Happy Christmas
 By: Lady Shelley

Jim and Blair think about the changes in their life before their first Christmas together.
Rated G      Nov. 29, 1999     35K

Notes: This story takes place during the first season.

Part One: Jim

The loft was dark except for the soft glow of the tree and the fireplace. Jim sat, soaking up the silence, gazing at the lights, and thinking of the past year. It had been busy to say the least. His senses had come on-line, a college student invaded his life, and Carolyn left for a better job in California. All in all a very busy year.

It was a rare night now when Jim had the loft to himself. The fire popped and Jim glanced from the tree to the fireplace then back to the tree. It was a live tree this year. One of those living Christmas trees you could keep and plant in the spring. Sandburg had decided the artificial tree Jim had in storage was awful and had bought the live tree while Jim was at work. When asked where he thought it would get planted, Blair blithely informed him Joel Taggart had volunteered a spot in his yard. The lights were multi-colored, and thankfully didn't blink anymore. The first night the tree was up, Jim had found and tossed out all the "magic" bulbs that made the string blink and replaced them. The blinking gave him a headache. The decorations were an eclectic assortment of glass balls, Santa's, animals, and for some odd reason, a pickle. Jim wasn't sure he wanted to know why there was a pickle on the tree.

Jim had to admit to himself that the smell of fresh pine had a nice, almost "homey", appeal. It had been overpowering at first, but after a few days, it was no longer an annoyance but a comfort of sorts. He could understand now why so many people chose a live tree for the holidays. Growing up, the Ellison family tree was a small artificial tree off in one corner of the house. After his wife was gone, William Ellison didn't want the pain the holidays brought and tried hard to ignore them all together. If it weren't for Sally, the Ellison children wouldn't have had a tree at all. She had convinced the elder Ellison to keep something for the children, so a small tree was set up in the children's play area, away from the main areas of the house.

Jim hadn't had any contact with his family in years. Both his brother and father had been invited to his wedding, more because Carolyn felt they should be than any wish on Jim's part to see them again. Nevertheless, both had begged off and he had no desire to see or even call them now. He had all the family he would ever need in Blair Sandburg.

Thinking of Blair, Jim looked round the room seeing the changes made in a few months. There was a rug on the floor now, Sandburg had found it down in his storage area, and a few tribal masks had ventured out from Blair's room to the living area. The loft looked more lived in now than before, warm instead of the cool Spartan, existence it had before. His own life had warmed with the room.

Blair enjoyed people, it was one of the reasons he was such a good anthropologist. He would smile at strangers, and wave to children he saw. It was hard not to be happy in his presence. Blair Sandburg enjoyed life and wanted every one else it enjoy it with him. Jim had noticed the changes in the people around him; it took a little longer to see the changes in himself.

Contrary to the rumors he heard in the past, Jim Ellison was never cold hearted. At least, Jim didn't see it that way. He saw himself as hard working and dedicated to protecting his city from the criminals that stalked the streets. The rest of the world saw a man who only cared about getting the job done with little regard for the people he was serving.

Before Blair, he had a tenuous friendship with his captain, Simon Blanks, and a few other detectives he worked with. However, it was rare for him to see any of them outside work. Now, he was part of the weekly poker game, he lived with a college student and for the first time in a very long time, Jim Ellison was going to have a happy Christmas. With family.

Part Two: Blair

Blair sat in his cluttered office at the university getting the last of his paperwork done before the holiday break. While classes had been out for a week, he still needed to finalize things for the new semester. Books had to be selected and ordered, syllabuses needed to be written, and rooms had to be switched to accommodate the class size. He couldn't wait to get free of the university for a few weeks.

Sitting back from his desk for a moment, Blair thought about the change in himself over the past year. In the past, the last minute paper shuffle was part of the holiday scene for him. With Naomi traveling so much, Blair rarely saw her during the holiday season. She would send him cards and sometimes a small gift from wherever she was at the time, but he was usually on his own. Making the most of the time off from school, Blair spent the holiday break catching up on his own projects and making the round of holiday parties. For the first time in a long time, Blair Sandburg had a home and a family for the holidays.

