More than words

Author’s Note:  Trixie BeldenŽ is the registered trademark of Random House. This story is not for profit.

Thanks to Leigh for letting me use her names for the Lynch twin girls.  After reading her stories, I just couldn't imagine them being called anything else.


"What time are they supposed to be here?" Honey asked Trixie anxiously again, peering out the window.  "Shouldn't they be here by now?"

"You know Mart probably made them stop for food on the way home from the airport," Trixie giggled.  "They'll be here soon.  Be patient!"

"I can't help it," Honey sighed, gently tugging on the chain around her neck that held Brian's high school class ring.  "It feels like forever since I last saw him."

"It was Thanksgiving!"  Trixie cried.

"It's now Christmas eve," Honey sighed.  "That is forever!"

"Can we talk about something else besides my brother puh-leese?" Trixie moaned.  "It's not like you don't tell me how much you miss him every day."

"Okay, okay," Honey conceded good-naturedly.  "Tell me about this friend of Mart's who's coming to stay for the Christmas break."

"I haven't got anything to tell," Trixie admitted, her brow crinkling into a frown.  "He rang and talked to Moms yesterday and just asked if he could bring home a friend.  Moms, of course, said yes.  I think she's just glad he's made some friends and started to settle in a bit."

Honey's face immediately became concerned.  "It hasn't been easy for him, has it?  Especially not after the fight he and Di had at the Halloween dance.  She won't even talk to him now."

"He's even stopped asking after her now," Trixie told her.  "At least directly."

"So who is this friend?"  Honey asked.  "Has Mart talked about him?"

"Not to me," Trixie replied.  "He must be a good friend if Mart's bringing him home."

"I wonder what he looks like," Honey mused.  "Maybe he'll be some gorgeous guy who'll fall madly in love with you."

Trixie stared at her in amazement.  "Earth to Honey!  What planet are you on?"

Honey giggled.  "I'm sorry!  You've just seemed so down lately.  All you need is to meet the right guy and you'll be in seventh heaven."

"I have not been down," Trixie challenged her stubbornly.  "And I don't need a guy to make me happy.  Honestly, since you started seeing Brian, you believe that being in love can solve everyone's problems."

Honey blinked quickly, a little stung by Trixie's remark.  Trixie immediately regretted her outburst and hugged her best friend.

"I'm sorry," Trixie apologised sincerely.  "I didn't mean to get so grumpy.  I just don't need to be set up, okay?"

"I'm sorry too," Honey cried, hugging her back.  "I just want you to be happy."

"I know," Trixie sighed.  "And I am really glad that you and Brian are happy together."

"Oh!" Honey cried suddenly.


"They're here!"

The two girls scrambled to their feet and raced outside.  Moms watched them with an amused smile and Reddy began to bark excitedly as the back door slammed shut and the girls ran towards the car, just pulling in to the backyard.

A door opened immediately and Brian leapt out and took Honey in his arms.  They stared at each other for a brief second before their bodies and mouths locked together.  Trixie could have sworn that she heard them moan as their bodies touched after being apart for so long.

Mart climbed out of the car, raised his eyebrows at the sight of Brian and Honey and gave Trixie a warm hug.

"I missed you sis," Mart murmured.

"I missed you too," Trixie mumbled, but she was looking over his shoulder for Jim had gotten out of the driver's side and was opening the door for the last passenger and out stepped a young, dark haired woman who smiled gratefully up at him.

Trixie's arms fell away from Mart and she stepped aside to stare at the scene before her.  Her heart began to pound strangely as her face when hot, then cold then hot again.

"Hi Trix," Jim smiled at her, though slightly confused by her expression.  "This is Rachel."

"Hello." Trixie managed to mumble as she stared at the dark haired beauty who was only a little taller than herself.

"You're Trixie?" The girl asked with a warm smile.  "Hi!  Mart's told me so much  about you.  It's so nice to meet you."

It took a second for her words to register in Trixie's brain and when they did, she was almost giddy with relief.

"You're Mart's friend?" Trixie cried.  "It's so great to have you here.  You must be tired after the trip, come inside with me and I'll get you settled.  The boys will bring in the bags."

Rachel accepted her offer with a smile and followed Trixie past Brian and Honey, who were still entangled, and into the house.

