For Steph H, who generously gave to the victims of Hurricane Katrina during the Jixemitri Fundraiser.  100% of all monies from fundraiser went to The Red Cross.

Universe notes: This story takes place on December 24, 1996. Since Jim and Trixie got married on New Year’s Eve 1995, they are celebrating their first Christmas as a married couple, even though they’ve almost been married for a year.

 

The title is from the Christmas Carol “Believe” and has nothing to do with the Wheeler’s horse. *g*

 

 

Trusting Starlight

 

 

It was their first Christmas as a married couple, and Trixie wanted it to be perfect. 

 

She’d invited family and friends, as well as Jim’s adopted parents, over for a Christmas Eve dinner, and she was determined not only to produce a dinner as good as the ones Moms made, but have the best decorations and the finest tree.  She wanted it to be a Christmas she and Jim would never forget.

 

Jim, her husband of almost one year, had eyed her thoughtfully when told of this plan.

 

“Are you sure you want to do this?” he’d asked.  He worried that Trixie was taking on too much, although he knew from experience that the odds of getting her to see it that way were slim to none.  He gamely gave it a try, however, and ended up sparking a lively debate about her cooking abilities that ended after Trixie lured him into their bed to show him just how serious she was. 

 

Afterwards, he’d wheezed that okay, yes, she took care of him very well, thank you very much, and that was pretty much the end of the argument.

 

Trixie had languorously rolled off of her husband, more sure than ever that it was time for her to be a real grown-up and host Christmas dinner.

 

But now, it was the morning of Christmas Eve, and she wondered if they’d ever get everything done.

 

She’d spent most of the morning frantically cooking and cleaning and had already made two emergency trips to Mr. Lytell’s store for missing ingredients, wanting to scream every time she had to endure Mr. Lytell’s knowing looks. The worst of it was, she couldn’t very well not invite the old goat over for dinner at that point.

 

Who knew the old goat would actually accept?

 

If this dinner didn’t go well, she’d just die.

 

Trixie walked out of the front door of the house built for them on part of the land Jim had inherited from his great-uncle and peered worriedly upwards.  Jim had been on the roof for ages trying to figure out why their Christmas lights had suddenly stopped working.

 

“Baby, is everything okay?” she hollered.

 

“I think I found the bad strand,” came the distant reply.

 

“I’ve made hot chocolate,” she yelled.

 

“Perfect!” Jim yelled back.

 

She was about to return indoors when she heard a thud and then the horrifyingly unmistakable sound that could only be the love of her life sliding off the roof towards certain doom.

 

“Jim!” she tried to scream, but only a croak emerged.  Great, rolling waves of fear paralyzed her, and her stomach turned to ice as the world seemed to hold still for a long, hideous moment.  She heard an odd scraping sound and then Jim’s voice saying weakly, “Everything’s fine.”

 

The breath she hadn’t realized she was holding whooshed out of her, and her paralysis broke.  She charged up the ladder just in time to see Jim shakily regaining his footing as he slowly rose.

 

“Whew!  Thought I was a goner!” he joked.

 

Trixie blinked back tears.  “Are you okay?”

 

Jim grimaced as he held up his hands.  “Yeah, but I’ve scraped the hell out of my hands.  They’re full of splinters, too.”

 

Trixie, who’d once unwittingly slid down a wooden chute, felt her bottom twitch in agonized sympathy.

 

Back inside the house, Jim gritted his teeth as Trixie gently pulled out the splinters one by one with the sterilized tweezers from their first aid kit and then painted his palms with iodine.  Trixie felt as if her own hands were on fire as she carefully wrapped gauze around his.

 

Jim looked ruefully at his bandaged hands. “Some help I’m going to be for the rest of the day,” he said.  “I’m sorry, Shamus.”

 

Trixie gulped inwardly when she thought about her “to do” list.  “Don’t worry about it.  I’m just glad you’re okay.  I can manage.”

