(A Janice and Mel Solstice Story)
22 Dec 2009
(A) If the thought of two consenting adult women engaging in a loving relationship makes you wanna toss your eggnog, I would suggest you read another story. Nothing explicit here.
(B) Story is mine, characters are not.
(C) Janice likes to swear, regardless of the company, season, or holiday occasion, and in spite of all Mel's best efforts.
(D) Janice also likes to hit people, regardless of the company, season, or holiday occasion, and in spite of all Mel's best efforts.
(E) You break it, you buy it. All holiday sales are final. Batteries not included.
Hi there, mateys. A happy holiday season to the lot of you! Just a quick Janice and Mel story for the holidays... a follow up to last year's Janice's Solstice Carol . As always, a big thanks to my beta Sparktacus :) - Cap'n Cat
"Do you remember last Christmas Eve?"
Janice snorted and immediately regretted it. "Yeah, why?" she said, and tried to pull her coat tighter around her chest to block some of the bitter December wind.
Mel shrugged and brushed some snow from her bangs. "It was just so magical, really. Us being in New York for the holidays, staying in that nice hotel, drinking that fancy champagne and eating all of that wonderful food..."
Janice's stomach flipped over and she fought to keep her lunch where it had been sitting. "I dunno about the food part, but I could definitely drink a bottle of champagne right now. Or maybe two. Definitely two."
Mel shot Janice a Look , then continued her trip down Memory Lane. "And you were so awful for the week or two leading up to the holidays, but then, poof, just like that, you were all sweet! It was the strangest thing!" Mel's smile was bright in the early winter twilight.
Janice shifted uncomfortably. "Yeah, I did some... um... thinking... it kinda came to me during a dream, really..." The archaeologist trailed off.
Mel was just hitting her stride and barely noticed her partner's discomfort. "And Christmas Eve! What a wonderful night! Tickets to a show on Broadway, and me dressed up like royalty, and you dressed up in a dress and everything! I couldn't believe it!"
Janice's face started glowing like a Christmas tree light and she motioned for Mel to cut it out. "Shhh! Could you maybe not share that with the whole rest of the town right now? I do have a certain reputation around here, sweetheart ," she growled.
The use of Mel's least favorite nickname finally caught the linguist's attention, and she returned from her daydreams to stare at her partner disapprovingly. "Well, Doctor Covington , I was just highlighting the differences between last year's Christmas Eve and this year's. Pardon me for trying to inject a little Christmas spirit into the season!" She sighed and tightened her grip on the sodden handkerchief she held to the smaller woman's gushing nose. "The only thing you seem to be injecting tonight is your fist into other people's faces!"
Janice winced as Mel's grip tightened. What was supposed to have been a nice Christmas Eve out at Janice's favorite jazz club, the location of their first dance together, had turned into a brawl. A big brawl. A big brawl with one small archaeologist in the center of the mess. "Aw, Mel, c'mon, Jerry only threw us out because that suit's some sort of town hall bigwig. Dust-ups like that go down at this joint all the time."
"Oh, really?" Mel's eyebrow arched up and she folded her arms in front of her chest expectantly. She looked unnervingly like Xena in the soft yellow light of the street lamps.
"Um..." Janice decided to change tactics. "Well, what I mean is... I'm always ready to defend your honor, bigwig or no bigwig, fist fight or no fist fight, Christmas or no Christmas." She grabbed Mel around the waist (paying no mind to the snow coming down or the cold wind blowing by or the steady drip of blood flowing out of her nose) and looked up right into the linguist's blue eyes. "You're the gal for me, Mel Pappas, and I'll be damned if some Fifth Avenue duke thinks he can come gammin' down here like he's the cock of the walk and put his mitts all over my girl."
Mel's eyes welled up on cue and she unfolded her arms and mopped at Janice's nose with the hanky again. "Janice Covington, I swear on my Daddy's grave, that mouth of yours gets you in and out of more trouble in a day than most people have in their entire lives."
Janice grinned and held her elbow out to Mel. "Wanna see what else my mouth's good for?" she whispered as the two women strolled arm in arm down the street towards Janice's truck.
Mel rolled her eyes. "I'm not kissing you when with your nose like that, Janice."
Janice made a face, then winced. "Not even a little bit?"
“Oh.“ Janice reached into her pocket and pulled out a sprig of mistletoe. She stopped under one of the street lights and stood up one the toes of her boots and dangled it over Mel's head as best she could. "How about now?" she asked with a hopeful grin.
