|Chestnuts roasting on an open fire...|
"It's not like you to leave your own party early, Tony." she said as she took a seat next to me on the white couch. "What's up?"
I put my arm around her and pulled her in close. She curled up next to me, placing her head on my chest.
"I just wanted to have a little alone time, you know?"
"Can I join in?" she asked.
"Sure thing." I leaned forward and kissed her on the forehead. She grabbed my head and pulled me in closer. Our lips met. Her lipstick tasted like mint and her hair smelled like gingerbread. She was a freaking walking, talking Christmas cookie.
I leaned forward onto the couch. She broke away from my lips and looked up at me. Her eyes glittered slightly in the light of the Christmas tree.
"I love you." she whispered in my ear. I kissed her again, taking in the sweet taste of her lips.
"I love you too."
|Jack Frost nippin' at your nose...|
Then Peggy walked in. Her hair was still perfectly shaped as always, her lips still bright red, her dark eyes sad. We talked, but I didn't care too much about what she was saying. I was too busy trying to get drunk.
She left. Still no buzz. I set the shot glass down and put my head in my hands. I knew I couldn't let this guilt run my life, but I knew it would always be there. I watched my best friend die right before my eyes. There was no way I could forget that.
I stood up and walked out the building. I saw her down the street, about to turn a corner. I started to run after her.
"Wait!" I yelled. She turned around as I came to a stop in front of her. She just folded her arms in front of her.
"What do you want?" she asked. I grabbed her hands.
"I'm sorry. I just need to get my focus back. I-"
She grabbed my face and kissed me. I flinched a little at how forward she was. Then I let myself sink into her kiss. I placed my hands on her back. She reached over my shoulders. We stayed that way for a long, long time. The snow fell down on us and yet, I was warm.
|Yuletide carols being sung by a choir...|
I walked into the town. There were twinkling lights strung everywhere, green and red bows tied around lamp posts, and other Christmas memorabilia. I had been running so much I guess I forgot that it was Christmas.
I walked down the main street. A slight breeze cut through my thin clothes. I pulled my jacket tighter around me. No one bothered to look at me or acknowledge me as we passed in the street.
That was fine by me. I didn't want any help.
I came to the central plaza. On the bandstand in the middle of the plaza was a choir of children. A sign on the steps, standing next to an old hat, read "Help Save Our School's Music Program."
"I'm dreaming of a white Christmas, just like the ones I used to know..." they sang.
I felt myself remember last Christmas. I was back home, everyone was around me, laughing, having a great time. Everything was peaceful, calm, bright. Everything was right.
I pulled out my few remaining dollars and tossed it into the hat. I looked up and the music director smiled at me. I smiled back, then continued walking.
I didn't want to endanger anyone ever again.
|And folks dressed up like Eskimos...|
"Don't worry." she said, pulling my arm close to her. "I'll teach you all about it."
The next few hours were most definitely a culture shock. There were a great many things to learn about this Midgard winter festival, this Christmas. Structures and people constructed of gingerbread, pine trees and houses decorated with lights and ornaments, Christmas carols and gift-giving. We walked down the streets of her small town, gazing at the twinkling lights as she explained the different aspects of this unique tradition on this realm.
We stopped in front of her van. She opened the door and we both walked inside.
The van was all decorated in red and green, the two colors I learned were associated with this holiday. There were red and green napkins on the table, red and green ribbons tying back the curtains, red and green sheets on the bed. The entire van was a red and green wonderland.
She stood next to me and looked up. I followed her gaze and saw a bunch of white berries surrounded by round green leaves. It hung from a red ribbon tied onto a hook.
"What is that?" I asked.
"Mistletoe." Jane said. "And here's what you do with it."
She grabbed me and pressed my lips to hers. I placed my hands on her back as we kissed.
"I think I like this tradition." I said. She giggled and leaned back in for another kiss.
|Although it's been said many times, many ways...|
I heard a sound from behind me. Someone dropping down from the ceiling, then starting to walk fast toward me. I stopped and turned around.
"Good to see you aren't getting soft, Natasha." Clint said.
I smacked him on the shoulder when he laughed. "It's not funny."
"Really? Because I think it's hilarious."
"Well that just shows how little you know about comedy."
We walked into the break room. There were banners and decorations everywhere. They even managed to get a Christmas tree, with lights and ornaments. All the agents were gathered there, milling about, sipping punch and talking with each other.
"Barton! Romanoff! You finally made it!" Coulson said, walking up with a glass of punch in each hand. We took them as he led us toward the tree. "We're just about to start the gift exchange."
Everyone took turns giving each other gifts. There was gift wrap being torn, ribbon flying and lots of laughter. I handed Clint a small bag. He took out the tissue paper and held up the dart gun. We laughed.
"Thanks." he said, chuckling. He handed me a small package. "Here's your gift."
I tore the wrapping paper and opened the small box. Inside was a red hourglass pendant held on by a silver chain.
"You like it?"
"I love it. Thank you." I put my arms around him. He flinched a little bit, then embraced me.
|Merry Christmas to you.|