New Arrivals
Author-JadenH
Titles

A Sentinel-mental Christmas Carol
by JadenH

This is my first Christmas story. I have always loved “A Christmas Carol”, and felt the urge to write my own version of it. I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I did writing it.

All feedback is welcome. I write for fun and will not be offended by any comments good or bad.

Disclaimer: Jim, Blair, Simon, and The Sentinel belong to Pet Fly, UPN, and Paramount and no copyright infringement is intended.

“Here’s your coffee, Mr. Ellison. Is there anything else you need?” asked Sally, setting the tray on a side table in her employer’s den.

“Thank you, Sally.” answered William Ellison, not looking up from the papers he was working on. “No, I won’t need anything.”

“Well then, I’ll see you the day after tomorrow.” the small Asian woman replied, as she turned to leave the room. “Have fun at Jim and Blair’s Christmas Dinner.”

“I’m not going.” stated the older man, tersely.

“Why not?” the surprised housekeeper questioned, assuming that the elder Ellison and his two sons were making progress in their reconciliation.

“I’ll be blunt with you Sally. I don’t mind Steven bringing his Fiancée’ and her two children. After all, *they* will be family before too long. What I do object is that Jim insists that his Captain, his captain’s son, his roommate, and his roommate’s mother attend what was supposed to be a *Family* gathering.” complained William, standing up abruptly and walking over to the fireplace. Gazing into the flames he added, “Both Sandburg’s and Banks’ are not a part of my family!”

“Mr. Ellison, may I be frank?” asked the small woman, quietly.

“Of course, Sally.” he answered.

“Sir, Jim left this family long ago, and has only started to rebuild his relationships with you and Steven, at the encouragement from the very men you claim are not part of this family, I might add. Jim feels that Blair, Naomi, Simon, and young Darryl are a part of *his* family, and to be quite honest about it, if you want to be in Jim’s family, you will have to accept the other members.”

“I am Jimmy and Steven’s father. Their only blood relative in this matter, and the only one that is true family.” growled Ellison, turning around, glaring at his employee.

“Family comes in many different shapes, sizes, colors, and backgrounds. Not all are formed by a blood bond.” Sally answered, softly. “Before you burn that bridge you have been ever so meticulously repairing, you should re-evaluate Jim’s family dynamics, not your own.” she added, sadness in her eyes, as she left the room, closing the door behind her.

Turning back to stare at the fire, the older Ellison let his mind drift back to the discussion he’d had with his eldest son two days prior.

/////////////////////\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\

// “Dad? Hi, it’s Jim.”

“Jim? Is everything alright?” asked William, worriedly. The few times his son had called, during business hours, were because he had been injured.

“I’m fine, Dad. The reason I was calling is to invite you to join the rest of the family over at my place for Christmas dinner.” the younger Ellison answered, alleviating his father’s worry.

“’The rest of the family’? Who will be there?” asked the older Ellison, confused. The only family Jim had were Steven and himself.

“Well, Steven, Hannah and her two kids are coming. Captain Banks and his son Darryl are coming too, as well as Blair’s mom, Naomi. It’s going to be a full house on Christmas. You should see Blair. He’s going all out to make this the best one ever.” laughed Jim. “He even made sure to get a couple of Sally’s secret Holiday recipes to make it more special since she can’t be here.”

Silence from the other end of the line confused and worried the detective.

“Dad, are you still there?” he asked, knowing his father was still on the line, since he could hear the older man breathing, but giving him a moment to collect his thoughts.

“Um … yes, I’m still here.” William answered. “I take it the other *families* are joining us due to the ice storm making traveling difficult?” the older man asked, hoping he sounded unaffected by the surprise list of attendees. Unfortunately, Jim, being a Sentinel, heard the quickening of his father’s heartbeat and respiration, not to mention the slight hesitation in his question.

Sighing quietly, Jim answered his father with false brightness in an attempt to hide his growing annoyance.

“No, Dad. Everyone is going to be where we planned. To be quite honest,” Jim added, hoping to give his father insight into how he used to spend the holidays. “If it wasn’t for Blair, I’d probably be working through Christmas.”

“Surely you celebrated the Holiday when you were married, didn’t you?” queried the elder Ellison, refusing to believe that the young grad student was the reason for the change in his son.