Mel smiled in surprise. It wasn‘t like Janice to be so romantic. Can't rightly refuse something as sweet as that, she thought. Mel wiped off Janice's nose again, leaned in, and kissed her partner. "Merry Christmas, Janice," she said softly.
"Merry Christmas, Mel. Let's hurry back. I've got some surprises for you at home," said Janice with a smile.
"Really?" Mel was intrigued. The mistletoe kiss was highly unlike Janice, and now there was more to come besides? Mel was impressed.
"Yep," said Janice as the two women strolled back to her truck. "I‘ve been planning this night since last year! Just wait and see."
Gabrielle, who'd been watching the scene unfold from a viewing pool in the Elysian Fields, sat back and mopped her eyes and honked her nose into Xena's hanky. "Those two," she said, shaking her fair head. "Gets me every time. Janice has really turned around."
Xena, who was trying to hide her chuckles over Janice's exploits by pretending to stifle a yawn, nodded in agreement. "Yep, she's definitely a changed gal, your Janice," she managed to choke out. Changed like a two-headed dinar , she thought, and coughed to cover up a snort. It would have worked, too, if not for an unexpected visitor.
POOF! A cotton candy cloud of pink smoke and sparkles heralded the arrival of the Goddess of Love. Gabrielle grinned. Xena groaned.
"Aphrodite!" said Gabrielle, running up to give the goddess a hug. "Happy Solstice!"
"Oh, Happy Solstice to you, too, sweetpea," gushed 'Dite, returning the bard's hug. She looked up at Xena, who was waving a hand in front of her face, trying to clear away the sparkles before they got stuck on her black leather battle dress. "What, no hug from Tall, Dark, and Grinchy?"
"Huh?" said Xena, waving frantically at the cloud, before giving up and walking through it towards Aphrodite. The sparkles happily adhered themselves to the warrior, who sighed and stuck her hand out to the goddess. "Happy Solstice, Aphrodite," she said with all the fake cheer of a used wagon salesman.
The Goddess of Love rolled her eyes and threw her arms around the warrior's neck. "And the happiest of Solstices to you, Warrior Babe!"
"So what brings you to the Fields, Aphrodite?" asked Gabrielle as her partner attempted to extricate herself from the goddess' cephalopodic grasp.
"Just checking up on the descendents of my two favorite lovebirds. Looks like Janice is coming around nicely. She's been so romantic lately!" Aphrodite peered into the viewing pool.
"Yup, she's doing so well!" said Gabrielle enthusiastically, and Xena bit her tongue.
"Must be that pep talk you gave her last year, Xena. How did it go again? Oh, right, SHARING AND CARING during the holiday season." Aphrodite stole a sideways glance at the warrior, who was trying to discreetly pick sparkles off her chakram.
"Yeah, must be," mused the warrior, and sneezed as a sparkle tickled her nose. "Aphrodite, any chance you could call off the sparkles?"
"Better get used to them, Warrior Babe, I'm here to stay. Gotta see how your protégé does this evening." And with a snap of her well-manicured fingers, a pink divan appeared along with several scantily clad male and female fan bearers tossing around fake snow . Aphrodite jumped onto the couch and pulled Gabrielle along with her. The Goddess of Love patted a spot on the end of the couch. "It'll be like watching a holiday special! Here, Xena, you can used the heart shaped cushion."
"Oh, goody," mumbled Xena under her breath as she reluctantly took a seat under Gabrielle‘s insistent gaze. "What in the Hades is Covington up to?"
Back in Charleston, Janice served up a lovely Christmas meal for Mel. She'd been working at the recipes for weeks and had finally perfected it: roast chicken with mashed potatoes, vegetables, and fresh baked bread.
Gabrielle and Aphrodite ooh-ed and ah-ed at the viewing pool. Xena rolled her eyes. It was so obvious Covington was up to something. The most she ever usually "cooked" was heating up tins of beans over the fire at a digsite.
After dinner, Janice slipped a slow waltz onto the record player and politely asked Mel for a dance. Mel blushed and held out her hand and the two women swayed across the parlor, relaxing against each other and smiling.
Gabrielle and Aphrodite clutched at a box of tissues and absently passed a box of chocolates back and forth between them. Xena crossed her arms in front of her chest and glared at the sparkles on the tips of her boots. How are those two not seeing this? Covington is just taking us all for a ride. She knows Gabs keeps an eye on her. She's just putting on a dog and pony show.
Janice drew Mel a bubble bath and told her to settle back while she went to get the champagne.
