It was the evening before Thanksgiving, and Jessica Devlin found herself alone on the HPCU's balcony. Madeleine and Danny had gone to visit their respective families, while Raina and Isaac had flown out to stay with her family for the holiday weekend. She and Stark were the only two members of the unit staying in town for Thanksgiving weekend, though he at least was spending it with his loved ones and his daughter's boyfriend. She sighed. Well, what was one more holiday spent at the cemetery with Ben? She turned as she heard someone approach, and was surprised to see Sebastian there, smiling and holding out a fresh glass of scotch to her.
"You look like you could use a stiff drink," he said.
She took the glass and smiled at him. "You're right about that. Shouldn't you be at home trying to figure out how to mix poison into Trevor's food without him noticing, though?"
He smirked and shook his head. "Jessica, I could dump arsenic on that boy's mashed potatoes right in front of him and he'd just think it was green salt. There'd be no challenge in it. Besides, Julie made me promise not to kill him until after the holidays."
"Still, I don't know why you'd want to be here tonight instead of at home with your family," she replied, taking a grateful sip of her scotch.
"Well, Julie's spending the evening at Claire's, and I don't really feel like going back to an empty house just yet. How about you? Don't you have anywhere else you'd rather be?"
She shrugged and laughed hollowly. "Well, I wanted to stop by Ben's place on the way home this evening, but the cemeteries close early on weeknights, so that's a bust."
"Kind of morbid today, aren't we?" he asked, arching an eyebrow doubtfully.
"Just a bit. Can't imagine why," she said bitterly.
He gave her shoulder a gentle squeeze. "I'm sorry, Jess. I know it's been a rough year for you."
"Try decade," she replied before downing the last of her drink.
"Are you going to be okay?" he asked, refilling her drink. He could tell she was in need of some serious comforting right now, and he didn't know of any better form than single malt scotch.
"Eh, it's not the first time I've been alone on the holidays. I'll live," she said, smiling weakly.
"Come on. You don't need to spend the day by yourself. Why don't you come over and at least have dinner with us tomorrow?"
"I don't need your pity, Sebastian," she said coldly.
"It's not pity; I'm asking you a favor. I need someone to distract me from Trevor. You can't honestly expect me to spend an entire day with him with only my smitten daughter as a buffer. And as a bonus, you won't have to cook a thing."
She sighed and gave in. "Fine. What should I bring along?"
"Oh, nothing much. A nice bottle of champagne, maybe a few candles and a Barry White CD…" he trailed off with a suggestive smile.
She scratched her chin thoughtfully. "Hmm. How about cognac instead of champagne? Oh, and no candles, and no Barry White. That sound good?"
"You had me at 'cognac,'" he replied cheerfully.
Jessica rolled her eyes. "Color me unsurprised. So what time's dinner?"
"Six 'o clock. Don't be late," he said, growing ever perkier as she grew more acerbic.
"I'll be there with bells on," she replied, and instantly regretted it.
Sebastian leapt at the opening. "I like the sound of that."
"Walked right into that one, didn't I?" she groaned.
"And I love you for it," he replied with a perverted grin.
As soon as she pulled into Sebastian's driveway the next evening, a cold feeling of dread settled into the pit of Jessica's stomach. It grew as she walked towards the front door and heard the screaming coming from inside. Gathering her courage, she reached up and knocked on the door. It was soon answered by a very harried-looking Sebastian, who wordlessly ushered her in. Now that she was inside, she could plainly hear what was being said, or rather shouted.
"I'm just wondering why you can't put the laptop away for one damn day! It's Thanksgiving and all you care about is getting your stupid proposal finished," came Julie's voice from the kitchen.
It was followed shortly thereafter by Trevor's voice. "Look, if I get it done early we can spend the whole day together tomorrow! I thought you wanted me to be more responsible!"
"Bullshit, Trevor. You know damn well that tomorrow you're going to be working on something else all day and ignoring everyone around you," Julie replied fiercely.
"Language—oh, what the hell," said Sebastian, giving up mid-reproach. He knew a lost cause when he saw one.
His interruption went unnoticed by the arguing young couple.
"You mean ignoring you, Julie. Everything's always about you, isn't it?" Trevor snapped.
"I'm just sick of coming in second to some stupid project!" she screeched.
"Well, you'd know all about projects," he replied nastily.
"And what is that supposed to mean?" Julie asked defensively.
With some reluctance, Jessica managed to tear her attention away from the teens' argument and turn to Sebastian.
"Cognac?" she said, holding up the bottle that she'd brought in with her.
