Winter Wonderland

Chapter One

Jim and Christie had had a quiet night at home watching a rerun of American Idol.

"Imagine that," Christie teased, "Jimmy Dunbar watching American Idol."

"And having a good time too," he answered with a smile. "That British guy, Cowell, is mean but fun. I'm going to take Hank for his walk. Is it snowing yet?" The weather forecast said there would be heavy snowfall in the New York area. Christie went to the window and looked. "Yes, there is about four inches of snow already."

Jim went to put his coat on, get his cane and Hank's leash. Hank never wore the harness on these late night walks. As he clipped on the leash he heard Christie putting on her coat too.

"What are you doing?"

"I'm going with you," Christie said firmly. She knew he was going to object.

"No." He shook his head.

She sighed, "Jim! It's snowing!"

"I don't need you to go with me!"

"Maybe not, but I'm going anyway."

Jim shook his head again but said nothing. He opened the door and they left. When they came out the front door, Jim started walking, cane in one hand, Hank in the other. The snow muffled every sound and their footsteps were barely audible.
Christie noticed the disorientation in Jim's face as he tried to navigate in the snow. After a short distance she stuck her arm under his; "Jimmy, give me Hank's leash." He handed her the leash stiffening with anger but without any comments.
They walked in silence and as they were walking she could feel Jim slowly relaxing until they were walking comfortably arm in arm.

At first Jim's temper flared. He was mad at Christie because she went along even though he had told her not to. At the same time he was wondering why it upset him so much? Christie wasn't one to underestimate him or to patronize him. She knew he wanted to be as independent as possible and with her he usually was. Of course, there were certain things he now needed her to do for him but otherwise she didn't do anything for him now that she hadn't done before.
His anger disappeared slowly as they were walking. After a while he found himself enjoying walking with Christie in the snow. He imagined the snow falling, covering everything in a soft blanket of snow. He used to love walking in the snow at night. The city became quiet and the snow almost made everything glow. He hadn't gone out in the snow much after he got shot. Now snow was disorienting and he had trouble navigating, even with Hank. But tonight was different. He enjoyed feeling the snow falling in his face and he could hear Hank happily sniffing and sneezing when snow hit his nose. At first they weren't speaking because he was mad at Christie but along the way it had turned into a comfortable silence. They didn't need to speak, they were just comfortable in each others company. Nothing needed to be said.

They came back to the apartment covered in snow. Jim dried Hank off and then went to bed. Christie had already turned in but wasn't asleep yet. He climbed in under the covers and turned toward Christie; "I'm sorry, I got mad at you but I… I... I don't… I want…" He didn't know how to continue.

"I know," Christie said quietly, "but it's OK sometimes to do things the easy way. I know you can walk Hank on your own, even in the snow but I also know how hard it is on you."

"I guess it still gets to me," he said with a sad note in his voice. "And then I want to prove to myself that nothing has changed. Yeah, so I'm blind, so what, I'm still a bad-ass cop and I can do anything I want, I don't need anyone. But I do. I just don't want to be a burden to you."

"You're not," Christie assured him, "I don't do that much for you. When I do, I don't even think about it anymore, I'm..."

He snorted, "And that's supposed to make me feel better?"

"You know what I mean," she couldn't help but smile at him. "You know me. If I thought going with you tonight was a burden, I would never have made the offer. And besides, I need you to need me, sometimes."

"I do need you. And I appreciate everything you do for me."

The next morning it had stopped snowing but the clouds were grey and heavy, promising more snow.

Christie finished her coffee and called, "Jimmy, hurry up, so I can drop you off on my way to work."

Jim came out from the bedroom buttoning his shirt. "You don't have to wait for me, I'll take the train."

"Jimmy! You used to drop me off at work all the time. Let me return the favor."

Five minutes later they were in the car. Jim knew it was futile but he wished he was the one driving. He had never liked to be in the passenger seat, especially not when driving in the winter. Nothing to do about it, he thought, besides Christie is an experienced driver and good at it too.
The city that had been all quiet last night was now back to business as usual. The roads were almost cleared of the snow, it was rush hour and the only signs of last nights snowfall were the big banks of snow at the roadsides.

Soon they were at the precinct. "Jimmy, I'm parked about 30 yards from the front door but I can't get any closer. When you get out of the car, you have to cross a bank of snow before you get to the sidewalk.
Before he got out of the car, Jim leaned in and kissed Christie on the cheek. "Thank you. You do know I'm a fool, right?"

"Yes, I do." She brought her hand up and caressed his cheek. "Take care."

He opened the door, stepped out and let Hank out of the back door. He shook out his cane and waited till he heard Christie honk the horn and drive away. Then he used the cane to find a spot where he could cross the bank of snow. He had Hank on the leash and let him cross the bank first, then he followed him to the sidewalk. He took the harness handle and started walking toward the front door of the 8th. Precinct when he heard Tom Selway's voice.

"'Morning, Dunbar, did you make Hank walk here in all that snow?"

"'Morning, Tom. No, Christie dropped us off."

"Good for you. My car is in the shop and I had to take the train. At a day like today it's even worse than usual."

"Yeah, I guess," Jim said as they went inside together.