Winter came to New York in a soft flurry outside the window.
Riley stood inside the warmth of the new apartment that she and Farkle had recently purchased. As the snow fell softly outside, she watched the snowflakes land on the glass, slowly melting from the warmth of the window.
The sound of soft footsteps echoed in the room.
"Ready, honey?" Farkle said.
She turned from the window and smiled.
Her husband, her Farkle stood at the bottom of the stairs, wearing a red turtleneck and brown coat.
"Just a minute," Riley told him, grabbing her own purple coat.
"Well, I'm in no rush," Farkle said with a laugh, "but if know you, we're going to be late."
"I just want to look my best," Riley said, zipping up her coat.
"You already do," Farkle said.
She smiled as Farkle stepped toward her, brushing a lock of hair away from her forehead.
"That's easy for you to say," Riley said, straightening the neck of her own matching red turtleneck.
Farkle raised a brow.
"You always look good," Riley told him.
Farkle lifted her chin.
"Always?" He said
"Always," she said with a smile, her eyes shining.
He kissed her softly, then grabbed the key to the apartment from the hook on the wall.
They pulled away and held hands.
"Now," Farkle said "You'll tell me if you're too cold?" He asked.
"We can always grab a hot chocolate on the way," she said as they headed out the door. The air was a little chilly, but not as cold as she expected.
New York itself was a winter wonderland, and as the evening came, the Christmas lights lit up one by one. Snow softly fell around them, tickling Riley's cheeks.
"Wow!" Riley said, watching a moving light display. A bright reindeer stomped its foot and bobbed its head.
"How do they make it move?" She asked.
"It's simple Riley," Farkle said, pointing at the display.
"Do you see the faint outline there?"
He drew the outline in the air.
"It's more than one frame, see?"
Riley watched Farkle's eyes light up as the light display created the illusion.
"You're not paying attention," Farkle said with a pout.
Riley laughed and linked her arm in his.
"I am. I promise," She replied.
"Oh yeah?" Farkle said, "Then what did I just show you?"
Riley took his hand in hers and drew the outline of the reindeer.
"Did I get it right?" She asked him, turning. He was watching her, his eyes shining.
She sighed as Farkle kissed her forehead.
"What was that?" She asked him.
"A reward," Farkle said. His goofy grin made Riley's heart race.
She kissed his cheek.
They started walking again, the lights surrounding them in a canopy.
As the people walked past them, Riley barely noticed. She could tell that Farkle was excited. It had been nearly a year since they had seen Lucas, Maya, Zay and Smackle. Even after college, their group of friends remained strong. Something that Riley learned from her father. It was a lesson they all had to learn. Even after life changed their paths, they were still there for each other. A cause worth fighting for.
"So, do you remember what route we take on the subway?" Riley asked Farkle.
"Of course," Farkle said. "It just might be more crowded in Central Park this year."
"I think we'll be okay," Riley told him.
They walked down the stairs to the subway, and as they waited for the train, Riley looked around. The stay in school poster still hung on the wall, Mr Feeny smiling at the passerby.
Farkle looked at his watch.
"Don't worry," Riley told him.
"I'm not," Farkle replied, but her look silenced him.
It was just something that Riley knew about Farkle. He liked when things were just so, and he loved being on schedule.
She was always happy to remind him that sometimes life didn't go according to plan, but it all worked out anyway.
She took his hand and hid his watch under the sleeve of his coat.
"Hey," Farkle said, but she silenced him with a quick kiss on the lips.
"We have all the time in the world," Riley whispered as she kissed him again.
She felt Farkle give in, just as the train arrived.
"Well, that was a nice way to spend it," Farkle replied.
Riley led him on the platform of the train, and she found a pair of seats together.
As she put her head on his shoulder, she traced his knuckles with her finger tips.
"Don't fall asleep," Farkle teased.
"I'll try not to," she replied, but no promises.
She smiled as Farkle put his other hand over hers.
"What?" She asked as he stopped her tracing.
"That tickles," Farkle told her.
"I know," she replied.
Farkle lifted her hand to his lips. He kissed it softly.
"Now will you stop?" He asked, breathing on her hand.
