Big brown eyes blink up at Fitz innocently, while a silky tail wags happily back and forth.
Olivia stifles her amused smile, and puts the book she's reading on her lap. "Lady. Sit."
The cocker spaniel puppy instantly sits down, turning to face her obediently.
"Good girl!" Liv cheers, patting her thighs, "Good girl! C'mere, good girl. Good girl."
Lady runs over and hops into her lap, panting excitedly while Olivia scratches her all over, hugging her.
"What the hell!" Fitz breathes, holding his arms out in exasperation, "She knows how to sit, she knows exactly what that word means. She just won't do it for me."
Liv shrugs, scratching Lady behind the ears. "She doesn't take you seriously, I guess."
He looks at her incredulously, and she can only keep a straight face for a few seconds before she bursts into laughter.
"She may as well be a cat."
"She is not a cat!" Olivia laughs, nudging Lady back onto the floor, "Clearly she can just sense who's in charge around here—"
Fitz dives onto the sofa and tackles her onto her back, growling into her neck to make her shriek. Immediately, there's a clatter of paws against the hardwood and the terriers barrel into the room like a cavalry. They take up a post beside the couch, barking incessantly, increasingly annoyed as Fitz ignores them completely. Lady blinks and watches for a few seconds, before she decides that she should bark too, joining her brother and sister.
"Stop, stop," Olivia laughs, writhing underneath him, "Stop, they're upset."
"Don't care," he growls, pressing his thumbs into her hip creases.
She shrieks and giggles, pushing at his shoulders. "Fitz!"
After a moment, he stops tickling her and kisses her cheek, then her neck, breathing her in.
"Alright, alright, guys, geez. She's fine, see? Hey, enough."
He snaps his fingers and James and Dolly quiet instantly, settling back to sit down.
"Lady, no bark," Liv says quietly, reaching out to scratch the puppy's head.
Lady stops barking, angling her head up for more pets. Fitz shakes his head and Olivia laughs softly, sitting up again after he climbs off of her.
"I'm not sure why she's so reluctant to listen to you, in all honesty," Liv shrugs, tossing a toy for Lady to fetch and chew on, "But I do find it hilarious."
He gives her one of his brilliant smiles, the ones that still make her stomach flip because they're just for her.
"So," he sighs, patting a warm palm on her thigh and then resting it there, "First day of vacation…how's it feel?"
He stares at her, watching the way she averts her eyes and bites the inside of her lip. He keeps staring until she glances back up at him, raising his eyebrows.
"I'm so bored," she whines, collapsing over onto the couch, "Fitz, I've never taken a Christmas vacation in my life, what's the point of this again?"
Fitz chuckles quietly, dragging her up and into his side. "Ah, my beautiful little workaholic. The point, is spending quality time together. Christmas movies, skiing, hot chocolate, decorating the house—"
She stares at him skeptically, brows furrowed.
"—and it's our first Christmas in our house, we were in D.C. last year to be with the kids. It just feels…I dunno, it feels special."
Her eyes soften, and then close in frustration. "God, you're so damn cute and sentimental. I can't even argue with you."
He chuckles again, pressing a kiss against her temple. "We can go skiing tomorrow, if you want."
"I saw the detail schedule," she says narrowing her eyes, "We don't have enough secret service until—Fitz, no."
"—we've done it before," he grins, nudging her playfully.
"I let you talk me into it once," she says, shaking her head, "And it was a bad idea. It's not safe!"
"Oh, c'mon, nobody even looked in our direction. You can't see who anybody is out there, with the helmet and the snowsuit and the goggles—tell me you didn't have a great time."
She takes a breath and then stops, trying to think of an excuse. "Okay, it was kind of fun, but—"
"—ha! It was fun, pretending to be normal people."
"But you're not normal people."
"I know that, obviously," he scoffs, rolling his eyes, "You don't need to remind me of that."