 

Jim avoided sighing just in the nick of time. He phrased what he said next very carefully. “Trix, I really appreciate everything you’re planning, but you know that our first Christmas will be special no matter what, right? And that you don’t have to…”

 

“But Jim, I want this to be a Christmas we’ll always remember!”

 

This time, he did sigh. “I guess my telling you that any Christmas I get to spend with you as my wife is one I’ll always remember won’t talk you into calling your mom to come over here and help you, will it?”

 

Trixie was torn between tenderness at the first part of Jim’s sentence and annoyance at the last. “Jim, I want to do this myself. It’s important to me.”

 

Jim knew that arguing with her was fruitless.  If only Trixie weren’t so stubborn, but, then, he supposed, she wouldn’t be the girl he fell in love with, would she?  Instead, he kissed her lightly and said, “I’ll just finish up wrapping the gifts.” He glanced at his hands. “Um, do we have any gift bags?”

 

Trixie left Jim in the living room, biting back a laugh at the site of him picking up gifts between his inner elbows and dropping them into brightly colored bags. At least it was getting done.

 

She entered the kitchen and eyed the turkey sitting in the large, roasting pan she had recently purchased.  It was time to pop that bad boy into the oven.

 

She’d heard horror stories about turkeys so dry they broke carving knives.  Well, that was not going to happen to her!  She made sure to buy a turkey that came with a nifty little pop-up button that let you know when it was done.  And, the pièce de résistance, she had found the perfect glaze recipe on the Internet.  Loaded with melted butter, it promised a turkey so golden and juicy that her guests’ eyeballs would roll back into their heads in ecstasy.

 

She smeared some more on, just to be safe, and then wrestled the pan into the oven.  Trixie let out a sigh of relief as she set the timer. Now that the turkey was actually stuffed, glazed, and in the oven, she felt like she was truly on her way.

 

She wasn’t exactly sure why she was so opposed to asking for help with this dinner.  Over the years, she had finally learned that counting on her friends and family was a sign of strength, and that every time she rushed off alone, like the time she had gone to meet Pedro, Blinky, and Big Tony in New York City when she had been a teenager, or when she had gone off with Mrs. Waters, the mother of the victim in a case that Trixie was working on, who turned out to be loony tunes, it generally ended in disaster.

 

But this was different.  It wasn’t that she doubted Jim’s love for her or anything like that, but she sometimes wondered if Jim secretly longed for somebody who was more like his birth mother, more like Trixie’s mother.  Somebody who truly kept house and was more domestically inclined. 

 

She knew that Jim sometimes longed for that time, long ago, when he had been a boy.  And that one of the first things he had ever told Trixie was that she’d like his mother because she was a lot like her mother.

 

Yet here Jim was, married to a woman who had just finished up an internship with the FBI, and who was planning, along with her best friend Honey, to start her own detective agency.

 

Sometimes, it was hard to believe that she was…enough for him.

 

This dinner had to be perfect. She needed to get a move on.

 

Trixie looked at the pile of potatoes that needed peeling, thought about Jim’s bandaged hands, and wanted to cry.

 

It was very important for her to remember that he had narrowly escaped falling off of their roof and cracking his head open like an old pumpkin.

 

It was also important to remember that she was doing all of this for him.  Trixie ignored the little voice who whispered, Are you sure about that?

 

Jim walked into the kitchen at that moment and caught sight of her expression. “Uh…you want me to vacuum?”

 

Trixie smiled weakly. “That would be great,” she said.  It. Was. Not. His. Fault.

 

In the entryway, Jim managed to worm the old, upright vacuum cleaner out of the coat closet and get it plugged in.  He and Trixie kept meaning to replace it with a nice, bagless model, but they were both so busy all the time that they had never gotten around to it.

 

He fumbled with the on switch a few times and, to Jim’s relief, it roared to life.  If there was anything he couldn’t bear, it was being unable to help somebody when he knew they needed it.

 

Not that Trixie was making it very easy at the moment, but Jim had a sneaking suspicion about what was going on in that curly head of hers.  It was one of their oldest arguments, and he sometimes wondered if they’d still be having it when they were both old and gray.

