"Daddy — where is mommy?" Maru whined tiredly.
"See that stage right there? That's where mommy will be in a few minutes." Michael explained to his restless son.
"Daddy, I want mommy too." His precocious daughter chimed.
"Be patient, you two. After mommy graduates, we're going to have a big party with balloons, cake, and ice cream!" Michael replied excitedly, hoping it would settle them down.
When Leila's name was announced, Michael and their two children stood up and clapped loudly. Leila was finally graduating from veterinary school. Since enrolling in classes five years ago while being pregnant with Maru, she continued her studies even whilst becoming pregnant with their second child 'Lathani.'
As Leila walked across the stage, she and Michael's eye's connected immediately.
"I love you, baby." Michael mouthed.
Leila beamed and mouthed in return. " I love you too, sweetheart."
[And now a word from our class valedictorian, Leila Jackson.] The school's president announced happily.
As a hush fell over the auditorium, Leila began her speech.
"Good Afternoon Everyone, My Name is Leila Jackson, and I'm honored to be this year's class Valedictorian. I would like to take a moment to thank our families and the faculty of Pierce Veterinary Medicine for giving us their time, dedication, and support. None of us would be here today without it. Congratulations, fellow graduates! We made it! But on a more personal note. If someone had told me five years ago that I'd be happily married with two beautiful children and another on the way, I wouldn't have believed them in a million years. I know... I know. You're probably asking yourselves, what does this have to do with veterinary medicine? Well, you see. If it weren't for the love and support of my current husband, I wouldn't be standing here before you today. Ever since I was a little girl, I loved animals and music. And while I love strumming my guitar, I've always been drawn to help and care for animals more. Years ago, I wanted to become a veterinarian, but those dreams were quickly axed due to my abusive ex-husband. I wasn't allowed to pursue my dreams or goals; he was very controlling. But as fate would have it, I reconnected with Michael, and he gave me the courage to leave the abusive relationship. If it weren't for him, none of this would be possible. Michael baby — Thank-you. Thank you for always being there for me and loving me. To my precious babies, Mommy and Daddy love you — you have made our lives all the more complete. And last but most certainly not least. Daddy, this is for you. I hope that I'm making you proud up there in heaven." So, in conclusion, if anyone or anything is holding you back from your goals, get rid of them. Lean onto those who support and love you. It's never too late to achieve your dreams."
After Leila finished giving her speech, the entire audience stood and applauded loudly. Just as she was about to exit the stage, she returned to the microphone briefly. "Oh, and I also want to thank Michael for giving me my first job! I'll be overseeing the medical needs of all our many beautiful animals at Neverland." Leila smiled, eliciting a small chuckle from Michael.
When Leila returned to her seat, Michael spoke softly. "Congratulations, Dr. Jackson. I always knew you could do it. I love you, baby."
Leila spoke quietly in return. "Thank you for believing in me... I love you too, sweetie."
Wrapping his arms around Leila, Michael kissed her sweetly, causing the audience to 'aww and ooh' at their tender display of affection.
Picking up both Lathani and Maru, Michael chimed. "These two have something they'd like to say to you."
"Go ahead... Mommy's listening." Leila smiled, urging them to speak.
"Congratulations, mommy! We love you." The two spoke in unison as they kissed Leila on the cheek.
"Aww... I love you too, sweeties. Thank you so much."
After returning home, Michael surprised Leila with a small graduation party. Seeing her face light up at the sight of their family and friends filled Michael's heart with happiness.
"Congratulations, Leila!" Zina and Coco shouted louder than anyone else.
Leila exclaimed Humorously whilst caressing her pregnant belly. "God! Could you two be any louder? You're gonna wake up, my baby."
"Are you two finished yet? How many kids do you plan on having? Do you ever leave the bedroom?" Zina laughed.
Punching Zina in the arm, Coco shook her head sideways. "Zina!"
"What? I'm just curious! Leila's been pregnant for the last five years, it seems."
Wrapping his arms around Leila from behind, Michael kissed her neck softly. "If you must know Zina... I'd like to have 12 kids in total. So far, we're off to a good start."
Turning her face upwards, Leila puckered her lips for a kiss from Michael. As the two kissed each other lovingly, Leila chuckled. "Yeah... We gotta stay moving and grooving. We're not getting any younger."
Zina retorted. "Ugh! Get a room! But seriously... All jokes aside. I'm so happy for you two." She replied softly, with tears in her eyes.
Coco chimed. "Yeah, Leila... We're so happy for you two. You and Michael deserve all the good things that life has to offer."
