Christmas was never Yu’s favorite holiday.
It wasn’t that he disliked the idea of Christmas. He was like the Grinch, where he didn’t dislike Christmas a whole, he just disliked that he had no one to spend it with. People always assumed that Yu’s parents, who worked around the clock and everywhere on the planet, would be home to celebrate Christmas with him, but really, Christmas day was Yu waking up, walking down the stairs by himself, and finding his presents laid out underneath the tree, the cookies and milk never drank or eaten, and no parents to be found. He liked all of his presents, sure, but it was nothing like opening it with his parents watching him with a mug of hot cocoa and sitting on the couch in their PJs. That never happened, of course, but he liked to imagine it. Christmas was lonely and disappointing.
That was, until he moved to Inaba.
Inaba was a breath of fresh air. Yu was a city boy, and Christmas was even lonelier in the city. Now, he had a small little family, one that bought him presents and stayed to watch him open it. Yu was so surprised when he saw Dojima--who was known for being at work every single day and staying late—waking him up on Christmas morning along with Nanako, who shook him so aggressively he almost got whiplash. He got to see a Christmas tree, a real tree with actual ornaments—handmade ornaments, ornaments with Nanako’s name or her drawings or her picture. A tree with hand wrapped presents underneath. A family on Christmas. He enjoyed watching Nanako open her presents and squealing, or when she hugged Dojima for a present she really, really liked, or when she opened the present that Yu had bought her and almost started crying. It was the best Christmas he had ever had.
After that year, Yu asked his parents if he could start staying at the Dojima’s for Christmas. They had agreed, almost without hesitation, and he got to open the presents from them before he left. He enjoyed seeing all of his friends, which were, of course, the other major reason why Christmas in Inaba was so much better. He was surprised to find that all of the members of the Investigation Team had bought him presents. The best part of Christmas Eve was when they were all sitting around the fireplace at Yukiko’s inn, all drinking hot chocolate and playing truth or dare.
“Truth or dare, Yu!” Chie had squealed. “Everyone else has picked truth, so you basically have to pick dare. You don’t want to be boring, do you Yu?” Usually, Yu wouldn’t have cared if he was ‘boring,’ but today was different. This time, he was surrounded by friends, he was the happiest he had ever been, and he wanted to do something crazy, something new. “Okay, dare,” he had replied. The whole team cheered him on. “Okay, I dare you to wear my Christmas sweater. The one with all of the garland and lights and stuff.” The sweater was ridiculous. It was like someone had vomited Christmas all over a red sweatshirt. “Challenge accepted.” Yu wore it, and he wore it was pride. He strutted his stuff, and he did not for one second feel any doubt. He enjoyed watching the looks on everyone’s faces as he wore the over-the-top sweater and stuck out his ass.
The second-best Christmas was 2 years later, when Yu had completely moved to Inaba, that everything started to change for him. Christmas had slowly become one of Yu’s favorite times of the year, and now it was getting even better to him. It was when Yu finally realized who he was sticking out his ass for, who he was trying to impress, who he really wanted to get the best gift for on Christmas. Yosuke, his partner, was all he could think about lately, and there was no way he could avoid him. Inaba was a small town, one of the smallest towns, and even though that’s what Yu loved about it, he couldn’t avoid seeing Yosuke everywhere he went.
It was Christmas Eve, and after three years of Christmas’s, Truth or Dare had become a tradition. They didn’t have Yu wear anymore sweaters, but Yu went for dare every single time they asked him. He couldn’t help but stare a little more closely than he should’ve when Yukiko dared Yosuke to go stand out in the snow without a shirt. When it was his turn, he wished it wasn’t something too embarrassing. Chie was always the one to ask him the dares, and she always tried to make it as embarrassing as possible. The sweater wasn’t even that bad, but after that, they got worse. This had to be the worst one yet.
“Yu. Truth…or dare?”