"Don't give me attitude just because you ran for President and won," she fires back, refusing to let him feel sorry for himself.
He sighs, glancing down at her after a few seconds, and his annoyance melts away at the relaxed, gentle humor in her eyes. Slowly, he leans down and kisses her, warm and soft. Liv sighs happily and brings one hand up to cradle his jaw, grinning as he nuzzles her cheek and starts to kiss her neck. He goes right into the kind of slow, deliberate kisses that make her melt, one of her favorite ways to have his mouth on her.
"I know what you're doing," she murmurs, cradling the back of his neck and tipping her head to give him more access.
He exhales a warm breath, and then sucks another slow, wet kiss against her skin.
Goosebumps ripple through her body and she shivers, restlessly fisting handfuls of his sweater. "You're trying to bribe me with neck kisses."
"Is it working?" he rumbles, brushing his lips over the shell of her ear.
"Fitz," she whines, shivering again, "I just want you to be safe."
He doesn't say anything for a moment because his mouth is busy sucking on her earlobe, testing its thickness between his teeth.
"I do feel safe here," he sighs, pulling back and cupping her cheek, "It's one of the reasons I settled here. The locals know I'm here, but they don't care. Anyone we run into treats us like—like we're just the neighbors at the end of the road."
"There are so many tourists on the mountain this time of year," she counters, shaking her head, "I trust the locals too, but who knows who else is here right now."
He's not backing down, and he reaches out to pull her into his lap. "Nobody recognized us last time, and nobody will recognize us this time."
"C'mon," he murmurs, eyes going soft and heavy-lidded, "We can make out in the gondola. All the way to the top, with all the other cars going past us. Nobody will recognize us, but…they could. Just maybe, we might get caught."
Her breath catches and she sighs, shaking her head. "You're not playing fair."
"Sneak around with me," he grins, leaning in to murmur against her lips, "Just say yes. Yes—"
"—yes, okay? Yes, I'll sneak around with you," she relents, rolling her eyes and biting back a smile, "You have to do things your own way, don't you?"
Fitz shrugs, as if it's obvious. "What's the fun in living all the way out here if I don't use it to my advantage sometimes?"
Just as he's leaning in to kiss her, Lady hops onto the couch and forces her way between them, wriggling excitedly.
"Really?" Fitz sighs, leaning back to make room for her.
"Are you regretting your present, right about now?" Liv giggles, squeezing her eyes closed and jerking away when Lady tries to lick her entire face.
"No," he admits softly, watching her cuddle the puppy, scratching her and kissing her fuzzy head, "Because I love how happy she makes you."
Olivia's just started skiing black diamonds, but after only a few months of practice they can comfortably ski together on some of Fitz's favorite runs. He sticks close to her, skiing at her pace, keeping an eye on her as well as the terrain in front of him. They're skiing on a well-groomed part of peak one today and it's slick; made for speed but nerve-wracking for someone still learning to ski at a steeper incline.
They're about halfway down their third run, when he sees her arms flail for balance out of the corner of his eye. She knows how to fall now, and he watches her turn into the instability and flop down into it before she completely loses control; but then she's rapidly sliding down the steep incline on her back, not able to stop.
"I got you, I got you…I got you…"
He calls out so she won't panic too much, and in seconds Fitz is in front of her, blocking her from sliding any further with his body. He skids a little too, stabbing at the snow with his poles to slow them down, before they both come to a complete stop.
"There you go…you're good," he breathes, watching her pant from the adrenaline, "You're good. Just sit for a minute. Are you okay?"
It takes her a moment to catch her breath and regain her equilibrium, but as soon as she does she's laughing.
"Oww," she groans, still laughing, "Snow pack is hard."
He grins, relieved. "Yeah, falling in powder has its own problems, but it usually hurts less. Are you okay?"
"Yes," she sighs, wincing as she shifts around to stand up, "That's going to bruise."
"Let's get you up before somebody runs you over," he chuckles, letting her use his body to haul herself upright, "There we go. Are you sure you're okay?"
