A/N... So I know Christmas has been and gone for another year, but I was listening to a beautiful song by Mr Tim Minchin and it moved me so much it inspired me to write a fic.
And you won't understand
But you will learn one day
That wherever you are and whatever you face
These are the people
Who'll make you feel safe in the world
Mike used to love Christmas. His family always made a big deal about it, and he found that the run up to Christmas meant that he was surrounded by people. His parents opened up their home to their entire family. His Grammy and Grandpa Jimmy would arrive first, and would toast to the first Christmas party with a drink that Mike was always told was an 'old person drink' by his parents, before finding out later that it was either sherry, port or red wine.
His aunts and uncles would then trickle in - his father was an only child, and it was all his mother's siblings who flocked in with their own children, causing many loud games to be played throughout the house. After that, his parents' friends would turn up, offering a bottle of wine with each ring of the doorbell.
Lastly, his Mom's parents would come, being greeted by everyone with wide grins and taken into the heart of the party, sitting beside Grammy and Grandpa Jimmy, warmly talking to each other about the past year and their respective children and grandchildren.
What Mike loved most about these parties was that he never had to go to bed halfway through, when it was still early. His parents knew he wouldn't be able to sleep when there was still noise and life downstairs, so he had the privilege of staying up longer than his cousins and watching the remaining adults at the end of the party - his parents, two of his aunts, one uncle and both sets of grandparents - partake in what was apparently a family tradition.
His Mom's parents always brought the finest bottle of white wine they could buy and everyone would go into the garden, his parents turning on Christmas lights they had intertwined throughout the leaves of the trees so that the garden twinkled even in the darkness. They would pass round wine glasses and each have some white wine.
His Dad always joked he didn't think he'd ever get to drink wine in sunlight. His Mom laughed and said that one day they would all go on vacation and could quaff from expensive, crystal glasses by some sparkling pool of water on a remote island.
They never did.
The year they died, 11 year old Mike had bought them a pair of crystal wine glasses. He had saved up for a solid two years, doing extra jobs around the house and having his Grammy sometimes slip him a few extra bills here and there.
He had hoped that he could give them the present early, and they could toast to that Christmas in the garden with their family, and the bottle of white wine.
They never got to see the glasses.
Mike kept them hidden underneath his bed - even when he moved in with his Grammy, she never saw the glasses. Instead he took them out every Christmas and traced on them lightly with his index finger. His family still held parties, at an Uncle's house instead. But Grammy was becoming too frail, and felt like she would be intruding, considering she wasn't even related to that part of Mike's family. She didn't press Mike to go to the parties - he went once and hated it without his parents.
It all seemed too loud, too frightening, and when he went outside with the family and watched them pour the wine, tears rushed to his eyes and quickly went back inside - hating them all for being so carefree and happy, taking part in a holiday tradition that didn't seem right without his parents and their magical back garden. The silent contemplation as everyone gazed at the night sky, drinking their white wine and eventually giving small thanks... that was how it was supposed to be. But it wasn't. Not anymore.
Mike didn't feel like he could give thanks for anything anymore.
He still had the glasses on a shelf in his apartment. They felt like the only thing he had left of his parents. And every year he tried - so hard - to get the courage to either use the damn things or throw them away. But he couldn't bring himself to do it. They were for his parents. For them to do that stupid tradition each Christmas, for them to take them on vacation and finally taste wine whilst relaxing on a beach.
A couple of years, Mike and his Grammy tried to do it. But Grammy didn't particularly like white wine and Mike just got a sour feeling in his stomach that was nothing to do with the taste.
Last year, Grammy had been sick. Trevor was getting high with some dealers he knew and Jenny was at her parents' house. So Mike had just been alone, drinking from a bottle of wine, and another, and another, until he passed out and missed the whole of Christmas.
This year, he knew would be even worse. Grammy had passed away, joining his parents and the rest of his grandparents somewhere he couldn't follow.
Well, he could.
If he wanted to.
The closer it got to Christmas, the more Harvey started thinking about what was going through Mike's head. The kid was quiet and pale, ducking his head whenever any of the other associates mentioned plans for Christmas.
Harvey got it - really. The kid had lost his only remaining family member, he wouldn't want to share the fact he probably wasn't doing much for Christmas. He happened to be passing through the room, however, when they were talking about family traditions.
"My folks wanted us to watch The Muppet's Christmas Carol every year after we opened presents," one of them said. "It was the worst - they'll probably try this year as well."
"That's nothing - mine always made us line up outside the house on Christmas Eve and watch as my Dad put up the 'Santa Stop Here Sign'," another one shuddered.
"Mike, do you have any traditions?" A blonde one - Harold, Harvey thought to himself - piped up. Harvey watched as the kid looked up, startled.
"Uh... not really, our Christmasses were all kinda low key," he said.
"C'mon, Ross!" One of them sighed. "Kyle's just admitted to being forced to watch a kid's film! You didn't do anything?"
Harvey felt like he had to intervene at the defeated crumple of Mike's shoulders, but was too interested in his response. "Uh... well we always used to have these big Christmas parties," he admitted. "And every year we'd all go out into the garden and drink white wine."
Some of them raised their eyebrows at this. It wasn't the most Christmassy of traditions, Harvey had to admit, but the strangled way in which Mike said it was interesting. As the associates moved on in their discussion, Harvey slipped out again, deciding to take his findings to Donna - who was always happy to hear stories about her favourite rookie.
