I'll be Home for Christmas


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I wanted to do a nice warm fuzzy Christmas story about Kermit and the Blaisdell family, this was what the muses created with those instructions. Not exactly what I had in mind, but evidently what the muses wanted. I hope you enjoy it.

Thanks goes to TAE for her superb beta job, and to everyone who has commented on my stories.

The usual disclaimer, the Kung Fu folks don't belong to me, they are property of Michael Sloan.

Kermit sighed, what was it about the Yule season that brought out the homicidal side of people? Personally, he was a firm believer that over crowded malls and inadequate parking at said malls were largely responsible. He did his part by shopping on-line for his gifts so that he wasn't at the mall or taking up a spot in the parking lot.

He had, however, agreed to take the lovely and talented Mrs. Blaisdell shopping. Peter or one of the girls usually took her, but she had some shopping to do for them and couldn't do that if they were along, so Kermit had agreed to escort her on that jaunt. The holidays were hard on her with Paul gone, so Kermit tried to help by taking Paul's place as much as he could so that she could go about the season as normally as possible. The kids tried as well, so between them all, Annie was loved and supported through the season.

Glancing at his watch, Kermit realized he had gotten off shift an hour ago. Well, at least the world was safe from a few more criminals. Yawning, Kermit decided he had just enough time to check his e-mails once more before heading out to pick up Annie for dinner and shopping. "Oh yippee, oh yeah, oh hip hip hurray" Kermit grumbled as he thought about shopping at the mall, but Annie was enjoyable company so the evening wouldn't be a complete wash.

One message made him sit up straight for a change. Not a large or long note, just the time and place of a siting of someone he had been looking for. Only the dire needs to keep his reputation as a heartless ex-gun for hire stopped the man for whooping for joy. Grabbing his coat he dashed for the door.

"Well, Annie, I may not get to take you shopping, but I think you'll forgive me when I bring this gift home," he thought to himself, eyes twinkling behind his trademark green shades.

"Blake, I need you to take Annie shopping for me tonight," Kermit called out as he flew past the surveillance specialist's desk.

"I'd be happy to, but I thought you were doing that?" The graying man looked up in surprise.

"I was, got things to do and places to be tonight, though," Kermit called out as he raced out the door, nearly colliding with Peter Caine. Kermit merely smiled at the younger detective and dashed past.

"Blake did I just hear that Kermit is standing my Mom up after having made plans with her for tonight?" Peter growled. He adored Annie and was almost as quick as Paul to take offense on her behalf.

"I'm certain he has a very good reason, Peter. You know he would do anything for her, so it must be important if he`s breaking his date with her," Blake said logically.

Peter merely scowled at the door and began his shift.

Kermit leaned forward, typing furiously. If there was any justice in the world, and he had long since stopped believing there was much, then this would work.

If only he had been able to go with him three months ago when Paul had left, but he had been down with that cursed flu bug and the older man had needed to leave immediately. Drug lords, it would seem, waited for no man.

six hours and one massive case of hacker back later, Paul Blaisdell had a way out of Nicaragua. Now all Kermit had to do was find out how badly his friend was hurt and get him from Guatemala home. "Griffin Tours at your service, Paul. Now get home to your family!" the computer guru mumbled, yawning.

Well, the rest of the plan would have to wait until tomorrow, today actually, considering the time, anyway because it would take that long to get Paul safely into the friendlier country. He seemed to remember that a missionary doctor that had patched him up once was now operating in Guatemala. Tomorrow he would find out for certain, and if the man was still there, have the big brother he had never had, taken to him. Once he had that information he would know how to proceed with getting his captain home. And then he was going to do something drastic to teach him the folly of not taking his back up along, particularly a certain amphibious mercenary.

A whole hour of sleep, and Kermit the Hermit was back in his techno lair at the 101st. When the hacker detective actually smiled as he came in, everyone in the precinct held their breath. The man had a certain reputation. Scowling he was merely upset about something and was only dangerous, but smiling usually meant that he was up to something, and that was positively lethal.