"Yeah, I'm okay," she smiles, hopping a little to get her footing back, "Promise. Let's go."
She sticks a little closer to him for the rest of the run, following the pattern of his j-turns in a bit of an impromptu speed control lesson.
They're off the mountain and home for lunch by twelve-thirty, each tucking in to a steaming bowl of chicken and rice soup. It's not until they're finished eating that he tells her he's planned something else for their afternoon.
"Sit. Sit, you furball."
Lady completely ignores him, hopping and bouncing around in front of him while he dangles a treat for her. Olivia pulls her boots back on while he tries to get the puppy to sit for the fourth time today, trying not to laugh at them.
He sighs, hands on his hips. "Lady, sit."
As soon as Liv walks over and stands next to him, Lady sits down in front of her, blinking expectantly.
"Oh, look at that good girl," Liv coos, nudging him, "Give it to her."
"I'm not giving her a treat, she didn't sit for me."
"She's sitting! Even after you insulted her."
"Yeah but not because I asked her to. When did I insult her? Hey!"
Liv plucks the treat from his hand and kneels down to give it to Lady. "She is not a furball, are you gorgeous? No, you're beautiful. You even smell good after your bath, huh? And we brushed you all out so you're nice and soft."
Fitz is shaking his head in amusement when she glances up at him, shrugging into his coat and nodding her toward the door.
"C'mon, while we still have sunshine."
"Seriously, there's a pile of trees at Max's right off seventy. They're twenty bucks each."
"It's more authentic if we cut one down."
"Either way it's a live tree, the difference is who put in the leg work."
"Nope, we're getting a fresh one."
"Fitzgerald, the snow is two and a half feet deep out here."
"Oooh," he teases, raising his eyebrows, "A 'Fitzgerald'. Is that supposed to make me back down?"
They're bickering outside now, clouds of frozen breath forming with each word.
She sets her hands on her hips and gives him a look. "I'm just saying. This is completely unnecessary."
"But it'll be fun," he sing-songs, reaching for her hand and dragging her off the porch, "C'mon, it won't take that long. You have your tall boots on."
"Why do you insist on doing stuff like this?" she whines, letting him pull her along through the yard and out toward the depths of their property.
Suddenly, he whips around and grabs her around the waist, freefalling onto his back in the deep snow and pulling her with him. It happens so fast that all she can do is shriek and fall on top of him, bracing herself against his shoulders. They disappear into the snow, creating a person-shaped hole with their bodies, and she gasps in shock for a few seconds. As soon as her brain catches up with what's just happened she starts to laugh, giggling and staring down at him like he's gone insane.
"What is wrong with you?" she laughs, dropping her forehead to his shoulder, "Fitz!"
"That's why I make you do stuff like this," he breathes, looking up at her with sparkling eyes, "Because you need to laugh sometimes, Livvie."
She sobers and looks down at him, and any shred of annoyance left melts away, because he's right. She leans down to kiss him in one long press, using the kiss to tell him what she's thinking.
"I love that you love the holidays," she murmurs, pecking his lips over and over.
"I know you do—"
"—I don't mean to be grumpy about it—"
"—you do, but it's part of what I love about you—"
"—I'm trying to agree with you—"
"—it's okay that you're grumpy and serious, we balance each other out—"
"—let's just get the tree—"
"—you have to get off me first—ack! There's snow in my eye—"
"—you're the one who pulled us down here in the first place—"
They'd promised not to work during their break; but when a contract he's been waiting months for finally comes in, they make a collective exception so he can dive in to look it over. He's surprised when, instead of taking the exception for herself too, she kisses his cheek and goes upstairs to take a hot bath.
When she comes back into his office after nearly an hour, he glances up from the document and smiles at her. She's wearing her winter robe, a soft swath of cream-colored fabric that swallows her up in its warmth.
"Hey," he sighs, pulling his glasses off and leaning back in his chair, "Nice bath?"