Placing her arms around both Zina and Coco for a hug, Leila gushed affectionately. "Thanks for being such amazing friends... I don't know what I'd do without you two."
"Stop it, girl! You're gonna make us ruin our make-up." Zina laughed. "Now go and be with your husband... I see one of Michael's fine ass nephews coming this way. Shoo!"
Leila chuckled, waving Zina off. "A'ight girl! Bye... I'll catch you two later."
As Michael and Leila walked around hand in hand, they spoke with guests and posed for pictures. When they happed upon both of their mothers, the two were happily doting on their two grandchildren.
"I hope they're not driving you two bananas. They can be a bit rambunctious at times." Leila sighed.
"Oh, no, child! They've been perfect little angels... I love my grand-babies." Katherine replied warmly, kissing Maru on the cheek.
"Yeah, Leila... Stop worrying! We're pros at this. Go and enjoy your party, sweetie." Jocelyn laughed as she fixed Lathani's hair-bow.
"Why is everyone getting rid of us?" Michael spoke aloud, taking Leila by the hand.
"I don't know... But I also don't mind. You wanna go in the house for a second?" Leila spoke seductively.
"Mmm... You know your man. Of course, I do. But we'll have to be quick before someone comes looking for us."
"Michael-- these people aren't worried about us. They're enjoying the party and our beautiful home."
"OK... But if anyone asks us where we were or what we were do--" Cutting him off abruptly, Leila bit his bottom lip. "Shh! Stop talking and make love to me, Mr. Jackson."
Tossing Leila carefully over his shoulder, he smacked her bottom lightly. "You're so naughty, baby... It's time for me to teach you a lesson."
Two hours later
"Leila, baby... Are you awake?"
"Yes, Michael, I'm awake. Sorry, I fell asleep. After that delightful work-out you just gave me, I needed a nap. Today has been wonderful, but oh so tiring. Can we just stay here?"
"Haha! I wish we could sweetheart, but I think we should check on our kids. I don't want them to become worried."
"Our babies are fine, Michael; they're with their grandmother's. Whenever they're with them, they forget all about us. We can go back when the party is over."
"Leila, come on. As much as I would love to stay here, we should get back. I'm sure everyone is looking for us. And besides, I have a special surprise for you."
"Alright, alright! I'm getting up. I'm sure Zina and Coco are talking about us mercilessly." Leila laughed.
When Leila and Michael returned to the party, they checked on Maru and Lathani first. But just as Leila thought, they were fine.
"Hey, you two! Did you have fun with your Grandma's?"
"Yes, mommy!" They shouted happily.
After scooping up the two into his arms, Michael and Leila showered them with kisses. They loved being parents. And even though things could get a little stressful, they wouldn't trade it for the world. They adored their small but ever-growing family.
As the three made their way towards a small stage, Leila looked at Michael inquisitively. "Are you about to perform?"
"Leila... Stop with all the questions and just let me surprise you." He laughed.
After Leila and all of their guest were seated comfortably, Michael stepped onto the stage to speak. "Hello, everyone. I just wanted to take the time to thank you all for coming out. With you being our closest family and friends, I wanted Leila's graduation day to be extra special. And to Leila, Maru, and Lathani-- I love you. Without further ado, I dedicate this song to you."
As the music began to play, the amazing Carlos Santana took to the stage, strumming his guitar. Michael knew that Leila adored him as a guitarist, so he asked Carlos if he wouldn't mind helping him surprise her.
While Michael was working on his 'Invincible' album a few years prior, Leila was supposed to meet Carlos, but unfortunately, she could not. She was still having bad morning sickness while being pregnant with Maru and missed out on the opportunity.
When Michael began to sing, Leila placed Maru and Lathani onto her lap. Becoming overcome with emotion, Leila started to cry.
Sure, she had heard the song before, but hearing Michael sing it live made it all the more endearing.
Taking Leila by the hand, he sang:
["Now I wake up everyday
With this smile upon my face
No more tears, no more pain
'Cause you love me
You help me understand
That love is the answer to all that I am
And I'm a better man
Since you taught me by sharing your life".]
After the song was over, Michael kissed her eyelids.
"I love you, Leila... Thank you for making me whole again."
"And I love you more."
Michael chuckled. "Hey, that's my line."
"Leila smiled. "Is it okay if I borrow it?"
Author's note: (And yes, I know that Carlos didn't play guitar on "You are my life." It's fiction 🙃...Thanks for reading!