A/N: This fic includes: Rowdy Roddy Piper, Cowboy 'Ace' Bob Orton, and Mr. Wonderful Paul Orndorff. I've been working on my fic 'Rowdy' so I can get that updated but after a bit, Roddy refused to work on it, and went off in this direction. After this Christmas fic I only have one more, which is a Secret Santa request, then I'm done with Christmas fics. Mark my words, because enough is enough lol. If I end up scribbling out another Christmas fic, well, then you all feel free to point and call me 'hypocrite' in a Jericho-esque manner. You have my permission. Now, I know these guys are not written about a lot, but they (especially Hot Rod) have a big place in WF's heart. So damn it, I hope a few of you enjoy this at least. As always, I worry about how I wrote Roddy, and can only hope I did him well. Posting fics about him tends to make me nervous, because I love and respect him so much and he's just...such a personality to try and even ATTEMPT to capture. There is none other Hot Rod! I still feel like there's something 'off' in this fic, but I can't place my finger on it. Gah! Anyway, I must stop rambling. :) Much love, and thanks for reading.


Boots Under The Christmas Tree

Sitting in the den, he watched as the fire flickered warmly in the hearth against the bricks. Along the mantel like soldiers of tradition hung stockings of red and green, the furry white tops dawned with names that made a family: Rod, Kitty, Colt, Ariel, Anastacia, and Fallon. They had yet to be filled with stuffers, Christmas was near but not yet upon the world. The fire crackled, tiny orange and red flecks danced up in the shadows of the pit like winking fireflies. Outside it was snowing. The panes of the windows were crystaled with ice and if he was to get up and inspect them closely, he could see each tiny spindle and ray of the frozen flakes that crusted to the outside glass. More was falling in big, fluffy, flakes that slowly drifted and wafted on the gentle, frigid breeze like ballerinas in white doing pirouettes and lazy twirls. Once in a while, the wind picked up a bit, and the house creaked softly as it rushed against the outer shell.

In a corner the tree stood regally, bedecked in holiday splendor, and the piney scent of it tickled his nose when he breathed deeply. In the quills of its branches were strung lights and garland, from boughs were hung glittering globes of red and green and silver, his wife and children hand-picked each spot. Nestled in the crooks of conifer arms were memories and treasures, delicate ornaments smeared with paste and glitter, inarticulate, childish writing, and coloring that didn't quite make it inside the lines, from all four of the children at various ages and stages. A smile stretched his lips and his eyes glittered, those were his favorites. His eye moved slowly up the tree, taking it all in. They stopped last at the pointed top, which almost touched the ceiling. It was crowned with a star which Fallon had set up there, after he'd hoisted her on his shoulder.

His bright, hazel, eyes rimmed with lines that deepened when he smiled, went back over the tree, this time from top to bottom. Under the bottom where the green needled branches reached out like fans, were gifts with shiny metallic wrapping paper, oversized bows and ribbons. It all seemed perfect, and nearly was, but there was one thing that wasn't there and it made a twinge of sadness pluck at his heart. He turned his sight from the tree, and instead his line of vision fell onto the worn toes of his favorite boots, which were tucked warmly on his feet, which were propped on the ottoman that matched his chair. The points of those reminded him of something else, which the Christmas tree and the snow had also brought to the front of his mind. He closed his eyes.

****

"Hmm…where are we?"

Rod had suddenly jerked awake with a snort, pushing his long hair out of his face. He glanced around, seeing nothing but whiteness enveloping the car. Bob was in the back seat, and he was still sleeping with his forehead and nose pressed to the window. When he woke up there'd be a big red splotch there and his nose would be smashed and rosy. He'd look like a 6 foot husky Rudolph ready to guide a sleigh—or a lost rental car.

"Uh…" Was the answer from the man driving. Paul was clutching the wheel with white knuckles and trying to peer wide eyed through the windshield which kept covering with snow despite the creak and scrape of the wipers, flapping back and forth at their highest speed. Rod narrowed his eyes, not liking 'Uh' as an acceptable answer for where the hell they were.

"Jeepers, Paul! Look at you wouldya? Mr. Wonderful-I-Can't-Drive! I don't think UUHHH is on the map!"

"It's snowing!" Paul protested.

"Ya, I know—no I thought it was frosting on a cake—wouldn't you? Of course it's snowing!"

"Well you're so smart, why don't you drive!"

Paul slammed on the brakes, sending Rod crashing forward into the dash with a grunt. Bob woke up in the back seat with a snort and blinked in confusion. Paul crossed his massive arms over his chest.

"Well, maybe I will!" Rod replied, giving his head a furious nod.

"Fine, Roderick. Get out of the car and go round to my side and I'll just slide over into your seat."

