Author: Maiden of the Moon PM
The true meaning of Christmas isn't just in the Bible... It can also be found in the lyrics of the worst holiday songs on the radio. Depending on how hard you listen, anyway. [Part of the "Bicentennial" series. Updated!]Rated: Fiction T - English - Family/Humor - Ciel P. & Sebastian M. - Chapters: 2 - Words: 5,100 - Reviews: 10 - Favs: 13 - Follows: 3 - Updated: 12-21-12 - Published: 12-13-12 - Status: Complete - id: 8793409
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
Disclaimer: I own nothing.
Author's Note: You know how, lyke, you feel so guilty for not writing that you can't write, and then you just feel worse because no writing has happened? Yeah, that would be my life right now. :'D OH WELL.
Warnings: Part of the "Bicentennial" series; takes place between "666" and "Violets." References "Hitches and Knots." Music jokes/riffing on songs I don't like. Questionable humor? SebaCiel, mentions of OCs. Crap editing. This is my ficlet for the "HS vs Bi: Xmas Flavored Smack Down" that Alex and I are doing. XD And so, this one is for you, Alex m' dear. Happy holidays to everyone else, too!
"Last Christmas, I gave you my heart, but there very nex—"
"—you gave it away. This year, to—"
"—me from tears, I'll give it to someone spe—"
"For the love of all that is unholy, change it!"
"Last Christmas, I g—"
"That's it," Ciel growled, his voice echoing from somewhere beneath a small forest's worth of colored paper, "we're using Pandora."
The other half of the aforementioned "we"— Sebastian— nodded obligingly as he switched off the offending radio. He was the only one who could reach it, trapped as it was beside him on the couch. A couch surrounded by a labyrinthine fortress of cardboard boxes. Or, as others might see it, half the stock room of Toys R Us… supplemented, perhaps, by one or two or fifteen presents filched from the local Toys for Tots drive bins, because Ciel had overheard the asshole running the program saying that he was just going to sell what he collected on eBay, and the Phantomhives figured they could make better use of his loot.
Not that they were admitting to anything.
"Go right ahead. If you can find the computer, that is," Sebastian returned mildly. Even still, he half-considered playing his own advocate and pointing out that, while pretty much every station was airing the same damn song over and over, at least they had the decency to feature different artists' covers. So it wasn't quite as bad as Ciel's tape-and-scissors-throwing theatrics might suggest. But despite the temptation to rile his husband into a hissing, catlike rage, Sebastian ultimately decided against it; he was so sick of the ditty himself that he might've assumed its constant repetition was some elaborate form of torture dredged up from the bowels of Hell had he not personally known better. (As a former citizen of the Circles, he could state with absolute certainty that no devil would ever waste their time spearheading that campaign. Not when Operation "Christmas Shoes" was still such a successful orgy of frustration, angst, and human suffering.)
Regardless, the retired butler did look faintly amused as he watched his husband slither, jump, and army crawl across the Winter Wonderland that was their living room. The Spears and their daughter had dropped by earlier solely to help decimate— decorate— for Christmas, and by the time they'd gone home, the Phantomhive's apartment looked like the holiday-themed pent house that Jack Frost might've run if he were the sugar plum fairies' pimp, and every elf in the North Pole had been invited over to indulge in their "eggnog."
But with more snowflake window clings.
Not that Sebastian was being a Grinch about this development. Rather, he quite liked how festive Ciel was allowing them to be this year. For whatever reason, his baby bird had been suffering for decades under the delusion that—as devils—Christmas wasn't a holiday that they were supposed to enjoy. Which simply wasn't true, as he'd since explained. It was Jesus' birthday, yes, but frankly, Sebastian was pleased to celebrate it. Though it'd been a good while since they'd last talked, Jesus had been a good friend of his, back in the day: they'd shared a love of magic tricks, backgammon, and travel—they'd even taken a 40 day trip together. Sure, they'd drifted apart over the years, but they still exchanged occasional pleasantries through Uriel. So no, Sebastian didn't begrudge the season. (Though of course, he still sent Jesus his birthday card in the spring, on the actual anniversary of his birth.)
