Part 6/7: Rocking around the Christmas tree
About: Walkers, Wandells, McCallisters, Harpers, Whedons, Holdens, the whole shebeng
Disclaimer: B&S doesn’t belong to me. Written with love, not for money.
Summary: Getting the house in a Christmas spirit.
Nora goes from door to door and bangs loud enough on them to wake up the dead, which she knows, is a necessity when her kids are sleeping. The message that breakfast is ready is greeted with mixed emotions. It’s 9 o’clock and Justin and Rebecca feel it’s way too early to get up on your day off, while Jason is amazed he slept that long, his inner clock usually waking him up at around 7 am.
There is obligatory slamming of doors, walking in and out of the 3 bathrooms and bumping into each other, but surprisingly it also feels like a well-oiled machine. And about 20 minutes later everyone is downstairs, enjoying their breakfast. Most of them still dressed in their nightwear, with some added-on vest or housecoat.
When Sarah comes downstairs, still dressed in her pyjamas, she sees the children in front of the tv watching Walt-Disney movies. Nora apologizes, but that is what kept them quiet enough for everyone to get some sleep and still give her the opportunity to get breakfast ready. Sarah shrugs. She doesn’t like the kids spending every waking moment in front of the tv, but it’s the holidays for them too.
They discuss their plans for the day. Nora asks for volunteers to hang up the Christmas decorations, she brought along. Kevin is the first, Scotty wants to stay with him and with Kevin wanting to decorate the tree, Tommy and Justin are suddenly interested too.
“I’m not sure that will be a good idea.” Kitty says. “History has taught us that most of it will end up broken on the floor, rather than remain intact and in the tree.”
“Besides, Justin, I thought we would play with the kids again?” Rebecca asks.
“Yes, uncle Justin, you promised we’d finish the last snow-man.” Paige reminds Justin.
“I know, Paigey, but I want to help uncle Kevin.” Justin replies and he pouts and gives Paige his best puppy-look and Paige cannot help but laugh.
“You know, why don’t we girls, take the kids out to play?” Sarah suggests. Kitty nods.
“Good idea,” she says between two sips of tea. “I’d like that. Rebecca? Julia?”
“I’ll dress up Elizabeth real warm and maybe she can come along on the sleigh?” Julia asks and Tommy promises immediately to get it from the shed. Rebecca feels tempted. And Justin urges her to go along and she agrees.
After the breakfast Nora watches her family split up again. Some go upstairs to get dressed, the children look for their gloves and scarves and boots. Scotty, Justin, Robert and Jason carry the boxes from the pantry to the living room where they place them near the tree, so it can get decorated. Tommy goes looking for the sleigh, while Julia gets Elizabeth ready. Once Sarah, Rebecca and Julia are back downstairs the boys go up to get dressed as well, while the girls wait for Kitty.
“It’s been nice, so far.” Kitty comments when Robert walks in.
“Yes… Have you seen my blue sweater?”
“Over there.” Kitty points, sitting down on the bed. “Robert?”
“Mmyes.” Comes Robert’s voice from somewhere within the sweater.
“Do you think that next year we could have Christmas at the ranch?” she asks. “It will be our child’s first Christmas and I want him or her to see what a great family they can be.”
Robert pulls the sweater over his head and turns away from Kitty.
“Sure.” He says, wishing that that child wasn’t on Kitty’s mind 24 hours a day.
“Will you come with us?” she asks, Robert shakes his head.
“No, Jason shares the worries your brothers have, that Kevin will try to do too much and he would rather stay here and help. And I like spending time with him and maybe talk him into taking that job in Florida.”
“I’m glad Jason came too.” Kitty says in a neutral voice and Robert nods. “How do I look?” Kitty turns around to show herself off and Robert whistles in appreciation.
“Just perfect. Now take it off, I want to make love to you..” he says hungrily and Kitty laughs.
“No. The others are waiting for me.” And though Robert tries to insist, Kitty merely teases him with a smile, escapes from his arms and out the door.
TOMMY, KEVIN, SCOTTY, JUSTIN, ROBERT, JASON.
“Kevin, where do you want those?”
“Over there, Jason. Next to the lights.” Jason puts a box filled with tree-ornaments on the table and browses through it. Justin fishes something from the box..
“Ha! Found it! I knew mom kept it.”
“What is it?” Tommy asks.
“The ball I once made for her with colored paper and lots and lots of sticky tape….” Justin grins, holding up some very ugly ball. Scotty takes out another box and opens it carefully.
