A/N: Okay, so. This fic is actually about two years old, but I wanted another place to put my fics besides Ao3, so I'm in the process of migrating everything over here. Meaning, a lot of the fics I post will probably be old. But, this is one of my most popular ones and people seem to like it so I hope all of you do too! I know the title pretty much has nothing to do with the plot; I was originally gonna make it where the kids got stranded on Christmas Eve, but I already have a Christmas one-shot so I decided to just change the holiday to Thanksgiving. I'll Be Home for Christmas is one of my favorite holiday movies, so I decided to just keep the title to kinda pay a little homage to it. Also, when I started this fic I literally had no intention at all of including Hensper. I wasn't really gonna include any romantic type relationship stuff I was just going to keep it friendly/familial, but then as I was writing I just found myself writing Hensper stuff anyway and that's where it went. What can I say? Anyway, this first half is kinda boring because I wanted to get the first few parts out of the way and get the story set up but it was getting waaaayyy too long so I had to break it up. I apologize in advance. Hopefully, the next parts are much better!
November 23rd, 4:13 p.m.
The day after Thanksgiving.
Henry, Piper, Jasper, and Charlotte were currently lounging in a tiny airport in the middle of Nowhere, U.S.A. Henry's parents had decided to send Henry and Piper to their aunt and uncle's for Thanksgiving, claiming that two of them didn't see them nearly enough, but Henry and Piper both suspected that they were just getting sick of having them in the house. Charlotte's house was getting overcrowded due to the holidays, so her parents reluctantly let her tag along, and Jasper's parents didn't really care where he went, so he came along too. Now, the holiday was over, and they were currently waiting for their connecting flight so they could finally get home.
Henry wasn't exactly sure where they were, but he was surprised that any major airline would ever stop in such a tiny airport. You could literally stand on one end of the terminal and see the other end no problem. The walls and ceilings were made entirely of glass, so you could see outside no matter which way you looked. There was only one tiny pub-style restaurant and a newsstand with a fridge next to it containing various sodas and snacks. A giant Christmas tree that stretched from floor to ceiling was set up in the middle, completely covered in garland, lights, and decorations. Christmas music could be heard throughout the terminal.
Piper was standing by the window near their gate, moving her phone around wildly, desperate to get any type of signal. Charlotte had her nose stuck in a book, and Jasper was absentmindedly watching a television screen in the tiny pub that was across from where they were sitting. Henry was stretched out so his head was on Charlotte's lap and his legs were sprawled across Jasper.
Piper stormed over to Henry after a few minutes and huffed.
"Henry!" she shouted.
"What?" Henry replied without looking up at her, clearly unbothered by her grumpy mood.
"We have to get out of here. I have no cell signal! Things are trending and I don't know what they are! Do something!" she seethed. Henry looked up at her, his expression unchanging.
"What do you want me to do about it? You expect me to stop the snow?" he responded sarcastically.
"I don't care what you do, just do something! Fix. This."
"Yeah, I'll get right on that," he deadpanned without moving. Piper fumed as she watched him for a beat before she let out a sharp breath, storming off again.
"When are we getting out of here?" Henry asked no one in particular. As if on cue, a voice came over the loudspeaker:
"Bad news folks. Flight 626 to Swellview is being delayed again due to inclement weather. We apologize for any inconvenience." All of the kids let out a simultaneous groan.
"So, now when's it supposed to take off?" Henry questioned, an irritated edge to his voice.
"I'll go check the monitors," Jasper said as he pushed Henry's legs off of him and stood up. Henry groaned when his feet hit the floor and he reluctantly sat up, clearly annoyed over the fact that he had been forcefully moved from his position, but Jasper just ignored him. He made his way over to the wall of monitors and searched for their flight.
"Oh, man," he grumbled when he finally found it.
"It's not leaving now until 8:42," he called over to Charlotte and Henry. Charlotte threw her head back and groaned while Henry just threw himself back into her lap.
"We're never gonna get out of here," he mumbled to himself. They had arrived at the airport at 10:38 a.m. and their connecting flight was originally supposed to take off at noon. Now, here it was, four hours later and still no flight, and what's even worse is now they had to wait at least another four hours. At this point, Henry was irrationally angry at his parents for sending him away and inadvertently getting him stuck like this. As Jasper sat down beside him, Henry sat up and started looking around the airport to try to find something to entertain him for a little while. On the other side of the gate, he spotted a pretty brunette girl that was dressed from head-to-toe in designer clothes. She was standing by the charging station charging her phone, trying futilely to get some type of cell signal. A sly smile spread across Henry's face as he stood up. Charlotte peered over her book to see where he was going.