Yet in spite of this and other clarifications, Ciel had remained skeptical… even a bit uncomfortable about the idea of Christmas, perhaps sensing some lingering awkwardness between himself and God's family in the wake of the 1800s. Which was understandable. Relatable, even. And so Sebastian didn't press. Instead, December after December passed by, and the devils spent the 25th of it eating Chinese food with the Reapers, having fun but decidedly ignoring certain holidays that they'd not truly, officially acknowledged since a certain blonde haired, green eyed lady had been around to force them to party.
But then the twins had come along.
Just like lonely people never feel lonelier than they do around the holidays, people with kids never feel more like a family than they do when trees are dressed in lights and evergreen wreaths appear on doors. It was a warm, bubbly sort of feeling. The kind that made a demon want to drink cocoa in front of a blazing mini mall. And now that Asmus and Toth were old enough to full embrace bold-faced lies like Santa and Rudolph, as well as be irreversibly corrupted by the corrosive rot of consumerism that'd turned a day of pure religious worship into an orgy of greed and materialism, the two were in agreement that the holidays were something that should be celebrated as lavishly as possible. (Privately, Sebastian though nostalgia played a big role in this, and that Ciel had finally succumbed to its temptation, as a good devil should, but he kept that to himself.)
And here was the result of their indulgence: an apartment stuffed with stuff and stuff to stuff that stuff into. Stockings, bags, tissue paper… The carpet sparkled as bows and decorations shed glitter like dandruff. They'd managed to squeeze a 7 foot fir into a far corner, and Sebastian and Will had spent over 4 hours using protractors and rulers to insure that it was a perfectly, irrefutably straight. Its branches groaned beneath the weight of bells and balls and cats—the latter of which Ciel kept trying to chase away, but to little avail: Georgina, George, and Georgette refused to be deterred. Every ledge and empty inch of shelf space had been loaded up with porcelain snowmen and elves; colored lights had been strung around the room, as well as the tree, making the dangling plastic icicles glisten; Angel and the toddlers had torn the recycling bin apart digging out old toilet paper tubes and empty jars, and had subsequently made a nativity set out of their findings. Or some semblance of one. (For a moment, Sebastian had wondered if his friends Above would be offended to find that those in his house were portraying their savior as an empty pickle container. Then he remembered he didn't care that much, and returned to hanging his Enterprise ornament. And his Borg one.)
Which brought them back to here and now. The twins had been put to bed an hour ago, so Sebastian and Ciel had decided to heft all of the parcels they'd hidden in the spare bedroom out into the open. They'd thought they might enjoy a relaxing evening wrapping gifts to the dulcet tones of carols, but instead had been driven half-crazy by every conceivable rendition of the song "Last Christmas." Coincidentally, it might actually be someone's last Christmas if they didn't get Pandora on soon. At least, if the look on Ciel's face as he wildly searched the trash-strewn ground for their computer was anything to judge by.
"We could listen to a CD," Sebastian suggested after a minute, torn between sympathy and concern for the gifts as Ciel tore (sometimes literally) his way through the room. "Since the laptop seems to be MIA."
"That's just what I get for telling Ronald he could use it, I guess," Ciel grunted, his body coming to an agitated still. Whole armfuls worth of tossed, shredded paper drifting down from above like dry snow; the not-boy patted Santa's eviscerated visage from his shoulder before raking a hand across his face and heaving a sigh. "Maybe someday it'll turn up with our Bourne Trilogy DVDs, our vacuum, and those aprons he borrowed when covering for you at Wendell's." The younger creature groused for a moment as he mentally cursed their forgetful friend, then he shrugged and gestured back towards Sebastian and the radio. "I guess the CD will have to do. What've we got in the player?"
"Uh…" Sebastian tapped the tray's lid, neck craning as he peered down to check. "An old mix from Grelle, I think."
"…maybe we should check the stations again."
"—ve me from tears, I'll give it to someone spe—"
"Play the mix."
"Yes, my lord," Sebastian simpered, pressing the appropriate buttons as Ciel tried to pseudo-dry heave Taylor Swift's voice out of his system. If either had thought that Grelle's taste in tunes might serve as a sort of palate cleanser, however, their hopes were soon dashed, spat on, crushed, and ground into nothingness by the first song that began trickling out of the speakers.
"Every breath you take, every move you mak—"
"Satan save it, is this the wedding soundtrack she proposed?" the little devil moaned. Sebastian quickly pounded on the 'skip' key, gagging on a groan of his own.
