Day Six - Carols
Tina Lord and Cordero "Cord" Roberts
*Written by KristosLilly*

London, England

Tina had taken over his life once more - and his bathroom, from the looks of it. He walked in there to see every variety of cosmetic, puff and feminine product known to womankind. He furrowed his brow in annoyance. She hadn't even been there three hours and already she was running roughshod over him.

He backed out of the bathroom and headed down the hall. "TINA!" He bellowed, heading for the kitchen where she had sequestered herself. He found her devouring a box of his favorite crackers. She was just making herself at home, wasn't she? Well he wouldn't stand for it!

Tina looked up at him. A little crumb lingered on her chin and he had the strongest urge to wipe it away, to touch her skin, and then he scolded himself. No, he wouldn't go near her. She would … she would pull him back in and he wouldn't - couldn't - allow that.

"Dammit, Tina!" Cord snapped. "What do you think you're doing?"

"Eating," Tina answered as if it should be obvious. "The food they served on the plane … Well, I wouldn't touch it with a ten-foot pole."

"Those are my crackers," he said, feeling decidedly territorial. "And this is my house and you don't get to come in here and -" He saw her looking towards the window now. "Tina, are you listening to me?

"Tina?" He said again.

"Oh stop your bellowing, Cordero, and listen to the music," Tina said. She moved over to the frosted windowpane.

"What music?" He asked but now he heard it too. Soft voices in the distance, unified in singing "Good King Wenceslas." Young voices, from the sounds of it.

"Oh it sounds nice," Tina said. "Come over here and look at those precious kids."

"Precious kids?" Cord echoed. "Tina, you are going soft in your old age."

Tina glared at him. "I resent that. I am not old! I still look exactly the same way I did when the kids were just babies."

Actually, she looked even better. She was aging like a fine wine, but he wasn't about to tell her that.

Tina grabbed Cord by the collar of his shirt and yanked him to the window with all of her might. He stood stiffly beside her, not saying anything. She looked up at him as the group of children broke into a rousing rendition of "Frosty, the Snowman."

"Even you can't stay mad, Cord," she said, "when you hear this. Christmas is such a wonderful time of the year. Now stop acting like The Grinch." She bumped him with her shoulder and heat shot up his arm to color his face.

Tina pressed her cute little nose to the glass. "I missed these things, with our kids," she said in a soft, mournful voice. "And you can berate me all you want for that but you can't make me feel worse than I already do. Why, Cord, they're adults now and I missed so much, being -"

"Selfish… self-involved… stubborn…"

She looked up at him and he was surprised to see tears misting her eyes. "All of those things and more. I've been a complete fool."

He wanted to snap at her, shout at her really, that indeed she had been and that she had no right to come here after all this time and try to play Family Woman but the words didn't materialize on his lips. He just stared at her. He felt as if he were seeing a whole new side of Tina and it honestly discombobulated him. Still, he couldn't let her too close, he couldn't let her in, because ultimately, she never learned her lesson.

He moved away from the window. The kids had paused right in his front yard and were now singing "Silent Night". He walked over to the counter and stubbornly shoved what was left of the crackers into the cupboard. He felt Tina watching him and he sighed.

"Tina?"

"Yes, Cord?"

"Why did you really come here after all of this time?"

"I told you, I missed my family. I missed all of you," she said.

"But why now?" Cord pressed. "You had years to come around and you didn't. There were large gaps in time when CJ and Sarah didn't see or hear from you. Now they're adults and -"

"And maybe they won't want a thing to do with me, but I have to try. Cord, I have to try."

"Why now?" He pressed. He could be every bit as stubborn as her.

"Because!" Tina shouted. "Because I realized that life is much too short and that all I wanted was to see my family." She splayed her hands. "When something awful happens, it puts your priorities into perspective, right?"

Cord lifted his eyes to look at her. "What awful thing happened? Did Cain leave you or something?"

Tina sniffled. "Actually he did when he found out-"

"Found out what? Come on, Tina. Explain. I think you owe me that much."

"When he thought there was a possibility I had … cancer… he couldn't handle it and he ran off to find his next con."

A thousand emotions immediately raced through Cord when he heard her say the word "cancer". He choked out, "You have cancer, Tina?"

"No, but the doctors thought I did. Ultimately, the tumor turned out to be benign."

"Well thank god," Cord murmured, shoving a hand through his hair. He couldn't help himself. He could hate Tina but yet he couldn't imagine a world she wasn't in.

"Oh, Cord, the whole time all of the tests and procedures were happening, I was terrified, and so alone and I realized I had driven away everyone who ever tried to care about me. So don't you see - I had to come back here and try to make things right with CJ and Sarah...and you. Maybe it's not going to happen but I have to try. I don't want to be alone anymore. It doesn't suit me."

Tears were on Tina's cheeks. Never in all of his years of knowing her, of being frustrated by her, of loving her and hating her, had he ever seen her this vulnerable. He wanted to believe that she was just trying to pull one over on him - it would hurt him less; he could still be angry as he deserved to be - but he knew the truth. She wasn't lying for once. She had been alone and scared and no one knew.

"Oh, Tina, why didn't you call me?" Cord asked.

"Would you have cared? Would you have come to see me?"

"You should know the answer to that."

