2007-12-25: Christmas Catch Up


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Summary: Kory and Randall share a quiet Christmas together and get on with the "getting to know each other better" part of their relationship without one thing or another getting in the way. Finally.

Date It Happened: December 25, 2007.

Log Title Christmas Catch Up

Kory's Apartment - Lower Manhattan

Kory said Chinese Food. But she's also a stress baker. And she doesn't sleep. So one sweet potato pie turned into a sweet potato pie, an apple pie, and by the time she looked up it was an hour from when she and Randall had agreed he was coming over, and she'd managed to make an entire Christmas dinner just from being on edge. Fancy that.

The apartment is modestly appointed. There's a little tree in the one window that faces the street. It's a four foot thing, with lights and a star on top. And it quietly plays "Silver Bells".

She's had enough time to shower, put up her hair in modest semblance of a bun, and put on a festive red sweater dress. Randall's present is the only one left under the tree; the rest were picked up by her brother to bring home to the family. She's curled on her favourite comfy chair with no shoes, one foot twitching away as she tries to read something calming: a printout of Gift of the Magi she got off the web.

You'd think, after Endless November, that he'd learn to plan things out better than this. At around T plus fifteen minutes, realizing that the cab has to merge across two lanes instead of just one to bypass the obligatory snow crash, Randall takes out his cell phone to call in an ETA— only to have the batteries give out halfway through the first ring. Shooting the driver a sympathetic look, he leans back and rubs his eyes.

Finally, after the long wait has come and gone, he makes his way up the steps leading into the apartment building, a bag full of little take-out containers carried in one hand and a couple of medium-sized packages tucked under the other arm. "I hope you've got a microwave in there," he calls out, after knocking as best he can manage with the crook of his elbow.

Microwave? He picked up the Chinese? Oh, God. Kory sets down her printout on the table next to her chair, and rushes to the door. "Um, sure. I think we're gonna have a leftovers issue, though," she says sheepishly as she opens the door to Randall's familiar voice. "Hi. M-Merry Christmas?"

Randall smiles as the door is opened. "Merry Christmas," he echoes, blinking as he sniffs at the air. "Is that apple potato pie?" he asks, looking around for a good place to set everything down. Then, with a look of alarm: "Oh no. Catch!" The presents are tossed in Kory's general direction as he moves to get his hand underneath the brown paper bag before the by-now damp bottom has a chance to give way.

Kory beams at Randall, then blinks at how full his arms are. "It's apple pie and sweet potato pie, not both at once," she assures him. "Whoa!" She dives for the presents, chasing one up and down in front of him before she finally nabs it and gets out of his way. "Kitchen's to your left," she tells him. Set it down anywhere." If there's still room.

Fortunately, the larger one lands on the floor without incident; judging from how it moves, it looks to be an article of clothing of some sort. "Thanks," Randall calls out, heading in and looking around. "Wow, I see what you meant about leftovers. Do you have any paper to— Never mind, found 'em." A handful are quickly torn off and set down on the floor, with the compromised bag on top.

"Well, I started cooking for the Lair's Orphan Christmas Party," Kory explains, haltingly. "And then, I sort of …just kept going. It's like that old lady in that book. She knows how to start spelling 'banana' but she's never quite sure where to stop." She sets the gifts he brought under the tree and pauses in the doorway to the kitchen. "Is it salvageable?"

Randall nods, straightening up and walking over to the sink to rinse his hands. "Should be— a couple of them need to be moved into new containers, but the rest should be fine." He runs his fingers through his hair as he examines the fruits of that traffic jam. "I never really got into cooking myself, anything more complicated than link sausage and mac and cheese."

"Mom worked about umpteen jobs when we were little, after—" Kory trails off, shaking her head, and steps into the kitchen. With the typical practicality of one who lives alone, she has a pile of those pint and quart plastic containers from previous Chinese Food orders ready in moments. "Anyway, that plus me reading anything and everything I got my hands on…I ended up doing most of the cooking. Saved my gran and my nana the effort, as watching my brother took so much energy."

