Happy Merry Christmas Holidays Hanukkah Kwanzaa and every other happiness under the sun! This... is my newest atrocity. I'm not sure what to make of this. The majority of this fic I typed frantically last night at 11:59pm, thinking I could submit this thing by Christmas. But, I didn't. So here is my newest story on Christmas Day, chock full of mild angst and mild fluff. Heed me, there is a cursing Yusuke afoot.
Disclaimer: I don't own YYH.
"We'll probably just have curry tonight, but if you hurry your ass up, maybe we could have some fried chicken, too."
Atsuko had told him that an hour ago. Only an hour, and now Yusuke was standing in the doorway of the dimly lit kitchenette that should have smelled like instant curry and not booze. The source of it – a lone half-empty bottle of whiskey – sat reeking on the counter next to the stove, and there was no trace of Atsuko having even prepared a damn saucepan. Her keys were missing, though; so were her cellphone and coat. On the fridge, there was a plain sticky note with Atsuko's crooked writing: mitsu-chan's taking me to poppy-yan back later loooove you babe.
"Another bar," Yusuke muttered, moving to snatch the sticky note off the fridge and crumple it. He jostled the rugged paper ball around in his palm and stared idly around himself.
This had never happened before.
Granted, he couldn't remember the last time he and his mom had put in the effort to have a normal Christmas Eve. Not since he was a little kid did they go out to eat Christmas supper or exchange presents, so Yusuke had decided to ask his mom this year exactly why the hell they didn't do that stuff anymore. She just said she hadn't ever felt like it – Yusuke had a hunch that it was something to do with his absentee dad. Or maybe it was just Yusuke himself, it wasn't like he could really remember the last time he'd been the ideal son.
But they could still at least be in the same house on Christmas Eve, right? Right?
Yusuke balled up the sticky note a little more and threw it hard at the trash can. It landed on top of an empty milk carton with a hollow thump.
"'Course we'll have dinner together, Yuu-chan," Yusuke mimicked his mom as he kicked some stray trash in the direction of the can. Hilarious. Since when had she ever passed up the chance to dick around with Mitsu-fucking-chan-the-not-woman at the bars downtown? Even on Christmas Eve, his mom was apparently single and 'still twenty-three, ha ha.' It was like this whole business was just a joke.
He gave a beer can a particularly harsh kick, sending it rattling across the kitchen floor towards the dark living room. Aluminum abuse wasn't enough to placate him, though. He knocked the whiskey bottle into the sink; as it spilled its contents down the drain, he went through the cupboards in search of an instant curry box, only to find there weren't any. She hadn't even bought the damn curry.
"Are you serious?" Yusuke groaned, slamming the cupboard shut. He punched the cupboard, just for good measure. The sting of bruised knuckles made him hiss, calmed him down enough that he was no longer angry enough to stand up straight and resorted to resting his forehead miserably against the cupboard door. For a few seconds, he leaned there, lightly grinding his tongue between his teeth and reminding himself that he couldn't just resolve this by screaming into his mom's cellphone voicemail that she was a 'no-good, forgetful-ass, why won't you just stay here' mother. He counted instead.
Deep breath in.
Deep breath out.
Three. Okay, that breath wasn't so smooth. Four. Gettin' a little shaky there.
"Fuck," Yusuke muttered, dragging his palm over his eyes to dry them. There was a lump in his throat that kind of hurt, but he could probably blame it on the smell of booze in the air. The wetness on his eyelashes, though, was pretty inexcusable.
Geez, his mother bossed him around and was just overall irritating/absent for most of the year. Would it kill her to be a civil human being and do a simple dweeb-y thing like celebrate Christmas with her kid on one day out of the year? It wasn't like Yusuke asked for much, aside from spending money and for booze cans to not find a home underneath his bed. All he'd wanted was to eat some instant curry with his mom; after that, she could've passed out until the New Year, for all he cared. This Christmas thing, though, was something even Kurama digged. Even the guy who was probably only fourteen-percent human got to eat Christmas cake and get all kinds of new, fantastic shit just for the hell of it. This was bull.