"But I've burned so many bridges…"

"You have," Cord said. "But maybe -"

"Maybe what?"

"Maybe in some time you can try to rebuild those bridges."

"Why are you being so nice to me all of a sudden, Cord?" Tina asked, swiping at her teary face. "Two minutes ago you were hollering at me about your damn crackers and now… You're looking at me … Almost like you used to."

"Maybe I just realized some things too," Cord said.

"Such as?"

"Tina, don't push me." He sighed. "I am just sorry you went through all of that alone, that you didn't feel you could call me. That you didn't know I'd be on the next plane ride out to hold your hand and tell you everything would be okay."

"Oh I would have loved that."

"You never gave me the opportunity, Tina."

"I sincerely thought you hated me, that you wouldn't give a damn, that I had ruined everything that once was."

"You don't trust me."

"Do you trust me?" She returned. She moved to him and touched his cheek. He tried to draw back but found he couldn't, hypnotized by the warmth of her fingers on his face.

"No, I would be a fool to do that," he said. Her face fell. "But I do believe in you, Tina. There's a big difference. Maybe I believe you're sincere and want to try to fix everything you broke."

"Can we try again, Cord? I love you, I still love you so much. It's always been you."

"Tina-" He started. His voice was hoarse.

"Okay, it's too soon, but just tell me… Tell me all hope isn't lost."

Cord sighed. "I don't want to make any promises, Tina. You hurt me and the children more than anyone ever has."

"I know," Tina said. "So I won't push. I promise I won't. Just don't push me out, Cord. Please. Let me try to make things right. Can't you do that?"

Cord's brain screamed at him to turn her down, to tell her he could never be with her again, but his heart was louder, demanding he say, "I won't push you out. But don't you hurt us again, Tina. I am asking you not to do what you've done before - cheat, lie, and then run away."

"I won't," Tina said. "I swear it. Can I stay, please?"

Cord sighed. "Fine, but you have to move your things to the bathroom downstairs. I don't walk in there and see all of that… lady stuff."

Tina smiled through her tears. "Alright, I can do that right now." She started to move away and then paused for a second. "Thank you, Cord."

Then she was gone and he found his heart aching for her, just like it always had.

Damn his heart.


Day Six - Childhood Memories
Jennifer Rappaport and Rex Balsom
*Written by BoandNora-ItsOneWord*

He didn't want to make a big deal about Christmas…they had never been that important to him as a child. Christmas growing up with Roxy had always consisted of mornings spent wondering why Santa had never bothered to make it to their house and evenings spent watching her pass out drunk under the tree…and that was only when it was good. The years when his 'father' was still around, it could get a lot worse. If he was lucky he would get a candy bar from money that Natalie had someone managed to pull together….but that was only when they were still being raised as brother and sister… when he went to live with his aunt, it hadn't gotten much better…and the memories he had of his sister had been clouded by lies.

"What are you thinking about," Jen asked when she wrapped her arms around his neck and kissed his cheek? "Rex, what is it?"

"It's…It's nothing," he admitted.

"Nothing," she questioned, narrowing her eyes? "It is not nothing…come on, tell me…I have ways of getting it out of you, you know?"

She moved her fingers to implicate what she had started using on their three year old daughter Isabeau, named after the man who had always been more Rex's father than anyone else…

"Not the pincher bug," Rex threatened, and she tackled him to the floor beneath the fireplace. He cupped her face in his hands and smiled at her…kissing her softly.

"I was just thinking how much I used to despise this holiday," he finally admitted. "I grew up with nothing Jen…I wasn't even allowed to have good memories of Santa Claus because all I knew was that I was never good enough for him to come."

"I didn't have the best memories either…I mean, how could I, when my father was obsessed with another woman, and my mom was…, well, a psychopath? I mean I didn't know it at the time but I did know that I spent most of my Christmases with my older brother wishing that we had a normal family…wishing that my parents actually gave a damn."

"I'm sorry Jen. I know that things have been rough for you."

"For you too…but hey, look on the bright side…we came through it. You never gave up on me Rex…You thought I was dead and you still didn't give up on me. You saved me from dying for real. I will never be able to repay you for that."

"You don't have to. All you have to do is love me."

"I do…and it feels so good to finally have the right role models in my life…I didn't think I was capable of real love before…but you…and even Natalie and Bo and Nora…all of their family…I finally feel like I belong…"

"You do belong…you belong to me and our little Beau. We need you Jen…So much."

"I need you too Rex. I don't want to go back to the person I was before I met you. I don't like that person. I like the person I am now…when I get to wake up next to you every morning and know that this time when we said I do, it was for the right reasons…it was because of love…Can you do me a favor sweetheart?"

"I'd do anything for you…"

"Then let's not think about those horrible memories…it's not who we are anymore. We have our own family now. We have a lifetime of making new memories…what do you say?"

"I say that….I love you…Is Beau asleep?"

"She is now…come on, let's go celebrate?"

She took his hand and started leading him up the stairs when he stopped and smiled at her…"What are we celebrating?"

"Whatever we want," she said. "I'm in a festive mood."

She gave him a seductive grin and he lifted her off the ground with one of his own. "You know suddenly I am too," he joked.

The only sound that could be heard moments later was the euphoric laughter coming from their bedroom as they made love throughout the night. All was finally right with their world.