Our First Christmas
Chapter 1: An Early Christmas Gift
Disclaimer: I do not own GI Joe.
Duke and Scarlett collapsed on the couch in their quarters, "Who knew getting married was such work?" She exclaimed
Duke wrapped his arms around her and drew her down to lay beside him on the couch, "I think that's the last of the gifts, at least from my family."
She sighed and snuggled into her husband's shoulder, "Now we have to write thank you notes. Thank you for the lovely egg beater, we'll be sure to keep yours as it is more deluxe than the other four we were given. Who knows, if Shauna actually learns to cook it may get taken out of the box! See you again who knows when!"
He laughed, and squeezed her shoulder, "Why don't we just stick to thank you and pass all the egg beaters along. I'm sure Roadblock could use a new one."
"Ugh, who knew an egg beater could come in a 'deluxe model'. Can you imagine someone actually thinking we would use one?"
"Maybe it's someone's way of attempting to bring out your inner domestic goddess."
She punched him hard in the arm. "Ouch!" He laughed, rolling her under him and tickling her in retaliation.
"You knew I couldn't cook before you married me!" she cried out, breathless with laughter
"That doesn't mean I'm giving up hope that you'll learn!"
The overbalance and rolled onto the floor among the opened boxes, wrapping paper, and assorted packing paraphernalia. She rolled on top again and leaned down to kiss him, the mood changing from playful to heated in less than a second. After all, technically they should still be on their honeymoon.
The ringing phone broke through the haze. "Ignore it." Duke whispered against her lips
Flint's voice was heard over the answering machine, "Hey guys, stop fooling around and get down to the control room on the double. Don't make me have to come get you!"
Scarlett leaned her forehead against her husband's, "Rain check?" she asked softly, disappointed that once again they were interrupted before they could make love.
"Always." He tilted her head back so she was looking in his eyes, "I love you, Shauna Hauser."
She smiled and put her hand over her husband's, "I love you too, Conrad Hauser. And I'm glad I married you, even if we hardly have a moment to ourselves."
The phone rang a second time and she rolled her eyes, "We better go see what the big emergency is. Hopefully it'll be something small and non-time consuming."
He linked his hand with hers as they left their quarters, "They still owe us for interrupting our honeymoon."
They were both quiet on the trip to the control room, thinking back to their brief honeymoon in Texas that had been interrupted a few weeks before. Conrad's parents had started a cabin on their honeymoon, desperately wanting a place to call their own at a time when Conrad's father's military career kept him moving from base to base, a place that was theirs; waiting for the time when Conrad's father's military career would allow them to return to the land they both loved. His father had been a farmer at heart so they'd taken a small portion of his family's land and started their home. Conrad had helped his parents add to it little by little as a boy. The place held special memories for him. They'd been married at her family's church in Atlanta so she felt it was right for them to honeymoon in a place of his choosing. She hadn't been surprised to learn they were to begin their life as a married couple in his family's cabin.
So they'd gone to Texas and put their own touch on the cabin, basing the foundation of their marriage on the foundation of another successful marriage. And they'd had a glorious time. He'd serenaded her every night with his guitar. He had a wonderful singing voice but so rarely felt comfortable singing with an audience. She fell in love with him a little more each time he sang to her. They'd made love under the stars, spending most of their time wrapped up in each other. As was the right of any honeymooning couple. Then the call had come in-Cobra was planning something big. Duty called and like the good soldiers they were, they had answered.
They couldn't help resent the interruptions that had occurred since returning. The whole team had been present for their wedding and knew their honeymoon had been interrupted. But instead of allowing them the opportunity of settling into their life as a married couple, teammates had bombarded them, it was almost as if they enjoyed interrupting them.
They walked into the control room to find every Joe currently on base waiting for them, including General Hawk. "What's going on?" Duke asked
General Hawk beamed, "We all feel terrible that your honeymoon was cut short so everyone got together to give you all one last wedding present. You can think of it as an early Christmas gift if you like." He presented them with an envelope.
