In Which Fusco Receives A Christmas Present

Fusco answered his phone. After listening quietly a moment, he said, "No," firmly enough to make his son glance up at him. The person at the other end expostulated, and he said, "It's Christmas morning. I ain't leaving my kid for you. I don't care what's going on. You'll have to handle it yourself. I got a kid, and it's Christmas." He hung up and put the phone in his bathrobe pocket, sat down on the floor in the middle of shreds of wrapping paper. "Alright, kiddo. What's in that box there?"

Finch listened to the emphatic silence on the phone for a moment, then contacted Reese. "Detective Fusco is not coming, Mr. Reese. You're on your own."

"Does he think he has something better to do?"

"Yes, he does. He's celebrating Christmas with his son. As is Detective Carter, so I am not calling her."

A brief silence, then, "Alright. You'll have to do. Better hurry."

"Me? John, I'm not—"

"Just come, Harold! And bring Bear."

Bear perked up his ears when Finch looked at him and stopped gnawing on his very large Christmas rawhide bone. Finch sighed.

"Alright. Bear, get your leash." He repeated it in Dutch, which he was becoming quite proficient at, and the dog jumped up, trotted out of the office, and trotted back with his leash in his mouth. Finch sighed again. "Merry Christmas, Mr. Fusco."

Several hours later, Finch returned to his Library office minus one very expensive leather shoe and limping a little more than usual. Bear was very pleased with himself, having been allowed to ravage (just a little) the man who'd tried to attack the girl. Finch gave him a treat and fussed over him appropriately, neither too much nor too little, because he knew that if he hadn't had a highly-trained and dangerous dog with him, the man would have killed him. The man would have killed Fusco if he'd been there, who had a little boy at home to celebrate Christmas with.

Finch took off his remaining shoe and wondered what to do with it, dropped it on the floor under his desk, and sat down. He pulled up his file on Fusco, read through it carefully, nodding a few times. Mostly entirely expected. But some research was required, because, really, Finch didn't know anything about—

"Another number already, Finch?" Reese came in with an icepack on his cheek. The girl had thought he was another attacker and had gotten him good across the face with her purse before he managed to convince her otherwise.

"No, just…Isn't there a football game of some sort on New Year's Day, John?"

Reese laughed. "Yes, there is, Harold. It's called the Rose Bowl. Biggest game in college football, just about."

Of course. Nathan had invited him to watch it once. Just once. He pulled up the website and went to the ticketing area.

"You're going to a football game, Harold?"


There was a knock at the door in the middle of dinner. Fusco sighed and went to answer it. If it was anybody from work, so help him—

It was a delivery boy. "Sign, please," he said, and Fusco signed and received an manila envelope. He closed the door and went slowly back to the dining room, opening it.

"What is it, Dad?"

He shook the contents out onto the table and stared at them in shock. "It's…it's…"

A small hand reached out and picked up a ticket. "Dad! Dad! Look!"

"I'm looking, but I don't believe it."

Two tickets to the Rose Bowl, almost the best seats possible. Two plane tickets to Pasadena, California, made out in the names of Lionel Fusco and Lee Fusco. One printed-out email confirmation of a reservation for a hotel room for three nights. Lee was dancing around the apartment waving the tickets.

"We get to go to the Rose Bowl! We get to go to the Rose Bowl!"

"But I work…" Fusco grabbed his phone. "Hey, Fred. Would you check my work schedule for me for New Year's?"

"New Year's?" his unfortunately-scheduled-to-work colleague repeated. "You got it off, Lionel. Four days. How'd you get so lucky?"

But I didn't ask for it off, 'cause I got Christmas off…

His grandmother's voice went through his head. "Don't question unexpected blessings, Lionel."

He hung up the phone. "Well, kiddo, looks like we're going to the Rose Bowl for New Year's."

Lee crowed aloud. "This is the best Christmas ever!"