But when he proceeded into his office and shut the door emphatically, though not really slamming it, everyone breathed easy again. Their detective was back to what passed as normal for him, except for the scuttlebutt that he had reneged on his agreement to take Annie shopping and sending Blake in his place. Peter was still growling about that.

Thankfully, the detective had a very quiet day. For some reason no one wanted to enter the office with the blinds drawn and the door closed. What he wanted to do was pick up the phone and call Annie and Reese to let them know that Paul was coming home! But Paul had made him promise once that unless he was already in the country and landing at the airport, Annie was not to be told. Any number of things could delay him and start her worrying.

The missionary doctor, it turned out, did indeed live in Guatemala, and he was still working. He would be more than happy to take a look at his friend, provided Kermit could get him there. Sure, no problem, I'll just have him take a little side jaunt while he's touring the country. Okay, just contact Jose tonight and tell him that if he manages to get Paul safely into the country he's to take him right to Doctor Bergman.

Kermit sighed. He was supposed to go out to his sister's tonight to help pick up a tree and put up decorations. He couldn't make travel arrangements and be at the Gables. His sister would forgive him, since this was hardly the first time he had had to bail on her to help a friend in need, but the kids would be disappointed if the presents weren't under the tree. This was going to be a hard enough year for them with their dad gone and being in a new house and all. He had really meant to spend some serious time there this season doing all of the things Rob would have been doing. He would still be able to spend most of the Christmas season with them and would make up for bailing on them now by doing extra special things then. Marilyn would still need help getting the tree set up, but he had an idea for that.

"Blake, I need some backup again," Kermit approached the older man, putting a cup of coffee on the detective's desk.

"Twice in as many days?" Blake looked up at his old friend in shock. Kermit was not one for asking help from anyone.

"Nothing big, I just need you to do a Santa run for me," Kermit explained.

"All right, who am I delivering toys to?" Blake was intrigued.

"My sister and her kids. I may not be able to get out there until Christmas this year and Marilyn needs help getting the tree in the house and set up. All you need do is help with the tree and put up a few decorations maybe," Kermit was almost begging.

"Ho ho ho," Blake grinned his almost smile.

"Thanks," Kermit clasped the surveillance man on the shoulder as he once more shot out of the building after giving quick directions to Blake, and leaving the pile of gifts at the man's desk.

Peter glared at the retreating back. "Tell me after ditching Mom, he didn't just foist his own sister off on you as well, Blake?"

"Peter, you know Kermit and what family means to him, if he's passing his family responsibilities on to others, then whatever he's doing must be very important," Blake explained patiently.

"Yeah, well, I think it's still pretty crappy of him, nothing is more important than family," Peter growled as he headed out himself.

Kermit's head drooped onto his desk in weariness. He was afraid to look at the clock and find out how much time had passed. Why was it, he grimaced, that hackers didn't seem to come to life until after the sun went down. At this point, he would give a fortune to have just one reliable contact around there who was not nocturnal.

The people he knew had come through for him in spades, though. Paul was officially in Guatemala, and was on his way to the nice doctor. As near as anyone could tell, he had been caught down there and held for about a month before managing to free himself. He had been trying to get himself out of the country when Kermit's eyes around the world had spotted him and reported to Kermit for instructions. All that was left to do now was to wait and find out when he should arrange for transport and what kind would be needed. Kermit prayed it wouldn't be a body bag that was needed, if so, someone would be paying through the nose.

A strong set of hands grasped his shoulders and began kneading the aching muscles. He groaned in pleasure as he leaned farther forward to allow more access. He sighed, as she seemed to instantly know exactly where to massage muscles into happy relaxedness.

"Is everything all right, Animal?" The middle-aged woman in the wheelchair asked, giggling, as Kermit's head shot up like a bobble head after her service dogs warm, wet tongue had begun bathing his face.

How to answer that. One of the few people Kermit had promised himself he wouldn't lie to, and he wasn't even certain she would buy it if he tried. Unfortunately she was also Annie Blasdell's sister, and like her blind sister, she was worried about Paul.

"Ask me again in a few days and maybe I can answer you," Kermit responded, hoping that she would ask no more questions.

"Fair enough, I was just worried since it isn't like you to ditch Annie or your sister and then come home and stay up until all hours on the computer." Reese soothed him as much with her understanding voice and easy acceptance of his answer as she did with her hands.

