The chill in the air cut through her as she left the cab and stood at the foot of his apartment building. Dusk had set rather early that evening, further proof that winter was upon them as the wind rustled the trees and her cab pulled away from the sidewalk.
Her eyes ventured up to his window, slightly ajar as it always seemed to be. The lights spilled out of the glass bathing the street in their glow, welcoming her as the sounds of Vivaldi floated in the air.
He had taken a liking to classical music lately, it struck her as a little eccentric but then almost everything David Hodges did was slightly eccentric, that was part of his charm.
She pressed the entry code on the security pad, having been entrusted with the 4 digits many months earlier. They had established a ritual of cosy dinner's at each other's homes twice a month without really meaning to and despite her attempt to pretend she didn't enjoy them, they had become one of the highlights of her month.
"It's rude to show up to dinner late you know" He quipped as she came through the door.
"Well...it's lucky I'm not late then isn't it?" She smiled, sliding her coat from her shoulders.
Hodges carefully placed two plates on the little table set in the centre of the room. He was a talented cook, a fact she had been surprised to learn. While she preferred to call a takeaway when he came over, he prided himself on his wealth of culinary knowledge.
"I think you'll find I said 7.30" He remarked, nodding his head towards the clock ticking away on the kitchen wall.
Morgan rolled her eyes "My watch isn't set to Hodges time"
Hodges set all his clocks 4 minutes fast. It was his tactic to ensure he was never late for anything but it struck her as a little redundant since he always automatically corrected the time anyway.
"Well you're here now... I guess we can't all be perfect" He sat down across from her, smoothing out the napkin onto his lap and concentrating on grating parmesan cheese onto his meal.
"Somethings missing..." Morgan muttered, glancing around her surroundings as she sipped her wine.
"I can assure you, everything is present and correct. My spinach ravioli is to die for Miss Brody" He insisted, raising an eyebrow.
Morgan daintily forked a small piece of the pasta into her mouth, he was right, the flavours sparked and lit in her mouth like an explosion. Not that the food had been what she was talking about, there was a distinct lack of christmas cheer.
"Where's your Christmas Tree?!" She cried, the epiphany suddenly hitting her.
"I don't believe in Christmas Tree's Morgan" He insisted.
"You didn't have a tree growing up?" She asked, a slightly pitying tone entering her voice.
"Well...we didn't normally spend Christmas at home - so, no"
"You were a deprived child. Everyone should have a tree" She nodded, certain that she was right.
"Christmas trees are evil" Hodges declared, watching her intently for her reaction.
Morgan merely frowned in response, choosing to stare at him until he elaborated on his non-belief.
"well, 85% of all artificial trees are imported to the US from China and are made with non-biodegradeable Ployvinyl chloride - it is harmful to the environment - Christmas is killing our planet"
"So get a real one" She insisted, not at all fazed by his argument. She was more than used to him by now, he seemed to have an endless library of useless facts stored in his brain for every eventuality.
"You would have me hack down a poor defenceless tree and then watch while it sobs its pine needle tears all over my freshly waxed floors just to have it run through a shredder by new years?" Hodges huffed.
"Are you worried about the tree or your floors?" She questioned with a raised eyebrow as she ate more ravioli. Hodges raised one shoulder indicating his indifference on the subject and began refilling their wine glasses as she regarded him steadily. "Ok... get your coat!"
"What...why? I have home-made Tiramisu" Hodges defended, determined that he wasn't going out in the bitter cold winter outside.
"I have an idea. We can have the Tiramisu when we get back..." She clutched his hand and pulled him towards the door, fetching both their jackets from the hook.
"Well we haven't cleaned the plates, and it won't be as nice later..." He continued to argue until Morgan placed a finger on his lips and sent him a gentle smile.
"Come on, it will be fine. Trust me?"
Hodges hesitated but eventually shrugged his jacket on and followed her outside. She marched along the sidewalk at a fast pace obviously determined to get him wherever they were going and get him there quickly.
"Am I allowed to know where we're going?" He questioned as he caught up with her at a crossing.
"We are going to get you a tree" She smiled, clutching his hand and pulling him across the road behind her.
