Title: New Traditions
Prompt: Picture | North Pole
For: smallearth – Advent Calendar – Day 13
Word Count: 2,185
Summary: Bart makes it his mission to make one of Chloe's childhood wishes come true.
Chloe sat curled up on her favorite couch; a giant red monstrosity that likely should've been tossed sometime after her graduation from high school but never made its way out of her living room. There were tears she'd had to sew back together, sometimes adding pieces of motley fabric, making it an even bigger eye sore. But every time she sat down she was swamped in huge cushions, her comfort level soaring. With a cup of coffee in hand, her knees drawn up to her chest, and the Christmas parade in full bloom on her television, she was enjoying her day off. Even if some part of her mind was already working through the notes she'd been taking the night before on the chaos in a far-off city she couldn't even pronounce. All she knew was there was danger there and she had to find it, figure it out, and send the boys in to clean it up.
Speaking of boys…
A rush of air kicked up around her, not even startling her anymore, instead drawing her eyes to the corner opposite her to find one Bart Allen sitting at the other end of the couch, grinning at her. "What's up, Beautiful? I expected you to be dressed and in full work-mode already."
She scoffed. "If there's anyone I'll take a little time off for it's Santa," she said, nodding toward the TV. "Besides… Oliver told me if I didn't start taking weekends off he was going to cut off my coffee supply…" She scowled darkly. "Gets me hooked on that international brand that only he knows where to find and then uses it to his advantage…" Her eyes narrowed. "Smart little leprechaun."
"He's a little tall for a leprechaun," Bart argued.
"So we think… He's tricky… Could be a mirror effect…" she mused, sipping her coffee.
"You mix Bailey's into your morning brew?" he wondered, staring at her mug skeptically.
She simply grinned in reply.
"All right." Standing up, he clapped his hands. "Warm clothes, boots, and a jacket that'll survive sub-zero temperatures. Chop, chop!"
She merely arched a brow at him. "Have you conveniently forgotten that Santa is coming soon…?" She shook her head, motioning to her TV. "I'm not moving. This is tradition!"
Hands on his hips, he didn't look convinced. "Sitting alone drinking alcohol laced coffee and watching a fat man fake a bunch of freezing kids out is tradition?"
She rolled her eyes.
"Come on, I'll make it up to you…" He wiggled his brows at her. "I got something you've wanted all your life…"
She scoffed lightly. "And to think I always thought when you made an offer like that you'd want me naked."
He grinned. "Later… Right now, I want you in layers! Grab some gloves, a scarf, all the regular snow-related necessities."
Chloe glanced outside and then back at Bart. "Sweetie, what we've got outside does not pass as snow… If it melts before it hits the ground, it's just disappointing."
Still smirking, he simply stared at her.
And now that she was really looking, she realized he wasn't wearing his usual jeans and hoodie, but was dressed more appropriately for a blizzard. "Are you wearing a snow suit…?" Reaching over, she squeezed his bicep, which looked stuffed rather than the usual lean muscle she was used to.
"Nope. Been working out." He struck a 'check out my guns' pose and flushed warmly as she laughed. "Come on… Put that overrun brain to rest and just do your soul mate a favor, huh?" He stared at her, brows arched high. "Trust me."
With a sigh, she frowned at her on-going Christmas parade and stood to trade in her Snoopy pajamas for layered clothes. While she was dressing, Bart was no doubt fidgeting in wait. Standing around for any amount of time seemed to bore him, she mused to herself. Finally, she emerged from her bedroom in her warmest pants, wool socks, her thickest coat, gloves and was wrapping her scarf around her neck. "All right, so where are we going?" she asked.
He grinned at her, crossed the room in a flash and tied her scarf for her before tucking it beneath her jacket. "Hold tight," he told her, lifting her high up into his arms.
Wrapping her arms around his neck, she shook her head. "Wait, I have to lock the—" 'Door' went unsaid.
She blinked and found herself far away from her apartment, rushing past things so quickly she hardly had time to take it all in. There was something both beautiful and terrifying about seeing the world at Bart's speed. It was there and gone so fast; faces and places, just a blur in her mind's eye. Despite his speed, it was still a few minutes until they got where they were going, but she watched as the city fell away. People seemed to become fewer and fewer, the landscape becoming empty of any noticeable life. And then it was all white ground and blue sky. She felt the chill in her cheeks, the wind cooling down dramatically, until finally they came to a stop.
Bart let her down to her feet and for a moment she was just mesmerized. There was snow everywhere, covering everything. No mountains, just straight snow and sky for as far as the eye could see. No footprints or snowmen, nothing but untouched, pristine white snow. "It's… beautiful," she murmured, looking everywhere and all around. And that's when she spotted the sign. A plastic pole painted red and white like a candy-cane, a wide arrow-shaped sign with the words North Pole across the wood. It stood crooked in the crowd and terribly out of place.
"Is that…?" She laughed. "Did you steal that from a mall Christmas display?"
He grinned. "I prefer borrowed…"
Chewing her lip, she shook her head. "That's right, I forgot about your old five-finger discounts pre-Oliver and team."
"I was a kid then…" He stared at her with those green-blue eyes of his, something keenly aware of her and everything she said or did. "Immature and looking for happiness in the finer things…" He licked his lips.
She tipped head thoughtfully. "And what are you now?"
