A Tradition Shared
This is an answer to November '04 Thanksgiving Challenge:
The seven unexpectedly get to spend Thanksgiving together as a group. It doesn't have to be for a thanksgiving meal or for a jolly good time. They could be in a bind (as in caught by bad guys) and all seven end up caught; They could be doing their own thing on Thanksgiving and end up at the same place. It can be any scenario you want. YOUR DECISION. Only requirement is that they are together unplanned, for Thanksgiving day AND the line "Oh I see that you made it..." is used. In any context you want. Any AU
The airport hummed with activity as passengers hurried from gate to gate. Business men checked their watches and juggled their briefcases and carry-ons while families shuffled their way through security and tried not to lose track of their children. Everyone had a place to go, a plane to catch and beneath the bustle crackled the excitement of the holiday. The most heavily traveled days of the year had arrived. Already, even as the first turkeys of Thanksgiving were being carved around the nation, the atrium of Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport was decked out for Christmas. Seasonal carols echoed through the shopping area and spiced coffees were on special at Starbucks.
"This sucks," JD Dunne turned away from the wall of windows facing the tarmac, jealously watching another group of passengers board their flight. "It just sucks."
"Find a straw and deal." Buck answered from the chair he was slouched in. Above him CNN droned on the television.
"Ha ha. I'm suppose to be having dinner in an hour with Nettie and Casey." Dunne moped as he flopped into the chair beside his friend.
"Yeah, well, I'm missing a chance to ring in the season with Hailey but you don't hear me griping about it." Buck shifted and bit back a complaint as his back protested the movement.
" 'Happy Hailey' from the secretarial pool?" Vin asked, looking up from the game boy he'd stolen from JD sometime during the night.
Buck grinned. "That's one nickname for her. I prefer Hor…"
"Buck." Chris cut the ladies' man off, shaking his head. "Time for a coffee run."
Vin jumped to his feet, tossing the video game back to Dunne who looked up just in time to catch it. "I'll go with ya Bucklin. I need to move."
"What were your plans Chris?" JD asked as he watched Tanner and Wilmington head off down the concourse.
"Vin was coming over to watch the games." Larabee answered without elaborating.
"What about you Ezra?" JD looked at the Southerner.
Ezra lowered his book, and sighed lightly. "I didn't have any set plans."
"What about your Mom?"
"Mother is somewhere near Greece, I believe." Ezra smiled stiffly.
"Ah," Dunne looked toward his other two team members. Josiah and Nathan were playing a game on paper.
"Damn you." Josiah growled as Jackson counted up his squares. "That's the third time you've won."
"Maybe he cheats." Ezra interjected, enjoying the look of horror that crossed the medic's face in response.
"Yeah right," JD bounced in his seat. "What were you guys gonna do today?"
Josiah stood up and stretched his arms high above his head. "Rain was cooking for Nathan and I begged an invite."
"What's she gonna do now?" JD wondered.
Nathan looked up, "Her brothers and their wives are going to be there. She's okay."
"What is the latest on our predicament?" Ezra questioned quietly.
Chris gestured toward the counter. "Storm up north hasn't let up at all. By the looks of things they're guessing the earliest flight out of here will be sometime tomorrow afternoon."
"Another night here?" JD groaned. "God, this really sucks."
"JD," Chris warned. He noticed Ezra flinch slightly.
"What?" JD went on, oblivious. "Thanksgiving is suppose to be about turkey and football and family, not sitting around an airport for two days," he complained before heading back to pace in front of the windows again.
Chris watched as Ezra picked up the paper back again and stared at the pages for a few minutes before he abruptly stood, grabbed his bag and walked off.
Running a hand over his face Larabee sighed heavily and then pushed himself to his feet. JD stopped pacing as Chris approached and stood next to him.
"Hard to believe its snowing so hard in Denver while we're staring at this," JD gestured out at the bright blue sky.
"Yeah." Larabee agreed. "Why are we here JD?"
"What?" JD looked at Chris with confusion.
"Why are we here?" Chris repeated.
Dunne shrugged. "Ezra got called in for a review and help on a case down here and we didn't want him facing the damn fibbies with out real backup."
"Were you forced to come?" Chris asked softly.
"No," JD was emphatic. "Those guys jump at the idea of screwing him over every chance they get. I wasn't going to stay behind."
"Even if it meant missing out on your traditional Thanksgiving?"
"Hell, I'd give up everything if Ezra or any of you needed me. I …" Understanding dawned slowly on JD's face. "Shit."
Chris nodded. "How do you suppose Ezra's feeling sitting here listening to you complain about how much it sucks?"
"Its not his fault there's a blizzard in Denver." JD protested weakly, scuffing his foot along the base of the window.
"No, but would you be here if not for him?"
JD shook his head and looked over to where Ezra's been sitting. "Where'd he go?"
"I don't know," Chris answered. "But when he comes back you may want to find something to do other than complain."
Larabee frowned. "Don't apologize to me."
The afternoon continued to crawl by without any sign of an outgoing flight or Ezra's return. Vin and Buck brought coffee and snacks for everyone and with much cajoling finally convinced the girl in charge of the gate to let them change the tv channel from cnn to a football game.
Various other passengers, also stranded by the storm and stuck with no place to go milled around the small lobby area and stopped to watch the game.