Gabrielle and Aphrodite held on to each other for support, overcome with emotion, weeping openly and singing Janice‘s praises. Xena took advantage of the moment and slipped away, trailing a cloud of sparkles behind her. I'm gonna get to the bottom of this .
Janice whistled a Benny Goodman tune and wiped at her nose while gathering up a bottle of champagne and two champagne glasses. She smiled at the sound of the music coming from the record player and the sound of Mel splashing around in the bath tub. Awfully romantic evening I've put together , she thought. This Christmas plan was working out pretty damn well so far, minus the broken nose (although she'd recovered pretty nicely, thanks to the mistletoe). This whole Christmas Eve operation had started out as a tactical strike to ensure that what had happened last Christmas didn't happen again this year. Xena and Gabs had gotten all in a twist that Janice was being too much of a Scrooge towards Mel, and Xena had set a plan in motion that had resulted in Janice being forced to spend Christmas Eve decked out like a doll on display watching some boring Christmas play. Well, that sure as Hades wasn't going to happen this year, Janice was making sure of that. And hopefully she'd find a way to take down Xena as well. Just a friendly little "Season's Greetings" kind of payback for all the seasonal happiness she'd been forced to endure last year.
A knock came at the front door. Janice frowned and put the champagne and glasses down. Who in the Hades comes knocking at someone's door on Christmas Eve? she thought angrily, and pulled her revolver from her shoulder holster. She put a hand up to the glass and peered out the window. No one there. I wonder if the suit and his goons followed us home from Jerry's. That would definitely jeopardize my romantic evening… Janice drew in a deep breath and flung the door open, stepping out into the frigid night, gun out steady in front of her.
“Unless this is Joseph and the fucking Virgin Mary, there‘s no room at this inn,” said Janice in a low, firm tone so that Mel wouldn‘t overhear.
“Easy, Covington, put that thing away. It's Solstice Eve, for Zeus' sake,” Xena said, stepping out of the porch shadows with a smirk.
“You again!” said Janice, shoving the gun back into her holster. She quietly closed the door then stomped over to Xena and thrust her finger at the taller woman. “Do you have any idea what the Hades I went through last Christmas because of you?! Dressed up like some khaki wacky Jane out for a night on the town. And it was really fucking cold in those gods-be-damned shoes! What in the Hades are you doing here again?” she hissed.
“Such a warm welcome, Covington! It's Solstice Eve, and the veils between the worlds are thin. I decided to drop by and say hello to my favorite pupil. Looks like you learned how to share and care during the holiday season,” said Xena casually.
“Yeah, I guess I did, and I'm doing a pretty damn good job of it, too. Now if you'll excuse me, my lady friend's bath will be getting cold, and the champagne will be getting warm, and I'd rather that neither of those things happen. So Happy Solstice to you, Warrior P., and I'd appreciate it if you'd skedaddle.” Janice turned and opened the door.
Xena pressed it closed with a callused hand. “Now what exactly do you have up those wrinkled sleeves of yours, archaeologist?” she growled into Janice's ear.
“Why do you ask?” said Janice. “I'm just sharing and caring like you said to." Holy Hades, I think it's working! "Are my actions somehow making you look bad in front of Gabrielle?” A hint of amusement crept into the smaller woman's voice.
Xena grabbed Janice by the shoulder and spun her around, revealing a mischievous spark in the archaeologist's green eyes. Xena frowned. “Actually, for your information, your actions have been so loving and romantic that the Goddess of Love has dropped by to spend Solstice Eve with us and watch your reformation first hand.”
“Well, how about that,” drawled Janice, reaching back to twist the door handle and trying not to look too excited. I can't believe it! It's even better than I could have hoped for! Time to really turn up the cheese factor...
“How nice for you and Gabby. Now, like I said, if you'll excuse me, W.P., I have a lady to attend to.” Janice opened up the door and stepped backwards over the threshold. “Oh, and if I may say so,” she said, leaning in towards Xena and running a finger down the curve of her chakram, “these sparkles do look lovely on you. Really bring out the rage in your eyes.” And with a wink and a laugh, Janice ducked back into the house and slammed the door. Xena kicked the door and stepped back through the veil between the worlds.
“Janice? Where'd ya go?” Mel called down from the second floor.
“Oh, sorry, honey, just had some Christmas Carolers at the door,” Janice called back, gathering up the champagne and the glasses again and heading up the stairs.
“Oh, now that's nice. Bringing good tidings to us on Christmas.”
