2009-11-26: Holiday Plans



Date: November 26, 2009


After making arrangements with Danko, Noah prepares to leave with the assistance of his wife. The more things change, the more they stay the same.

"Holiday Plans"

Bennet Household, New York

Claire and Sandra are busy cleaning the plates last Noah checked In years past, Noah would watch the football game with Lyle, take Mr. Muggles for his evening stroll, or something to further the idea that he is normal. In a time where secrets in the Bennet house are few and far between, Noah makes no excuse.

The gray dress shirt is folded up neatly and placed within the suitcase, along with five other differently colored brothers. The bed for two currently has two large suitcases, the sort that Noah took when he went for month long business trips. He's not nearly as good at packing as his lovely wife, but he's trying. He doesn't look too happy with what he is doing, but it isn't because of the assignment, but merely how the rest of the family will take it.

The wonderful thing about having two teenaged children is the ability to leave them to finish the dishes in favor of other chores. Tonight's flavor is laundry, specifically a load of that includes Noah's tighty whities. Mr. Muggles is a few feet ahead of Sandra as she makes her way up the stairs and into the bedroom. This is where he makes a break for it and rounds the bed to his plush stairs and zips up onto the bed. Three turns later, he's nestled right on top of one of the piles of shirts. Apparently, the show dog wants to be packed too.

"Mister Muggles!" Begins the middle aged woman in a little baby voice, "What are you doing? Are you being just the cutest most lovable doggy for Daddy so he'll take you wherever he's going?" It is only then she looks up to Noah and takes a seat on the bed, proceeding to fold the towels first. "You're going out of town again? Or are you taking Claire back into hiding?"

Gritting his teeth for a moment, Noah looks over toward the dog, powerless as he gets a bit of hair on some of the clothes. Taking the dog off gently and placing on his own pillow, a sign that something is amiss. After all, it is rare that the Family Man tries the dog this well unless he is trying to butter up the owner. As Sandra comes in, Noah takes a small breath before he announces the truth.

"Actually… I made arrangements so Claire doesn't HAVE to go into hiding." While he couldn't look at Sandra at first, he tries to give a confident smile to love of his life. It breaks merely seconds after he pull it out, unable to endure Sandra's gaze. "Now she can be here with you and Lyle, lead the normal life she deserves to have."

The dog crawls across the bed on his front paws, dragging the rest of his body behind him, trying in vain to become the center of the known universe again. Perhaps it's the tension in the room that can be cut with a knife that causes the littlest man of the house to perform, something to ease Mrs. Bennet's temperament. It usually works, this time though, all he receives is one of her hands absently on his head.

"What kind of arrangements, Noah?" Sandra asks quietly, half afraid that the lack of squabbling downstairs means they might have two pairs of ears in the hallway. "It's something dangerous, isn't it? Are you going back to the company?" The details of Primatech's under cover operation were a little lost on the woman, who was more concerned with her family's well being than the little tidbits she could glean from HRG.

"No… We promised I'd never go back to the Company, and I respect you too much to do something like that without your consent," Noah replies as his eyes again meet Sandra's. It's clear that this point is important, because he waits until he sees some sign of acceptance (or denial as the case might be) before he breaks away to look for some ties. He pulls out solid colors, and for reasons unknown, a really tasteless Christmas tie from Lyle and Claire. As he puts the ties away, he lowers his volume to match his wife's. "I'll be heading down to Washington… I'll be helping them restructure the Security on the new program they've been working on and in exchange, Claire will be considered under my protection and responsibility, so she will no longer be considered a target."

There's a small sigh of relief emitted from Sandra before she gets up and pulls the piles of clothing from the suitcase and refolds them. She's learned over the course of their marriage that too many questions never results in anything really good. "Well, that's good news at least." She gives him a smile, if anything to ease the pressure he's putting on himself. "How long will you be going for? You've got enough clothes here to be gone for a full month." Or at least a couple of weeks in shirts, he's never been the best at anything domestic, that was always her area. "Here, let me help you with this, you finish folding your underwear."

