Jack Malone sighed in relief when the airport announced the arrival of the flight from Chicago and went to wait for his daughters. He'd been worried the flight would be cancelled or diverted, but it had arrived, just in time it seemed, as another announcement sounded, all incoming and outgoing flights were cancelled. The heavy snowfall had bought New York to a standstill.
"Daddy!" Katie yelled across at him, running and jumping into his arms.
"Hey baby," Jack murmured, holding her close, opening his other arm for Hannah, who approached slower.
"How was your flight?" Jack asked, standing up.
"We got Santa hats!" Katie grinned, showing him her hat.
"That's great. Thanks," Jack said to the woman who'd brought them down from the plane.
"Have a nice Christmas," she said, waving goodbye.
"And we brought you a Christmas present," Katie said excitedly.
"Let's go home and you can put it under the tree," Jack said.
They were leaving the airport, trying to get through the throngs of people, when Jack spotted him. Martin Fitzgerald was looking up at the boards, frowning.
"Martin!" Jack called, walking towards him.
"Oh hey, Jack, what you doing here?" Martin asked.
"Collecting my girls. You two remember Martin don't you?" Both girls nodded and smiled, Hannah blushing brightly. Jack tried to prevent a chuckle. So Hannah had a crush on Martin and Katie had a crush on Danny. It seems his girls had inherited his tastes in men. "What about you?"
"I was supposed to be flying out, but..." he nodded towards the boards where all the flights had bright flashing cancel signs beside them.
Jack frowned. "Well, come home with us," he suggested.
"I couldn't impose," Martin said.
"Nonsense, you're never going to make it out of New York in this weather and we certainly won't let you spend Christmas alone, right girls?" Jack looked to his daughters.
"No, please come home with us," Hannah said, grinning and looking at the floor embarrassed.
"You shouldn't be alone at Christmas," Katie agreed.
"Unanimous decision. Come on, I promise my cooking won't poison you," Jack teased gently.
"Thanks," Martin said, flushing, "I'd like that."
Jack put Martin's case in the trunk of his car, along with the girls', and made sure his daughters were strapped in before he pulled out of the car park. The radio was playing Christmas music and the girls started singing along happily, making Jack smile.
"You can call your family from my place, let them know you're trapped," Jack told Martin.
"Thanks," Martin said.
"You weren't going to visit your parents," Jack surmised, from how disappointed Martin seemed to be.
"No, my aunt and uncle have a cabin in Colorado, I was going there for Christmas, a real family affair, but..." Martin shrugged.
"I'm sorry," Jack said and meant it.
"It's okay, there'll be other Christmases, I guess. Thanks for taking me in though," Martin said.
"Well, I couldn't leave you alone on Christmas, besides, it'll be nice to have someone else there... the girls will be too interested in you to harass me," Jack laughed.
"Gee, thanks," Martin said, but he was grinning.
The girls were so interested in Martin that it took Jack nearly an hour to convince them to go to bed when the time came. At least, Jack was going to blame it on Martin, because it can't have had anything to do with the cookies they baked... and ate... almost before they were cool. Marie would not approve.
"Night Daddy," Katie hugged him and then bounced onto Martin's lap, to give him a hug too.
"Night Daddy," Hannah added, giving Martin a shy grin as she pecked his cheek.
"Someone has a crush," Jack commented, when the girls were finally tucked into bed.
"Yeah, I heard Katie asking if Danny would be around this Christmas," Martin said.
"I meant Hannah actually, but I'll call Danny, ask him to come over for a drink, Katie will pout if I don't," Jack said.
"Hannah?" Martin looked clueless.
Jack laughed. "You mean to say, you didn't notice?"
"Erm..." Martin frowned, like he'd missed the joke.
"Hannah has a crush... on you," Jack said.
"A... me... oh..." Martin blushed.
"I can't believe you didn't notice. She did everything, but offer to have your children," Jack laughed, amused at the way his oldest daughter had been subtly flirting... or what passed for flirting at her age anyway, with his co-worker.