Duke and Scarlett looked at each other and shook their heads, neither knew anything about this. Scarlett opened the envelope and gasped. Her mouth gaping open, she stared at Hawk, "How?" she asked, tears streaming down her face
Duke grabbed the paper she had taken out, he scanned the page rapidly and looked up, shock written on his face, "Two weeks leave? But we just had leave?"
Flint grinned, "It was an organizational nightmare, but everything the two of you have been working on has been shifted to someone else for two weeks. Everyone's pitched in to make it happen. You two are going to finish your honeymoon in peace, we promise."
Flint felt confident in his promise, Cobra would be licking their wounds for a while to come. There wouldn't be any major attacks or plans that would require the personal attention of his friends. He hoped one day they would repay the favor by covering for his honeymoon with Allison, if he could get up the nerve to actually propose.
"Congratulations!" Lady Jaye shouted
Her cry was echoed by the entire assembled Joe team which broke out into a chorus of 'They're jolly good fellows!" The happy couple was surrounded by well wishers and within minutes Roadblock had set up a going away feast that nearly equaled their wedding reception. All that was left for Duke and Scarlett was to pack and pick a destination. Their friends had plenty of suggestions ranging from the comical thought of yurk camping to Torpedo's suggestion of a tropical get away.
Hours later Duke and Scarlett walked arm in arm back to their quarters. "What an incredible gift. So many of our friends are giving up their Christmas leave to make this possible, I don't know how to thank them."
"We go and have a good time. We relax. And remember this the next thousand times we walk in late to a meeting and are greeted with catcalls or I have to reprimand one of those yahoos for playing a practical joke. We just need to pick a destination and get packed. Jaye even mentioned that she and Flint would finish setting up our quarters while we were gone."
They walked into their quarters and plopped down, once again, on the couch. "Conrad…"
"This will be our first Christmas as a married couple."
"Hey, yeah it will be. We'll have to do something to make it special."
"I have an idea." She said, her voice light and full of hope."
She climbed in his lap and put her hands on his chest, "I want to go to Ireland, to Shamrock Hill. Our first Christmas in our own house, just the two of us. It'll be wonderful, I just know it will!"
She was so excited, the light in her eyes so bright, how could he deny her anything? Perhaps he had been thinking a tropical beach somewhere-clothing optional, it was after all their honeymoon, but a cozy cottage, the weather outside forbidding, would encourage, would practically demand they spend all their time wrapped up together. He could enjoy that. And she would be over the moon if he agreed. He could ride on this for a long time to come. He smiled, "Okay."
Her eyes lit up even more, like a kid at Christmas, "Really? We can go?"
"Yeah, really." He kissed her hands, "I think it's a great idea." Not really, but a little white lie wasn't going to hurt in the case.
"Yipee!" She shouted and jumped up, pulling him up with her and into a jig. She ended by jumping in his arms and planting kissed all over his face, "I love you, I love you, I love you! You are the greatest man in the entire universe! I am the happiest wife in the whole world!"
She leaned down to kiss him, drawing up the passion that always simmered between them to a roaring flame, sliding intimately down his body and leading him to their bedroom.
Much later Conrad woke and grinned, 'If that was a taste of what's to come I can't wait to get there.' He looked down at his slumbering wife, her head was pillowed on his shoulder; her flame red tresses spread over the white pillowcase. He loved her so much. Ireland was a simple thing to give her. She loved it there, in her little thatched roof cottage with green fields spread all around and the wind bringing teasing hints of the nearby sea. Her mother's family had lived in the village for generations. She was there a day and it was as if she'd been there always, so much a part of the family she was. It was a place she went when she needed to restore her soul, to heal; it was where she'd taken him to heal a few years before after he'd nearly died in battle. It was the first place they had spent time together after saying "I love you." It was a place and time that had cemented their relationship. They'd known after Ireland that they'd marry and spend their lives together.
Ireland was a good place to go. They'd go there and they'd be at home.