"Bless you," Kermit said, bring one her hands up to his face and kissing it.

"You do, Animal," Reese smiled and gave his back a final pat, and his lips a kiss before quietly heading back to her own side of the adjoining apartment. Since his home security system covered the apartments on both sides of the adjoining door she was the one person who had complete access to him at any and all times and was always welcome.

Two hours later, Kermit was crawling out of bed thinking about how much easier it used to be to go without sleep. It couldn't possibly be age catching up with him; he wasn't all that old.

Decorations had blossomed overnight and the break room was overflowing with goodies. Kermit groaned to himself, the office Christmas party was today. Well, if he had gotten news and it was good he would join them, if not they would simply have to make merry without him, he was not missing that e-mail.

"With a scowl like that you would be a great Grinch, Kermit," Mary Margaret teased as she passed.

"Certainly no one is going to kiss him, even if he is under the Mistletoe," Jody Powell gave her agreement to the other woman's opinion.

"Bah Humbug!" Kermit snorted, heading into his office and once more closing the door.

For some odd reason, that day's requests were either e-mailed or slid under his door. No one was going to risk his wrath and ruining their Christmas by going in there. He received an e-mail summons when the Christmas party began, but as he had no news, he was not interested in going.

"Kermit? Thought you might like something to eat," Peter offered, cautiously sticking his head in and carrying a tray of goodies. Kermit barely looked up from what he was doing, just mumbled thanks and gestured towards the desk.

"Must be an important case," Peter began, trying to get a look at the screen while attempting a conversation in the repressive silence. Kermit looked up, glaring daggers at the younger man.

"Personal case, Kid," Kermit growled, the young detective already backing out and shutting the door behind him.

"Kermit?" a knock, and then Blake appeared, setting a package down and turning to go.

"Blake?" Kermit looked up form his reports as the older man turned and re-entered the door, closing it behind him.

"I'm waiting for a report on a friend. Depending on how badly hurt he is, I may need to leave. Can you cover for me if necessary?" Kermit asked, looking curiously at the box.

"Always," Blake handed the box over to him. " I got you in the Christmas gift exchange, hope you like it."

Kermit opened the gift, while still watching the monitor for the important e-mail. He pulled out a top of the line coffee machine with a membership card to the coffee club.

"Oh, Yeah," and smiled his thanks to one of his oldest friends. Blake's history with him was almost as long and as varied as Paul's.

The surveillance expert merely smiled and went. A waiting Kermit was not a tolerant Kermit.

By five, the computer man knew he was not going to be taking Annie to the Messiah. A quick call and he was informed that Annie hadn't thought was going to happen but he was not to worry, Kelly was taking her. She hadn't sounded angry so Kermit took her at her word, thought he did feel badly since he had agreed to take her.

It was three in the morning Christmas Eve day when Kermit got his e-mail. Paul was exhausted, bruised, beaten, malnourished, and suffering from something called Giardia that sounded like a really bad stomach virus. But he was otherwise fine. No body bag was needed and the good doctor would transport Paul to any airfield in the area, just let him know which one and when.

By the time his work shift began, Kermit had not bothered going to bed and Paul's travel arrangements were being made. With just a few more connections, Paul would be coming home, and would quite possibly be there in time for Christmas!

"You skipped out on mom again last night! What is it with you lately, Kermit?" Peter had barged into the inner sanctum of Kermit's world.

"I was Christmas shopping, not that I need to answer to you," Kermit snarled tiredly. Peter snorted indignantly and stormed out.

"Mail Call" someone shouted out later and began distributing mail to various and assorted people.

Kermit took a deep breath and grinned as a package smelling of his sister's famous rum cake landed on his desk. His mouth watered just thinking about it, but he knew better than to have any if he was driving home, later. An identical package was placed on Blake's desk.

The ex-mercenary's eyebrows went up and he wandered over. Yep, Marilyn had sent Blake a treat as well. At least Blake was totally trustworthy if his baby sister decided there was a possibility there. Best to warn him about the cake though, wouldn't do to have him driving home drunk on rum cake. Or worse yet, with Blake's generosity, to have a precinct full of stumbling drunk detectives.