"I wish I could tell you that it wasn't, but I'm incapable of lying. Even in an attempt to make myself feel better. Instead, we must both face the cold truth and come to terms with the fact that, apparently, we own a CD whose every track subtly pays tribute to rape," Sebastian flatly decreed, nose scrunched in bitter distaste.
"Worse still," Ciel added—with only a touch of sarcasm—, "it's not even very Christmasy."
His husband grunted in agreement, allowing the mentally dubbed "Now That's What I Call Music About Sexual Harassment" to resume play just-long-enough to catch the opening notes of Sarah McLachlan's "Posession" and Rod Stewart's "Maggie May." Neither of which, to quote his little one, were very Christmasy. But lo and behold— as if some sort of sick, twisted Christmas miracle—, about 7 bypassed tracks later, their ears pricked on notably jolly notes. Which was surprising, to say the least. Both due to the song's absurdly coincidental timing, and also the fact that the Phantomhives had a summer wedding, so what was a holiday melody doing on this mix? It didn't make any sense—
"…oh, that's right." With a groan, Sebastian recalling a brief conversation he'd had with Grelle in his kitchen, so many years ago…
"I really can't stay (Baby, it's cold outside)
I've got to go 'way (Baby, it's cold outside)
The evening has been (I've been hopin' that you'd drop in)
So very nice (I'll hold your hand, they're just like ice)~"
"…there's something seriously wrong with Grelle. I mean, I know that's common knowledge, but… Really," Ciel droned, though he nevertheless gesticulated to let the song continue playing. It was, after all, the only holiday piece that the demonling could think of that was about slipping drugs into a person's drink and forcing oneself upon them, and as such was probably the only Christmas song on the mix. But it was, at the end of the day, still a Christmas song. And not "Last Christmas." So it would do. For now. "This is just skeevy. I always thought Christmas music was supposed to be joyful and triumphant."
"Well, it could be argued that the gentleman in this song is ultimately triumphant, and thus joyful," Sebastian returned amicably, though he'd since turned to focus his attention on the massive pile of boxes he was about to play Jenga with. If he could just shimmy that big pink Mattel monstrosity out from beneath the Easy Bake Oven they'd bought for Toth…
Ciel snorted. "Mm, yes, nothing says 'sounds of the season' like a woman using her voice to fend off a sexual encounter."
"I could turn Taylor Swift back on."
"And do what? Prove my point?"
"Touché. Now help me wrap Angel's Barbie RV."
"I simply must go (It's cold outside)
The answer is no (Baby, it's cold outside)
The welcome has been (So lucky that you dropped in)
So nice and warm (Look out the window at that storm)~"
"…I remember last time I played Barbies with Angie," Ciel mumbled, the soft sound of his chuckles overwhelming the hypnotic rustle of shifting, crinkling, and crumpling paper. "She kept all of her accessories in a pile and called it the junk yard. She told me she didn't feel like setting everything up nicely, so she'd decided to make her dolls homeless scavengers for convenience's sake. After opening this, those dolls' will move on up the societal ladder and become 'hillbillies.'" The once-earl pulled his fingers away as Sebastian took a few strips of tape to their work, sticking down meticulously folded corners.
"Hillbillies with large medical bills, unless Asmus and Toth stop ripping the heads off of whatever dolls they find," his husband added with a wry snicker, working a long swatch of ribbon around the parcel.
"Maybe that's why they're homeless. They went bankrupt buying masking tape neck braces."
The sly rebuke had Sebastian's grin widening a bit more in amusement; he paused for a moment to watch Ciel fuss with the delicate angel ornament they'd bought to loop through the bow. Quietly, the elder devil admired the color on his lover's apple cheeks, and the affectionate glimmer half-hidden by his long, hooded lashes. His every move was magic… Or, at least, lookedmagical in the wake of the glitter-clouds that were wafting up from the carpet. The twinkling residue clung like silvery frost to his jeans and V-neck sweater; his hoary hair shifted as he finally glanced up, noticing his beloved's gaze with a quirked eyebrow.
"What?" Ciel demanded, though an endearing brand of coyness had curled his lips up, as well.
