Mistletoe '05: Lights On Faith

Chris woke slowly and painfully, his head pounded, his tongue no longer seemed to fit his mouth and every bone in his body ached. With considerable effort he forced his body to straighten out and his eyes to focus.

It was all still there, the tree; the tree they had picked out together the day after Thanksgiving. He'd gone back and cut it the week before Christmas, just as they'd planned, on his own. He'd put up the tree and trimmed it alone. The ornaments were a mixture of his, Buck's and new ones they'd purchased together. It was the first time he'd unwrapped the old ornaments since he'd lost Sarah and Adam. Some of the glass baubles were really old, Sarah had inherited them from her mother, others were from Chris' grandmother, discovered in the attic after he inherited the house. They were packed in shoeboxes, each one wrapped in tissues or sheets of kitchen roll. After six years locked away in the attic it was an odd feeling - taking them out once more. He remembered the last time he'd used them, the first Christmas Adam had really been able to appreciate and participate in. Remembering Sarah's tuition he'd carefully hung the long thin ornaments where there were gaps in the branches.

While the Larabee decorations were all either old or expensive and tasteful, Buck's were not. He had an eclectic collection of decorations, some were tacky (to say the least) others just eccentric, most were cheap, though here and there he had come across unusual and probably expensive items, some were even home-made. Chris had been anticipating hearing the stories behind the chains of gold macaroni, the glitter covered cardboard bells and the origami stars made of old wrapping paper. In particular he wanted to know about the small doll, which he discovered lovingly packed in an old chocolate box, protected by layers of tissue paper from a Las Vegas lingerie shop. She had golden wings made from card, her bodice was made from old parcel ribbon and she was wearing a skirt of cheep purple satin under a gold paper doily.

In the past six years, while Buck had continued to celebrate the holidays with gusto in his apartment, both before and after JD arrived, Chris had merely gone through the motions. After Team Seven were formed he'd agreed to host a Christmas get together, but aside from putting a string of white lights on to the fir tree that grew conveniently close to the barn and setting up the small number of Christmas cards that were delivered to the house - as opposed to the office - on the mantle, he made no more acknowledgement that it was anything other than one of their regular Sunday gatherings. Not this year, not now he and Buck were together.

No one was more surprised than they were, when friendship, long and well tested, had turned to love. While Chris had figured out long ago that Buck swung both ways and was very happy that way, Chris was as straight as an arrow - or so he thought at the time. Looking back, he realised that his figuring out about Buck's preferences had coincided with meeting Sarah. Whatever curiosity he had - and his first reaction was curiosity not revulsion - had been lost in his passion for Sarah and his devotion to Adam. Since then he'd loved and grieved for his family, and in grief there was no room for love. When he was finally ready to love again he looked around and there was Buck, always there, always supportive, his friendship ever constant, despite the many reasons Chris had given him to desert over the years.

Despite their long friendship, they were still in the early stages of their relationship, the love was all encompassing, the sex hot, raunchy and frequent, and to their joint amazement they were still finding things out about one another. Buck hadn't pushed for a 'full on' Christmas, like the ones he and JD had shared back at his old apartment, though it was clear that was what he wanted, so Chris took it upon himself to make the first move.

"I was thinking I'd get the old Christmas trimmings down from the attic, maybe have a tree in the house this year," he announced, during the Thanksgiving football half time show.

"Are you sure? You don't need to, not just for me."

That had just made Chris love Buck even more and make him twice as determined.

"Sure I'm sure, we can use yours as well. We'll most likely need to get some new lights for the inside tree, the ones I've got were pretty old anyway and haven't been used in six years."

"Well if you're sure, that'd be great, I know this fantastic place to get lights!"

And that was it, Buck was off and running, hence the Friday trip into the hills behind the ranch to choose a tree - Buck had tied an old red bandanna to it's trunk so they'd be sure to find it again later. Then there were the new lights to choose. By the time they were exiting the 'Everyday is Christmas Day Emporium' they had two strings of a hundred white lights for the tree, nets of lights for the windows, multi coloured lights for the kitchen, blue lights to string along the porch roof and a set to hang behind the bed.