She looks warm and relaxed, almost sleepy, as she comes around the side of his desk and reaches for his hand. He gives her a quizzical look and lets her guide him up out of his chair, following her as she casually pulls him out of the office and toward the stairs.
"Where are we going, Livvie?" he chuckles, trailing along behind her.
Still, she doesn't say anything, giving him a soft smile over her shoulder. She leads him up the stairs and into their bedroom, closing the door behind them with a soft click. By now, he has a general idea of what she might be asking him for, or what he hopes she's asking him for. When her fingers start to slip the buttons of his flannel shirt open, he grins and wraps his arms around her.
"Hi," he murmurs, stroking his hands down her back to cup her butt, squeezing affectionately.
"Hi," she sighs, peeling his shirt open, "Can you take a break?"
"For you? Anytime," he grins, leaning down to kiss her.
She smiles, humming into the kiss. "Mmm…you look so cute today. In your flannel."
He shrugs out of his shirt while she opens his pants, slipping her thumbs in at his hips and pushing them down.
"Thinkin' about me in the bathtub?" he teases quietly, letting her nudge him back onto their bed.
"Well," she sighs, climbing over him, "I was all wet…and naked…"
He growls softly and pulls her down into a kiss, because he's all male when she says things like that to him. She hums and cradles his face, meeting each warm press of his lips, opening her hips more when he cups the back of her thighs.
Kissing him is just…she loves to kiss him.
He's so responsive and open, so content to connect with her this way.
"Mmm…you know what I do think about sometimes?" she murmurs, breathing against his lips.
"What?" he asks, voice deep and gravely with arousal, hands still tracing patterns against her bare thighs.
"How much I used to miss you," she says softly, smoothing his hair, "And how I'm so glad that I don't have to miss you anymore."
He's quiet for a few seconds, lips parted while she lightly rubs her mouth across his.
"Never gonna miss you again," he rasps, using gentle pressure to move her and align her hips with his.
"Mmm-mmm," she agrees, moaning softly when he strokes his tongue into her mouth.
He can feel that she's naked underneath her robe before he can see anything, when her soft, warm core settles against his cock. Between her mouth on his neck, and the soft, happy sounds she's making, it's enough to make him ache. Her breath catches when he rolls them over and presses her into the bed, murmuring and growling into her neck.
He kneels between her thighs and she brings his hands to the belt of her robe, prompting him to untie it. Peeling her out of a bathrobe is one of his very favorite things now that they live together, and she watches him take his time. In their desert-like winter climate she uses butters, and lotions, and oils to keep her skin soft—
She smiles as he curses under his breath, flushing hot when he immediately puts his hands on her dewy skin. He runs his thumbs across her collarbone and then cups her breasts, looking at her hungrily, giving her ribs a gentle squeeze. She jumps, laughing breathlessly, and then she sighs as he puts his mouth on her skin.
"Are you going to sign that contract?"
Fitz nuzzles her breast, rubbing his lips across her nipple. "You really wanna talk about that right now?"
She gasps, brow furrowing as he sucks her nipple into his warm mouth. "Why not?"
"If you can talk I'm not doing my job," he grins, pausing to suck on her other nipple, "You smell so fucking good."
"Bergamot," she sighs, raking her fingers through his hair, "C'mere."
He crawls up into her arms and sinks into a kiss, connecting with her in long, warm presses. Her hand slips between them to stroke him, and he grunts softly, resting his forehead against hers while she coaxes him into being fully hard. If she's guiding him away from their typical menu of foreplay, he knows she just wants him close, and he settles down into the moment with her.
She looks up at him with warm, relaxed eyes, lips parted as he presses inside her.
"—this what you wanted?" he murmurs, teasing her a little.
Nodding, she arches and sighs, stretching her arms around his neck languidly.
"Just wanted to be with you," she whispers between kisses, pressing her thighs against his hips, "Just like this."
