Gerard wakes up to cold hands on his neck.
“Shit, motherfucking fuck,” Gerard says, and in an attempt to get away, he accidentally tangles himself up in the comforter and tumbles over the edge of the bed. “I think I’m dead,” he groans, with his face mushed into the carpet. He’s overly dramatic because Cesc lets him get away with it.
“Come on,” Cesc says, and he’s got that smile, the same one from when they were kids. “It’s snowing out. There’s enough to make snowballs and everything.”
Gerard thinks on it, even though he doesn’t have to. He knows that he’s going to get up and that he’s going to get dressed and that he’s going to go outside and shove snow down the back of Cesc’s jacket when he’s not looking because that’s what he does; he does things that make Cesc happy because those things make him happy, too.
“Puta,” Gerard says, but he doesn’t mean it. “What time is it?” His mouth isn’t working right, like his tongue is too big to fit behind his teeth.
“I don’t know,” Cesc says. He tugs on the sleeves of his jacket—Gerard’s jacket—and then rocks forward on his toes. “Like three or something. I haven’t gone to bed yet.”
And he hasn’t, that’s true, but Gerard already knew that. He’s a light sleeper; he would have noticed.
“That’s my jacket,” Gerard says.
“I like it better than mine.”
Gerard thinks on it for a minute before saying, “Okay. Help me out of this fucking—this comforter is like wrapped around me like a—like a cocoon, or a Chinese torture device or something.”
“You look like a kid,” Cesc says, and he’s smiling like he’s only saying what he’s saying because it’ll make Gerard mad. “Maybe you should just stay inside; it’s past your bedtime.”
“Oh, fuck you,” Gerard says. “I’m going to—”
He stops himself because Cesc walks away, laughing and laughing, and it’s not like Gerard was really going somewhere specific with that, anyways. Most of the time he just says whatever comes to mind and prays that it makes sense.
“Come on, I want to make snow angels,” Cesc yells from downstairs. The front door opens and closes as Gerard wiggles out of the blanket with some difficulty.
He can’t find any of his clothing. Everything’s all over the place—pants in the corner, one boot in the closet and the other under the bed, all of his shirts in the laundry bin except for the one by the window—and Cesc is wearing his jacket. Gerard puts on Cesc’s, even though it’s a little too snug across the shoulders, and wraps the first scarf he can find around his neck. He doesn’t know whose it is, doesn’t think it’s either of theirs. Maybe it’s Puyi’s, Gerard doesn’t know.
He heads downstairs, his fingers trailing the wall as he walks because he’s too lazy to turn on the hall light, and he almost kills himself by tripping over one of Cesc’s practice boots. He doesn’t know what it’s doing on the stairs, but it makes him think that maybe they should hire a cleaning service seeing as they can’t look after themselves. His mom would be devastated if she saw how they lived.
When Gerard’s out the door, the cold air hits his face fast and causes his eyes to water. Cesc wasn’t lying; everything’s white, covered in enough snow to make forts out of, and there are two snow angels on the ground already. He’s about to pull on his gloves when—
It’s Cesc, and he sounds exactly the way he always sounds before he does something—tackling, punching, dog piling, cannon balling—that ends in Gerard getting hurt and both of them laughing hysterically at something or at everything or at nothing at all.
It must be conditioning, that’s all Gerard can come up with, but either way, he flinches pretty hard—like an idiot—and slips on the ice covering their walkway. The snowball that Cesc was throwing at him hits the front door, just as Gerard starts seeing stars.
“Oh, shit,” Cesc says, and he scrambles over to where Gerard is. “Are you okay?”
“No,” Gerard says, but he is. “I’m dying.”
“Shit,” Cesc says, and he reaches a hand out. “I swear, I didn’t think you were going to freak out like that or else I wouldn’t have done it. Is your—is your head okay?” He threads his gloved fingers lightly through Gerard’s hair.
“Not my head that needs attention,” Gerard says, and he grabs Cesc’s wrist and places Cesc’s hand on his crotch. Cesc lets out a loud laugh.
“Later,” he says, and Gerard leans up to kiss him. “You’re the worst.”
“I know,” he says. He’s not even going to argue it. Instead, he shoves snow down the back of Cesc’s jacket and takes off running, bending down to scoop up some snow as he goes. Cesc throws a snowball that hits him square in the middle of the back and has him ducking behind a tree for cover.
Gerard’s completely soaked already—his back, the bottoms of his jeans—and he wishes he had his own jacket rather than Cesc’s, because Cesc’s seems to soak up water more so than anything else. But his gloves are good and so he reaches around by his feet and gathers up some more snow.
“It doesn’t have to be like this!” he yells, and it’s followed shortly by the distinct thud of a snowball hitting the tree.
“Really?” Cesc asks. “I kind of thought that was the point.”
“The point of what?” he asks, leaning out to throw the snowball at Cesc. It misses and just before he ducks back behind the tree he sees that Cesc’s got an entire pile of snowballs just sitting at his feet, and fuck.
“I don’t know,” Cesc says. “Snow.”
“Yes, well,” Gerard says. He’s making another snowball. “Remember that time that Pepe forced a Barca jersey on you after the World Cup?”
“That was you,” Cesc says, and a snowball narrowly avoids hitting Gerard’s elbow where it’s sticking out from behind the tree. “And Puyi.”
“What I meant was, I love you,” Gerard says. “And domestic violence is never the answer.”
