Lena was completely past done. The amount of end of term files stacked on her desk was ridiculous and her temples began to throb at the thought of going through them. Leaning back in her desk chair, she closed her eyes and sighed. All she needed was a moment to rest her eyes and her mind from the mess. Just as she felt the pain slightly lessen however, her cell phone began to ring.
"When will this day end?!," she grumbled and reached blindly for the offending device. Her greeting she knew was clipped but at this point she really couldn’t begin to care.
"Well, hello to you too. Who do I need to come and detain for upsetting my wife?" Stef inquired with a quick edge to her voice.
"Hi babe, everything’s fine..I’m fine. Call off the APB."
Lena could just imagine her face, brows furrowed and her jaw tightening ever so slightly, setting her gorgeous eyes ablaze. The thought caused Lena to giggle despite herself and a easy smile begin to spread across her face.
"What can I do love?" You sound stressed.
Lena sat up straight at her desk, feeling more relaxed now, she smirked as an idea came to mind.
“Let’s go on a vacation! Some place tropical..or maybe a spa.”
There was a pregnant pause on the other line as she waited but the slight whimper from Stef started it and they both began cracking up with laughter. Stef was first to recover and cleared her throat before she spoke.
"Well I do have some of that massage oil left you liked so much.”
That definitely caught Lena’s attention and she reigned in her giggles, her mind already swimming with images from the last time they indulged in that particular treat. Lena suddenly felt a bit flushed in the best way and realizing her headache was now long gone she grabbed her files and briefcase to prepare for an early exit from the office for the day.
"Meet me at home. I’m leaving in five minutes." Lena purred before disconnecting the call.
There was a new pep in her step as she filled up her briefcase and walked out her office door. It may not have been the vacation she dreamed of but sending the kids to the beach for a couple hours so she could be alone with her wife was shaping up to be a good alternative for now.
Title: What Makes a Family
Summary: Stef and Lena open their wedding presents and get a surprise from their kids.
A/N: This story ignores canon after the wedding. Callie and Brandon never kissed, Callie did not run away.
Stef and Lena sat side by side at the head of the kitchen table surrounded by their children. Just days after their wedding, with their parents returned to their homes and the house finally back in order, the only thing left was for them to open their gifts. Despite having requested their guests donate to a charity in their names in place of giving them gifts, they had still ended up with a small mountain of presents. They hadn’t set up a registry, hoping to deter their friends and family from buying them gifts. They had, after all, established their household a decade ago and unlike most newlyweds, they were hardly lacking in things. But the lack of a registry had simply resulted in an odd collection of household décor and a fair amount of rainbow gag gifts that only stood a chance of seeing the light of day when they went to Pride in the summer. Some of their friends had been merciful, just putting gift certificates and money inside cards. Those, at least, would not go to waste. Even if there were more cards to Home Depot than was necessary.
As the two women took turns opening boxes and envelopes, Callie sat to Stef’s left, studiously cataloging a description of each gift and the name of the gifter so they could write Thank You cards later. Jude had begun collecting the wrapping paper and other trash while Mariana sat on the other side of Lena, passing them each new package as they finished the last. Brandon and Jesús were at the end of the table, offering snide comments on the gifts of questionable taste and laying claim to those they deemed worthy. Currently they were arguing over the best way to spend a very generous gift card to Best Buy.
“Hey!” Stef called across the table. She tossed a wad of wrapping paper at them, bouncing it off Brandon’s temple.
“What?” They both hollered, Brandon scowling.
“That is not yours to spend,” Stef said, waving her finger toward the gift card. “All of this is mine and Mama’s. So just put it down a quit arguing.”
“C’mon moms! You’re not even going to share any of it with us? Even though we helped clean up after the wedding and everything?” Jesús whined. Stef couldn’t hold in her laughter at the pathetic way he looked between her and Lena, hoping for a change of heart.
“We’ve spent your whole lives sharing absolutely everything we have with you. These are ours and we will decide when, what, and how much we share.” Her eyebrows rose, making it clear she was serious. Jesús tossed the gift card onto the pile and set his chin in his hand with a “hrrmph.”
“Lena, look at our poor deprived baby. His life is so hard and he never gets anything,” Stef mocked, flashing an amused smile at their son whose scowl now matched his brother’s. Lena pinched Stef’s thigh beneath the table, though she chuckled with her. Jesús sat in silence as they finished up the last of the packages.
“Well, it looks like that’s it,” Lena said as she slid the last card back into its silver envelope.
“Wait! There’s more!” Mariana said excitedly, jumping up from her seat. Lena and Stef exchanged a confused look as their daughter ran from the room. They scanned the other faces around the table and three of their children wore purposely blank looks while Jesús suddenly became very interested in a stray piece of ribbon as he avoided their questioning gaze. Mariana rushed back into the room and set a squat square box in front of each of her moms. The one in front of Stef was tied with a turquoise ribbon, the other tied with red.
