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A Holly-Jolly Christmas

by Juliet Benson
(Written: 12-99)

Disclaimer: Pet Fly and Paramount own 'em but should they ever decide to get rid of them - I'll gladly adopt....
Author's Notes: An answer to the Christmas Challenge on the CascadeTimes mailing list.

Blair was running. The jelly fish was behind him, approaching faster, faster. He reached a dead end and looked around frantically, trying to find some way to escape. It was no good; the jelly fish was there, a trail of wet slime oozing out behind it. Blair shook his head wildly as the jelly fish reached out large tentacles to grab him. He opened his mouth to scream. Before he could get a sound out, a piano dropped out of the sky and squished the jelly fish. It exploded. Blair wiped slime-dripping hands across his eyes, pulling a face.

"I have to get out of here," he said. "There could be more of them." Eyes nervously darting about, Blair quickly retraced his steps out of the dead end. He returned to the fork in the road and went to the right. It was snowing lazily. ‘How do I get out of here?’ he wondered. Lost in thought, he bumped into someone of his height.

"Hello," the boy said in a melancholy voice.

"Hi," Blair replied, looking at the small man, dressed in green with a pointy hat. "I’m Blair Sandburg. Can you help me get out of here?"

"I’m Hermie. I’d be happy to help you." A rumbling shook the ground and Blair jumped. "It’s a jelly fish," sighed Hermie. "Come back to my house and wait till he passes. I’ve got black olives." Blair’s tummy growled and he grinned.

"That sounds great," he replied and they scurried off, careful to keep in the shadows to avoid any more confrontations with jelly fish. They arrived to a small, snow-coated hut with smoke drifting out of the chimney. Entering, Blair stomped his feet and shook the snow off of himself while Hermie shut the door. A fire blazed cheerfully.

"Have a seat while I get the olives," Hermie said, moving away.

"Great," Blair started for the small wooden table, but tripped over a shoe horn.

"Sorry about that," Hermie called.

"S’OK," Blair replied, getting up and rubbing his bruised knees. He hobbled over to a chair and sat down. Hermie reappeared with a large jar of black olives.

"Help yourself," he offered, grabbing a handful. Blair mirrored the action.

"What’s this placed called?" he garbled. Hermie swallowed.

"It doesn’t have a name," Blair blinked in surprise.

"Well, it’s got to. I mean, everywhere’s got to be somewhere, right?" Hermie shrugged and didn’t reply. Blair leaned back and surveyed the room. A stocking hung by the fire, red and green chili pepper lights strung around a tree in the corner.

"Where are your gifts?" Blair asked, gesturing toward the tree. Hermie’s eyes filled with tears.

"I don’t have anyone to give gifts to. I’ve always been a misfit. There was this chick once, but it didn’t work out. I also became friends with a reindeer, but he soon joined the popular crowd and dumped me like a sack of frozen pea soup." Blair nodded in sympathy.

"I know how you feel, I moved around a lot as a kid." They munched reflectively on their olives.

"These are great," Blair said after a while of silence.

"Have some more," Hermie offered, shoving the jar toward Blair. A olive from his small hand fell to the ground. "Whoops." He bent down to retrieve it. Blair tilted the jar, trying to reach some of the last few olives. Before he knew what was happening, a cow bell struck him over the head. A small yelp escaped his lips as he fell to the floor. He was semi-aware of being dragged across the wooden floor and over to the tree. The next thing he knew, he was tied to the tree with the red and green pepper lights.

"Wha… Hermie! What are you doing?" he struggled weakly against his bonds. Hermie glared at him, an evil glint in his eye.

"You sit there, eating your black olives, pretending to know what I went through. Well you don’t! I was one of Santa’s elf’s, one of his best. I could have been somebody! I coulda been a dentist! But no, they wouldn’t believe in my dream, they had to scoff…" he paused in his ranting, staring off into the distance. "Goodbye Blair. It was nice knowing you." Cackling, he tipped over the tree. It fell unto train tracks, a locomotive screaming toward him…

Blair sat up, mouth and eyes open in an "O" shape. Blinking, he looked around. He was in his room and it was dark.

"No more eggnog before bed for me," he mumbled, rubbing his eyes. Suddenly, his face lit up. "HEY! It’s Christmas!" Throwing the covers aside, he leapt out of bed. Racing up the stairs, he launched himself on Jim’s bed. "Jim! Get up! It’s Christmas!" Jim snapped up into a sitting position, bouncing along with the mattress. One hand started automatically for his gun.

"Wha? Sandburg! It’s 5:30 in the morning," he growled. "Can’t I get some more sleep? Just a couple more minutes?" He started to slip back down. Blair reached down and grabbed his arm.

"Come on, Jim! Let’s go open our presents." He bounded down the stairs and skidded to the front of the tree. "Hurry up, Jim!" It was just like having a kid, Jim mused to himself, tying his bathrobe and making coffee. Blair was on his knees in front of the tree, shaking presents.

"Man, I had the weirdest dream. It was like Alice in Wonderland. Only with jelly fish." Jim lowered himself onto the couch, hands clutching his coffee mug.

"Can I open the one from you first, Jim?" Blair asked. He looked like a bundle of suppressed energy.

"Go for it," Jim replied, gingerly sipping the hot brew. He was feeling more awake now. Blair tore into his present.

"Jim, this is… great. Thanks." Blair smiled at him, but looked somewhat confused and more than a little crestfallen. "Um, here, open mine." Blair fiddled with his new model airplane while Jim painstakingly unwrapped his present.

"Jim, man, it’s wrapping paper. You can rip it, you know." Jim was about to level a glare at his partner, but thought ‘Hey, it’s Christmas’ and obligingly ripped the rest of the gold paper off.

"Chief, this is terrific, thanks." Jim got that small, warm smile on his face that appeared when he was really pleased. Hi fingered the gold pocket watch and smiled.

"Look a little more closely at the plane, Blair," he said. Perplexed, Sandburg at first didn’t move, looking at Jim in confusion. Then he lifted the plane up and stared at it. A piece of paper peered out. Carefully removing it, he smoothed out the wrinkles and took a good look at it. Then he looked up at Jim, so shocked his face was free of emotion.

"Jim… You’re giving me half of the loft?" Jim nodded, that smile on his face, perhaps a bit stronger now.

"If you want it."

"If I… Oh man, thanks Jim!" Launching himself up, he threw his arms around Jim, squeezing tightly. Jim, hands now free after having wisely set his mug down while Blair was opening his gift, returned the hug, just as tightly.

"I have the papers for you to sign later." He said, finally pulling away. Blair beamed at him, nodding.

"Thanks Jim, this is the best gift anyone’s ever given me." Jim smiled back, and they sat there a minute, smiling at each other like fools.

"Well," Jim at last stood up. "I’m up for something stronger to drink. Want some eggnog?"

"Naw, coffee would be great, though." Blair went back to prodding the presents while Jim headed into the kitchen…

The pig was behind him, on a sled, approaching faster, faster. He cackled, grinning maniacally. Panting, Jim looked frantically for somewhere to hide…


(and stay away from that eggnog, dangnabit!)

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