Gillian's eyes blinked open, then immediately closed again in hopes of more sleep. However, awareness of her surroundings had already kicked in and her brain was beginning to receive messages that she wasn't supposed to be asleep.
Familiar but, at that moment, unidentifiable music was playing somewhere - a short burst, apparently on repeat; there was a slight pressure against her left-side, her arm draped across something; and she was sitting up.
Disorientated, her eyes flickered open again and she scanned the room for further clues to clear her drowsy haze.
The music, she discovered, was coming from the television, across the room. The title screen of a Toy Story DVD was displayed on the screen, its accompanying jingle on a loop. She remembered starting to watch that movie, and she smiled as she looked down at the source of the pressure against her side.
William's small form was curled up on the couch, tucked under her arm. His little arm was stretched across her waist, his hand holding onto her t-shirt, and he was still sound asleep, despite her recent movements.
Hugging him closer to her, Gillian moved her right hand and placed it gently atop William's. Her smile widened uncontrollably. It had been in place all day, and she wouldn't have wanted to remove it, even if she could have done.
It was no wonder they were both exhausted; they'd had a long day. Moving William in; lunch with Cal and Emily; an afternoon at the park, and showing William his new neighbourhood. Their evening activity had been William's choice: his favourite meal - of spaghetti bolognaise, "With the pasta that's shaped like little shells though, not spaghetti." - followed by bath time, dinosaur pyjamas and his favourite DVD. Thinking back, Gillian didn't remember seeing much of it. She wondered how long William had managed to stay awake.
Her eyes were still resting on him, unwilling to look away. She still couldn't believe that this was really happening. The months of preparing for this day had seemed to drag on forever, but every step of the way she had tried to stop herself from imagining this moment. She still couldn't shake the fear that he might be taken from her. She knew, logically, that it was not going to happen; that the circumstances were completely different. She knew, logically, that her fear was irrational. But she also knew she would still count the days.
She shook her head to break that chain of thought, raising her right hand to wipe away stray tears. This was the beginning of William's new life - of their new life. Together.
Wrapping both arms around him, she lowered her head to softly kiss the top of his. He stirred against her, and pulled back to look first at her, and then the television, in much the same sleep-confused way that she had. His little fists came up and rubbed at his eyes, and he blinked repeatedly as he looked up at her again. He was adorable.
She smiled as she waited for him to realise where he was, and then felt the most overwhelming surge of happiness when his eyes grew wide and he grinned at her. She held back tears again when he threw himself back at her side and hugged her tightly.
"Goodnight, Mommy," he murmured, settling himself in.
A couple of tears escaped when she laughed, and she lifted him into her lap. "You can't go back to sleep here," she whispered, kissing his hair again.
"Huh?" he muttered, lifting his head.
"We fell asleep watching the movie," she explained. "Let's get you up to bed."
"My new bed," he whispered, sleepily, dropping his head against her shoulder.
"Yes, your new bed," she repeated, carefully standing, and carrying him towards the stairs.
"I like my new bed," he told her on the third step.
"It is a very nice bed," she replied, amused by his sleepy ramblings.
"I like my new house," he remarked at the tenth step.
"It's a nice house," she responded, softly.
"I like Cal and Emily Lightyear," was his next statement and Gillian couldn't help but chuckle to herself.
He must have noted her lack of verbal response, for, as they entered his bedroom and she flicked on the light, he prompted, "Do you like Cal and Emily?"
"Oh I do," she assured him. "We had a lovely afternoon with them, didn't we?"
He nodded against her, mumbling an affirmative response as she placed him on his bed. He forced his heavy eyelids open and looked at her as she slipped his slippers off his feet, and placed them beside the bed, and continued to watch her while she arranged the covers over him.
"You okay?" she asked him, tenderly, resting her hands on his shoulders, and gently stroking her thumbs over the duvet.
He nodded, but looked unsure. "What did we forget?"
Gillian's eyes widened in panic, and she frantically thought through all of his toys, everything he usually had in bed with him at James and Julianna's. Nothing seemed missing.
"I should use the bathroom," he reminded her.
Another laugh broke free, and Gillian nodded at him as she calmed it down. "You're right. I did forget."
"It's okay, Mom," he said with an understanding smile, pushing himself up. "I remembered."
Gillian pulled back the covers and William swung his legs over the side of the bed, dangling them there while Gillian gathered his slippers and put them back on his feet.
"All set?" she checked.
"All set," he answered.
He took hold of her hand and shuffled off the bed, and they walked to the bathroom.
"I like my new bathroom," he told her after disappearing inside.
"Good," she said from beside the door.
"I like my new towels."
"Cal Lightyear said you would like them," she told him, laughing to herself at the memory of Cal towel shopping.
"Does Cal Lightyear have these towels?" he asked excitedly.
Gillian chuckled again at how much Cal had liked the towels - covered in Toy Story aliens - and told him, truthfully, "You know, I think he might."
She heard the toilet flush and the water run, and seconds later, William appeared in the doorway.
"Can I go to Cal Lightyear's house and see his towels?"
She hadn't expected that question, but she supposed she had better get used to quick thinking. "Er, yes I'm sure we can visit Cal and Emily one day."
"They'd like that," he told her as they walked back to his bedroom.
"Yes, they would," she grinned.
He hopped back on to the bed, and they repeated the earlier sequence of slipper removal, and bed covers arranging.
"Didn't forget anything this time," he told her with a wide, proud smile.
"See, I'm getting good at this," she commented, tickling his sides through the cover.
He wriggled around giggling his adorable high pitched giggles, and through the laughter, said, "I like my new Mommy, too."
Gillian stopped tickling him and swallowed down the lump in her throat. "I like my new William," she said, her voice soft with emotion.
William seemed to find this funny and recommenced laughing. "You're funny, Mommy."
She couldn't help laughing with him. "I think you need to go back to sleep."
"Okay," he said. He dropped his head to the side, and closed his eyes, pretending that he had already fallen asleep.
Gillian shook her head as she gazed at him, once more thinking about how she couldn't believe it was all really happening.
Then William's eyes shot open and he laughed again. "I wasn't really asleep!"
Gillian pulled him into a hug, holding him tightly for several seconds before placing a kiss on his cheek. "Goodnight, my new William."
He giggled again. "Goodnight, my new Mommy."
"Sleep tight," she whispered.
"See you in the morning," he whispered back.
Gillian stood and crossed the room, pausing a moment to watch William make himself comfy under his Toy Story duvet. She really had to get her crying under control, she mused, as more tears threatened to fall.
"Did you forget to turn off the light?" William's little voice asked.
Gillian laughed. "Oh, silly Mommy." She flicked the switch, dropping them into complete darkness as she hadn't put the hall light on. She felt a strange sadness - that she knew she also had to get under control - when she could no longer see him. But, simultaneously, a wave of comfort that he was here - finally.
"It's okay," his voice came through the darkness. "I remembered."
She smiled. This was their new life: Together.