Roughly, Yusuke shoved himself away from the cupboard and stalked over to the fridge to rip a beer from its pack. He drank half of it in one breath, growled something unsavory to it, and drank the rest.
"Isn't even any snow," he grunted as he kicked the front door shut behind him and stepped out into the damp, mist-clogged air. The slight buzz from the beer made him angrier, and he had to force himself not to make eye contact with anyone as he shuffled down the street into town.
With his hands deep in his pockets, Yusuke glared through the windows of small street shops, vaguely despising all of the intricate wrapping and samples of food. One store he didn't pass up with an inward cuss was the convenient; he briskly stepped inside for the warmth and a bag of candy. He was a few dollars short for a bucket of chicken, but he could at least buy a bunch of snack foods. As he went through the aisles and piled a few bags of cheap sweets into his arms, his eyes lingered on a tiny kitten bobblehead toy.
"Kuwabara would love this," he mumbled, poking at one of the kitten's unsettlingly large eyes. Its head wobbled on the spring. Before it could even slow down, Yusuke had snatched it off the shelf and stuffed it into the pile in the crook of his arm. He continued shuffling around and was eventually heading up towards the front of shop when he spotted a few decorated cupcakes in a display case on the front counter. They all had little icing flowers on top with sparkling sugar and for some spectacularly stupid reason, Yusuke was compelled to ask the cashier to box up one of the less-girly cupcakes so he could buy it as well. That aside, he was still left with a few yen, which he supposed he'd use later to buy cigarettes once he ran out.
Christmas was starting to suck. While passing the cheerful couples and kids with their faces smashed against toy store windows, all Yusuke could do was stare at the ground and make sure his plastic bag didn't graze passersby.
He didn't want to go home.
As he reached the corner, Yusuke took an abrupt left turn and told himself there was nothing in the opposite direction save for an empty house and television reruns. His footsteps were practically thunderous in the still air and empty street. Thank goodness he knew where he was going, even if it was unconsciously. Being at home would suck, but being lost would suck more.
He rapped his knuckles three times on Kuwabara's door and waited. There was some excitable shouting from inside as well as some loud meowing before the door was suddenly flung open and Shizuru's stoic expression shifted to one of surprise.
"Oh, hey," Shizuru said with a smile, "Yusuke. Whatcha want?"
"I just-…um." Smooth. "Is Kuwabara here?"
"That runt? He went out to buy a cake a while ago and said he wanted to drop by Okubo's house. Why, you need t' tell him something?"
Yusuke made a face and shrugged. "Nah, I just wanted to give 'im this. Here." He fumbled around in the plastic bag for a few seconds before yanking out the kitten bobblehead and offering it to Shizuru. "Since it's Christmas n'… stuff. I guess."
"Aww," Shizuru crooned lightly and took the bobblehead, turning it over in her hands. "It's cute. He'll love it. Hey, you want to come in for a little bit?"
"Nah. I'm okay."
"Well, I may not be able to use my sixth sense for living people, but at least I can tell when you're feeling a little down, kid. You sure you don't want to come in for a little while?"
"You're starting to sound like a dirty old man," Yusuke said dryly, and he was rewarded with a short laugh.
"You're mouthy. I like that. Alright, then, smart-aleck. Get off my property before I steal one of your cigs, 'cause I know you got 'em." Shizuru gave him a friendly little nudge in the shoulder and sent him on his way. As he started off down the street again with his bag swinging and knocking against his knee, he felt just a little bit crummier. Okay, so it wasn't like he'd just turned down a gift certificate to a prestigious arcade, but it was still company on Christmas Eve. Wasn't he supposed to be looking for that?
