Author Topic: Ringing in the New Year  (Read 249 times)

Jonathan Granger

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Ringing in the New Year
« on: January 04, 2020, 04:12:45 PM »
New Year had arrived - not just bringing an end to the year, but to the end of the decade. A decade in which life had changed beyond all recognition for one couple on Maple Grove. With promises of good behavior and an injunction to enjoy themselves, Jon and Vicki had been waved off to spend the New Year festivities in Edinburgh, on Earth; a part of their Christmas present from Bea and Humphrey. Hogmanay was a very old tradition in Scotland, and it should always be experienced at least once. Perhaps it wasn't the romantic New Years' Eve they might have planned for themselves, but they could always have a romantic breakfast the next morning. Tonight, they were going to celebrate, Celtic-style.

Despite the chill in the air that necessitated thick coats, hats, and gloves, there was also an air of genial celebration covering the ancient city as the couple stepped out of their hotel and onto the Royal Mile. All around them were gathering crowds of people, stalls set up selling food and drink, music playing live and recorded up and down the street. Vicki laughed cheerfully, looking up at Jon.

"I think Bea might have earned herself an amazing hug for this."

"I still can't figure out how she arranged it," Jon remarked, one gloved hand taking hers as they started their stroll down the crowded city street, filled with food, music, and revelers. Little Bea had obviously had help in arranging for her parents' getaway, and that help had most likely come from Old Man Granger.

"I think she overheard Liv talking about the midnight fireworks and just ran with it," Vicki suggested, though she couldn't be sure Bea hadn't done all the research herself. Their eldest was a resourceful little fiend at times.

"I wouldn't put it past Liv to have lent a hand," Jon remarked, knowing how resourceful the woman was in her own right. "Does it feel strange to be away from home on New Year's Eve?" he asked.

Squeezing his hand as they walked, Vicki smiled absently. "It does, in a way," she admitted. "But it isn't a bad feeling. Just a strange one. Being able to stay up until past midnight without worrying about being woken up at 5am is a novelty these days."

Jon chuckled at his wife's sentiment. "The kids won't stay little forever," he reminded her. It had taken a few days to recover from the madness that always accompanied Christmas at Maple Grove.

"You're not wrong," she laughed, "but it's nice to have you to myself every once in a while. Our family got big." She leaned into him to avoid a group of teenagers muscling past with paper cups of steaming spiced cocoa.

"I don't mind having you all to myself now and then, either, Mrs. Granger," he told her, smooching her lips as she leaned close. He didn't think anyone would mind him kissing his wife in public here on New Year’s Eve.

If anyone noticed, they didn't care; Hogmanay was a night for celebrating the old year gone and the year to come, not for nitpicking the private lives of celebrities in their midst. Vicki grinned against Jon's lips, all too aware of how lucky she was to be able to call him hers. "Shall we investigate the stalls, stud muffin?"

He grinned at the nickname she'd given him when they'd first started dating. Though they might not have as much time or energy to devote to their sex life these days, when they did, the spark was definitely still there. "We should definitely do this more often," he told her. "Where to first?"

She sniffed the air impishly. "I can smell caramelized onions," she informed him. "I bet I can get you a good British street burger, Mr. Refined Palate."

"With a good British ale?" Jon queried. After all, it was New Years Eve. It wouldn't be right not to drink like a native, if he was going to eat like one.

"Scotch whisky on Hogmanay, darling!" she told him, almost scandalized that he would suggest drinking anything else right here in Edinburgh on one of the biggest nights of the year.

"Scotch whisky it is!" he replied, agreeably. "Lead the way, love," he told her, waving her onward. This was familiar territory for her, and it reminded him a little bit of the many festivals and fairs back in Rhy'Din.

There was plenty on hand to entertain and amuse as they wandered toward the enticing smell of onions and meat, passing stalls that sold handmade crafts, hot drinks, alcoholic drinks, hot and cold snacks both sweet and savory. Digging into her pocket as they joined the line outside the truck selling freshly cooked burgers among other things, Vicki grinned at Jon. "All the trimmings?"

"Yes, ma'am!" he confirmed. It was the last night of the old year - there was no point in holding back now. Tomorrow was another story.