“Maybe,” Cesc says, and his voice sounds a lot closer than it was before. Gerard doesn’t like that. He can picture it in his head— Cesc walking closer, his boots in the snow, a snowball in each hand. He doesn’t like it at all. It doesn’t leave him with very many options.
So he throws himself out from behind the tree and sprints towards Cesc— who isn’t far away at all— and tackles him to the ground like a mature adult.
“Submit!” he yells as they wrestle on the ground. “Motherfucker, just—”
Cesc smashes a handful of snow into his face.
“You are a child,” Gerard tells him once he’s got him pinned down, his legs on either side of Cesc’s body and his knees on Cesc’s arms. “A child. I mean, who even does that?”
Cesc makes a face, one that says, I’m the child? and You’re the child, and, I know, and, Me too. But he doesn’t say any of those things. Instead, he says, “What will it cost to get you to make me hot chocolate?” Gerard grinds his hips against Cesc’s and Cesc says, “Well, I already owe you that. From before.”
“If you’re real good, I’ll even put marshmallows in it,” Gerard says, and it’s stupid because of course he was going to put marshmallows in it, but saying it is worth it simply for the way it makes Cesc smile.
Cesc reaches a hand out and brushes some snow out of Gerard’s hair, and off his cheek.
“I don’t know if you know, but you’ve got snow on you,” he says.
“Yeah, thanks,” Gerard says, and he’s going to say something else—probably something rude and insulting, he’s not sure yet—but then Cesc is bunching his gloved fingers in the front of Gerard’s—Cesc’s—jacket and pulling him down to kiss him.
Gerard’s not often one to say no.
The kiss is rough and with a lot of teeth, and Cesc’s stubble rubs against his cheek, although he figures he doesn’t have the right to complain. Cesc bites down on his bottom lip and Gerard likes it like that; it’s just like the way they play football and just like the way they play cards, and it’s just like the way they fight for more blanket at night and for the first shower in the morning. Gerard likes it because they kiss like there’s something to be won and, perhaps more importantly, like there’s something to be lost. Gerard doesn’t like to lose, not football or cards or the blanket or first shower, and he doesn’t want to— can’t, won’t— lose Cesc, not now, not ever. And so he kisses back just as hard and hopes that Cesc gets it.
And then Cesc’s shivering—just one big shiver that even Gerard can feel—and so Gerard pulls back and says, “Well, if you’re done molesting me, I have some hot chocolate to be tending to.”
“I just can’t keep my hands off you,” Cesc deadpans, but he doesn’t roll his eyes and Gerard appreciates the gesture.
“Who can blame you?” he asks, and Cesc smiles. There’s spit on his lips—Gerard’s spit—and Gerard likes that, he likes that a lot.
He gets up, two hands flat on Cesc’s chest for balance, and then helps Cesc up after him. They trudge along back to the house and he tries to fit his feet into the imprints left behind by Cesc’s boots.
“You have such tiny strides,” he says. “I feel like I’m doing twice the work and still not getting anywhere.”
Cesc says, “I’ll work on growing taller, then, for your sake. Maybe I could eBay a torture rack. From like, medieval times. I hear those work real well.”
“Thanks,” Gerard says. “You’re the best.”
Even though Cesc isn’t watching, Gerard doesn’t really feel that bad when they’re almost at the door, he scoops up some snow and shoves it down the back of Cesc’s jacket again. He takes off at a sprint for the house as Cesc dances awkwardly to try to keep the snow off his skin, yelling for extra marshmallows and a new best friend.
“I can accept the extra marshmallows,” Gerard says when they’re both inside, soaking wet on the foyer tile, “but not the new best friend. I’d be too jealous.” He slides his boots off and then his jacket, and then the rest of his wet clothes, all of which he leaves in a pile on the floor.
“Okay,” Cesc says. “Maybe we can compromise.” He struggles with his jacket when the zipper catches on his scarf, and Gerard reaches out to help him. When Cesc’s jacket is off, Gerard helps him with his shirt and then with the buckle of his belt. “Sunrise is gonna be soon,” Cesc adds.
“No,” Gerard says, but he’s not disputing the fact.
“Okay,” Cesc shrugs. “Another time.”
They head to the kitchen and Gerard digs out a saucepan and begins to heat the milk as Cesc sits on a barstool by the counter in only his boxers. It’s strange for Gerard to think that any of this is supposed to feel new; Cesc is Cesc and he’s been in Gerard’s life forever, since they were kids who could barely kick an accurate pass. He watches how Cesc sits with his chin in his hand and how he eats mini-marshmallows out of the bag while he waits and he thinks about how he almost fucked it all up this time last year, before they got together. He thinks about how they fought and about how Cesc stayed in England, didn’t come home for the winter break.
“I’m glad you’re here,” Gerard says. Cesc doesn’t say anything for a while, but Gerard knows that he understands what he really meant. He chops up some chocolate and gives Cesc one of the larger pieces before adding the milk to it.
“There are a lot of things I want to do to you later,” Cesc says, and Gerard knows he means, Me too. “I want to touch you so bad.”
Gerard swallows and it sounds so loud in his ears. He’s convinced Cesc can hear it from across the kitchen.
“But after the hot chocolate, right?” he asks, handing Cesc a mug.
“Of course after the hot chocolate,” Cesc says as he smiles. “I wouldn’t have it any other way.”
Gerard looks at the way Cesc’s fingers wrap around the mug and the way he smiles at Gerard and the way he piles marshmallows up to the rim of his cup, and Gerard almost thinks he wouldn’t have it any other way, either.