As Ari’s second birthday neared, Gabi had become increasingly more anxious and depressed with each of their prison visits; she’d even burst into tears a few times as they told her about the plans they’d made for a family birthday bash at TBD that weekend (though she was grateful to them for bringing Ari to see her on Ari’s actual birthday).
Before they left that day, they reminded her that she’d survived a year behind bars, encouraged her that she was strong enough to survive the rest of her sentence, and they promised her that they would take lots of pictures and videos to bring to her the following week.
So, on the morning of Ari’s birthday party, after getting Ari dressed in her little pink ruffled dress and matching sandals, Sonny pulled out his video camera and packed it safely in one of the bags of supplies they were bringing to the party.
They were going to the Kiriakis mansion first to visit a little with Victor and Maggie and Adrienne beforehand and Sonny figured that would be a better place to film Ari doing cute things rather than the boring apartment anyway.
After barely being greeted by Victor, Maggie, and Adrienne, and brushed aside in favor of Arianna, Sonny suggested that they take a walk around the backyard, since it was such a beautiful spring day.
As soon as she was outside, Ari attempted to run around on the grass but Will managed to reign her in, cooing at her and warning her to not get her pretty dress dirty. She reluctantly listened and Sonny snapped pictures while he laughed; Ari was quickly developing a pout eerily reminiscent of Will’s and which Sonny knew would get them all into trouble as she grew older.
At one point, Maggie wanted to show Adrienne some plants she was proudly growing, so they all took a detour into the greenhouse behind the mansion. While Maggie dragged Victor and Adrienne around, Will and Ari settled on a bench near some windows on the side of a row of raspberries.
Smiling, Sonny pulled the video recorder out of the bag and said, “Ari, can you make some funny faces to show Mommy?"
She merely waved in response at the camera and Will chuckled. Then he said, "Why don’t we show Mommy the game we play sometimes before bed? Hmmm. Do you wanna play lion and cub?”
She smiled at him and nodded a little.
Will turned to the camera and said, “So sometimes instead of reading a book to her before we put her to sleep she likes to pretend she’s a baby lion. It was in one of her books and she’s liked lions since then. Watch this.”
Then he turned back to Ari, opened his mouth, and roared gently at her. She giggled and roared back at him, shaking her head and brushing her nose against his a little.
It was when Ari pulled back slightly - still roaring at him - that Will realized the others were watching and smiling fondly at them.
Then Ari was leaning in again, roaring a little louder, and fully eskimo kissed him - her nose and forehead brushing against his. He responded in kind gently so as not to hurt her and laughed through his roar as she did it again.
She roared at him once more before turning away, bored of the game, and falling accidentally onto her knees.
Sonny laughed lovingly and turned off the camera as Will checked to make sure her knees weren’t scraped.
When they showed Gabi the video three days later, she laughed herself to tears and told them it was the first time she’d truly enjoyed herself in nearly a year.