Author's Note: So for those of you familiar with season 3 of "Once and Again," I always felt there was a scene missing from the Christmas episode "Pictures." I feel like there should have been a bit of the Jessie/Katie storyline in that episode somewhere, so this is basically what my take would have been on the "missing" Jessie/Katie scene in the episode "Pictures."
Summary: In honor of the holiday season, it's a Jessie/Katie one-shot holiday fic. Basically it's Jessie and Katie and Christmas fluff. Nothing too angsty. Enjoy!
There was simply too much going on tonight at Jessie's house. It seemed as though the madness wouldn't subside any time soon. Judy and her boyfriend, Sam, were here with Sam's son, Jamie - a seriously annoying child with rather sinister attributes, but Jessie refused to think anything badly about him. Obviously, being a fellow child from a somewhat broken home, he had is reasons for acting out. Jessie tried to steer clear of all that drama and focused on perfectly assembling her gingerbread house.
They were all stuck here under this roof due to the severe blizzard outside. It was Christmas Eve and Jessie tired so hard to get into the spirit of things, but it was rather difficult to do amongst the melee. Eli was asleep on the couch, so he had no idea of the commotion going on at their dad's house. Apparently Tiffany went into labor and the midwife was late due to the blizzard. Thankfully, everything turned out okay and Jessie was excited to meet the new baby girl. Unfortunately, it wouldn't be happening any time soon since this storm wasn't letting up at all.
Jessie was beginning to feel restless. There were only so many gumdrops and licorice straws she could place on the gingerbread house without it looking too gaudy. She reached for her phone hoping the phone lines weren't out when it rang before she could even dial.
"Hey Katie! I was just about to call you."
"Where are you? I can barely hear you?"
"Um…I'm actually a few blocks away from your house."
"You are?" Jessie stood up and began pacing as the static on the phone was becoming increasingly louder.
"Yeah, I wanted to come say hi, but I have a little problem. My car broke down. I can't get a hold my parents and I don't have AAA and I'm kind of just sitting here watching the snow pile up."
"What street are you on? I'll come get you."
"Jess, I will not have you going out in a blizzard. Just come and dig me out of my car tomorrow."
"Katie, I'm coming to get you whether or not you tell me where you are. So I suggest you tell me."
Katie sighed. "Corner of Carhart and Devon. I have my hazard lights on."
"I'll be right there."
"Please put on an extra jacket and be careful!"
"Okay mom." Jessie hung up the phone, put on her boots and grabbed her coat from the closet.
"Where do you think you're going?" asked Karen, who appeared from the kitchen.
"Just down the block. I have to go get something."
"I don't think so. Have you seen how bad it is out there?"
"Mom, I'll be five minutes. Ten at most. If I don't make it back by then, you can send a search party." Before her mother could argue, Jessie grabbed a second coat and was out the door.
The air was bitterly cold the moment she stepped outside. The snow was blowing in her face, making it difficult to see. Visibility was at an all-time low. At the rate the snow was falling, Jessie could barely see two feet in front of her. The snow crunched beneath her feet as she made the treacherous trek down the street, turning left at Carhart. The cold was beginning to seep into her skin through her coat. Not only could she see her breath from the cold, she practically saw her life flash in front of her. When she spotted Katie's car nearly buried under fresh snow, she picked up her pace. Katie opened the car door and greeted Jessie with a smile.
"My God, are you a sight for sore eyes!" They embraced and Jessie threw the extra coat around her friend.
"What were you thinking driving in this weather?"
Katie shrugged. "I wanted to see you."
Jessie's felt her heart palpitate upon hearing Katie's reason for daring to brave a blizzard.
The wind chill was burning their faces by the time they made it back to Jessie's house. It took three tries for Jessie to open the front door due to her hand violently shaking from the cold. Once they got in, the door was slammed shut and the warmth from the house was a welcomed phenomenon for both girls. Jessie removed her coat, along with Katie's and the girls made a beeline for the fireplace.
"Thank you so much for coming to get me."
"You think I'd leave you out there in the cold on Christmas Eve?" asked Jessie. "I think the cold has gotten to your head. What was so important that you had to see me tonight?"
Katie stood rubbing her hands in front of the crackling fire, then reached into her pocket and pulled out a little wrapped box. "I wanted to give you your Christmas gift." Katie handed her the gift without looking away from the fire. She was hoping Jessie would think her red face was due to the heat and not the fact that she was blushing uncontrollably.
Jessie grinned as she took the gift. "Well this better be worth risking your life over." She headed over to the brightly lit Christmas tree and grabbed a wrapped present from underneath. "Well, since we're exchanging gifts…" She handed the box to Katie, trying to hide hear eager anticipation.
"I'm really hoping this is the Britney Spears dress-up kit I've been dying to have," said Katie.
Jessie laughed. "Uh…not quite. Sorry."
"Damn. Well maybe next year."
"Jess? Are you home yet?" Karen came out to the living room from the back of the house. "Oh, hi Katie."
