The Way family celebrate Christmas together. Bert is worried about Gerard.
"I'm fine and you" she took his coat and hat to the bedroom that had become the designated coatroom. He was waiting for her when she returned. "I understand you and my son are something of an item. I could tell Thanksgiving that there was a spark."
Monica looked around for Gerard hoping to get out of this discussion. He had disappeared. She looked at Don and smiled "Are you having a nice Christmas?" It was a fairly lame change of subject but it was all she could come up with. He smiled and put his arm around her.
"My boy picked a good one. You two will be very happy I can tell. A spring wedding would be nice don't you think?" Monica caught her breath. He thought they were going to marry. This was getting out of hand. She tried to form an answer but was saved when he spotted Donna and went to speak to her. Monica sighed and went to answer the doorbell, which had rung once again.
To say she was surprised by the man standing on the doorstep would have been an understatement. "Merry Christmas, Beautiful" he greeted her.
"Well if it isn't Bert," she giggled; "It is Bert isn't it?" she teased. His appearance was a total change. His hair was freshly washed and combed. He has on jeans and a button-down shirt under a long black leather coat.
He pretended to pout, "Don't make fun of me. I just thought I should look nice for the family."
She pulled him out of the cold and hugged him. "Merry Christmas Bert. You look very nice."
"I feel like an idiot in this outfit." He grumbled
Monica laughed, "Oh Bert now we all know you really are a good-looking guy, you'll just have to deal with it."
Suddenly Gerard's voice rang out loudly as he stepped up to them "Bert you mother-fuc..." His words were silenced when Monica put her hand over his mouth.
"Inside voice, Gerard and watch what you say. Do you want to give your Great-Aunt Geraldine a heart attack?" She whispered.
"Ha Ha Gee she told you off." Bert giggled. Monica turned to him and tried to look stern.
"And you" she poked his chest "be on your best behavior too. None of that insane giggling."
Gerard snickered "Yea, you giggling fuc..." Monica's hand went over his mouth again. This time his tongue shot out and licked her palm.
She snatched her hand back "Yuck that was uncalled for. I'm just trying to keep you boys out of trouble. I swear you two are like five year olds" They both smiled like the cat that had swallowed the canary.
"Hey where's mom. I have something for her" Bert's eyes were scanning the room. He spotted Donna and waved. "Be back got to give her her Christmas present" With that he crossed the room to where Donna stood. She looked at him and smiled.
Gerard and Monica watched him hand her a small wrapped box. She opened it and lifted out a pendant on a long gold chain. Bert said something to her and she turned the pendant over in her hand. She looked at it a moment then reached over and hugged him.
"Think it has something inscribed on it?" Gerard asked still watching his mom and Bert talk.
"Yep, that would be my guess."
Bert and Donna talked a few more minutes then he walked back over to them. "So when do we eat?"
Gerard laughed, "What was on the back of the necklace?"
Bert looked at him for a moment then shook his head. "That's between me and mom." His eyes looked sad and Monica realized that Donna really was like a mom to him.
He looked at Monica and smiled "So when do we eat around here cause I'm starving."
"He is always hungry" Gerard said, "Come on maybe we can sneak something out of the kitchen without mom seeing us." The boys took off for the kitchen stealing looks in Donna's direction. She seemed to be involved in an important conversation and didn't notice.
Kelly had met a cousin that was her age and the two girls had gone off to download songs on Kelly's new iPod. Mikey, Alicia, Bob and Kara arrived. She had had mixed feelings about letting Kara stay overnight at Mikey and Alicia's. Alicia had told her that they had two spare bedrooms to it wasn't a problem. Bob had his own and Kara had her own room. The mom part of Monica hoped they had stayed in their own rooms.
"You didn't let Gerard eat all the cannoli did you?" was the first question Mikey asked his mom. "Cause that's just something he would do"
Gerard walked up behind him and put him in a headlock. "What are you going to do about it if I did you little punk ass?"
"Boys none of that in the house" Donna yelled with a laugh. "Gerard let go of your brother". Monica watched them with amusement. The Way brothers were entertaining.
Gerard released Mikey and left Bert in their care. He turned to Monica. "Come on I want you to meet my Uncle Arthur." They moved towards the sofa by the Christmas tree where an older man was seated drinking coffee.
"Uncle Arthur this is Monica" he introduced them. Monica could see the resemblance between Arthur and Donna. He was older but had the same warm friendly eyes as Donna. Gerard was called over by his dad and told Monica he would be right back. She smiled at Arthur.
"Nice to meet the famous Monica" he said in way of a greeting. "Sit" he patted the spot on the sofa next to him.