Actually, there was something about the thought of staying with Kuwabara on Christmas Eve that kind of pissed Yusuke off. Like hell he was going to spend the evening yakking it up with a guy who couldn't even beat him at Mario Kart – much less a fistfight. Shizuru was alright, in the small doses that didn't involve her informing him of all the different spirits and ghosts following him around, but Kuwabara was where Yusuke drew the line at 'hell no'. Yusuke could think of a thousand other places he'd rather wait out Christmas in than Kuwabara's house (excluding his own, of course).
Less than a half-hour later, he knocked on Kurama's door. Unlike Kuwabara's house, there weren't any happy shrieks and shit from family emitting from behind Kurama's front door, but there was still the warm sound of friendly chatter from inside that made Yusuke feel remarkably more comfortable standing on the doorstep. Unlike Shizuru, Kurama took a while longer getting to the door; after about a minute, Yusuke thought he was probably intruding on some sacred Minamino ritual and turned to leave. Before he could leave the front step, however, the door gently swung open and a gust of cinnamon-scented air swallowed him.
He should have expected he'd be unexpected. What, people actually believed Yusuke Urameshi (king of the slums and overlord of having little to no friends) had somewhere to be on Christmas Eve? Sick assumption. Maybe he should just hightail it over to the arcade before his dignity swirled down the drain of embarrassment.
There was something about the way Kurama was wearing his hair in a ponytail, however, that convinced Yusuke to stay put. Ponytails looked good on him, and kind of deemphasized the fact that the redhead had more weapons concealed on his person than the average Terminator. Little things like that counted towards putting Yusuke at ease.
"That's me," he said dully, staring at the carpet under Kurama's feet, rather than his face. "Just Yusuke. Standing around."
"Well, come in. It's cold isn't it?" Kurama said, ushering Yusuke inside with no room for argument in his tone. As he stepped into the obvious warmth of Kurama's home, Yusuke clenched his teeth together to keep them from chattering in his residual coldness. He toed off his shoes by the door and was actually startled when Kurama suddenly pressed a cup of tea into his hands.
"Where did you…?" He hadn't seen Kurama move.
"You caught me right in the middle of baking," Kurama said cheerfully as he breezed into the kitchen, ignoring Yusuke's comment, "Or, rather, eating. Mother, Yusuke is here to visit."
"Good," Yusuke heard Ms. Minamino's light chuckle from the stove, "Maybe he can distract you long enough that I can finish this cake without you eating all the batter. Put that spoon down, Shuichi." Kurama made an amused sound, and there was the sound of a brief filial scuffle before the redhead returned to Yusuke with two spoons. One spoon was held delicately between Kurama's lips while the other – laden with cake batter – was offered to Yusuke. Yusuke took it without hesitation and licked it clean.
"It's good, Ms. Minamino," Yusuke called into the kitchen as Kurama led him upstairs to his bedroom.
"I'll have to wash the dishes for her later," Kurama said with a pleasant smile as he let Yusuke into his room and shut the door behind them. After setting the licked-clean spoons down on his desk, Kurama noticed that Yusuke was staring at his windowsill.
"Hiei comes to your house for Christmas?"
"I assume the same for you, he has no one to celebrate it with. If he celebrates it."
"I don't," Hiei said flatly, though Yusuke could have sworn he'd just been asleep, what with the way his eyes were still closed and he was leaning against the wall. His sword was dangling from his side, dangerously close to falling to the floor, and he looked… kind of miserable, actually.
"Demons don't celebrate Christmas? Go figure," Yusuke said, placing his mug of tea on Kurama's desk. He tossed his plastic bag onto Kurama's neatly-placed bedspread and sat next to it. "So, not even Koenma wanted you around today, Hiei? Hiei? … Dude."
Noting that Hiei had fallen asleep again, Kurama sat in his desk chair and turned on his ancient computer. "I'll move him later when the temperature drops too low."
For a few minutes, Kurama futzed around on his desktop, clicking at things here and there that Yusuke was sure he had no business attempting to be interested in. Instead of prying, Yusuke crossed his legs up onto the bed, propped his elbows up on his knees, and rested his chin on his hands. Then, he found an interesting patch of wall to stare at.
