Grant's connecting flight out of Heathrow gets delayed by weather, so he texts Gerard and Frank not to wait up for him. He gets a reply from Gerard, then goes to find a spot to wait.
A few minutes later his phone buzzes, and he pulls it out of his pocket and smiles at the message--Frank making a grouchy face, with the words tell gerard to give me a break with the fucking xmas music.
A message from Gerard comes a moment later: tell frank to stop being such a fucking scrooge. In the accompanying picture, Gerard's wearing a pair of felt reindeer antlers and his most angelic expression.
Both of you be good, Grant types in reply and can't help but add, grinning as he does, for goodness' sake.
fuck you, Frank replies.
As soon as there's no longer an ocean in the way, love.
He gets into Newark late and takes a cab to the house, digging through his bag for the key as they pull up outside. There's a solitary string of lights nailed up around the doorframe and a little tree made of silver tinsel in the front room--both Gerard's doing, Grant's sure. In all the years they've known each other, Grant's never known him to get as excited about Christmas as he seems to be this year. It's not hard to guess why. Last year, their first Christmas together, they'd spent the holiday in Neil's damn haunted castle. They'd bought the house the following summer, but Frank and Gerard had to work on Halloween (some kids from Gerard's old high school had the brilliant idea to break in and hold a seance in the library, with colorful results), and Grant hadn't managed to join them for Thanksgiving. This will be their first holiday all together in the house--the first of many, Grant very much hopes.
He makes his way up the stairs and down the hall to the master bedroom, opening the door as quietly as he can. Frank and Gerard are in bed, the room dark. Frank lies still, deep breaths indicating he's asleep, but Gerard sits up as soon as Grant comes into the room.
"Hey," he whispers, and Grant can barely see his face but he knows the exact smile Gerard is wearing right now, the one he always gives Grant when they first see each other after being apart.
He puts his bags down--softly, not wanting to wake Frank--and crosses to the bed, taking Gerard's face in his hands and bending down to kiss him. Gerard stretches up to meet him, wrapping his arms around Grant's waist and pressing against him. He's in boxers and a soft, worn t-shirt, his skin warm from being cuddled up under the covers with Frank.
When the kiss breaks Gerard buries his face in Grant's neck, hugging him tight, and Grant runs one hand up and down his back and kisses his messy hair.
"You weren't awake waiting for me, were you?" he asks, and Gerard shakes his head.
"I woke up when you came in," he says, tipping his head back to look at Grant, smiling crookedly. "I've been so excited for you getting here, I guess I kind of put myself on alert."
Grant chuckles. "Good thing I didn't have my heart set on surprising you."
"Surprises are for boyfriends who aren't psychic," Gerard points out, stretching up for another kiss.
"Indeed." There's more room on the other side of the bed, so Grant kisses Gerard once more, soft and lingering, then moves around to Frank's side, stripping down to his t-shirt and briefs as he does.
He gets in bed next to Frank and Frank curls toward him in his sleep, muttering something unintelligible. Grant kisses him, then stretches one arm over his middle, his hand coming to rest on Gerard's waist as Gerard nestles against Frank's back. Grant listens to Gerard's breath get deep and even as he falls back asleep, and lies there, just enjoying being so close to both of them, until sleep takes him as well.
Grant wakes briefly when they do--Frank pounces on him and kisses him thoroughly, and Gerard shuffles across the bed for a more sedate good morning after Frank goes to get in the shower--but stays in bed, sleeping off jetlag. When he finally gets up, showers, and goes downstairs, it's past noon.
Frank and Gerard are ensconced at either end of the living room couch, Gerard's legs stretched across the middle, toes tucked under Frank's thigh. Frank's engrossed in a book, Gerard has his laptop balanced on his knees, and for a moment Grant hovers in the doorway and just watches them.
It was hard, at first, not being with them all the time. Trying to balance his desire to still call Scotland home with his desire to be where they are, and to balance the solo work he's always preferred with now being a de facto member of their team. And sometimes in those first months, whenever he was apart from them, it was hard not to feel melancholy, even jealous of how they always had each other, and of how whenever he rejoined them, they seemed woven together so flawlessly.
But it's gotten better. They've all learned how to handle the distance and the work, how to balance things the best they can. They've found ways to keep reminding him that he's part of them even when he's not there physically, that he'll always fit right back in when he is there. That space in the middle of the couch is for him, and he knows it.
They both look up and smile as Grant comes into the room, and Gerard pulls his legs back to make space.
"Hey," he says softly. "You sleep okay?"
"I did," Grant replies, sitting down between them and resting a hand on Gerard's knee.
"Are you hungry?" Frank asks. "I can go make you a sandwich."
"You don't have to get up," Grant protests as Frank stirs. "I can make it myself."
"Sit," Frank says firmly, and leans in to kiss Grant when he sinks back against the cushions obediently. "You flew across the ocean, the least I can do is make you a sandwich."
Grant catches him around the waist and holds him there for another lingering kiss, then lets him go. Frank heads for the kitchen, and Grant turns to Gerard, who's focused on his laptop, a look of concentration on his face.
"And what are you up to?" he asks, and Gerard turns the laptop so Grant can see the screen. "Recipes?" Grant asks, raising an eyebrow.
Gerard smiles. "I thought--maybe this is kind of silly, but I thought we could make dinner on Christmas Eve. Just the three of us."
