It was the 24th of December and everyone in Tokyo was bustling with excitement in preparation for Christmas. The residents of Paradiso were no exception.
Taki managed to get a rare day-off from work so he could spend the holidays with MC, their five year old kids Akemi and Akito, and Sydney. It was the first time they would be celebrating Christmas at home because ever since Taki and MC got married, they've been traveling to different places. Sometimes, they'd spend the holidays at MC's family's place in Hokkaido, or at his father's place in Taiwan. But most of the time, they usually just travel abroad.
The kids were already on their Christmas break. MC, however, had to work nonstop to maintain the orderliness of Taki's apartment.
Ever since she gave birth to the twins, her housekeeping duties have significantly increased. Taki tries to help out whenever he can, but he also has a very busy job of his own. He even went as far as offering to increase MC's salary by an exponent of ten each time they had a kid despite MC trying to convince him otherwise, much to his amusement.
MC stood in the kitchen with her baking equipment on the counters. Her first task this Christmas was to bake some holiday-themed cookies for the Paradiso guys and for her family.
"Akemi, can you grab the cookie-cutters from the bottom drawer?" she asked her little girl, who was gleefully playing with the bell on Syndey's santa hat. The crocodile loved to stay close to the twins as much as she loved to stay close to Taki and MC.
"Okay!" Akemi replied as she stood up and did as her mom told her to. She handed over the cookie-cutters shaped like Christmas trees, snowmen, reindeer, and other Christmas-themed cookie-cutters.
"Thanks, sweetie," MC said with a smile as she continued working on the cookies.
"Mommy, what color should the frosting be?" Akito asked. In his hands was a mixing bowl full of white cream.
"I want a pink Christmas tree cookie!" Akemi butted in.
Akito, who obviously inherited MC and Taki's passive but gentle nature, let his sister do what she wanted. So they added some red food coloring to the mixture to make the frosting look pink.
Luckily, MC had other bowls of frosting set for the other cookies, so Taki and Akito wouldn't have to deal with Akemi's girly treats.
While the happy trio were baking, the intercom buzzed, indicating the presence of a certain someone.
"Daddy!" Akemi and Akito squealed as they rushed to the front door to greet their father.
Taki scoops the twins in his arms with a warm smile on his face.
"Hey there, you two," he spoke as the kids snuggled close to him. "How's your Christmas preparations?"
"We're helping Mommy with the Christmas cookies!" they answered.
MC walked out of the kitchen and approached her husband.
"Welcome home!" she said as she embraced him.
"Mommy, you're squishing us..!" the twins squealed in between laughs.
The couple laughed along and pulled away from each other, with Taki still holding both kids in his arms.
"We better get ready, I have a surprise waiting for you three," he told them.
"Looks like the Christmas cookies will have to wait, then," MC said before she leaned in closer to Taki and whispered, "if you arrived any later, you'd be dealing with pink Christmas cookies again."
"What's this?" Akemi asks innocently as she pulls out a neatly folded flyer of a Christmas fireworks display from Taki's breast pocket.
"Is that the surprise?" Akito asks, the excitement visible in his voice.
Taki looked back and forth between the twins, and then at MC. He let out a sigh before he chuckled and said, "Looks like the cat's out of the bag."
"We're really going to a fireworks show?! But the sun will set an hour later!" MC shrieked.
"The fireworks are scheduled for tonight. We have other plans for today," Taki replies confidently. Seeing the look on MC's face, he adds, "We'll be back in time to prepare for our own celebration."
After everyone got dressed in their winter clothes, they headed out for the nearest park.
"Wow, there's so much snow!" Akemi squealed delightedly.
"I wanna build a snow crocodile!" Akito declared.
"Hey Taki, MC! Mind if we join you guys?" a familiar male voice called out to them.
The twins turned around immediately and ran towards the owner of the voice. "Uncle Yosuke!!!"
Taki and MC exchanged a slightly worried look as Yosuke welcomed the kids with open arms.
"Look at you two, you guys are so heavy now!" Yosuke laughed.
Behind him, Kiyohito and Shun stood with wry expressions on their faces.
Taki wanted to pry his kids away from Yosuke as soon as possible, so he suggested, "Akemi, Akito, why don't you have a snowball fight against your Uncle Yosuke?"