 

He shook his head, turning his attention back to the matter at hand.  After a few passes with the old vacuum cleaner across the floor, it was obvious that not much was happening.  Opening the back, he groaned at the sight of the full bag.  It wouldn’t be easy changing it in his present condition, but, judging from the wild banging sound of pans coming from the kitchen, now wasn’t the best time to interrupt his wife.

 

After a fruitless search for a new vacuum cleaner bag, Jim was just about at the end of his rope. He spotted a bag of plastic garbage bags tucked in the back of the closet. “It’s a bag. It will work,” he said aloud.

 

Trixie was frantically peeling potatoes when she heard a very loud POP coming from the living room, then a series of crashes and Jim, very unusually, cursing in a way that would make a sailor blush.

 

She dashed from the kitchen into a world gone mad.

 

Trixie choked on the thick dust that filled every inch of the air, making their living room look like a Saharan sand storm.  Their vacuum cleaner was dancing across the living room rug, letting out odd wheezes, as it careened around the room, Jim in hot pursuit.  He almost had it when it first slammed into the end table by the couch, a beautiful lamp given to them by Jim’s adoptive parents toppling over with a crash, before zooming into their Christmas tree. 

 

Trixie let out a scream as the large tree toppled over backwards and smashed through the living room window.

 

The plug to the vacuum cleaner pulled out of the wall, and the vacuum cleaner gave a final, uncontrollable lurch before crashing to the floor with a long, moaning wheeze as if it was exhausted by its efforts.

 

There was a long moment of silence.


“Oops,” Jim finally said.

 

***

 

Believe in what your heart is saying,

hear the melody that's playing.

There's no time to waste,

there's so much to celebrate.

 

Believe in what you feel inside,

And give your dreams the wings to fly.

You have everything you need,

If you just believe

 

Trixie was adjusting the volume on the small radio in the kitchen when one of her favorite Christmas carols came on.  Their first guests had arrived minutes before, and Trixie had managed to calm down considerably, mostly thanks to the large glass of wine that Jim had uncharacteristically pressed on her.

 

“Any special reason there’s cardboard duct-taped over your living room window?” her brother Brian asked as he stepped in to the kitchen, his wife Honey at his side.

 

“It’s the latest thing, didn’t you know?” Trixie replied.  She reflected privately that it went beautifully with the shards of glass hastily swept underneath the Christmas tree skirt.  She picked up her pastry bag and began laboriously piping deviled egg mixture into the large plate of hard-boiled egg whites that she’d meant to complete before any of her guests had arrived.

 

“Want some help with that?” Honey asked.

 

Trixie shook her head as she bent closer. For some reason, the mixture wasn’t coming out as neatly as when she started.  “No, thanks; I’m just about done.”  She squeezed the bag a little harder and let out a surprised yell as the pastry bag exploded, spewing yellow egg filling all over her face, hair, hands, and the counter; basically, everywhere except the egg whites where it belonged.

 

It must be said that Brian and Honey loved Trixie very much and would never want to see any kind of harm or hardship befall her.

 

And they tried their best not to laugh; they really did.

 

“Oh, Trix, stand still while I get a dishtowel,” Honey finally managed to gurgle, while Brian, in the way of big brothers everywhere, was nearly bent to the floor; he was laughing so hard.

 

Honey rushed back, damp towel in hand, to her sister-in-law, who stood very still.  Because she started with Trixie’s face, Honey discovered quickly that Trixie wasn’t laughing along with them.

 

Diana entered the kitchen at that moment and, after taking in the situation in a glance, swung into immediate action, snatching up the mostly completed platter of deviled eggs and thrusting it into Brian’s hands.

 

“Brian, take these out to everyone.  Honey, get Trixie cleaned up as best as you can.  I’m going to run upstairs and get her something else to wear.”

 

Honey gently wiped off the rest of the egg while Trixie struggled to compose herself, wisely not saying anything.  Soon, Diana returned with a nice, blue dress, and all three women rushed into the large, downstairs guestroom, Honey calling out to the other guests that they’d all be right back.