“You know my answer,” Yu mumbled. “Bring it on.” It was obvious Chie had thoroughly thought this one out. She leaned forward, placed her hands on her knees and looked in Yu’s eyes. “Yu, I dare you to kiss Yosuke.” Yosuke was a bit too eager to disagree with the dare, and Yu desperately tried to hide his flushed cheeks and held-back tears. The way he said it. The way Yosuke said the words…it was like a slap across the face. “What the fuck, Chie? No way!” The words stung more than any time his parents said they wouldn’t be there for Christmas. It stung more than it did when they said he would have to move away for a year. It stung so much he couldn’t handle it, but there was nothing he could do. He couldn’t give away his true feelings, not when it was so apparently obvious that Yosuke wasn’t up to the idea. Fuck, this hurt.
He sat through the whole rest of truth or dare in quiet. He could feel Yosuke’s eyes burning into his face, but he didn’t look back. He didn’t look at anyone. He just stared at his feet and grit his teeth. He couldn’t cry, not here. Not now. Not on fucking Christmas. He could tell Chie felt guilty for the whole thing—the party had started so lively, like always, but now it was like an awkward staff party they would have in an office or something. Yu couldn’t stand it.
“I think I’m going to go help Nanako bake the cookies for Santa,” Yu had said. “I’ll come back tomorrow, if that’s okay.” Yosuke was silent as the others walked him outside and wished him a Merry Christmas before he started to walk back to the house. It was so cold, and despite all of the layers he wore, his hands still were so cold that they were numb, and his nose started to run. It didn’t help that he still felt so embarrassed he thought he would die right on the spot. It wasn’t until he heard footsteps running up behind him that he noticed how long he had been walking.
“Yu! Yu, wait!” Yosuke was behind him, out of breath, running toward him, and even though Yu wanted so bad to act like everything was okay, he just couldn’t. He wanted to walk in the house, which was only a few yards from where he was standing, but he couldn’t. Yosuke had ran so far. “Yu, please.” He couldn’t resist. Yu turned and found Yosuke standing in front of him, sweaty, out of breath, and with no jacket. “Yosuke, it’s freezing out here. You should’ve brought a—”
“I’m sorry. Yu, I’m just really sorry.”
“Sorry for what?”
“You know what.” Yosuke sighed. “Look, Chie only asked you to do that because I told her that I…” Yosuke hesitated and let his gaze drift down to his feet. “That I like you, Yu.” The air didn’t seem as cold now. His cheeks felt like they were on fire, and here Yosuke was, freezing out in the cold, and just waiting for his response. “Yosuke?” He had asked warmly. “Y-Y-Yeah?” He was beginning to shiver. “Truth or dare?” Yosuke crossed his arms. “W-W-What?” Yu laughed and wrapped Yosuke around in his coat. “Truth or dare, Yosuke. Don’t be boring, though.” Yosuke laughed softly, under his shaking breath. “O-Okay, dare.”
“I dare you to kiss me. Right now.” Yosuke, for a second, stared at him. Stared him right in his silver eyes.
Then he kissed him. Yu wrapped Yosuke in his arms, surrounding him with his warmth. Yosuke’s lips felt chapped and cold against his, but it was like Yosuke’s whole body warmed up to Yu’s touch. He wanted this moment to last forever. He wanted to stay like this, pressed up against Yosuke, forever. He wanted to keep Yosuke warm in his arms. He wanted to kiss the small freckles which lightly dotted Yosuke’s neck and collarbone, the ones that he couldn’t stop staring at earlier when he took off his shirt.
He wanted him to take off his shirt again, but not in the cold.
“Merry Christmas, Yu,” Yosuke had muttered against Yu’s cheek. “Don’t leave me,” Yu whispered back. Yosuke pulled his head away and stared into Yu’s eyes and putting his hand on Yu’s cheek. “I’m not. Ever. You’re my partner.” They both smiled into another kiss. “But seriously, if I don’t get back to the Inn, I’m going to freeze my ass off.”
The next day, Yu and Yosuke both gave each other something neither of them had ever given anyone, something that only they could give, something only they could receive.
“Yu! The Grinch is on.”
Out of all of the Christmas movies, the Grinch was Yu’s favorite—Yosuke knew this. Yosuke’s, of course, was The Polar Express, which Yu claimed was a strong runner up. Yosuke could see himself in the main character (“He doesn’t have a name, Yu! Look in the credits. His name is literally just Hero Boy . How cool of a name is that?”), and he genuinely enjoyed that Tom Hanks played half of the male characters in the whole movie. Yu liked the warm-hearted underdog story of the Grinch, and although it wasn’t Yosuke’s favorite, he liked the warm and loving look in Yu’s eyes when they cuddled on the couch, watching the furry, green, Christmas-hating monster.