"Wait, what?! No! Don't do this to me, Taki!" Yosuke whined.
"Count us in, we're going against Yosuke on this one," Kiyohito volunteered.
"Yeah, kiddos, let's beat up the brown hair guy here with lots of snow," Shun added with a snicker as he and Kiyohito stood behind the twins.
"Let's do it!" Akemi and Akito shouted.
Soon, the four of them were chasing Yosuke around the park with snowballs in their hands.
"This is Yosuke-abuse!" Yosuke cried out as he ran.
MC couldn't contain her laughter. She was rather impressed at Taki's quick thinking to save their kids from Yosuke's mischief.
"Is it really okay for the kids and the other guys to gang up on Yosuke like that?" she asked her husband.
"It's the best way they can have fun right now," Taki replied, unable to conceal his amusement as well.
The two of them watched their kids in silence.
"You know, this park brings back some memories," MC murmured.
"When you chased after me...twice," she recalled with a nostalgic smile, "I've never seen you so panicked before."
"I didn't want to give you up, even back then," Taki said sheepishly, "and I don't regret it, because I have you now."
"What if I rejected you back then?" MC asked him teasingly.
Taki smirked at her. "Trying to provoke me now?"
"Don't worry, I'm going to be nice," she said with a giggle, "after all the drama with Tomohiro, Yosuke, and Tsubaki, I thought that maybe you deserve a break."
"Did you really have to say all of their names in front of me?" he pouted.
MC reached for his gloved hand and squeezed it affectionately.
"You're the only one who has my heart, Taki," she reassured him.
Suddenly, a snowball crashed onto the two of them. They turned around to find the Paradiso guys with knowing smiles on their faces.
"You two need to cool off! You're in a public place, you know!" Yosuke teased.
"We didn't come here to distract your kids from your PDA," Kiyohito added with an eyeroll.
"Uncle Kiyo, what's 'PDA?'" Akemi and Akito asked.
"Uhh...not safe for work!" Yosuke blurted out.
"That's an...entirely different level, Yosuke," Shun said with wide eyes at the same time the kids protested, "But isn't that acronym 'NSFW?'"
"Alright, that's enough," Taki interjected annoyedly as he took his kids away from their mischievous uncles, while MC tried to hide her red face in the fluff of her jacket.
"Aww, that's too bad," Yosuke chuckled. "But don't kids love it when they see how much their parents love each other—"
"I'm sure they're well-informed of that and not in the way you're thinking," Taki shot him down. Turning to MC, he said, "Let's move on to our next Christmas activity."
"Right now? Where are we going?"
"What about our gifts, Tacks?" Yosuke pouted.
"It's not even Christmas yet, but you'll get them eventually," Taki told him.
After the family said goodbye to the guys, they were driven to Taki's mini-town. The area was illuminated with Christmas lights and was decorated beautifully to exude the holiday spirit.
They went on some of the rides at the amusement park, until it was time for the Christmas parade that was scheduled to happen at dusk. One of the floats that stood out was an intricately jeweled sleigh with animated reindeers attached to its front.
"Wow, it looks so cool!" Akito exclaimed.
"Can we ride it?" Akemi pleaded with her parents.
Taki smiled and replied, "I don't see why not."
He hoisted the twins one by one onto the sleigh's seats. Then, as he turned to MC, she said, "I-I'll just stay here and take a video of you guys..!"
"We can just ask one of the staff to take it," Taki told her before he reached his hand out to her.
"But Taki, there's so many people..."
"You have nothing to be ashamed of, MC, you're an amazing woman," he said, making her heart flutter in her chest.
"Come on, Mommy, it will be fun!" Akemi encouraged her.
MC sat on the sleigh with the twins sandwiched between her and Taki. Soon, the floats were illuminated and they started parading through the crowd.
The other floats were decorated impressively as well. There were snowmen, gingerbread figures, candy canes, and even a huge Santa Claus inflatable!
"You did all this, Daddy?" Akito asked his father.
"I had a lot of help from other companies to make this possible," Taki answered humbly.
As the sky above them dimmed, a bright burst of color exploded into the sky, followed by another and another...
"Fireworks!" the twins cheered.
The deep blue sky was soon filled with vivid colors raining down on them. MC's heart melted at the sight of her kids watching the view she and Taki loved to share together.
