Going home that day had been just like any other. Around them, gentle flakes of snow fell, several landing in the slight tracks of their footsteps but hardly with enough quantity to cover them while the sun continued to shine through freshly snowplowed streets. It's heat was hardly felt though as the winter cold somehow still managed to penetrate through their thick jackets. It was a cold feeling that had made Rin pouty, the smaller boy hardly ever appreciative of the sight of snow due to its ability to forego his swimming adventures but Sousuke couldn't help liking it. When it snowed the two were able to do more than they usually did, it gave them a chance to have more fun outside of the pool and with this thought in mind the small boy couldn't resist a sly grin when he slowly came to a stop. Looking surprised, Rin had stopped as well to glance back at him. With Sousuke's name on his lips the boy lifted his head out of his patterned scarf only to be met with a face full of snow not a moment later.
“What was that? Couldn't hear you, Rin-chan!”
Really, it had been just like any other day. With their backpacks and jackets tossed to the side the boys couldn't help but begin a snowball war that was every bit as serious as it was joyful after that. They were right on their way to getting chastised for getting home late when things begin to take an inevitable turn in Sousuke's favor. After crying out Rin had ducked behind a tree – aiming to use it as his shield while Sousuke called out his taunts from the other side. Still wearing his wily grin the dark haired boy circled around the obtrusive plant, trying to find a kink in Rin's armor, when he finally saw it.
Grin widening, Sousuke didn't have time to stop and think his plan through before he was running up to the tree. With a harsh shake to the trunk his plan was set into motion the moment Rin stepped back just as a large pile of snow fell from the branches right on top of him.
And now, Sousuke is fairly sure after he had circled around to see Rin sprawled out on his back with the snow covering him, that no day would ever come in which he'd laugh as hard as he had that day.
It was just too bad it had ended up like this.
With a sniffly Rin bundled up tight in his bed and acting like he was at death's door despite it being just a cold. It didn't really help any that, according to Gou, Rin's mom kept playing into Rin's sentiments by stroking his hair and saying things like, “I know, you're miserable.” or “I am so sorry you had to get sick, dear. You can't possibly go out like this.” Loathe as he was to admit it, it made Sousuke almost pouty as he kept stopping by to check up on Rin only to be told he couldn't see his own friend for fear of catching the sickness as well. So, with no where else to go, Sousuke figured he'd hang around just in case with Gou as they made a snowman in the Matsuoka's front yard
“You know...Christmas day is tomorrow.”
“I hope big brother is better by then.”
“Didn't your mom say he'd be better soon?”
“Well yeah, but you can still hear him coughing at night.”
Sousuke didn't reply to that as he stared at the half finished snowman with a disgruntled expression. Was this his fault? Because he had dumped that snow on him Rin was now trapped in his bedroom with no hope of being able to see all the presents under the tree nor with any chance of being able to play in the snow? The small boy couldn't help but feel sad at the very thought. It was bad enough he had lost his best friend to captivity for the last few days but now he wasn't even going to be able to spend Christmas eve with him. “I wonder if there's anything we can do...” At Sousuke's question the duo fell silent. After all, it wasn't like you could just wish a sickness away. Not to mention neither had been allowed to go see him for fear of them getting sick as well. It was around then, however, that Sousuke glanced up just in time to notice the curtain to Rin's bedroom being hurriedly closed. Unable to resist a smile crawled back onto his lips and the boy stood up.
“I think I've got an idea.”
It was probably unfair how well Sousuke understood the way Rin thought. It was something he had always used to his advantage and would probably help him even more when the future came. But, today, it had been most useful as when it came to Rin's mother the boy really tended to take more after her than he probably realized. Which was why when Sousuke had pleaded with her she had finally (and reluctantly) agreed to his plan (with a few requirements of her own tacked on). Grinning, at his victory the young boy had then ran off with her daughter as the two began to enact their christmas 'surprise'.
“Hold your end steadier, Gou-chan.”
“Shhh! I've got it.”
“I can't reach, come stand on my back.”
“Do you have the snow?”
“The freezer kind of made it harder but it'll probably melt some.”
“Hmm...it'll do. Maybe we should wake him now.”
“Should we put the mask on him first so he doesn't breathe on us?”