He's still stroking his way inside of her, giving her the time he already knows she needs to adjust if he hasn't made her come once already.
Living together full time for nearly two years has dramatically changed their sex life…for the better. Without the constant threat of their time together coming to an end, they've relaxed into a different kind of intimacy. It's the kind of intimacy where sometimes sex is as fiery as its ever been, with multiple orgasms and breathless cries; and sometimes it's quiet and sweet, like this. Sometimes it's a whole conversation, where the fact that he happens to be inside of her is just another part of whatever they're talking about, and sometimes they're silent; breathing and focusing solely on their connection. Sometimes it's playfully rough, and they laugh, and sometimes it's smooth, and familiar, and comforting.
Sex between them has only grown and expanded, finally filling up the right amount of space in their relationship; the amount of space they've always needed it to fill.
Her cheeks are flushed pink after a few minutes of rocking together, and he presses all the way up onto his hands so she can pull her arms out of her robe. She takes the opportunity to lick two fingers and start to trace patterns against her clit, watching the way his eyes flick down to watch.
"C'mere," she murmurs breathlessly, reaching for him.
Groaning softly, he lowers back onto her and buries his face in her neck, thrusting harder. He can feel her hand moving between them, and the answering clench of her deep core muscles is insanely arousing.
"Liv," he warns, dragging his mouth across her cheek.
But she's already panting and then whimpering as she orgasms, shaking and twitching underneath him. It's rare that they orgasm together unless they're trying to, but he comes within seconds of realizing she's there too.
No matter what kind of sex they've had, there's more kissing while they come down, always; until they need to clean up, and she starts to get cold.
When he comes back into their bedroom after a quick shower, she's sitting on the edge of the bed in her robe, rubbing cream into her hands. He plops down next to her with a sigh, and she smiles when he pulls her over into his lap.
"That was nice," he murmurs, leaning in to press a long kiss against her cheek, and then her neck.
She hums in agreement, turning to cup his face in both hands and kiss him softly. He wraps his arms around her more tightly, rubbing her back, holding her while she leans in to kiss him with long, warm presses.
"Why were you thinking about missing me?" he asks her softly, carefully playing with a lock of her hair.
She freezes for half a second, and then shrugs, looking down and then back up again. "Christmas, I think. I think—"
She stops to breath for a moment, and he traces a circle over her back, watching her organize her feelings.
"—sometimes it feels so far away, that Christmas. And sometimes it's right on top of me."
That Christmas. He doesn't have to ask what she's talking about.
"I don't—I shouldn't think about it. I don't know why I do, but this time of year…with the decorations, and the music…I can't help it."
"It's okay," he murmurs, listening intently, "It's okay to remember it. It's—it wasn't a lifetime ago, in the grand scheme of things. It was only, what, six years ago?"
"Six years ago," she sighs, absently twisting the rings on her left hand, "I was playing Christmas music in the bath, just now, and it reminded me of when I came home. I did the same thing, I took a bath, and I played Christmas music. And then I remember just…sitting. I sat on the couch, and it hit me for the first time, this—this wave, of missing you. I couldn't breathe, I missed you so much. I felt—like I didn't even know what to do with myself. It was almost like realizing I was missing my arm all of a sudden, without any warning. It was so—it was like an internal panic—just—like—"
"—frantic," he finishes for her, pulling up his own memories, "This frantic, frenetic feeling of realizing you're without someone, and needing to know where they are, and what they're doing, and needing to have them near you. But you can't. And you know you can't."
She stares at him, slowly nodding along. "Exactly. Anyway—"
He watches her visibly give herself a little shake, smiling a little in spite of their conversation, because the way she literally shakes off a thought is adorable.
"—we don't need to live in that moment," she says softly, smoothing her hands through his hair, "I was just…remembering. And then I reminded myself that you were right downstairs, and if I missed you—"
"—just had to come get me," he murmurs, grinning, "Always."