Jim frowned as he watched them.  Did Trixie realise she hadn't even said hello to him?  Were things that bad between them now that she wasn't even speaking to them?

The thought sunk like a lead weight inside of him as he and Mart removed the cases from the trunk. 

"Did you see the look on Trixie's face when Rachel got out of the car?" Mart chuckled.

"What do you mean?" Jim demanded.

"Well, I never actually mentioned to Moms that the friend I was bringing home was a female and when Rachel got out of the car and you introduced her to Trixie, well, I'm pretty sure she thought Rachel was with you," Mart explained with a grin.

Jim frowned again as Mart headed towards the house with a case in each hand.  Trixie actually thought that Rachel was with him?  Why would she think that?  Why would she even care?

"Unless she does care for me..." he mumbled to himself as he closed the trunk, Brian's suitcase in hand.

"Hey Jim!  I'll take that," Brian called to him as he came up for air.

"Don't bother, I can see you're busy," Jim replied with a wry grin.  "Just make sure there's something left of my sister for me to hug when you're done with her."

Jim headed towards the house and Honey sighed in Brian's arms.  "My knees are so weak I can hardly stand up."

"Shall I carry into the house?" He suggested with a lascivious smile.

"Don't tease me," Honey pleaded and leaned her head on his shoulder.  "Hey, who was that girl that went inside with Trixie?"



"You settling in okay?" Mart asked, sticking his head into the guest room.

"Just fine," Rachel assured him as hung the last of her clothes in the wardrobe.  "I gather you didn't tell them who exactly you were bringing home?"

"What do you mean?"

"You didn't tell them I was a girl, Mart!" Rachel accused with a grin.  "Why?"

"Shock value, I guess," Mart shrugged with a sheepish smile.  "And I didn't want all the questions."

"Understood," Rachel assured him. "Your family is just how I imagined them."

"Crazy?" Mart suggested.

"No, friendly and very welcoming," Rachel smiled.  "Just like you."

"I don't remember being either friendly or welcoming the first time we met," Mart remarked dryly.

"You had your reasons," Rachel replied softly.  "But what I meant is that I feel like I already know your family, because I know you."

"God, whatever you do don't say that in front of Trixie," Mart warned her with a grin.  "Despite whatever physical similarity there may be, she'd kill you if you said we were anything alike."

Rachel frowned and moved towards him to hug him firmly.  "Why are you making this so hard?"

"What do you mean?" Mart stammered softly, surprised by her gesture.

"You know what I'm saying to you, but you turn everything into a joke."

"It's being back here, I guess," Mart acknowledged with a sigh.  Rachel released him from her embrace so she could look him in the eye.  "It's what I always did.  It's who I was."

"Mart, you've barely been away from home five months..."

"I know, but it feels like a lifetime and all that has happened...  I'm not that person any more."

Rachel took his hand.  "Does that make you sad?"

"It makes me feel confused.  I feel I have to be the Mart my family expect me to be."

"But why?"

"Because otherwise they'll worry about me and I'll be hounded the whole time I'm here."  Mart sighed and looked down at his hand in hers.  "They mean well, really they do.  It's just that..."

"Mart, Moms wanted me to check..." Trixie began, bursting into the room.  She stopped short when she processed the scene in front of her.  "Oh, I'm sorry.  The door was open..."

"Don't apologise Trixie," Rachel smiled, releasing Mart's hand.  "Please go on..."

"Moms just wanted me to check that Mart had shown you where the bathroom was and offered you a shower and a chance to freshen up before dinner," Trixie finished meekly, looking only at Rachel.

"Well, not yet," Rachel replied, "But I'm sure he was going to."

"Tell Moms that I'm quite capable of looking after our guest and that we'll be down soon, okay?" Mart told Trixie in a firm tone, but with a look that let her know she was not in trouble.

"Okay, sorry for interrupting."  Trixie turned quickly and left.  Mart smiled apologetically at Rachel.

"It's hard to get any privacy in this house unless you close the door."

"But then what would they think we were up to?" Rachel giggled.  "I wonder what Trixie has gone to tell your mother.  Poor girl!  Did you see the look of relief on her face when she realised I wasn't with Jim?"

Mart chuckled.  "So you noticed that too?  I didn't think I'd told you that much about Trixie and Jim and the relationship that never was."