"I'll be back," he announced as he started to make his way over to her. At this point, Piper was rejoining the group, having given up trying to get a signal, and she knelt down on a seat in between Jasper and Charlotte in the row behind them so her arms rested on the back of Henry's chair. The three of them watched Henry closely. A hint of jealousy flashed in Jasper's eyes but he didn't dare show it.
"Does he not realize she's way out of his league?" Piper questioned. Charlotte suppressed the urge to laugh a little. Piper's comment was a little mean, but even Charlotte had to admit that a rich, beautiful girl like that was a little out of Henry's league. Just a little. "Ten bucks says this blows up in his face," Piper continued.
"One can only dream," Jasper mumbled. Charlotte and Piper whipped their heads around to face him.
"What?" Charlotte asked. Jasper's eyes went wide as he realized he had said that out loud.
"Huh?" he replied. Piper and Charlotte continued to watch him for a minute, still clearly puzzled, but they decided to drop the matter and focus their attention on Henry again. He was obviously trying his best to get the girl's attention, but she wasn't looking up from her phone.
"See, I told you guys. There's no way he's gonna pull this off," Piper stated. Charlotte wasn't so sure yet. She had seen Henry come back from worse. Finally, something Henry said got the girl to look up, and once she saw who she was talking too, her expression immediately changed from annoyance to friendliness.
"Oh, see! Nice work, Henry," Charlotte said as she smiled. Piper and Jasper both frowned.
The trio continued to watch the pair, now entirely enthralled with Henry's progress. (Hey, they had nothing better to do.) Henry said something else to the mystery girl, and she immediately smiled as she tucked a stray hair behind her ear.
"Oh! She just did the hair tuck thing! She's definitely into him," Charlotte said. Piper scoffed while Jasper crossed his arms over in front of his chest.
"He's gonna screw this up, just you watch," Piper stated matter-of-factly. Charlotte just shot her a look that said "Oh, please!" before turning her attention back to Henry and the brunette. The mystery girl started laughing at something Henry said while she reached out and touched his hand. Henry was smiling as well, clearly pleased with himself.
"Okay, she laughed at something he said and she touched his hand, it's all over now. He's got her," Charlotte declared. Jasper sunk into his seat a little as he started to pout. Charlotte noticed the change in his attitude out of the corner of her eye, but she pretended like she didn't.
"Alright, I'm bored now," Piper announced as she stood up. "HENRY!" she screeched. Jasper and Charlotte jumped as she had shrieked mere inches from their ears. A few people turned around to face her, clearly bothered by her sudden outburst, but Piper ignored their scathing looks. Henry squeezed his eyes shut for a second as his smile immediately faded. He let out a sharp breath before opening his eyes again. He gave the mystery girl the sweetest smile he could muster.
"One second," he said before turning his attention to Piper. "What?" he hissed through gritted teeth. She made her way over to stand next to the rich brunette.
"I'm hungry, buy me food," she declared. Henry exhaled sharply.
"You have money, use yours," he shot back.
"I have my money, I asked for yours. Mom and dad aren't here, and as the big brother, you're supposed to take care of me. So, buy me food," she said again. Henry sighed.
"Piper-" he started.
"Do it, or I'll start screaming at the top of my lungs," Piper threatened.
"Piper, you're too old for this."
"Piper, I'm serious. Don't you dare."
"Don't let me get to three."
Piper pulled in a sharp breath, but Henry held his hands up to stop her.
"Okay! Fine! Fine. Go get a seat in the pub, I'll be there in a second," Henry said in defeat. A pleased smile crossed Piper's face and she started towards the restaurant, obviously pleased with herself. Henry met the girl's eyes again. Her eyes flickered with sympathy.
"I gotta go," he said solemnly. The girl's lips curved into a small smile.
"Okay. It was nice meeting you!" she said sweetly. Henry forced a smile.
"You too," he grumbled. He made his way over to Jasper and Charlotte, who turned away quickly, not wanting Henry to know they had been watching him the entire time.
"I'm gonna buy Piper something to eat, do you guys wanna join us?" he asked once he reached them. Jasper and Charlotte exchanged glances.
"Yeah, why not?" Charlotte answered.
"I could eat," Jasper replied.
"Alright, let's go," Henry said as he gestured for them to follow him. They made their way over to the pub and they took a seat at the table Piper had grabbed for them. Charlotte started to sit down next to Henry, but she thought back to Jasper's mood change when Henry was flirting, and she decided to move so Jasper could sit next to him instead.
Even if that meant putting her life in danger by sitting next to Piper.
It wasn't lost on her how Jasper subtly moved his chair so he could sit as close as humanly possible to Henry. Henry, on the other hand, was oblivious to the fact that Jasper was now practically sitting in his lap.
