So right now, im totally revelling in amazement, cuz A) this morning there was no fic on this document, but look at it now!!!! and B) this is my second fic in 1 week!!!!

I was determined to write something for thanksgiving, and it turned out to be another Lou Memorial Fic. Not muc else to say, other than enjoy!!!

Ooh, and so i don't get a lawsuit on my ass, the lyrics belong to One Day You Will by Lady Antebellum :)


You feel like you're falling backwards

Like you're slippin' through the cracks

Like no one would even notice

If you left this town and never came back

You walk outside and all you see is rain

You look inside and all you feel is pain

And you can't see it now...

For 8 years, Sophie had set 7 places at the Lane's table on Thanksgiving day. Now as she finished the process, placing a fork beside the sixth and final dinner plate, she stood back and observed how different-a subtle difference, maybe, but undoubtedly different- the table seemed with 3 places on one side, 2 on the other, and one at the head. The Thanksgiving routine had been like clockwork, identical year after year: at precisely 1pm, Team One, with thier families in tow, filed into the Lane home, and the guys plus Jules congregated in the living room, cracking jokes and watching sports, the kids played outside, and the ladies went out for lunch. After about 45 minuites of social time, the Team migrated into the kitchen to start the classic turkey dinner. When the food was gone (it always was) they joined the kids in the yard for a game of soccer, or possibly hockey, depending on the weather.

For 8 years, that was the tradition, natural and unquestionable, like breathing. As had Lou's place on Team One. But on this chilly October day, what was Team One would find out exactly how breakable tradition really was. Sophie checked the time. 12:43. Ed was always in the kitchen with her by now, flirting cheesily and helping prepare for his the arrival of his people. But this year he remained upstairs, and would remain so util the first guest arrived. He claimed he wanted to look extra-nice, but Sophie knew he couldn't bear to look at a table set for 6, when everything about that number was wrong. Ed had lived for hosting Team social events, they were the next-best thing to actually being at work. He knew that Greg's favourite salad dressing was ranch, and he hated poppy seeds. He knew that Wordy preferred white meat, but would eat dark to be polite. He knew that Spike loved spicy dressing on his turkey, Jules hated gravy on mashed potatoes, and Sam's all-time favourite drink was Bud Light with Lime. And he knew that Lou always said grace, ate absolutely everything on his plate, and after the meal he always found Sophie and thanked her from the bottom of his heart. Because let's face it, if it was up to Ed to make thanksgiving dinner, the Lanes would no longer have a house.

"Eddie?" Sophie called from the bottom of the stairs. "You have a message on your phone from Parker, he's on the way."

"I'll be down in a sec, Soph." came the deadbeat reply.

For a moment, she contemplated venturing upstairs and re-asking the obvious questions, the ones she'd been asking ever since the accident.

Are you okay?

Yeah.

How are you doing today?

Fine.

Ok, how are you really doing?

Soph, I'm fine. Promise.

Maybe she'd never fully understand. Maybe she couldn't possibly comprehend it. With a tear in her eye, she removed the turkey from the oven.

***

When Team One - minus one - was seated, the kids were out, and the wives were gone. Greg observed the wayward group that surrounded him. Ed was lying in his beloved easy chair, staring glassy-eyed at hockey game on tv. In the weeks following that horrible day, he'd become prone to unsettling mood swings, going from dull and passive one second to unreasonably agressive in the next. Beside him Wordy and Jules shared the two-person couch. They'd become much closer since the accident. Jules had always looked to him as a role model, but now more than ever, since Spike had become devoid of everything that resembled his personality, and talking to Sam just felt complicated. No matter what changed, there would always be their past lying under the surface. Wordy had many years of wisdom over her, and you couldn't ask for a more stable friend. He hadn't allowed the accident to change him. At least not on the outside. Beside them, Spike and Sam sat at opposite ends of the large couch, an icy silence between them. Spike was almost unrecognizeable. Babycakes jokes, prank calls, and general enthusiasm had become a thing of the past. Now, he rarely spoke unless spoken to, and he poured all his energy and grief into his work. Prehaps the accident had made him stronger, but the team would have given anything to have the old Spike, the real Spike, back. Sam, on the other hand, seemed to be mostly unchanged. Quieter, yes, but so was everyone. He worked much carefully though, and seemed to constantly seek approval from the rest of the team. Greg was certain he was trying desperately to attone for his conviction that Lou was unsaveable. When he first came to the SRU, he had a look in his eyes that the Sarge was familliar with. Grief, anger, lonliness. The more he bonded with the team, the more it faded. But now it was back, and it killed Greg to see a teammate suffer.

The room felt like a morgue rather than a party. When Ed extended the yearly invitations on Greg and Sophie's orders, the rest of the team seemed almost suprised that the Thanksgiving Bash would be held, only two weeks and several days since Lou stepped off the landmine. But they needed it. Needed a reason to laugh again. Or crack a smile at the very least. And Greg would be damned if he let his team fall. So he broke the silence:

"Twenty bucks on Toronto to win."

Ed and Spike glanced up at him, as though unsure if he'd actually spoken the words. Sam and Jules looked around the room hopefully, as though desperate for a reminder of what normal felt like. Wordy, bless him, replied.

"In your dreams, Boss. You're on!"