"Blake, exactly what happened at Marilyn's?" Kermit asked pointedly of the older man who was looking at his desk in shocked amazement.

"Nothing. I drove out and dropped off the gifts, then helped haul the tree home and get it set up like you asked me to," Blake assured the protective older brother.

"And she sent you one of her famous run cakes for that?" Kermit asked surprised. Normally she would have sent a thank you note.

"Well, she was having trouble getting some of the outside decorations up, so I helped. And the lights had a short so I fixed that real quick. It was getting kind of late, so she asked me to stay for dinner. Mitch is studying Vietnam in school, so I told her a little bit about it. Nothing she wouldn't have found in a history book, but she seemed to like it better coming from me. After we ate it only seemed polite to help with the dishes. I helped her wrap a couple of gifts that where kind of awkward to do on your own, as well. Nothing improper I promise," Blake was grinning like a fool. Someone had sent him something!

"Basically, you spent most of the evening there," Kermit snorted.

"She didn't seem to want me to leave and I didn't mind staying," Blake shrugged. Maybe Christmas without Mary wouldn't be quite so lonely this year.

"Break her heart and they will never find your remains," Kermit informed the surveillance expert. "Oh, and about the cake, nibble, don't bite, and make certain you're home when you eat it."

"Thanks for the warning," Blake answered, setting the cake on a corner of his desk where he would remember to take it home.

"You are coming to the house tonight aren't you?" Peter asked from the doorway as the shift ended and both men were preparing to leave.

"I had planned to, but something came up and I won't be able to make it. I already called Annie so she knows," Kermit answered, looking up from his monitor.

"You know it's hard enough for her being without Paul this Christmas, she doesn't need you ducking out on her, too!" the younger man snarled.

"Did someone name you my conscience?" Kermit asked the younger man.

"Well, you seem to have forgotten yours lately," the young detective retorted hotly.

"Peter, get the facts before you start making judgments about how others act," Kermit snarled as he ushered him out of his office, locked up and left the sputtering younger man behind.

Christmas Eve and Kermit was standing in the cold, watching as an airplane landed, carrying his friend and mentor home from South America. How many times had Paul been the one standing waiting as his injured friend limped or was carried home from yet another mission that had seemed so important but had changed nothing, really? How many times had one of them sat by the bed of the other waiting and wishing for some sign of life? Or ridden home begging and pleading for their friend to just hang on a little longer, and threatening dire things if he didn't? No, this was nothing new for him, or Paul.

"Penny for your thoughts?" Reese asked, reaching over for Kermit's hand.

"I would hate to cheat you," he responded using the hand she had taken to rub her shoulder.

"I talked to the doctor and he confirmed that Giardia and malnutrition were his main problems. He needs food and rest mostly, should be right up Annie's alley," the dark haired woman brought her companion up to date.

"Oh, yeah" he concurred.

Ryker got off the plane half carrying a very colorful Paul, or a scarecrow that looked like Paul Blaisdell might have, after he went eighteen rounds with Mike Tyson and the coroner and embalmer got through with him. Kermit ran up and took the other side; between them the two men carried Paul over to the building where Reese was waiting.

"I don't think I've ever seen anyone this many shades, Paul," Reese teased as she began doing a quick examination of her brother-in-law.

"I'm not going to a hospital," Paul managed to glare, even in his rag-doll-like state.

"No, you're not. You're going to be home for Christmas," Reese assured the man, looking for a spot to give a reassuring squeeze, and finding none that weren't badly bruised or bandaged.

"I made it in time, then?" the older man looked up at her and Kermit.

"Yes, you'll be home with about an hour to spare. A wonderful surprise for Annie to come home from midnight mass to find you there," Kermit answered while the nice doctor phoned in prescriptions for him.

Ryker and Kermit got Paul loaded in the front seat, The ride home was a quiet one with only one quick stop to pick up Paul's drugs. Paul had slept the whole time; except for one brief spell when his stomach had cramped up, revolting at the little food he had in him.