She hums and leans in to kiss him, grounding herself in the present, soaking in the feeling of his body underneath her.
"So…are you going to sign the contract?" she murmurs, brushing her lips against his.
He smiles, letting her light touches steal his breath. "I think I am. Will you read it over with me, first?"
She blushes and grins in spite of herself, because she loves that he values her opinion so much, and he knows that she loves it.
"I'll take a look," she sighs nonchalantly, biting her lip.
When they open the bedroom door all three dogs are laying in the hallway, waiting for them. Lady jumps up first, happily scampering over to stand up and press her paws against Olivia's thigh.
"Hi, little one," Liv smiles, scratching her ears, "Were you waiting for me?"
"She definitely wasn't waiting for me," Fitz mutters, crossing his arms, "Lady, sit. Sit. Sit. Sit."
Lady tips her head curiously, as if he's saying a word she's never heard in her entire life. They stare at each other for a few seconds, and when he looks over at Olivia she's stifling her laughter with a hand over her mouth, watching him out of the corner of her eye.
"I'm really glad you're finding this so hilarious," he grumbles, starting down the hallway.
She shrugs, stepping over Dolly. "It's been the best part of my whole year, if I'm honest."
Olivia quickly reaches up and covers his mouth before he can curse, watching a few elementary schoolers run past them.
The Dillon ice castles are new in town, one of only six ice castle exhibits in North America. They've driven past the park during various stages of construction, but this is their first time walking through the finished castles. In the dark, with the ice lit up in a rainbow of colors, it's—
"—this is beautiful," Liv breathes, reaching over to take his hand.
"Uh, yeah," he agrees, equally in awe of the structures looming ahead of them, "Seriously guys, if you had to choose between golf with Clinton and this?"
The three Secret Service agents in formation around them all smirk, only breaking slightly when Fitz addresses them directly.
"We're equipped for any situation, Mr. President," Ben answers, eyes continuing to assess their environment.
"Oh, c'mon, Ben," Olivia cajoles, "This is pretty freakin' cool."
Ben finally breaks out into a full-blown smile, nodding toward her. "Very cool, ma'am. Literally."
"Oh, he's got jokes!" she laughs, letting Fitz pull her into his side.
It's the first preview night for the ice castles, just for residents of Dillon and the surrounding towns, before the general public is allowed in; it's just so happened that the castles are ready early, in time for Christmas Eve, and it's magical. The local newspapers are covering it, as well as the state's largest cable news networks, and they're approached several times as they make their way inside. The decline to be interviewed on video, but eventually agree to take a couple of posed photos and give a quote.
"We're really just here to support our town, a town that we love," Olivia says genuinely, "And who doesn't want to see ice castles? I mean, look at this. Thanks, guys."
Fitz wraps his arm around her back protectively, and they make their way deeper into the park, starting to walk under a few archways and then inside the castles themselves. It's incredibly surreal to be surrounded by actual walls of ice; some sculpted, but most made with real, harvested icicles and carefully controlled trickling water. The strategically placed colored lights inside the ice are mesmerizing, and they don't talk much as they wander around, enjoying the shared experience.
"Let it go…let it go…what?"
Olivia stops walking and looks at him in amusement, shaking her head. "Really?"
"Uh, we're in an ice castle, Liv. Like the movie. That song was everywhere when Teddy was younger, I couldn't forget it if I tried."
"Alrighty then," she giggles, nudging him playfully.
"Liv," he smiles, nodding to something behind her.
She turns around to find a group of little girls giggling excitedly as they hover nearby, obviously wanting to come up and say hello to her. Liv smiles, and walks over to them, motioning to the Secret Service that she doesn't need them any closer. The girls fall silent as she approaches, staring up at her with big, awestruck eyes. Olivia looks at them in amusement for a few seconds, resting her hands on her hips, and then she smiles and kneels down. They swarm her, taking turns giving hugs, touching her shimmery burgundy scarf and her plaid wool Chanel coat.
