December 31, 1999
“All right, you two. It’s New Year’s Eve, we have several kinds of pies that Mrs. Belden sent us, a rum cake that I sweet-talked Cook into making for us, and all night to do anything and everything we want to do. So stop moping!”
Trixie chuckled despite herself at Honey’s uncharacteristic outburst. “She’s got a point, Di. When was the last time we were all together like this?”
“The week before my wedding,” Diana admitted, smiling at last. She grinned at Trixie. “I’ll make you a deal. I’ll try to stop missing Mart and worrying about the twins if you stop moping over Lieutenant Molinson and worrying about Erica.”
Trixie flushed. “I’m not moping or worried!”
“Yes, you are,” Diana laughed. “Don’t deny it. You look about the same way I feel. Which is really saying something, because this is the first time that I’ve ever spent the night away from Brent and Trent since they were born.” She impulsively reached over and squeezed Trixie’s hand. “You’ll be fine, Trix. It’s going to do you good to spend a night with us.”
“I’m okay,” Trixie insisted. She mustered a grin and glanced across the room at Honey. “Besides, I happen to know, Miss Wheeler, that we weren’t exactly your first choice for company this evening, either.”
“I’ll admit I’m disappointed,” Honey said softly. “But it’s not quite the same.” She jumped up from the plush sofa, ignoring the puzzled glance Diana shot Trixie. “I think it’s time for chocolate, Di. Mind if I go see just what Mrs. Belden did send?”
“Go ahead,” Diana told her. “Do you want some help?”
“If you don’t mind.” She smiled, the brief flash of melancholy gone. “I didn’t even think to ask if we can eat in here while we watch the videos.”
“I don’t care,” Diana quickly assured her. “Besides, I’m married to Mart. As much as he teased Trixie when we were younger, he’s not exactly the most graceful person in the world himself. There’s a reason I insisted on stain-resistant carpeting, and that was long before I even dreamed about Brent and Trent!”
Trixie laughed as she stood to her feet to follow the others. “I’ll vouch for that one. I saved his neck more than once with a steaming tea kettle.”
“For which I’m most grateful,” Diana replied. She opened the refrigerator. “Let’s see. Thanks to Mrs. Belden’s baking spree last week, we have apple, lemon, and French silk.” She giggled. “I also have pumpkin and pecan in the freezer.”
“French silk,” Honey said. She smiled guiltily as she reached into a cabinet for plates. “Just a small piece, though, since I’m getting a piece of cake, too.”
“Me, too,” Trixie assured her. “But I think I’ll take lemon pie, if it’s not too much trouble.”
“Not at all,” Diana said. “Especially if Honey cuts me a sliver of cake, too.”
“Already done. Trixie, want to grab some drinks?”
“What do we have?” Trixie asked, looking in the refrigerator. “Do you want milk, or pop, or something else?”
“I bought some strawberry pop this morning,” Diana told her. “I also have wassail in the crockpot for later on.” She grinned conspiratorially. “It just may be spiked, at that. For now, just grab me a Dr. Pepper.”
“Since that’s not ready,” Honey said, “I’ll take a Diet Coke.” She rolled her eyes at her full plate. “Not that it’s going to make much difference.”
Trixie sighed. “I’m the one that needs to be dieting, but I don’t know how you drink that stuff.”
“You get used to it,” Honey told her. “But you don’t need to be dieting, either.”
“Yes, I do,” Trixie insisted. She grinned as she took the drinks out of the refrigerator. “Dell seems to like me just the way I am, though.”
“As he should,” Di stated emphatically, closing the lids on the pies. Her violet eyes twinkled mischeviously. “I just haven’t figured out what you see in him!”
“Me, either,” Honey admitted. “Even though I see you two together all the time, I still can’t get past the mental image I had of him when we were fourteen.”
“That’s what makes it so hard,” Trixie said softly. “No one can. But once you really get to know him, there’s another side to him. I know I didn’t see it at the time, but even when we were fourteen, don’t you remember how concerned he was over Davy and Dodgy? And then after Erica was born…”
Diana grinned. “Maybe so, but I’m just glad you didn’t realize it back then. The boys had enough trouble over your yen for Ben. I can’t imagine how they’d have reacted thinking you had a crush on him.”
“They’re bad enough now,” Trixie sighed. “But you know, it’s funny how something that would have been so wrong then seems so right now.”
“I just hope you’re sure,” Honey said, leading the way back into the den. “I know the guys are all overreacting, and we all want you to be happy, but even I’m scared you’re moving too fast.”
“What are you talking about?” Diana asked. She turned to Trixie. “What is she talking about?”
Trixie carefully set her pie plate on the end table before plopping down on the sofa. She opened her pop and started to eat. “This lemon pie is really good, Di.”
