Jeff ran his hands through his hair, pacing back and forth. "You can't just… throw this at me, Nicky. I -" He sighed and kicked up some snow-covered wood chips. He fell back against the slide, his coat puffing up a bit. His hands fell over his face, and he let out a bitter laugh.
"I'm going to take a wild guess and say you don't feel the same way about me," Nick said, his feet dragging against the ground with each rock back and forth. His fingers felt stiff as they wrapped tightly around the swing's chains. Even through the gloves, the cold was still seeping in.
"I mean, shit, you're my best friend, but just…" Jeff lifted his head, his cheeks and nose bright red. "That's it." He looked at Nick with wide eyes, unsure what to say, and he bit his lip.
"Oh." Nick's stomach felt like it was twisting. It wasn't as if he had been expecting for Jeff to say that he loved him. Actually, he wasn't sure at all what he was expecting. But now he just felt like leaning over and crying. His throat was closing, and he leaned his forehead against the metal, his eyes closing as they prickled.
"I'm sorry. I'm so sorry." He heard Jeff shuffle over, and a hand lightly lay on his shoulder. "Merry Christmas, Nick." His thumb swiped out, tracing the sliver of Nick's skin exposed between his hat and scarf before darting off.
Nick waited until he heard the engine of the car start and pull away before he lifted his head up. Though he let out a sob, his arm went up, brushing tears away. "Shit." His head fell back, and he felt the snow fall against his face, freezing cold. He let out a shaky breath, a puff of white forming above him.
His eyes opened, and he stared up, leaning back and holding onto the chains, balancing him in the swing. When he finally pulled himself up, his hands slipped into his pocket, and he moved around the park. They had an odd tradition of coming back here, where they'd gone to elementary school, and messing around on the play sets.
Everything seemed smaller than he remembered as he scuffed his feet against the ground and moved about. He leaned against the monkey bars, his arms reaching out and easily hooking into them as he began to sing.
"Greeting cards have all been sent. The Christmas rush is through…" His head tilted back and his eyes closed. He simply felt… hollow. Slowly, he pulled himself up, flipping over so that he sat on top of them. His feet dangled, and he stared down at the ground, his vision blurring as tears sprang up in his eyes again.
"Merry Christmas, darling. We're apart, that's true. But I can dream, and in my dreams I'm Christmas-ing with you." His fists curled up, and his stomach clenched. The cold was starting to bite him, and he slid down, off of them, handing firmly on the ground. Swinging around the poles holding up the slide, he felt his throat close.
As he sang, his voice broke. "But every day's a holiday when I'm near to you." What had he even been expecting? Jeff may have been his best friend, but this wasn't some black-and-white Christmas film with a happily-ever-after.
"I've just one wish on this Christmas Eve: I wish I were with you." A sob broke through his lips, and he swallowed the cold, winter air, shaking. It was getting painful to sing, with the cold stinging his throat. Walking over, he traced the outline in the snow of the slide, where Jeff had been minutes before.
"I wish I were with you…"