Fitz watches her let them ask questions, and tell her their favorite parts of the ice castle park. It had surprised her at first, how much of an impact she's made on girls and women across the country, just by acting as a First Lady and a business owner at the same time. She's certainly not the only female lawyer with her own company to ever exist; but something about the grace and elegance she exudes draws people to her, and she's learned to embrace it.
After a few minutes, she stands up and the girls scamper off, waving to her as they disappear around a slippery corner.
"Making friends?" he grins, taking her hand again.
She smiles and leans into him, pulling him toward another archway. "Always."
They continue on through the sparkling, glowing maze of ice, wandering slowly.
"Now this is the right way to do Christmas Eve," she sighs, gazing up at the massive icicles hanging above them.
They sleep in on Christmas morning, until the dogs are making too much noise and they have no choice but to get up.
After a Facetime session with the kids, Fitz starts making breakfast for them while she puts some coffee together, pulling espresso shots and steaming milk.
"Mmm…what's this combo?" he wonders, flipping a pancake as he takes a sip.
She leans down to pet the dogs, carefully holding her cup away from their curious noses. "Hazelnut and cinnamon. Are you making them a pancake?"
Fitz steps back to reveal the separate pan holding three silver dollar sized pancakes cooking without any oil, gesturing.
Olivia grins and walks over to wrap her arms around him from behind. "You're a good dog dad."
"Mmm-hmm," he agrees, shaking his head, "They're spoiled."
"They're good dogs, they deserve it," she murmurs, nuzzling her face into his back, "Merry Christmas."
He realizes that between getting up to take care of the dogs and then immediately jumping into the morning, they've neglected to actually acknowledge the day to each other.
"Merry Christmas," he smiles, turning around to draw her into his arms, "What'd you get me?"
"Coal," she giggles, tipping her face up to kiss him, "We said no gifts. Excuse me, ma'am."
Lady is trying to jump up in between them, tongue dangling out of her mouth in excitement.
Fitz sighs and looks down at her. "Should I even bother? Lady, sit. Sit. Si—you know what? Maybe she wants me to give her a challenge. Lady, make the pancakes. Make the pancakes!"
Lady barks at him, matching the excitement in his voice, and they both laugh.
"Well, that was my only other idea," Fitz chuckles, turning around to flip all of the pancakes before they burn, "Here, these are done."
He gives her the three dog-sized pancakes on a plate, shaking his head in amusement as she gets the three dogs to line up and sit down quietly, each waiting their turn.
"Well, I have a confession to make," she sighs, waiting until he looks over at her, "I did get you something."
"Good, I got you something too," he grins, watching her feed each dog their pancake treat.
Lady can't quite contain her excitement, and she stands up halfway through waiting her turn.
"Ah-ah. Sit. Good girl. There you go, Merry Christmas, love."
"Unbelievable," Fitz mutters under his breath, pulling their pancakes off the griddle.
They each disappear into a different corner of the house to retrieve their hidden gifts, and then settle at the table with their breakfast.
"Here, open mine first," Liv offers, passing him a small rectangular box, "Do you know what it is?"
Fitz shakes his head, swallowing a mouthful of coffee. "I have no idea."
She watches as he unwraps the box and pulls off the lid, peeling back the tissue paper inside to reveal a framed photo. His brows furrow, and his lips part as he looks closer.
"Oh my god...Liv, where did you get this?" he breathes, recognizing the moment instantly.
In the photo, they're standing by themselves in a dimly lit corner, foreheads pressed together. Her palms are resting on his chest, he's holding her hips, and they're clearly lost in each other. Fitz stares at the photo, remembering exactly what he'd been thinking, exactly how much he had needed that quiet minute with her.
"You remember it," she murmurs, knowing from his face that he does.
"Of course I do," he says softly, touching the photo, "This was before the State of the Union, the first one. Before I went over to the House. I was freaking out."
