So I was trying to come up with a holiday fic idea (even though I am so very, very not a holiday person), and I realized that if 3x10 took place in January, as Cassandra said at one point in that episode, then that likely means the two-month time jump between her surgery in 3x08 and Stone getting back from Shangri-La in 3x09 would've included Christmas, and this little bit of quiet fluff was born. Enjoy!
At last, silence.
Silence was a rarity in his world these days, and Jenkins sighed softly to himself as he walked through the hushed Library halls on Christmas morning. The Librarians had invaded the solitary retreat he'd made for himself in the Annex quite some time ago now, and while he was more than adapted to their (sometimes) welcome presence, every once in a while, Jenkins found it nice to have the place to himself, and Christmas Day was just about the only time he ever had the place wholly to himself.
The previous Christmas had been lively to start, filled with a birthday celebration for Eve that went well into the early hours of Christmas morning after finishing a job. The party, however, was followed by a scattering of the Librarians as they all went off to their own individual families or traditions, and Jenkins had reveled in the solitude that provided him. This year had been a little bit different, a little bit quieter. Cassandra was in recovery, just beginning to feel like herself again after the craniotomy that saved her life. Stone had left the Library in the downtime to train in Shangri-La, but Baird and Flynn had been around, taking on smaller cases between caring for Cassandra. They'd celebrated the Guardian's birthday with a small lunch in the Annex the day before, and Jenkins hadn't heard a peep out of anyone since they'd taken Cassandra back home after she'd started falling asleep at the table.
As he turned into the darkened main room of the Annex, however, his eyes focused on the fluffy green skirt and the slender red legs adorned with sparkling gold shoes peeking out from underneath the large tree with colored lights, and he stood a little straighter. It appeared he wasn't as alone as he believed.
"Miss Cillian," he called, knowing that outfit could only belong to one of the Library's inhabitants. Her body flinched slightly at the startling sound of his strong voice, but it only took a moment for her legs to bend, propelling her out from underneath the Christmas tree. She propped herself up on her elbows, her forehead bumping into the lowest branches, and smiled.
"Hi," she said cheerily. "Merry Christmas!"
"Merry Christmas," he replied. "Come out from under there."
Cassandra, seemingly pleased to have someone to talk to, slid the rest of the way out from underneath the tall tree and stood. She slowed her movements once she was up, hurriedly trying to braid her hair before she made her way over to the table near where Jenkins stood. Much to everyone's surprise (and Cassandra's relief), the doctors had only had to shave a bit of her hair for the surgery, the bald spot forming a rectangle only a few inches wide on the side of her head. She and Eve had quickly figured out that if she braided the hair around it, you couldn't even tell it was there, but sometimes, when her hair hung loose, depending on how it fell around her shoulders, it was obvious that something had happened. The braids were becoming as synonymous with Cassandra as colorful skirts, but Jenkins furrowed his brow as he watched her struggle, her arms tangling above her head. He closed the distance between them and touched her elbow gently to still her efforts.
"I assure you, Cassandra, you do not have to do that for me," he promised her.
"It's not really for you," she quietly admitted, looking momentarily like the insecure young woman she'd been when she first arrived to the Library. Nevertheless, she stopped trying to strategically braid her hair. Instead, she ruffled it out and let it fall, curls bouncing as she hopped up onto the table.
"You know you're not supposed to be lying flat on the floor," he reminded her. A small wave of guilt crossed her face. "What were you doing down there anyway?"
"I like the lights," she admitted with a smile. She waved her hands in front of her, illustrating her next statement. "The strings of color weaved among the crisscrossing branches. It looks a little like chaos from that vantage point, but it's mathematical – patterns upon patterns." She'd finished with her hands curled close against her chest, and a smile of his own teased the edges of Jenkins's lips.
"So you came here to see the lights?" Jenkins asked. She'd been in and out since the operation, coming to hang out in the Library when she felt up to it, but he hadn't expected to see her today.
"I just thought I'd give Baird and Flynn some alone time," Cassandra said. "I've been a bit of a burden on their relationship lately."
"I am sure that's not true," Jenkins said.
Cassandra playfully rolled her eyes as if to say she didn't really believe him and continued, "Stone's in Shangri-La…or maybe he went home for the holiday. I'm not really sure what Ezekiel does on Christmas, but he didn't answer my texts, so I assume he's busy, too."
"Did you check his Instagram?" Jenkins asked disdainfully. "Or any of those other inane websites?"
Cassandra giggled at just hearing the name of the social media site escape the immortal's lips. "Sorry," she said, her face sobering. "But no. I just went home, thought it might be nice to spend the day in my own bed. I'm far enough into recovery that I can be alone for a few days, or maybe even all the days, but my apartment's not decorated at all, you know, because of this…" She gestured to her head. "And by the end of Christmas Eve, that was just kind of bumming me out, so this morning, I thought I'd come here, where everything's warm and pretty and cozy." She was quiet for a minute before delicately admitting, "And I guess I was kind of hoping I might run into you because I don't really like being alone right now."