"Mart, I don't think you realise how much you talk about your family and friends.  That's why I feel like I already know them.  It's obvious how important they are to you."

"I guess you're right," Mart replied slowly.  "I didn't realise that I talked so much about them.  I hope I haven't been boring you to death."

"Hardly," Rachel assured him.  "The only reason I accepted your invitation was because I couldn't wait to meet your family and friends."

"Well, you'd better scoot off and have that shower so you can meet them all," Mart told her.  "The rest of the gang will be here soon."

Rachel nodded and pushed him out of the room.  He closed the door behind him, but didn't move.

All except Di, Mart thought to himself and the familiar sinking feeling returned.  This is going to be harder than I thought.



"Di!  There's a card for you from Crabapple Farm," Mandy cried, dropping the card on the table in front of her sister.  "And Sandy, you've got one from Matt Reilly!"

"I did!?" Her sister squealed in delight.  "Where is it?  Let me see!"

"So you do like him!" Mandy accused with glee.  "You told me you hated him."

"I don't like him," Sandy blushed in protest.  "Just give me the card."

"There wasn't really a card from him," Mandy confessed.  "I just wanted to see your reaction."

"Mandy!" Sandy screamed in outrage and jumped to her feet, abandoning the presents she'd been wrapping.  "I'm going to kill you!"

"Stop it!" Di said firmly, raising her voice to be heard over her sisters' squeals.  "You both promised Uncle Monty you'd have all the gifts wrapped in time for the party tonight.  You're not going to get it done if you kill each other."

"But..." Sandy began, but a look from Di silenced her.  Di had looked after her sisters long enough for them to know when she was serious.  Sandy settled for poking her tongue out at her sister and then sat back down on the floor.

Di sighed and picked up the card Mandy had dropped on the table.  It was Trixie's handwriting but she wasn't surprised.  Mart wouldn't have sent her a card, not after the way she treated him on Halloween.

God, if only he hadn't made me so angry!  She thought sadly.  Things would have been so different now.

She opened the card and smiled as she read Trixie's message.  She was thankful that her friendship with Trixie hadn't been ruined when she and Mart broke up.  In fact, they had grown closer as their single status created a closer bond between them.

Di still keenly missed her close friendship with Hallie, although she would not admit it to anyone.  She couldn't talk about it without feeling ashamed and confused and scared that she may give away details of what had occurred between them.

Oh Hallie...  Di sighed silently.  Why did we spoil our friendship by doing something so stupid?  We needed each other, but not like that!

Trixie had told Di that Hallie's father now had a girlfriend and Di had winced, knowing the pain Hallie must be feeling and having no escape from it.

I should have sent her a card, Di thought.  Christmas is going to be the hardest time for her.  But what if she took it the wrong way?  Oh, God!  Why did I let her kiss me?

Di sighed and covered her face with her hands.  Her sisters were still squabbling good-naturedly on the floor, but she could hardly hear them.  She and her family were only hours away from celebrating Christmas, but Di knew her Christmas wish had no chance of coming true.

"If only I could turn back time..."



"Really Knut, I'll be fine," Hallie assured him, backing into the house, desperate to close the front door and be alone.

"But Hallie, it's Christmas Eve!" Knut cried.  "Gloria's family are expecting us."

"They're expecting you," Hallie reminded him.  "Besides I just saw them at Carols by Candlelight and I'm all sung out for tonight."

"Well, I'd feel better if Cap was home with you," Knut sighed.  "Where is he anyway?"

"Oh, leave him alone!"  Hallie cried.  "I'm sure he's having a better time than the both of us right this minute.  Go to Gloria's, I'll be fine!"

"Okay," Knut relented reluctantly.  "But you're still coming to lunch at Gloria's tomorrow, right?"

"But you promised..." Hallie began with a gasp.

"It's okay Hallie," Knut murmured, touching her hand reassuringly.  "We'll go before we go to Gloria's okay?  All of us?"

Hallie nodded, the prickling in her eyes subsiding a little.  "Thanks Knut.  Have fun tonight, okay?"

"Sure thing, kiddo," he smiled, tousling her hair.  "See you in the morning."

"Bye," Hallie murmured, closing the door behind her in relief.  The house was achingly quiet and a welcome relief from the songs, laughter and banter of the carols that she had just endured.

