Hazy Shade Of Winter

Chapter 7: Christmas Future

Author's Note: Well, as the "Holiday" season has come to an end, so must this fic! But I'm glad to see so many of you reading and enjoying it.

It's funny- but writing this particular story has made me think... about old grudges. Somehow- it's easier to forgive and let go of them when your own life is going well. And I can't help but wonder- if letting go of them isn't the only way to make your own life work. Forgiveness isn't about other people- it's something we do for ourselves... If only... that made it easy, always..

Ok... time to get off the soapbox!

Special thanks as always to the reviewers: M, R, V, Amanda, Tanya, misscarletbelle, Mandy, Kayla, Rachel and samitiny.

Wishing everyone all the best of everything in 2007!

Chapter 7: Christmas Future

"Look around..."

"See the ground..."

"There's a patch of snow on the ground..."

"Look around!"

"See the ground!

"There's a patch of snow on the ground!"

Seven years had passed since Tommy and Jude's first Christmas party- and his father's shocking revelations. That holiday get-together had been so successful, it had become a tradition.

However, things would be very different this year.

Once again. Tommy peered out their large windows. It had snowed only once that month; just a light storm. But a patch of whiteness still remained on the lawn, a reminder of how things had been just a short time ago.

Restless, he ran his fingers through his hair, waiting for his family. Although this time the delay was perfectly understandable.

"Jude!"

"We're coming!"

She walked into the room, carrying their nine-month old son. Young Patrick Quincy wore a tiny red santa suit, complete with matching hat. He was a beautiful baby.

As always, Tommy's eyes lit up at the sight of his child.

"Let me take him for a few minutes."

Smiling, Jude handed her son to his father. Patrick's baby blue eyes focused on his daddy and he began cooing happily.

"He loves you." Jude whispered lovingly to Tommy.

"I know... And I love him... My life's never been better than it is right now..."

Instinctively, his eyes traveled to their crowded mantlepiece and the newest picture on top of it- Patrick's baby picture. It bore some resemblance to Tommy's own. Jude, weary, but glowing sat up in the hospital bed with their infant nestled protectively against her breast.

His mother's bracelet shone brightly on her slim wrist. He had given it to her last Christmas.

But unlike his father in his own baby pictures, Tommy sat proudly besides his wife and child, a protective arm wrapped around Jude's shoulder as he gazed lovingly at both of them.

He was there for them, a part of them, and always would be.

Jude watched Tommy, and hugged him. When he turned to her, she asked.

"What do you think? This "Santa" outfit's not too much?"

"Probably!" Tommy laughed.

"But what the heck! It's Christmas,"

"Besides, Grandma will be crushed if he doesn't wear her present!" Jude added.

"True!"

"And she'll be here soon. Everyone will. To celebrate our baby's first Christmas."

She paused, then continued.

"My parents... actually spending a holiday together. You know this is big!" Jude grinned.

"Yes. It's great! Everyone will love it!" Tommy said pensively.

A wistful look swept over his face; he quickly erased it, focusing on the present. But his wife was not fooled.

"You miss him, don't you?" she asked gently.

James Quincy had struggled with his cancer for the past seven years. Initially, it appeared the intensive chemotherapy had successfully combated the disease. It had been in remission for a while, allowing him to spend some time with them. He joined them for holidays and other celebrations; he had walked down the aisle at their wedding. When Jude announced her pregnancy, he could not have been more pleased, enumerating the many ways he planned to spoil his first grandchild.

Unfortunately, that would never happen. A few weeks later, his cancer returned.

Just a month after the birth of his grandson, James Quincy died.

"Yes. I do." Tommy confessed

Jude cuddled against him as Patrick stirred in his arms.

Easily the smile returned to Tommy's face.

"I love you." he said softly, kissing the top of his son's head.

"And I love you." he repeated, dropping a second kiss on his wife's lips.

"You'd better..." Jude whispered back. "I love you too."

Their downstairs buzzer sounded. Jude took their son back into her arms.

"Go ahead, Mr. Quincy... Open the door. Our family's waiting!"