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This page last viewed: 2017-10-17 and has been viewed 1071 times
It Never Snows in Southern California
By Mizhowlinmad (HBF) 2008
Summary: Sometimes the best gifts are the ones we least expect… or at least Murdock thinks so.
Warnings: A big dose of Christmas schmaltz. You are warned. ;)
The A-Team belongs to SJC and Universal. I’m just taking them on a little
“You’re sure about this?” Face asked, his Vette’s motor idling.
“Yeah, I’m sure.” Murdock felt anything but.
“Take a deep breath, okay?”
Murdock did. It felt good, but his heart galloped.
call me when you get done, all right?
“’Kay, Faceman.” Murdock managed. He plucked the oversized Macy’s bag he’d brought with him from the back of the Vette and hopped out, looking like a Santa who’d gone on a crash diet. For a moment he hesitated, All-Stars frozen in mid-stride. “I can’t believe I’m doin’ this.”
Face smiled. “Just have fun. It’s Christmas, right?”
“Right,” Murdock agreed, his voice trembling. “Hey, Faceman?”
“Wish me luck?”
“Good luck. I’ll see you, guy.” He waved, and the Vette disappeared over the ridge.
Murdock started up the walkway. Each step he took brought him closer to the Spanish-style hacienda. Each step felt like a note in a funeral march. It didn’t look, or feel, anything like Christmas. A bright, cloudless sky, 72 balmy degrees, a bright green lawn only kept that way by a diligent pair of sprinklers. Only the simple ivy wreath with a festive red bow hanging on the door suggested anything wintry.
The doorbell played the familiar Big Ben chimes. Now his heart raced, frenzied. Maybe he should just leave the bag and…
“H.M.?” She hadn’t changed a bit, but her blue eyes were wide with surprise at the moment.
“Hey, pretty girl.” He felt the color rise to his cheeks.
Kelly dropped the teacup she held in her right hand in surprise. A little puddle formed on the hardwood floor.
“What are you doing here?”
“Well, I was in the neighborhood, and…” He held out the bag. “Y’know, Christmas and all.”
Her lips pursed in a bow. That happened whenever she was pleasantly surprised; he remembered now. It sure had been a while.
“Come in! I wasn’t expecting you, or anyone, for that matter, so I don’t have any…H.M.? What’s wrong?”
Murdock was frozen in place. The words were all stuck in the lump at the back of his throat.
She just smiled, more beautiful than any angel on a Christmas card. “It’s all right. We can talk later. How about some tea, or a nice hazelnut coffee?”
“You got any egg nog?” he asked finally, still feeling the blush recede.
Kelly shook her head. All that was missing was a halo. “No, I’m afraid I don’t, but I do have some apple cider from Thanksgiving we can warm up. That’s about as close to the holidays as I can get.” There was that hint of sadness, like the time she’d told him they’d have to do without mushrooms on their pizza.
“OK, how about two ciders?” He brightened.
She hurried into the kitchen. Maybe it was to try and hide the flush starting to creep into her own face.
Murdock studied his surroundings. Like the house’s owner, not much had changed since last time he was here. She’d added a cherry spinet piano; he plunked out the first few notes of “Heart and Soul” and grinned. But the wreath outside appeared to be the only Christmas decoration for the whole house. No tree, no little Nativity scene, no handwritten cards from friends and family sitting over the mantle, no mistletoe…
He winced as if stung. That wasn’t why he was here.
But he wouldn’t rule it out.
“Here we go.” Kelly held a mug with a Santa motif in either hand, steam curling from each one. “Nothing like a warm, sunny day for cider, right?”
“Hey, I’m not in the mood for root beer.” Murdock clinked his mug to hers, and sipped. She did the same. They sat on her sofa, staring into each other’s eyes, enjoying the moment.
“Why didn’t you call?” Kelly blurted out. This time her question sounded like an accusation. “You know you’re always welcome here.”
This was why he’d asked Face for extra luck. He glanced away, embarrassed.
She reached out and touched Murdock’s hand. An electric feeling coursed through him. “I know you’re not exactly happy with your situation. But I understand.” Her voice was soft, tender. “Don’t you think I feel the same way, living here…”
“Alone?” he ventured. Now it was her turn to turn away.
“Alone.” One tear slid into her cider.
It wasn’t supposed to happen like this, but he’d known it probably would. He cupped one hand under her chin. “Well, you aren’t alone right now, are ya?”
“No, I’m not.” Her eyes sparkled like two sapphires. She giggled.
“What’s so funny?”
“It’s just…” More giggles, the sound of tiny silver bells. “It’s Christmas. We’re supposed to be happy.”
He forgot his game plan, and held her to him like the treasure she was. More tears landed on the shoulders of his bomber jacket, but they weren’t the sad kind. He just let her stay there for a few minutes, hearing her soft breathing and sighs.
“What do you want for Christmas, pretty girl? I mean, really want?” he whispered into her right ear.
“Yeah. None of that practical stuff, like long underwear, or surgical instruments, or a subscription to Cat Fancy.” Murdock’s grin was mischievous.
“Promise you won’t laugh?” Kelly shyly brushed a lock of hair from her forehead.
her eyes as if dreaming. “I want a white Christmas. I know it’s never going to
happen here, but I miss our family get-togethers back in
Murdock’s hand darted to the overstuffed green bag. “It’s okay. Here, tell you what. You go to your room, count to…” His face scrunched up in thought. “…three hundred and sixty-eight, and then you can come out. All right?”
Kelly was skeptical. “H.M., I know there’s no snow in that bag. You can give your gift to me now if you like. I was just being silly and sentimental.” The rosy color had returned to her cheeks.
His brown eyes were teasing. “But then it wouldn’t be a surprise. Now you go on, and let Santa Murdock work his magic. Shoo, go on, git! And no peeking,” he commanded, flicking a hand in her direction. She exited, glancing over her shoulder with a wistful smile.
“Hmmm…looks like it’s just right,” he said, sounding like Baby Bear tasting porridge. From the kitchen, he borrowed a serrated knife from a butcher’s block. Then he searched up and down for the switch he’d seen the first time he’d visited Kelly. In a few quick steps, he was ready.
Now, he just needed some atmosphere.
There was a radio atop the fireplace. He turned it to an FM station, not needing to listen for a familiar voice this time. This time, it was strictly pleasure.
“Come on out! I guess it was two hundred and sixty-eight.”
Kelly felt her way down the hall, her hand covering her eyes. “I guess this is a surprise, right?”
“Not just a surprise. This is the surprise of surprises. Open those pretty baby blues for me, ‘kay?”
She did. Her living room, in the short time she’d been in her room, had been transformed into a private winter wonderland. Murdock had ripped open the down duvet he’d brought her, and the ceiling fans made the millions of tiny feathers dance through the air.
Her expression was equal parts delight and shock. “Did you do this?”
“Who, me?” He pointed to himself with a look of mock indignation.
“Yeah, you.” She cozied up to him and pecked him on the cheek.
“Hey, you missed.”
“Yeah.” He lifted her hand ever so gently and guided it to his lips. “You gotta try again, now.”
Her aim was more accurate this time, and she lingered pleasantly. He could still taste the cinnamon from the cider.
When she pulled away, she frowned. “H.M., I, well, I’m a little embarrassed. I didn’t know you were coming, so, well… I don’t have anything for you for Christmas.”
“I beg to differ,” he said with his quirky smile. “I got exactly what I wanted.”
“I absolutely, positoovely did.” He kissed her again.
The radio played on softly as the “snow” swirled:
Oh, the weather outside is frightful
But the fire is so delightful
And since we’ve no place to go
Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow!
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