The glowing green numbers flickered from 6:59 to 7:00. A loud beep-beep-beep filled the air.
Alfred groaned and pried his eyes open. There was something different about the quality of light that poured through the window this morning—it was much paler than usual and hinted with blue. Familiar.
He shot up in bed and turned to look out of the window. His suspicions were confirmed. He let out a whoop and silenced the alarm clock.
"Alfred, sunflower, please, if you are going to wake up early, at least do so quietly, so I may sleep in," a voice complained from under the covers.
Alfred peeled back the thick blankets to grin at his partner. "But, Ivan, it snowed! And it's still snowing!"
Ivan squinted against the pale light that flooded their bedroom. "So? That is no big deal. Snow is only important when it is dangerous in Russia."
Alfred pouted. "But it's still fun to play in! Besides, it's nearly March—snow this late in the year is awesome!"
"Go back to sleep, sunflower," Ivan ordered, pulling the covers back over his head.
Alfred contemplated following those orders, but decided not to. A mischievous grin spread across his face.
Ivan growled when the covers were removed from the bed entirely. "Return those now," he demanded.
"Nope," said Alfred. "C'mon, let's go play in the snow!"
Ivan sighed and acceded. "All right, we will go play in the snow. But not until after breakfast."
Still grinning like a maniac, Alfred shot out of the bedroom door and downstairs to the kitchen. Momentarily, the smells of coffee and cooking food floated through the house.
Ivan sighed and pulled himself out of bed. Most of the time, Alfred's enthusiasm was cute. Sometimes, it was just annoying. He stumbled down the stairs to the kitchen, where Alfred was cooking bacon and eggs. It smelled wonderful, and Ivan said so.
Alfred turned. "Oh hey, big guy. You're up. Coffee's brewing." He indicated the coffeemaker whirring away with the spatula in his hand.
Ivan nodded, slowly waking up, and went to get a mug.
After breakfast, they bundled up. For Alfred, this involved at least three heavy sweaters, a winter parka, gloves, hat, and a scarf. For Ivan, all that was needed was his long, heavy winter coat and—of course—his scarf.
Chanting "Snow-snow-snow-snow-snow-snow-snow," Alfred shot out of the back door and toppled over backwards. Ivan would have worried, but Alfred was waving his arms and legs back and forth to make a snow angel.
Ivan smiled at his partner's enthusiasm. He scooped up a handful of snow and started packing it into a sphere. When the snowball was complete, he chucked it at Alfred, who sat up, mock-furious, face covered in snow.
"Oh, that's it, big guy," he declared. "You're going down."
Ivan smiled. "You are welcome to try, sunflower, but I assure you, it is you who will be going down."
And so their snowball fight commenced. It was an epic battle with no quarter given or asked, though it was somewhat hampered by Alfred pouncing on Ivan about midway through and kissing him.
When the sun was high in the sky, they broke for lunch—tomato soup, grilled cheese sandwiches, and hot cocoa. Ivan cooked, though most of that was the sandwiches.
After they had finished, Alfred leaned back in his chair with a sigh. "So, big guy, up for more snowball fight?"
Ivan considered. "Only if you insist."
Alfred did insist.
Several hours later, they stumbled back inside the house, soaked, freezing, and exhausted. They lit a fire in the fireplace (Alfred burned his finger) and curled up together in front of it. Through combined influences of exhaustion and warmth, they slowly drifted off.
Just before he fell asleep entirely, Alfred managed to mutter, "That was pretty fun, eh, big guy?"
Ivan nodded sleepily as his eyes drifted shut. "We should…do that again some time."