“Nah, Caroline didn’t do Christmas. We usually volunteered to work it so that others could enjoy the holiday with their families.” stated Jim, matter-a-factly. “It wasn’t until Sandburg moved in that I even contemplated taking it off. Heck,” chuckled the detective, “The second Christmas we were roommates, Blair suggested we decorate the Loft. I didn’t know what I had gotten myself into, until I came home one night to find the Loft transformed. It looked like a holiday decoration store blew up inside the loft. I tell you, Santa can’t compete with my partner when it comes to decorating.”

“What? Didn’t you get angry?” demanded William, confused. He knew his son was neat to the obsessive extreme.

“To be honest, after I got over the initial shock, and I’m talking sight, smell, and sound, one look at Sandburg’s face and I lost it. I started laughing and couldn’t stop for a good ten minutes. After I calmed down I realized that Blair was no longer standing next to me, but was in his room. At first I thought that I’d hurt his feelings by laughing, but I found out that was not the case.” snickered Jim, adding, “When I entered his room, I found him sitting on his bed grinning from ear to ear.”

“Why did he decorate the apartment like that if he knew you wouldn’t like it? It seems to me that he overstepped his bounds. After all, it is *your* apartment.” snapped William, sharply.

“Dad, the Loft is Blair’s home, too.” replied the detective, not liking the way his father referred to his partner. “It’s been that way for a long time. Sandburg is my roommate, partner, and best friend, but most of all he is my Guide, Shaman, and family. The reason he went overboard that year was because I had just finished up a really horrible case and needed some kind of release before I exploded. Blair did what a Guide is supposed to do, even though it was a bit… um… unorthodox. He brought me out of the funk I had fallen into, and in doing so kept me from a serious case of depression. The decorations were toned down later that evening after we ate dinner, anyway.” added Jim.

“I see.” said the elder man, tersely.

“No, Dad. I don’t think you do, but that doesn’t matter. I like my life the way it is, and have no intention of changing it to meet someone else’s ideals. Listen, I have to go. The offer is still open if you want to join us. Gifts are optional and will be opened at 3:00 pm, and dinner is at 4:30 pm. I hope to see you there, Dad. Bye.”//

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That had been the last time he had spoken to his son, and had decided then and there that he would not attend the gathering. Looking up to the clock on the mantle, William Ellison discovered how late the time was. He’d been staring at the flames in the fireplace for over 3 hours.

“Well, since I don’t have to be anywhere tomorrow I might as well start working on the Steckbeck acquisition.” he muttered to himself, as he straightened his desk, unaware of a pair of ancient eyes watching him from the shadows.

/////////////////////\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\

William awoke with a start, unsure what had disturbed his peaceful slumber. Sitting up in his bed he remained silent, quietly listening for anything out of the ordinary. There, a sound from downstairs. Silently, William slid out of the bed, putting on his robe and house shoes, he crept quietly from his bedroom into the hallway. The sound was coming from his den. Reaching into his eldest son’s room, he grabbed the baseball bat that Jimmy had always kept near the door. Ever so quietly, the elderly Ellison descended the stairs, and proceeded toward his den. Just as he reached for the doorknob, the door swung open, as if by its own power.

“Enter, William Ellison.” a disembodied voice commanded.

Frightened, William froze on the spot, unable to proceed or retreat. The voice repeated its command, prompting the frightened man to enter the room.

“I must be dreaming.” whispered William, as he stared at the intruders.

“You are not dreaming, William Ellison.” replied the man standing in front of his desk, a blue eyed, grey wolf sitting attentively on his right.

“Who are you?” demanded Ellison, wondering how this man, whose face was painted red and was wearing strange clothes made of animal skins, got into his home.

“In life my given name was Incacha, Shaman of the Chopec Tribe.” answered the primitively dressed man, softly.

“What are you saying? You’re a ghost?” asked the shocked man, sarcastically.

“If that is how you perceive me, yes. A Shaman learns early how to walk in the spirit realm. When our physical being ceases to exist we are prepared for what lies beyond.”

“Are you saying that I’m dead?” Ellison gasped, color draining from his face.

“No, it is not yet your time, but time itself is an illusion. Many waste what precious amount they were given, and when the end comes, can do nothing to fix past mistakes.” Incacha answered.