 

As soon as Trixie was presentable again, Honey pounced.  “Trixie Belden, what’s going on with you? It’s not the end of the world.  You’re usually able to laugh at yourself a lot better than this.”

 

“Trixie Frayne,” she corrected automatically.

 

Honey and Diana exchanged glances.  “Uh huh.  Puhleeze tell me you’re not having those thoughts again,” Diana said, folding her arms.

 

“What thoughts?” Trixie asked, turning around so that Honey could zip her up.

 

Diana crossed her arms. “You know very well what thoughts, Trixie Frayne.”

 

Trixie reddened.  “I just want everything to be nice.  What’s wrong with that?”

 

Honey smiled gently.  “Nothing, if that’s all it is.”

 

“Of course that’s all it is.  What else would it be?”  Trixie knew her best friends were only concerned for her, so she kept the impatience out of her voice the best she could.  It didn’t help matters that they were annoyingly right.  “Well, I’ve got to get back to the kitchen,” she said, abruptly leaving the room. “Thanks!” she called over her shoulder.

 

Honey and Diana looked at each other again and shrugged, knowing that, at least for the moment, there wasn’t much they could do for their stubborn friend.

 

***

 

Trixie opened the oven for the umpteenth time and stared at the turkey in dismay.  Why wasn’t the clever, little button popping out?  She glanced at the clock; the turkey had been in there much longer than Trixie had anticipated.  The mashed potatoes, green bean casserole, sweet potatoes, and homemade rolls were done, in fact, Bobby and Mart were taking them into the dining room for her. 

 

There was nothing else to be done but remove the turkey, serve it, and hope for the best. 

 

Jim entered the kitchen. “Want some help taking it out of the oven?”

 

When she glanced at his bandaged hands, he held them out to her, adding, “They’re feeling much better. Just stick those oven mitts on for me, and they’ll be fine.”

 

Jim smiled at her, and Trixie was suddenly struck by how right he was.  It would be fine; it was fine because they were here, together, in their own house, in their own life.  And if that included exploding vacuum cleaners and deviled egg mixture that went everywhere except into the egg whites, well, so be it.

 

Trixie sighed inwardly.  Her best friends knew her all too well.  She glanced upwards and caught Jim looking at her in a way she was all too familiar with.

 

He knew her pretty well, too.

 

Trixie took a deep breath and smiled a real smile.  “I’d love some help.”

 

Jim kissed the top of her head.  “Good.”

 

Together, they pulled the heavy pan out of the oven and set it carefully onto the counter, where Jim deftly transferred the turkey to the waiting platter.  It smelled heavenly and sported a nice, golden-brown color.

 

Trixie heaved out a huge sigh. “Oh, thank God it looks okay, even though the stupid button never did pop out.”

 

Jim just laughed and shook his head.  “Hey, I thought I was supposed to be the worrier in this family.”   He pushed the curls out of her eyes before leaning down and kissing her so deeply she felt like her knees were giving way. Then, he held her while she quickly admitted what he’d already suspected.

 

Jim listened, and, to his credit, didn’t remind her that they’d had this discussion before. He knew they had everything they could ever need; the trick was believing it. He didn’t care how many times he had to tell her what he was about to tell her now.

 

“You’re enough,” Jim said, and, as they carried the platter into the dining room together, Trixie believed.

 

It would be a cold day in Hell before Jim ever told his wife that, thanks to the enthusiastic application of the buttery glaze she’d bestowed on the turkey, the little button had been, in essence, glued into the first turkey she ever cooked for him.

 

He casually poured a generous serving of gravy on each slice as he carved the driest turkey in Sleepyside and placed it on the plates being passed around the table.

 

The faces of family and friends glowed with good cheer in the candle-lit room, and the feeling of happiness was palpable.

 

Even Mr. Lytell seemed in unusually good humor—at least, he was eating a great deal and not complaining about anything. 

 

Jim was glad—he didn’t want anything else happening that could cause his wife to think that the evening was anything less than perfect.