"Are you outta your ever lovin' mind?" Rod shrieked. "I'm not goin' out in…"

He trailed off, narrowing his eyes at Paul who was just shaking his head, refusing to move from the drivers seat. Rod glanced back at Bob. He was rubbing at the big red patch on his forehead, from using the window as a pillow.

Grumbling Rod shoved open the door. It bounced back with a gust of wind and he shoved it again, cursing as he stepped out into the nasty weather. He slammed the door and quickly jogged to the drivers side of the car, his feet crunching against the inches of snow blanketed ground. He glanced around, trying to make out where they were, and successfully became blinded by dizzying white flakes. The longer he stood out there trying to place where they were, shivering and dancing to keep blood flowing, it occurred to him that Paul might have just pulled over on the side of a freeway which was being blizzarded in snow and ice, and that he might be smashed by a spinning car at any moment. Oh well. He grabbed the handle and pulled the door open. Paul looked up at him with a glare, and started to scoot over the center console and into the other seat.

"Ah, no you don't!" Roddy grabbed him by the collar of his shirt and the seat of his jeans.

"Hey!" Paul squawked.

"If I had to get snowed and iced on then so do you!"

Rod pulled Paul out of the car and tossed him into a heap of snow. He didn't even glance over his shoulder to see Paul spitting and sputtering and picking himself up out of the mess. He just ducked into the car and shut the door. Bob was laughing, and slapping his knee, tears streaking his cheeks. Rod turned in his seat to regard Bob with a half smile, and it only made him go off into another, louder, laughing fit. Roddy was soaked, his hair dripping and drooping around his face and his oversized ears.

A gust of icy wind and snowflakes blasted into the car, as the other side door was opened and Paul flopped into the car, and slammed the door hard enough to make the whole vehicle rattle. Now Rod and Bob were both laughing. Paul didn't seem to find the humor in the situation however.

"Just go." Paul grumbled, attempting to scrape his golden blond hair off his forehead.

The car started at a slow crawl. Paul reached around the seat and jabbed his finger at Bob, with his face set in a hard scowl, as he demanded him to stop laughing. Bob coughed and managed to swallow his laughter away. Not a few minutes later, he was snoring again, this time his head tilted back and his mouth hanging open.

"He snores like a train." Paul commented. "We oughta gag him."

"Now ain't the time for sex." Rod said, trying to squint through the crap on the windshield.

"You always gotta joke." Paul traced the tip of his finger in the fog on the window and drew nonsense squiggles. "Damn weather."

"Maybe it'll let up soon. Hey, reach back and poke Ace. I can't hear m'self think with that God awful snurggling."

Paul shook his head, and poked Bob.

****

Rod managed to get them back onto the freeway, after figuring out that somehow Paul had gotten them into the middle of nowhere. Really, it was only a miracle that Roddy had managed to get them to some where reasonable, because he had no idea where he was going, and could barely see the road in front of him. Bob was still asleep and Paul was humming, for what seemed like hours on end, and off tune to boot. It was driving the driver to a new level of annoyance as his eye twitched. Paul noticed it for the first time, and his humming went silent as he watched the muscles at the corner creases of Rod's eye tremble and pull.

"Hey, you got something in your eye."

"Yeah, your singin's in my eye." Rod grumbled.

"Huh?"

"Shut up!" Rod hollered.

"For the time of the year you ain't very jolly y'know." Paul mumbled, starting to hum again.

"Ho, if I had a coconut right now I'm tellin' you and your child-bearing hips—you'd have one upside your head!"

"Say guys, calm down." A voice mumbled from the back seat.

"Ace says to calm your ass down, Paulie." Rod said, casting a sideways glance at the blond.

"Nah, I think he was talkin' to you."

"Both of you." Bob leaned forwards and flicked Paul in the ear, and kissed Rod's cheek softly. Paul pouted and grumbled, and Rod smiled from ear to ear like the cat that got the cream.

The rest of the drive was quiet at least, except for the howling wind that beat and rocked against the car. Rod still wasn't completely sure where they were, but at least through what he could make out from the iced over windshield, through the white blur, was that they were in a pretty big city. He pulled over again, like he'd been doing periodically, and shoved Paul out to scrape off the windshield. As was becoming tradition, he protested and said Rod was due to shove him out in front of a car one of these times and he'd be sorry.

"You highly underestimate my love for ya if ya think I'd be sorry." Rod laughed, as Paul slammed the door and began to scrape at the thick caked ice.

"Come here you." Rod said lowly, after Paul was out of the car. He beckoned with a curl of his finger at the man in the back seat. Bob leaned over, craning his neck towards Rod, and when Paul ducked back into the car they were engaged in a passionate kiss. Paul grabbed Bob's ear and twisted, bringing a yelp from the big guy and successfully making him part his lips from Rod's, and sit back down.

