Disclaimer: I don't own anything that is owned by Lucas, Ford, and Spielberg.
Title: Silent Night
Rating: T/PG-13 for language
Summary: Chicago, 1925. Indy darkly ponders Christmas, while Marion tries to get him to open up.
Author's Note: This is a very belated Christmas fic, or a very early one. You decide. I had computer problems, so it took forever to finish. Now, everything should be fine. However, be warned, I was read some James Joyce before writing the final part. That should give you a hint how it ends.
Snow fell in a downward spiral from the dark sky blanketing the earth with a frosty, white layer. It looks like there's going to be a white Christmas after all, Indiana Jones mused as he leaned against the outdoor balcony railing, ignoring the cold air. He could hear the opening bars from 'Silent Night' wafting from inside, and bouts of generous laughter from the guests — drunken laughter. Leave it to the University of Chicago professors to ignore Prohibition during their annual Christmas Eve gala. Not that Indy minded if the glass of scotch in his right hand meant anything. He had never been a fan of Prohibition — he felt like it was just bureaucratic fools in Washington flexing their muscles —and him and Ox often frequented speakeasies whenever possible; originally, Indy was surprised that his usually clean-cut, by the numbers friend would partake in such a flagrant violation of the law, but Ox, a Brit, considered the idea unfathomable. In a sense, alcohol was like an actor — it could take on different roles for whatever the occasion. Tonight's role was that of a comforter.
It had been thirteen years since he last enjoyed Christmas, and Indy doubted this year would be any different. Sure, he put on a smile, laughed, and partook in whatever holiday games (preferably drinking) with whoever he was entertained. In all truth, he thought the idea in and of itself was just a crock, pure and simple. Just for a few weeks putting on a fake smile and acting all cheery to one another just for the sake of a holiday? It was a farce if he ever saw one. Indy looked over his shoulder back into the building at the guests. Did anyone actually believe what the professors said was true? He knew enough about the politics of the University to know everyone wasn't as polite and kind as they were acting. How many times had he and Marion both listened to Abner gripe and moan about Stevenson in Iconology? Indy shot the rest of the scotch down his gullet, silently cursing the holiday.
Approaching footsteps tore him out of his reverie. As he turned, Indy gave his first real smile of the evening when he saw Marion Ravenwood dressed in red and white walking in his direction. She returned his smile, her blue eyes sparkling. Well, I guess Christmas isn't all that bad, Indy thought as his eyes raked over his professor's 'off-limits' daughter, admiring how she looked in the formal attire. For someone to have put up such a fuss over wearing a dress, she sure looked pretty in it. The biggest tomboy if he ever saw one, looking at Marion in that dress was a sight. Not that the dress matters, Jones, a small voice in his head chided him, she could be wearing a habit and you'd still be thinking things Abner would castrate you for.
As much as he wanted to deny it, Indy felt a tug of attraction for the much younger girl. She was beautiful, but it wasn't just her physical appearance that drew him to her like a moth to a flame. She was smart, clever really, and wasn't afraid to express her opinion, no matter who was listening. Marion wasn't like any other girl he had ever met, and if he was honesty with himself, that scared him shitless. He couldn't act with Marion like he did with other women, for propriety and he reputation's sake, but he wasn't sure how long his resolve would last, especially with the she way she looked at him with those pretty blue eyes, tempting him every day.
"Merry Christmas, Indiana Jones," Marion said in greeting as she joined him on the balcony.
"It ain't midnight yet, Freckle Face, but Merry Christmas all the same," he replied, chuckling inwardly at the face she made at his nickname for her. Marion hated it. She said it made her sound as if she were a kid — which was why he used it. 'Freckle Face' was a constant reminder to Indy that she was younger, to keep himself in check.
"It's a little cold out here, isn't it?" Marion made a show of wrapping her arms around her chest to trap in heat. She looked up at him hopefully. "Wouldn't you like to come back inside?"
Indy shook his head in the negative. "You get used to it."