It didn't take long before he was holding an enormous burger in its paper, with fixings spilling out the sides whenever he took a bite. Vicki was in a similar position - her vegetarian version was just as over-stuffed as his. But that was part of the fun of street food; you found somewhere to sit or lean out of the way, and you played catch the pickle every time you took a bite.

Jon tugged his gloves off and stuffed them in a coat pocket before taking up his burger, ready to catch any wayward pickles or lick his fingers clean of catsup whenever necessary. He grinned around his burger, moaning in delight at every delicious, juicy bite.

Vicki moaned right along with him. "God, it has been so long since we had proper greasy junk food," she declared about halfway through, grinning at the sight of her always well put together husband gobbling away at the kind of street food she had grown up with.

"I'm not sure the word 'proper' belongs in that sentence," he teased, as he finished up the last few bites of his burger and licked his fingers clean. Now to find a proper glass of scotch, which he assumed meant finding a nearby pub. "That was amazing," he told her, smiling happily.

"This is what I used to eat when I went into town with my friends as a teenager," she told him, swallowing down her last bite happily. "Then we'd grab a bottle of cider and go sit in a park somewhere." She laughed at those memories. "Simple pleasures, you know?"

"Just one bottle between you?" he asked, linking his arm with hers as they started on their way again in search of a "proper" pub. He couldn't very well comment on his own youth, as the memories of that part of his life were lost, but he was content to be making new memories with her - happy memories.

"When you're sixteen in Cornwall, one three quid liter of cider is all you can really afford," she chuckled affectionately, hugging his arm as they walked. It turned out that they didn't need to find a pub - there were stalls selling whisky, hot toddies, spiced wine, and buttered rum. It was simply a case of deciding what they wanted to drink.
"All the world's a stage, and all the men and women merely players."

- Shakespeare

Jonathan Granger

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Re: Ringing in the New Year
« Reply #1 on: January 04, 2020, 04:13:11 PM »
"I remember," he told her. He'd not only witnessed bits and pieces of her childhood, but been part of it, thanks to a magic potion supplied by his cousin Dom before Jon had married Vicki. The potion had been designed to allow Jon to see some of Vicki's past, but instead, he'd wound up becoming part of it. Ah, the joys of Rhy'Din. "What would you like?" he asked, as they passed a few stalls.

"Have you ever had a real hot toddy?" she asked in her own turn, her grin bright despite the chilled redness on her cheeks and nose. Tonight, Vicki didn't care how cold she got - it was Hogmanay in Edinburgh, and she was determined to see in the New Year conscious for once.

He furrowed his brows at her question, unable to remember ever having one before, though much of his memory was full of holes. "I don't think so," he replied, uncertainly. If he had, he certainly didn't remember it.

"It's hot whiskey with honey and lemon," she told him. "What do you think?" She tilted her head at him enticingly, blue eyes bright with obvious intent.

"Are you trying to get me drunk, Mrs. Granger?" he asked, leaning in to touch his forehead to hers, his own eyes bright with playfulness.

She laughed, tilting her chin to brush the tip of her nose to his. "It's a distinct possibility, Mr. Granger," she agreed in a sweet tone. "But not so drunk we can't ring in the new year with a bang."

"Haha," he replied, smirking in amusement at her pun. "I can't think of anything I'd like more than to ring in the New Year with you," he told her, brushing his lips against hers.

She giggled against his lips happily, thoroughly enjoying their daughter's Christmas gift to them already, and they hadn't even seen a fraction of what there was to see. "Let's start with something hot and wet, then," she teased.

He couldn't help but smirk at that. "Are we talking about the hot toddy or something else?" he asked, waggling his brows suggestively. He was really just as bad as she was when it came to sexual innuendos.

"Mr. Granger, I'm shocked that you would think I was referring to anything other than a hot toddy," Vicki countered, her shock barely even registering through her wide grin. She loved being able to tease him without worrying about what little people were going to say next.

"Mmhm," Jon murmured. "This from the woman who tried to seduce me in my trailer before we had our first date," he reminded her, though he hadn't complained then and he wasn't complaining now.