"Hey you ugly son of a gun!" Rod jabbed his finger at Paul. "Don't touch him, that's m'body guard! I love m'body guard!"

"Blah blah." Paul retorted, moving his hand like it was a talking mouth.

At least now that Rod could see out of the windshield he could maneuver them through the city and to the nearest hotel he saw. It didn't take long for one to come into view, and Roddy was going to be very grateful to get out of the car because Paul was humming again. A big red sign with two of the letters burned out greeted them, blinking pinkish through the cloud of snow. He turned into the parking lot, slowly moving the car, as tires crunched and struggled against the snow and ice. The lot was crammed full, and they were sure they'd have to drive more to find a different place to stay. Rod said to hell with that, and parked randomly in the middle of a row, blocking in other vehicles.

The threesome grabbed their bags from the car and hurried in against the wind and the blustery weather. The walk wasn't that far, but by the time they slipped and slithered inside on wet shoes, they all felt frozen to the bone. Rod and Paul were shivering, teeth chattering, and Bob curled one under each arm, and brushed snow from Rod's hair. The three of them as one huddled unit made their way to the desk, although the loud throng of people jammed into the lobby should have been enough to tell them that all the rooms were taken.

"Sorry." The desk clerk apologized. "The weather just packed people in. There's a state of emergency, I heard. People are urged to stay off the roads, all flights are grounded at the airport too. We're bringing out blankets and pillows and you're welcome to stay here in the lobby."

The young man jerked his thumb towards the lobby which looked about as welcoming as a sardine can. But on second thought, going back outside was even less appealing, and now not only was the blizzard blotting out any chance of vision, but night was falling too.

The three of them were handed blankets and pillows and they wove their way through the sea of people until they found a free spot on the floor, near the corner of the lobby, where a tall, cheap looking Christmas tree was erected. It was so awful, the quills looked more blue than green.

Bob tossed his pillow onto the floor and sat on it, but was quickly up again to stop Paul from whacking Rod in the back of the head with his pillow. Paul was protesting, as Bob's hand wrapped around his wrist, and Bob was talking to him in hushed tones. Paul accused him of being over protective and playing favorites, to which Bob shrugged, practically just agreeing with him. Paul wrapped his blanket around himself and curled up on the floor, possibly pouting as Bob sauntered up to Rod, his boot heels clicking against the wet floor. He wrapped his arms around Rod's waist and pulled him back against his chest, smiling. Rod was looking intently at the Christmas tree, with a saddening expression on his face.

"We ain't gonna make it home for Christmas Ace." Roddy said, answering Bob's unspoken question, about what Rod was thinking of.

Bob was quiet, knowing that Rod was thinking of his wife and four kids. Bob was thinking about his own family, Elaine and Randy, and how much he loved to see his boy's face light up on Christmas morning. He could hear his shriek of delight over some special gift that he'd asked for on Santa's knee. Then, after the gifts were opened the three of them would sit on the couch with Randy tucked in the middle, licking frosting from Elaine's famous cinnamon rolls, as the fireplace crackled. Bob figured that was why Paul was in such a mood too. He wasn't too keen on missing the holiday with his wife—his high school sweetheart—and two sons. But then again, Roddy and Paul genuinely bickered most of the time, upset at each other or not. It was just their dynamic.

"Well, maybe not. But we do got each other." Bob spoke, nuzzling a little against Rod's ear.

"Gee, what a big mush." Roddy joked, pushing away from Bob a little. Bob just smiled, and curled up near Paul, attempting to make him feel better.

Rod sauntered over to the front desk again, the trickle of people rushing into the warmth of the overstuffed hotel was lessening. He asked for a phone call, and spoke with his wife and kids. Kitty was an angel, supportive and positive as ever, but the disappointment in the little voices of his children couldn't be denied. His youngest daughter cried, and when he finally hung up he had tears sliding down his cheeks too. Even the toughest man is brought down by the tears of his little girl, and when he looked back up at that gaudy Christmas tree the colored lights were blurring. He scrubbed at his eyes and sank down next to Bob, surprised that the curly headed man wasn't snoring yet.

"Where's Paul?" Roddy asked, as Bob pulled him down and curled an arm around him. Bob tossed a blanket over Rod and held him close. Roddy reached down and pulled his boots off, and tossed them over near Bob's.

"He went out to have a smoke."

"Thought he was quittin'."

"Well."

"Well, he's gonna look like the abominable snow idiot once he gets back in here, don't he know there's a blizzard goin' on out there? Jeepers."

Bob laughed. The low rumble was comforting to Roddy somehow, and made him forget the jumble of other voices mingling in the crowded lobby.

