It's a little short, but I think what this chapter contains is worth every line of it.
"Hey, honey!" Amanda said excitedly, as he trudged in and nudged the door closed behind him. "Welcome home." She said, planting a kiss on his lips.
"Thank you. God, I missed you so much." He said, giving her a kiss in return and shaking snow off his shoulder. "And I missed you." He said with a smile to his four month old son in Amanda's arms.
"Harry missed you a hell of a lot." Amanda laughed. "He's been grizzling since you left."
"Well, daddy's home now!" Patrick laughed, as she passed him the baby. He hitched him up and looked at him while tickling his chin. "So you can cheer up. It's Christmas, right?"
"Daddy's home!" Two small figures in the form of Danielle and Josh bolted through the hallway and hugged his legs.
"Merry Christmas Eve to you, too." Patrick grinned as he tried to bend down to hug them.
"So what did you guys do today?" Patrick asked, following Amanda through to the living room where Danielle and Josh had run in, certain Santa was 'about to appear any minute'.
"Well, this morning consisted with a very fierce and wet snowball fight. So in the afternoon we did finger painting to warm up, didn't we?" She asked the twins as she took a laughing Harry from Patrick and put him in the baby chair.
"Yep. I won!" Josh told Patrick proudly.
"That's... my boy?" Patrick said, with a confused laugh. "Did you not wanna win, Danni?"
Danielle shook her head, her red hair bouncing about her shoulders.
"Winning is for losers." She said. Patrick and Amanda laughed as she watched them, wondering why they laughed at her.
"Good thinking, sweetie." Patrick smiled. "Hey, it's getting pretty late." He said, looking at his watch.
"Aw, I don't want to go to bed!" Danielle and Josh echoed each other's words.
"Well, you know, if you go to sleep quicker, Santa comes quicker. And then he leaves you even more presents for being good and sleeping before he comes."
"What if we stay up all night?" Josh asked.
"Then Santa doesn't come at all."
Their mouths dropped and Patrick nodded.
"It's true. Santa's rules. So go on, go to your beds and we'll be up in a minute to say goodnight." He said. He watched them bound away and chuckled before standing up to face Amanda.
"Merry Christmas, honey." He said, pulling her towards him by wrapping his arms around her waist.
"You got any mistletoe?" She asked him, raising her head so Patrick couldn't kiss her.
"No." He said, with a shake of his head.
"Well, no mistletoe, no kiss." She told him.
"Hey, I didn't agree to that rule." He whined.
"It's Santa's rule." She giggled, before kissing him.
"Merry Christmas." She whispered between another kiss.
"I've got a present for you." Patrick whispered back.
"Oh, God. It's not another baby, is it?"
"Mmm, maybe next year." He said, cheekily. "I guess there's some similarities as to how a baby is made... But we'll have to stay up later than the kids if you want it."
"Ohhh, so it's like, a secret?"
"To the kids, yes." He laughed before kissing her nose. "Come on, let's get them to bed and wrap their gifts before I give you mine."
"You better wrap your gift if it's what I'm thinking of." She laughed while he pretended to swat her after she picked Harry up. She handed him to Patrick.
"I'll be up in a minute, I'm just gonna get the trash cans in. You put this guy to bed."
"Okay." Patrick ascended the stairs where he heard Danielle and Josh singing Christmas songs from their rooms, their voices carrying down the hallway to each other's rooms.
"You excited for Santa, little guy?" Patrick asked Harry, who was looking around inquisitively.
"No?" Patrick laughed. "Don't worry, daddy will make your first Christmas just perfect."
He entered Danielle's room, where Josh had just run out of, and Danielle jumped into her bed when she heard Patrick coming.
"Alright, night night, Missy." Patrick said, kissing Danielle as she lay in her bed, with difficulty as he still held Harry. "Are you excited for Santa?"
"Yeah!" She nodded excitedly and grinned at him. "I haven't been bad this year, have I?"
"No. You've been an angel this year." Patrick said. "I'm sure Santa will be very good to you in return. Now get some sleep."
"Yes?" Patrick turned around at the door.
"I like it when you're home."
Patrick smiled and ducked his head.
"I like it, too, Princess."
"Night Harry!" Danielle called as Patrick left the room. Harry giggled in his arms and twisted to look back.
"He says goodnight." Patrick called back, entering Josh's room.
"Oh, man. Where's Josh?" He said to Harry, knowing full well that Josh would be hiding in the closet. Harry laughed again and tried to grab various toys off Josh's shelves as Patrick passed.
