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Seasons of the Heart

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“It’s really coming down now,” Father Jack said absently as he pulled Erica’s curtains closed. He let his hands linger, feeling the heavy cloth in his hands and wondered who was wondering the streets this Christmas, lost in a gloomy snow storm, addicted to Anna’s bliss. He looked up to see Erica grimacing uncomfortably as she set a bowl of hot soup down on the table top.

“Come eat,” she said and disappeared back into her dark kitchen in search of some bowls.

“What’s this?” Jack asked as he pulled a chair out from the table.

“It’s cold out,” Erica said when she returned, setting two large soup bowls and some spoons down, one for him and one for her. “We’ve got to keep warm somehow,” she raised a playful eyebrow at him and he exchanged a shy smile. It was a nice look on her - calm and relaxed, as she was usually stressed with the weight of the world on her shoulders. Jack looked up at Erica, watching her as she settled herself in at the table.

“Ready to eat?” she asked smiling.

It might have been the Christmas season that changed her outlook, or it might have been the fact that she had company this night. Whatever the reason, Jack felt a warmth in his chest rise and envelop around him and it was all because of her.

“Absolutely,” he said, but before he could offer a meal-time Grace, the whole house went dark. Erica stood up, going for the breaker switch while he made his way to the living room window, peaking out through the curtains.

“Power’s out,” she called from the other side of the room.

“Looks like it’s out on the whole block too,” Jack said, walking back to the table.

“Well, we can eat our soup in the dark, or I have some old movies on my computer. The battery could last us a few hours.”

“Actually, that sounds like a good idea. Do you have any Christmas movies?” he asked hopefully.

“I think I do! Why don’t you go set us up on the couch and I’ll get my computer.”

Jack carefully carried the two bowls of soup to the coffee table and fluffed up the pillows before Erica returned, plopping down beside him and clicking various files on her laptop.

“What....? What is this?” Jack asked slowly once the movie began.

“Hey!” Erica said, slapping his leg playfully. Jack feigned injury and both of them were laughing. “This movie happens to be a classic.”

“Yeah... the story is a classic but I don’t know how I feel about singing mops.”

“They’re not mops, they’re Muppets and shush! You’re going to miss the music.”

She leaned back against the couch and into his already-outstretched arms. He wrapped his arms around her comfortably. The house was dark and quiet, except for the sound of falling snow. Her hands were cold as they found his, but she found them more than willing to squeeze hers tightly soon grew warm. Jack never go of her and as the movie played on, through song after song, the Christmas spirit was not lost on either of them: they were together, holding hands, and as simple as that may have been, it was all either of them really needed.

There was something about the power of touch: their world had shifted dramatically, been taken and uprooted and was left standing on it’s head. Despite all the confusion, all of the fear that followed them and everyone else around through their daily lives, they hadn’t forgotten what it was to be human. Humans laughed, loved and expressed themselves through touch. And though their touches were moderate, chaste at best, they were always filled with the promise of what could be and most importantly, their touch was a sign that Erica felt safe with Jack. For every reason she had not to be safe, she was, there on that Christmas Eve, curled up in his arms, exactly where she wanted to be and giving in to that feeling, Erica fell fast asleep.

Long after the battery died, the two sat huddled together against the invading cold, taking a stance against the invading forces that would oppose them. Erica shivered in her sleep and each time she did, Jack pulled her closer against his chest and the blanket tighter around her shoulders until she slept comfortably and peacefully. He refused to sleep, refused to back down from this place he vowed to protect with everything he had. Long into the night and hours before dawn, he felt himself give way to her and gently, Jack kissed her on the side of her head, half on her hair and half on her skin. He looked down at Erica to see her smiling in her sleep and nestling herself further into the crook of his shoulder. Jack kissed her again and held her close: he would do his best for her, for love, and make it their Christmas.