The restaurant was almost completely empty, save for the staff and two other people dining. Piper was already busy studying the menu.
"So, how do we wanna pay for this? Split it evenly? Separate checks?" Charlotte inquired as she perused the menu. Henry began calculating in his head how much money he had on him before a thought occurred to him. A wicked smile spread across his lips.
"Lunch is on me," he said. "Or should I say, my parents," he continued as he pulled out his parents' credit card from his wallet and held it up to show the group. His parents had given it to him in case of an emergency, but he felt like sending him away and getting him trapped in an airport with his little sister was emergency enough. The other kids exchanged looks and shrugged. They knew Henry probably shouldn't use his parents' card like that, but they weren't about to turn down free food.
An older woman with short gray hair approached their table. She was wearing a waitress uniform that resembled a referee and she looked positively bored. Her name tag read the name "Ruth." She pulled out a pencil from behind her ear and held up a tiny server book.
"What can I get you?" she asked impassively. Piper, Jasper, and Charlotte each placed their orders, which consisted of a turkey sandwich, a cheeseburger, and a veggie burger. Henry pursed his lips as his eyes scanned the menu.
"Yeah, I'll take a double cheeseburger with cheddar cheese," he started. The waitress began writing down his order as she nodded. "Oh, and also, I'll take one order of every single appetizer you have." Ruth stopped writing for a moment as she looked up at him, but Henry didn't notice. She just raised her eyebrows for a second before she went back to writing down his order. "I'll also take an order of the spaghetti with meatballs, and the baby back ribs." The other kids were now looking at him, their eyebrows knitted together in confusion. "Oh! How is the Mahi sandwich?" The waitress opened her mouth to answer but Henry cut her off. "Never mind, I'll take an order of it anyway." Ruth stopped writing as she shifted her weight to one foot and pressed her lips together.
Henry continued to order a tremendous amount of food, and at one point the waitress stopped to ask him if this was a prank, which Henry assured her it certainly was not. She reluctantly continued to write down his order and Henry could tell from the look on her face she was trying to figure out where he was gonna put all that food and exactly how he was gonna pay for it. He finally finished after he had ordered at least 90% of the menu. Ruth just gave him an irritated look as she went to put in their orders to the kitchen. Piper, Jasper, and Charlotte were all staring at Henry, their eyebrows brought together, confusion etched on their faces.
"Dude," was all Jasper was able to get out at first.
"What?" Henry responded in an innocent tone.
"What was that?" Jasper continued. Henry just shrugged.
"Are you sure it's a good idea to eat all that food before you get on a plane?" Charlotte questioned.
"I'm not actually gonna eat all of it. I just wanted to stick it to my parents for getting us trapped here," Henry stated simply. The three of them continued to watch him for a minute, but they finally decided to just shrug it off.
When the food arrived, it took at least five waiters to bring it all, and they had to slide over another table to fit everything. The kids ogled at all the food sprawled out in front of them. It was like sitting in front of a fully stocked all-you-can-eat-buffet. Henry looked up to address the other three as he rubbed his hands together.
"Alright! Dig in! Take anything you like," he said as he reached for the plate of mozzarella sticks. Charlotte, Piper, and Jasper exchanged looks before they all shrugged and started digging into the mountain of food before them.
Forty minutes later, at least half of the food was gone, and the kids were all slumped in their chairs, griping about how they had eaten too much. Ruth came over and looked at the kids, still doing nothing to conceal her obvious annoyance with the lot of them.
"Can I get you anything else?" she said flatly, an aggravated edge to her voice.
"Just the check," Henry said his voice raspy due to his stomachache. Ruth rolled her eyes as she went back to the kitchen. She returned a moment later with a receipt that she handed to Henry. Henry sucked his breath in through his teeth when he caught sight of the total.
"What's the damage?" Charlotte inquired with a grimace. Jasper leaned over and placed his chin on Henry's shoulder to see the total and he winced.
"$85.92," Henry answered. Piper let out an obnoxious laugh.
"Oh, you're so dead," she teased and Henry just glared at her.
Meanwhile, Charlotte simply observed how Jasper hadn't moved off of Henry's shoulder and how Henry didn't seem concerned with getting him to move. In fact, it was like he didn't really even notice. It pretty much appeared that it was just a natural state for the two of them.
After Henry paid the bill, the kids decided to just chill at the pub for a while given they had nowhere to be and there was usually only one or two other customers. When Ruth came back around to start clearing off the table, Henry handed her a $40 tip to make up for the fact that he had made her a pawn in his revenge plot against his parents, and her disposition immediately changed. She smiled at them for the first time since she had waited on them, and afterward she would always come over every once in a while to check and make sure they didn't want anything else.