“Your mother made it,” Di said evenly. “What is she talking about, Trixie? How are you moving too fast?”
“I’m not,” she protested. She sighed as she met her best friend’s gaze. “Look, Honey. It’s been almost a year since we started dating. I have classes, and my work schedule is even more unpredictable than his. Add in Erica, and the fact that I want to spend time with her, too, and well, no, I’m not home very often.”
Honey shook her head. “You have an address, Trixie, and that’s it. Your bed hasn’t been slept in in almost two weeks. Have you thought about what kind of message you’re sending to Erica?”
Trixie set down her plate and moved closer to her best friend. She took her hand in hers. “I’ve helped take care of her since she was born, Hon. She doesn’t know anything about rings or marriage. She knows that things have changed, and that I’m not her babysitter anymore.” Tears came into her eyes. “We all watched Rudoph the Red-Nosed Reindeer on Christmas eve. Dell told her that it was his favorite Christmas movie when he was her age. She looked up at me and asked, ‘Mommy Trixie? Was that your favorite, too?”
“What did he say?” Di asked softly.
Trixie looked up and brushed the tears from her eyes. “He was as surprised as I was, but he was more worried about how I would react. I can’t say for sure, but I think I just shook my head and told her that the Garfield Christmas special was the one I always had to see. So then she wanted to watch that one.”
Diana laughed. “Did you?”
“No,” Trixie shook her head. She laughed. “We couldn’t find it, so we wound up watching the broadcast of Olive, the Other Reindeer, instead.” She looked back at Honey. “A year ago, that would have freaked me out, but it didn’t. It just felt right. And even though we haven’t discussed details, since we both know that neither of us is ready right now, we both know that eventually, we will get married. So why make a big deal out of it, now?”
Honey sighed. “I think I’m freaking out enough for both of us, Trixie. You’re only twenty-one, and for all intents and purposes, you have a five-year old who sees you as her mother.” She turned to Di. “And you, you’re already married with two kids!”
“Yeah, well, the twins kinda came as a pair,” Di said dryly. She reached over to wrap her arm around Honey’s shoulders. “Okay, Honey. What’s going on? This is more than just me and Trixie, I know.”
“I’m scared, Di,” Honey admitted. She took a deep breath and tried to blink back tears of her own. “You two are both in a different world than I am. One that right now, I can’t even imagine. And Brian – I love him, and I can’t imagine my life without him, but everything’s moving so fast….”
“Wait a minute,” Trixie said. “Brian, my brother Brian, is moving too fast?”
Honey nodded reluctantly. “Not intentionally, I don’t think, but it’s like he’s already got our lives totally planned out for us. Engagement, marriage, even children. And it’s not that I don’t want that, but I’m only twenty-one. I don’t even know that I’ll want children as soon as he’s done with his rotations. I don’t even know that I want to get married before then!”
“Have you talked to him about it?” Di asked softly.
“I can’t,” Honey whispered. “If I do, he’ll think I don’t ever want it, and I do. I just don’t know that I’m ready to have everything set in stone now.”
Trixie squeezed her hand. “Honey? What do you think Brian would say if I told him that Dell was making important decisions for me without even talking to me about them?”
“He’d go through the roof,” Honey said. “Then probably get your dad’s shotgun.”
“But that’s what he’s doing to you, Hon. You’ve got to talk to him.”
“I can’t,” she repeated. She took a deep breath. “And you won’t either, Trixie.”
“But Honey,” Di said. “Marriage is a huge step. It’s not something you can rush in to.”
“Says the one who got married two months after graduating high school,” Honey replied. She mustered a smile. “I’m sorry, Di. But answer me honestly, do you ever regret it? I mean, do you ever wish you had waited a while?”
Diana smiled gently. “Honestly? Yes, there were times I almost envied you and Trixie for all the experiences you were having at college while I was here with the responsibility of a house to take care of while Mart was gone. But then…,” she paused. “Then Mart would come home, and I’d realize that I wouldn’t have traded that for anything.” She chuckled ruefully. “Okay, I’ll admit that the twins caught us by surprise, but everytime I look at them, I fall more and more in love with them.” She squeezed Honey’s shoulders. “Honey, you’re always going to have some regrets, no matter what you do in life. I would have regretted not marrying Mart far more than I’ve ever regretted missing out on what could have been.”
“Talk to Brian, Honey,” Trixie said. “He’ll understand.”
“I’ll think about it,” Honey said softly. “I’ve got a lot of thinking to do, anyway.”
“Just don’t let him push you,” Di told her. “Whatever you do should be your decision just as much as it is his.”
“I know,” she admitted. She smiled too brightly. “But this is still New Year’s Eve. We’re not going to mope the new year in! Weren’t we going to watch some movies?”
