Title: Christmas Lights and Snow Moments
Disclaimer: The characters of "Roswell" belong to Jason Katims, Melinda Metz, WB, and UPN. They are not mine and no infringement is intended.
Summary: It's coming up to Christmas and it's time to pull names for the office Secret Santa, put up the Christmas decorations and attend the work Christmas party. Liz Parker is used to being alone for Christmas, but will this year change everything?
Friday December 11th 2009
I let out a soft sigh as I took a seat at my desk on Friday morning. It was only a couple of weeks until Christmas, yet I had a ton of work to do before then and barely enough time to do it in. I shook my head as I glanced over the pile of notes and article drafts scattered across my workstation, wondering how on earth I was going to tackle it all in such a short space of time. Of course, it didn't help that my office mates included the likes of Max Evans and his accomplices Pete and Sam, who seemed to view this job as one big joke and never actually appeared to do any work whatsoever… just like right now, for example, where they were currently sitting around Max's computer screen debating the cup size of Amy Winehouse's newly enhanced assets.
"Deck the halls with boughs of holly," sang Maria DeLuca jauntily, interrupting my inner musings as she skipped into the office with two steaming hot cups of coffee in her hands. "How are we all on this lovely winter morning?"
Across the room, Max rolled his eyes and muttered to Pete beside him, "It should be illegal to be that chirpy so early in the morning."
"You have a problem over there, Evans?" retorted Maria as she handed one of the coffees to me, which I took from her with a grateful smile.
Max shared a smirk with his co-worker, before pasting an innocent expression onto his face and replying sweetly, "Of course not, DeLuca."
I rolled her eyes at him as I took a sip of coffee. Why couldn't Max and his little followers just take their jobs seriously for once? They might only be journalists for our small newspaper, but this job was worthwhile and provided great experience for the future. I had dreams of writing for one of the big national papers one day and I was eager to work hard and make a name for myself here, but the guys just seemed to think the job was one big doss-around opportunity; in the two years we'd been working together in this office I didn't think I'd ever seen them actually doing any serious work.
"Good," replied Maria pointedly, as she took a seat at her desk, which was next to mine and began arranging her paperwork.
"How was your weekend?" I leaned across my desk to ask her. "Mike have good time at your parents' house?"
"Oh, yeah," deadpanned Maria. "He just loved having to spend the weekend making small talk with my mom about her cookery adventures and then sitting through the ball game on TV with my dad."
I let out a laugh at Maria's face; anyone who knew Michael Guerin knew he was decided not a baseball fan.
"Yeah," Maria rolled her eyes. "And he's got to go through it all again at Christmas too… they've invited him to spend the holiday with us as he hasn't really got anyone else."
"Good luck with that," I teased with a grin.
"I'm looking forward to it," replied Maria sarcastically. "So, anyway," she nudged me, "what are your plans for Christmas? Still spending the holiday here in Long Island?"
"Yeah," I nodded. "It's not like I'd really have anyone to spend Christmas with if I flew home… Mom's off on some cruise with her latest boyfriend and Dad is going to be working over the holiday."
"Aww, hon, tell me you're not gonna be alone for Christmas? You know I'd stay here with you if I could."
"Hey, it's okay," I insisted. "Really. I quite like the peace and quiet."
"But you know, you're always welcome to spend Christmas with us," Maria replied with a gentle smile.
I shook my head, "I'll be fine, Maria. Honestly. Besides, you've got Michael coming for Christmas anyway."
"Well, if you're sure…"
I was definitely sure. Christmas has never been the best time of year for me, especially after Daniel… and everything that happened afterwards.
No, it was easier all around if I just spent the holiday here, in my apartment, as I've done for the past two years.
"Okay, everyone, listen up," called Carrie from downstairs as she made a big entrance into the office, with a Santa hat on her head and carrying a red plastic bucket with gold tinsel around the top. "Has everyone put their name in for the Secret Santa draw? If not, you'd better do it now, 'cause we're gonna draw names in the next five minutes."
There was a quick shuffling as the last couple of people took sheets of paper from Carrie, scribbled down their names and folded the sheets before dropping them into the bucket.
"Okay, then, everyone ready?"
"Ooh, I hope I get Jessica from HR," piped up Sam eagerly from his desk next to Max's. "I know exactly what to get her."
"Oh, I bet you do," smirked Max with a wink.
Jessica, the tall blonde who worked downstairs in Human Resources was known for being rather flirtatious and adventurous when it came to the opposite sex and I could just guess what was going through in Sam's head at the prospect of pulling her name out of the draw.
"Right then, here we go," said Carrie as she moved around the room, offering the bucket to everyone in turn. "Now, you all know the rules: one, no telling anyone who you've got – this is strictly confidential; two, the maximum spend limit is fifty dollars; and three, we'll be giving out the presents at the Christmas party on the twenty-third, so I need everyone's gifts in by the twenty-second."
There were a few half-hearted murmurs of agreement, as everyone focused on unfolding their pieces of paper to discover whose name they had picked. My heart sank and I tried not to let my reaction show on my face as I opened mine and read the black scrawl written there: Bob Johnson.
