The "Ice" Before Christmas
Ice gives his partners their Christmas wish, with Chrissy's help.
Somebody wanna tell me why I'm doing this? Why I let those two sucker me into this? This is California for chrissakes, not New York, Christmas trees don' exactly grow wild here.
Y'an idiot. Y'know that. One look at their miserable expressions an' y'running around like a fool. An' it's all Charlie's fault. He was the one that started it off.
Chrissy opened the flood of envelopes on her desk. It seemed the entire office had decided to give cards this year.
"Damn." She cursed under her breath. Charlie looked up from the computer. The boys had been her responsibility for three months now, and Charlie had kind of taken possession of her computer.
"What? What did we do now?"
"Charlie, don't be so touchy, I got a card from MaryAnn in Accounts. And I forgot to give her one, okay, nothing you did." She looked up in time to catch the shade which crossed his face. Now what?
"What's the matter now?" She didn't mean to sound tetchy, but they'd disobeyed orders the day before and she had had a terrible time trying to keep O'Connor from throwing them back in jail. The only thing that had swung it their way, was the fact that they'd nailed the creep they were after.
"No, it isn't nothing."
"Okay, it's Christmas."
Deliberately misunderstanding, this was somewhere she really didn't want to go, they're ex cons and they keep playing around, Chrissy tried to establish her authority. "Yes, it's Christmas, so?"
"New York, Christmas is really something, y'know, Christmas trees, an' Macy's window an'.." Charlie trailed off, trying to keep the wave of nostalgia under control.
"An' St John's Cathedral!" Alphonse appeared behind them. "An' snow…….. Jeez." He sighed. Christmas didn't seem so good now.
Chrissy changed the subject. "The case…..you know, the case we're working on! The one that's going to make O'Connor forget that he wants you three back behind bars."
"Yeah,…the case." Charlie turned back to the computer; not before he and Alphonse exchanged really unhappy looks.
Okay, so the wave of nostalgia didn't go away. Which is probably why Charlie wasn't concentrating when we bust that creep.
Charlie loaded the equipment back in the van. The bust had been successful, Alphonse had pulled it off with a lot of help from me. He paused leaning his hand against the van's door frame. Right about now, it's probably snowing in New York.
Chrissy slammed the van door, and Charlie screamed.
"CHARLIE!!" she yanked the door back, and he snatched his hand to his chest, cradling it with his other hand. "Ohmigod, let me see."
Very gently, she took his hand between hers. She could tell from just looking that his forefinger and middle finger were broken. "Oh God, Charlie, I'm sorry."
"It was my fault, I shouldha' been looking."
So that was Charlie, outta action, stuck back at the Cheez-Whizz Arms. Sitting around watching the television all day. Brooding about Christmas. An' it was catchin'. 'Fore I knew it, Alphonse was brooding about Christmas. Not that I recollect him telling us about Christmas when he was a kid, in fact, I don't recall him ever being that interested.
Chrissy felt guilty about Charlie's hand. So she eased off on Alphonse and Ice. Which didn't seem to lift Alphonse's mood at all, which made Chrissy feel more guilty because he was so distant with her.
Alphonse wasn't deliberately being distant, he was just distracted. So when they went for the next bust, the chance he took didn't quite come off.
The creep was making a run for it, Alphonse sprinted to cut him off. Cannoning into the man with considerable force, they hit the ground at the top of the stairs. Trying to get a grip on the mark was difficult and Alphonse tried to roll over to get on top. Unfortunately he hadn't noticed how close they were to the top of the stairs, his momentum and their combined weight tumbled them both over the edge and they rolled down the stairs to land in a tangled heap at the bottom.
The mark gave up, as O'Connor pulled him off Alphonse.
Alphonse was trying to stop the room spinning sufficiently to let him get up. He pulled his legs under himself and tried to get to his feet. Sinking back with a groan of pain.
"ALPHONSE." Chrissy and Ice were on their knees beside him in an instant.
