|It Feels Like Christmas|
By: Lady Shelley
The guys, Christmas, and the Muppets.
Rated G December 5, 2000 43K
Blair eased the Volvo into the closest spot he could find and turned off the ignition with a sigh. A storm front had moved in midday and true to form, the streets were frozen soon after. He noticed a truck was parked in a nearby slot and gave another small sigh; Jim was already home for the night so there was no need to worry about his friend overusing his senses trying to fight his way home from the station.
Taking a deep breath and bracing himself for the blast of cold air, he jerked open the car door, and made a dash for the front door of the building. At least that was the plan. Reality had other ideas.
As he stepped out of the car, Chloe, a black and white cat that lived on the first floor, also decided to make a run for the door from the nearby bushes. Startled, Blair tried to avoid stepping on the cat and ended up on his backside after slipping on the ice. The cat was safely inside the building.
Grumbling to himself about the stupidity of cats and the state of the wet weather, Blair tried to haul himself back up only to drop back to the cold pavement with a yelp of pain. While the rest of him was moving quickly from cold to freezing, his ankle was burning.
Great. Just great. Here I am stuck in the middle of a parking lot with a broken ankle all because of a silly cat.
Glancing around to see if he could find anything to help, he noticed the truck again.
"Jim, if you can hear me, I could use a little help here. I had a bit of a run-in in the parking lot, and let's just say I was on the short end of the stick."
After a few minutes, Blair was getting ready to try calling again when he saw the door to the building open and Jim Ellison striding through with his gun drawn.
Seeing Blair sitting on the curb, Jim walked over scanning the street, the bushes and the nearby cars for signs of any assailants.
"Sandburg, what happened? Where'd they go?"
Blair was trying very hard not to laugh. "Umm, I think you might have misunderstood. No one did this to me, I kinda did it to myself, with some help from Chloe."
Jim took a better look at his friend, then holstered his weapon. "All right, Chief. What happened?"
While Blair explained about the ice and the cat, Jim started checking Blair's ankle. "Well, I don't think it's broken, but you still need to get it checked at the ER. There's a lot of swelling here; you might have a hairline fracture and I just can't feel it."
"Are you sure? I mean can't we just wrap it or something? I'm not thrilled with the idea of driving in this weather."
"Well, I don't like it too much either, but we're still going."
Taking the offered hand, Blair got about half way up before he started to fall over again. Jim reached out to grab a hold of him with both hands, and together they made their way over to the truck.
Two hours and some x-rays later, the doctor returned to give Blair the good news.
"Mr. Sandburg, you do not have a broken ankle," she said with a smile toward Jim sitting in a nearby chair. Blair had noticed the looks and glances even if his friend was oblivious to them. "You do however have a severe sprain. I'll have Melissa wrap it for you and give you a prescription for the pain, but you will need to stay off it for a couple of weeks and keep your foot elevated."
"Congratulations, man," Blair said, turning to Jim as the doctor walked out of the room. "You just got volunteered to do all the last-minute Christmas shopping."
Jim walked in the door, took one look at his friend in the kitchen, and shook his head. He should have known. The doctor had said to stay off the foot for two weeks. That was a week ago. Everything was going fine until it was decided the loft should host the annual Christmas get together this year. It had become a tradition of sorts to get together with the rest of Major Crime on Christmas Eve.
"Sandburg! What do you think you're doing?"
"Uh, making Christmas Eve dinner?"
"Chief, I said I would take care of things. You're not supposed to be on that foot."
"Jim, come on, man. I think I can handle a little light kitchen duty. It's not like I'm lifting heavy objects here."
"Really. And how exactly did that 20-pound bird get in the oven?"
"OK, maybe one heavy thing," Blair said with a grin. "But it's no big deal, it's just a slight sprain."
"Out. I'll finish the rest. You go take it easy. I do not want to have to deal with Doctor Bernard ever again, so you are not going to do anything that will mean a return visit. Got that?"
"But, Jim, I think she liked you," Blair said, taking the crutches the other was holding out and moved out into the living room to watch television. "I mean you would have to be blind not to notice the way she was flirting with you."
"Trust me, Chief, I noticed. So did the intern, the nurse's aide, and the watch nurse at the desk. I do not want to go through a repeat performance."
"That's OK. I gave her the number to the loft. She said she'd call you sometime."
Jim dropped the potato peeler and stalked into the living room. "Tell me you didn't, Sandburg."
Blair grinned up cheekily. "Nah, man. I wouldn't do that to you. But you shoulda seen the look on your face."
Blair ducked the swat Jim aimed at his head and turned back to the Christmas movie on television, The Muppet Christmas Carol.
Jim walked back to the kitchen to finish dinner, listening to the television and his roommate's chuckling. "Chief, I would have thought you'd be more the classic Christmas type, not kids' shows."
Blair turned around. "Are you kidding? This is classic, probably one of the best versions of the novel I've seen. And, it's fun."
Blair started to hum along with Kermit the Frog as the bookkeepers closed up for Christmas.