"I guess we better go and leave a note for Santa to tell him he's not here anymore." Patrick said to Harry. Josh giggled from the closet, but before Patrick opened the door, there was a loud bang followed immediately by a blood curdling scream that rang throughout the house and down the streets. Patrick whipped around, bolted into Harry's room and set him down in the crib before running down the stairs. Danielle was crying, Josh was yelling and Harry was screeching, but Patrick knew that scream. He flung open the front door and a yell escaped his own mouth as he saw the trash cans rolling on the driveway, a car stopped on the sidwalk, trash spilt over the roof and the hood, but all he could see was Amanda as she lay still on the hood, her hair covering her face. His yell didn't stop, it seemed to last forever, he could feel his heart physically wrenching open.../
"Patrick! Patrick, wake up!" Hands shook him awake as he shot up to a sitting position, his face and back soaked with moisture.
"Hey, Patrick, you were having a nightmare." Pete said, his face silhouetted in the light of the lamp above Patrick's bunk.
"No... no, it was real." Patrick said, wiping his face and getting out of bed. He entered the bathroom before Pete could say anything else, and leant against the door as he breathed heavily. Pete wouldn't understand even if he told him.
He hadn't told anyone that his dreams consisted of a happy family unit and then a bombshell. He'd had to explain his real life situation before, it was basically the same and he didn't want to repeat it over and over.
Every dream he had about Amanda turned into a nightmare. Even if the dream didn't end in him yelling into the night or hearing Amanda's last petrifying scream, the dream was still a nightmare. Every moment without Amanda was.
"Are you okay?" Pete's voice came from the other side of the door.
"I'm fine." He whispered, wiping the sweat off his forehead.
"Open the door." His voice was muffled, and Patrick shook his head.
"I don't want to."
"Open it." Pete said, firmly. Patrick wrenched the door open and turned away as Pete stood in the small doorway. He himself had bags under his eyes and had rarely smiled since Rachel had left.
"You were dreaming about Amanda, weren't you?"
"No." Patrick said, defensively.
"Yes, you were."
"No, I wasn't!"
"Patrick, you were yelling her name in your sleep. Now unless you were enjoying the privacy of a bunk and a curtain, I'm pretty sure you were having a nightmare about her."
"Okay. I was." Patrick resigned.
"Why? I thought the therapy was working?"
"It was! It /is/." Patrick pointed out. "I just keep dreaming of her..."
"Oh, Patrick..." Pete started.
"I can't tell Addison. 'Cause even though Amanda's dead... she's still my ex girlfriend. And no new girlfriend likes to hear about the ex."
"That's true, but I think the circumstances turn a little when they've passed."
"She knows there's none of that, 'will he ever go back to her?' thing going on."
"That's garbage. Why would she think that anyway?"
"I'm not saying she would, just... oh, never mind. Look, just stop telling Addison a different story. If you have a nightmare about Amanda, tell her."
"Pete... I think I'm in love with Addison."
"I can tell." Pete nodded. "It's sort of obvious."
"Yeah. Just stop being such a wuss and let yourself be happy. God knows you deserve it."
A while later, when Patrick had returned home from playing the shows that week, he wandered upstairs, and spotted Josh lying on his stomach in his room while he played with his toys.
"Danni? Can you come in here for a sec?" Patrick called, as he stood in Josh's doorway. Josh glanced up at him worriedly, and quickly looked down again as Danielle entered the room looking apprehensive.
"It's okay, you guys aren't in trouble. I just want to talk to you about something." Patrick said, guiding Danielle into the room. He sat down on the floor, leaning his back against Josh's bed.
"Come here." He said, waving them over. They slowly sat in front of him, glancing at each other as they each crossed their small legs.
"Alright. Don't look so worried." He said, with a laugh to Josh.
"Okay. Now you know how Addison and Riley have been coming here a lot now, right?"
They both nodded and glanced at each other again.
"Okay. Does it bother you if they come here?"
"It's nice." Josh said quietly, as they shook their heads.
Patrick nodded his and shifted.
"What about if they lived here all the time?"
"You'd let them?" Danielle asked, surprised.
"Sure." Patrick replied, with a smile. "But you guys would like it? I mean, you'd still have your own rooms."
"Yeah!" They both said, simultaneously.
"Wow. Okay. Um, well... what about if Daddy and Addison got married?"
"Can I wear a dress?" Danielle asked.
"Can Pete come?" Josh enquired.
"Definitely." Patrick nodded.
"Is getting married where you have the big party?" Danielle asked him.
"Yeah. Like the one Auntie Sydney had a while ago." Patrick told her.
"Cool!" Danielle exclaimed. "Is it when you're mommy and daddy?"
"Uh... not exactly." Patrick said. "You're a husband and wife, then."
"Oh. Will Addison be our new mommy?"
"Well, uh... she'll be sort of like a step mommy."
"Can we call her mommy?" Josh asked. Patrick paused and looked at both of them.
"I guess... if she says yes. And if you want to. But no one's forcing you to."
"Yay!" Danielle and Josh exclaimed together. Patrick was beginning to smile and feel the warmth in his stomach spreading.
"So you guys are okay with that, yeah?"
"Yeah!" They shouted, excitedly.
"Good." He said, about to stand.