"It's nothing," Sebastian smiled, features warm and gentle as he reached out to touch Ciel's face. And it wasn't, really: just a tiny epiphany—the sort of cheesy, Disney moral that he'd only realized after mulling, as he had, on Decembers past. But now that the thought was in his mind, he couldn't just ignore it. "As you vainly shuffled about looking for your laptop beneath all of this mess, I got to thinking. About how we've never really done this, before… Celebrated Christmas, that is, and how nice it is to finally give it a go, cooperate consumerism style. But really… Today has hardly been anything special, has it? The Spears came to visit, we enjoyed some laughs, and now we're spending the night snarking at each other to some chosen activity. Besides a higher electric bill and massive credit card debt, this Christmas isn't really all that horribly different from the ones we chose not to heed. In the emotional sense, that is. And that's brilliant. Because the holidays, in truth, are supposed to be about love and togetherness, and if we overlook the fact that we have enough toys crammed into our living space to please all of the children in a third world country, I have to say that this feels much like any other night. So that must mean we enjoy a ridiculous amount of love and tenderness on a daily basis. And I think being reminded of that is a wonderful present, even if you can't put a bow on it." He hesitated for a beat, distracted from Ciel's growing flush by coils of silk and plastic trimming. "Or perhaps because you can't, since I'm not sure we have enough ribbon as-is."
Once again, the demonling snorted, burgundy features fading back to a delighted pink as he playfully batted Sebastian's hand. And maybe someday, Ciel thought, he'd tell his other half the full truth about all of those other Christmases: the ones he'd spent away from Sebastian, the ones that'd nearly killed him, rotting away in cages of all shapes and sizes. He'd talk about the times he'd tried to forget those lonely, painful holidays, in bars or in bed, with friends or alone. He'd relay the story of that night, who-knew how many years ago, when he'd bought a bag of tinsel for whatever rat-trap apartment they'd been forced to perch in that winter… only to toss it before getting home, feeling like an idiot. But for now…
For now, it was Christmas. And Sebastian was beautiful, and adoring, and right.
"Well, then. If you feel that way, I guess I won't be giftwrapping what I was planning to give you," Ciel haughtily decreed, arms crossing as he turned pointedly away. But still, there was mischief in his tone. Promising, promising mischief. "Wasn't sure how I'd do it, anyway…"
"Oh?" Lingering laughter added a lovely, lilted husk to the satin simper of the elder's voice. "I get a gift?" he inquired, allowing Ciel to gingerly pull the giftwrapped RV from his hands and put it aside. To their left and right, towers of boxes continued to hold the pair captive; Sebastian was further trapped by the couch behind him, and a purring once-earl before. "Is it the sort I'll have to wait to open?"
"Maybe if you'd been naughty," his little one leered, already on his knees and now on his hands, as well. "Besides, it's a bit too soon for those sorts of gifts, isn't it? No, I just figured that—if this is ultimately like any other night—I might as well take things where most other nights go. But with some holiday savoir faire, as they say."
"And how, might I ask, will you—?"
With an angelic beam, the younger creature grabbed a sprig of mistletoe—once intended to embellish a finished present—and tossed it artfully into his husband's lap.
It was Sebastian's turn to glow a festive shade of red.
Nevertheless, he smirked.
"There's bound to be talk tomorrow (Well, think of my lifelong sorrow)
At least there will be plenty implied (If you caught pneumonia and died)
I really can't stay (Get over that hold out)
Oh, but baby it's cold outside~"
"Did you like it?"
"Oh, I loved it. Just what I always want… In my size and everything."
"Conveniently, one size fits all, in these sorts of situations."
"Now, that's just not true. I remember, back in the earliest days of our relationship—"
"All right, all right! Let's save the secondhand embarrassment for another time. One size fits most, then?"
"Fits me, and that's all that matters."
"You romantic, you."
"Indeed, I am. And this romantic loves you, baby bird."
In reply, Ciel mumbled something scarcely audible into his lover's bare chest—directly above Sebastian's heart, as if speaking directly to it… Albeit speaking in the tiniest, squeakiest, cutest of whispers. He shifted then, always prone to flustered hiding after saying the actual words; Sebastian, in turn, beamed all the more brilliantly, curling his arms tightly around his half-naked husband.
A wonderful present indeed.