Chapter 19

AN: Thank you again for the reviews. This is getting posted a little earlier than normal, but it's also a slightly shorter chapter. Blame the election or my work schedule. To the reviewer who asked if Robert would sing that song to Elizabeth before proposing, the answer is no. Sorry to disappoint you, but I've got a different idea for that.

There is a dash of inspiration from Rocketlover's Eggsnog in this.

As always, will write for chocolate. Or better mead than I can find on my work trip. Enjoy, because its time for me to go to sleep.

With judgment day fast approaching, Robert was trying to enjoy the holiday season before his potential future father in law showed up to oversee his death. Robert had jokingly told Max that if anything happened to him whilst Mr. Corday was in town that it was probably foul play, a comment that earned him an elbow in the side from Elizabeth. Mrs. Corday had finally called Elizabeth back, declining the invitation to Christmas, which Robert was secretly grateful for. She already had a full plate with preparing for her upcoming lecture series and didn't feel right leaving the university in the lurch last minute after exams. That just left Mr. Corday, Mrs. and Mrs. Cameron, and potentially Andrew. Robert had made a poor choice in asking if Andrew would bring his girlfriend if he came, and Elizabeth gave him the cold shoulder for the afternoon as a result. At one point, Robert had asked why Elizabeth didn't like this woman, and all he had gotten out of her was 'hen night gone wrong.' Ever since then, there had been no love lost between the two women. Hell, Robert didn't even know her name, and Elizabeth had been unusually petty by refusing to give it.

The first hurdle had been finessing the schedule for the two of them to have Christmas off. Christmas Day fell on a Saturday, a day that was already in demand to have off, and Elizabeth had her hands full attempting to accommodate the surgical staff's holiday requests. As a last resort, Elizabeth reminded the surgeons about holiday pay for anyone who worked, and an additional bribe for anyone who volunteered to work the holiday managed to work in her favor. Whilst Elizabeth had managed to get the full weekend off for Robert and herself; she hadn't been as successful with Christmas Eve. The best option she could get was Christmas Eve off for Robert, but Elizabeth would have to work. Too many surgeons had wanted the Friday night off, and Elizabeth had worked out a trade with Anspaugh. He would get Christmas Eve and Christmas day off, and in return, he would help cover the light admin load for the week after Christmas so she could spend time with her family.

Robert hadn't been pleased that Elizabeth had to work Christmas Eve, especially since he had been contemplating extending the invitation for her family to stay at his home. The idea of needing to entertain her father and godparents seemed daunting at best, and Robert had picked up the phone the moment Elizabeth had left his office. Offering to buy Charles Cameron lunch the next day, Robert planned to see if the American Camerons had plans for Christmas Eve that he could send Lizzy's family off to. Dumb luck and an expensive lunch were on his side. Cameron Two had a Christmas party to attend that he was taking his parents to, and after having a good laugh at Robert's predicament, he extended the invitation to Elizabeth's family. With the prospect of having to entertain without Elizabeth taken care of, Robert felt much better about inviting her family to stay with them. The caveat, of course, was that she could not leave him alone with her father.

Growing up, Robert had always loved Christmas. Helping his father pick out a tree to bring home and helping his mother decorate, it had always been one of his favorite traditions. While he had owned his house for several years, this would be the first Christmas decorating it properly and hosting the celebrations. The past few years he had spent at his mother's, sister's, or out of the country. So when the second week of December rolled around, Robert had excitedly dragged Lizzy from store to store after work, picking out decorations together. His child-like enthusiasm was infectious to the point that Elizabeth had snuck off to purchase a few of her own decorations with the retort, 'that's for me to know and you to find out.'

Wednesday morning had been relatively straight forward for Robert, a little bit of admin and then a juicy six-hour procedure. Walking out of recovery, he was ready to kick back and enjoy a late lunch in his office when he finally found what Lizzy had done with her 'surprise' decorations. She had undoubtedly decked the halls, alright. Christmas lights hung around his windows, a small decorated tree sat on a side table, and she had gone all out, replacing the decanter. The Waterford crystal was replaced with a simple glass bottle painted with a Christmas tree, and all the ornaments were little rockets. The four low ball glasses had been painted with wreaths and matching rocket ornaments. In the middle of his desk was an advent calendar, which he gleefully broke into upon realizing it contained chocolate. Robert had been sitting behind his desk, hard at work on consuming eight days' worth of chocolate, when he finally looked up to see Elizabeth standing in the doorway smiling, something hidden behind her back.

