vanillalime: (b/k xmas)
[personal profile] vanillalime
A Christmas Miracle Remembered (an AU where I pretend that Toby was paroled at the end of Season 4, and Seasons 5 & 6 never happened)

Chris quickly shut the cabin door behind him, glad to be inside where it was warm. Leaning against the back of the door, he stomped and wiped the snow off his boots and onto the rug. It was second nature to him now—he’d heard more than enough lectures in his lifetime from Toby about tracking dirty slush across the hardwood floor.

He walked over to the fireplace and dumped his armful of logs into the empty bin, save one. He threw that log onto the dying fire and grabbed the poker. Crouching down, he used it to stir the fire until its flames were strong again. He tried to ignore the aches in his knees as he stood back up.

Chris turned around and saw Toby propped up on the couch, sound asleep. His nose and cheeks had turned a rosy red from the glow of the fire, and his glasses were slightly askew. With a beard and hair that was mostly white now, Toby could easily have passed for Santa Claus.

Chris grabbed a wool blanket from the back of the couch and laid it over Toby before sitting down next to him.

Chris smiled as he reflected on another Christmas Eve, one so long ago, when the biggest miracle since Christ's birth had occurred. The transport van carrying him from Massachusetts back to Oz had skidded off an icy bridge and plunged into a roaring, churning river. Although no bodies were ever found, everyone on board was presumed to have perished in the horrific accident.

But God had apparently decided that Chris Keller deserved a second chance.

Chris spent three long days (or maybe it was four?) getting from Point A to Point B. Toby had opened the door at Chris's knock, his eyes still red and puffy from days of mourning, and nearly fainted at the sight of him. Then it was Chris who collapsed instead, as the exposure, the injuries, and the exhaustion all caught up to him.

Toby tucked him away in his bedroom and worked hard at nursing him back to health. Sometimes, in the midst of delirium, Chris thought his mother was taking care of him, or Sister Pete, or, when things were at their worst, Claire Howell. But finally, there was a breakthrough, and he came to for good. That day, appropriately enough, was New Year's Eve.

Harrison's old, abandoned fishing cabin upstate was deemed the perfect place to hide him. It was an arrangement that worked out surprisingly well. For 10 years, Toby came every other weekend to visit, to re-stock supplies, to help turn the place into a home... and to fuck.

Then, after Holly and Harry had gone off to college, that frequency increased to every weekend. This went on for another 10 years, until Toby retired and moved in permanently. For the last 10 years, the two of them had been living together in the cabin in sheer bliss.

Well, mostly. Toby's thing about tracking in snow had been more than a little irritating, for example.

The fire produced a loud snap and crackled before dying down again. Toby stirred as Chris got up to throw another log on.

"It's almost midnight," Chris informed him as he sat back down again. "Why don't you just go to bed?"

"Ho-Ho-Ho," Toby mumbled. "I've got presents to deliver."

"You didn't need to get anything for me, y'know," Chris said. "Your presence is my present."

Toby groaned and rolled his eyes, but snuggled into Chris's side anyway. "Merry Christmas, Chris."

"It already is, Santa."
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