Kermit slid the sedan into its home in his friend's garage. Moving around, Kermit hoisted Paul's sleeping form out of the car. Kermit winced at how easily he was carrying a man that he should barely be able to lift, let alone carry up a flight of stairs.

Setting the larger man on the bed, Kermit got him down to his briefs and washed him up. That done, he tucked him into the bed, guessing that the side with the digital clock was his. Annie would probably re-settle him when she got home, but he was comfortable and that was what was important. A quick note on the tape recorder telling her which meds were which and how they were used and he was ready to head home and finally get some sleep.

The younger man froze. The door downstairs had opened, and he could hear Annie. Crap! He had wanted to be gone before she got home. The couple's first reunion after three months of separation should be private.

"Kermit?" Annie asked coming into the master bedroom.

"I was just leaving some quick instructions on the care and feeding of your wounded warrior over there..." that was all the farther he got.

"Paul!" Annie almost shoved past the grinning Kermit. No one got between Annie and her husband.

While Kermit had been making his tape, Paul had rolled into the center of the bed and was clenching Annie's pillow, making soft whimpering sounds, but had quieted the instant Annie's hands touched him.

The woman had come around the bed and was running a soothing hand though Paul's long hair and feeling his beard.

"His face is too badly bruised to shave it without hurting him, and the doctor wasn't certain if Paul's hair was usually long or not so left it up to us if it got cut or not. We'll get that taken care of soon," he soothed the worried woman.

"Kermit, you're staying here tonight in the guestroom," Annie insisted, guessing that the exhausted man was going to head home.

"Annie," the ex mercenary protested.

"Kermit, you're staying, need you to help me get downstairs tomorrow," the last was croaked from the battered and bruised body in the bed.

Knowing he was hopelessly outnumbered, Kermit gave in. Wishing his hosts a good night he headed to the room down the hall.

Hearing her guest head towards the spare room, Annie turned her attention totally to the man in her bed. running her hand over him she shuddered.

"I can feel every bone in your body," Annie protested, thinking about how much muscle there should be on him. She would have that fixed in no time, she told herself. As long as Paul was back, nothing else was important. It wasn't like this was the first time he had come back to her battered and bruised. She had been so afraid that he wasn't going to be coming home this time, though.

Leaning down, she kissed his forehead, "Hang on, I'll be right back, I just have to get settled."

She quickly saw to her evening ablutions then, keeping one ear open for Paul in distress. He began whimpering just as she slipped into bed. The bedraggled man was still holding her pillow tightly against himself. She eased the pillow away from him, rubbing his arms and shoulders. No sooner had he released the pillow than she had found herself held against him in its place with his slow steady breathing ruffling her hair slightly as the tall man drowned himself in the familiar scent and feel of the woman who was his home. Annie had no complaint, she was finally back where she belonged, in her husband's arms. When he had healed, they would slip away for a proper homecoming, but for now this was more than enough.

"What are you doing here?" Peter asked, louder than necessary, as he shook the sleeping man's shoulder.

"Trying to sleep, Peter," Kermit groaned, turning back over and burrowing farther under the blankets.

"I told him to stay last night, since he was here late and needed sleep. My guess is that he hasn't gotten any for the last week or so," Annie said quietly from the door, confused as to why her son was so upset at Kermit bedding down here. He had never minded it in the past when Kermit was here, and had always seemed to like the older man, looking at him as an older brother of sorts.

"Annie, is everything all right?" a gruff, raspy voice sounded from her room.

"Paul!" Peter almost yelled in surprise and glee.

"Merry Christmas, kid," the lump of blankets called out at the young man who had already dashed out of the room and up the hall.

"Kermit, why is Peter so upset with you? Did you to get into an argument or something?" Annie inquired as she dropped off the change of clothes Reese had brought over for the man.

"Don't worry about it, just something he and I have to work out," Kermit reassured her.

"Kermit? Can you help me get Dad downstairs? The others are going to be here soon and it would probably be a good idea to have him settled first," Peter voiced hesitantly from the door.

"Sure, kid, just give me a minute," Kermit responded with a real smile, not one of his sarcastic grins.

"Paul Blaisdell, you are taking these painkillers, and don't try and convince me you aren't in pain," Annie could be heard by both men.

