Afterthoughts~One Christmas, To Go

Written by Isa

Set after "One Christmas, To Go"

Claudia was floating. She was floating from one cloud to another while Griffin sat on a cloud above her, playing his guitar. Julia was dancing in mid air, and Bailey and Sarah were there. She knew it though she couldn't see them. She jumped into one cloud and stayed there, closing her eyes and soaking it all up. The rays of the sun, the happiness of the moment, the beauty of Griffin's music. He stopped playing and glanced down at her. He leaned in to kiss her, and then--

"Have a holly jolly Christmas! It's the best time of the year!!" loud, cheerful Christmas music filled the Salinger house. Claudia sat up in bed, rubbed her eyes and tried to focus with the daylight shining through her window. It had been somewhere around one when she'd finally gone to sleep. Maybe it was two, two-thirty. She hadn't looked. After their Chinese dinner, she, Griffin & Charlie had flipped through the cable networks until they found "It's A Wonderful Life". They'd popped popcorn and watched it, and when it was over, they all drifted off to their respective bedrooms. She'd insisted Griffin sleep on the couch, because it was Christmas and no one sleeps outside in the cold on Christmas.

Yawning, she stumbled out of bed and went downstairs to see where all the noise was coming from.

Sarah and Bailey were dancing, Charlie was sitting on the couch feeding Diana, Owen was making one large plastic bug attack another, and Griffin was fixing a bow on a gift for Julia.

"Hey Claudia," he said, standing up. "Merry Christmas."

"Merry Christmas," everyone else said.

"Merry Christmas. What is all this?" there were Christmas decorations everywhere, and there were mounds of presents under the tree.

"After you went to bed, I drove all over looking for an open store." Charlie grinned. "It's not Christmas without a celebration, right?"

"It's not Christmas without family. Anyone have any idea where Julia is?"

"She called me this morning," Sarah said. She laughed as Bailey dipped her. "She said she'd be by about two."

"What time IS it?"

"Eleven-thirty." Griffin reached down and grabbed a present. "Don't you wanna open your gifts?"

She got down on the floor and was opening the CD stand Griffin had made her when Julia came in. She set a bag of gifts down and stood in the door way. "Hey."

"Merry Christmas to you too." Bailey turned the music down. "Where were you last night?"

"You know what?" Charlie readjusted the baby in his arms. "Let's not talk about last night. Let's just--"

"Party." Griffin turned the music back on and grabbed Claudia by the arm. "Let's dance."

Claudia grinned and let him twirl her around the living room. Julia remained in the doorway, insanely jealous. She walked over to Charlie. "Can we talk?"

"I've gotta put her down." he headed for the stairs and she followed. "Be quiet up here. Daph's still asleep."

"Look, I'm sorry about last night. Ned, he, no, I'm not gonna cover for him. Charlie, he lied and he tricked me into spending the holidays with him instead of you guys and I'm sorry."

"Me too."

"Were you guys miserable?"

"Nope. The four of us had a nice Chinese dinner in front of the tree."

"Four of you? Chinese? You know I came by here and no one was here."

"Well we waited forever for you." he set the baby softly in her crib and left the room, closing the door just halfway so he could hear her cry if she woke up.

"Are you mad at me?"

"No. Not at all. I bought you some luggage like months ago. If you wanna open it it's downstairs under the tree."

"You're telling me what you bought me?"

"It's that kind of year."

Later, after they'd eaten dinner and opened all the gifts, Julia decided she needed to resolve something with Griffin. She went looking for him and found him in the kitchen--with Claudia. She was washing, he was drying, and they were both singing Jingle Bell Rock.

"Claudia, get out of here, I need to talk to Griffin."

She gave Julia a disgusted look. "So much for Christmas spirit huh?" she took off her rubber gloves and threw them in the sink. "You can finish the dishes."

She left and Julia sat down.

Griffin looked at her blankly. "What?"

"I saw the book. The one you gave Claudia."

"I didn't give it to Claudia, I gave it to Charlie."

"Oh." she paused for a second. "Why'd you do it?"

"Don't you think that's kind of a stupid question? It's Christmas."

She stood up and walked around the kitchen, throwing her arms in the air. "You know, I don't know why we even bother."

"Bother to what?"

"To try and be friends."

He shook his head. "No, I never tried to be friends."

"What?" she put her hands on her hips.

He shrugged. "I never wanted to be your friend."

"What would you call it? You live in my garage, you eat with my family, God you drug my little sister across the country!"

"I didn't drag her, she wanted to come."

"Griffin, that's not even--God! Sometimes, I don't know why I bother."

"Bother what?"

"Are you mad that I'm with Ned?"

"I'm not mad that you're with Ned, I'm mad that you're not with me." he put down the towel and started to walk out. "Tell Claudia I'll help her finish the dishes if she wants me to." he left, slamming the back door behind him.

Julia rolled her eyes and went into the living room. Charlie was on the couch, singing to Diana.

"Hush little baby, Jule, don't say a word. If she doesn't get to sleep, I'll yell like you've never heard." she nodded and decided to just give up. She went upstairs to get her stuff and peeked her head in Owen's room. The door was wide open and Claudia was laying on the bed daydreaming.

"What're you doing in here?"

"Owen's playing downstairs with Bailey so I'm taking comfort in my old bed."

"Shove over," she sat next to her. "It was my bed first."

"What's wrong with you?"

"What do you mean?"

"That Ned guy. He's so....."

"So what?"

"He's not right for you Jule."

She laughed. "This is funny. My sixteen year old sister is giving me advice about who I should date."

"Actually, I'm not sixteen yet--"

"Claudia, that's not the point. God, what is everyone's deal with Ned?"

She got up to leave. "The deal is, we all like Griffin better."

Julia stared at the empty room for a second after she left. "Why is everyone walking out on me today?"

Claudia came down the stairs and into the living room. Griffin was sitting on the couch, playing around with his guitar.

"Hey." she sat next to him. "What're you playing?"

"Something from the book you got me. Or I'm trying to anyways."

"Christmas music is easy. Just read the book--"

"That's the thing. I can't really read music."

"How do you play?"

"I just strum whatever I think sounds good."

"So strum me something."

He smiled nervously and began to play. She closed her eyes and imagined what it would be like to kiss him as that music played. She was lost in la la land when the doorbell rang.

"You wanna?" Griffin offered.

"Uh, yeah." she went over and opened it. "Kirsten!"

"Merry Christmas." she hugged her.

"I thought you had plans with Paul."

"So did I. Apparantly, he's the only peds doctor without kids, so he gets stuck working the holidays." she came in and took her coat off. "Where's Charlie? I've got a present for him."

"He's upstairs, with Diana I guess."

"Thanks." Kirsten ran on up, and Claudia returned to the living room. She sat next to Griffin, facing him.

"Can I ask you something?"


"Did you ever do that Christmas ribbon wish thing when you were a kid?"

"I guess not. What Christmas ribbon wish thing?"

"At the end of the day, when you're picking up all the wrapping paper and you get to the ribbon, you tie it into a loose bow and throw it in the air. If the bow comes undone, your wish won't come true."

"So then if it stays in a bow, you'll get your wish?"


"Let's try it." he looked around on the floor and found two red pieces under a gift of Owen's. "You go first."

"No you, since you've never done it."

"Okay," he tied the bow and tossed it in the air. It landed in Claudia's lap, still tied together. "Your turn."

She tied hers, wished silently that Griffin would kiss her, and thew it. It fell apart in the air and landed behind the couch.

"Aw, I'm sorry."

"That's okay." she shrugged. "Some things just aren't meant to be."

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