I'll Have a Blue Christmas Without You

He curled up in the bed, and gazed at the window. The lamp was off, but the flickering light of the single candle threw reflection across the glass, preventing him from seeing outside. It was night, and it was snowing, neither of which he cared to see. He'd seen lots of snow in his life, and nights weren't particularly appealing anymore.

Hadn't been for a long time.

Peter pulled the thin blanket up to his chin, knowing he should be shivering from the cold. Couldn't remember when he'd last been warm -- but apparently he was finally used to it. A small comfort. He shifted his feet, rubbing them together under the blanket in a half-remembered habit of generating warmth. Then he lay still again, and watched the flicker of candlelight.

It was late, close to midnight from the feel in his bones. He was tired, but more than that was the dimmed sensation of the spirit haunting him. It had faded over the years, but familiarity had given it the identification that sheer strength had robbed of its presence.

Christmas. Coming soon.

Peter wasn't sure he cared anymore. He sighed and leaned his head down onto the pillow. It was cold, like everything else in the room. Once he'd used the pitiful scene to beg assistance; the social worker he'd called had been sufficiently moved to get the city to turn on the ancient gas-heated pipes for a month. Then, somehow, the charity had been forgotten and by February he'd been back to the cold he'd finally grown accustomed to.

It no longer seemed as cold. He glanced towards the candle, wondering if the drafts causing the flame to dance would grow strong enough to blow it out. Once upon a time he'd huddled over his Christmas candle, hands cupped to capture the tiny heat. That had been after the begging...or possibly not. He couldn't remember clearly. All he knew was that it hadn't ever really worked. Nothing had.

At least tonight it wasn't so cold. Maybe the snow had covered the building, insulating it from the wind he had heard earlier that day, whipping through the buildings like a banshee celebrating the holidays.

It would be Christmas, soon. He could feel it. Leftover present from the spirit of the Jolly Man, Class 12 and uncapturable. They hadn't really tried...had they? Peter wasn't sure, now. He could remember his friend, Ray, standing on the roof and laughing like a little kid -- though they had all been, in those days. They'd all been kids, young and running around like energy was never-ending. Peter remembered meeting Santa Claus, and learning to believe and learning to feel Christmas approaching, the way he could feel the presence of a ghost in a darkened room, or the impeding phone call of a loved one.

Egon had called it extra-sensory perception enhanced by the repeated contact with ectoplasm. Sprinkled in a few other words, as well, to make it sound cooler than ESP-by-ghost. Peter laughed, knowing Egon would have pretended hated hearing Peter say so to his face. The short form, or the fact that Egon said anything to sound cool.

He turned his head and saw the window, again. The darkness was creeping in on the reflections and he could hear again the occasional thump of wind on the pane. A few more minutes, and Christmas would arrive. Suddenly, he realised he hadn't left a list for Santa. He pushed at the blanket, intending to get up and find a pencil, find something to write on. He hadn't asked Santa for anything in years, because after everyone was gone he hadn't been able to think of anything else he wanted. After being told 'no' several years in a row, he'd stopped asking.

But lying here, tonight, he'd thought of something he wanted. It might not be too late, if he could just get up. He closed his eyes and pushed at the mattress, trying for the strength to move his tired, aching body out of bed.

Arms grabbed him, and pulled him upright. Peter opened his eyes and found Egon looking at him. Peter slung an arm around his dead husband's neck, and leaned against him. Egon felt warm. "Merry Christmas, Peter."