"Famous?" she laughed. "I'm not famous"
He shook his head "Sure you are. Everyone in the family has heard of Monica the woman who tamed Gerard. For awhile there we didn't think he would ever find his soul mate but mom was always sure he would"
He was speaking of Elena his mother. Monica had to bite her lip to keep from getting emotional. "Mom and Gerard were so close. She always said he was a good boy who would find his way. I know she is proud of him." Thinking of his mother, he was silent a moment. When he spoke again it was of his sister Donna. "My sister has told me so much about you. I'm happy to welcome you to the family." Suddenly his eyes dropped to the locket around her neck. "Mama's locket. It looks beautiful and so right around your neck" His voice lowered and his smile was slightly sad. Monica once more realized just how much Elena had been loved and was still so missed.
Gerard walked over and heard the last of his uncle's words. He realized how difficult this was for Monica. His family was welcoming her not knowing she was planning on leaving him. Pain cut through him like a knife. Still his thoughts were to keep her from any more heartache. He couldn't bear the thought of her breaking it off with him before he left on tour. His heart still refused to believe he couldn't find a way to make her stay with him forever. He took her hand. "I've got to introduce her around" he told his uncle. They slowly made their way back to the living room.
"I'm sorry about that. Please don't let anything ruin today." He whispered in her ear, "Everything will be OK"
She gave him a shaky smile; "Gee I promised you I will be with you for now. I won't break that promise. It is what I want too"
He leaned over and kissed her. It was all he could do not to take her in his arms. He broke off the kiss and began introducing her to some of his other relatives she hadn't met. She was trying to remember who everyone was but there were so many people. As they moved to another group she said in a low voice "I hope there isn't going to be a quiz on all the names at the end of the day cause I will fail"
He laughed 'Yea, there are lots of them. Want to take a break and go outside?"
She readily agreed and they headed out the back door. It was very cold and he immediately hugged her to him for warmth. "I know you want a cigarette," she teased.
"Yea, can't help it. I really am going to quit for the New Year." He stepped back and lit a Marlboro. I've been smoking since I was about fourteen so it is definitely time I try to stop"
She agreed, "You will be able to quit. You conquered drugs and alcohol. I believe you can do anything you put your mind to."
He looked at her strangely for a moment. "For sure" he said. They stayed outside for a bit longer than returned to the inviting warmth of the house. Soon she and the girls helped Donna put out all the food and everyone filled their plates and ate wherever they could find a spot. Monica has never seen a house so full of people this was twice as many as Thanksgiving. She realized that before she had met this family a big gathering would have made her uncomfortable but here she felt content. She felt at home. Everyone she met treated her so kindly.
After everyone had eaten their fill the trays filled with cannoli were brought out. This was what Gerard had been waiting for. He snagged two and went to sit by Monica. "OK get ready for the best fucking thing you have ever tasted." Monica smiled at his enthusiasm. Taking a bite she had to admit he had a point. It was damn good.
Bert came over with a small plate filled with cannoli. He pushed his way between Monica and Gerard "Excuse me but is this seat taken?" he asked in a high-pitched voice.
"Bert you shit. Go away." Gerard said but was laughing as he tried to push Bert back up.
"Oh and I was going to share these" he lowered the plate so they could see the delicacies. Gerard stopped pushing him and grabbed one off the plate. Monica just laughed at the two of them.
They sat joking and eating together. Bert looked extremely happy but he kept looking at Gerard. "Hey Gee is anything wrong?" the joking tone was gone from his voice.
Gerard looked at Monica briefly then at Bert "What could be wrong?"
Bert didn't look convinced but let it go. After the plate was empty he turned to Gerard "Hey Gee can I talk to you about something?"
"Yea, sure what's up?" Gerard asked.
Bert looked at Monica and smiled "Boy talk you know. Can I borrow him for a bit? We can go for a short drive take a smoke break."
"Sure, I've got to help with the clean up anyway. She stood and smiled "Both of you boys be good and don't get into any trouble" She walked towards the kitchen.
As soon as she was out of ear shot Bert turned to Gerard "OK fucker what the hell is going on? Something isn't right between you two, I can tell"
Gerard stood 'Come on. Lets take the drive" was all he said as they walked out the front door.
By the time they got back the party was breaking up. She had Gerard walked Don out to his car. He hugged Monica and whispered in her ear "You take good care of my boy". She nodded not trusting her voice.
Bert had followed them out too. "I gotta go. Lined me up a date for tonight so I gotta get ready" They walked over the car. "Bye Monica" he hugged her and gave her a kiss on the cheek, which she returned. He stepped back and looked at his friend. "Gee remember what I said, man." Gerard nodded. They stood together and watched Bert drive away.
"I've missed having him as a friend" he said. He seemed deep in thought as they walked back into the house.