"Hi Mrs. Sammler. Merry Christmas."
"Merry Christmas to you, too."
"Katie's car broke down a few blocks away," explained Jessie.
"I hope it's okay that I'm here. It was just too far for me to walk home," said Katie.
"Of course it's okay! I'm just glad you're safe. I've set Sam and Judy up in Eli's room. Jamie's in the den and Eli agreed to take the couch."
Katie looked over at Eli, who was sprawled out on the couch, still sound asleep. His mouth was half open and he was snoring rather loudly.
"Sexy," remarked Katie.
Jessie giggled. "Yeah. He's got that charm about him."
"So Jessie, you girls will be okay in your room?" asked Karen.
"Yeah, that should be fine," replied Jessie, still clinging to her present, curious about what Katie got her.
"Okay, well I'm off to bed. Don't stay up too late." Karen kissed Jessie goodnight and gave Katie a hug. "Katie, your parents know you're here, right?"
"Yeah, I told them where I was going, but I'll call them just to let them know I'm staying over."
"Okay, goodnight girls."
Katie was finally warm enough to pull herself away from the fire. She examined the Christmas tree and all its strategically placed ornaments and twinkling lights. There was no real theme to the ornaments - some appeared to be fairly new while others seemed to be somewhat ancient. She brought her hand up to closely observe one ornament that caught her attention. It read 'Baby's First Christmas' and had a photo of a baby girl underneath the writing. Katie smiled and looked back at Jessie.
"Is this you?"
"Yeah. Wasn't I adorable?" Jessie was crumbling up some newspaper to add to the fire.
"Yeah, you were. What happened?"
Jessie threw one of the wadded up newspapers at Katie. "No insults on Christmas Eve. It's not allowed."
"Duly noted. My apologies."
Jessie watched as Katie's eyes lit up discovering every new decoration on the tree. The sparkling lights illuminated her face in a way that revealed a certain sense of longing in Katie's eyes. Jessie couldn't quite place it. She just continued to watch her, awestruck.
"Did you want to see the gingerbread house I made?" asked Jessie, immediately wishing she had taken that question back after hearing how juvenile and lame it sounded.
Katie looked at Jessie with a sense of wonderment in her eyes. "Yeah, is this it here?"
"Yeah…it's stupid, I know. But I like to make them every year. I kind of have this affinity for Christmas and holiday…things."
"It's nice to have traditions. Shows a sense of stability," replied Katie with a hint of sadness behind her eyes.
"Well, there's another tradition I have. Maybe you can be a part of it."
"I watch 'It's A Wonderful Life' every Christmas Eve. Trite, I know, but I'm a sucker for it."
Katie smiled at Jessie, her eyes focusing solely on the younger girl. "Sounds good to me."
Emerging from the bathroom, Katie walked into Jessie's room feeling a little uncomfortable. Seeing as how she had to borrow Jessie's pajamas, they were a little small on her five-foot-eight frame. The pants came up like high waters and she kept tugging on the shirt and pulling it down because it kept revealing her midriff. Jessie took one look at Katie and started laughing.
"Well don't you just scream sex?"
"Very funny," replied Katie as she jumped into the bed and pulled the covers over her to save herself from further embarrassment.
"I think it's cute," informed Jessie as she pushed play on her dvd player. She joined Katie in her bed, but was a little unsure of how to position herself. The bed wasn't exactly roomy, but they were both able to fit on it without one of them falling out. She opted for the position of leaning her back against the pillows and folding her hands on top of her stomach, which felt a little stiff, but for some reason, Jessie had a hard time allowing any part of her body to touch Katie.
"I can sleep on the floor if you want," offered Katie.
"No, no. This is fine."
The dark room soon filled with a flickering light from the black and white movie. By the time Jimmy Stewart made his appearance, the girls were a little more comfortable. Jessie's arm was touching Katie's, and it wasn't long before she leaned her weary head on Katie's shoulder. Katie, meanwhile, was taking all of this in stride. She did her best not to move an inch, so as not to disrupt Jessie's position. At this rate, there was no chance of her falling asleep tonight, especially since Jessie hadn't opened her gift yet.
"Just seeing if you're still awake."
Jessie smiled and caught herself nuzzling her head into Katie's neck. "Yeah. I'm awake." She closed her eyes and listened as George Bailey sang Buffalo Gals. "I'm glad you're here."
Jessie nodded. "It's nice." Then, she made a bold move as she slowly moved her hand underneath the blanket and gently placed it on top of Katie's hand. She nervously waited for Katie's hand to jerk away, but it never happened.
Katie swallowed hard, trying not to let her nerves show. She didn't know what was happening or why Jessie suddenly decided to take her hand. Was Jessie overanalyzing this move as much as she was? She began to feel warm underneath the blankets. The feel of Jessie's skin against hers was proving to be too much for the young girl who, she had only recently realized, was in love with her best friend. She breathed deep, trying to calm her anxiety.
"I never got a chance to open your gift."