Greg smiled gratefully at Wordy, but before he could defend his beloved Maple Leafs, Sam interjected:

"Ten bucks that Ottawa will win by more than 3 goals!"

For a moment he appeared unsure of himself, but the look passed and he cracked an affirmative smile.

"Forty bucks Braddock doesn't survive next time he jumps on a grenade." Ed shot back unexpectedly, with a hint of the old Ed Lane fire.

Wordy laughed reminiscently. "Sam, you crazy kid!"

"Ten bucks Sam gets taken out by a Leafs Fan!" Jules piped up.

"So nice to have supportive team mates." Sam rolled his eyes, playfully punching Jules on the shoulder. In retalliation, she slapped his arm. Full force.

"Eighty bucks that leaves a bruise." Greg remarked.

"I still have bruises from the grenade, you know." Sam informed.

"Ohh poor Samtastic." Jules teased. "Life's hard, huh?"

"But you already knew about the bruises, didn't you Officer Callaghan?" Ed added slyly.

Almost everyone else flinched. That was a typical Spike line, no question.

To diffuse the tension, Jules threw a couch pillow at Ed. He caught it in one hand, and whipped it back, with a battlycry of "Scorpio!". Jules deflected it, and it hit Sam in the face.

"Oops." she said without sympathy.

Sam threw the pillow back at her, then grabbed another which he bounced off Wordy's head. Wordy snatched it and took careful aim at Sam, but st the last second flung it over Sam's head, so it landed directly on Spike. A ripple of tension flickered through the room. Jules tried to take some pressure off Spike by scorpio'ing Wordy with the other pillow, but all eyes remained on the silent, broken-looking figure on the other end of the couch. Spike slowly picked up the pillow and stared at it, he was the only soul in the room that remembered that he had thrown this exact same pillow at Lou last year. Funny how those little things stick out in your mind... like the funny turkey-patterned tie he'd worn last year, how Lou asked him why he was wearing chickens, and how he insisted they looked like chickens, no matter how Spike tried to reason with him. The little things like that, that killed him more every day.

"Hundred bucks on Ottawa to win."

Greg's relief at hering Spike's voice was equalled only by his concern over the tortured look on his face.

"Spike, you hate the Sens." Jules said with a nervous smile.

"Lou didn't." Spike answered, with an icy tone that wasn't directed at Jules.

After a slightly uncomfortable moment of silence, Greg said,

"You guys remember how he...that is, Lou...always liked to remember what we're thankful for at this time of year?"

"Yeah." Ed said grimly.

"Even though we thought there were better things to talk about, it was always so important to him." Jules voiced exactly what Greg had been about to say.

"So, what are we thankful for?" Wordy continued. "My girls." he added instantly, as everyone knew he would. "Shel. My team. And the chance to make a difference."

He passed the pillow he'd been holding to Greg.

"This team. This city. Second chances. This country. The Leafs' win last week. And every life we've saved, together."

The pillow went to Ed next.

"The team. Hockey. The new reno's at Headquarters. Snow tires. Um, Sophie and Clark. And my barbecue."

Sam's turn.

"Um...like Sarge said, second chances. Being forgiven. The team, more than anything. Going home alive at the end of the day. Bullet shields."

He passed the pillow to Jules, his spine prickling as his finger rubbed against hers.

"Being here today. Being good enough to have my spot waiting for me when I came back. This life. Home Depot. And bullet shields." she finished with a glance at Sam.

Finally the pillow arrived at Spike. He stared into it, as though searching for answers in the dark gold threads. Finally he looked up and looked around at his teammates for the first time that day. He saw only looks of compassion, comfort, familliarity and empathy upon their faces, and he regretted the cold silence he'd maintained for too long.

"For you guys." he said at last. "For giving me a reason to keep waking up in the morning, and to help me...not forget him."

"I know it hurts to think that he's not coming back. And I know Team One is never going to be the same again. We all know that. There's no point in denying it. All we can do is remember him, and keep doing what he'd want us to do. And he'd want us to welcome Leah the same way we welcomed him." said Greg gently and firmly, with a look towards Spike. "She's not Lou, and we can't hate her for that. It's not her fault he's gone and she can't bring him back. But she can make us a better team if we give her a chance."

"Different. Not better." Spike snapped.

"Different." Greg agreed softly.

"To Lou." Ed murmered, lifting his bottle of Coors Light, an old favourite of Lou's.

"To Lou." Spike whispered, his voice cracking.

"To Lou." Jules echoed, pulling down her sleeve to expose her memorial bracelet from Leah.

Sam, Wordy, and Greg each did the same, and together they drank to the memory of a wise and true friend, the unbreakable bond that would always give them something to be thankful for, rememberance of better times past, and the promise of better times yet to come.

...But down the road the sun is shining

In every cloud there's a silver lining

Just keep holding on

And every heartache makes you stronger

But it won't be much longer

You'll find love, you'll find peace

And the you you're meant to be

I know right now that's not the way you feel

But one day you will


sooo much angst :( i wanna get my fun fics back on the go!!

but hope you enjoyed that, and have a greatt Thankgiving :) Id be thankful for a few reviews prettay pleaze!

Happy Gobble Gobble!

just kidding. nothing is weirder than people who say Happy Gobble Gobble. IMHO. lol no offense.

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*Roxxy,
How do you stay so fresh?
I think cool thoughts.
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