… That was what his Christmas evening was going to amount to. Staring at a wall in a room with two dudes. Somewhere in the universe, that had to be okay.
Obviously, it wasn't. Not according to the unhappiness that swelled that stupid lump in his throat and made his eyes prick with tears. No, fuck tears. He wasn't going to blubber like a kid just because his mom left him for some partygoing transvestite. If anything, he should be fucking rejoicing. Dancing and telling Kurama how fucking fantastic it was going to be playing whatever video games he own later – if he owned any. And maybe Ms. Minamino wouldn't kick him out before giving him dinner. She was the super motherly sort, so it wasn't likely she'd get pissed at him.
For the second time that night, Yusuke rubbed his hand underneath his eyes. The movement caught Kurama's attention, and the redhead turned around to give his friend a concerned look.
"Is something troubling you, Yusuke?"
"I'm fine. Your room's dusty, got some shit in my eye."
Kurama decided not to inform Yusuke that he'd given his room a very thorough cleaning that morning, thank you very much, and instead gave his friend a patient look.
"You didn't plan on eating just bags of rice cakes and chocolate for Christmas Eve supper, did you?"
"And? My ma's out with some man-lady. It's not like I could've scampered along with them," Yusuke ground out, still rubbing his hand insistently under his eyes. He could practically feel the sympathy Kurama was sending his way, so he decided to quell it before it transformed into some kind of gushy sentiment. With a loud sniff, Yusuke pawed through the plastic bag before pulling out the boxed cupcake with the icing rose.
"Here," he said roughly, moving to shove the iced abomination into the redhead's hands. "Merry Christmas."
Kurama stared at the cupcake blankly, and then an expression of true gratitude softened him. He opened the box to get a better look at the cupcake and sent Yusuke a smile.
"You didn't have to."
"Oh, I had to," Yusuke insisted, "The thing's got 'Kurama' written all over it. The batter's probably pink, for all I know."
Kurama tilted aside the cupcake wrapping and made an amused sound. "It is."
"Hooray." Yusuke gave his finger an unenthusiastic twirl, then leaned back against the wall. He was hell-bent on going back to his brooding until Kurama set aside the little pastry and climbed onto his bed as well. Like it was nothing, the redhead sat directly next to Yusuke.
"Are you certain there's nothing wrong?"
"And you came over my house with a bag of sweets because you just felt like it?"
"Like I said, my ma's barhopping."
Kurama's gaze looked a little distant. "You must have been awfully lonely."
"Okay, stop." Yusuke gave Kurama a warning look. "Seriously, stop. I don't want the pity party."
"No?" Kurama had this knowing expression on his face that both pleased Yusuke and pissed him off. "Because, as someone as old as yourself, it's perfectly fine to feel a little lonely."
That did it. Fuck, how did Kurama just… do things like that to people? How did he just say stuff that got to a person so easily? Even though his words had pretty much meant nothing, Yusuke suddenly found himself sniffling and whimpering into the elbow of his own coat like he'd lost his fucking parents in a crowd on a busy day. What kind of sorcery was Kurama harboring?
"M'not lonely," Yusuke choked out, trying to inhale but instead making an embarrassing huffing sound. Kurama slid an arm around his waist and drew him closer with a sigh.
"If you say so."
Yusuke cried a little more, and it was starting to feel a little good. He hadn't cried in a really long time; guys his age typically went out and punched things when they got upset. Last he checked, though, no good ever came from a human trying punch a demon. Or a demon's mama, hence, Ms. Minamino. The gods would probably rain destruction down on the entirely of Japan if he even disliked a pair of that woman's shoes. All in all, having the desire to do anything but lean into Kurama's shoulder and bawl was out of the question.
"I just wanted her around for Christmas," he gasped. Kurama's fingers trailed through his greasy hair. "J-Just wanted to eat with 'er, n' then that'd be it. B-But she didn' want to."
"She will understand eventually," Kurama said soothingly, "I doubt she meant to hurt you."