Randall crouches down again and starts fishing out the smaller containers, separating the ones that need to be moved. "I'm sorry to hear that," he says softly, inferring at least the broad outlines of what must have come after 'after'. "Why was your brother more of a handful— was he much younger?"

"He's always been a handful," Kory tells Randall, laughing, and catching up the ones that need to be re-packaged. "I think it must be one of those night-and-day things. I'm the quiet studious one, and he's the wild one. I'm sure my mother is very thankful we weren't twins." She pauses, and bends to kiss Randall's temple. "Thanks for bringing the Chinese, by the way."

Randall returns the favor with a peck against the corner of Kory's lips. "Welcome. So your mom isn't—" Dead? He politely avoids asking after her father. "I was wondering, I always thought 'gran' and 'nana' were the same thing. Spanish cognate, isn't it?"

"No, Mom's just taking it easy this year since the whole family's not together," Kory tells Randall, finally getting the last of the Chinese settled into stable packaging. "And it's not so much a Spanish thing as it is a 'grandmother' and 'great grandmother' thing. Had to call them something."

A few locks of Randall's hair fall into his eyes as he glances up, having gone back down to get the floor wiped up and the paper towels disposed of. "Mmm. I don't have any brothers or sisters myself, and my grandparents were all out of state so I mostly just knew them as occasional voices on the phone. There was this one guy at school that I sort of had an adoptive-brother vibe with— he's still back in California, police academy."

"Gran is mom's mom, and Nana is dad's grandmother," Kory elaborates, falling silent as Randall describes his family. "Your folks are not very close knit, huh?" Voices on the phone? She reaches to gentle the hair out of Randall's eyes. "Maybe he can come out and visit after he's done with academy?"

Randall shrugs, finding a patch of counter to lean against. "I'll suggest it— if he can spare any time between graduating and getting put on the job. That's what it is with my family in general, steady work and not much in the way of a travel budget."

"Well, hopefully you can find a way to make it work," Kory says, optimistically. "Now that we've cleaned up — what's your pleasure? Are you still actually in the mood for Chinese, or did you want the traditional stuff? Since, y'know…I seem to have cooked enough to feed the Mets and the Yankees?"

Ooh, you have to be careful using that one phrase; it's got a lot of history behind it. Randall unobtrusively slips a hand over his mouth until the moment passes, looking around once again. "How about a little of each? Or— we should at least use up the rice early, it never reheats very well." A darker tone comes over his expression as the Yankees are mentioned, though again he doesn't give voice to it.

Kory's so nervous right now that it's just as well she didn't catch the alternate connotation attached to that one phrase; if she had, she'd be mortified. "Okay. I guess we can make mix-and-match plates, then." She has straw paper plate support devices for the spendier type of eco-friendly paper plates; it's the work of a moment to pluck them out of one of her little cabinets. "Shrimp fried rice will go well with roast ham anyway." She hands them to Randall and darts past him into the living room. The tree's repeating tinkling music has suddenly hit her maximum saturation point. A flip of a switch and it's properly quiet again.

Randall takes the plate, adding a couple pieces of orange chicken for spice. "What do you want to drink?" he calls out, picking out a simple can of Coke for himself. "I kind of miss having more bottles of non-alcoholic cider than anyone knows what to do with… Have to see if I can find a place that stocks it out here."

"Probably in SoHo or the Village, or TriBeCa," Kory assures Randall, returning to the kitchen. "Or Brooklyn. Worth a day trip if you want. We could see Coney Island before they shut it down and turn it into …condos." She wrinkles her nose, and takes a little rice, some orange chicken, and "Ooh! You got dumplings! How did you know?" For this he gets another kiss. Dumplings apparently score him significant brownie points.

Randall arches a brow, after returning that gesture as well. "I didn't! They're the freebie every half a dozen orders." He does, however, file the information away for later reference. "Who's shutting down Coney? I thought they already had shut it down, or at least enough of it to make it a shadow of its historical self."

