"Turn that off or I'm going to break that fucking record," Blair snarled from where he stood at the balcony windows, making Jim's head pop up in surprise. He'd put on a "greatest Christmas hits" album, hoping to get them in the mood for the holidays. It started with Nat King Cole's smooth rendition of "Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire" and segued to Lena Horne singing "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer". But when the first strains of Dean Martin's "Let It Snow! Let It Snow!" started, Blair's outburst echoed in their loft apartment. Jim, who'd been in the kitchen making coffee, came out and shut off the music, then turned to his life partner.
Blair looked… frazzled. Jim walked over and stood next to him, a pillar of patience. Blair didn't look up at first, avoiding Jim's eyes. When their eyes finally met, he looked sad and apologetic. "Sorry, just ignore me," he mumbled.
"No way," Jim replied and opened his arms. As he'd hoped, Blair stepped into them and he enveloped him in a warm embrace. "I don't need to ask why that song is ticking you off," he said softly. "A three-day blizzard and being snowed in can make anyone go crazy."
"You're in the same boat and you seem to be handling it better."
Jim pulled back and gave him a tender smile. "Well, one of us has to stay sane. I just figured it was my turn for once."
Blair gave him a lopsided grin, shrugging one shoulder. "It could be worse. We could be outside in the elements or in any number of horrible situations. It's just damned unfair that we finally decide to do a south-of-the-equator Christmas and the weather is stopping us. I was so looking forward to sunning in Valparaiso."
And meeting up with Naomi, Jim added mentally. Chile had been her suggestion. Not only would they be able to spend the holidays together (Solstice and Christmas and whatever other holiday they could fit in), but her description of Valparaiso, a laid-back beach town where Jim could surf and Blair could explore, enjoying the summer sun that was always in short supply in Cascade, sang a siren song to them both.
They'd bought their tickets through a United Airlines "Black Friday" sale and they had two solid weeks off in December, an unheard-of largesse bestowed by a grateful Simon for a record-breaking year of crime-fighting. He refrained from calling them the "Dynamic Duo", after receiving twin scowls the first time he'd said it. But it didn't stop Simon from thinking it as he received not only high praise from the Mayor and City Council, but an increase in his budget for the first time in 10 years. As he signed their vacation request, he said, "Just don't expect me to do this every year," then added, "Enjoy -- and give my love to Naomi."
"We're still two days away," Jim pointed out, trying for hopeful and reasonable in the face of his partner's anger and disappointment. "The storm should start moving out by tomorrow and the airport is already allowing limited flights in and out. Things can change a lot in that time." He held Blair's hand and pulled him gently into the kitchen. "Now, as much as I'm leery of giving you any caffeine right now, how about we celebrate that we're safe and warm and together with an Irish Coffee?" When Blair nodded, he started making the concoctions. "We'll pull out something to watch--anything that doesn’t have snow or winter in it."
Blair picked up his mug and took a tentative sip, nodding his approval. "We might need more than one," he said, giving Jim his first real smile of the evening. "And, I guess, watching 'Die Hard' wouldn't be too hateful. It is one of our favorite Christmas movies."
"You set it up," Jim answered, as he took Blair's empty mug and, downing his own, made another round.
Twenty minutes into the movie, Jim heard soft snores and smiled at his partner, who was leaning against Jim's shoulder. He gently disengaged himself and took the phone up to their bedroom, speaking softly into the receiver.
Blair frowned as he looked doubtfully out of the balcony windows. "Are you sure this is going to be okay? What if the truck gets stuck in the snow on the way to the airport? Or, worse yet, we hit some black ice and go sliding into another car or a building or a snowdrift? And what if the flights stop again? What if the storm builds while we're out there and we get stuck in the airport?"
Jim was mentally taking a last look around, making sure they weren't leaving anything necessary behind. "Since when did you become such a worrywart? I can't believe I'm hearing this from Naomi's child," he teased. "Don't worry, babe, we're not taking the truck. I have a friend who's dropping us off and he's got the right equipment for snowy weather. If the flight's delayed or we get stuck at the airport, we'll just make the best of it. There's plenty to eat and drink, and our United Gold Status gets us access to their lounge, so we could even sack out in style." Jim cocked his head. "I hear Jerry coming--let's go." With that, they picked up their bags and locked the door.
Blair's jaw dropped when he saw what was rounding the corner--a Monster Truck, decked out with decorations and Christmas lights. The radio was playing--just short of blasting--Christmas music. As they climbed into the truck, Whitney Houston's voice singing "Do You Hear What I Hear" was fading away and the familiar strains of the E Street Band were just starting.
Jim laughed, then crooned, "Merry Christmas, Baby" along with Bruce Springsteen. Blair gave him that mega-watt smile Jim always loved and leaned in for a kiss.