FIVE SHOPPING DAYS 'TIL CHRISTMAS


"Absolutely not, Fitz. I won't hear of it."

"Don't be absurd. You're going and that's that."

"I'm not, actually, so that's not that. I'm not leaving you here at Christmas of all times. You'd probably just sit in your room, eating microwave macaroni and cheese in your pants five days in a row."

Fitz looked at Simmons across the lab bench, face alight with indignance. "That was one time!"

She spared him a withering look from behind her safety goggles. "Once was enough. The point is, I wouldn't be able to enjoy my holiday knowing you were all alone here, no Christmas turkey, no puddings…" She turned her attention back to the tiny pair of rat lungs she was examining, prodding them with her forceps.

"It's not your fault that I can't go home for Christmas," Fitz said, his tone softer. "You shouldn't miss out on time with your family just because my mum can't afford to fly me home and fly out for graduation. That's not your fault."

Simmons didn't look up from her lab station. "It's not my fault you waited 'til the weekend before hols to tell me you weren't going home, either, but here we are. Lucky I had a refundable plane ticket and an understanding mum and dad."

The pair worked in silence for a moment, at an impasse. Fitz knew that she wouldn't relent- didn't want her to, really- but felt guilty that she would be missing out on the rare chance to spend time with her family. He was incredibly close to his mum, but he knew that Simmons was just as close to her parents. The holidays wouldn't be the same without their families.

"Look," Simmons began, turning to him with the lungs pinched in her forceps' grasp. "I know you feel like you're completely and utterly ruining my holidays-"

"I wouldn't go that far-" Fitz interjected.

"-but this is my choice. And besides, it'll be fun!" She punctuated her point by gesturing at him with her forceps. He grimaced at the minute lungs they gripped, keeping an eye on them and hoping fervently that she wouldn't let go. "We'll have an English Christmas, with all the trimmings. I've been meaning to learn how to cook a turkey. Ooh, or I could make you haggis!" With this, Simmons gestured excitedly with the forceps, absentmindedly thrusting the lungs even closer to Fitz.

"You know, I think let's go without the haggis this year, thanks," he said, looking meaningfully at the lab experiment that she held too close to him for his comfort. She looked at him, puzzled, before realizing what he meant, and sheepishly returned the lungs to their tray, setting down her forceps and removing her goggles and gloves.

"Alright. Nothing too reminiscent of our labwork for dinner. But I'll make my mum's famous mashed potatoes! And meat pies! And we can have Christmas crackers!" She was becoming more and more enthusiastic about the idea of a traditional Christmas holiday, transplanted to the U.S. just for the two of them. Suddenly her eyes lit up. "And then we can-"

"-watch the Doctor Who Christmas special!" he finished, equally excited.

"Yes! Oh, Fitz, this is going to be wonderful!" She smiled at him fully, a smile he knew meant she was genuinely happy, and he relaxed a bit, more secure in the knowledge that he wasn't dragging her away from her family against her will. After a moment of simply grinning at each other, she turned away with a start. "I have so much planning to do! I've got to call my mum and get all of her recipes, and then see where we can find crackers nearby..."

Simmons rushed around the lab, removing her coat and hanging it on its rightful hook before grabbing her bag and making for the sliding glass doors, muttering about the tasks she'd have to add to her to-do list all the while.

"Simmons-" Fitz began, but she was already halfway out the door.

"I'll see you later, Fitz! Much to plan!" And then she was gone.

Fitz stood in her wake, a smile playing at his lips, looking forward to the holidays for the first time since he'd found out he couldn't make it home to Glasgow. Then he looked over at Simmons' lab station, where the rat lungs lay forgotten, forceps propped against the metal tray. He wrinkled his nose in disgust.

"Oh, yeah, terrific, Simmons," he muttered to himself, before reluctantly setting about to clean up after her. "Disgusting rat parts. Happy Christmas to me."