"Well, that makes me doubly lucky tonight, then," Kory says, again, completely without the guile of an entendre in her phrasing. "I don't know. Some Real Estate magnate or other. Next summer, the Cyclone and everything over there goes away." She looks a little sad. "I loved Astroland when I was little." But she refuses to dwell on it. "Mmm. Crunchy noodles, too." Also good but not as good as dumplings. Once she's sorted her plate, she leads him to the tiny table with two chairs that serves as her dining area. "But I guess the housing premium has to come first. Life in the big city. There's always Six Flags."

Randall shakes his head. "You're right, we'll have to catch it some time. Six Flags isn't the same at all, there's— what, a dozen of those scattered around the country?" At least the one in Texas actually makes some sense, not that he's ever been. "So what else is hanging around town just out of sight?" he asks, settling down into the open chair.

Kory pops half a dumpling into her mouth with the chopsticks that came with the meal. A moment of quiet bliss face, eyes half lidded, before she chews, swallows, and is able to speak again. "This is New York City," she tells him, with the sort of mild amusement natives to the area can't help when asked this very question. "There's the Seaport, the Museum Mile, the Cloisters. When it gets warm, the San Gennaro feast…" She trails off and gives him a little shake of her head to indicate a hint would be helpful.

"A little of everything," replies Randall, going in for the ham first. "It's all new to me, minus a few bits and pieces I've caught on my own… Some of it'll go over my head, but I can never be sure till I see it for myself. Eternal curse of the jack of all trades."

"That could take an awfully long time," Kory ventures, having some of the crunchy noodles. "To see it all. We can tackle one every time we have a day off in common. We can start at the north end of Manhattan, or at the Empire State Building… I'd wait 'til spring for the Botanical Gardens, though."

Randall considers this - he has little more than abstract names to work with, so far - eventually reaching a hand out toward Kory's. "Sounds like an inspired pairing. You can introduce me to things and I can provide the obligatory fresh look."

Kory curls her fingers around Randall's. "Well, we could always start with New Year's Eve at Times Square, then throw a dart at a map of the city afterward," she suggests. "What's life without a little adventure?"

Randall grins. "Right, right— this would be my first. What do people actually tend to do when the ball comes down, just hang around in large numbers? That's all they ever seem to bother showing on the TV broadcasts."

Kory chuckles. "Well, yeah," she explains. "If you're in New York for New Year's Eve, you're either there to watch the ball come down and hug and kiss someone for good luck when the clock strikes twelve and then go dancing at one of the clubs in Midtown… oooooooor … you're paying really big money to go to one of the swank parties at the hotels." She shakes her head. "Too rich for my blood, though, unless I were spinning at one. But the crowd might be fun to do. Once."
As the options are presented, Randall rests his chin in his hands, having polished off most of the shrimp and rice by now. "So, on the gripping hand— what have you been doing all these past years? Or do you just mean the crowd thins out with distance?"

"Me?" Kory chuckles. "I'm kind of a homebody, really. I've never quite worked up the nerve to do go to Times Square." But she nods, elaborating to answer his question. "Oh, absolutely the crowd thins out. If you're not in that three block area where you can see the building they drop the ball from, there's hardly any point just standing around in the street waiting for midnight when you can watch it on a Hi-Def Jumbotron in a nice warm apartment, bar, or hotel room. But it'd be fun to see the day in with you again." The first date? That's a treasured memory, by the expression that drifts easily onto Kory's features just invoking it by turn of phrase.

Randall looks confused at first. "See the — ? Oh, the midnight turnover, right. Used to do it all the time, my freshman year— but just with a couple friends, not…" His reactions lack a certain measure of the 'oh my God this is actually happening', but are very much on the same level of 'and I'm damn glad it is'. A glance toward the entrance: "Speaking of which, what do you think of trying it out again tonight? I'm still off-shift tomorrow."

"I think we can do that," Kory says, after a heartbeat to think it over. She isn't quite past the 'Oh my God this is actually happening' but she definitely resonates in time with 'damn glad it is' just the same. "If I read the schedule right, KeLyssa's off tomorrow, but Tito's in, and it's usually dead at the Lair on Boxing Day." Who needs to return a comic or a DVD? "Be a perfect night to walk up Fifth Avenue and see the decorations."

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