“If I’m not dead, then why are you here?” queried the confused man.

“I am here to give you a second chance, William Ellison. This very night you will be visited by three spirits whose purposes are to show you the mistakes you made and their outcomes.” the Shaman declared.

“You’ve got to be kidding, three ghosts? Ebenezer Scrooge I am not, so you can keep your little ghosties and leave me alone!” sneered William, turning to exit the room, only to find an extremely large black feline standing between him and the open door. Frozen with fear, he stared dumbstruck at the enormous creatures eyes, for they were not the usual shade of green, but instead were icy blue. Strangely, they reminded him of his eldest son’s eyes.

“Call off your pet.” demanded Ellison, not moving for fear of attack. When he received no answer, he risked a peek and found both the Shaman and wolf gone. Slowly he returned his gaze to the cat, only to find that it too had vanished.

As quickly as he could, the shaken man raced from the den, up the stairs, and back to his bedroom.

‘It was a hallucination.’ he thought, climbing into the bed, and believed it for the total of 5 seconds. What changed his mind was the primitive medicine bag lying on his bedside table. This was going to be a long, strange night.

/////////////////////\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\

>1:00 AM<

“Bong.” chimed the grandfather clock from its location in the lower hallway.

“Mr. Ellison.” called a voice, not once but 3 times. The fourth wasn’t so polite.

“Mr. Ellison, wake up!” demanded the voice.

“Huh? Who are you?” asked William, sleepily to the man standing at the foot of his bed. “Wait, I know you. You were Jimmy’s coach. But that’s impossible, you’re dead!” he added instantly awake.

“If you don’t mind, I prefer to be referred as someone who has moved on, rather than dead.” Bud chuckled; amused by the reaction he received from his once star player’s father.

“It’s still the same thing.” snapped Ellison, “What do you want? I’m tired and I have a long day ahead of me tomor … uh … today.”

“You were told of my coming, Mr. Ellison. So the sooner you get out of bed, the sooner you can get back to sleep.” answered Bud, shrugging his shoulders.

“Fine!” groused William, getting out of bed pulling on his robe and house shoes. “Let’s get this over with, for I have better things to do than to hang out with those who have ‘crossed over’.” he finished, snidely.

Grabbing the old man’s wrist, Bud led him through the door and into the past.

/////////////////////\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\

“Where are we?” demanded William. “I don’t recognize this place.”

He and Bud were standing near the entrance to an auditorium. The nearby parking lot was filled to capacity.

“We are at the Junior High School where your son Jimmy is receiving an award for outstanding sports participation. But you wouldn’t know anything about that since you were away at one of your countless business meetings.”

“So why are we here? Jimmy told me after I got home that it was no big deal.” asked Ellison, dryly.

“It’s sad how truly little you know your own son. This was one of Jimmy’s biggest moments, and you blew it off to go to a meeting you weren’t even needed at.” Bud said, sadly. “If you had attended you would have seen that Jimmy was given his plaque, not by the school principal, but by our State Governor. He was so impressed by his extracurricular activity that he wanted to be the one to present the award.”

At that moment the doors opened and people began streaming out, heading for their vehicles.

Among those who exited last was the school principal, the Governor, and Jimmy Ellison. Before William could call out to his son, Bud headed him off. “He can’t see or hear you, Mr. Ellison. These are but shadows of the past.”

As the two adults walked by with his son, the elder Ellison overheard the small conversation that was going on.

//“I’m sorry that my Dad wasn’t here to meet you Mr. Governor, but the person who was in charge of his flight arrangements goofed. They booked him on next Friday’s flight instead of yesterdays. Unfortunately, he wasn’t notified about it until he was at the airport, and by then there were no vacancies on any plane until Monday.” little Jimmy apologized. “He was so excited and proud that I was getting the award, he told his associates that he was coming home so he could be here to see it.” he added, unaware that both men standing next to him had already spoken about his absent father.

“Too bad he missed it. It must have been a really important meeting to get him to fly to Japan five days before the ceremony.” stated the Governor.

“Um … yeah, it was.” the little boy lied, badly. “It was a last minute problem that came up that only my Dad could fix.”