They had already exchanged presents that morning and that afternoon. Yu and Yosuke went to go see Nanako and Dojima that afternoon after they had exchanged presents themselves, and then after that they went to go see all of their friends. Now all of the festivities were over, and the couple finally got to chill in the comfort of their own home.
“Okay, great, pause it for a sec.” Yu said, plopping a piece of popcorn in his mouth.
Yu found his way to the couch and sat right down beside Yosuke, who already had his arm outstretched on the couch, ready to wrap it around Yu’s shoulders. The two had spent five Christmases together, with only two of them being as a couple, but that was long enough for the two to fall into a rhythm and to make their own traditions. A Christmas movie, a cuddle, and popcorn on Christmas night was one of them.
“Hey. Wait,” Yosuke whispered as Yu grabbed the remote from off the table. “Did you like all of your presents?” He asked kindly.
“Of course, they were all great. Did you like yours?”
Yosuke looked over at the new headphones which sat unopened on the dining room table.
“Yeah, they were fucking awesome. But, uh…” he looked into Yu’s eyes, full of anticipation. “I have another gift for you.” Yu’s eyes opened wide.
“Another one? Yosuke, you already bought so many—”
“Oh, come on, I know you spent way over the limit on those headphones.”
Yu blushed and rub the side of his neck. “Just one more present.” Yosuke shot up off of the couch and walked to the bedroom, returning with a long, slender box wrapped with only a bow. “Here you go, open it.” Yu eyed the gift and lightly shook it in his hands. It definitely didn’t feel heavy, or in any way expensive...maybe it was a gag gift. He hoped it would be a gag gift instead of something expensive. He didn’t want Yosuke to be spending all of his money on him.
He unwrapped the bow carefully and took the white top off of the long box to find several pieces of tissue paper—whatever it was, it was small, smaller than the box. That made Yu a little suspect. As he peeled back the tissue paper, a little box peeked out, catching Yu’s eye.
“A box inside a box? Very funny,” Yu chuckled as he grabbed the box. “What’s inside here, another box?”
“Just open it and find out,” Yosuke whispered.
Yu popped open the small box to find a golden ring, the world partner engraved on the inside. It took Yu’s breath away, and for a scary moment, Yu was completely silent.
“Yu?” Yu’s face turned to meet Yosuke’s eyes and smiling mouth. “I...I got you that because I, uh, we’ve been together for two years. Um...I thought I knew what to say but I don’t—oh fuck.” Yu chuckled at the way Yosuke blundered. “I, uh, realized I had a crush on you four years ago, on Christmas Eve, when you wore that really tacky Christmas sweater. The one with the lights and garland on it? That Chie made you wear? When you shook your ass in my face?” A smile grew on Yu’s face. “I got you that ring because you’ve been my partner since day one, and I’ve loved every minute of it. I fucking love being your partner, Yu. I...I want to be your partner for the rest of my life.”
“Are you—are you asking me to marry you, Yosuke?”
“Yeah, pretty much. Terribly.” Yu pulled Yosuke into a warm kiss, placing his hands on Yosuke’s waist. “Is that a yes?”
“ Yes, Yosuke. Yes, I’ll marry you.”
“Hey,” Yosuke whispered into Yosuke’s neck. “Truth or dare?”
“Truth?” Yu responded, a hint of confusion in his voice.
“I really fucking love you,” Yosuke whispered, placing a kiss on Yu’s neck.
“That’s not a question.”
“Maybe later.” Yusuke giggled and placed his hands on Yu’s neck. “I love you too, partner. ”
Christmas wasn’t Yu’s favorite holiday for a really long time. It was a disappointing, miserable holiday. Something was different, though, when all of his friends and family were around. It was different when he had someone to be with. When he had someone he loved making every second memorable. When all of his good memories were now tied to the one holiday he thought he hated the most.
Now, Christmas was one of the best days of the year. Some of the best days of his life. The best one, however, was when he got to call Yosuke his husband. His life partner. The one who made every single Christmas a million times better. The one who made every single day better.