"Yeah, okay. Wh-Whatever." Yusuke felt his breath hitch, and he tried to wriggle away from Kurama's side. Unfortunately, Kurama was a lot stronger than his slim frame let on, and Yusuke couldn't budge an inch. "Geez, d-do you always spout out th-these things t' ruin people's cool?"
With a soft laugh, Kurama gave Yusuke's waist a light squeeze, then got up to retrieve the cupcake from his desk. Returning to his friend's side, Kurama unwrapped the cupcake a little more and offered it to Yusuke. "Say 'ah.'"
"No," Yusuke said petulantly, "S'yours. It's your present."
It was kind of hard to turn down a cupcake, though, when someone was mashing it into your face. Since Kurama seemed so insistent, Yusuke made a low, unhappy sound and opened his mouth to take a bite. Fine, so it was a really delicious cupcake. He'd probably eat the whole thing himself if Kurama didn't seem so satisfied as to take his own bite.
"Feeling a little better yet?" Kurama asked after neatly swallowing his mouthful and dabbing away icing from his lip.
"Sure." Yusuke realized he'd stopped crying. "Yeah. I guess."
That was it? Some sympathetic cuddling, a word of advice, and a cupcake? No long, drawling speeches or a whole night of friendly spooning? Yusuke wasn't exactly complaining, but he'd just calmed down from crying a lot quicker than he thought was probably healthy. Even so, he was still a little sore about his mom – or, lack thereof.
Yusuke looked up when Hiei suddenly spoke again. Contrary to seeming dead asleep, the dark-haired demon was now standing beside the bed, absentmindedly rubbing the sleep from his eyes. His gaze was fixed on the cupcake still in Kurama's hand.
"A cupcake. It's a Christmas present Yusuke brought. And it's all mine." To demonstrate, Kurama possessively licked the top of the icing on the cupcake, much to Hiei's ire.
"I don't like sweets. At least not ones I assume are artificial."
Yusuke rummaged through the plastic bag and pulled out a candy bar, which he passed to Hiei. "Try that instead, hothead. Dark chocolate and peanut butter."
"Foul," Hiei quipped, but unwrapped the candy anyway and took the tiniest of tiny nibbles from the corner. Something in the small demon's expression melted into surprise and then irritation, as if he couldn't fathom why something he should abhor tasted so damned magnificent.
"You're welcome," Yusuke added dryly as Hiei flitted back over to the windowsill to gnaw at the chocolate bar. There was a heavy warmth suddenly on Yusuke's shoulder, and he would've been startled had he not been Kurama's pillow before. Kurama happened to be the kind of guy who enjoyed affection more than the usual person, which Yusuke didn't mind all that much since Kurama was subtle about it.
"Can I really stay here for Christmas?" Yusuke asked curiously.
"Of course. Stay as long as you'd like."
Yusuke watched Hiei finish off the last of the chocolate bar and give its wrapper an unhappy look. "I guess you liked your Christmas present?"
Licking his lips, Hiei replied with a curt 'hm' and settled in for what looked like more sleep. Now ignored, Yusuke leaned back against the wall and crossed his arms over his chest.
This wasn't so bad. It could be worse. He could be alone and drunk.
The sound of Ms. Minamino calling Kurama and Yusuke down for supper seemed to reanimate the boys again. Kurama sat up with a low groan and a stretch, then patted Yusuke on the thigh.
"Let's eat. Hiei, shall I bring you something?"
"If you want."
"I hope you like chicken, then," Kurama said with a raise of his eyebrow, and offered his hand to Yusuke. Standing with Kurama's help, Yusuke gave the redhead a sheepish smile and followed him out into the hall. Before they tromped down the stairs, Yusuke stopped Kurama with a hand on his arm.
"Hey," he said, "Thanks. For letting me come here."
"No problem, Yusuke," Kurama replied, heading down the stairs first, "We'll make this a pleasant Christmas for you."
I hope that was alright. Haha. Happy Whatever You Celebrate! And have a lovely new year!