“Wow, these are in are in the 7 colors of the rainbow….” He says.
“Yes and sprayed with golden glitter.” Kevin sums up and more shy, he continues: “I bought them from my first wages I earned as a lawyer for Ojai…” Scotty finds this incredible cute and the other men notice the love-filled smile he gives Kevin. And Jason feels a little pang of jealousy. Tommy, standing next to him, grabs a small plastic box with in it four little angels. There should be five, but one is missing, Jason assumes it is broken.
“Do you want these, Kevin?” Tommy teases and Justin grins too. Kevin’s smile is a bit weird.
“Hang them where you very well want, just don’t expect ME to do it.”
“What is wrong with those angels?” Jason cannot help but ask.
“Kevin hates angels.” Justin now teases.
“No, Kevin doesn’t. He hates THOSE angels in particular.” Kevin says with bitterness.
“Why?” Scotty asks.
“He never told us, and if you ever find out, write us a memo, we are all more than curious.” Comes Tommy’s voice from the other side of the tree. Scotty’s eyes meet Jason’s. Jason shrugs, he cannot remember Kevin ever saying anything bad about angels.
“Kevin?” Scotty asks, now more insisting. Kevin is obviously doubting whether to answer or not, but eventually he says:
“I know it is silly, but I hate them, because of what they symbolize.” Kevin says quietly. “Mom saw them in a magazine and loved them, so she called dad to ask if he could pick them up on his way back home.
I accidentally heard mom say that she loved how there were five angels, one for each of her children…. When dad came home one of the angels was broken in three pieces…. Rather than go back to the store and buy other ones, he simply threw the broken angel away…It was two months after I came out. … I know it is ridiculous, but it always felt as if…. I mean, he knew why mom wanted five angels, not four….”
His voice is was very bitter and the smirks vanish from the faces of Tommy and Justin.
“Dad needed only four perfect angels, because he had four perfect children and the fifth one…? It was not perfect, so… he threw that one away.”
“Kev, you should’ve told us this sooner.” Justin says quietly.
“Yeah, I mean, we’ve been teasing you about those angels for years now. You should have told us.”
“Tommy, I wouldn’t have said anything if Scotty hadn’t asked and if I hadn’t promised him to not keep secrets from him…. And I know I’m reading WAY too much in this. They are just decorations for a tree…. And I wasn’t supposed to know why mom wanted those.
And I’m sure if mom knew, that I knew, she would have brought them back or bought others or thrown these away. But mom didn’t know that I knew what they meant to her. Dad did. He knew why mom wanted five and he why he needed only four. So every time I see them…. I feel weird about them.”
Justin closes the box and puts the other 4 angels back between the decorations. They suddenly lost their shine to him. The initial cheer was suddenly gone and Kevin feels guilty. Scotty can see that and suggest:
“Why don’t we turn on the radio? There must be some Christmas-music to put us back in the right spirit?”
“Good idea.” Jason leaps up and goes to the radio. After a bit of searching he finds a station that plays Christmas songs and not long after the mood shifts again to more cheerful. “Rudolph, the red-nosed reindeer” is the reason for Jason to start singing along. At first a bit softly, but once he’s more comfortable with his voice, it becomes stronger.
He has a good singing voice and Tommy joins him, just for fun, but it actually sounds good. Kevin watches with a smile. This is fun. A few songs further and they are happily commenting the songs, creating their own (not so decent) versions or just being plain silly. It isn’t until the Jackson 5 are singing “I saw mommy kissing Santa Claus” that Scotty starts to laugh.
And just as Michael promises that he will tell his daddy about his mommy kissing, Scotty copies it in perfectly childlike voice:
“Im gonna tell my daddy.., sheesh, what a snitch.” Scotty comments. The unexpected reaction makes Justin and Tommy laugh out loud.
“Really, I shouldn’t listen to songs.” Scotty says… “Some lyrics are pretty silly. I remember my daddy used to play old songs from the 50s in his garage and there was song in which the singer first explains to us that he had a girl, but that he broke her heart and made her cry… then he wonders why she left him and why she said goodbye… I mean, honestly… What did he expect?”
Robert cannot help but laugh.
“I always had that with the Beatles. By the 10th time they told me ‘she loves me yeah, yeah, yeah’ I started to get annoyed, it was like ‘I know! I heard you the first five times!’.”
“Bruce Springsteen, Dancing in the dark, that is dangerous, you could break your legs.” Tommy adds.