“Well, I must be off. Congratulations Jimmy, you deserved the award. I hope to hear great things about you, son. Farewell.” finished the Governor as he got into the limo which awaited him.

“Thank you, sir,” answered young Ellison, a false smile pasted on his face.

“Do you need a ride home?” asked the principal, as the limo drove away.

“No, Sir. Thank you, but I think I’ll walk. It’s too nice out to sit in a car.” the boy lied, smoothly.

“Are you sure? Your house is quite a distance away.”

Yes sir, I’m sure.” answered Jimmy, walking into the night toward his home.

“Alright then, I’ll see you in the Fall. Have a good summer, Jimmy.”

“You too, sir.” the young man called back as he continued down the street.//

“He lied. He knew very well that I had no intention of being there.” stated William, angrily.

“Yes he did, but he did so for you. To save face, as it were, so that others didn’t realize that you didn’t care about your own sons.” answered Bud softly, his eyes following the boy he’d tried so hard to help.

“I didn’t need his help.” snapped the older Ellison.

“Are you so sure?” asked Bud, as the scenery around them changed. “See the man your son became because of your lack of attention.”

Scenes of Jimmy’s life came and went. Slowly, William realized that in rejecting his son’s abilities, and in many parts, his son, Jim had become a cold, hard man, soldier, and then, a cop.

As the final image faded, William closed his eyes, ashamed of his role in his son’s detachment from the human race. Opening his eyes, he found himself in a small, cluttered office.

“This is the office of one Blair Sandburg, and the place where your son found himself again. Watch.” encouraged Bud, as new images came and went. Images of Jim smiling, laughing, joking around, playing poker and enjoying life. Then there were images of Jim scared, worried, and even …

“He’s crying!” gasped William, staring at his son. Jim was sitting on the floor, his hands covering his face, in the corner of a small bathroom near the ICU waiting room, at Cascade General Hospital.

“Yes, he is.” remarked Bud, sadly, his heart aching for the younger man.

“Why is he crying?” demanded Ellison.

“Because his young friend and Guide is at death’s door. He ingested a large dose of the drug Golden and is on life support. The drug makers were trying to hurt the police force, but instead… hurt an innocent. Blair almost died that day.”

Other images flew by as William finally came to realize how much young Sandburg meant to Jim.

“Enough!” shouted the tired Ellison. “Take me back to my room.”

“Why?” asked a soft feminine voice.

“Who are you?” asked William, turning around in surprise.

“I guess you could say I’m the ghost of Christmas present.” she quipped, laughing softly. “But you can call me Janet. I’m an old friend of Blair’s. It’s my job to show you what this Christmas is going to be like, so let’s go.”

Before he had a chance to speak a word the scenery changed. He was now standing in his eldest son’s apartment. Before he could ask why he was there the front door opened.


//“Chief, I’m back.” yelled Jim, entering the loft, carrying a bag.

“Did Mr. Chang have the jam?” questioned a voice from the lower bedroom.

“Yep, he told me that when he found it he knew instantly who it belonged to.”  snorted the detective. “After all, who else does he know who puts Kiwi and Strawberry jam on Blueberry Bagels?”

“My mother and an undetermined quantity of friends and family, that’s who.” answered the young grad student as he entered the room.

“What are you wearing?” laughed Jim, eyeballing the strange headgear his partner had on.

“Antlers.” Blair stated. “With bells.” he added, shaking his head to make the bells ring.

“Sandburg, if I’ve said it once, I’ve said it a thousand times. You are just too weird.” chuckled the older man.

“Hey, at least I didn’t get the ones with the bells and flashing lights!” Blair snickered. “When’s Simon and Darryl supposed to get here?” asked the young guide.

“In an hour and a half. Simon had to go pick up Darryl from his ex-in-laws house.”

“Man, I hope they don’t give the Captain any grief about coming after Darryl.” grumbled Blair, painfully aware of Simon’s ongoing problems with his ex-wife and her family.

“They’d better not. This was Simon’s holiday with his son. He only let Darryl spend the night there because Joan’s baby brother is home on extended leave. Simon and Ray always got along. Drives Joan nuts.” laughed the Sentinel. “When’s Naomi’s plane getting in?”

