Title: Honouring Rudolph
Genre: Christmas Fluff
Summary: Two old men wait for a lift. Two young men give them something to watch while they’re waiting. [This will make a lot more sense if you’ve read Then One Foggy Christmas Eve.]
Honouring Rudolph by Coupdepam
“It’s snowing, Ern.”
The old man spoke quietly and his friend responded by wrapping his scarf higher around his chest and brushing the flakes of snow off his front.
“It’s snowing, it’s Christmas Eve and we’re sat here like too old turkeys that not even Tiny Tim wants to eat!”
“You always get maudlin at Christmas. We’re sat here because you spent so long trying to get Miss Stonely under the mistletoe that we missed the ride home.”
Charles ignored Ern’s accusation and looked across the street to the view of the White House. “Still a few people working away in there.”
“Working, is that what you call it! I don’t think a lot of work goes on behind those walls. Bunch of college boys too young to know how to speak to their mothers with respect let alone a senator.”
Charles hid his laughter within the collar of his coat. “You’re still licking your wounds from Ziegler’s tongue bashing and Ziegler is by no means a ‘college boy’.”
“Well, most of them are. Have you been in there? All running around, scurrying up and down but are they actually doing anything? I don’t think so. Fresh and idealistic my ass- they’re just as cynical and hypocritical as the rest of us, difference is they can walk faster is all.”
Charles smiled and shook his head. He wrapped his coat even closer around him. The sound of a gate being opened made both men look up.
“See,” Ern said, pleased that he had some evidence to prove his point. “Here’s your fresh and idealistic for you, too pissed too stand. Working away! Yeah, they’ve been working away all right- at the bourbon!”
Charles laughed gently as the two young men performed a farcical exit from the iron gates that, in their current condition, seemed to have confused them greatly. He heard Ern mutter ‘fresh and idealistic’ under his breath and laughed again. “They work hard, they deserve to let loose once in a while.” Ern shook his head but like his friend he couldn’t help but watch with interest the two men as they finally closed the gate behind them, shouted out goodnight to the security men and started their journey home.
One man was slightly shorter than the other and he clung onto his friend’s arm. In response the taller man placed his arm around his friend’s waist. They started off in different directions but after a short discussion, decided on the way they were going to go. After a few steps the dark haired man stopped and swung round towards his friend. Both men nearly fell but righted themselves then stood, albeit wobbling slightly, facing each other. Charles strained to hear but couldn’t make out the words. He watched as the man with curly hair reached out and almost too quickly to be seen, touched his friend’s lips with his finger.
“See, even they think they talk too much!” Ern said, smiling at his own joke. He wasn’t paying the two men much attention now and had started to scroll through his cell phone for someone who might come and pick him up. Charles’ eyes had never left the pair though.
The darker haired man was holding something up in front of his friend. He was speaking earnestly and as his voice rose, Charles was able to discern some of his words. ‘Rudolph…anniversary…came back…’ drifted towards Charles but he could make no sense of the detached words. The shorter man suddenly leapt away from his companion and the object in the air. Charles thought it looked like a small toy but he couldn’t be sure. The men moved closer to him as one tried to grab the toy from the other. As they neared their words became clearer, “It’s just a tree thing.”
“It’s symbolic…symbolicky tr…symbolic tree thing…if hadn’t been for-” the dark haired man suddenly stopped talking and covered his mouth and his friend hovered over him. “False alarm!” he announced happily. “If hadn’t been for this tree thing...we wouldn’t be here…now…together…me and you, you and me…us…”
“We should sing a song!” the taller man declared.
“We should,” his friend agreed, “but first we should shay a few words…” he hiccupped loudly, “should shay few words in honoury of Rudolph the treey thing.”
Charles shook his head and smiled at the earnest yet ridiculous conversation that was being spoken before him. Both pairs of men were in shadow. The streetlamp lit the space between them and neither of the two pairs was aware of the other’s presence. Charles raised his eyebrows as the man holding the ‘tree thing’ grabbed the other man’s hand and pulled him towards him. “It is with great, great, great, great pride that I humberlerly…say…that Rudolph the tree thing is a great thing because of the great thing that is you and me, me and you…together…because of me sticking on the nose of the tree thing and then you going and then you coming back to find me and…” the man drifted off seemingly totally unaware that he had been speaking, so the other man continued for him.
“Because of the great thing that is the thing that is us we hereby declare and honour and declare that Rudolph the tree thing is a…very great thing.” He nodded decisively and his friend did the same.
“To Rudolph,” he cried and raised Rudolph high in the air. Charles laughed out loud as the tree decoration went hurtling into the air and over a nearby wall.
“What are those two idiots playing at?” Ern shouted in annoyance. “See what I mean! We’re paying for that! What you’re watching is our tax dollars going up in alcohol fumes over there!”
“Oh shut up, Ern, for God’s sake. They’re only two workers trying to get home after the Christmas party…not in a dissimilar predicament to us.”
“Yeah, well, when I finally manage to get a ride don’t think I’ll be sharing it with those two clowns!”