“I love dancing in the dark.” Scotty says, raising an eyebrow at Kevin, who grins back
“Anything we should know about?” Robert asks with a smile and Scotty replies:
“Don’t ask, don’t tell. You should know all about that...”
“See, Jason, if you go to Florida, you can still enjoy American music.” Robert tries to focus the attention to Jason.
“Why? Are you going to Florida?” Justin asks and Jason nods, seeing from the corner of his eyes how Tommy takes over some ornaments that are too far out of Kevin’s reach and would require him to stretch too far.
“You don’t seem too thrilled about it.” Scotty now mentions.
“I’m not. I’ve also been asked by a friend, another minister, to help him out …. in Bolivia.”
“That…. Is another country.”
“Tommy was always very good at geography.” Kevin jokes.
“That is also far away from your family and everything here.” Justin says quietly, thinking about his own lonesome moments in Iraq.
“I was home-sick in Malaysia, because of what I left behind in America.” Jason reflects.
“I’m sure that there is a good recipe for Hot Dogs somewhere on the Internet.” Kevin sarcastically replies and Jason is about to argue back, when Scotty grabs his upper-arm and whispers to him:
“Ignore him. Sore spot.” Jason nods, no use going over this again.
“Anyway…. I can’t choose. Robert thinks I should take the Florida one, because it brings me more responsibilities and prestige.”
“Those are good.” Justin agrees.
“As good as reason as any other.” Tommy admits and Robert is glad with the support.
But Jason sits down and looks at Kevin. Kevin catches his look.
“What?” he asks.
“What do you think?”
“Oh, now you care about what I think?”
“Come on. I know I hurt you, but you’ve always been brutally honest with me. Tell me what you think. You must have an opinion.”
“I do. But it is none of my business.” Kevin explains.
“Scotty?” Jason asks, looking at Scotty.
“I second Kevin’s opinion. None of my business.” Scotty quickly says.
“Come on, Scotty, I think you have a good idea what Kevin thinks about this and how you feel about this yourself, you always have an opinion.” Justin now remarks.
“What Kevin or I think is irrelevant.” Scotty says. “Jason already made his decision.”
“No, he hasn’t. Why would he ask our or your opinion?”
“Because he knows what he wants.” Scotty answers Justin.
“He wants to go to Florida.” Robert says.
“You’re wrong.” Comes Scotty’s reply and Kevin nods to his husband’s words.
Robert, by now, is annoyed.
“And what makes you think you know my brother better than I do?” he asks.
“Because I’ve spent hours listening to his then-boyfriend obsessing over Jason. I know more about Jason, then Jason would want me to know and, frankly, it’s more than I wanted to know about him too.”
Jason feels a blush come to his cheeks as he sees the awkward grin on Kevin’s face.
“Just my luck I’m married to guy with an incredible memory.” Kevin says and by now Jason wishes he had never told Robert anything. He should have just made up his mind and confront Robert with a done deed.
Meanwhile Scotty faces Robert and he says more gently.
“And I don’t know your brother better than you do. You know what he wants too. You know that Jason is about taking care of people and not sitting behind some desk and hand out orders. He wants to offer support, be a shoulder to cry on, listening to his congregation and look for solutions to people’s problems. His friend has a big problem and Jason will help him, because that is who Jason is. You don’t like it, but you know it…. Right?”
Robert’s shoulders sink. Yes, he knows it. From the moment that Jason told him his options. He sighs. And watches Scotty disappear behind the Christmas tree.
“You could have said something.” Scotty whispers a bit angry at Kevin, now that they are out of sight. But Kevin grins, still a bit amused by how Scotty spoke to Senator McCallister.
“Why? You’re big boy, now. And you did very well on your own.” He whispers back.
“I hate you.” Scotty looks a bit angry, but that changes quickly when Kevin takes him in his arms and after a soft ‘I love you too’ kisses him. Tommy, coming around the tree, stops in his tracks.
“You guys! Either get under the mistletoe, over there, or go to your room.” He comments and they can hear some snickering from the other side of the tree.
“I don’t know much about you guys, but I think we’re done here.” Jason says. “The tree, the stairs, the room. I can’t think of other places where we could put more decorations.”
“Me neither. Let’s go find the girls.” Justin suggests and Jason, Tommy and Robert think that’s a good plan. Kevin however prefers to stay in.
“You know what? It’s almost one o’clock by now, how about I get the lunch-table ready and make some hot-chocolate for everyone and you find the girls and tell them to get back here. I’ll need about, ooh, thirty minutes?” Scotty suggest and the idea is met with enthusiasm and they all get dressed to face the cold outside…..
