"Goddammit, where's the damn tinsel?"

Therese didn't know whether to laugh at Carol or hurt for her. She'd asked the same thing about the damn Christmas star, the damn snowflake ornaments, and the damn stuffed reindeer Therese had picked up two nights ago.

It was Rindy's first Christmas with them, their first Christmas together, and Carol was determined to make up for what happened last year.

"She deserves a perfect Christmas," Carol said over and over. "Both my girls do."

Carol would then smile at her in that certain way she had and it would be something of a perfect moment for Therese, realizing how loved she was, how determined Carol was that they have a real family Christmas. The kind Therese never had, though neither of them said as much.

Unfortunately that determination was turning more and more into desperation. Carol was stressed and frazzled and it got worse every time she caught Therese covering her mouth to hide a laugh.

"It's okay," Therese said, trying not to smile as she handed Carol a box that she'd passed twice in her frantic search. "The tinsel, and those paper angels from last year. Crisis averted."

Carol's grateful smile became an irritated frown. "I'm glad my suffering is so entertaining for you."

"It's not…" Therese started to lie. Carol's frown deepened. Therese laughed and Carol huffed out a breath. "I never want you to suffer. I just think maybe you're bringing some of it on yourself."

"Ah, so I'm a source of ridicule and a masochist. Lovely."

Therese closed the gap between them, her hands wrapping around Carol's waist. "You are Rindy's mother. The best mother she could want. She'll be thrilled to see you no matter what, even if one of the Santa ornaments is chipped, or there's not quite as much tinsel as last year. Rindy will have an amazing Christmas because you're there to spend it with her. And so will I."

Carol was quiet a long moment, studying Therese and cupping her face. "Oh my darling. Did you say one of the Santas is chipped?"

Pinching lightly at the skin of Carol's hip, Therese warmed at seeing a proper smile finally curve those red lips. "Just the bit of fluff at the end of his hat. It came off. Don't worry, it adds character."

Carol brushed Therese's hair back. "Abby's still coming Christmas day. She and Rindy in the same room with cookies, presents and liquor, I doubt our holiday will lack character."

Therese hummed agreement, using her hold on Carol to walk her backward a few steps.

"Sweetheart, you've made your point, but I really do need to find Rindy's new skates, and wrap up that dollhouse, and—"

"The skates are on the high shelf in the hall closet, where you left them a month ago. I wrapped Lucy's new residence up last night."

Carol positively beamed at her, but still tried to stop their backward motion. "You're a star. You're perfect. But I still have to—"

"In a minute," Therese said. She only stopped when Carol's back bumped lightly against the kitchen counter. Then she kissed her, long and slow and deliberate.

She was immensely pleased with how dazed Carol looked as they separated.

"Well," Carol said, licking the lips Therese had just claimed. "What the hell was that?"

Therese shrugged. "Just wanted to show you where the mistletoe is, in case you forget."

She pointed until Carol saw the mistletoe hung just above them. Then she kissed Carol again, soft and fast, and headed back toward the living room. "Anyway, you're busy, sorry I distracted you."

She heard Carol mutter something about fabulous distractions and definitely not forgetting. Then she heard nothing but her own laughter as Carol's arms suddenly encircled her, pulling her backward.