She snorted with laughter, peaking another kiss to his lips before dropping back onto her heels. "You loved it," she reminded him. "You were just stuck in being a gentleman, or you'd have had me then and there."

"And you had me at a disadvantage," he told her, tapping a finger against her pert little nose. "How was I to know you'd already slept with Future Me?" he asked, with a smirk. There had been a time when that had weirded him out a little, but that was in the past.

"Hey, I was a lot less pushy as an adult," she pointed out laughingly. "You never had a chance the first time for me." It was hilarious to think that their first time was in fact two different occasions.

"You did seduce me twice," he readily agreed. "But I can't say I minded very much." And why should he? She was not only beautiful, but she clearly adored him. "You're the best thing that ever happened to me, Vicki. Seriously."

Her smile softened, appreciating how much he meant what he was saying. "I'm very happy to return to you what you gave to me," she told him. "What you give to me, every day."

"I know I'm not very good with words - unless I steal them from the Bard - but I wouldn't change a thing, Vicki. I'm right where I want to be, here with you. Always," he told her, touching another soft kiss to her lips.

Her lips curved into a smile even as he kissed her, arms hugging close about his waist for a long moment. "I love you, Jon," she said simply. "I could not imagine a life without you in it, and I don't want to try."

"That goes double for me," he assured her, wrapping her in his embrace as he touched his nose to hers. "Like Tom Cruise said, 'You complete me'," he whispered, a soft smile on his face.

"Don't let Emily hear you say that," she warned teasingly. Emily Rose was definitely a Daddy's girl, going through a phase of deeply resenting her mother for being her father's favorite person in the family.

"Emily wouldn't even exist without you," he pointed out. Though Vicki obviously knew that, Emily might not have figured that out yet. "Besides, I loved you first," he told her, touching a kiss to the tip of her nose. "Emily will just have to deal with it."

"She'll get over it," she agreed fondly, tipping her head forward to touch her forehead to his with a happy sigh. "We don't get to cuddle like this very often." Never mind that they were on a busy street in the middle of a mid-winter festival, and there were camera crews wandering around the capture the celebration around them.

"Maybe we should do it more often," he suggested. After all, there were plenty of people willing to watch the kids for them, and they weren't the kind of parents to take advantage. They adored their children, but they fell in love with each other first, and it was good for their marriage to remember that and take time for each other now and then.

She nodded. "I think date night needs to come back," she admitted. "It was fine, for a while, without it, but I miss my husband sometimes, you know?"

"The twins are three now. I don't think they'll pitch a fit if we sneak out every now and then, do you?" he asked, though she seemed to have already answered that question. "They're old enough to stay with your dad sometimes now, too."

"Which I'm sure Dad would love," she laughed. "You know he's thinking about moving to Rhy'Din? Wouldn't that be amazing?"
"All the world's a stage, and all the men and women merely players."

- Shakespeare

Jonathan Granger

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Re: Ringing in the New Year
« Reply #2 on: January 04, 2020, 04:13:32 PM »
"What? Since when?" he asked, unwrapping himself from her arms, only to tuck her arm in his again as they continued their stroll. He wasn't sure where to get a hot toddy, but he was in no hurry.

"Since he realized he really enjoys being woken up at the arse end of the night by over-excited children." Vicki's laugh was mildly disbelieving; Christopher Marshall had been a genuine godsend over Christmas.

"Seriously?" Jon said, looking more than a little surprised. "I thought your father swore he'd never leave Truro," he said, remembering when Vicki's father had thought Rhy'Din was in Canada.

"I don't think it was Truro so much as Maria," she admitted ruefully. "Once she realized he was never going to marry her, she was gone, and now he's all alone in that house. I don't think he wants to sell it, but he wants to be closer to us."

"Well, we could move here, you know," he suggested, though he doubted they'd want to do that. They had too many friends and family members on Rhy'Din, not to mention the fact that the kids were happy there. "He could stay with us awhile. See how he likes Rhy'Din," he suggested. He didn't really understand why her father hadn't moved to Rhy'Din already, considering they were his only family.

"I think that is probably a good idea," she agreed. "I'll talk to him about it, see if he wants to spend February with us maybe. If he's comfortable, he might decide to stay anyway."