The kids hung out for a little while, laughing and joking, and to Henry's surprise, even Piper was being a delight. After a couple of hours, Henry pulled out his phone to check the time. The clock read 7:36 p.m. He put his phone back in his pocket as he turned to face the group.
"We still have an hour to go, but do you guys wanna head back to the gate?" he inquired. A chorus of "sure"s rang out as the kids stood up. They all waved goodbye to Ruth as they shuffled out. As they made their way back to their seats at the gate, a voice rang out over the loudspeakers once again.
"Well, we have more bad news folks. Due to the impending blizzard outside, all flights are being grounded until further notice. Complimentary hotel accommodations can be made at the information desk. We apologize for the inconvenience."
The kids all stopped in their tracks as they let out a collective groan.
"Great," Henry said irritably as he pulled out his phone. "I guess I better call mom and dad and tell them." He looked down at his phone only to remember that he hadn't been able to get cell service the entire time they had been there. "Does anyone have any semblance of a signal?"
Piper, Jasper, and Charlotte all pulled out their phones to check, but Henry could tell from the looks on their faces that the answer was a fat "no".
"Excuse me?" Henry asked, reaching out to an airport worker that was walking by. "Is there a phone around here I can use?" The airport worker pointed down the terminal towards the middle where the giant Christmas tree was.
"There's a payphone on the right-hand side down by the information desk," she answered. The kids just looked at her, perplexed.
"A what?" Jasper questioned. The worker took a deep breath as she resisted the urge to roll her eyes.
"A payphone. You put the quarter in and then dial the number…it's a super simple concept, I'm sure even you guys can figure it out," she said as she walked away again. Henry blinked a few times, each of them sharing a look at her backhanded comment.
"Alright. Let's go find this payphone," he stated as he led the group down the long walkway. Just as the airport worker had said, there was a booth with a phone right next to the information desk. Henry put the quarter in and dialed his parents' number. It rang and rang, but no answer. Henry slammed the phone back down on the receiver as he exhaled sharply. He was starting to feel guilty about the large charge he had just left on their credit card, but now that they gotten him stranded in an airport overnight and they couldn't even be bothered to answer the phone, he didn't feel so bad anymore.
"Anybody got any other ideas of who we can call?" he inquired, looking around the group. The other three thought it over for a beat.
"What about Ray?" Jasper suggested. Henry bit his lower lip in thought.
"It's worth a shot, I guess," he said as he put another quarter in, dialing Ray's number. The phone rang a few times before Ray answered.
"Ray! It's Henry."
"Hey, Kid! What's up?"
"I have a huge favor to ask you."
There was a long pause on the other end, and Henry almost thought the call had dropped.
"What is it?" Ray asked.
"Jasper, Charlotte, my little sister Piper, and I are stuck in a tiny airport in-" Henry put his hand over the bottom of the receiver as he turned to the other three. "Where are we?" he whispered. Charlotte rolled her eyes.
"Indiana," she answered. Henry nodded in response.
"We're stuck in a tiny airport in Indiana, it's snowed in and we don't know how long we'll be stuck here. Is there any way you would even consider coming to pick us up?" he pleaded.
There was another long pause before Henry heard laughing on the other end. Henry's shoulders slumped as he rolled his eyes.
"Henry, that's like a 15-hour drive…through a blizzard. I don't think so," Ray responded as he began to hang up. Henry quickly straightened back up.
"Ray, wait! Stop! Please. I've never asked you for anything in my life, please just do this one thing for me," he begged.
"First of all, you have. Secondly, I don't even have a vehicle that could make that kinda trek!"
"Bring your truck! Bring the ManCopter! I don't care, just please come get us."
"Uhhh….shoot…Henry….I hear the Captain Man hotline going off so I gotta go."
Henry listened closely but all he could hear in the background was Dog Judge.
"I don't hear anything."
"Yeah, well….it's definitely going off."
"Ray, I can hear the TV in the background, I know you're lying," Henry deadpanned.
"Oh, uhhhh…..crrk…shoot, Henry, crrrk, you're breaking up… I can't….crrk."
Henry pinched the bridge of his nose as he sighed sharply.
"I know you're making that 'crrk' sound, Ray," Henry responded, sounding exasperated.
"Huh? Crrk… I can't-"
Henry heard the receiver click before the dial tone started. He put the phone back down in defeat.
"Anybody got any other ideas?"
Jasper and Charlotte just shook their heads.
"Okay, well, I guess we should just go try to get our hotel reservations and-" Henry stopped as he started to look around. "Wait, where's Piper?"