This is just a little something I wrote a while back for the Twilight No Stress Love Fest. There are more holiday-themed selections at twi-love-fest (dot) livejournal (dot) com.
There's no smut here, just a little Christmas fluff. I know, shocking, right?
My back is aching, my knees are bruised, and my fingers are sore.
"He better love this thing," I grumble, bending low again to tighten the screws on Elliott's new bicycle.
"He will," Garrett says, snipping carefully at another roll of wrapping paper. If it were left to me, all of the presents would be wrapped in newspaper; my boyfriend is the only one who appreciates 'the art of gift wrapping.'
"Better ride it every damn day, too."
"He will." Garrett throws a wad of crumpled wrapping paper at my head, and I glare at him as it bounces off my head and under the kitchen table.
When I'm satisfied that it's finished, I turn the bike right side up and wipe off a bit of grease from the crossbar. I wiggle the handlebars, check the bolts, and wheel it back and forth across the kitchen floor a few times. "Looks solid."
"It's great, Charlie. Well..." Garrett stands up from the kitchen table and stretches his arms over his head before padding over to stand next to me. He grabs a huge red bow from the table and ties it carefully around the handlebars. "Okay, now it's great."
He kisses my cheek and goes back to his wrapping, leaving me to steer the bike into the living room. I position it in front of the tree, careful not to wheel over any of the already-wrapped gifts covering the red blanket thing Garrett spread out underneath.
I should go ask Garrett if he needs my help-even though I'm hopeless at corners and seams and bows, I could cut ribbons or something. I'm a little choked up, though, and I can't stop staring at the damn tree.
Renee would always put one up, when Bella was little, but after they left... well, I just never bothered, really. We had a tree at the station, so I didn't see the need. I'd mail Bella some presents her mom told me she'd like, and I'd usually get a card or a drawing from her. Christmas just wasn't a big deal for me back then.
When she moved back up here in high school, Bella insisted on a tree. We'd decorate it together, just a couple of strands of lights and some garlands. A few presents under the tree. It was nice. She even kept it up after she got married, making sure I had a tree every year and presents from her and Edward underneath. It was easy to get used to.
Guess I never realized how much I missed it while she was gone.
"This is the last of it," Garrett says, coming up behind me. I move out of the way and watch him arrange the gifts carefully. We're both dressed in sweatpants and t-shirts, but Garrett manages to look cool somehow, even dressed like this. The pants hang low on his slim hips and his t-shirt rides up just enough for me to get a glimpse of smooth, tan skin. "How does it look?"
He smirks a little when he catches me checking him out and gestures grandly to the tree.
"It's..." I trail off, words having never been my thing. How do I tell him what I'm thinking-how much it means to me that he's in my life? That he's brought this kind of joy into a house that always seemed a little too empty, no matter how hard I tried? That he gave me a son, a second chance to be a dad? How do I thank him for all of that?
"Amazing? Spectacular? Everything you always dreamed of?" Garrett teases, reaching for my hand. I squeeze it hard and nod, blinking hard to get rid of whatever's prickling my eyes.
Garrett leans in and wraps his arms around my waist, fitting his head against my shoulder. I take a deep breath and pull him closer, kissing his temple and fighting off a yawn. I hold him just like that for a few minutes, my hands smoothing up and down over his back, until he's yawning too.
"We should go to bed," he says, pulling away. He leads me towards the stairs, but we both stop short when we see the wrapping paper scraps, loose bows, and bits of tape covering the kitchen table. "Dammit," he sighs, exhausted.
"Go," I prompt him, pushing him up the stairs. He argues weakly that he should help, but I block him from moving any closer to the mess. "You did all of that work, babe. Let me clean it up. I'll be up in a few minutes."
"Thank you," he says, his eyes crinkling softly at the corners. He drops his head for a kiss, then surprises me with a forceful swipe of his tongue against my lips. "Don't take too long, Chief."
I make quick work of the kitchen, storing all the leftover stuff before I start to gather up the trash. I pause when I find a little scrap of paper with writing on it: Santa's signature, practiced over and over again until it looks nothing like Garrett's natural handwriting. He loves Christmas, and wants every detail to be just right-from the tree right on down to the curl of every ribbon.
He says he's a perfectionist, but he's only like that when it comes to Elliott. And me, now, I guess.
It took us a long time to get here. When we met three years ago, shortly after Garrett moved to town to teach at Forks Elementary, I didn't have a lot of experience with men. I came to terms with my attraction to them a long time ago, but aside from some experimenting at gay bars in Seattle, I didn't know what I was doing. I didn't know how to let someone in.
Garrett was recently divorced, newly out of the closet, and starting over. I met him for the first time when I gave a talk about safety to the kids in his class. After that I found myself at the elementary school more and more, just stopping by to check in. We talked a lot, but he made it clear that his top priority was his two-year-old son. He didn't have time to date, he'd told me after school one day, right before he pushed me into the broom closet and kissed me.
We dated quietly for a long time, spending evenings at his place mostly, eating pizza and playing with the kid. Elliott was easy to fall in love with... and so was Garrett.
The day I told Bella they were moving in with me, she burst into tears.
"You know you'll always have a home here," I told her, patting her back awkwardly.
"I know." She sniffled and then leaned her head against my shoulder. "I'm just happy that you're happy, Dad."
I am happy. So happy that sometimes, my life before all this-before Bella came back to Forks, before Garrett and Elliott, hell, even before Edward was around-seems like a hazy, grim memory. Now I've got so much family I don't know what to do with it all, and it feels good. It feels just right.
I finish in the kitchen and pause outside the living room. The tree's all lit up and it looks really nice against the back window. It's the best Christmas this house has ever seen.
When I reach the top of the stairs, I pause on the landing. The light is on in Elliott's room, so I push the door open quietly to check on him.
He's sitting on the floor just underneath his bedroom window, fast asleep and slumped over the pillow he's clutching. I walk over and pick him up carefully, trying not to wake him. When I lower him into his bed, though, his eyes blink open and stare up at me.
"Go back to sleep," I whisper.
"I was looking for Santa," he says. His eyelashes flutter as he tries to stay awake. "Is it Christmas yet?"
"Not yet. Santa won't come until you're asleep in your bed," I remind him, pulling the covers up over his little shoulders.
"Wake me up when its Christmas," he mumbles, his head falling back against his pillow. I kiss his forehead and brush the hair away from his face. "Goodnight, Papa," he breathes.
I tiptoe out of the room, shut the door softly, and cross the hall to my own bedroom.
Garrett is sitting up against the headboard with a book in his hand, fast asleep. I turn of the light and pry the book out of his grip, careful not to lose his page. He startles when I tug him down so he's lying flat.
"I'm awake," he mumbles.
"Go back to sleep. Kid's gonna be up at dawn," I tell him, leaning down to kiss him gently. I fall onto my side of the bed and burrow under the covers, pulling Garrett close until his body is spooned against mine.
"Is it Christmas yet?" he asks. I chuckle and press my lips to his neck.
"Almost." He's quiet, breathing slowly, but somehow I know he's still awake. We watch the clock on the nightstand as it flips over to twelve o'clock.
"Merry Christmas," Garrett whispers, squeezing my hand.
"Merry Christmas, babe." Tomorrow will be loud and crazy; Elliott screaming and tearing open gifts, and Bella, Edward and the Cullens coming by later in the day. I'm excited for it, I really am, but this moment is pretty perfect, too-just me and my love, warm and safe in the still of the night.
I hope you liked the fluffy mini Christmas fluff even though it's, err, February.