“How are we supposed to get it on?”
“You do it, Sousuke-kun.”
Slowly Sousuke crept up to Rin's sleeping form. Had he been paying attention he probably would have noticed that the boy had stopped breathing but as it were he was far too concentrated on figuring out a way to put the mask on without waking the smaller boy up as it had been one of his mom's requirements for this christmas 'party'. Sucking in his own large breath, Sousuke leaned over the small, curled up form of his best friend with his own body stiffened up so tight what happened next only made sense.
“What are you doin'?”
The sound of Rin's voice wheezing out accompanied by the flash of teeth really too pointy to be normal made Sousuke very nearly leap out of his skin. With a loud yell, the boy jumped back, mask falling on Rin's face as the sick pouty boy sat up to finally take in his surroundings. “What'd you do- Gou!! Why is the christmas tree here?!”Shock registering on Rin's face he glanced between his sister and best friend with dismay before finally fixating on the way they were both waving at him. With one hand over both their mouths the two continued to gesture at Rin until the boy noticed the mask now resting in his lap. Registering what it was they wanted the redhead picked the offending object up to pull it over his mouth and nose before furrowing his eyebrows to signal his annoyance as a cough managed to escape. However, despite how much it hurt his sore throat to continue coughing, both Gou and Sousuke let out a heavy sigh of relief before both grinned at him from across the room.
“We're having a party, big brother.”
Gou spoke first as she picked up the the scarf she had brought in for him. A moment later and the girl was hurrying forward to safely wrap it around her older brother's neck as Sousuke brought a hat over that, despite his protests, was forced onto his sweaty head.
“You don't look so good, Rin.”
“I don't feel so good. What's this about?”
Grinning at each other the devious duo plopped down on the edge of Rin's bed as they spoke over one another to explain their brilliant plan.
“Well since you can't come out to play-”
“Sousuke was pouting-”
“I wasn't pouting!”
“Since you weren't around so-”
“I asked your mom and she said we could-”
“I found some old decorations from your bithday-”
“Getting the tree in was really hard, I thought that woke you up-”
Although Rin looked like he had already blown a fuse just trying to keep up with the two's chatter the redhead stiffened at Gou's sudden shout. “We even brought in snow so we can build a snowman with you.” The two exchanged grins as Sousuke lifted up the small pail of snow and brought it towards Rin's bed. “It'll be fun, so how about it?” Looking the definition of miserable Rin's only reply was another cough as Gou began to help herself to the snow as if she figured she should get it started for her brother. “Jeez.....did mom say this was okay?” With his arms still secured under the covers Rin opted to just watch as Gou finished the body of the snowman and started on the head. “Yep! She's baking cookies. Don't spoil the party, Rin.” Laying backwards across Rin's feet Sousuke gave the boy a small wink. “It's christmas Eve, after all! You can still be taken off the nice list.” At that comment Rin's eyes narrowed, his brow clearly twitching as if he wanted to correct Sousuke but couldn't. Although they both were CLEARLY old enough to know the truth about 'Santa' Gou still didn't and Rin would never be the one to ruin that. “Here, put the rest on, older brother.”Not noticing the exchanged looks, Gou tossed her snowman's decorative pieces onto the bed before holding her completed snowman out to him. Sniffling behind his mask Rin hesitantly picked up the buttons first, slowly placing each one in their proper spots before doing the arms and face. Leaving the hat for last, Rin glanced towards Sousuke before jerking his head as if to show what he wanted. Without a word Sousuke scrambled back up, picking up the small piece from where it laid on the bed and gently pushed it into the snowman's head. With a brilliant smile of her own Gou then stood up straight to place the finished and melting Snowman behind Rin next to the smaller paper tree that had been in the room before.
“We've also got christmas music and games so lets have some fun, older brother”
Moving back down to the rug, Gou kneeled down to pick the cd up off of the floor just as Sousuke stood to move the curtains aside so that they could see the snow falling once again outside. Grinning broadly he glanced back at his sick best friend as if to make sure he could see it. In reply, Rin could only sneeze and blink wearily at him-
-but any protest he had had when he had awoken to hear them skulking around his room died down as a more welcome warmth began to slowly spread through him.
“Merry Christmas, Rin”
"Merry Christmas you guys."