"I thought we already discussed this..." He huffed.
"Well we established that you don't want an artificial tree" Morgan began, continuing on her path and smiling slightly at the fact that he was still following close at her heels. He nodded definitely, determined that he was not indulging in christmas spirit at all. "and you don't want to kill a real tree..."
She turned quickly, sending him her very best smile before turning down a side street and leading him straight into a veritable forest of pine trees.
"I'm a little confused..." He said slowly, raising an eyebrow.
"This place gives you potted Christmas Trees!" She declared, almost bouncing with excitement that he clearly didn't return "You have a garden right?"
Hodges pictured the tiny patch of land beside his apartment and nodded, his brow still furrowed in confusion.
"You take it home, keep it watered and then plant it outside. It's Environmentally friendly, tree friendly, will make your garden pretty and it's Christmassy" She nodded as though her arguments were watertight and moved further into the tree forest.
"Is Christmassy even a word?" He smiled, peering around a particularly lush tree.
"Will you just pick one please?" She deadpanned with narrowed eyes "for me?"
"What's wrong with this one?" He shrugged, not even bothering to look at the rest.
"This one? Really?"
Hodges huffed dramatically and spent the next hour wandering around the lot discussing trees with her, eventually deciding on the first one they had come across and forking out a small fortune for the privilege of heaving it home and spending the rest of his life caring for it.
On the way home Morgan convinced him to loiter outside a christmas store while she spent a completely unnecessarily long amount of time choosing decorations and lights and chatting to the elderly woman behind the counter about candy cane colours. He felt suitably void of christmas cheer by the time he lugged his frozen self home.
She helped him place the tree by the window, insisting that it would get the best light from here and send christmas cheer over the city.
"Its too big" He declared, stepping back to scan the branches stretching out over the floorspace and tickling the ceiling.
"There is no such thing as a tree that is too big Mr Hodges" Morgan smiled, handing him one end of a string of lights. "we just need a stepladder"
Hodges stomped off, making a huge fuss of fetching the ladders while she rolled her eyes after him. When he returned they wound the lights through the branches. Morgan started at the top, winding the lights around and stepping over Hodges length of wire as he wound from the bottom up. Moving down she ducked out of the way of him with a chuckle and took great satisfaction on the smile on his face and the sparkle in his eye.
"You're having fun!" She declared, eyeing him suspiciously from the other side of the tree.
"I am not" Hodges huffed, passing her a handful of shiny baubles unable to hide the smile tugging at his lips.
They began hanging them on the outstretched branches of the tree, the colours dancing in the fading light. When they had run out of decorations Hodges stood with the star in his hands, gazing up at their creation.
"We didn't do half bad" Morgan declared, proud of their efforts.
"It's beautiful" He whispered, glancing at her quickly.
"Feeling Christmassy yet?" She smiled as he handed her to star and held the stepladder for her to climb up. After placing the star Morgan slid down the steps and sat on a step halfway down, meeting his eye, trapped in the space between his arms. With a ceremonious cough, he pressed the switch in his hands and the tree lit up like a million stars.
"I got you a present" She declared, almost hypnotised by the lights as she fished the small box from her pocket and passed in to him.
"I might have got you one too" He confessed, fetching the parcel from inside his desk drawer. She tore open the paper, her eyes drinking every detail of the intricately carved necklace he had bought for her. She looked overjoyed and Hodges began to wonder if the feeling of pleasure and contentment he felt at the happiness of another person might be called christmas spirit.
"It's amazing" She sighed, pressing a gentle kiss to his cheek. "Open yours"
Hodges began to carefully peel the paper from the box, her eyes trained on him the whole time, brimming with excitement. Inside was a blown glass Bauble, complete with gold leaf personalization.
'Here's your christmas spirit, love Morgan' sparkled on the surface in ornate lettering and he smiled despite himself.
"See" She declared "Christmassy"
Hodges met her eye, the moment gaining magnitude quicker than he could keep up with. He folded his arms around her, pulling her into a warm, intimate embrace and feeling himself enveloped by the feeling of her body against him and the scent of her hair around him.
"I still don't think that's a word Morgan"