Rwarf-Arf! comes the interjection from Mr. Muggles, the dog doesn't think he's good at packing either.

In answer, Sandra bends down to the dog's eye level and scrunches her face as she baby talks to the small animal. "Maybe we'll go for a family walk after the bags are packed? Right Mister Muggles? Whoosa cootie ootiest of all the pretty babies?" Another bark. "Yes! It's you!" All the while clothes are being added to the baggage. "You'll need your shaving kit and the extra toothbrush from the drawer in the bathroom. Not the one I use on the tiles, the one in the package."

"I likely won't be coming back for sometime. Not until I really get a good grasp of the situation. There is talk of internal leaks, infighting, human rights infractions…" Noah moves toward the bathroom, raising his voice so Sandra can still hear him. He doesn't mind so much if Claire and Lyle here for a change, seeing as Claire is known for finding this stuff on her own anyway. "The best thing to do is for me to stay away from you guys as much as I can. If you really need me to come home, I can… Otherwise, I'll need to stay in Washington. Last thing, I want is for you to be dragged into this."

Noah returns with the needed items, handing them to Sandra. "If people come by and ask where I am, no matter WHO they are, just tell them I took a job in Washington and I wasn't allowed to tell you any more than that."

"It's getting close to Christmas," Sandra says matter-of-factly as she takes the shaving kit and toothbrush, tucking them into the smaller compartment. "Who is going to put up the lights outside? Carry in the tree? I don't think Lyle would do as good a job as you do. Besides, we've always picked out a tree together."

By now Mr. Muggles has gotten bored of not being the center of attention and has hopped off the bed and trotted out the door. Giving the retreating dog one last look, the woman sighs and sets her jaw. "Hand me the ties, a few of the patterned ones, and the Christmas tie Claire and Lyle got you last year." Concentrating on the suitcase, she pauses after arranging his socks. "Not the singing one."

"I wish I could be here for that, Sandra, I really do. If we could pick out the tree tomorrow before… 9 in the morning, I could do that." The Family Man does what Sandra commands, more than willing to give up control for something he knows so little of. "But if I'm not always keeping my eye on everything… A lot of people could get hurt. Hopefully this will be resolved by next year and it will be our best Christmas ever, just like this year's turkey was the tastiest ever." He moves to try and kiss Sandra briefly on the cheek. "We'll get through this, I know we will."

Leaning her cheek toward the kiss, Sandra gives him a bittersweet smile. "Well 'tis the season," she quips at the scheduled time. Then she turns and takes a step toward the door, yelling down the stairs. "Claire, Lyle, make sure you set your alarms for six in the morning, we're going to pick out a tree!" Groans in stereo are the answer she receives from the floor below, whines of protest but are soon quieted by the barked command of Muggles Almighty. Sandra's going to take her small victories where she can, damnit. If she can't have the lights, she'll get the tree. "You'll be home for Christmas day, I'm not taking no for an answer. I don't care if the president himself is at the door, I'll set an extra place." Give her an inch, she'll take two.

The talk of Christmas cause him to tense. Another time, the 'only I know it's fake' smile would be plastered and Noah would promised he'd be there, only to find (and sometimes make) an valid excuse why he couldn't be where Sandra needed him to be. But now, now things are different.

"I…" Noah's brow gets a few creases in it. "I'll try my best."

"You will, Noah." Sandra seems adamant in that point, "because otherwise you'll find the Bennet family caroling outside your hotel room on Christmas eve." Placing a hand on his cheek, she gives him a little smile and smooths the line of his cheekbone with her thumb. "Now let's finish getting you packed, the sooner this is done, the sooner we can relax and have a last night of family time."

That will be hard to do if I don't tell you which hotel room I'm staying at, Noah thinks to himself. Does he want Sandra with him? Of course, but as he learned from the Petrellis: The more you mix family and this kind of work, the more you lose a grip on both. Giving a thin smile at the caress and the request, Noah nods. "You got it, honey." And with that, he continues to assist his wife. Why couldn't the big world changing stuff wait until St. Patrick's Day?

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