 

Trixie was regaling everyone with the vacuum cleaner adventure when it happened. 

 

Mr. Lytell got up from his chair and leaned forward to grab the gravy boat.  As it happens, it was a rather large and heavy gravy boat that Jim and Trixie had received as a wedding gift. 

 

“Uh, can I help you with that, sir?” Trixie’s youngest brother, Bobby, who was sitting to Mr. Lytell’s left, began to reach out a helping hand.

 

Mr. Lytell ignored him, bending down to pick it up.  Underestimating both the size and the weight of it, he grunted a bit and pulled hard as he reached.

 

Just then, his false teeth fell out of his mouth and plopped into the remains of the gravy.

 

The sounds around the table were immediate and varied. The sounds of gasps and forks dropping mingled with a few stifled snickers as Trixie’s mouth fell open in complete disbelief.

 

Mr. Lytell glanced down, clearly worried about the gravy that had splashed onto his shirt.

 

Trixie’s mother gracefully rose and went to Mr. Lytell, seeing that her daughter was frozen in shock.

 

“Here…let me help you,” she said, reaching for the gravy boat.

 

To everyone’s surprise, Mr. Lytell shook his head, dipped two bony fingers into the gravy, and fished out his teeth.  Without further ado, he slipped them back into his mouth.

 

“That’s good gravy,” he said.

 

Trixie rose to her feet.  “Um…I need to check on my pies,” she managed to choke before bolting.

 

Jim rose.  “I think I’ll see if she needs any help.”  He practically ran into the kitchen.

 

Trixie’s back was to him and, just as he feared, her shoulders were shaking, her hands up to her face.

 

“Ah, Trix…” he began, helplessly.  He put his hands gently on her shoulders and turned her around.

 

Tears were streaming down her face, and it took Jim a moment to understand what they meant. 

 

“G…g..good guh guh..gravy!” Trixie was finally able to sputter, her face red with effort.  She buried her face into Jim’s chest, and they both shook with suppressed laughter for several minutes.

 

Trixie finally raised her head, wiping at her eyes. “I must look awful, “ she chuckled.

 

“You look happy,” Jim said.

 

Trixie took a deep breath.  “I am,” she said.  “I am happy.”

 

Jim took her in his arms.  “Me, too.”  He leaned his forehead against hers for a long moment.  “Very happy.”

 

Trixie’s heart swelled—it was everything she’d ever wanted.

 

Jim gave her a quick kiss.  “Ready to go back in?” he asked.

 

Trixie nodded.  She was ready for whatever life had in store for her.  And, she had to admit; it had turned out to be a Christmas that she and Jim would never forget!

They returned to the dining room, hand-in-hand, back to where their family and friends waited for them—back into their life.

 

Trains move quickly to their journey's end.

Destinations are where we begin again.

Ships go sailing far across the sea.

Trusting starlight, to get where they need to be.

 

The End

 

Author’s Notes: 

 

A big thank you to Steph H., not only for donating to a worthy cause, but for being so patient with me!  You should all know that it was her idea for me to write about Jim and Trixie’s first Christmas as a married couple, and that the button-stuck-in-the-turkey bit was also her idea (apparently, it happened to her poor Mom one infamous Christmas. D'oh!)

 

I’d also like to thank Susan for her fast edit.  Yes, Susan….they do make bagless vacuum cleaners! *g*

 

I found some of the disastrous moments by surfing the ‘net for “holiday mishaps.”  In my own experience, the only catastrophic Christmas I can recall is the one where my beloved dog got killed a few days before, and I sure didn’t want to write about that! **insert EEK emoticon here**

 

The quoted lyrics are from the song “Believe” by Josh Groban and are used without permission.  I don’t think this song was written until fairly recently, so, please ignore the fact that this story is set in 1996.  It’s creative license! Yeah…that’s the ticket! :)

 

 

 

Note: Trixie Belden® is a registered trademark of Random House Books. These pages are not affiliated with Random House Books in any way. These pages are not for profit.   All stories copyright © Mary, 2007 - 2012. All rights reserved.