Fandom: The Wild Wild West
Genres: Fluff, Holiday, Romance, Slice-Of-Life
Summary: Jim returns to the train after a mission and is greeted by a Christmas celebration.
Date Of Completion: December 22, 2016
Date Of Posting: January 9, 2017
Disclaimer: I don't own 'em, CBS does, more's the pity.
Word Count: 1292
Feedback welcome and appreciated.
Not all that shocking,
As I’m a bad boy,
Used as your toy.
“Toys For Boys”
Jim West walked up the rain-slicked steps of the Wanderer, his forest-green cape swirling around in the wind. He was tired and looking forward to a brandy and a good night’s sleep. He tapped his walking stick on the platform. The train’s door was unlocked. Jim walked in, stopping before he could call out for Artie.
The table was set with the good bone china, gold candlesticks, and a bottle of wine chilling in a silver ice bucket. Delicious smells were wafting from the galley and he was suddenly hungry. The Christmas tree shimmered in the corner and a red bow was placed at each end of the fireplace mantel.
Artie appeared with a platter of roasted turkey. “Ah, James, have a seat. Christmas dinner is served.”
“Christmas is tomorrow, Artie.”
Jim smiled as he removed his cloak and hat and put his cane in the umbrella stand. His green suit and gold vest were beautifully-tailored, and his yellow ascot was real silk. An emerald stickpin winked in the light of the Tiffany lamps.
Artie set the platter down. He was wearing black pants, a red smoking jacket, and red brocade slippers. Jim smiled again as he removed his boots and put on his green slippers that were set by his chair.
Artie went back to the galley and by the time he was done, bowls and dishes of roasted potatoes, mashed turnips, applesauce, stewed tomatoes, cranberry jelly and bread stuffing were laid out on the pale green tablecloth edged with gold.
Jim had gone to his cabin and switched his green suit jacket for a matching smoking jacket. He could see the approval in Artie’s warm brown eyes.
“That smoking jacket always makes your eyes even greener.”
Jim smiled. “Need any help?”
“No, of course not. Nice of you to offer after I brought everything in.” Artie’s tone was teasing and Jim laughed.
They sat down and Jim offered the carving knives to his partner. Artie took them with flair and began to carve.
“I was going to cook soup but wasn’t sure if you would be arriving in time. I was juggling enough food as it was.”
“Now you’re talkin’.” Artie carved the tender turkey and passed the plate to Jim. Both men filled their plates with the side dishes and Artie took a bite of turkey. “Mmm mmm, delicious if I do say so myself!”
“I say so, too.”
"Thank you, James. Appreciation is always appreciated.”
Jim chuckled. “You know I always appreciate you, Artie.”
Artie smiled sweetly. “I have to admit the chives I put in the turnips are mmwah!” He kissed his own fingers theatrically. “How did the witness interview go?”
“Not that well. The poor woman is too afraid of Colonel Bracken to say much.” Jim took a sip of wine.
“Can’t say I blame her. Bracken’s a tough customer.”
“Let’s hope the villains, including Bracken, take Christmas off.”
“Why, I believe even Dr. Loveless would grant us that. He is still in Federal prison, right?” Artie hesitated, his fork hovering over the cranberry jelly.
“As far as I know. Washington would already have notified us.”
“Hmm.” Artie picked up his glass. “Do you suppose he might have escaped but they don’t know it yet?”
Jim thoughtfully chewed some stewed tomatoes. “Possibly. I’d say he would want the extra time to get away and not be bothered over the holidays.”
“He’s such a sentimentalist.” Artie’s tone was amused.
“Yes, a man of honor,” Jim said lightly. Loveless was obsessed with him and seemed to ignore Artie, but Jim knew better. Loveless did not like rivals, and Artie was a rival despite Loveless’ egotistic assertion that he had none.
He felt a wave of emotion and smiled. “You’re a great cook, Artie.”
“Thank you, James.” Artie sipped his wine. “I know.”
Jim shook his head fondly.
“Oh, Artie, you’ve outdone yourself.”
The dessert presented was perfect Christmas: creamy custard pudding in red bowls with brown sugar sprinkled on top and a sprig of holly with a red berry to accent the whole thing.
“Veddy English,” Artie said.
“Mmm.” Jim removed the holly and dug in with a gold-plated spoon. “No wonder there will always be an England.”
They chatted as they ate, and Jim patted his stomach when he was done. “I hope I don’t have to fight any villains tonight.”
“They’re all celebrating Christmas.”
Artie sighed. “Always the clean-up.”
The clean-up was filled with laughter and jokes, and when the two agents returned to the parlor car, Jim asked, “Ready to light the tree?”
Artie nodded and they used long tapers to light each candle. The fragrant smell of evergreen pleased Jim, reminding him of home. The glass ornaments reflected the candlelight, dancing with tiny sparks of fire.
“Someday we’ll have lights that don’t burn out,” said Artie.
“Well, until then, we have candles.”
They sat on the gold brocade settee. Artie swirled the Naopleon brandy in his snifter and said, “You’re an old-fashioned man.”
“And you love it.”
Artie’s smile was heartwarming. “Yes, I do.”
The fire crackled in the hearth as the two men sat close together, as had been their custom even before they had become lovers.
The intimacy had always pleased Jim, and surprised him, too. He was not a man who touched freely. Even with women, and only with those he wished to seduce, did he touch. Seduction had a purpose. He had never dared allow himself the luxury of even thinking such a thing with men, though under cover of war, he had fallen into desperate situations a few times. Gentlemen kept such wartime diversions to themselves.
Watching the candlelight on the Christmas tree truly was magical. It was his favorite tradition.
He could smell Artie’s cologne, a pleasing blend of sandalwood and pine. He had found it in a small specialty shop in Boston, and Artie had immediately taken to it. A new bottle was one of the presents that resided under the tree.
“Are we opening presents tonight?” Jim asked.
“How about one each and leave the rest until tomorrow?”
“What if we get an assignment?”
“Unless we travel just to the next town, we should have time to open them. Oh, that reminds me!” Artie snapped his fingers and put his snifter down on a corkwood coaster on the coffee table. He leaped up and left the parlor car. Jim hoped that he had not just vanished into his lab with some sudden idea.
Artie reappeared five minutes later, carrying two red velvet stockings with white fur trim. “Musn’t forget these!”
Jim laughed. He joined Artie by the fireplace.
“Santa always fills stockings for good little boys.” Artie hung the stockings with care.
Jim set his snifter on the mantel. “What about bad little boys?”
“Are you angling for coal in your stocking?”
Jim smiled slyly. “Maybe.”
Artie cupped his partner’s face. “Coal can be made into diamonds.”
“Always the sweet talker.”
Artie kissed him, the heat from fireplace creating a spark between them and blossoming into passion. When they broke apart, the firelight danced in Artie’s brown eyes.
“We’d better, um, extinguish the candles,” Jim murmured.
“Yes,” Artie said softly.
They carefully snuffed out each candle, the tree’s fragrance strong but smelling like Christmas. Artie kissed Jim again.
“Keep the presents under the tree,” Artie whispered. “I’ve got a gift for you in our cabin.”
As they headed for their compartment, Jim murmured, “Bad boy it is.”
The two men disappeared down the corridor as the Christmas tree shimmered in the moonlight.