symbolism_egg: (Inspector)
[personal profile] symbolism_egg
Summary: Allen and Link walk home late one Christmas Eve, and Allen has something to say. Written for [ profile] 31_days.
Prompt: Lighted streets, distant stars, brilliant snow (December 25)
Note: [ profile] terryh_nyan has translated this fic into Italian here. As always, thank you!

After it had been dark for some hours, Allen made Link take out his pocketwatch.

“Yes, it’s past midnight,” Link pronounced after finding an angle where he could make out the numbers. The street was dark and empty.

“Merry Christmas,” said Walker.

“Yes, Merry Christmas,” said Link with less enthusiasm. “And a happy birthday, I suppose,” he added, having a good memory for numbers and a well-developed sense of politeness, although he felt that Mana Walker’s choice of date smacked of blasphemy.

“Thanks, Link.” Walker dumped two of his shopping bags back into Link’s arms, and they trudged through the streets in the direction of headquarters. Using the Ark for shopping purposes was, of course, not permitted—which is to say, Link had needed to remind the Exorcist several times that it was not permitted.

Link tried to shift the bags so that he could watch for icy puddles at his feet. Timcanpy was sleeping in one of them, and a stray wing obscrured his vision.

“This is a special season,” said Allen. “The lights decorating the town—”

Link looked doubtfully at the cracked and burnt-out streetlamps. It had not been a peaceful December.

“—the stars shining above—”

Above was a heavy cloud cover.

“—and the fresh snow blanketing the ground.”

In this part of the city, where much traffic had passed in earlier hours, there was more slush than snow. Link wondered what had caused Walker, who was not religiously minded, to sound like a Christmas card. He furrowed his brow. “Walker, it’s dark, there are no stars tonight, and the snow is either a brownish color or has turned to ice.”

“That’s all right,” said Walker. “It’s still Christmas.”

Link tried to determine what reasoning lay behind this statement.

“And I managed to find the gifts I wanted. I told you there would be stores open late tonight.”

Several months ago, Walker had left off paying his salary towards General Marian’s debt, which was much like ceasing to empty the ocean with a teaspoon. “This is not what I’m going to remember him by,” he’d said at one point, and shoved the box of receipts farther into the closet. Today he’d put his savings to good use.

“It was fortunate that there were,” said Link.

“Yes, seeing as the paperwork took longer than you said.” Walker turned towards Link with what had to be a glare.

“It was necessary that we finish those reports today, and it wasn’t my fault that—”

“Right, right,” Walker interrupted, which was rude, but then, they’d gone through similar exchanges any number of times.

“That’s right,” said Link. Perhaps they should not be bickering on Christmas.

“But I forgive you. You might even find a gift somewhere in the bottom of that bag.” Walker nodded to the one holding Timcanpy.

Link realized something important. “I’m afraid I did not get you anything.” He had not been sure that an Inspector ought to purchase a Christmas gift for the suspected heretic he was investigating, but this may have changed the answer.

Walker quickened his pace despite the distance they’d walked between the Order and the shops. “Strawberry cheescake on Monday. Macaroons on Thursday. Yesterday, ginger snaps. And a lot of other sweets I’ve forgotten about, though I do remember they were delicious.”

“Those weren’t gifts,” said Link, hurrying to keep pace. “I simply wished to bake.”

“Yes, and I ate most of the results.”

Link’s boots lost purchase where a patch of ice covered the cobblestones, and he nearly slipped. Walker looked back in concern. Link kept hold of the bags, though, and proceeded more carefully. He fought down the urge to complain about the cold.

“So. Um. Thank you,” said Walker. He fiddled with the straps of the bag he was carrying.

Ah, Link knew the reply to this. “You’re welcome,” he said at once.

The amber window-lights of headquarters rose before them, past the roofs of the nearer houses. Silent now, they walked side by side.

As he fell asleep that night in the warmth of his bed, Link could not shake the feeling that Walker had been thanking him for something more than mere baked items, but he could not for the life of him figure out what.

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February 2011

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