title/ (untitled) Java Jane's

pairing-keywords/ F/L friendship

rating/ K to M for language

summary/ it's too short for a summary, just read it

notes/ response to the 11/5/03 fifteen minute challenge. I took much more than the allotted time, (though time spent writing was indeed about 15 mins) and all I had to do was use the words: Disaster/Java/fuzzy bunnies/immaculate conception

warnings-spoilers/ uh, 2 bad words. Tiny reference to MOTC but takes place out of the timeline, since F and L only had one Christmas together

disclaimer/ not mine. I can't even imagine the last time CC thought about these characters though. And yeah, I stole a pun from Daria's 'Sick Sad World.'

"This is a fucking disaster," Lara moaned into her steaming disposable cup of coffee.

"Come on, it could be worse," said Frank in his best 'I'm not a cynic or at least less of one than you' voice as he took up residence on the wooden stool beside her. They were sitting at a bar in the front windows of Java Jane's, the only eatery currently open. The coolness that seeped through the glass and rushed through the door when opened was more than balanced by the extreme temperature of the shop.

"Here's my thing," she said with a slight inflection of an eyebrow to indicate she was no longer solely bitching. "Can you honestly tell me that you don't mind spending more hours of your life than necessary here in Nowhere, Michigan, waiting in vain for the roads to go from suicidal to merely extremely life threatening so we can slide along to the airport – almost an hour from here under normal conditions - and wait again while they deice the plane? Not to mention the time we wasted investigating in the first place. The whole thing - well, not the whole thing, but this entire case - was ludicrous from the start." She paused to pull off a piece of a muffin she'd bought.

"Immaculate conception," Frank sighed, and she rolled her eyes, popping the bit of muffin into her mouth.

Frank drank a gulp of coffee and watched the few remaining snowflakes the blizzard was managing to spit out.

"I don't know about all that," Lara said, swallowing. "But talk about immaculate confection. Here, try some," she said, pushing the plate further toward him. Frank hesitated only a moment and looked at her before tearing off his own hunk. He had to agree it was much better than he expected, even after her selling of it.

"So tell me," Lara leaned in and asked as he was still chewing. "Have you finished your Christmas shopping yet?"

"Almost," he said simply.

"Figures," she nodded, sipping her coffee.

"Is that's all that's been bothering you?" he asked straight faced. "Shame. You've got three days." He paused. "Though, if you remember anything the Group has taught you, you have a few months until the actual anniversary of the birth. Certainly your friends and acquaintances will understand if you take several additional months to complete your shopping, if you politely explain the fallacy of their calendars to each and every one of them."

"Yeah, they'd probably invite me to have some left over eggnog at that point," Lara replied, catching his joke. "But the problem is with the retailers. Do you know how hard it is to find, say fuzzy bunny slippers in April?" she teased.

The words were hardly out of her mouth when he replied. "You mean around Easter time?"

"Dammit, good point."

"You actually got a request for bunny slippers?" he asked, immediately wishing he hadn't. Their personal lives were something they just didn't discuss for fear of making their work too difficult and their friendship too close.

She deflected it easily. "Naw, it was just the first thing to come to my mind." He accepted it, nodded and she took a sip of coffee. "Honestly," she continued, not looking at him, "I don't do a lot of Christmas giving... or celebrating."

He looked at her. The background noise faded into a buzz and the heat became unbearable.

She broke the silence with a blunt "you going to eat that?" indicating the remaining crumble of their shared muffin with a pointed finger.

"It's all yours," he said, standing to retrieve their coats.

They dressed and stepped into a cold that was welcome after such heat. Frank held the door as Lara stepped through and as she did he noticed that she bent just slightly, as if thanking him nonverbally. "Lara," he said suddenly, just outside the doorway. "Do something for you, at least." She nodded, almost undiscernibly, in nearly the same bobbing thank you motion, and continued shuffling to the car.

He noticed how lofty and free her breath became as soon as it was released. How her cheeks reddened to the fierce wind. How the persistent snowflakes shone like jewel drops when they settled on her hair. And most of all he noticed how she was almost smiling.