“It’s up to you two,” Di said. “Whatever you decide to do is fine by me.”
“Trix? What do you think?” Honey asked.
“You know what I’d really like to do?” Trixie responded. “I know it’s not technically, but everyone’s considering it the last night of the millenium, and since never get to do anything like this anymore, not just the three of us, anyway, why don’t we go say ‘hi’ to Hoppy? For old time’s sake?”
“And she said that without even taking a breath,” Honey mused. She grinned at Diana. “But it sounds like a good idea to me. What about you?”
“Let’s go. But if we’re going, let’s do it right. What do you two say to a shake at Wimpy’s?”
“After all that pie and cake?” Trixie said in amazement. She laughed. “I’m in.”
“Me, too,” Honey giggled. “Do you need to turn off the crock pot before we go?”
“Nope. It’s on low, so it’ll be okay until after midnight. I’ll turn the timer on, though, so we won’t have to worry.”
“Timer?” Trixie blinked. “Crock pots have timers now?”
Diana laughed as she headed for the kitchen. “They do when your brother gets a hold of a power strip and a timing mechanism.”
“Say no more!” Trixie called after her. “Hey, do you care if we go in my car?”
“What? You don’t want to be seen in my purple mini-van?” Di called, feigning hurt.
Honey giggled. “No offense, Di, we promise! But if we’re reliving our youth…”
“Are we talking about the same years, guys?” Di asked. She grinned as she handed the other two their coats. “Weren’t we the teen-agers who drove all over town in a station-wagon?”
“She’s got a point, Trix,” Honey admitted.
“Well, yeah,” Trixie agreed, eyes twinkling. “I know Brian’s jalopy was even worse. But then again, neither of them had car seats and toys in the back seat.”
“The jalopy didn’t even have a backseat,” Honey reminded her, chuckling as they walked out the door. “But oh, remember how hard we worked so Brian could get it?”
“And how hard we worked to keep the insurance on the station wagon?” Trixie added. “Then again, a ski trip wasn’t exactly hard work.”
“Catching the counterfeiters was, though,” Honey declared. “And being caught by Carl while we were skiing.”
“Snooping, you mean,” Diana grinned. Then she sobered. “And the avalanche…”
Trixie shuddered, but then she smiled. “You do realize that Mart was far more shaken by Eric than he was by that, right?”
“He finally told me that trip was when he realized just how much he does love me,” Di said, blushing.
Trixie unlocked the doors of her car, and the trio climbed inside. It was a short trip to town, and the reminiscing made it seem like no time had passed before they pulled into Wimpy’s parking lot. The diner was always crowded on a Friday night, and the holiday had only added to the crowd. Finding a table in the noisy restaurant proved to be a futile task. The young women were just about to give up when Diana spotted someone about to leave at the end of the counter. She nudged Trixie, and pointed towards them.
Trixie smiled and walked quickly, but silently, towards the two men finishing their coffee. She lightly tapped one of them on the shoulder. “Hey, officer? Why did the baker rob the bank?”
The policeman spun around on the stool, dropping his coffee mug in the process. “Trix? Are you trying to give me a heart attack?”
She looked contrite. “I’m sorry, Dell. We decided to come in to town to say ‘hello’ to Hoppy one last time, and when I saw you were here, I couldn’t resist…”
Spider Webster laughed as Wendell Molinson wrapped his arms around the petite blonde. “Wow. It must be true what they’re saying about the world ending tonight. I always said that’s what would happen before I heard Trixie Belden not only seeking out the police, but actually apologizing to one.”
She giggled as she wrinkled her nose at him. “Yeah, well, things change, Spider.”
“Obviously,” he said, smiling at the sight of Trixie in Wendell’s embrace.
It was a public place, and Wendell quickly released her. He sighed as he looked down at the floor. “Hey, Mike? Got a mop?”
“Coming,” the counterman called out. “How bad’s the spill?”
“About half a cup of coffee, and a shattered coffee cup,” he groaned. “Trixie, do you see what you do to me?”
“I just couldn’t resist,” she repeated. She flushed as Mike approached with mop and a broom. “Sorry, Mike.”
“No problem, Trixie,” he assured her. “It’s worth a spill to get you kids in here again.”
“It has been too long,” she agreed. She looked at Honey and Diana. “We’ll try to do better, won’t we?”
Before they could do more than nod, Wendell’s radio chirped. He spoke in to it, then turned to Trixie. “See you tomorrow, Trix?”
“You can count on it,” she whispered. “Be careful out there tonight.”
“Always.” He brushed her cheek with a kiss. “You too, please?”
“Are they always like this?” Spider asked Honey, sliding off his stool.