"You were freaking out," she nods slowly, smiling, "And we managed to find each other in that random parlor room so I could try to calm you down a little bit. The photographer started to walk in on us, snapped it without us knowing."
He smiles gently, remembering. "And you did. You always did. How do you have this?"
"I used to review the photos every night," she admits, "All of them. Any picture they took of you while I worked on the campaign, and then in the White House, had to go through me before it was archived, or printed or whatever. I pulled a lot and had them destroyed, mostly ones of you looking at me—"
Fitz grins, remembering all too well her attempts to get him to stop looking at her in a way he's always had zero control over.
"—but I saw this one, that night—the messenger came over with a flash drive even after I'd resigned. I guess nobody knew yet. I saw this one and I just…I kept it. I realized I'd never shown it to you before."
"This is…wow, Livvie, thank you," he murmurs, leaning over to kiss her, "This is so…thank you."
"You're welcome," she says softly, "Merry Christmas."
"Here," he breathes, offering her an envelope, "Your turn."
She takes the card from him curiously, slipping it open with her thumb. Inside is a fairly generic Christmas card with a poinsettia on the front, and when she opens it a couple of folded pieces of paper fall out. She catches them before they fall on the floor and sets the card down, unfolding them.
Her eyes widen immediately. "Fitz, these are flight confirmations. These are flights to—Beijing?"
"—those, are flight confirmations for the first of five stops on our Asia trip next month," he grins, watching the realization wash over her face.
She laughs, staring at him in shock. "What? We're going to Asia? You planned a trip to Asia?"
"I planned a trip to Asia," he confirms, giddy with her reaction.
"You planned the whole thing? The flights?"
"The security, and the—"
"Done," he chuckles, "The only thing you need to do is figure out what you want to see while we're there. I planned a few things but it's your trip too, so there's room for you to plan, too. I planned the boring logistics."
"Fitz," she sighs, standing up to wrap her arms around his neck, "I can't believe you, thank you."
He tugs her down to sit on his lap and hugs her back, breathing in the smell of her hair.
"I'm so excited," she whispers, completely overwhelmed, "I can't believe you planned this. We've talked about Asia for so long."
"I know," he nods, pulling back to look at her, "And I decided we just need to do it. We just need to go."
"What about them?" she asks suddenly, nodding to the dogs, who are laying on the floor nearby.
"Ben and Kathleen are coming to stay with them," he grins, "He said his wife loved the idea."
"Oh, that's perfect," she breathes, relieved, "Fitz, I just—"
"I know, best husband ever."
"Best husband ever," she murmurs, leaning in to kiss him, "Best Christmas ever."
Lady chooses that moment to come over and put her front paws on his leg, tail wagging excitedly.
"You, little lady, always seem to show up during these moments, why is that?" Fitz laughs, reaching down to pet her, "You jealous? Yeah, are you jealous?"
"She thinks she's getting more pancake," Liv smiles, "But she's not. Nope, you're not."
"Lady, sit. Sit."
The puppy hops, and then runs a circle around the kitchen table.
"Okay, that's the opposite of sit," he sighs, watching her run around.
"Lady," Liv calls softly, waiting until the puppy comes to her, "Sit."
She sits perfectly, and Liv bursts into hysterical laughter.
"You're just rubbing it in my face now," he chuckles, flopping back into the chair.
Olivia buries her face in his neck, still laughing. "I can't help it."
"I hate you."
"You love me."
"I do love you," Fitz sighs, meeting her lips in a soft kiss, "So much."
She cradles his face, kissing him again. "I love you, too. Merry Christmas."
"Merry Christmas, sweetheart."
A/N: I hope you enjoyed visiting Fitz and Olivia in Colorado as much as I did. As always, I would love to hear your thoughts. And just in case you're wondering, YES ice castles in Dillon are a real thing, and YES I'm going to see them this year to have all the Madness moments, and all the Frozen moments. Happy Holidays everyone!