"Oh, but there's one other thing..."
"What?" They asked, their smiles fading. He wouldn't turn around and say no now, would he?
"If Addison and Daddy get married and have the big party... that means they will be here all the time."
"That's okay." They replied, politely.
"And it also means Riley would be your sister." He said, apprehensively.
"Really?" They asked, bewildered. They paused.
"Awesome!" They both said in unison.
"Wow. You guys are the greatest." Patrick said, his voice now filled with excitement as he gave them both a tight hug. He left them gazing after him strangely, and leant against his bedroom door.
He couldn't believe it.
He would finally have his family. He just had to figure how to plan it.
"So ask me what I did today." Patrick said, sitting down opposite Addison a week later.
"What did you do today?"
"I spent the morning clearing stuff out of the spare room, and I would like you and Riley to move in with me."
"What?" Addison asked, shocked.
"Yeah. I cleared the spare room out so it can be Riley's room. You, of course, would share my room." He grinned.
"Oh, Patrick. I don't know."
"What? Come on, it'll be great. We can paint Riley's room pink, or whatever she wants. And we'd be together all the time."
Addison bit her lip as she thought it over, and looked at Patrick's excited face.
"Okay. We'll do it."
Addison and Riley moved in later that month, much to the excitement of Patrick, Danielle and Josh. When the long task of unpacking had finally finished, Patrick was adamant on cooking a meal for just him and Addison that night. Riley was content playing in her new pink room Patrick had decorated especially for her, and Danielle and Josh were happy enough joining her.
"To us." Patrick said, holding a glass of red wine up as he looked fondly at Addison. She smiled and looked around the dining room, still hardly able to believe Patrick had done all of this. He had cooked from scratch, managed not to burn it, and turned the dining room into some sort of love nest. He cocked his head as he looked at her, and grinned when she looked back.
"To us." She said, raising her own glass.
"You make me really happy. I hope you know that." Patrick told her. Addison smiled and nodded.
"Yeah. I do." She replied. "You make me happy, too."
Patrick bit his lip nervously and nodded. He could feel his heart beating faster and his palms were slowly covering in sweat. He wiped his hands on his pants and took a deep breath.
"Thank you for moving in with us." He stammered. He watched the way Addison's eyes shone when she smiled back at him, and his heart soared.
"Addison... I have to tell you something." He said, hoping he wasn't going to pass out like he had so many times before. He could feel his head starting to spin.
"I think you need to know this." Patrick continued. He took another deep breath and composed himself.
"I love you." He said. He put his hand up when Addison opened her mouth, and shook his head.
"No, let me get this out. Please."
He stood up and walked around to her side.
"I'm in love with you. You've made me happier than I ever could imagine, and I'm so thankful for you giving me the chance to be happy again."
He made another gesture for her to keep quiet and bit his lip again.
"I love you. I really do. And nothing would make me happier than spending the rest of my life with you."
He shifted and got down on one knee, reaching into his pocket. He pulled out a small box and opened it.
"Addison Katie Lewis, will you marry me?"
They were married seven months later in a small ceremony in LA, only their close friends and family attended. Naturally, the guys were Patrick's best men, and Addison had two of her best friends as maids of honor, while Riley and Danielle acted as her flower girls. Josh strutted about after Pete, being assigned to be Patrick's pageboy, delighted the eyes were on him for once.
"You've made me the happiest man in the world." Patrick whispered to Addison, as they sat at the table waiting for Pete to make his speech.
"And you've made me the happiest woman in the world." Addison replied, while Patrick leant over and gave her a kiss that lingered for a while as he smiled.
"Ahem." Pete cleared his throat and tapped his glass. "A toast... to the most amazing couple in the history of music."
There were claps and whistles from the crowd and Pete grinned.
"You know, when Addison first met Patrick..."
"Oh, God." Patrick groaned.
"They were both dropping their kids off at kindergarten. Patrick made me come when he came to take them home that day. And Addison had by then, come to the conclusion that Patrick and I were gay together."
Patrick's eyes widened as everyone laughed.
"What are the kids gonna say?" He asked, appalled.
"Don't worry about it." Addison laughed, placing her hand over his. Patrick attempted to laugh with the crowd, but couldn't stop his face from flushing.
"I never thought I'd be here." He told her, looking around. They stood outside on the balcony of their hotel, watching the evening summer sun setting in the horizon. Patrick wrapped his arm around her shoulder and she lay her head on his while he rocked her from side to side.
"Thank you." He said, softly, kissing the top of her head.
"Thank /you/." Addison replied.
"I love you." Patrick said gently, placing a kiss on her cheek before they stood up straight again.
"I love you, too. I can't wait to start our life together."
"Neither can I." Patrick said, with a smile.
"I can't believe it. I've finally got my life back." Patrick murmured to himself as Addison went back inside ahead of him. He turned around and looked around at his surroundings. For the first time in five years, he felt at peace with his life.