He thought of the tree he'd bought last week. Jim had an ancient artificial tree he brought up from the storage room before going to work. Blair had immediately returned it to its home in the bowels of the building and bought a live tree for decorating. Growing up he'd never really had a tree to decorate for Christmas. Naomi would usually spend holidays with friends when he was younger, and if there was a tree, it was decorated before they arrived. The tree would have old family ornaments scattered in with newer ones, either bought or hand made.

One year a family they stayed with had a pickle on the tree. Blair loved the idea behind the pickle so much he begged Naomi for a tree of their own the next year so it could have a pickle, too. Of course, the next year found them at another of Naomi's friends' homes and the tree was decorated before they arrived.

This year, Blair had a tree to decorate and he had found a pickle ornament at a thrift store to use. He had spent an entire afternoon decorating the tree so it would be ready when Jim came home from work. Even though the lights didn't blink after the first night, the tree was a beautiful sight. If only Naomi could see it this year but she was visiting friends in Colorado for the holidays.

Thinking about the tree, Blair realized he had grown and changed since meeting Jim Ellison a few months ago. He had a home now; with someone who cared he came back at night and worried if he didn't. He had a solid friendship with someone for the first time in a long time. He was going to spend Christmas with family. And he would get to use the pickle.

Part Three: Happy Christmas

Blair was humming along with John Lennon as he pulled up to the loft. He'd always liked that particular song and made a wish for the next year as he got out of the car.

Returning from a near zone out contemplating the tree, Jim heard Sandburg climbing the stairs to the loft. Even after working all day at the university, Blair still had the energy to bound up the steps and through the door. He was humming under his breath. The song sounded vaguely familiar, but he couldn't place it.

"Hey, Jim! How was your day?" Blair asked. He dropped his backpack under the coat rack and started to shed layers of clothing, talking the entire time. "All of the university paperwork is done, so as of now, I'm yours until the New Year. Is the party at the station still on for Friday? I can't wait to try this new fudge recipe out on everyone. It's so simple but it tastes . . ." After finding room for everything near the door, Blair noticed the mood of the room and quieted. Jim moved to make room on the sofa for his friend.

Blair sat next to Jim and stared at the tree.

"Hey, Chief," Jim answered quietly. "Glad to hear you have some time off."

Jim let the soft mood continue for a few more minutes then had to ask, "Sandburg, why is there a pickle on the tree?"

"It's a really cool tradition this family we stayed with one year had. The night before Christmas, one of the adults would hide this pickle ornament somewhere on the tree. In the morning, the first person to find the pickle got to open the first gift. This is the first year I've had a tree to try out the idea."

After a few minutes of quiet, Blair almost whispered, "You know, man, I was thinking about everything that's happened in the past few months. How everything is different for me now. More stable, and secure than in the past." He turned to face Jim, only to see a gentle smile on the sentinel's face. "What?"

Jim let the smile grow a little and answered, " I was thinking about the color in my life now, instead of the shades of grey. " Jim dropped a hand on Blair's shoulder and squeezed. "I was thinking about how nice it going to be to spend Christmas with family."

Blair leaned into the hand and replied, "Family. I like the sound of that."


Author's Notes:

The pickle tradition is true. I had a friend whose family did this every year.

In Colorado anyway, you can buy living Christmas trees to plant in your yard. I'm not sure where Blair will store the tree through the winter, but then again, that's Joel's problem :-)

The title of this story comes from the John Lennon song Happy Xmas. It's also the song Blair was humming in the car. The chorus of the song is:

A very merry Christmas
And a happy New Year
Let's hope it's a good one
Without any fear.

I wish each of you the same in your life.

Last Updated ( Sunday, 20 November 2005 )
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