They stood in silence for a few moments, drinking in the cold and each other's presence. Part of Indy longed desperately for her to walk away, and leave him alone to his thoughts. He was in a sour enough mood and didn't want to drag her down with him. Yet, he couldn't deny another part of him wanted her to stay. Her presence provided an aura of comfort he was instantly drawn to. Marion always seemed to have that sort of effect on him. Still, he knew keeping her outside would have only been selfish on his part. Let the girl enjoy her holiday. Don't ruin it for her, Jones.
"Hey, don't keep yourself out here because of me. Go on inside," he urged.
She did the opposite.
"You aren't too fond of Christmas, are you?" Marion cast a sideways to him.
Indy, feeling as if he was being studied under a microscope, colored and looked away. "Do I have to be?"
"No. I guess not." Marion replied softly, and looked up into the sky and falling snow. She shut her eyes, as if taking in the atmosphere around them. Indy watched, entranced. She finally opened her eyes and looked at him. "I guess there is some hypocrisy involved. Acting like everything is a-okay and that you love each other, even if you ignore them every other day that isn't marked as Christ's supposed birth."
"But that's not why you don't like Christmas." Marion stated matter-of-factly. She turned to him, and grabbed in hand in assurance. Indy flinched, the contact with her skin causing his to burn, but he didn't pull his hand away. "It's okay to miss her, Indy."
Indy opened his mouth to speak, to contradict her and say that she didn't know what she was talking about; but nothing came out, because he knew whatever he said would have been a lie. There was a reason he hadn't enjoyed Christmas since he was thirteen, and hadn't gone back home for the holidays since the War ended. There was a reason that no one's voice sounded particularly right singing 'Joy to the World' ― though, admittedly, Marion's was pretty damn close. Yes, there was a reason he wasn't happy, but Indiana Jones sure as hell wasn't going to admit that to Marion Ravenwood.
"I have no idea what you're talking about, sweetheart."
"Why do you have to be so damned pigheaded all of the time? You think you're the only one who has lost someone?" Voice full of venom, Marion tore her hand away from his. "Boo hoo! Look at me, I'm Indiana Jones and I'm the only person in the world who has any idea what it's like to have a dead mother and father who cares more about mummies than his own child."
Marion turned away at that moment, facing opposite of him, hiding her face; but, it wasn't before he could see the tears brimming in her eyes that he knew she didn't want him to see. He wanted to reach out to her, to take her in his arms and apologize for being such an ass to her; however, he stood immobile, as if bound to the spot on the cold, cold balcony.
"You know, she used to make Christmas cookies every year, and we'd cut them out in the shape of Christmas trees, and cover them with sprinkles and powdered sugar. She was always the best cook. Her dinners were famous across campus." Marion's voice was a surreal mixture of wistfulness and melancholy and delight. The small smile that had been playing on her face when she spoke of her mother's cooking soon disappeared and Indy's heart broke. "That last Christmas, she should have stayed in bed…she was so sick…but she didn't. She wanted to make everything perfect. I guess because it was going to be out last as a family. She always loved the holiday."
Indy was suddenly taken back to a time not too long ago, when he was actually happy come December the 25th. His mother humming carols as she served him and his father their Christmas meal. The laughter and smiles of his memory seemed to foreign to the man he was now, but everything appear fine, then. Sure, he and his father fought, but he had his mother as the buffer. She made everything better. Then she died, and everything went to hell. He wondered what she'd think if she saw the state of her family today: her son and husband half a world away from each other, both who hadn't attempted to communicate with each other in God knows how long. She'd be furious at both of her boys.
"Indy?" Marion spoke softly, as if she were afraid to remove him from his thoughts, memories. "I'm going inside now."
Indy watched as she turned away. He could stop her. How easy it would be to grab her arm, and pull her to him, and tell her everything he felt at that moment. He could tell her that he did indeed miss his mother, more so now than anything. He could tell her that she was the first person to try and get him to open up about it, and that she was the only one who cared about him enough to; but he didn't. He watched as she walked away, away from him and the balcony and the falling snow.
At that moment, as Indy turned away from Marion and the party, and the church bells began to strike midnight, he couldn't help but feel that he disappointed more than one woman he cared about on that very Christmas day.