“Pretty much,” she agreed, giggling. “Almost makes you miss the days they were at each other’s throats, doesn’t it?”
“I wouldn’t go quite that far,” he shook his head. “At least it’s been quiet at the station so far tonight. Only call so far has been a reported gunshot in the new subdivision. Turned out to be a kitchen accident.”
Honey raised her eyebrows and motioned Di onto the stool that had just opened up beside them. “Okay, Webster, how does a kitchen accident get reported as a gunshot?”
“Gas stove exploded. No one could tell us how it happened, but ugh. There was half-baked duck everywhere. I just hope that’s the worst of our problems tonight. Be glad you worked Christmas, Wheeler.”
“I am,” Honey agreed. “I had New Year’s Eve last year. That’s why we’re in town now instead of later, when the bars close.”
“Good plan,” Spider said. “See you girls later.” He followed his boss to the register.
“So, Trixie?” Di asked, once the men had left. “Just why did the baker rob the bank?”
Trixie chuckled. “He needed the dough.”
Honey groaned. “That was bad, Trix.”
“Not as bad as Mart’s favorite.” Diana rolled her eyes. “What does a proud computer call his baby boy?”
“I’m almost scared to ask,” Trixie said.
“A microchip off the old block.”
“And what did one plate say to the other plate?” Mike asked, taking his place across the counter from them.
“We give up,” Di told him.
“Lunch is on me.” Mike grinned. “So what can I get you girls? Your usual?”
Diana looked to the others. “I think we’re all having chocolate malts, aren’t we?”
Honey and Trixie nodded. “For old time’s sake,” Trixie explained.
The trio had their malts within minutes, and half an hour later, they realized that a line had formed for tables.
“Mike, can we have the check, please?” Di called down the counter. “We’ll let someone else have these seats.”
“Sorry,” he shook his head. “I hate to disappoint, but it’s been taken care of.”
“What?” Di blinked.
“Someone you all know paid your bill with his own.” Mike’s dark eyes twinkled, as he nodded his head towards Trixie. “Seems rather smitten with you, Trix.”
Trixie flushed while Diana and Honey laughed. Honey took Trixie’s arm and helped her off the stool. “Thanks, Mike. Happy New Year!”
“To you all, too,” he replied. “Don’t be so long about coming back, either!”
“We’ll try,” Di told him. “See you later!”
The trio walked outside and crossed the parking lot as they headed across the common to the Town Hall. The small square was relatively empty compared to the bustling diner, and after they greeted the weather vane, they found an empty bench and sat down to enjoy the crisp, clear night.
“This has been fun,” Di broke the silence. “I’m glad you thought of it, Trixie.”
“I just hope you didn’t think I’d planned it this way,” she said softly. “I really didn’t know they’d be here tonight.”
Honey looked at her in surprise. “We never thought you did, Trixie. And even if you had, do you think we would have cared?”
“No, but still, I know you wanted a night with just us,” she explained.
“And we’re having it,” Honey assured her. “Just think. Another hour, and we’ll be living in the year 2000. Can you believe it?”
“I remember being in elementary school and figuring out how old I’d be when 2000 came,” Trixie recalled. “Twenty-one seemed so old back then.”
“And the future seemed so scary,” Di added. “We were all going to have flying cars and live on the moon.”
“And push buttons to do all of the housework for us,” Trixie giggled. “Di, tell Mart to get to work on that.”
Honey snorted, then started to smile. “You know what? I’m glad some things will never change. It makes the future seem a lot less frightening.”
“I wonder what the future does hold?” Trixie mused.
“Good things,” Honey said with more certainty than she had shown all evening. “And we can get through the bad things as they come.”
“One thing’s for sure,” Di said. “Our friendship will never change.”
“And we’ll always look back on this night when we’re remembering like we did earlier,” Honey added.
Trixie nodded. “Let’s make a pact. Let’s do this every year. Maybe not New Year’s, but at least once a year, no matter what.”
“At least once a year,” Honey affirmed.
Diana agreed. “We’ll do it. No matter what.”
The three young women looked at each other and smiled as they chorused, “For old time’s sake!”
Should auld acquaintance be forgot,
And never brought to mind?
Should auld acquaintance be forgot,
And auld lang syne?
For auld lang syne, my dear
For auld Lang syne,
We’ll tak a cup o kindness yet,
For auld lang syne!
Author’s Notes: This story is my submission for Moon-Spinner’s PWP: Project HoHoHo. I think everyone will recognize the song I’ve used, but for the sake of disclaimer, it’s the traditional song adapted from Robert Burns’s poem, Auld Lang Syne. Much gratitude goes to Cyndi for editing, especially on extremely short notice. It’s really appreciated! 🙂