“In 40 minutes. We should just make it. Steven’s plane gets in 20 minutes later, so we’d better take both the truck and the Volvo.”

“Good idea, Chief. I wasn’t thinking on seating arrangements, just hoping the flights are on time.”

“I’m ready to go, so let’s get a move on.” chirped the student, grabbing his coat and keys as he headed out the door.

“I’m right behind you, Chief.”//

“How do you perceive your son’s family now, Mr. Ellison?” asked Janet.

“He seems to be looking forward to having a full house, but something will happen that will make him regret giving his … friend free reign.” William huffed.

“You think so? We’ll see.”

********************

//“Jim, man, how are we going to find them in this chaos?” asked Blair, clutching his roommate’s arm with both hands, trying to avoid being separated from his friend. The area was swarming with frantic holiday travelers.

“Simple, Chief, your mom always smells like sage, and Steven will more than likely be wearing that cologne you gave him for his Birthday. I’ll just follow my nose.”

“Wait a minute. You usually hate using your senses in busy, not to mention loud, public places, and complain when I mention them. Now you want to use them, at the airport? Who are you and what have you done with my partner?” the young man chuckled, softly.

“Very funny, Sandburg. The reason I’m willing to use them is because the sooner we find them, the sooner we can get out of here. If I stay here too long, I’m going to be in a world of hurt.” the Sentinel stated, wincing as yet another traveler shrieked, flinging themselves into the waiting arms of their loved ones.

“Maybe it would be better if you waited in the truck, Jim. We don’t want you suffering through Christmas with a headache.” replied Blair, sympathetically, unconsciously stroking the arm he held with one hand, in a soothing manner. It would not do for the Guide to allow his Sentinel to be in pain, and Sandburg was going to do all in his power to prevent it.

“I’m okay, Chief.” Ellison assured, smiling as a warm feeling coursed through him with the knowledge that, the chosen brother of his heart, would do whatever it took to keep him safe and without pain.

Blair looked into his best friend’s eyes and saw the truth shining through. Satisfied, he smiled, nodded, releasing Ellison’s arm, and turned toward the gate his mother would be soon walking through.

Jim, a matching smile on his own face, rested his hands on his roommate’s shoulders, pulling him closer and in front of the older man so he wouldn’t get trampled by the disembarking masses.

“She’s here, Chief.” stated the detective close to Sandburg’s ear. The noise had risen to a continuous roar as people exited the plane.

“Mom!” shouted Blair, excitedly, spotting his mother. Dodging through the mass of travelers, he threw himself into her waiting arms.

“Baby!” Naomi squealed, wrapping her son in a tight, loving embrace. “I’ve missed you so much. You too, Jim.” she added, pulling the larger man into the family hug.

“Same here, Naomi.” laughed Ellison, wrapping his arms around mother and son.

“I’m so glad you could make it, Mom. This is going to be the best Christmas ever.” stated Blair, matter-a-factly.

“I’m sure it will, Sweetie.” laughed Naomi. “How long until your brother’s plane lands, Jim?” she asked, as they went to retrieve her baggage.

“It’s on its final approach, now. It should only be another ten to fifteen minutes until Steven and company meet us. We should be back at the Loft no later than 10:30 am.”

“Are Captain Banks and his son meeting us there?” queried Naomi, as she and the boys strolled toward the gate Steven and crew would be exiting.

“Yeah, Simon has a key, and even if they’re running behind time, they should be there by noon at the latest.” answered Jim, scanning the tarmac for his sibling’s plane.

“It’s going to be a full house, what with all of us, Simon, Darryl, Steven, Hannah, and the munchkins.” added Blair.

“Isn’t your father joining us, Jim?” asked Naomi, looking at her son’s roommate, confused.

“Uh, Mom …”

“It’s alright, Chief. To tell you the truth, Naomi, I don’t know if my Dad will be joining us. He has an open invite, but we’ll just have to wait and see.” Ellison sighed, doubt written all over his unusually expressive face.

“His loss is my gain, then.” the tall, slender redhead quipped.

“How so, Mom?” asked Blair.

“It means more time with both of ‘my’ boys.” she answered, wrapping an arm around each man’s waist in confirmation.

“Thanks, Naomi.” whispered Jim, smiling, tears in his eyes.