"We'll just have to warm him up when he comes back in then." Bob reasoned, his fingers ghosting over Rod's shoulders and rubbing at the tense muscles.

"Ha. He's not gonna bring his ass over here and get me all wet! No-ho!" Rod protested, leaning into Bob's perfect touches.

"He's got you wet before, and you didn't complain." Bob whispered against his ear. Rod could feel Bob's lips smirking, and knew that his cheeks were smiling with those cute dimples.

"I love it when ya talk dirty to me Ace." Rod half-joked, trying to forget the voices on the phone that were home without him.

Paul was back soon, shuddering and shivering as ice and snow dripped from his hair. His face was wind burned, and snowflakes were caught on his golden lashes as he blinked them, quickly melting to beads of water. Paul struggled with his nasty, sloppy, boots, hopping around trying to pry them from his feet, dropping hunks of snow over the floor. He finally got them both off, and sat them next to Bobs which were neatly stood up under the Christmas tree, and Rod's which were just flopped over one another how he'd tossed them. He went over to his two friends on the floor, and snuggled up next to Roddy who wrapped his blanket around the trembling blond.

"It's c-c-cold." Paul stuttered through chattering teeth.

"Yeah." Rod answered.

Bob reached over Roddy and grabbed Paul, pulling him closer, smashing Rod between the two of them like stuffing in an Oreo.

"Hey! I'd like to breathe here, ya know!" Rod protested, as both men wrapped tightly around him.

Soon, all three were toasty and warm from shared body heat. The tension and stupid bickering between Rod and Paul had diminished. Now Paul was asleep with his face nuzzled against Roddy's chest, as his fingers moved lazily through Mr. Wonderful's golden locks. Bob's arm was wrapped around him protectively, and his breath came softly against the back of Roddy's neck. Despite his joking and complaining, he loved both those guys very much. Maybe he loved one a bit more than the annoying other. At that thought, his lips kicked up into a small smile. The one he was thinking of as his favorite spoke against his ear.

"You know why I put my boots under the tree, Roddy?" Bob asked, propping himself up on one elbow.

"I don't know why you do a lot a'things Ace. Why don'tcha tell me."

Bob gave his shoulder a squeeze, and Roddy watched the dancing lights on the cheap blueish Christmas tree, and outside the snow drifted like angel wings in the darkness.

"When we were kids we used to put our shoes under the Christmas tree. Momma always had us do it, and then in the mornin' they'd be full up with candy from ol' Saint Nicky."

"Say Ace, you still believe in Santa Claus?" Rod laughed, and gently nudged Bob's belly with his elbow.

"Not me, but don't talk so loud. Paulie might over hear and he'd be devastated."

The two of them shared some chuckles, feeling better, despite their situation. Roddy rolled over, so he could face Bob. Paul protested sleepily, and buried his face against Rod's back.

"You better kiss me before you fall asleep Cowboy."

Bob's warm eyes smiled at him, and his lips pressed to his, softly tickling and caressing.

"Night Rod." Bob whispered against his lips, before breaking the kiss away.

"Night Bobby…and hey…wake me up before knucklehead gets up. That way if our boots get filled with candy we can steal his." Roddy added. "He don't need it anyway with those child-bearing hips he's got on him."

"Go to sleep!" Bob laughed heartily, and playfully smashed Roddy's face into his pillow.

****

Rod smiled, as the memory faded from his recollection. The crowded bodies of people melted away, leaving only him in his favorite chair, with pictures of his family on the mantel above the named stockings. He could hear Kitty humming, her voice always beautiful and never off key like Paul's, as she sauntered into the room and offered him a Christmas cookie or a cup of coffee, which made him think of Bob talking of Elaine's famous cinnamon rolls. He declined Kitty's offer, and she bent and pressed a kiss to the top of his head. He almost called her Bob, and luckily saved himself from such a blunder. She smiled at him, and just like the bond he and Bob had shared, it was the same with Kitty. She could tell what was on his mind, without having to ask.

"I know you miss them." She said softly. "Come to bed Rod." She pressed another kiss, this time to his lips, and then let him be as the fire began to burn low in the hearth.

His eyes went back to the family tree, which replaced the one in his memory--the ugly cheap tree in that hotel lobby, only there was one thing he had liked about it, which was missing from under the dark green branches of his own. Sighing, Rod hoisted himself from his chair, and followed his wife to bed. He was glad for her, for his children too. He loved them all so much. He crawled into bed and placed a kiss to her neck, then settled onto his own pillow. He trailed his fingers gently up and down her arm as she drifted to sleep, and he remained awake. He was still thinking, still playing that one memory over in his mind, and despite all his blessings there was still one thing he couldn't keep from missing dearly. This year, there were no boots under the Christmas tree.