Janice grinned devilishly. “Definitely good tidings. Tidings I've been waiting all year to hear.”
Xena popped back through the veil and was immediately greeted with less than amused looks from her lover and the Goddess of Love. Crap, she thought. “So, what'd I miss?” she asked as cheerfully as she could. Maybe they were getting some snacks or something and missed that little episode…
No such luck. ‘Dite went first. “Way not cool, Warrior Babe,” she said, shaking her head sadly. “Trying to sabotage love and romance? You know that's the best way to end up on my Naughty List.” Xena grinned. “Get your head out of the aqueduct, not that Naughty List,” said ‘Dite with a sniff.
Gabrielle went next. “Xena, I'm really disappointed in your behavior. Janice has been trying really hard this year and it's not nice of you to go down there and try and throw her off track.”
“Are you two blind?!” exclaimed Xena. “Did it escape your notice that our dear Doctor Covington got into a BAR BRAWL two hours ago?! She hasn't changed a bit! She's just doing this to get me in trouble and piss me off!”
“She got into a bar brawl DEFENDING MEL'S HONOR!” said ‘Dite.
“Yeah, and now she's down there being all sweet to Mel and making her dinner and bringing her champagne in the tub, and I didn't even get a Solstice gift this year!” chimed in Gabrielle. Gabrielle turned back to the viewing pool. Janice had climbed into the tub with Mel and the two of them were laughing and lounging back together, drinking champagne right out of the bottle and attacking each other with bubbles. Gabrielle turned to ‘Dite, who shook her head and said, “Sorry, girlfriend.”
“Um…” said Xena, but she was cut off when Janice's voice came through the viewing pool.
“Mel, I think we should really send out our Christmas thanks, well, Solstice thanks, I guess, to Xena and Gabrielle. We wouldn't have ever met each other without their help, and I look to their relationship as kind of a shining example of what ours could be like with enough love and hard work.” Janice reached down and retrieved their champagne glasses. “To Xena and Gabrielle.”
“To Xena and Gabrielle,” replied Mel solemnly, and the two women clinked glasses. “So does all this talk of Xena and Gabrielle mean you wanna play Rescuing Warrior and Captured Bard tonight?” asked Mel suggestively.
“Merry Christmas to me!” said Janice, turning her head back once to wink at whatever spirits might be watching right now, before leaning in to kiss Mel.
The viewing pool showed a parting shot of Janice's wink, then went dark. ‘Dite and Gabrielle looked up at Xena from where they sat on the couch, buried under a mound of tissues and chocolate wrappers. ‘Dite looked extremely disappointed. Gabrielle looked absolutely crushed. “Poor Janice,” said Gabrielle, shaking her head. “If only she knew how things REALLY were between me and Xena.”
“Oh, for - “ Xena started to say, but Aphrodite cut her off.
“Shhhh,” said the Goddess of Love, rubbing Gabrielle's back soothingly. “You know, sweetpea, I'm doing a little workshop for the next couple of evenings called ‘Loving Your Partner During the Stressful Holiday Season: Remember, The Norse God Baldr Was Killed With Mistletoe - Don't Let Your Honey Be Next!' You two should come and sit in.”
“I think we'd better,” said Gabrielle miserably, tucking her face into Aphrodite's shoulder.
“Great. I'll leave the paperwork and arrangements up to Xena. She obviously didn't have any other special holiday plans to attend to,” said ‘Dite, shooting Xena a Look .
The Warrior Princess flung her arms up in exasperation. “Am I the ONLY ONE who noticed that Covington sent THREE PEOPLE TO THE HOSPITAL on Solstice Eve? Really?”
‘Dite drew a pink fingernail menacingly across her throat. Gabrielle whimpered into the goddesses‘ shoulder.
“Covington, I am going to absolutely destroy you for this,” muttered the Warrior Princess through gritted teeth. Then she sneezed. Damn sparkles .
Janice lay warm under the covers, snuggled up with a contentedly sleeping Mel, and reflected back on the evening. Sure, her nose hurt all to Hades, but the jazz had been good, the brawl had been fun, the romantic evening had gone off without a hitch, and she'd never had a game of Rescuing Warrior and Captured Bard go quite like that before, but she sure as Hades hoped that the next one did, too.
“Happy Solstice, W.P.,” she murmured sleepily as she drifted off. “Payback's a Harpy's arse.”
Janice's nose was broken during the making of this holiday story, but she considers it well worth it to have stuck it to her favorite W.P.
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