Scotty and Kevin quickly prepare the table,
“Kev! Can you turn on the radio a little louder? I want to listen to the news.” Scotty yells and a few seconds later the news sounds loud and clear through the living room as Scotty and Kevin walk in and out. The broadcaster warns for heavy snow fall and uses the term snow-storm, but it doesn’t really register with either men.
Nora feels she can look back at a good morning and afternoon. A look at the clock tells her it’s nearly five o’clock. And dinner is almost ready. It’s quickly getting dark outside and she expects her children and grand-children home soon. She watches Kevin and Scotty together on the couch. They helped her in the kitchen this afternoon.
And she noticed that Kevin was tired and listless, but didn’t want to get some sleep. And she appreciates how Scotty didn’t force him, but gave him small chores to do around the kitchen, that didn’t require Kevin’s full attention, until Kevin snapped out of his medicine-induced sleepiness. But now, it has caught up with Kevin and he’s asleep with his head in Scotty’s lap, while Scotty reads a magazine and gently caresses Kevin’s hair.
For one moment she feels terribly sad, for it reminds her of the times when she would be reading, holding a sleeping William, thinking she was the luckiest woman on Earth to have such a fantastic husband…. Sometimes she still misses William… Then she sees Kevin move a bit and Scotty looking down from his magazine. He tickles Kevin’s ear and Kevin grins, falling back asleep with a satisfied look on his face and Nora thinks, that if he were a cat, he’d be purring. She suddenly feels very happy too.
Then there’s noise outside and the whole family comes bursting in, bringing an incredible cold with them.
“Oh, man! It started to snow about 15 minutes ago and that is WET.” Justin complains.
“Plus the temperature dropped considerably.” Robert shivers as he helps frozen Kitty out of her coat.
Tommy throws some more logs on the fire to heat up the place a bit more.
“Gramma, is there some hot chocolate left?” Paige asks, warming her hands at the fire.
“We’ll have dinner soon?” Nora replies with a look at Sarah and Robert.
“It would be nice if the kids could warm their hands.” Robert decides and Sarah nods in agreement
“Not just the kids.” Rebecca chimes in. “Unless I count as a kid… “
Kevin yawns, woken up by the noise and making room on the couch for Sarah and Saul.
“Are you alright?” Scotty asks quietly. Kevin nods.
“Just a bit cold, because I fell asleep.”
Nora had already counted on this. She pours the coffee, tea, scotch, wine and hot chocolate to everyone’s wishes and after one last look around the kitchen, and noticing dinner is ready and can be served in 10 minutes, she takes the tray out to the living-room. She stops for a second and watches everyone sitting around the Christmas-tree. Her eyes well up. So far there’s been no real fights, no secrets thrown around, no imploding, no exploding.
Could it really be that, for once, they could actually have some celebration without anything going wrong? The lights shine in the Christmas tree. Everyone is talking and laughing. No one is excluded, no one seems to feel like an outsider. Kitty is in Robert’s arms looking at how Sophie and Jack are playing some game they found with Paige and Cooper. And while Sarah, Jason and Gabe argue about the rules, the 4 kids make up their own set of rules.
Saul watches with an amused look on his face. Justin and Rebecca are looking for some station on the radio. Tommy and Julia are on the floor with Elizabeth who is playing with her own toys and Kevin is still snuggled up to Scotty. It looks so perfect and great and it moves her. She lifts up the tray she’s holding.
“Coffee, tea, hot chocolate, scotch and wine….” She says with a beaming smile.
Then all the lights go out, the radio dies and they are in silent darkness.
She lifts her head. She’s a bit stiff. A look on the clock tells her the time is 17.22.
“Wow! Holly. This is new. Falling asleep on your couch like that.” She says to herself. She massages her neck. She walks over to the coffee-machine. The offices are empty, everyone went home early because or Christmas, and her high heels click eerily loud on the floor. The silence is overwhelming, almost suffocating.
Waiting for the machine to give her the required coffee, she massages her neck once, feeling something like a cold draft move past her. She shivers and decides she will quickly finish her coffee and then go home. She returns to her office. For some reason her large chair is turned with its back to her.
She enters the room further and the chair starts to move, turns back to her. And she knows she must be dreaming, so pinches herself, but she doesn’t wake up and that realization makes her scream in horror, her coffee falls to the ground. For there, in her chair, looking at her with emotionless blue eyes, an inscrutable look and worried lines on his face is …William Walker!
END OF PART 6