Taki was also filled with warmth and love for his family. He never would have gotten to experience this joy without MC's love.
Together, they watched the colorful sky as Christmas carols echoed through the pleasant winter breeze.
Back in Taki's condo, as they awaited for the clock to strike midnight and for their Christmas cookies to be baked, Taki and MC shared memories of their own to the kids.
"Did Mommy and Daddy have Christmas together in school?" Akemi asked.
"We had Christmas parties but..."
"We broke up before we could celebrate Christmas together," Taki finished MC's statement, "and Christmas happened during Christmas breaks."
"But Mommy and Daddy are together now," Akito pointed out.
"And because of that, we have Akemi and Akito," MC cooed as she wrapped the twins in a warm hug.
"And Sydney!" Akemi reminded her.
"That's right," Taki said as he joined in the group hug.
The alarm clock struck twelve in the morning of December 25th. It was finally Christmas.
"Merry Christmas!" the family exchanged their greetings with each other. Even Sydney tagged along by shaking the bell on her Santa hat.
After a few minutes, it was time to open their presents for each other.
"This is for you, Daddy!" Akito said as he handed a white box to Taki before he scurried over to hand over a matching white box to MC. "And this is for you, Mommy!"
The couple opened their gifts at the same time and gasped when they saw matching gold scarves.
"Aww, thank you, Akito!" MC said then kissed her son on the cheek.
"Thanks, Akito," Taki said with a gentle smile on his face, "you know your stuff."
"I have a gift for Mommy and Daddy too!" Akemi quipped before she skipped into Sydney's room along with the crocodile. When they came back, they were dragging a gift three times larger than Akito's.
"Whoa, what's that you have for us, sweetpea?" Taki asked her.
"It won't fit under the Christmas tree 'cause it's too big," Akemi giggled, "go open it!"
MC and Taki opened their present to find two fluffy pillows with their names embroidered on them.
"Wow, thank you, Akemi!" MC said before she kissed her daughter on the cheek as well.
"Thanks, Akemi," Taki said, "now it's our turn to give our presents for the both of you."
He and MC reached out for two elegantly wrapped boxes with the gift cards addressed to Akemi and Akito respectively. The twins eagerly opened their gifts and were delighted to see the contents.
"It's a tiara!" "It's a new art set!"
Apparently, Akemi got a personalized tiara crafted expertly by Hashim, who also provided the jewels for the tiara MC wore at her wedding with Taki. Akito, on the other hand, got a high quality sketchbook with lots of pages, along with a complete set of graphite pencils.
"Thank you so much!" the twins squealed as they hugged their parents tightly.
"We're happy you like them," Taki told the both of them.
Sydney, who watched the happy family with a toothy smile of her own, pushed forward her own gift to them using her snout.
"Aww, Sydney, you got something for us too?" MC asked the reptile.
Sydney nodded and nudged the box forward. The family opened it and saw Santa hats for each of them with a small crocodile embroidered on the front.
"Thank you, Sydney," they told the crocodile who happily received their affection. As a token of gratitude, they gave Sydney a bunch of holiday themed treats.
Finally, it was MC and Taki's turn to give each other gifts.
MC grabbed a small blue box from under the Christmas tree and gave it to Taki. "Merry Christmas, Taki."
He opened it and got a snow-globe with a miniature model of his apartment building inside.
"Thanks, MC, it looks wonderful," he told her before he gave her his gift for her. "Merry Christmas."
She opened the small silver box and fished out a crystal locket decorated with small rose pendants. Inside the locket was a picture of her and Taki holding their newborn twins together.
"A memory of one of the best gifts you ever gave me," he added, making her want to cry of happiness.
Sydney decided to lead the kids into the kitchen to give the couple some privacy. When they left, MC embraced Taki without hesitation.
"Thank you so much...I treasure that day as much as you do," she sniffled.
Taki smiled and told her, "I wouldn't have been able to experience this kind of happiness if it weren't for you, MC. The day you returned in my life, chose me, married me, had our kids with me, or simply the choice you made to love me for the rest of your life, that's the best Christmas gift I could ever ask for."
"I feel the same way, Taki," MC replied, "and there's no other man out there for me except you. I love you."
"I love you too, MC."
He kissed her, with their arms still wrapped around each other. Together, they welcomed another happy holiday, which was the beginning of many more holidays to come.