When he awoke, Shawn rolled over and threw his arm out only to find the other side of the bed empty.

Carlton, as usual, had pulled a late night or early morning disappearing act.

Shawn should have expected it, but he was still disappointed.

He thought maybe this morning, of all mornings, Carlton might have been there.

Shawn sighed, got up, and padded to the bathroom.

As he was making his coffee, he spied a wrapped gift on the counter.

He forced himself to pour a cup and settle down before he picked it up.

"Merry Christmas Carlton," he whispered.