John wraps his throat warm in his new long woolen scarf. It is novel to him and he is very pleased with it, almost proud. He tucks an extra flask in the inside pocket of his great fur-trimmed coat, for it will be cold in the snow. The whole idea of caroling with his friend makes him pleased and proud, as he thinks of it. He tugs on his gloves and picks up the music books and his cane.
The snow makes the streets and country and world look like a Christmas card. Large enough flakes are falling that he believes he could count their points. Their friends. It is a tradition he has always watched almost enviously, and now he will bring it to some of those he loves. With Hickey. He smiles, his heart open, glad and warm. He has been looking forward to this.
It's the evening, the one he's been looking forward to; Hickey realizes this much with a start.
He's been drifting. He's been singing, too, though he only realizes it now, and it hasn't been any sort of Christmas carol. The same damned tune over and over--He can't get over it. Seems it's been going through head since... Well, since a couple of days ago, whatever that was.'Always jolly, heart that is true I know...'
Christ. That's enough of that, more
than enough of that. As he rises (having less trouble about that than he might have expected... but then, he'd gotten sued to drinking early enough in life that it couldn't do too much damage now), he reminds himself of what he needs to do before going anywhere. Make sure he looks presentable--fix the vest, comb the hair--make sure he'll be warm enough--find a warm jacket; he has one around here somewhere, has to. Maybe have another drink, too.
But whatever he does, he'll shake this goddamned funk. This isn't any state to be meeting the Doc in, and Hickey doesn't want it to go like that, anyway. By all rights, this is going to be a good time. Caroling. Hell, he's never done it before--Evelyn (ahhh, Christ) had talked about it, but they'd never really gotten around to doing anything of the sort--and it sounds like fun. Something to get out and do. And it's with the Doc; helluva guy, so far as Hickey can figure (and usually, he figures pretty damned well).
All right, there. He's gotten himself into a presentable state. And his head's spinning a little, sure, but that's nothing; that'll go as soon as he sees the Doc, he knows. You learn to handle it. Not that he should've been drinking--he feels a twinge of guilt at that; hardly remembers when he started, but knows he shouldn't have even touched the stuff--but he can't deny it, and he can at least be glad that he can deal with it. Could be worse.
He's as ready as he'll ever be. Even feeling the excitement of it, and he's glad for that. Wouldn't miss this for the world
--Though another drink might be in order.
No. Nuh-uh. He's said no, vowed off the stuff... But with the way he's been going, what's one more drink? He takes a quick one, then, before setting the bottle aside (almost violently, a rejection) and moving toward the door. Best be getting out before he decides to take another. Before anything--'But a maiden so sweet, lives in that little street...'
Before any of that starts again. Hell. At the very least, those Christmas carols should get rid of that
tune; there's some relief in that, too.
He heads out into the snow, finding that the sudden cold shakes into more of an awareness. Good. Now he's just got to find the Doc.
John sees Hickey coming towards him through the softly falling snow and fairly beams, holding out his friend's copy of the book. Carols. John remembers them, but has not memorised them, and in any case it is better to have something solid to hold and read. His friend looks less than absolutely steady, but perhaps the bracing cold, cheer and exercise will help him come to himself. Something almost sad there, or wistful maybe. John does not yet know, exactly and considers offering his flask, which steadies him, but it is perhaps too early yet to need its warmth. He pats his shoulder and offers his hand to shake after the manner of gentlemen. His eyes are focussed, keen and smiling in anticipation. Perhaps they can stop at a cafe for chocolate later, if they get cold.
Now, that's good.
Hickey smiles at the Doc, and it feels natural, like it should. It's good to see him, to take the book of carols--he's seen these before, but hasn't touched one in a while--and to shake the Doc's hand. That's real enough, and so's the way the Doc appears; looks like he should be there, and by God, that's a welcoming face he's got. Keen enough, sure, and honest. You can trust a guy like that, and already Hickey's feeling a little more himself.
"Good to see you, Doc."
Time for those carols.
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