Christmas used to be so much fun for the Idaho Belden's.  Not every Christmas was spent in Idaho, sometimes they went to Europe, Canada and once they even visited Australia.  But it was Christmas time in Idaho, that Hallie remembered most fondly with Mom and Ollie in the kitchen, singing carols, Cap tending the fire and Knut and Dad debating some business issue in the lounge room.  There were presents, mounds of food, egg nog and plum pudding and laughter and love. 

This year everything was different.



"I've never eaten so much in my life!" Rachel declared as she sunk down into an arm chair in the Belden's living room.

"That's a Crabapple Farm Christmas for you!" Trixie cried, joining her.  "We're so glad you could come."

"I am too," Rachel smiled.

"You don't miss your family?" Dan asked quietly.

"Yes and no," Rachel admitted.  "But I wouldn't be anywhere else right now."

"Of course you wouldn't," Mart told her, sitting on the edge of her armchair.  "I still have nightmares about that dry turkey they tried to give us at college at Thanksgiving.  I'm never missing one of Moms' Thanksgiving dinner's again."

"I should hope not," Peter Belden said as he and Matt Wheeler joined them.  "We like it better when everyone's together during the holidays."

"You certainly seem like one big happy family," Rachel commented and looked around at the group as the last few filed into the room and made themselves comfortable in front of the fire.

Jim and Bobby sat on the floor, working on a complicated model airplane kit that Bobby had received for Christmas.  Their work attracted Trixie's attention, but Rachel suspected that Trixie was more interested in Jim than model airplanes.

Honey sat in an armchair opposite Rachel, and Brian was perched on the arm, his attention focused solely on Honey.  They held hands as they had at every opportunity and seemed wrapped up in their own blissful world.

Rachel turned to look at Mart who was sharing a joke with Dan and Trixie.  Dan's uncle was involved in a conversation with Peter Belden and Matthew Wheeler, and he looked almost as uncomfortable as his nephew did.  They were obviously both welcome here and amongst close friends, but both men looked as though they would rather be somewhere else.  Rachel wondered where they would be if they had the choice.

"Can I get you anything Rachel?" Helen Belden asked gently, coming in with a tray of coffee.

"I'm fine, thank you, Mrs Belden," Rachel answered.  Everything Mart had told her about his mother was true.  She really was the perfect mother, caring, warm and loving and the centre of this wonderful family.

Trixie watched Rachel as she gazed around the room in quiet reflection.  Mart was perched beside her, but was now debating baseball trading with Dan.  She seemed perfectly happy to sit back and observe and didn't demand to be the centre of his attention and he obviously didn't feel the need to deliver it to her.

Was something going on between them?  Trixie mused silently.  Maybe Mart was attracted to her because she wasn't as needy as Di and they could both enjoy their independence.  There was certainly something going on when Trixie walked in on them, hand in hand and deep in conversation.

"Peter, will you get that please?" Helen asked as the phone rang, then turned back to Madeleine Wheeler.

Peter Belden excused himself from his conversation with Regan and Matt, and picked the phone up from the corner of the room.

"Hello?"  He asked but he was answered by a series of beeps.

"It's long distance," he told the group.

"It's Hallie!" Trixie cried excitedly and Dan looked up sharply.

"It could be Uncle Andrew," Mart speculated.  "Isn't he in Europe somewhere?"

"Harold!  Merry Christmas!" Peter cried, ending their speculation.  "The line isn't too good on our end, where are you?"

"Oh, can we talk to Hallie?" Trixie cried, grabbing Dan's hand.

Peter nodded and held a finger up to his lips.  "You're where?  Italy?  But..."

A frown crossed Peter's face as he shared a glance with his wife.  Helen looked down at her hands.

"So Hallie and the boys aren't with you?" Peter spoke loudly into the phone.  "Harold, are you sure that was wise?  After all, it's their first Christmas without...  Harold?  Harold, are you there?"

The group was silent as Peter hung up the phone.

"I guess we were cut off," Peter mumbled to himself.

"But Daddy, where was Hallie?" Trixie asked with wide eyes.  "Wasn't she with him?"

"No," Peter answered after a slight pause.  "It appears your Uncle Harold has gone to Italy for a business meeting and left Hallie, Knut and Cap at home."

"But couldn't they have gone with him?" Brian asked.