Charles told Ern to ‘give it a rest’ and then turned his attention back to the two men. All he could see were their legs as they reached over the wall in a futile effort to rescue Rudolph. “Wait, wait, not working.” They pushed themselves upright and leant against the wall.
“Got it!” the dark haired man cried. “Hold my legs!” His friend immediately bent down and grabbed hold. “Not yet! Wait!” he clambered back onto the wall and pulled himself over it until only the bottom of his legs were visible. “Now, hold my legs now!” His friend sprung into action and grabbed hold again. He said something that started with “This reminds me of …” and both men collapsed in hysterical laughter. Charles didn’t hear what it had reminded the man of but their laughter was infectious and he joined in ignoring Ern’s tuts and growls.
“Okay, got it, got Rudolph, got him!” The man started to haul his friend back up the wall but his grip weakened and Charles joined his cry as the other man went plummeting over the wall. Even Ern looked up at the noise and the silence that ensued.
“You dropped me! Last year you came back for me this year you dropped me!”
“No, no, no, no, no, didn’t drop just…let go…accident.” He clambered over the wall to help pull his friend back up. Charles wondered if he should go over and help but he didn’t want to disturb the two men who seemed oblivious to anyone but themselves.
Eventually the legs became a torso and then a head, then another pair of legs, a torso and head until the two men were once more on the right side of the wall. They collapsed in a heap, arms and legs entwined. The man who had been dropped was clutching the Rudolph decoration triumphantly. The taller man disentangled himself and checked his friend for injuries.
“S’alright, a’alright, Rudolph broke my fall,” his friend reassured him. A loud sigh filled the air and the taller man pulled his friend against and wrapped his arms around him, clutching him as tightly to his chest as his friend was clutching Rudolph to his.
“Mary’s gonna come pick us up but she’s pissed as all hell.” Ern’s words made Charles jump and he reluctantly pulled his attention away from the scene that made him feel a sense of warmth that not even the cold night air could penetrate. “Charles, did you hear me?”
“Yeah, Mary, coming, pissed, got ya.” He turned back to the wall and raised his eyes in surprise. He couldn’t be sure, he had only caught the end of it but he could have sworn that the two men had just kissed. He glanced at Ern but he was studiously studying the highway looking for his wife’s car. In the time it had taken him to turn to Ern, the two men had stolen another kiss and now sat with their foreheads resting together looking into each other’s eyes and smiling. Charles smiled too.
“About time!” Ern cried as a car approached. “Don’t say a word to Mary, let me do the talking.”
Charles nodded, his attention still focused on the men who looked as if they would be happy to stay where they were all night. Ern groaned as the car pulled up and he realised it wasn’t his wife’s. The two men were suddenly illuminated by the headlights of the car and Charles muttered a surprised curse as he realised who he had been watching. A door opened and a man in a suit got out and walked over to the two oblivious men, his shoes crunching in the snow and the car engine the only sounds in the cold, night air.
“Mr Seaborn, Mr Lyman. Mr McGarry would like you to return to the White House.”
“Can’t…got to honour Rudolph,” Sam replied as he squinted up at the man.
“That may well be, Sir, but Mr McGarry was adamant that I was to find you and make sure that you came back to the office. He did instruct me to take you home but then Mr Ziegler found your coats containing your keys, phones and wallets and they decided that it would probably be best if you came back to the White House to collect them first.”
“He did?” Josh mumbled.
“Toby pissed?” Sam asked.
“I can’t comment on other White House staffers, Mr Seaborn but yes, I think it would be fair to warn you that Mr Ziegler seemed a little put out by the situation.” He paused for dramatic effect which was greatly increased by the ray of headlights in which he stood. “Mr McGarry also seemed bemused by the fact that his desk chair had been found on the Rose Garden lawn.”
Charles noticed the agent in the car was laughing and he felt a pang of sympathy for the two men who were about to go back to face their bosses. He watched as they helped each other up and, with a little help from the agent, made their way to the car. “I want you have this,” Sam said and he thrust Rudolph into Josh’s hands. “When they bury me, make sure I get lots of guns and things.”
“Salutes and marching,” Josh agreed.
“No, canons want canons and brass band playing.”
The agent was about to close the door but then stopped and pulled it open again. There was a pause then a muffled, “False alarm!” came from inside, the door was shut and the car turned quickly around and set off on its short journey back to the White House.
Charles watched it go and then turned once more to his friend who was also watching the car’s fading rear lights. “You see Charles, that is exactly the type of thing I’m talking about,” Ern said. “Totally reprehensible behaviour and we’re picking up the tab. I don’t see the secret service coming to give us a lift home, do you?”
“No, Ern, no I don’t, but believe me I’d rather walk home than experience the ear bashing you’re about to get from Mary.” He clapped his friend on the back in support and got into the car that had pulled up beside them. As his friend’s wife hurled abuse at her husband, Charles stared out of the window at the falling snow and thought about the scene he had witnessed. Ern was unaware of the identity of the two men and Charles had no intention of sharing it with him. He let the car heater warm him and smiled at the thought of the secret he shared with Josh Lyman, Sam Seaborn, Leo McGarry, Toby Ziegler, two secret service agents and, of course, Rudolph.
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