest and just talked in soft tones. "Did you know my mother makes the best brownies in the whole world? She loves everyone and…" and with a lump in his throat, Eric began to realize just how much he missed his parents. All of his successes weren't really that unless you could share them with the people you loved.

He hugged the little boy tighter and the small puffs of warm breath heated his neck as the tiny lips made suckling noises. Eric continued rocking until he dozed off.

The bight blue bicycle sat in front of the Christmas tree and boxes and wrapping paper had been added to the pile of ribbons and bows. Ben was playing with his Nerf ball and wearing a Batman mask while Harry was stacking plastic donuts on a stick. Jackie handed Eric a cup of hot coffee before sitting on the sofa beside him.

"So…..wifey gets a present this year?" she teased.

Eric smiled and looked at his cheap Casio version of a Rolex watch. It was nice but if you had ever worn the real thing…this knock off was no comparison but he wasn't going to complain. "Thank you for the watch." He leaned forward for the kiss he knew was coming.

"So where's my present?" Jackie clapped her hands excitedly.

He couldn't help but get caught up in her enthusiasm. " it in the garage. Let me get dressed and I'll go get it."

Jackie looked at her son, "Benny….do you know what Daddy got for Mommy?"

Ben shook his head no and started spinning the pedal on the bicycle. Jackie could hardly wait. This was the first Christmas in two years where the Forman's had enough money to give gifts so this was a big deal. She knew the watch was a cheap imitation but she had run his other watch through the washing machine and it was irreparable. Eric had been sweet about it, but Jackie knew he loved his watch.

A short time later, Eric came back in the house, stomping off his snow covered feet and carrying a large flat paper covered gift. Jackie could hardly believe she was getting something. What could it be?

Eric laid the gift on the coffee table and stepped back while she slowly opened it. He really hoped he hadn't screwed this up too badly.

Jackie tore off the wrapping paper to find a large picture frame with four hearts. In the middle was a painted heart which read:

Because two hearts fell in love.

In one of the hearts was their wedding license. Jackie's own heart constricted. In the two hearts below was each of their son's birth certificates. She looked up at Eric with tears in her eyes. "This is the most beautiful gift you could have given me." She whispered.

All because of a cheesy last minute gift and then that expression on Jackie's face….Eric felt like he was falling in love.

"Oh where's my little grand babies!" Kitty exclaimed excitedly. Eric had just got out of the minivan and his mother was already opening the door. Red came out of the patio doors holding a beer and toasted his son. "Morning Eric,, how was your Christmas?"

Eric was taken aback by the sight of his parents. They were seven years older and yet still looked the same. Red seemed more relaxed and laid back, but his mom….she still had that sparkle in her eye. All of a sudden she was coming around the front of the van, "Can't forget my own baby can I" and she pulled Eric into a crushing hug and whispered, "I really do miss you."

His throat was tight and he hugged her back," I've missed you too mom, more than you know." She smelled just like he remembered. Chanel and cinnamon and just squishy around the waist. He wouldn't trade a bit of her. Ever again.

Kitty relinquished the hug and stepped back to look at what his was wearing. "You look nice…and is that a new watch? Ahahahaha….Red honey, Eric got a new watch. Ask him what time it is!"

Red rolled his eyes, "It's time for these dumbasses to get in the house."

Ben giggled, "Grampa said dumbass."

Jackie frowned at her father-in-law and whispered, "I've asked you not the say that word in front of the kids."

Red shrugged, "My house. My rules." He gave the brunette a hug and she kissed his cheek. Eric marveled that this scene never would have played out with Donna.

"Uncle Eric! What did you get me!" Little Farrah Forman came running out from the kitchen to catch Eric in a tiny hug. She really did look a lot like his sister at that age. There was a lump in his throat. "Uh…." What did he say? "Um….you'll have to ask Aunt Jackie….she knows everything."

"We all know that you sonuvabitch!" Fez grinned from the kitchen. "Get in here, Mom made brownies!" How long had it been since he'd eaten a homemade brownie? Too long!

Laurie stuck her head out the door, "Farrah, get a jacket on!"

All of this good-matured nagging and noise made Eric nostalgic for the old days. Suddenly, Harry was deposited in his arms and Jackie was smiling. "I'll bring in the presents…you get the kids."

Eric frowned. Wasn't that a husbandly thing to do? Then he caught sight of something he never would have believed. Laurie and Jackie were conspiring in soft tones just out of earshot. The once bitter rivals were now friends and relatives.

"All because of me." He whispered proudly. Harry popped his hands on Eric's cheeks and smiled. Eric couldn't help but smile back. He was home. Well, at least it seemed like home.

Not once for the rest of the day, did he think of Donna.

Not one time.

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