"When did you have time to do all of this?" he asked in between bites of chocolate caramel truffles.

"Sometime between you buying Gretel a more festive dog bed and buy up all the twinkle lights in Chicago." She had a broad grin on her face and was looking at him with adoration.

"How did you manage to get all of this here? You certainly didn't come home with it all."

"I found a layaway counter at customer service and called Brenda. She didn't have car trouble this morning; she was picking everything up for me."

Usually, the idea of Lizzy and his staff ganging up on him was worrisome, but in this case, he couldn't help but be impressed at it. He would have to remember to send Brenda home early for the day as a thank you. "So. You've redecorated; what's left behind your back?"

A mischievous look appeared on Elizabeth's face, one that he know promised enjoyment for both. "Oh, this?" She procured a sprig of mistletoe from behind her back. "I wasn't sure if you'd like it, and then I couldn't decide on where to put it; who knows the kind of visitors you'd receive if word got out."

"Lizzy, why don't you bring that here, and I'll show you exactly where to put it."

"Oh, I don't know about that." She was backing out of the office, preparing to run off just to tease him. "Are you sure you'd like it?" The way she said 'like it' had him up from behind his desk prowling towards her; there was no way he was letting her run amok with mistletoe.

"Elizabeth," he had followed her out into the office foyer that was occupied by Brenda. Brenda, who was now blushing at the low and silky voice he used to get Lizzy's attention. "Come back here. Now."

"Make me." And she was off, laughing as she tried to put distance between herself and Robert's office, thinking that he wouldn't pursue her out into the halls. Too busy laughing to pay attention, she was caught off guard when Robert caught up to her.

Robert snatched out of Elizabeth's hand, as he snaked one arm around her waist, holding the mistletoe over her momentarily before tossing it aside to place his hand around her neck. Pulling her close, Robert dipped her slightly as he kissed her, eliciting wolf whistles from the few staff members who had overcome their shock at the display. Elizabeth had just started to moan into the kiss when Robert pulled back from her, raising an eyebrow in smug satisfaction.

"Lizzy." She tried to lean back into him for another kiss, but he pulled away. "Who exactly did you think you were dealing with?" Letting her go, he picked up the once-abandoned sprig of mistletoe and tossed it towards her. "You should find a place to hang this, preferably at home and not your office." Robert swanned off back to his office, a smile so broad on his face that several of the women he passed did a double-take, having never seen him smile like that before.

Elizabeth was still standing in the hall, grinning like an idiot and openly checking out his ass as he walked off. She had just started to lick her lips when Shirley snapped her out of it.

"Tell me, Dr. Corday, has he always kissed like that, or is that something you had to teach him?"

"Oh, Shirley." Elizabeth turned to Shirley with an expression so sultry that Shirley wished she hadn't asked. "If I told you how Robert really kisses, not only would I get fired for sexual harassment, but your puritanical country would have to deport me for indecency."

That evening Robert was disappointed. He and Lizzy had stirred up the gossip mill of County General to the point where Anspaugh and chastised him for 'creating a betting pool where the stakes were too high for the average employee.' Donald refused to say what the betting pool was about but informed Robert that he felt betting in it was akin to taking candy from a baby, knowing the two of them as he did. Yet after all of that, there was no mistletoe in the house. He had looked in the foyer, the living room, the kitchen, over Gretel's bed, the den, and to his dismay, the bedroom. No doorway in the house was adorned with the holiday spring, and it had left Robert in a somewhat disappointed mood.

Climbing in bed that night, he pulled out Timeline, intending to get through another chapter while waiting on Elizabeth to come to bed. She had been slow to wind down that evening, and he was halfway through his chapter when she finally made an appearance upstairs.

"Lizzy, what is taking so long in there? You put the clothes in the hamper and put the nightgown on; it's not rocket science." He laughed at his own joke when he got no response from her.

She finally came out of the walk-in closet, wearing one of his robes loosely tied at her waist. He wasn't paying attention. "Robert, I get the feeling you're cross with me."

"Frankly, Elizabeth, I thought you'd have the place covered in mistletoe after today."