"Apparently, they didn't want to," Peter sighed with a perturbed expression.

"So Uncle Harold wasn't alone in Italy?" Mart surmised.

"Poor Hallie..." Trixie gasped.

"We'll ring her tomorrow," Peter promised, glancing at Helen.  "Now who's got room for coffee and a second helping of pudding?"



"Hallie, are you ready to go?" Cap asked, knocking softly on the door and pushing it open.

Hallie quickly hid the envelope she'd been holding under a pillow.

"Almost," she murmured.  "Did you have fun last night?"

Cap smiled sheepishly.  "Yeah, I did.  What about you?"

"It was great when I finally got Knut to leave me in peace and had the house to myself," Hallie told him.

"You were alone on Christmas Eve?" Cap asked in disbelief.  "Hallie, I'm sorry.  If I'd known, I wouldn't have..."

"Don't Cap." Hallie stopped him with gritted teeth, biting back the tears.  "I don't need you guys looking out for me all the time, okay?"

"Okay," Cap agreed quickly.  "Do you want me to give you a minute?"

"Thanks, I'll be down in a second."

Hallie waited until the door closed before she wiped her nose on her sweater.  She reached for the envelope again and traced his writing with her finger.  She couldn't bear to open it, she didn't want his words tearing at her heart again.  But she wanted to feel him close to her again and this was the only way.

She tore open the envelope.


I don't know if you'll read this, or if you read any of the letters I sent you, but I just wanted to wish you a Merry Christmas.  I wish you all the strength and courage to make it through the holidays.  We all miss you and wish you all the best.


Hallie held the card to her as the tears fell.  He always knew just the right words to say.



Hallie was shivering and Cap put his arm around her, risking the chance that she might push him away.  She looked up at him gratefully, before returning her gaze to the headstone in front of her.

"Merry Christmas Mom," Knut murmured, placing a rose on the frosty ground in front of the headstone.  "I miss you.  We all do but we know you're here with us today."

Knut turned away abruptly, removing his glasses and hiding his face with a hand.  Cap and Hallie approached the stone and lay their roses next to Knut's.

"Merry Christmas Mom," they whispered together.  Cap squeezed Hallie's hand and they stared at the words on the headstone, still disbelieving that she was gone.

"I love you Mommy," Hallie whispered and bent down to place a small gift beside the roses. 

Cap coughed and turned away, unable to bear the poignancy of her gesture.  Knut looked over and frowned at the gift Hallie had placed on the grave.

"Hallie..." He began, but a look from Cap silenced him and he returned his gaze to the ground.

"I think she'd like it if we sang her favorite Christmas carol," Hallie murmured.  She looked to her brothers who nodded silently.

Hallie began to sing softly the song her mother had taught her as a small child and the song that always meant Christmas to her.

"I'm dreaming of a white Christmas
Just like the ones I used to know
We're the tree tops glisten
And children listen
To hear sleigh bells in the snow
I'm dreaming of a White Christmas
With every Christmas card I write
May your days be merry and bright
And may all your Christmases be white."

Her brothers had joined in after the first line and sang strongly until the very last line.  Hallie took them by the hand and smiled bravely at them.

"Thank you." She murmured.  "Merry Christmas Mom."

"Merry Christmas." Cap and Knut echoed solemnly.

Hand in hand, the three walked back to the car, lost in thought.  It was Hallie that broke the silence.

"Do you mind if we stop at the house on the way to Gloria's?  I have to make a quick phone call."



"I'll get it," Dan called out to Mr Maypenny.

"You might as well," the old man mumbled.  "It's never for me."

"Hello?" Dan answered breathlessly.  His heart beat quickened as he heard the long distance beeps.

"Hello?" He repeated.  There was silence on the end of the phone and Dan felt the disappointment start to creep in.

"Hi, it's me." A voice said at last and Dan grinned.

"Hallie?  God, I never thought I'd hear your voice again!"

"I'm just ringing to say Merry Christmas and thank you," Hallie told him softly.

"Merry Christmas to you!" Dan cried.  "And what are you thanking me for?"

"For the card, for giving me strength," Hallie murmured.

"Hallie, I..."

"And I just wanted to say sorry.  I - I'm sorry Dan."


"Hallie?  Hallie?!"

Dan hung up the phone.  "I'm sorry too, Hallie."


The End