"I think we may have that minute," Peter chuckled, the first one Kermit had heard in a while. It had been almost as hard on Peter having Paul gone as it had been on Annie.

"Does he ever win those fights?" Kermit asked, finishing getting dressed.

"No, but that's never stopped him from trying," Peter grinned. "Listen, Kermit, I'm sorry, it really wasn't any of my business what you were doing, I was just upset that you kept canceling on mom."

"Moms like Annie are worth defending, kid, just don't jump to conclusions so quick next time. I would never hurt Annie; if I cancel on her, be assured it's not something trivial," the older man got up and headed for the hallway with his younger friend.

Annie had him in his robe and ready to head down. There was no way he was missing Christmas in his favorite easy chair as he and his family celebrated and shared their love.

Peter took one side and Kermit the other and they got him downstairs and settled in his chair.

Realizing that the gifts he had gotten were still in his trunk, Kermit reached into his pocket for the keys. His hand found two pills in its quest for his keys. Looking up he saw Paul wink at him. Kermit grinned conspiratorially and turned to head out and retrieve pretty boxes.

A hand on his arm held him in place. The out-stretched palm of the other hand told him what was wanted. He shrugged his apology to Paul and handed the pills over.

"Take these or you're going to be sent back up to bed," Reese instructed, holding the pain meds out to her brother-in-law. Grumbling, Paul swallowed the things, against Annie and Reese he would never win.

"DADDY!!!!!!!!!!!!!" Paul braced himself as his youngest daughter raced forward, throwing her arms around him. His hiss of pain alerted her that he was once again hurt. He gave her a smile of reassurance and reciprocated the hug, though more gently.

"When did you get home?" she asked, curious.

"Santa gave me a lift on his sleigh last night," Paul teased.

Kelly gave him another hug, as Christmas got kicked into high gear with Paul presiding over his favorite holiday and soaking it all in from his favorite chair, Annie next to him, holding his hand.

Peter was flabbergasted by the train town sized replica of the Blaisdell house that Kermit had had made for him. The ex-mercenary was laughing outright as Kermit the frog drove in in a remote control green convertible. Leave it to Reese to find something like that. Kelly squealed in delight as she unwrapped a new printer from her parents. An enigmatic smile was the response when Kermit unwrapped a train set from the Blaisdell family. Kermit grinned in pleasure as Kelly thanked him for her gift certificate that was good for one totally hacker proof computer. Reese was speechless as she opened an original folio of Shakespeare's love sonnets, though Kermit was thoroughly kissed for it.

When Carolyn called in, she was shocked and delighted to hear her father answer the phone. Once more assurances were made that he was a little dinged up but, with Annie's tender loving care, would soon be up and about again.

Christmas dinner was a little awkward with the rest of them feasting and Paul reduced to soup, but bright, intelligent conversation soon had everyone back in the yuletide spirit.

"Paul?" Kermit peeked his head into the older man's study, having noticed him absent from the festivities.

The graying man motioned his friend in. Kermit took a seat opposite the captain.

"Thank you, Kermit," Paul smiled wearily at his partner of more campaigns than he wanted to remember.

"Nothing you wouldn't and haven't done for me," Kermit responded, taking off his glasses in the dim light of the den.

"And don't say you owe me one, because we stopped being about that years ago," Kermit continued, looking at his friend, and noticing the dark hair that seemed more gray than ever, now, and the deep worry lines that creased the older man's face. The livid bruises and severe weight loss had not helped his appearance any, either. Paul actually looks old, Kermit thought sadly. He had seen his friend tired, angry, hurt, and many other things over the years, but this was the first time he had actually looked old to his younger friend. Kermit didn't like that thought, Paul couldn't be getting old.

"We were never about that," Paul corrected him, smiling as best he could.

"No, somehow we never were." Kermit agreed, sitting back and relaxing in his chair.

No words were exchanged as two old and too often weary and beaten warriors of the world, sat in silence, taking time to merely enjoy the companionship of one another. Something there was scant time in their daily lives to do. Tomorrow they would go back to defending the innocent; today they could rest for a time.

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