"Your father gets along well with Humphrey, and Cosmo adores him," Jon pointed out, frowning as another thought came to mind. "He has to be lonely here, Vicki. And you two have always been so close. I honestly think he'd be happier in Rhy'Din." But her father had to decide that for himself.

"I'll talk to him," she promised, hugging his arm as they wandered through the mingling crowd. She knew Jon wasn't a huge fan of crowds, but the fact that he was enduring this one for her was not lost on her. With a gentle tug, she pulled him to a stall serving steaming hot toddies, digging in her pocket to pay for the potent warmer.

It wasn't so bad when people weren't paying him much mind. So far, no one had recognized him; or at least, no one had hounded him for a selfie or an autograph. Then again, it had been some years since he'd done anything here on Earth that warranted notice; maybe they'd just forgotten him. Whatever the case, he was enjoying the anonymity. "What shall we drink to?" he asked, once they had their drinks.

"To us," she said firmly, raising her paper cup with a grin. "And to celebrating our first decade together in the not too distant future."

"To us," he echoed, raising his cup to mirror hers before taking a small sip. "Mm, not bad," he said, as the drink warmed his insides on the way down. "Time flies when you're having fun," he said, blue eyes sparkling with happiness.

She laughed, pausing to savor her own sip of the warming drink. "Oh, we have definitely been having fun," she agreed in an impish tone. "Here's to many more years of it!"

"A lifetime will not be enough to spend with you, my love," he told her, turning just a bit sappy, but he had always been a little sappy where she was concerned.

"Maybe we can come back and do it again when we're done this time around," she replied with a warm smile, tucking herself close under his arm. Her eyes followed the movement on the street - the families and couples eating and drinking and dancing to traditional music beneath the towering darkness of the castle, emblazoned with a countdown to midnight.

"Do you really believe that or are you just teasing me?" he asked, uncertainly. It was something they had never really discussed, too busy living life to worry about what happened after death.

"Well, I'm nominally Catholic," she mused. "So I believe there is some kind of afterlife. I've never really thought about it, though." She tilted her head, eyeing him curiously. "What about you?"

He took another sip of his drink, offering a one-shoulder shrug before replying, "I don't think this is all there is, but I'm not really sure what happens after you die," he said, with a thoughtful frown. He'd had his own close brush with death once, but he didn't remember much about it, other than having awoken with no memory of anything that had come before. "I guess I've always just assumed there's some kind of afterlife, but I'm not sure what it is."

"If there was a guarantee of a good life after death ... would you really live this one?" Vicki mused. He should know better than to introduce philosophy to her when she was drinking; his wife could pick deep into many subjects, and sometimes she was even serious about it.

"Good point," he said, in agreement. "How'd this subject come up again?" he asked, with a smirk. He was the one who'd brought it up, sort of, but not intentionally. "Anyway, I'm not worried. I plan on us getting very old together," he told her, winking as he swung an arm around her shoulders and planted another kiss against her lips.

"Stud muffin, we survived vampires and a ghoul in our first year together," she reminded him with a cheeky grin. "I think we can safely say we're in this for the long haul now."

"We could probably always buy a youth potion," he remarked with a grin. He wasn't really aware if such a thing existed, but anything was possible in Rhy'Din.

"But that means we wouldn't get to deeply embarrass our grandkids by being doddery old love machines," Vicki pointed out, snickering just at the thought of that.

Jon chuckled. "They probably already think that," he said, remembering how just the other day Emily tried to get between them while they were smooching.

She snorted with laughter. "Since when did you acquire grandkids?" she asked, prodding at his stomach through his thick coat.

He snickered at his own mistake. "I just meant we already embarrass our own kids," he told her. "Isn't that what we're supposed to do?" he asked, still smirking.

"Oh, absolutely," she agreed. "And when they get older, they'll do the same to their children, because we are going to set such an amazing example."

"Overall, I think we're awesome parents, don't you?" he asked, though he wasn't really expecting an answer. He drained the rest of his toddy, before nodding his head in the direction of the ferris wheel. "What do you think?"

"All the world's a stage, and all the men and women merely players."