Before any other comment could be uttered, a tidal wave of travelers surged through the gate, shouting out Christmas greetings to those who met them. Among the crowd were Steven and company.

“Steven, over here.” shouted Sandburg, waving his arms to catch his friend’s attention.

“Blair!” Steven called back, stopping dead in his tracks, staring dumbstruck at his brother’s roommate. “What in the heck do you have on your head?” the younger Ellison inquired.

“Antlers!” shrieked two small children in unison, running toward Blair. It was well known that Sandburg was adored by Hannah’s children. In fact, it was Blair who had introduced Hannah to Steven. After the first meeting both were lost, and after their third date was the introduction of the 5-year old twins. The kids adored Steven the moment they met, and the feeling was mutual. It had only taken two months before Steven popped the question. The wedding was planned for April. Exactly ten months since their first date.

“Hey munchkins,” called Blair, sweeping both children up into his arms, “How was your trip to Grandma Abby’s?” he asked, a pointed look aimed directly at Steven.

“Great!” cried the twins, with a slight Scottish accent.

“Nana showed us how she makes jam and bread.” answered Ian, reaching out for Jim, who promptly scooped up the energetic tot.

“We got to help her make fruit cake, too.” added Shayna, as she reached out for Naomi, who followed suit with her own scooping.

“That sounds like fun. How about you, Steven?” probed Blair, covertly studying his friend.

“Well,” started the younger Ellison, only to be interrupted by Hannah.

“She adored him, Blair. She wanted to know if she could clone him so that my cousins would each have such a wonderful man.”

“What did you say?” asked Jim, hoisting Ian up onto his shoulders.

“I told her ‘No way, Nana. This one’s all mine and I’m not sharing.’ Well, except for sharing him with the twins, that is.” she added, making the adults laugh.

“Dada, can we go to Uncle Jim’s now?” asked Shayna, looking directly at Steven.

“Of course, sweetheart.” answered the younger Ellison, ignoring the curious stares he was getting from his brother and both Sandburg’s. “Let’s go, Gang!”

As the group headed for the parking area, Blair positioned himself so that he walked beside his former classmate. Hannah had been the first real friend Blair had found at Rainer. A first generation American born Scott, she had befriended him the second week he had been at the university. Their friendship had lasted throughout the years, despite their age differences. They had each thought of the other as family, both taking the turns as the supporter when times got rough. It was Blair that she, a newlywed, ran to when her husband had been arrested, then convicted, of murdering his first wife and their 3 children. A family, that Hannah knew nothing about.

She had been so distraught, she couldn’t function. They had only been married five months, and had found out, only two days before, that Hannah was pregnant. The fear, and speculation, of what her husband had in store for her, spurred her flight from their home in Manhattan to her truest friend, in Cascade. Blair had taken her in, and given her strength. Her husband received four consecutive life sentences, due to the cruelty and horrors of the crimes. It was a blessing to Hannah when, a week before she gave birth, she was informed that her, now, ex-husband had been killed by another inmate in a scuffle. The inmate’s reason was that his sister, whom had been given up for adoption when he was 12, and doing time in Juvenile Hall, had been the murdered first wife. He doled out his own form of justice, in the end. Hannah and the twins were safe, and would not be looking over their shoulders, always fearing his return.

“What was that all about? Since when do they call Steven, Dada?” whispered Blair, quietly.

Grinning, Hannah watched her fiancé’ talking to his brother. “They started calling him that at Nana’s. The funny thing is… it was her idea to begin with.”

“No kidding? Abby was the one who told them to do it?” asked Sandburg, surprised.

True, Abby liked things her way, but for her to have her ‘wee bonny ones’ call Steven Dada was proof that she more than approved of him. He was already part of the family.

Nodding, Hannah jogged to catch up with her children.

“Who’d have thunk it?” chuckled the student, smiling brightly.

/////////////////////\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\

“Okay, everyone, time to open the gifts” announced Blair, separating the gifts to make it easier to distribute. “Who wants to play elves?” he asked, holding out two little elf hats, knowing that Hannah’s children would jump at the idea of helping *Uncle Blair*.

“I do!” cried Ian.

“Me too!” added Shayna.