"Think of all the time we spend there, it'd be a shame not to decorate," Buck had purred in his ear as he picked up the box.

Had Chris known these particular lights came in the form of red stars that flashed in a rhythm that was suspiciously close to 'throbbing' he might had put his foot down, but truth be told he was enjoying himself. For the first time in six years he was actually looking forward to Christmas. Needless to say Buck couldn't leave the all year Christmas shop with just lights, in the end they had three large bags of goodies to tote home in the Ram.

This happiness lasted just a week. Director Travis called Special Agent Larabee and told him Special Agent Wilmington had be 'requisitioned' by the DEA down on the Texas Louisiana border. They needed a replacement for an undercover agent who'd gone down with appendicitis just as it looked like the operation was all coming together.

"No way!" Chris had responded. "You know how I feel about my men working for other agencies."

If even one member of Team Seven were involved Chris insisted all the team were part of the operation. Since this didn't go down well with likes of the DEA and the FBI, not to mention other branches of the ATF - mainly because Team Seven had a way of taking over any operation they were involved with - Team Seven were not often called upon to work for others. Travis always said the phrase 'don't work or play well with others' could have been written for them.

"Ezra and Josiah are already undercover, we can't pull them out now, they've put too much into this case. Nathan has a court date on at the end of the month, Vin's teaching a course all next week, we can't just head on down to Texas for who knows how long right now."

"Buck will be going on his own," Travis had stated firmly. "I don't like it either, but there really is no one else who can do this on short notice. We all work for the Federal government and this is a big operation, I'm sorry, there really is no one else."

It turned out that federal agents, experienced at working undercover, who could pass for a red neck 'good ol' boy' with little or no preparation and drive a big semi truck were in short supply. Buck had got his truck licence in the army and then had the foresight to keep it current. In the past it had proved quite useful, now it was looking more like a curse - at least to Chris. Telling the other members of the team about their new relationship status hadn't been a problem, they had been confident in their friend's acceptance and discretion - a confidence that wasn't misplaced - but that was as far as it went, Travis didn't know. Telling his boss he couldn't let Buck head down to Texas alone because he loved him just wasn't an option.

Travis' parting words, 'They assured me it won't take more than a couple of weeks.' now sounded hollow.

Buck was deep under cover, with no way to call home safely, he had sporadic contact with the DEA at best, all Chris knew for sure was that the bust was going down on Christmas Eve. He'd made sure he had everything they needed for Christmas by the 24th; he kept his cell phone with him at all times. When the call came, he was in the barn.

"Hi it's me," Buck greeted breezily.

"Are you okay?"

"Sure, fine. Kind of stuck down here in Houston."

He's okay, that's all that's important. Okay, but in Houston.

"I'm trying to get a seat on a flight home. It's not looking too good."

"So long as you're okay."

"Told ya, I'm fine. Hey did you put the lights up?"


"All of them?"

"All of them."

"Good, gotta have lights at Christmas."

Chris looked out of the barn at his house, even in broad daylight it was a glow with lights.

"So I noticed. Your horse misses you."

"Just him?"

"You know I miss you, but he's the one who keeps trying to eat my hair."

"He's grooming you, he won't pull it out, honest, means he likes you."

"I'm so happy."

"Look I've got a few other possibilities re getting home, I need to go check on them. I'll call you when I've got something sorted out."

Once he was done in the barn Chris went back inside, built up the fire and set about making the last minute preparations for Christmas day. He took Buck's present out of its hiding place and placed it under the tree, then he retrieved Buck's gift to him from his lover's old army footlocker. It was all done, the ranch house had been transformed into a Christmas wonderland to make Buck proud. He poured himself a whiskey and raised a glass.

"Happy Christmas Buck! I love you."

That was a very moment the phone had rung.

"Hey Stud!" Buck greeted.

"How are you doing?"

"Fine, tired, I think I may have a ride home, not sure when I'll make it, don't bother to wait up - just…"


"Leave the lights on for me, okay?"

"I already did that, it all looks great, even the bed."