Jessie sat up. "Oh that's right! And I haven't opened yours, either. The one that you risked life and limb to get me." She got up and walked over to her dresser. "I left them here."
She handed Katie her gift. "You first."
After tearing away the paper, Katie was captivated and deeply moved by what she held in her hands.
"It's an original vinyl. With her signature on the back."
Katie flipped over the record and sure enough, found Billie Holiday's autograph on the back of it. She looked at Jessie in complete shock.
"How did you…" She carefully perused the entire album. "How did you get this?"
"I have my ways."
"This is extraordinary. I don't even know what to say."
"The look on your face is reaction enough. I'm glad you like it."
"I love it." Katie looked at Jessie, who was leaning up against her dresser and holding the gift Katie had given to her. "And now I'm gonna feel like a complete jackass when you open that."
"Don't be silly."
"I'm being totally serious. Nothing can top what you just gave me and I'm so sorry."
Jessie was quite curious about the contents of the 4X4 inch box Katie had hand delivered to her. She peeled away the snowman paper and opened up the white cardboard box only to find that it was empty inside. Jessie cracked a smile. "Katie the jokester strikes again."
Katie half-heartedly returned the smile. "Come here. Sit down."
Jessie obliged and sat down on the bed next to her friend.
"The reason there's nothing in the box is because no matter what I thought to get you, it wasn't enough. Nothing I could find was good enough for you because…well…in my eyes, you're perfect. And I couldn't think of the perfect gift for you because gifts like that are the stuff of gods. And I'm a mere mortal. So what's a mortal like me to do? But the one thing I have to offer you that the gods can't is human emotion." Katie adjusted herself to face Jessie. "I wrapped the empty box because I wanted you to have something to unwrap. It wouldn't be Christmas without wrapping paper, but my gift can't really be wrapped. So, here goes. Jessie, you're the greatest thing that's ever happened to me and I'm so thankful that you've come into my life. Every memory I've created with you have been the best moments of my life. Even the not-so-great, things manage to somehow be okay when you're around. Our boring homework and study sessions, my falling out with Sarah, my car breaking down…I love it all because you were with me during all that. You have this way making things that suck…suck less." Katie rolled her eyes at her remark. "Wow, real articulate, Singer. My point is, you didn't have to get me this album. I mean, I love it and of course I'll keep it because it's pretty remarkable. But you being in my life and your friendship is the only gift I could ever want."
Katie's heart was pounding out of her chest. She was about to lose her nerve and before Jessie had a chance to wipe the enthralled, dreamy look off her face, Katie knew that it was now or never. By the glimmering light of the TV set, Katie brought her hand up to move some strands of hair out of Jessie's eyes behind her ear. Her hand lingered behind the younger girl's neck as she slowly leaned in while ever-so-gently guiding Jessie's neck forward. She was met with no hesitation as their lips softly grazed each other. Shockwaves were sent though both girls as the increasing friction between their lips grew heavier with each passing moment. Jessie's mouth moved rhythmically against Katie's as she let out a soft moan. Katie's entire body shuddered as a direct result of the charge that passed through them. As Katie traced the smoothness of Jessie's lips, an excited tinge ignited into a fire in the pit of her stomach making her feel something she had never felt in all her sixteen years.
As they pulled apart, Katie's mouth lingered on Jessie's lower lip for a brief moment, memorizing the softness of that one small body part of Jessie's she had craved to touch with her own lips for so long. Out of breath and near delirium, Katie studied Jessie's every move. Her facial movements, her body language, her breathing pattern…searching for any sign of how she felt.
Jessie shyly looked away. She brought her hand up to lightly touch her own face, trying to wrap her head around the situation.
The silence was deafening to Katie, who nervously moistened her lips and bit down on her lower lip waiting for a response.
Jessie crawled back over to her side of the bed and got underneath the covers. "We should get some sleep. It's late."
Katie's eyes lowered. Feeling defeated, she joined Jessie under the blankets making it a point to not touch her. She faced the wall, away from Jessie as Jessie lay on her back, looking up. Katie tried to fight off the inevitable tears that usually come with being rejected. She seriously contemplated going back out into the storm and sleeping in her car. Anything would be more comfortable than this. But before she could entertain another thought about leaving, Jessie turned to lay on her side facing Katie's back. Katie could feel the other girl's breath on her neck and closed her eyes to absorb this one last memory with her friend. After what happened, it seemed pretty obvious that they wouldn't be seeing much more of each other. Katie had to make the situation right. She had nothing left to lose now.
"Sshhhh. It's okay," said Jessie.
"No. It's not. I really shouldn't have-"
"Katie, it's okay," whispered Jessie.
Katie felt every knot in her stomach become undone as she felt Jessie's hand resting on her hip, slowly stroking her skin. Soon, that same hand gripped Katie's waist and didn't let go. Jessie pulled the older girl in closer to her.
"Merry Christmas, Katie."
While wrapped in Jessie's embrace, Katie smiled to herself and managed to get out three words before sleep overtook her. "Merry Christmas, Jess."