"Gerard suddenly thinks he can cook a turkey," Frank comments from where he's standing at the kitchen counter. "Well, a tofurkey. And...possibly some kind of pudding. I'm keeping the takeout menus handy."
Gerard sticks his tongue out in Frank's direction. "I think I can try. And you're half the reason it's going to be tofurkey, so you should be nice to me." He looks back at Grant. "So, what do you think?"
"Tofurkey and plum pudding? Sounds like an interesting mix of contemporary and traditional." Grant leans in to kiss Gerard's cheek. "I'm up for whatever you want to do, sweetheart. I don't know how much good I'll be as a sous-chef, but I'm at your disposal."
Gerard shifts, putting his laptop down on the coffee table and settling back against Grant, who slides his arms around him. "As far as Christmas Day goes, both our families have stuff planned, but we don't have to go if you don't want. Our parents want to see you, of course, and Mikey, but maybe we can do something with just them the day after."
Grant nuzzles the back of Gerard's neck and hums noncommittally. He's still an object of curiosity (and some scandal) for their extended families, and while he understands why, being an object of curiosity and scandal at large family gatherings can be tiresome. At the same time, he doesn't want to stand in the way of them seeing their relatives, knowing how important that is to Frank especially.
Gerard twists around to look at him, seeming faintly concerned. "I'm sorry your mom and Leigh couldn't come. I get that it's not easy for your mom to travel anymore, but I still feel kind of bad that we took you away from them."
Grant shakes his head, lifting a hand to cup Gerard's cheek. "It's what I chose. I'll give them a call Christmas Day. It's all right."
"Okay," Gerard says, smiling. He cranes his neck to kiss Grant, then nestles back against him, wrapping his hands over Grant's where they rest on his waist. "I'm really glad you're here."
"So am I," Grant murmurs, squeezing him gently.
Frank comes back to the couch, carrying a plate and a glass of iced tea. "That makes three of us," he says, smiling warmly as he sets them down on the table. "But you're gonna need to get a hand free there, babe, because my sandwich hospitality does not extend to feeding you."
They laze around for the rest of the day, only stirring themselves to go out and meet Mikey and Alicia for dinner. The next day, December 23rd, Gerard kicks his Christmas Eve plans into high gear, subjecting Frank to more carols on the stereo and compiling an extremely thorough grocery list. Frank grouses about the music, but helps with the list.
Grant finds wrapping paper, scissors, and tape and takes them up to the bedroom. He shuts the door and starts taking things from the bottom of his suitcase to wrap. They'd all agreed not to spend too much on gifts for each other, and Grant had promptly spent more than the agreed-on amount, unable to resist. From the amount of wrapped gifts already under their little tree when he goes to add his, he suspects Frank and Gerard haven't held themselves strictly to budget, either.
They go grocery shopping that afternoon, Gerard directing the entire trip with the intensity of a general directing troops. Sent to find something that can serve as a centerpiece--"a fucking centerpiece, Frankie, don't give me that look or I'll put you on yam-peeling duty"--Grant pauses for a moment among the hothouse flowers and somewhat picked-over boughs of holly and picks up his own addition to their sparse decorations.
"Mistletoe?" Frank asks when Grant goes to hang it that evening, and shakes his head. "I give up, the two of you are going to Christmas me into submission."
Grant climbs down from the stepladder and tugs Frank into his arms, backing him up until he's right under the sprig of mistletoe. "Do you know why the custom of hanging mistletoe at Christmas got started, Frank?"
"Because people are suckers for dumb traditions involving plants?" Frank offers, his smile and the way he leans into Grant belying his grumpy tone.
Grant shakes his head, smirking. "Gerard?"
Gerard comes up to lean against the door frame, folding his arms. "It was a symbol of friendship and peace in some ancient cultures, and some believed it to have protective properties."
"Teacher's pet," Frank snarks at him.
Grant touches Frank's chin to turn his face back toward Grant. "Protective properties," he repeats. "And thus, the belief grew that hanging mistletoe above one's door at the close of one year would bring good luck and protection from evil in the next." Grant looks over at Gerard, holding his gaze for a moment, and then looks back at Frank. "A custom I think we can all appreciate."
Frank draws in a breath, obviously touched by the sentiment. He holds out a hand to Gerard, who comes to them at once, arms open. They each put an arm around him, and the three of them stand there entwined.
"Okay, you sold me on the mistletoe," Frank says.
Gerard leans in, nosing at Frank's ear. "It also means that for the rest of the holiday, we can pull you over here and kiss you until you stop being grumpy."
"What, you weren't gonna do that anyway?" Frank says, turning his head.
Grant watches them kiss. He'll never get tired of that, no matter how often he gets to watch it. When the kiss breaks, Frank turns to him, cupping the back of Grant's head, and Grant tilts his head down and kisses him, slow and deep and thorough. When he turns away from Frank, Gerard's waiting, and Grant holds him tight with one arm and kisses the breath out of him.
"Here's the downside to standing under the mistletoe, though," Frank points out, pressing against Grant's hip. "We're nowhere near the bedroom."
Grant laughs, sliding his hand down to cup Frank's ass. "Well, that's easily fixed."
"We have to actually get a good night's sleep tonight," Gerard points out, even as he tilts his head to mouth at Grant's jaw. "We have a tofurkey to cook tomorrow."
"Then we'd better turn in early," Grant says, guiding them both toward the stairs.