- Shakespeare

Jonathan Granger

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Re: Ringing in the New Year
« Reply #3 on: January 04, 2020, 04:13:50 PM »
Dropping her empty cup into the nearest trash bin, Vicki followed his gaze to the Ferris wheel. A bright grin touched her face as she remembered their second date. "So long as you don't rock it and scare the crap out of me, sure," she agreed

"Would I do that?" he asked, grinning back at her. He might, but not if she didn't want him to. "Trust me?" he asked, reaching for her hand. He already knew the answer to that question, but had to ask anyway.

"What would you do if I said no?" she asked, chuckling as her gloved hand slipped into his, squeezing affectionately. "Darling, by now, that really should be a given."

He seemed to consider that a moment, the look on his face not a very serious one. "I suppose I'd either have to convince you, or carry you kicking and screaming onto the ride." As if that wouldn't attract any attention.

"Good to know where I stand!" She laughed, lengthening her stride to fall in beside him as they wound their way through the revelers toward the line for the Ferris wheel.

"Don't worry, Vicki. I won't let anything happen to you," he promised her, especially not on something as presumably harmless as a ferris wheel. "I'll bet the view is amazing," he said, looking up at the wheel as it turned around.

"Mmm," she agreed, looking up with him. "You know, if we've timed this right, we might be at the top when midnight hits. That might be kind of fun."

"Snogging at the top of the wheel?" he teased. Whether they were at the top of the wheel or not, she was definitely getting kissed when the countdown was over.

"Maybe we should make a bet on who smooches first," she teased him back, knowing perfectly well that would end in at least one split lip. They both had their competitive sides.

"Oh, I'm pretty sure it will be me," he admitted. He was a shameless romantic, after all. "Should I recite Shakespeare from ... how high do you think that is?" he asked, looking way up.

"Putting a number on it doesn't help," she told him, laughing once again. To be fair, she had made a lot of headway with her fear of heights in recent years, but it would always be there.

"We don't have to, if you'd rather not," he told her, not wanting to make her do anything she was uncomfortable about. They each had their own fears, but with the others' help had been getting better about them.

"No, I'd like to," she assured him. "I'm just going to need some distracting, that's all. Think you can handle that?"

"I think I can manage that," he told her, tipping her chin toward him so he could press another kiss against her lips, as if to prove his ability to distract her.

She giggled against his lips, cuddling in close as the line moved on. "You're such a lovely man," she murmured cheerfully. "This is going to be a good year, isn't it?"

"And you are biased," he told her, with a gentle tweak of her nose. She was and had always been his biggest fan, even before they'd been a couple. Then again, she'd known him since she was a baby. "You're also very good for my ego."

"Honey, if I wasn't good for your ego before, I certainly am now," she grinned, her nose crinkling at his tweak. "I hope the kids are being good for Elle and Dom."

"No worrying about the kids," he scolded her gently. It wasn't that he didn't miss them, but these little dates of theirs were rare and few. "I'm sure Elle and Dom know how to keep them entertained."

"I'm not worrying about them," she defended herself in amusement. "I'm worrying about the babysitters!" Not that Elle and Dom needed to be worried about - between a former thief and a professor who told amazing stories, the kids were probably having a fantastic time.

"I'm sure they're fine. We'll return the favor sometime," he assured her as they moved up in line. "You still want to do this? There's still time to back out," he warned her, as they got closer to the front of the line.

Vicki smiled up at him. "I'll be fine," she promised. "I've got you to take care of me, after all. Besides, if I could do one of these on our second date, I can definitely do one now."

"Okay, here goes nothing then," he said, as their turn in line came up, and he led her onto the platform that led to their seat at the wheel. "Should be an awesome view," he murmured, though she might not want to think too hard about that.

"It should be," she agreed, sliding onto the seat. Only someone who knew her would be able to see the faint tension in her form, but she was leagues better at this these days.

Just as he was better at dealing with crowds. He slid onto the seat beside her and waited for the ride worker to secure them into the seat. Jon slid an arm around Vicki's shoulders, hoping to help her feel a little more secure. "Ready?" he asked, though it was too late to back out now.

"With you next to me, I'm ready for anything," she promised, holding onto the guard rail over their legs as she leaned into him. It was probably going to be cold at the top of the wheel's arc, but right now, she didn't care. She was having fun with her husband, that was all that mattered.