"Do you really need an excuse to kiss me?"

He still wasn't looking as she approached the bed. "No, but I'd appreciate the effort now and then."

"And I would have appreciated the mirror over your bed like you once promised, but I've had to make do with mistletoe as a replacement instead." That finally got his attention.

"What?" He finally looked at her. One of his black silk robes was caressing every curve of her body, and with the front gaping open to barely cover her breasts, Robert didn't need to be a rocket scientist to know that she had nothing on underneath. His mouth fell open slightly as he watched her glance up at the ceiling.

"Aren't you going to kiss me?" she purred.

She had put the mistletoe above the bed. It was all the encouragement Robert needed to get out of the bed and reach for her, pulling the tie on the robe and allowing it to fall off. His mouth was on hers in an instant.

"I didn't know you were looking forward to mirrors over the bed, Lizzy. I can happily have that fixed if you'd like." He was pulling her down to the bed, not caring about the response.

"I think the mistletoe will do nicely, don't you?"

He didn't respond, far too consumed with worshiping every inch of her. His last conscious thought was of the breathy sound she made as his mouth covered her breast. Robert. She had said, Robert.

The Christmas tree came that weekend. Robert had an ax for that. He found a place outside the city that allowed you to cut your own Christmas tree, and he had been delighted. Elizabeth had been skeptical at best when he insisted on bringing Gretel along, not knowing how they would manage to get the tree home, to begin with. While there, Gretel had managed to knock the feet out from under three people in all of her excitement, the owner of the tree farm included. Robert had very quickly picked a large tree after that while Elizabeth took Gretel back to the car. Elizabeth still had no idea how Robert planned to get the tree home when the only vehicle they brought was his Jag. He showed up roughly 15 minutes later, towing a rather large tree, and it took all of her willpower to not make a height joke. In fact, Robert had thought how to get the tree home through, and in the trunk of the car, he had packing blankets and tie-downs. In an effort to get them off the lot quicker, the owner helped Robert put the tree on the roof of the car, strapping it down through the open windows.

They got the tree in the house in time for a late lunch, electing to spend the afternoon decorating the house and tree. Robert had gone all out to Elizabeth's delight, even putting up lights on the outside of the house. The staircase and mantel were decked with garland, the tree shimmering with tinsel, and the house had never felt more a home. Curled up on the couch in front of the fire that evening, Robert talked excitedly about his favorite Christmas traditions growing up. To his shock, Elizabeth didn't know about one of his favorites.

"Robert, what is a s'more?"

It was the first time he ever looked at her to question her intelligence. Who didn't know what a s'more was? "You know what a s'more is." The blank look on Elizabeth's face suggested otherwise. "Ok, maybe they call it something different in England, but it's graham crackers, toasted marshmallows, and chocolate." Still nothing. "Lizzy. This is serious. You've never had a s'more?"

"Sorry. Marshmallows are for hot cocoa."

He stood up quickly, displacing Elizabeth from her spot nestled in his arms, and headed to the kitchen. About five minutes later, he returned with a box of graham crackers, bars of chocolate, and a packet of marshmallows. He tossed them on the couch and tended to the fire, getting the logs' embers just right to roast the marshmallows.

"So first we're going to roast the marshmallows. You can't just catch them on fire; you've got to get them golden, which takes indirect heat from embers, not flames. Then you get you graham cracker and break it in half. One side gets chocolate and then the marshmallows, and then you top it with the other half of the graham cracker. Think you can manage?" Robert handed Elizabeth a metal coat hanger that had bed bent straight with a marshmallow on it.

The concept had seemed easy enough until Elizabeth managed to catch her marshmallow on fire. Instinct took over, and she shook it, trying to set the fire out and instead sent the flaming treat flying to the hardwood floor. Robert managed to put out the small flames before any damage could be done, and Gretel came in for the kill, gobbling up the dropped snack the moment it wasn't alight. Elizabeth lost her fire privileges temporarily until Robert felt she had learned proper s'more techniques.

Robert ended up making the first s'more for her, watching as her face lit up with delight upon taking the first bite. It was gooey and messy, and she loved it.

Licking her fingers clean of the sticky treat, she smiled at him. "I've definitely been missing out. You're going to have to make me another of those. How much chocolate did you buy?"