Bob was a stout, grey-haired man of about sixty years old who spent his days sitting at the desk in the corner hand-writing the obituaries. He'd been with the paper since it was established over twenty-five years ago and had yet to learn how to use a computer properly… which meant that someone else always had to type up his work ready for publication. He wasn't a bag guy, as such, but he was kind of standoffish and grumpy and no one really knew all that much about him; which meant it was going to be very difficult to find a suitable Secret Santa present for him.
Glancing around the office, I saw everyone else trying to be discreet about their Secret Santa choices. It was obvious that some of them were desperate to discuss who they had with their friends, but were trying very hard not to open their mouths.
"So?" hissed Maria, from my right. "Who have you got?"
"I'm not telling you," I retorted. "It's against the rules, remember?"
"Aww, come on, Liz…"
"No way," I chuckled at her pleading expression. "It's a Secret Santa, remember?."
"Spoilsport," she pouted, but rolled her eyes and turned back to her desk with a sigh.
Following suit, I turned back to my desk, folding up the paper with Bob's name on and sliding it into my jacket pocket as I tried to figure out what on earth I was going to buy for him. As I began organising my paperwork ready to start the day I glanced up to find Max sitting at his desk across the room, watching me with an odd look on his face. I narrowed my eyes and shot him a pointed glare, not appreciating being ogled in the office, especially by one of the three sex-crazed idiots who occupied that side of the room, and he lowered his gaze, returning to his computer screen.
Tuesday December 15th 2009
"So, I was thinking," started Maria, as we stood in line at the cafeteria downstairs waiting to buy lunch. "That I want to take Michael to Midnight Mass at my parents' church on Christmas Eve."
"Yeah?" I wondered, reaching for a plate as we moved along the line.
"Yeah," she nodded. "But I'm not sure he's gonna go for it."
I frowned, "Why not?"
"Well, he's not very religious and I'm not sure he'll want to go with me," explained Maria as we grabbed some food and took it to the cashier. "But at the same time, it's a family tradition and I want to share it with him, you know?"
"Yeah," I agreed, carrying my tray over to our usual table. Maria followed me and we took a seat. "I get that."
I reached for my fork and dug into the pasta on my plate, trying to ignore the tightness I felt in my chest at the thought of Christmas.
Maria frowned and then leaned over to pat my arm sympathetically, "You okay? I know the holidays can be hard for you."
"I'm fine," I brushed her off with a shake of my head as I concentrated on my food. "Look," I changed the subject back to Michael again, "I really think that if you explain why going to Midnight Mass is so important to you and why you want Michael to go with you, he'll be fine with it?"
"Yeah, I mean, if he knows how important it is to you, I'm sure he'll agree to go."
"Yeah… yeah, I think you might be right," she nodded, looking a bit more chirpy now as she tucked into her own lunch. "Thanks, Liz."
"No problem." I gave her a small smile.
We ate in relative silence for the next few minutes before Maria spoke up again, "Hey, you know what I caught on TV last night? A Christmas Story! You remember that film?"
"Yeah, I do," I nodded, a wistful smile appearing on my face. "I used to watch that film every year when I was a kid. God, you know what I always loved about it? That scene right at the end when Ralphie's Mom and Dad sit by the window with just the Christmas lights on and watch the snow falling outside."
"Really? That's your favourite part? Not the Ovaltine or 'You'll shoot your eye out' or the little brother with the coat and he can't put his arms down?"
"Yeah," I let out a soft sigh as I remembered the warm feeling I always used to get when I watched it. "When I was little, it always made me think of my parents and how in love and happy they were together, but then Daniel died and they split up and things were just...they were never the same, you know?"
"I know, honey," Maria said, reaching over and patting my arm in support. I moved away by taking another bite of my sandwich. Pity wasn't what I was going for right then.
"Anyway," I continued, "there was just something about that scene that I really liked. The sense of family, of togetherness, you know? The tree was lit, the boiler was quiet, the next door neighbour's dogs were asleep. Everything was perfect there for a moment. Every time it snowed at Christmas, I felt like that kind of moment was out there being had by some other family right at that instant. It's sort of stupid, but that's why it's my favourite part of the movie. Like, maybe if I can capture that again someday, with the snow and the family and the tree and the calmness, maybe things can start to be good again."
"Aww, Liz…" teased Maria, although when I looked up from my food to give her a dirty look, I saw a softness in her eyes and a small smile playing on her lips. "Well I hope that one day you can have your own Christmas lights and snow moment."
"Yeah, well," I rolled my eyes, "I don't even have a tree this year and as for the guy, well, you know…. So it doesn't look like it's gonna happen anytime soon."
"Hey, don't be so hard on yourself, Lizzie. I bet there are plenty of men out there who'd jump at the chance to be with you."
"God, that makes me sound like I'm easy or something, Maria," I scoffed.
"No, not easy, Liz," she just smiled at me secretively and shook her head, before turning back to her food again.
I just watched her curiously for a moment, trying to figure out what she had meant by that, but her attention was solely focused on her lunch now and I gave a sigh, realising that I wasn't going to get any more out of her today.