He almost wished they'd brought a blanket, but he hadn't thought of that, and it was too late to think about it now. Where was Sol when he needed him? He smiled softly back at her, pulling her against him, not only to keep her warm but to help her feel safe and secure. "Here we go," he warned.

The three minute countdown had already begun by the time the wheel got moving properly, lifting them up and displaying a gorgeous view of the packed streets. Torches flickered everywhere, illuminating the cheerful faces getting ready to ring in the New Year together as the sound of their merriment rose up to the riders on the wheel itself. Vicki laid her head on Jon's shoulder, turning her eyes up to the starlit sky. "It's so beautiful."

"It is, isn't it?" he said, the smile heard in his voice, his eyes on her, rather than the view, at least for the moment. He couldn't ever remember visiting Edinburgh, especially not at New Year's, but there was a lot about his former life that he couldn't remember. These last few years, he'd found he didn't miss those memories much - he was too busy making new ones.
"All the world's a stage, and all the men and women merely players."

- Shakespeare

Jonathan Granger

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Re: Ringing in the New Year
« Reply #4 on: January 04, 2020, 04:14:07 PM »
Feeling his gaze on her, she tipped her head to look at him, her own smile flattered by his warm attention. "You know, I don't think I've ever actually said it, but ... thank you for taking a chance on me," she said quietly. "My timing was not great, but you didn't push me away. And now look at us."

"I think I'm the one who should be thanking you," he told her softly. "I'm not sure I ever told you this either, but I truly believe I'm only here because of you. You saved me, Vicki. If it wasn't for you ..." He shrugged lightly, leaving the rest unsaid and seemingly undisturbed by the fact that the wheel was still moving up and around.

"You would have found someone to give you the hand up you needed," she said, absolutely certain of that fact in her own heart and mind. "I still consider myself very lucky that my hand was the one you chose to hold onto."

"I don't know about that," Jon replied, but he didn't really want to think about that now. Everything had been different then. He had been different then. Meeting Vicki, falling in love with Vicki had changed everything. She had changed his whole life. "All I'm saying is you're the best thing that ever happened to me."

"You're the best part of my life," she answered, curling her fingers into his as, below them, the countdown to the New Year began. "Well, look at that. We might actually get that highest kiss of the New Year in."

Jon couldn't help but smirk as the countdown began. "Is that something you're looking to cross off your bucket list?" he asked, obviously amused. There had been a time when kissing Jonathan Granger had probably been on her bucket list, and here she was, married to him. Still, he knew he was the lucky one to find himself with her.

"May I kiss you, Mrs. Granger?" he asked, leaning closer, even as the wheel surged upwards.

She laughed, doing her best to ignore the gentle rocking of the cradle in which they sat as it rose higher still. "I wouldn't say no, Mr. Granger," she told him, eyes bright with mischief. "In fact, if you don't, I'll have to kiss you instead."

"I guess we'll just have to kiss each other then," he said, the corners of his eyes crinkling in amusement. "Shall we?" he asked, before leaning in to claim that kiss, just as the crowd counted down the last seconds until the New Year. So, he was kissing her a few seconds early; he didn't much care.

Was there something special about already kissing as the old year passed into the new? Vicki didn't know, and to be honest, she didn't care. Nothing could prevent her from thoroughly enjoying a good kiss from her adorable husband, even at the top of a ferris wheel. She grinned against his lips, snuggling closer, listening as the last seconds became a raucous shout in the street below, followed by the drunken enthusiasm of Auld Lang Syne.

Jon lingered in that kiss as long as he could, before shouts of "Happy New Year!" went up from somewhere below them, and he broke the kiss to take up the song along with the crowed, despite the fact that he'd never been a very good singer. With his arm around Vicki, and her snuggled against him, there was no place he'd rather be at that moment than right there, ringing in the New Year with the woman he'd fallen so hopelessly in love with.

Tomorrow, they'd be home with their children and the rest of their family, but for tonight, it felt right that they were together, just the two of them, welcoming in the new year in each other's arms. Happy New Year, indeed.
"All the world's a stage, and all the men and women merely players."

- Shakespeare