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This page last viewed: 2017-09-22 and has been viewed 2373 times
by Cathy Fisher
Summary: Face is sick of the spirit of Christmas
Comments: For you, Rosebud. This is a spur of the moment story and has not been beta'd. Enjoy
7:00 p.m. Christmas Eve
Templeton Peck stepped out of the car and slammed the door violently. Remembering the gifts stashed in the back seat, he frowned in annoyance, opened the door, grabbed the bags and slammed the door shut once more. He had never hated the Christmas season more than he did right now.
It was Christmas Eve and he had just spent the last four hours at a mall searching desperately for last minute gifts. He couldn't believe how rude people could be. Pushing, shoving, and acid comments seemed more frequent than usual this year.
The episode that had topped everything off had happened in an ornament shop where he had stopped to examine a beautiful crystal star. Another shopper had pushed past him, knocking the ornament out of his hands. It had shattered on the hard floor.
Juggling the bags, Face fumbled for the key to his recently scammed home. He winced as he remembered the argument with the store-owner who had threatened to call security if he didn't pay for the shattered ornament. Never mind that it hadn't been his fault.
Opening the door, he made his way into the living room and stopped. Sighing, he shook his head in resignation. When he had told the Team they could spend Christmas at his place, he should have expected this kind of thing.
Hannibal was standing on a plush white armchair hanging garlands and other decorations on the wall. BA and Murdock were busily decorating a Christmas tree in the corner. Clearing his throat, Face waited to be acknowledged.
Hannibal looked over at him and grinned. Face winced as the cigar clenched between the colonel's teeth came very close to igniting the garland.
"Hi, kid. Didn't expect you back so soon," Hannibal said brightly.
"Yeah," Murdock chimed in with a petulant frown on his face. "We were hoping to be done before you got back." He indicated the decorations strewn across the once immaculate living room.
"It was supposed to be a surprise," BA growled from where he was attaching a star to the top of the Christmas tree.
"Surprise?" Face muttered disbelievingly.
"Yeah, Faceman," the pilot continued. "You don't expect us to spend Christmas in a house with no decorations. You gotta get in the Christmas spirit. Your house looks barer than the Grinch's."
That was it. He couldn't take it anymore. "Christmas spirit, huh?" Face huffed as he threw the bags onto the couch. "Well maybe I'm just sick of Christmas spirit. Ever thought of that?"
Ignoring the startled looks of his teammates, Face continued his tirade. "I have just spent over four hours in a mall getting bumped, jostled, and pushed around by people full of Christmas spirit," he nearly spat the words, "just so I could find some stupid gifts for you guys."
Fuming, he turned his full wrath on Hannibal. "I come home tired and ready to relax, and I find you standing on an expensive piece of furniture, which just so happens not to be mine, getting mud on the fabric which I will probably have to scrub for hours to get out."
Pausing for breath, he glared at his friends before finishing, "and you want me to get in the Christmas spirit?"
"Face," Hannibal tried to speak, his eyes narrowing dangerously, "we were just trying to…" But Face had heard enough. Stomping out of the house, he slammed the door, got back into his car and screeched out of the driveway, leaving three very stunned men behind.
12:30 a.m. Five and a half hours later
Tiredly, Face turned off the ignition and sat staring at the house for a moment before getting out. He didn't slam the door this time. He had been able to drive off most of his anger and frustration. Now, as he looked back on what he had said and done, he wondered if his friends would ever speak to him again.
Depressed, he made his way inside the house and stopped once again just inside the living room. The room was dark except for the lights that shimmered and blinked on the Christmas tree. The multi-colored lights caught the shiny ornaments and garlands creating a sight that almost took his breath away.
He stood still, admiring the sight before the pungent aroma of a burning cigar alerted him to the presence of another person. Hannibal was standing with his back to the room staring out the glass patio doors. Sighing, Face entered and took a seat facing his commanding officer. He was going to get it now. He waited a few moments for the lecture to begin, but Hannibal remained as still as a statue, gazing up at the brilliant night sky full of stars.
The silence was beginning to make Face nervous. Hannibal did not appear as if he even knew he was there. "Hannibal, I…" he began, but the colonel stopped him by raising a hand sharply into the air in a gesture for silence.
"Listen," the silver-haired man spoke softly.
Face strained his ears, but could hear nothing but the sound of his breathing. He shivered suddenly as if a cold wind had blown over him. What was going on? Why wasn't Hannibal yelling at him. He sure deserved it. "Hear what?" he whispered, almost afraid to break the silence.
Hannibal finally turned to face his worried lieutenant. He looked at Face for a moment before turning his attention to the brilliantly lit Christmas tree. Walking over, he gently touched a crystal ornament in the shape of a star. Face gave a start. It looked identical to the one he had broken in the mall.
Hannibal's voice broke once more into the silence. "My father told me something once that I've never forgotten." He paused and the conman leaned forward curiously. Hannibal rarely spoke of his family or childhood, but Face always liked it when he did. It made the ache of growing up without a family a little easier to bear when his friends shared their memories with him.
Hannibal took a deep breath before continuing. "We used to have a ritual. On the night before Christmas, my father would wake me up at midnight and carry me downstairs.
'Listen,' he would tell me.
If the sky was clear, I would look at the stars and imagine them singing. If it was snowing, I would watch the flakes and listen for the tiniest whisper as they brushed against the window pane.
Every year, I would ask my father what we were listening for and every year, he would shush me and we would listen to the stillness of the night for about an hour before going back to bed." Hannibal paused again and returned to the patio doors to look out at the stars once more.
"One year, though," he continued, voice barely above a whisper, "when I was about ten years old, he answered my question. He told me that as I went through life, people would try to tell me that the spirit of Christmas could be found in the lights, ornaments, carols, and presents.
'All these things are nice,' he said, 'but they aren't where the Christmas Spirit can be found.'" Face listened intently, barely breathing for fear of breaking the spell Hannibal was weaving with his story.
" 'The true Christmas Spirit,' he told me, 'came to earth in the form of a little baby, not during the day when everyone was hurrying about their business, but in the middle of the night when there was complete silence.
Those that hurry around worrying about presents and allowing the chaos of the season to frustrate them never get to hear it. But, if you listen really hard on Christmas Eve when the night is silent around you, you can sometimes hear a whisper as the Spirit of Christmas touches the earth once more.'"
Silence fell across the room again as the two men stood listening to the peaceful night stillness. Finally Hannibal moved. "Good night, Lieutenant, and Merry Christmas." He left the conman alone as he went upstairs to bed.
Tears blurred his vision as Face stood and moved over to the patio doors. Opening them he stepped out into the chilly night air. Wrapping his arms around himself, he looked up at the stars, listening intently for the Whisper of Christmas.
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