"Why not go home?" Jenkins asked. "Surely, your parents would like to celebrate everything with you."
Cassandra smiled sadly. "I haven't told them yet," she admitted. "I'm just not ready for that conversation. I've been alone for a lot of holidays; that doesn't really bother me. This one just feels…different."
"I imagine it does," Jenkins said.
"So…am I interrupting something?" she asked. "What are you up to today?"
"Oh, nothing much yet," Jenkins admitted.
"Oh!" Cassandra exclaimed, her spine snapping straight up as she gleefully clapped her hands. "There are so many things we could do! We can make Christmas cookies, or…well, I probably can't go ice skating, but maybe we could use the Back Door to find snow somewhere, and then we can come back and watch Hallmark movies in the theater, and before you say anything, I know they're just the same three plots over and over again, but they're so cute, or…"
Cassandra trailed off from her excited chattering as she realized Jenkins was simply staring pensively at her. His face non-descript, he didn't look disgusted by her ideas, but he didn't look very interested either, and that was when she realized that maybe he had plans to simply be alone. Maybe she was getting in his way, too. Her face fell slightly, though she tried to conceal it.
"Or I could just go," she said quietly, sliding off the table.
Jenkins quickly held his hand in front of her body to stop her. "No," he said. "No…Cassandra. You are welcome to stay as long as you'd like."
"Okay," she said with a smile. "If you're sure."
She slid back onto the table with a wince, and Jenkins shot her a knowing and slightly scolding look. He knew her head was hurting; he had spent enough time with her to know her little tells by now.
"Are you paying for laying flat on the floor over there?" Jenkins asked.
"Yup," Cassandra chuckled with a pop of her lips as she said the word. "I can't wait for the headaches to stop, but bone can take, like…8 to 10 weeks to fully heal, so…it might still be a while."
Jenkins's brow furrowed again, that statement conjuring images of her surgery that he would prefer not to think about. He may pre-date the procedure she'd undergone, but he was an intelligent man. He had kept up with the scientific and medical advances made throughout the passing of time. He knew what they had done to her, what she had gone through.
Her palpable excitement just moments ago over all the various holiday escapades they could take part in had charmed him. Jenkins had always had a bit of a soft spot for Cassandra over the others. She was the breath of fresh air his life had been lacking, and her words sent him back to that hospital waiting area, where he'd spent hours fretting over her condition and her future.
Cassandra was looking at him quizzically by this point, lost in confusion over the way he was looking at her, over why their conversation had suddenly stalled, but Jenkins stood before her, studying her face. She looked down briefly, slightly uncomfortable under his adoringly scrutinizing gaze, and a lock of hair fell into her line of vision. Cassandra flinched slightly as his hand approached the side of her head, but she stilled as his fingers collided with her soft hair. Jenkins brushed the loose lock of hair behind her ear; she looked at him with wide eyes, breathing steadily.
"Mr. Jenkins?" she finally asked in a soft voice. "Are you okay?"
"I was just thinking…" he started. "As reluctant as I was when you all arrived here, I can no longer imagine this place without you, and had something happened to you…had that surgery gone a different way…"
"But it didn't," Cassandra said, tears threatening to begin stinging her eyes.
"You are the light in this Library, Cassandra," Jenkins said honestly. "And…in my life, too."
Cassandra audibly exhaled, touched and a little bit surprised by his words. Then, because she just couldn't help herself, she put her hands on either side of his face and placed a soft, chaste kiss on his mouth, pulling away after just a millisecond, before he had any chance to respond. The gentle brush of her lips was so light, Jenkins wasn't entirely sure it had even happened, but nevertheless, he sighed.
"Cassandra," he muttered.
"I know," she whispered. A little louder, she continued, "I didn't mean it as anything other than a thank you. That was so sweet. I…I think that's the sweetest thing anyone's ever said to me." When he didn't respond, she looked down at her own hands again and said, "Maybe I should just go."
"Stay," Jenkins requested. Her eyes met his, and he said, "I've been alone for a lot of holidays, too." Cassandra smiled softly and nodded her agreement to spend the day with him. "Now…you love Christmas, do you not?"
"Yes, I do," Cassandra confirmed.
"How are your Christmas treat baking skills?" he asked.
"Not as good as they should be since cooking is really just math," Cassandra admitted. "But surely, the two of us put together can figure out a little recipe. What'd you have in mind?"
"Something chocolate," Jenkins said. He offered her his arm and asked, "Shall we?"
With another smile, Cassandra hopped off the table and linked her arm through his, and they headed for the kitchen, leaving the colorful Christmas tree behind to illuminate the Library.
Thanks for reading! Please leave a review if you've got some time - they make my day!