"What's the matter." Chrissy checked him over for damage.
"My ankle." He gasped.
Ice checked his right leg. Oh shit. The ankle was at a slightly odd angle, and was beginning to swell. Ice gently eased his partner's shoe off, ignoring the hiss of pain. "Dammit, 'Phonse, I think you broke it."
Three hours at the hospital and………….
"I ain't stayin' here."
"Alphonse, you've torn the ligaments and damaged the joint quite badly. You need to stay off that leg at least a week." Chrissy tried to be reasonable.
He wasn't having any. Lower lip thrust out, like a mutinous teenager, Alphonse glared right back. "I ain't spending Christmas in here." He threw the bedcovers back, quickly Chrissy grabbed the crutches and thrust them at him, before he could jump out of bed and do further damage.
"Why are you being so stubborn about this?" She glared at him, totally exasperated. "Oh I get it, it's the Christmas thing again, isn't it?"
For a second she was startled by the look of acute misery that crossed his face. Then it was gone, and she decided she had imagined it.
"Alright. Since you've decided to be so stubborn. I guess I'd better help you." She helped him into the wheelchair the staff had so thoughtfully provided.
So there they were. Both of 'em. Charlie migrated to Alphonse's room since 'Phonse couldn't walk, and they spent all day flicking through channels on the television, watching cartoons and old movies, and sighing a lot. Until I was about ready to strangle them.
I spent two days trying to find out what was bothering them. Then Charlie started on about a Christmas tree again. And Alphonse……..well ain't no one better at big, sad eyes than Alphonse. Even Chrissy was starting to fall for it……
Chrissy carefully adjusted the pillow under Alphonse's heavily bandaged ankle. "Does that feel better?" Alphonse was slumped back against a mound of pillows and cushions between him and the headboard of the bed, the big blue eyes turned towards her.
"Yeah." It couldn't have sounded more dispirited if he'd tried. She was about to ask supplementary questions when Charlie appeared, carefully balancing a tray one handed with a couple of drinks on it. He eased the tray onto the bed next to his partner and then sat down. The tray tilted dangerously and Alphonse quickly rescued his drink.
"Are you two going to be alright by yourselves?" Chrissy looked at them closely. She'd never seen either of them so miserable.
"Yeah, yeah. Don' worry about us." Even Charlie's usual sarcastic inflection was missing.
"If you're sure."
"We're sure." Alphonse sounded really down, and Chrissy was going to stay and argue with them, but Charlie flicked the switch on the television changer and Bugs Bunny danced onto the screen beside her.
"Okay." Mildly affronted, she started to leave. Half turned back, realised they weren't watching her and stomped out.
So here I am, forty dollars in my pocket, scouring the whole of LA for a Christmas tree. All because my two partners like slicing their ham really thick. An' Chrissy's gonna cook us all Christmas dinner, and stuff, just coz they're moping.
I must be outta my tiny mind.
Christmas day dawned bright and sunny. Chrissy had arranged it that she would pick them all up, and she and Ice would do dinner.
Some six hours later and Chrissy surveyed the wreckage with dismay. Charlie and Alphonse had brightened up considerably, and proceeded to eat like they were starving.
"I thought you said they were off their food?" She eyed Ice sideways. "Or was this some big plot to try and worm your way back into my confidence? You three have been pushing your luck a lot lately." Suddenly she had the deep down suspicion that she'd just been suckered.
Ice held his hands out wide, believable innocence writ large upon his face. "They were. And no, it wasn't some trick." He started to look accusatory. "You believe that. That we'd trick you."
"No, no. I don't. It's just that….." Chrissy looked around her. Alphonse had taken possession of the couch, as his leg needed to be kept elevated, and Charlie was slumped down in on of her armchairs. Both were sound asleep.
And therefore didn't see Ice uncross his fingers.
Don't ever hurt to have a little insurance, and cemented relations with Chrissy.
And, we gotta real Christmas tree out of it. The first I've had since I was a kid.