“Looks like I now have a couple of elves.”//

William watched wistfully as the gifts were handed out, opened, oohed and ahhed, wrappings gathered and bagged to be put out into the dumpster later. He watched as everyone sat down to eat, said grace, asking to watch over those who could not be with them, noticing Jim wince at the last part. It seemed that no one had noticed his son’s reaction. Of course, that assumption was proven wrong. William watched silently as Blair stealthily reached over to faintly brush his hand against his partner’s, only to have that hand enveloped by Jim’s in an embrace forged by friendship, trust, and most of all, love. It was a true demonstration that the two were brothers, not by blood but by their own choosing.

Before the elder Ellison could comment, the scenery changed yet again, but this time he was alone. The spirit was gone without a trace of her ever being there.

The place where William now stood was cold and grey and very quiet. It was a cemetery, and he was standing beside a new grave, but not alone. Two men were busy filling the grave with dirt.

//“Sad, don’t you think? I don’t reckon I’ve ever seen a funeral like this one.” said the elder of the two.

“Yeah, you’d think that with the amount of money he had, there’d be someone mourning his passing, but no. Only a preacher, lawyer, and the two of us, standing here to send him on his way. It’s such a pity. No one should die alone.” replied the younger man, a look of sadness on his face.

“You’re right there, son. What say we hurry this up and get home to our families, eh?”

“Sounds good to me, old man.”//

“Wait!” cried William, “Who is this?”

“What, Mr. Ellison, know this you will, for be it ‘tis your grave that they hurriedly fill.” laughed a cold, hard voice.

“Who are you?” asked Ellison, looking around for the unseen person, shaking from fear and not from the cold.

“My name could be Davy, and ‘tis this what might be. Unless you change your ways my friend, this is how your life might end. Hairy Blairy, holy cow, I chant and sing ‘Who Am I Now’?” cackled the voice.

“No!” screamed the terrified William, feeling a hand shoved him forward into the endless depth of the grave, landing finally on …

his bedroom floor. His bedroom floor? Visibly shaken, Ellison slowly stood up and climbed back into his bed.

‘I fell out of bed.’ he thought. ‘There’s no crazy man speaking stupid riddles. I’m alive. It was all just a bad dream.’

“Are you so certain?” a quiet voice asked.

“Yeaaah … “ screamed William, startled. Looking across the room, there in the corner stood Incacha, the wolf and the panther.

“All you have seen are things that have been and may be. Only you can change the future.” the Shaman stated softly, as he and the animals faded away.

“I’ll change. I swear it!” whispered the shaking man.


/////////////////////\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\


Knock. Knock. Knock.

“Chief, can you get the door?” called Jim from his room.

“I got it!” shouted Darryl, walking toward the door from the kitchen.

“Thanks, Darryl.” Blair said, gratefully, basting the turkey. Another hour and it would be ready to eat.

“No problem, Blair.” replied the younger Banks, opening the door. “Hello, Mr. Ellison.” he greeted, as he ushered the older man in to the Loft.

“Hello, Darryl. Am I late?” asked William, not sure if he’d made it on time. In his haste to get everything, he had forgotten to put on his watch.

“No Sir, you’re not late.” answered Darryl, helping the elder Ellison with his packages.

“Mr. Ellison, I’m glad you could make it to the party.” greeted Blair, as he closed the oven door, a genuine smile on his face.

“Thank you, Blair. You don’t know how glad I am to hear you say that. Where’s Jim and Steven?” asked William, removing his hat, coat and gloves, while looking around for his sons.

“We’re up here, Dad.” called Jim, a hint of surprise in his voice. “Come on up.”

Climbing the stairs the elderly Ellison looked out into the lower level of the loft, taking in the sights as he joined his boys in Jim’s bedroom. Darryl Banks assisted Blair in the kitchen, and Naomi, Simon, and Hannah played with the twins. This is what Christmas should be like, surrounded by family.

“Sorry I’m late. I had intended to go with you to the airport, but I lost track of time. I guess I forgot my watch when I left the house.” apologized the soon to be Grandfather, sheepishly.

“Late or early doesn’t matter, just as long as you came.” answered Jim, smiling.

“Amen to that.” added Steven, chuckling.

For the first time, since his wife left them, the Ellison clan, and its extended members, would celebrate a true Family Christmas.


Fin