"Yes, please," he replied, the desperation evident in his voice.
They quickly excused themselves to the patio, their departure going completely unnoticed by Julie and Trevor. Once outside, Jessica poured their drinks while Sebastian started a fire in the small fire pit next to his seldom-used barbecue grill.
"Sorry you had to see that," he said when they'd settled in by the fire, drinks in hand.
"Don't worry about it. It's not your fault. They're young and this is their first holiday together. They'll get better at the fighting as they go along," she replied soothingly.
He shuddered. "If it's all right with you, I'd rather not think about the possibility of them having another holiday together."
"Can't say I blame you. She sure can pick them, can't she?" said Jessica.
"I'll say. She gets her lousy taste in men from her mom, I think," he sighed and took a healthy swig of his cognac.
"Oh, I don't know. I don't think Claire's taste is all that bad," she replied, smiling softly at him and gently patting his knee.
He glanced up at her in surprise. "Was…was that a compliment?"
"Yes. Yes, it was. Got a problem with that?" she teased.
He was about to answer in the negative when they were interrupted by the sound of the front door slamming, which was followed shortly thereafter by the sound of a motorcycle revving up. Sebastian sighed.
"I'd better go check on Jules," he said, reluctantly pulling himself to his feet.
Jessica nodded. "While you're doing that, I'll check on dinner."
"Everything's done except the turkey," he said, offering a hand to help her up.
"How long has it been in the oven?" she asked, accepting his proffered hand.
"It should be done any minute, actually. Don't feel like you have to help out, though; you're our guest tonight, after all. I'll check on the turkey after I've made sure Julie's all right," he said, holding open the back door for her.
"I don't mind, really. I'm happy to help," she said.
"If you insist," he shrugged.
Once inside, the two parted ways and set about their respective tasks. Sebastian followed the sounds of his daughter crying upstairs while Jessica headed towards the kitchen, where she made an unpleasant discovery. She didn't want to intrude on the family drama upstairs, so she made herself comfortable on the couch and waited for Sebastian to rejoin her. She didn't have long to wait.
"She wouldn't let me in and she wouldn't answer me," he sighed as he descended the staircase. "I told her I'd be right back up with a plate of food, but damned if I know whether she heard me or not."
"Um, about that, Sebastian," she began.
"Oh, does the turkey still need a few minutes?" he cut her off, heading towards the kitchen.
"More like a few hours," she replied.
Sebastian froze mid-step. "Please tell me you're joking," he pleaded.
"I'm afraid not. The oven wasn't even on," she said sympathetically. "Who put the turkey in, anyway?"
"Trevor," he replied, his shoulders sagging in despair. "I really should've seen this coming."
"And would I be right in assuming that he also brought a few dishes from home?" she pressed on.
"Yes, why—oh." The dawning look of revelation on his face was truly heartbreaking to watch.
"He did leave us the mashed potatoes and corn, though. And the cranberry sauce," she added in a desperate attempt to cheer him up.
"How thoughtful of him," he sighed. "Well, are you up for pizza?"
"Sounds good. Go ahead and call, and I'll go ask Julie what kind of topping she wants," said Jessica, giving him a pitying smile.
He nodded dejectedly and reached for his cell phone, pausing briefly to check out Jessica's ass as she trotted up the stairs.
Once the pizza arrived and Julie's portion had been left outside her bedroom door, Sebastian and Jessica retreated to the back deck to enjoy their dinner around the fire pit.
"It's nice to know that even on a holiday there's always a pizza place open and willing to deliver," Jessica said cheerfully as she helped herself to a slice.
"Yeah, about that. I'm sorry everything's turned out so badly today," he said, grabbing a slice of his own with rather less enthusiasm.
She waved off his apology. "Don't be, I'm not. Believe it or not, I've had a good time tonight."
He smirked at her. "Even with all of the fighting that went on earlier?"
"Are you kidding? It's not really Thanksgiving without a shouting match. Trust me, I felt right at home," she replied.
"Now, I like the sound of that," he said, waggling his eyebrows suggestively.
She laughed and rolled her eyes. "Seriously, Sebastian, thank you for inviting me over."
"No, thank you for coming. And by the way, if you're not doing anything this Christmas…" he trailed off hopefully.
"Only if you promise to go easy on the mistletoe and the 'stocking stuffer' jokes," she replied.
"I'll do my best. And this time, I promise not to let Trevor anywhere near the kitchen," he swore.
"How could I refuse an offer like that? It's a date," she said, holding up her glass for a toast.
He clinked his glass against hers. "Hopefully the first of many."
"Don't push your luck."