She looked at him.
Butterflies formed in her stomach. His eyes locked on hers with a steady, hungry gaze.
Riley blushed despite herself.
"That's cheating," she replied.
She bit her lip as Farkle took her hand in both of his.
She looked away, pretending to pout.
"Riley?" Farkle asked softly.
She ignored him.
"Come on," Farkle said, "It's all in good fun."
Riley stayed still as she felt Farkle lean closer.
"Are you upset?" He asked.
She turned her head to face him, and her heart melted at the genuine concern she found in his eyes.
They stayed that way for a moment. Riley saw Farkle's gaze drop to her lips.
She leaned forward, just as signal for the door went off.
Both pulled away in surprise as they stood and left the train.
"Woah," Farkle said.
"We nearly missed our stop," Riley said with a laugh.
"This is your fault," he told her, "You're too distracting."
"It's not my fault you went Boylalaloo," Riley said.
"You did too," he replied, "And you know it,"
Riley shook her head, but she couldn't hide her smile.
Farkle was smooth, and he definitely knew that.
They walked closer together, shoulders brushing as they entered the crowd of people chattering excitedly and shuffling up the subway stairway.
"Almost there," Farkle said.
Riley pulled out her phone.
"Maya's on her way with Lucas," Riley said.
"Still no word from Smackle and Zay," she said.
"They'll be here," Farkle said, "Zay emailed me this morning."
Riley put the phone in her pocket as Farkle guided them around a group of children in a snowball fight.
"We're meeting at the skating rink," Riley said.
"Sounds good," Farkle replied, pulling her closer as more people walked around them.
Riley felt safe as her shoulders pressed against his. the crowd grew as the people gathered near the entrance to the park. Riley grinned as Farkle put his arm around her and she looped her arm around his again.
"It's about to get crazy," Farkle said.
"Okay," Riley said.
Farkle was right. People stepped on her feet and bumped into her, but Farkle's presence made the chaos better.
"Oh," Farkle said.
He moved his arm and took Riley's hand again.
"Hot chocolate," he said with a grin.
Riley noticed the chill in the air as Farkle ordered two cups of hot chocolate.
"Careful," he said, handing one to her.
"Thank you," Riley said.
As they sipped the hot chocolate, Riley's phone rang.
"Hey Maya," she answered.
"We're here," Maya's voice came from the line, "Huckleberry's here too. He almost took a wrong turn."
"Hey, that's not true!" Lucas's voice echoed in the background.
"Farkle and I are about three minutes away," Riley said, "Any word from Smackle or Zay?"
"Smackle texted me ten minutes ago," Maya said, "They're probably caught in the subway traffic."
"Okay, we'll be there soon," Riley said.
"See ya soon," Maya said.
Riley hung up and looked at Farkle.
"Ready?" She asked.
She linked her arm in his again as they maneuvered through the crowd.
Riley saw Maya first, her bright blonde hair a trademark. Lucas stood next to her, They were laughing about something as Riley and Farkle walked up.
"Riles!" Maya said when she recognized her.
"Peaches!" Riley grinned as they hugged.
"I'm so glad you made it!" Maya said, "Huckleberry has been my only company for two hours."
"It was longer than that," Lucas said, "And from what I saw, you were having fun."
"Huckleberry, Huckleberry," Maya said as she pulled away from Riley, "You should know by now that it's all an act."
Lucas laughed, while Farkle walked up to him.
Lucas shook Farkle's hand.
"How ya doin' Freak Face?" Farkle asked.
"I haven't been called that in a while," Lucas said.
"Well, it's never too late to make up for lost time." Farkle said with a laugh.
Zay and Smackle walked up to them.
"Well, well," Smackle said, "If it isn't my former arch nemesis,"
"Smackle," Farkle said with a grin, "How have you been?"
"She's been winning nobels and impressing my parents," Zay said with a grin.
"It's nice to know they approve," Smackle said.
Zay shook his head.
"Isadora Babineux," he said, "you know very well how incredible you are."
"But boasting is not acceptable behavior," Smackle said with a gleam in her eyes.
"It is around me," Zay said, pulling her close.
"Now that we're all here," Riley said, "Guess what it's time for!"