"I'll make you another, but only if you pay me."

"Pay you?"

"Mhmm. You heard me, Corday. This is a carefully honed skill, and I expect payment." He had a look in his eye that she recognized, beckoning her to take the bait.

"And ah, what exactly is the payment?" Elizabeth leaned in closer, dropping her voice low and soft.

"A kiss per s'more." Robert leaned in, following suit, and looked at her expectantly.

Licking the remaining chocolate from her lips, she replied, "I think I can manage that", and then closed the gap between them.

He loved kissing her. Soft and inviting, Elizabeth was always eager to wrap her arms around his waist and melt into him. It took very little on Robert's part to get her going, and they quickly found themselves on the rug in front of the fire, more concerned with consuming each other than the forgotten s'mores.

The remaining weeks until Christmas flew by quicker than Robert would have cared for, but as the holiday approached, Elizabeth's excitement at seeing her family grew more contagious to the point where Robert was even looking forward to the impending visit.

The plan was for the Corday/Cameron clan to fly in on Wednesday and then use Thursday to recover. With Elizabeth working a late-night shift on Friday, she and Robert would spend the morning and afternoon with her family before sending them off to a Christmas party with Charles Cameron. Robert would spend some time on Christmas Eve with his mother before Lizzy would get home sometime around 4 am. Cara had volunteered to come over mid-morning on Christmas and help Robert play host whilst Elizabeth caught some much-needed sleep before a full day cooking for Christmas dinner. After that, Robert didn't really care what the plan was. The big meal would be out of the way, and hopefully, by that point, any issues Mr. Corday had with him would be hashed out.

Wednesday morning was heralded in by Gretel, who could tell that something was different in the house. Elizabeth's excitement had reached a tipping point the night before, when Robert was sure she would never fall asleep. So bright and early Wednesday morning before the alarm went off, Gretel made a rare attempt to climb in the bed for a morning cuddle. At about 65 pounds, she was no longer the adorable puppy Robert could carry around if needed and attempted to take up room next to Elizabeth that Robert had claimed for himself. Gretel believed that Robert and Elizabeth's initial displeasure at being woken up could be solved with good morning kisses of the slobbery nature.

"Gretel! That's my hair, not my face. It's going to be frizzy enough as it is."

"At least you've got her face! She's practically sitting on mine. Gretel, get off!"

Having sufficiently woken her people, Gretel jumped off the bed and waited expectantly for them to follow for breakfast. Looking at the alarm, Robert swore. It was only four am. They didn't need to be up till five that day, but clearly, Gretel had other plans.

"Ok, Ok. Lizzy, I'm going to take her out. Can you get the coffee going?"

A disgruntled noise came from Elizabeth that he knew to be the equivalent of an early morning; yes, upon which hearing Gretel bounced from the room and down the stairs. Robert grabbed his robe and dutifully followed, grumbling the entire way about the Bouvier being lucky she was so cute.

To the delight of Robert and Elizabeth, the rest of their morning went smoothly. They had a procedure scheduled together for that morning and then managed to grab a quick lunch together before settling in to tackle their admin. Three o'clock rolled around quickly, much to the staffs' delight. Elizabeth had become far too antsy for even Robert's likening, and he was happy to be able to tell her to leave.

"Lizzy, you're like a five-year-old on a sugar high; just go already. You stopped being productive an hour ago."

"Robert, you're the one with the sweet tooth, so you've described yourself, not me."

"Whatever, you're driving the staff crazy. Go pick up your family; I'll see you at home." She gave him a brilliant smile and kissed him as she slipped out of her office, practically skipping as she went down the halls. Robert shook his head; she was so happy that he knew he would happily endure the visit from Elizabeth's father just to see her smile.

Pacing like made, Elizabeth waited at the gate in arrivals for the plane to pull up to the bridge way. The connecting flight from New York had been a puddle jumper, doing multiple commutes a day between the two cities. Frequent fliers and businessmen made the trip routinely, and somewhere amongst the crowd of people deboarding the plane, her family was mixed in. When she finally spotted her father, Elizabeth almost bowled over two other passengers to get to him. The hug that resulted from the separation of father and daughter was a long and overjoyed one. When they finally pulled apart, they had identical smiles, so delighted to see each other.

"Hello, darling. Oh, how I've missed my girl."