"I'm a giver not a taker…" He circled her, bending low and picking up a snow shovel before he backed away. And with a wink he was suddenly racing across the snowy ground, shoveling it up and away, revealing the ice beneath. Snow spiraled up into the air, piling up around the oval man-made rink he created. Lifting her glove-covered hands, she pressed them to her cheeks as she grinned widely. She remembered telling him once that as a kid, the only thing she ever wrote Santa for was that he bring her down to the North Pole so she could skate with him and the elves and help him make toys for all the other kids.
Bart stopped once more in front of her, tossing the shovel away, his cheeks pink with either excitement or from the cold, she couldn't tell. Leaning down once more, he produced a duffel bag he must've brought earlier and dug around, producing a couple pairs of skates. "They might be a little snug with your socks, but…" He shrugged.
Her heart jumped, appreciation making her eyes warm with tears.
He tossed down the duffel bag for her to sit on while she pulled them on, lacing them up. She arched a brow up at him. "You know, I skated a lot more as a kid, so there's a good chance I'll be doing a lot of face-planting."
Having already put his skates on, faster than she could've possibly seen, he helped her up to her feet and squeezed her hand in his. "So I'll catch you," he said sincerely. She was pretty sure he was promising a lot more than what the current topic covered.
He led her out to the ice, looking perfectly calm while she was clutching his arm and both terrified and exhilarated as her skates slid smoothly across the ice. He kept an arm around her, leading her out slowly, watching her as she got more comfortable. She stared at the ice at first, as her legs reached out carefully, gliding easily. Slowly, she found her confidence and squeezed his hand across her waist.
She laughed brightly. "I don't want to jinx myself, but I think this may just be like riding a bike."
He chuckled, ducking his head. "And here I'd hoped to show off a little."
She smiled. "Trust me, you've already hit this out of the park…" She looked around at the snowy landscape and sighed happily. "Where are we really?"
"Sign didn't give it away?" he joked.
She half-rolled her eyes. "The North Pole is in the middle of the Arctic Ocean, on top of constantly shifting ice… I highly doubt—" She slipped then, her feet moving a little too quickly for her body.
He caught her as promised, hugging her tight to his side safely.
Staring up at him, all the air whooshed out of her chest. Faces mere inches apart, she was close enough to count every one of the long lashes that framed knowing blue-green eyes. Oh… She swallowed tightly.
His mouth tilted in a smile and he helped her to stand upright, drawing her back out in a slow skate. "So the real North Pole was kind of out of the question… Having to dig you out of freezing water didn't sound nearly as romantic…" He shrugged. "I took a run, tried to find somewhere similar." He looked around. "Snow, ice, pretty girl on my arm… Pretty sure my Christmas wish came true."
She grinned. "Well, it's not what I expected as a kid, but I have to say… You're much cuter than any elf."
His eyes widened slightly. "That's right, I forgot!" He drew her to a stop and dug around in his pockets then, suddenly producing a couple green and red felt hats with flesh-colored elf ears sewn onto the sides. He slid his own on crookedly and then put hers on her before giving her fake ear a playful flick.
Chloe laughed brightly, reaching up to touch her hat. "You thought of everything."
He took her hand again, drawing her back out to skate. "No workshop. And I'm pretty sure you wanted more than just one fake elf to hang with."
She shook her hand. "I dunno… With all the red, I would've taken you for a younger, slimmer Santa."
His grin became flirty. "If you're lucky, I'll let you sit in my lap and tell me what you want for Christmas." He wiggled his brows at her before circling around her, taking her hand with him so she'd have to do a circle as well.
"Prince Charming, elf, Santa… not to mention Impulse by night…" She shook her head, grinning.
"I'm a little of everything," he boasted, skating backwards and taking her along with him as they created a giant figure eight in the ice.
Hand-in-hand, they skated to and fro until the once clear sky began to fill with snow, falling slowly; flakes littering the ice and making the sky glow white. She came to a slow halt, drawing him with her, and tilted her head back to let crisp flakes fall across her cheeks and her outreached tongue. Hands on her hips, he twirled her in circles as she leaned back and let the cool air and the snow spin all around.
When she stood back upright, her chest warm with adoration, she shook her head at him. Reaching over, she slid her arms around his neck and drew him in close. "I don't think there's any way to thank you for this… I'm almost completely sure that whatever I get you for Christmas will pale in comparison…" She stared searchingly into his eyes. "You're all kinds of awesome, Bart," she said softly.
Leaning in, he pressed his forehead to hers. "You sure it's not the elf ears?"
She laughed lightly. "Let's see…" Reaching up, she plucked his hat from his head and smoothed her fingers through his red-brown hair. "Nope…" She smiled. "That's one kink kicked off the list."
He chuckled lowly, hands squeezing her hips before he raised one to cup her cheek. "So what do you say, we finish up your usual tradition? I'll take a trip around, find a Christmas parade somewhere, we'll bring some rum-laced egg nog and make a morning of it…"
She shook her head. "I've got a better tradition in mind…" She smirked. "You take me home and we can warm each other up… and next year, I'll bring some hot chocolate so we can stay out here a little longer."
His grin widened. "I like the sound of that."
She nuzzled his nose with hers sweetly. "Merry Christmas, Bart."
"Merry Christmas, 'Licious."
Smiling, he leaned in and caught her smiling lips, sealing what would be the first of many kisses; a tradition that would last longer than this and many seasons to come.