"If you say it," Maya told her, "I will pinch you."
"Secret Santa!" Riley said.
Maya pinched her arm.
"Ow," she replied. They laughed.
After the gift exchange, the snow fell harder.
"We should probably get home," Farkle told Riley, "It's getting colder."
"Merry Christmas, guys!" Riley said, giving each of her friends a hug.
As Farkle and Riley walked back to the subway, Farkle stopped.
"What?" Riley asked him.
Farkle looked around.
"Just one last thing," he said.
Riley gasped as Farkle drew her to him. Their noses touching.
He kissed her gently as the soft snow fell around him.
When they pulled away, Riley smiled.
"Smooth," she said, a little breathless.
"There's more where that came from," Farkle said with a wink.
"Okay, genius," Riley said with a giggle, "but let's go inside where it's warm."
The moment Farkle and Riley arrived back at the apartment, Riley raced up the stairs.
"Riley?" Farkle asked.
He wondered what had persuaded her to take off so suddenly.
As he walked slowly up the stairs, Riley's voice came from the bedroom.
"Don't come up just yet," Riley said.
Now Farkle was curious.
"Everything Ok?" He asked.
"Yes," Riley replied from the hallway, "But not one step more Farkle Minkus!"
"Does this have to do with presents?" He asked.
"Yes," Riley said. "Stay put for five more minutes!"
Farkle looked at his watch, timing the minutes down to the second.
He heard paper shuffling and the rip of scotch tape.
"Okay, Riley," he said, "You've got one more minute."
The rustling grew louder, and he suspected more frantic.
As the minute passed, Farkle slowly stepped toward the room and knocked on the door.
"I'm coming in," Farkle said.
He opened the door.
He saw a box wrapped in red and green paper with a bright red bow. Riley was no where to be seen.
"Riley?" He asked.
She walked out of the closet, and Farkle laughed. There was scotch tape in her hair.
He walked toward her, and she blushed as he gently pulled the tape from her brown curls.
"Well done," he said.
"So, are we opening gifts tonight?" Farkle asked softly.
"Well, I was hoping we could do just one," Riley said. "I mean Mom, Dad and Auggie come over tomorrow, but I got you something for Hanukkah."
Farkle smiled as his heart swelled. His wife was the most thoughtful and considerate person he knew.
"Okay," Farkle said, "Then you have to open a gift too."
"Deal!" Riley said.
She picked up the gift and walked downstairs as Farkle followed.
The tree was lit up by the time Farkle made it to the living room. He smiled at the menorah on the mantelpiece.
"Happy Hanukkah Farkle," Riley said, handing him the gift that she had previously made such a fuss about.
"Thank you Riley," Farkle said softly.
He walked to the tree and found a small red box.
"Open this first," he told her.
"Not fair," Riley said. "Let's open them at the same time."
"Okay," Farkle said.
He tore the paper and opened the box.
"Riley," he said, "this is..."
"Mars," Riley said, "You can put it on the tree."
Farkle lifted the glass ornament out of the box and grinned.
"Open yours," he told her.
Riley pulled the red box open, and gasped.
"Farkle!" She said, "Did you know?"
Farkle shook his head.
"I didn't know at all," Farkle said, "but I'm starting to think the universe is telling us something."
Riley lifted the glass ornament out of her box. It was Pluto. The perfect match to Farkle's Mars.
"Merry Christmas, Riley," Farkle said, "Happy Hanukkah, Happy everything."
Riley rushed over to him, pulling him in a hug.
Farkle sighed as Riley pressed against him.
"I guess Pluto and Mars belong together after all." Riley said.
"The universe seems to say so." Farkle replied with a happy sigh of his own.
Riley moved away from him to hang her ornament on the tree.
He leaned toward her as she picked a tree branch and placed Pluto delicately on the pine tree.
Farkle placed Mars gently beside Pluto.
"And," Farkle said, "I think it happened because you never gave up on them."
Riley smiled at him and he noted the reflection of the lights in her soft brown eyes.
They held the gaze, drawn together.
Farkle closed his eyes as Riley leaned forward, and their lips met.
Best Christmas ever.