Duo's favorite holiday was Christmas.

It came as a surprise to most who knew him, who generally assumed that his favorite holiday was Halloween. Maybe if his life had gone differently Halloween would have been his favorite holiday, but it hadn't. He'd spent three years at the Maxwell Church and countless hours helping Father Maxwell and Sister Helen decorating it for Christmas and participating in the traditions the holiday always brought to the church. It was the one time of year now that he felt closest to the only place he'd ever considered his home, the one place where he'd been truly happy. The lights, the holly, the bells, the sparkling fir trees with their ribbons and bows and shiny glass ornaments—all of that was a reminder to him of everything he held close to his heart.

Now he avoided the nativity scene solely because he—despite Sister Helen's best efforts—didn't believe in God, but he loved Christmas all the same and never let a Christmas go by that he didn't decorate in some way. When he'd lived with Hilde the first year after the war, she'd shaken her head at his determination to get everything just right but let him do what he wanted while she minded the scrapyard.

He hadn't minded being left to do it himself. Hilde hadn't been into 'the Christmas thing' and that was fine. When he'd moved in with the rest of the pilots after the Mariemaia Uprising at Quatre's request, he hadn't expected them to be either. He'd known that Wufei and Heero didn't celebrate Christmas, Trowa had only vaguely known of its existence, and Quatre had always found it an exhausting time of year when all of his sisters returned home and did little more than bicker and criticize each other. He'd actually only intended to decorate his room that year, maybe have a little tree he could put on his bedside table and sneak into the others' rooms to put their presents somewhere unobtrusive where they would find them but wouldn't immediately know how they'd gotten there.

Quatre, however, had had other ideas. He'd come across Duo as he was trying to get his little tree to his room (it wasn't his fault Quatre had bought a small freakin' palace for them to live in) and realized immediately that the holiday was important to him. He'd insisted on buying a live tree to place in their living room, a tree that was actually pretty humble for the wealthy blonde. It was tall enough that Trowa was the only one who could easily reach the top, but not so tall that Duo had to use anything more than a step-ladder to put the star on. All four of the other pilots, to Duo's surprise, had helped him decorate the mansion inside and out, though they left the decision of how to decorate it to him.

Even Wufei, whom he'd expected to refuse to have anything to do with Christmas, had never said a word against it. He'd helped him more than any of the others, in fact, working to string the lights and garland and ribbons and bows inside and outside the mansion with a quiet understanding of why it was so important to him. That understanding had helped finally solidify their friendship and had become one more reason why Duo cherished the holiday.

On Christmas morning Duo had descended to the living room at a god-awful hour to find everyone waiting on him, all of them still in their pajamas. Trowa made hot chocolate while Quatre handed out presents and Duo had bawled like a baby when the first present he'd opened was a framed, grainy picture of Father Maxwell and Sister Helen standing outside the church that Heero had scoured the internet for hours to find. That picture had been hung front and center on the wall over the fireplace and a backup was saved in several places in the event that that particular copy was ever lost.

They'd spent the rest of the day sitting around the living room telling stories of their pasts and becoming closer than Duo had ever thought possible. By the time Christmas was done they had hardly any secrets left between them, and for the first time since the Massacre Duo thought that maybe—just maybe—he'd finally made it home for Christmas.


Merry Christmas, everyone!