Buck laughed; that low, deep laugh that more to do with sex than amusement. Chris shifted as a wonderful tightness ran through is groin.

"Hold that thought," Buck chuckled.

"How did you…?"

"Don't call you Stud for nothing! I'll see you sometime tomorrow, gotta go now. Love you."

"Love you too"

"I really gotta go now, see you when I see you. Bye."

Despite Buck's instructions Chris did wait up, he watched TV, ate pizza and drank until he passed out on the couch. When he finally woke it was morning and almost eleven.

Great, he could be home anytime and you look like shit and probably smell like it too!

He hauled himself to his feet, checked to see if he'd missed any calls while he was asleep. There were three, one from JD who was at Casey's house asking if he had any news about Buck. One from Nathan, at home with Rain and playing host to his in-laws, asking about Buck. The last one was from Josiah, who had persuaded Vin and Ezra to help him at the homeless shelter on Christmas Eve in return for a home cooked Christmas lunch at his place the next day. Vin hadn't taken much persuading, Ezra had been a different matter, but when Maude cancelled on him at the last minute, he finally agreed. After letting the rest of the team know that Buck was on his way home, safe and sound, but that he had no ETA on him, he headed out to the barn to see to the horses. There was still a light covering of snow on the ground, but from the look of the sky they were in for more.

Hunger drove him to the kitchen, on the way he checked his messages again, nothing new and Buck's cell phone was still off and only taking messages. Since the fire had died down to almost nothing, he spent sometime raking it out, re-laying and re-lighting it. It took sometime for the logs to really begin to burn, and in all that time he just sat and stared at it. Finally he broke away and sank back down on the couch.

"Where are you?" he asked out loud.

Since the only response was - and could only be - silence, he turned on the TV and flicked through the channels until he found a hockey game which he watched while eating left over pizza. As Christmas meals went, it didn't rate as the worst he'd had, but it was up in the top five. What he didn't do was drink.

By the time he gave up on the TV and headed for the bedroom, it was past ten. Coming out of the bathroom he stopped in the door and looked at the bed, with it's throbbing red lights and smiled. Only Buck could have talked him into buying, much less hanging, such things. Along with the Christmas decorations, he'd discovered some tall pillar candles in the attic, he vaguely remembered Sarah buying them in a summer sale and putting them away for Christmas, a Christmas she never saw. After Buck left he'd retrieved them and, after decorating the rest of the house, had placed them around the room, they were to be a welcome home surprise.

Chris lit the candles, let his towel drop and climbed under the covers. As he sank down into the bed he could smell Buck on the pillow beside him.


Buck turned off the highway into the ranch's long drive. Snow was falling steadily now, but thankfully it hadn't slowed him up much. As he neared the house he smiled, the lights were all on. The fir tree by the barn was lit up, the light over the barn door was on, illuminating a large wreath hanging there. The length of the porch roof shone with blue lights while the windows were illuminated with a myriad of tiny white lights. The falling snow made it seem as if they were twinkling. He had tried to fly home, he'd tried getting a seat - any seat, at any price - on any flight heading even vaguely in the direction of Denver, but there was nothing, not even on stand by. So he'd rented a small SUV and set out to drive home. It had taken close to nineteen and a half hours, even though he'd pushed his speed as much as he dare, he'd been forced to take a few breaks - even the odd nap - but he'd made it.

Inside he stopped dead and looked around, though the lights were off the fire was lit and still burning steadily in the hearth. Beside it the Christmas tree was ablaze with lights, they reflected of the ornaments and gifts - wrapped in shiny paper - below, sending a multitude of coloured reflections across the walls, ceiling and floor. Through the open door, he could just see the multi-coloured lights in the kitchen. Dropping his bag and toeing off his boots, he padded to the bedroom.

There was Chris, sleeping in the middle of the bed, tangled in the bedding, one long, naked leg and buttock cheek tantalisingly visible. The room was positively glowing with candlelight and the rhythmic flashing of the red stars cast a pulsating glow over the sleeping form in the bed.

Buck shook his head in wonder and joy and love. "Happy Christmas, Buck," he whispered to himself. "Damn, you're a lucky man."