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12 Days of Reyuxmas

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Reyuxmas Day1: “Food”

“The Gingerbread Fiasco”

            “Oh no. Oh no, oh no, oh no, oh…” It was like a horror movie, the crime scene laid before her in such a gruesome, terrible way. Rey could smell the burning stench of gingerbread still lingering in the apartment, even after opening the windows to the frigid, wintry air, baking supplies strewn about the counter like she had no idea what she was doing (to be fair, she didn’t).

            All she’d wanted to do was put Hux in good spirits; he was always a bit down during this time of year, especially when attending the terse Christmas dinner with his father and Maratelle (she opted out tonight after last year’s insult fiasco—the thought of being under Maratelle Hux’s scrutinizing gaze was not something she ever wanted to experience again). The idea had been simple: bake a few gingerbread cookies and decorate them, waiting for him when he came home from his father’s. He’d appreciate the effort, especially the one she’d planned to decorate with his red hair and usual pout, and one with her buns.

            But then the problems started—none of the shapes she wanted to use came out correctly after she rolled out the dough. The cookies looked too gooey in the oven as she baked them, so she left them in for five minutes. Then another few, then another…

            Hence, the burnt smell permeating their home. Before she could even think about starting another batch, the horrid sound of Hux’s keys in the door halted her. Rey wasn’t that much of a crier, but the state of the kitchen… her holiday surprise ruined…

            “Well, that was just another excuse for the two of them to gang up on me and my apparent miserable excuse of an existence. What on earth is that smell… Rey?” Hux peeked over the counter to find her curled up on the hardwood floor, hiding her face in shaking hands.

            Immediately he knelt at her side, a protective arm around her shoulders. “Rey?” he asked again. “What’s going on?”

            Shaking her head, Rey hid her shamed face in his shoulder. Her tears started to soak through the scarf he had yet to take off. “I didn’t… I just wanted…” she tried, but holding it in just led to her emitting a pathetic sob. He must think something awful of her.

            Hux finally took in the state of disarray the kitchen was in, putting the pieces together. “Alright, let’s get up.” She’d really only ever heard this soft tone from him in the morning, or just as he was about to fall asleep. Rey still couldn’t look at him as he helped her stand, face flushed and stained with tears. But he kissed her cheek and pretended not to see, then pulled out his phone to make a call.

            “Hey,” he greeted when the voice on the other end picked up. “I know it’s late, but there’s been a bit of an emergency.” Rey finally stopped sobbing, now confused.

            But before she could question who was on the phone, Hux started to wave her away. “Grab a coat,” he ordered. “Maybe a toothbrush and change of clothes, too.”

            Too dumbfounded and bewildered to ask why, Rey nodded and silently did as she was told, haphazardly throwing clothes in her overnight bag.

 


 

 

            At first, when they got in the car, Rey occasionally asked where they were going, but Hux always deterred it with a vague “You’ll see,” or he’d turn the Christmas music up on the radio (especially strange, given he always said he couldn’t stand most of it). And Rey would sigh, watching the snow fall lightly as they drove and she’d adjust the heaters more to keep as warm as possible.

            Hux stayed practically silent, except to remark, “I called someone to clean up the kitchen. You really don’t have to worry about your… escapade. Or your need to be this… idyllic, flawless girl for me.” He reached over to take her hand and pressed it briefly to his lips. “You’re perfect as is.”

            Rey almost melted, sighing in relief. It was enough to shut her up for the rest of the drive.

            That was, until she spotted the familiar tree-lined street coming into view. Rey’s eyes widened as Hux silently pulled into the driveway, then grabbed her bag after he turned off the engine.

            Rey didn’t know how much of a disheveled mess she still looked when Ari, Hux’s mother with a penchant for baking, opened the door and immediately ushered them in. She greeted Rey with a smothering hug. “The Christmas Song” was playing lowly on a Bluetooth speaker. “Armitage told me, dear. I think it’s admirable you care enough to try something new.”

            “Mother, don’t bite too hard, now,” Hux warned, making his way to his old room so he could set their bags down. Rey noted the all-knowing smirk hiding behind his words.

            In Ari’s humbler kitchen, she’d already laid out all the ingredients to make perfect gingerbread cookies, oven preheated, butter softened, different colors of icing already in piping bags. Hux and his mother would do all this… for her? Rey placed a hand over her heart, touched immensely by the gesture. “Ari, how can I…?”

            Ari held up a hand to silence her. “Nonsense.” Well. Now Rey knew where Hux got that from. “I’m more than happy to help. The night’s not getting any younger, love.” She tied her long, golden hair back into a low ponytail. “Now, go ahead and drop the butter into that bowl there…”

            With Ari’s guidance, Rey found baking much easier. Even with Hux as their audience, Rey didn’t feel pressured or uncomfortable. In fact, with the warm Christmas décor, Ari’s soothing voice, and the lovely Christmas music as a backdrop, Rey got into her element, a grin on her face the entire time she took in Ari’s instructions. Aha. So she needed to let the dough chill for some time. And she definitely needed to add more flour when rolling everything out.

            “That’s why the cookies seemed so gooey in your first batter,” Ari explained, laying out another cookie on the baking sheet. She handed one of the cookie cutters to her son. “Come on, now, you’re not just sitting around here.”

            Immediately Hux conceded with a sigh, but he quickly got to work, cutting out a few cookies.

            “You’re a natural,” Rey teased, sticking her tongue out at her boyfriend.

            “Hush,” Hux smirked, tossing a pinch of flour at her arm. “I certainly didn’t inherit my mother’s impeccable baking talent.”

            “Now, I’m not about to let the two of you mess up my kitchen, too,” Ari cautioned as Rey prepared to retaliate. She picked up one of the cookie sheets. “Let’s get these babies in the oven, shall we?”

            While they waited, and Ari got started on the dishes, Rey pressed a chaste kiss to Hux’s lips. “Thank you, Tage,” she said, touching her forehead to his. “Really, I can’t express my gratitude enough.”

            “It’s no problem,” he replied, brushing some flour out of her hair.

            Once the cookies were out of the oven and cooled down, they all got to decorating: Hux trying to perfect Rey’s buns, and Rey trying to capture Hux’s signature pout. All of Ari’s, of course, looked professionally done, like they belonged on a Christmas display. Alone, Rey certainly didn’t have fun trying to bake, but with Hux and his mother…

            Rey looked up at them, and she could tell—they’d just started a new Christmas tradition.