"I didn't... I hope..." Martin stammered and blushed more.
"It's okay Martin, at least I know she has good taste in men, let's just hope she keeps it though her teenage years," Jack teased the younger man.
"I really didn't notice," Martin muttered.
Jack chuckled, but didn't say anything, getting up to pour a couple of glasses of scotch, passing one to Martin and setting his own on the table as he went to the cupboard and started pulling out parcels.
"They're going to need another suitcase going home," Martin said, looking at the parcels pile up under the tree, Jack on his knees arranging them.
"A few are mine, from friends and such, Marie sent some stuff down... I'll fed ex it back to Chicago if I have too," Jack said.
Martin smiled. "It's good that you get to spend the holiday with them."
Jack nodded. "What about your family, what did they say?"
"They're disappointed, but they told me to thank you for 'taking me in', I think my cousin... well they said thanks anyway," Martin said, suddenly blushing.
"What?" Jack asked, bemused.
"Just... something she said," Martin said. "It's not important."
"Martin, you're beetroot coloured," Jack pointed out.
"I'm... she thinks... she... I'mbiandshethinks... ya know..." Martin rushed out, looking at the floor.
"She thinks I'll take advantage?" Jack asked.
"No! Not like that, just..." Martin looked like he wanted to floor to swallow him whole.
"Martin, do you have a crush?" Jack asked. Martin mumbled his answer to the floor, so low Jack couldn't make it out. "Martin..."
"Yes..." he repeated, looking up at Jack, his eyes filled with embarrassment and a little fear.
Jack chuckled, a full on belly laugh threatening to fight its way out, his funny bone had been tickled and now... Martin frowned. "It's not a joke!" Martin said.
"No... no..." Jack agreed, trying to sober himself. "Martin..." Jack shook his head, grinning bemused. "It's not a joke," Jack said, shuffling forward on his knees, until he was in front of Martin.
"I'm sorry," Martin said.
"I'm not," Jack told him, taking Martin's chin in his hand. "Tell me no if you don't want this," Jack said.
Martin didn't speak as Jack leaned forward, pressing his lips to Martin's, gentle and chaste. Jack pulled back and smiled.
"You kissed me," Martin said, his eyes wide with shock and wonder.
"Yes. And I'd like to do it again," Jack told him.
"But... you're straight!" Martin said.
"I'd have said the same thing about you five minutes ago," Jack said.
"I... you... but..." Martin was cut off when Jack kissed him again, just as gentle, but not chaste, as Jack teased his tongue over and between Martin's lips. "Oh..." Martin gasped softly as Jack released him.
Jack smiled softly, his heart racing with fear and joy and a million other things he couldn't name, but Martin was there and he'd kissed him and it was the best Christmas present Jack could have asked for next to having his girls home.
"I never... thought..." Martin said.
"Me either," Jack admitted.
"This is... is this okay, the girls are..." Jack placed a finger over Martin's lips.
"This is better than okay," Jack said, kissing Martin again before he could say more. The girls would adapt and there were other things to consider it was true, work for one, but when Martin wrapped his arms around Jack's neck, tugging him closer, none of them seemed that important.
Jack woke up Christmas morning, Martin wrapped tight around him, he could hear the girls giggling and looked over to see them both, standing at the edge of the bed, hands trying to muffle the giggles.
"Out!" Jack told them, chuckling as they ran off, still giggling.
"Guess they aren't upset," Martin said.
"They have a new reason to tease me, they're always happy," Jack said, nuzzling Martin's neck. "Well, at least they'll be teasing you too," he muttered. Martin groaned and Jack chuckled.
"Come on, let's go and see what Santa brought," Jack said.
"Already got what I wanted," Martin said, blushing slightly.
"Me too," Jack agreed, kissing him gently.
Two loud 'ewwwwwwww's' could be heard throughout the apartment.