"What's wrong now, Kid?" Vin sat down next to JD and bumped his elbow off the armrest.
"I screwed up, "JD admitted.
"I was bitching about being here and think I made Ez mad."
Vin shook his head. "Ezra ain't mad."
"How do you know?" JD asked. "He left and no one's seen him for hours."
Tanner laughed. "If Ezra was mad, you'd know. He don't hide that."
"Great," JD slouched lower in his seat. "That means instead of ticking him off I just made him feel like shit."
"So, when he get back, you fix it. He'll be back."
Just then a dour looking man dressed like a chauffer approached the small group. "Excuse me," he cleared his throat, "Is Mr. Chris Larabee here?"
Chris frowned but stood up. "I'm Larabee."
"Ah, Mr. Standish has requested that you and your men accompany me."
"Oh really?" Chris' frown deepened.
"Yes sir," The chauffer handed a piece of paper to Chris.
Larabee opened it and grinned as he read Standish's neat script. "please mr. Larabee try not to be so stubborn. Ezra"
"What's Ezra up to?" Nathan asked as Chris motioned to them.
"I have no idea but get your stuff and lets go find out."
The chauffeur led the weary looking group through the large concourse and out into the already darkening late afternoon. As they reached the curb, a stretch limo pulled up beside them.
"Whoa." Buck stared dumbfounded.
"you're kidding." Josiah shook his head.
"No sir," the chauffeur held the door open. "Please help yourself to the bar."
Chris exchanged a look with Vin before moving first into the luxury car. He'd known Ezra was feeling responsible for their situation but to do this…
The group was quiet as they rode, no one interested in drinks as they watched the passing traffic. No one asked where they were going as they weaved through the unfamiliar highways and roads of the city. Finally, the car stopped and the door was opened for them.
"You're to proceed to suite 1801." The chauffeur told them pleasantly. "Happy Holidays." He grinned.
"Dang." Buck was staring at the hotel's entrance then looked down at his rumpled day old clothing. "Think they'll even let us in?"
"Might as well find out," Vin led the way into the ornate hotel.
They made it to the elevator with no problems. " This is too much." Josiah mumbled quietly as the elevator glided smoothly to a stop and the doors slid open silently. The lavish hallway was easy to follow and after one turn they found themselves at suite 1801.
It only took a minute before the door swung open. Ezra stood there, still in his own sleep rumpled clothing and looking worn out.
"Oh, I see you made it," he smirked, obviously enjoying their confusion. "Come in. I know its not quite a traditional sit-down around the table meal, but its all I could finagle at this late notice."
The room had been set up with a full buffet and already smells of turkey, mashed potatoes and stuffing were drawing the men in.
"Are you kidding me?" Buck moved toward the food first. "This is awesome."
"Yeah," Vin stopped beside Ezra. "How exactly did you manage to 'finagle' all this anyways?" He asked quietly.
Ezra raised an eyebrow. "Lets just say I called in some favors owed to me."
It was Vin's turn to raise an eyebrow, and then he slapped Ezra affectionately on the back and moved toward the food.
Within an hour the guys were ensconced around the big screen TV, arguing over another football game and enjoying third and fourth helpings from the buffet.
Ezra had quietly snuck out onto the balcony in search of fresh air and looked up in surprise to see JD holding a cup of coffee out to him.
"Thank you, Mr. Dunne." He said, accepting the cup.
"Thank you, Ezra." He frowned at Ezra's questioning look. "I was wrong earlier. I shouldn't have been complaining like I was and I hope you don't feel like I was blaming you for being stuck here." His words came out fast and frantic.
Ezra laughed in spite of himself. "Breathe, JD." He waved away the serious tone of his friend. "You're all here because of me and I'm grateful. I'm just sorry you missed out on your Thanksgiving at home."
"That's just I, don't you see?" JD stepped closer. "you are my family just as much as Nettie or Casey. More even. You reminded me today of that and…" He motioned back to the crowded suite. "Even without all this, I'm thankful for you and them. If it was just us in the airport eating hamburgers and candy bars…it'd have been perfect because it'd be us. All here…together."
Ezra swallowed slowly and distracted himself with his coffee. "Thank you, JD." He managed. When he looked up JD was gone and Chris was standing there.
"Kid learns fast don't he?" Chris asked, leaning against the balcony rail.
"Certainly does, though if he'd come to that revelation a few hours ago it would have saved me a fortune."
Larabee burst out laughing, his loud voice bringing the others outside as well.
"What's going on out here?" Nathan asked.
"Yeah, what are all them people doing down there?" Vin asked pointing to the mall parking lot across the street.
"This, gentlemen, is your bird's eye view." Ezra explained grandiosely.
"Of what? Early shopping?" Buck asked watching the thousands of people below them.
"No." Ezra looked mockingly offended, then grinned as a full choir erupted in "Joy to the World" and spotlights split the night.
"There's a tree up there." Josiah pointed to the mall's roof.
"Since I was a child this has been one of my favorite thanksgiving traditions whenever in Atlanta; the lighting of the Rich's/ Macy's tree." As Ezra finished, the spotlights went dark and the crowd below began to cheer wildly as high above the still singing choir the blackness was dispelled and the Christmas tree came alive with thousands of colored lights.
"Happy Thanksgiving, gentlemen."
A few days early but to everyone who celebrates the holiday-hope you have a great one!