“What’s this, sweetheart?” Lena asked, picking up the box in front of her.
“They’re from all of us,” Mariana announced, her eye bright with pride.
“Aren’t you guys sweet?” Stef said. Smiles grew on each of their faces and when she looked at her wife they shared a silent moment only ever experienced between two adults who have raised a family together. It was these moments, collected over the course of a life together, that allowed the good of being a parent to so greatly outweigh the stress and chaos. They were markers on their children’s lives that let the two mothers know that no matter the mistakes they made, their kids were growing into the good, kind people they knew they could be.
“You have to open them together,” Jude piped up.
Mariana bounced on her toes in anticipation as Stef and Lena pulled the ribbons from their boxes and lifted off the lids. Lena let out a small gasp.
In each of the boxes was a shiny cuff bracelet laid on top of crisp tissue paper. While they were identical in shape and style, Stef’s was silver with turquoise stones on the ends and Lena’s gold with red stones.
“Do you like them?” Mariana stood with her hands clasped against her chin.
“They’re beautiful, honey.” Lena plucked hers from the box. A proud smile beamed from their daughter’s face, echoed on each of the other four faces around them.
“Gram and Grandma Sharon helped pick them out.”
“And everyone survived?” Stef muttered with a laugh. Lena shook her head at her wife’s cheekiness.
“But it was my idea to get them engraved,” Mariana continued. Stef and Lena simultaneously turned the bracelets over. Stef slid her glasses on, bringing the bracelet up to her nose to see the tiny lettering, and read the inscription out loud.
“‘DNA doesn’t make a family – Love does.’ Aw and our wedding date. You guys that is so sweet.” She beamed at her children, her heart warm in her chest. “Did you write that yourself, Mariana? Isn’t it beautiful, Lena?” Stef looked to her wife for confirmation but Lena sat with her eyes closed, the bracelet clutched between her hands. “Lena?” she repeated, touching her wife’s arm.
Lena opened her eyes, welling with tears, and turned to their daughter whose lip was pulled between her teeth. Lena held out her hand, too overwhelmed for words. Tears slid down Mariana’s cheeks as her mother pulled her close, enveloping her in her arms. Mother and daughter clung to each other as they both cried, Mariana’s face buried in the crook of Lena’s neck. The room fell into a static silence as the rest of the family looked on, feeling like trespassers witnessing such a private moment.
Lena stroked her daughter’s hair the way she had done since the first time the tiny girl had allowed Lena to comfort her. So much had changed since then. And yet she was still so much that little girl. Kind and thoughtful, always looking for approval. Lena had loved her the moment she had laid eyes on her and as Mariana had grown, Lena’s love for her had grown along with her.
“Thank you, Mari,” Lena whispered into Mariana’s ear. Her voice, even at a whisper, shook. “They are perfect and we are so proud of the young woman you are becoming.” She kissed her daughter’s temple, smoothing her hair away from her face. “I love you so much.”
“I love you, too, Mama.” Mariana sniffled, hugging Lena even tighter.
“Okay, what is going on?” Stef finally asked gently, unable to sit in confusion any longer. Lena chuckled, letting go of their daughter with one hand to swipe at the tears on her face. She sniffed, her eyes glossy as she turned to her wife, her arm still around Mariana’s shoulders, not ready to let go.
“When you were… When you were in the… the hospital,” Lena’s voice cracked. Her chin wobbled as she fought to control her emotions. Talking about this was still so hard. “After everything that happened with Ana, I needed to make sure Mariana knew how much we love her and that no matter what she was always going to be part of this family. The quote engraved is what I told her.” She smiled down at Mariana and wiped the tears from the girl’s round cheeks, kissing her forehead.
Stef looked from her daughter to her wife, their faces blurring as tears sprung to her own eyes.
“Of course you did.” She gave a shaky smile, standing to join them. “It sounds just like something you’d say, love.” She kissed Lena softly and then Mariana’s cheek as she wrapped her arms around both of them.
Lena peered over Stef’s shoulder to the rest of her children. “Come on you guys,” she said, waving them over. Brandon and Jesús pretended to be aloof, dragging themselves from their chairs while Jude bounded around the table, squeezing himself into the middle. Callie came tentatively, letting Mariana wrap her arm around her waist, not quite hiding the joy in her eyes.
“You guys are the best kids in the world. We are so lucky to have each and every one of you.” Stef touched Jesús’ cheek and winked across to her daughters. Lena kissed the top of Jude’s head and gave Brandon a squeeze on the nape of his neck.
“We love you so much,” Lena said and a chorus of “love yous” came from their kids. As the seven of them stood in the kitchen, squeezed into a group hug, Stef and Lena savored the moment; all of them pieced together to create something whole and complete. In one of those moments of clarity that happen so rarely in life, they both understood better than ever that the only thing needed to make a family was love. And they had enough for a hundred lifetimes.