At six o'clock, the loft was full of people. Simon and Daryl were the first to arrive with hors d'oeuvres and wine. Henri, his wife Karen, and Rafe, with his girlfriend Linda, came together bringing other dinner fare and pies. And Rhonda was last with her world famous dark chocolate fudge.
The turkey was beautiful and perfectly done; though Jim thought it was a miracle it ever cooked. Blair had hopped, literally, into the kitchen every chance he got to open the oven door and take a sniff.
Lights and garlands were decorating the walls of the loft, with a Christmas tree in the corner by the balcony and a menorah, with the first few candles lit, on a table near the tree.
The meal was wonderful. It wasn't often Major Crime could take time and just be with one another without a crisis. Dinner was relaxed with stories and memories of Christmases in the past.
The kitchen was cleaned up, and the guests had all gone home. Jim and Blair sat in the quiet looking at the lights on the tree and the snow falling outside.
"You know, man, that was one of the best Christmas Eves I've had in a long time. Listening to everyone's stories, I always like that part of Christmas the best. You didn't say much at dinner, Jim. What do you remember from Christmas as a kid?"
Jim was quiet for a few minutes. "The smells."
Blair nodded. "I guess that would make sense. I mean you did have your heightened awareness as a kid, so it would make sense that that would be a trigger."
Blair tried to continue, but Jim stopped him. "Nah, Chief, it wasn't anything like that."
Both men were quiet again. After a few minutes, when it was clear Jim wasn't going to continue, Blair prompted, "Then what was it like?"
A slow smile appeared on Jim's face as he fell into his memories. "My mother was a great cook, Chief. She always loved the holidays; I guess it gave her an excuse to go all out. Stevie and I would come in from playing or from school, and the whole house would smell of bread or cookies. On Christmas Day, Mom was up even earlier than us kids getting breakfast made and starting the turkey for Christmas dinner."
"That sounds like it was great."
"Yeah. Even after my Dad decided we needed a housekeeper, Mom still did all the baking and cooking for Christmas. "
Blair hesitated before asking, but decided he knew Ellison well enough now to try. "What happened after your Mom left?"
Jim stood up and went to look out the balcony door at the snow falling. Then almost too softly for Blair to hear, he said, "Sally just kept on with the tradition. She had helped my mother with all of her special recipes, so she knew what to do. The house would still smell of baking when we came in and Sally was up with the sun to start Christmas dinner. I had forgotten about that, the smells."
Blair watched Jim gazing into the night.
"You know, I think I can feel the magic in the air," he said quietly.
At Jim's curious look, Blair continued, "You know, from the Muppets:
Jim glanced over as Blair finished reciting the words to the song. "Just how many times have you watched that movie, Chief?"
Blair smiled. "Hey, I said it was one of the best, didn't I? Anyway, I don't wanna wait 'til morning. Let's open something now."
Both men turned back to the tree, and the small pile of gifts underneath.
Each selected one gift to give to the other to open early, Blair pointing to the one he wanted Jim to open.
Jim looked suspiciously at the shirt box sized package. "I don't know, Chief. Do we know each other well enough to be giving each other clothes?" Jim asked with a laugh as he tore off the paper. Once the paper was off, Jim opened the box, pushed aside the tissue paper, and gasped. "Where did you find this?"
Blair was a little startled by the tone of Jim's voice. "Uh, it was in a box down in the storage room. I, uh, had a friend clean it up some and found the frame. Jim, talk to me. You're not mad are you?"
Jim looked up from the picture in the frame. "No, I'm not mad. A little shocked maybe, but not mad. I didn't even remember having this. Thanks, Chief."
Jim set the picture of his family on the table, gave the frame one more caress, and handed Blair a small box.
Blair took the box, and tore off the paper. Opening the box he found an envelope with a plane ticket inside. "Is this a hint or something, man?"
"No. Look at the destination."
Blair looked closer at the ticket and choked. "Borneo? You're sending me to Borneo."
"Look, I know how much you wanted to go on that expedition. And I know you have been talking to Dr. Stoddard, mostly through my email account at work. Which by the way, I'd be careful that Simon doesn't see. Since I had his email address anyway, I contacted him and asked if it would be possible for you to come visit."
"How long have you two been planning this?"
Jim looked back at the tree. "About two or three months. I never knew how much detail work went into getting to a research site."
Blair was staring at the ticket dumbfounded. "You've been planning this for months? But are you going to be able to handle things around here? What about work?"
"Chief, I'll be fine, don't worry about it. Go. Enjoy the time with your friend."
"Sandburg, if I wasn't sure, you wouldn't have the ticket. I mean it. I want you to go."
"Thanks, Jim. This is really great," Blair said smiling.
"You're welcome. Now I don't know about you, but I'm beat. I'm going to bed."
"Yeah, me too," Blair replied. He got up from the couch and started to hop toward his room.
"You're gonna kill yourself you keep doing that," Jim said as he came up to his friend. "Here. Lean on me before you fall over. I told you there was no way I was going back to that ER and Dr. Bernard and I meant it."
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