Mike sat on his couch, staring at his hands. It was Christmas Eve, and he was alone. He hadn't made any plans - how could he? Jenny wasn't talking to him, Rachel wasn't talking to him - Tess was obviously with her husband, Trevor was god knows where and Grammy was dead.
He laughed at how pathetic he must seem - he could count on one hand people he would have talked to regarding plans for Christmas. He swiped at his eyes. He missed his Grammy more than ever. Even her being in a home was better than her not being here - even specified visiting hours were better than never being able to see her again.
No - he would see her again, one day. His whole family. And then they could keep the tradition and everything would be fine.
He just had to get through the rest of his life.
He tried to buck himself up - of course he felt low right now, he was alone at Christmas. He had a right to be upset. But sulking wouldn't do anything. All he could do was get through it, and then hope that next year would be better.
A sudden knock at the door pulled him from his thoughts and he frowned. He had no idea who would be visiting - unless Tess was feeling particularly charitable that night.
He opened the door - on the chain, there was a bigger chance it was a murderer than there was it being someone he knew (although why a murderer would knock first, he didn't know) - and his eyes widened at the two people stood there.
"What are you doing here?" He asked, before stumbling over his words, knowing it probably sounded really rude. "I mean - hi, Merry Christmas, do you want to, uh... come in?"
"No, we thought we'd just stand on your doorstep and talk about the weather," Harvey rolled his eyes, pushing past Mike and making his way into the apartment, looking around, inhaling and giving a small, satisfied nod. He had to admit, he had been worried the kid would go back to the weed Harvey had ignored when Edith died. He was thankful that he couldn't see any or smell any.
"Seriously, why are you guys here?" Mike asked, before being smacked in the stomach slightly as Donna passed him a bottle. He looked down and the breath caught in his throat. It was white wine. An incredibly expensive bottle, at that.
He didn't think he could. There was no way he'd be able to swallow it. It didn't matter that it wasn't a big group of people. It was just that it seemed, to him, a very personal tradition. He couldn't do it with just anyone.
But that was the thing.
They weren't just anyone.
When he thought about it, they were probably his closest friends.
"Got any glasses for this?" Harvey asked, nodding at the bottle. Mike swallowed hard and opened his mouth, but croaked slightly, not able to get his words out. Harvey rolled his eyes and looked around the cupboard and cabinets, before whistling and pulling out the two crystal glasses.
"I didn't think you'd have anything nice in this death trap," Harvey said, motioning around the apartment, smirking. "This is a surprise." He set them on the counter top and took the wine from Mike, going to pour it in.
"Harvey," Donna said quietly, touching his arm. He turned and saw she was looking at Mike. The kid was staring at the glasses as if he couldn't believe they were there in front of him. His eyes looked watery and he had a hand half outstretched, as if to stop them from using them. Harvey lowered the bottle.
"Mike?" He said - surprising Donna with how gentle he sounded. "You want me to use some different glasses?"
Mike opened his mouth before closing it again, blinking hard. The glasses were still unused - he could still put them away and not think about it. But he knew he had to use them. They were for this purpose - celebrating holidays and life. Heck, they'd probably be raising a glass to him somewhere. The least he could do was raise one back.
"It's okay," he murmured. "You and Donna can use them."
Mike nodded, watching the wine splash into them. Harvey looked around for a third wine glass and Mike shook his head. "I'll just use a mug," he said, grabbing his favourite one and pouring his own. They stood there, looking at each other.
"Merry Christmas," Donna said, raising her glass. "To us being even more awesome next year."
Mike's mouth twitched in what may have been a smile as he watched the glass shimmer in the light, the wine inside it sparkling.
"To making more money next year," Harvey smirked, raising his.
Mike snorted (slightly wetly) and raised his glass. "To everyone who isn't here this year."
They clinked the glasses together and Mike took a sip, closing his eyes.
Yes, the family tradition had changed over the years. Yes he was a lot of family members down... but he had gained a few in the process. They stood in silence for a few minutes, and to Mike's surprise it was everything he remembered from when he was small.
"Thanks," he said quietly, looking into his mug so that they didn't see the permanent wetness behind his eyes. He felt a nudge on his shoulder, and smiled almost shyly at Harvey, who held his gaze and smile for about 3 seconds before coughing slightly and checking his watch.
"It's A Wonderful Life is on," he said, grabbing Mike's remote and switching the TV on, flicking through channels until settling on the right one. Mike laughed slightly and took the time to wipe at his eyes before joining Harvey on the couch, sitting in the middle of him and Donna.
He felt safe - for the first time in a while, and it was true - he would at some point be toasting with his parents again. But until that day, he felt fine toasting to them with the rest of his family.
Whenever you come;
Your brothers and sisters,
Your aunts and your uncles,
Your grandparents, cousins
And me and your mum...
Will be waiting for you in the sun -
Drinking white wine in the sun
'White Wine in the Sun'
A/N This went in completely the wrong direction but I'm still kinda happy with it. It went from being based metaphorically based on the song, to being literal XD But seriously - it's a lovely song and really emotional if you live away from your family. But anyways - I really hope you enjoyed it, and it seemed to be a lot more angsty than my usual stuff, I apologise XD
Oh, and for anyone who follows my stories, and knows my OC Nick - he now has a twitter page :P If you want to follow, the link is on my profile :)