Church hated Christmas.
Alright, he still hates Christmas till this day. But with plenty of reason, he could complain about it being the most overhyped holiday ever, or that it is basically an excuse to buy a ton of shit and giving to people that you probably only seen them once per year. Or that it’s about playing stupid guessing games about what to buy for them based on what limited interaction you have with them and hope that they at least don’t throw away or give it to someone else a week later. Or that it happens right in the middle of butt-fucking winter.
Or it’s just that he doesn’t celebrate it. Jewish and all.
So yeah, it’s no surprise that Church feels nothing but grating irritation when he hears knocks on his door.
And instead of snapping out the moment he sees who’s on the other side, instead, Church can only blink his eyes at sight of the man in front of him.
The first thing Church notices about the man was his size; he stood a good head taller than Church and with the muscles to match. The seldom cleared sky would have allowed the sun to project its rays into his house through his open door, but the guy's big frame blocked a large part of it. Church would have been (slightly, just only slightly!) intimidated by him if not for the smile that hung on the man’s face like a child given free rein in a candy store.
Oh, the eyes. Church wasn't sure eyes could even glow (metaphorically, of course); he had heard people talking about 'glowing eyes', but he had never seen one...well...with his own eyes until today.
"What do you want?" Church finally grumbles out, snapping back to reality when he realises he has been staring awkwardly at a stranger for far too long; irritation in him slips away like the warmth of his fingertips to the cold biting winter air outside.
Just 5 minutes ago, Church was heating his mac and cheese in the microwave, ready to enjoy another delicious instant meal he got in bulk from the nearby convenience store. The last time Carolina visited him, she had mocked him about his absolutely fine diet and how he should definitely not stop eating just instant meals and how he better find someone who knows how to cook for him so that she doesn’t find him dead eating a 27lb bucket of mac and cheese (Yes that is a thing and no, I did not buy it). Church flipped her a bird in response to that.
"I'm Michael J. Caboose, your new neighbour! People just call me Caboose,” Caboose (Caboose? What kind of name is that?) announces, turning slightly to his left and pointing at the next house over, "I’m from the house right of yours," before turning back to face Church and extending his hand out, "It is nice to meet you."
Church looks down at the blue mitten-covered hand extended out to him, before looking back up to only notice the large blue sweater the guy is wearing. And the blue beanie. And the blue pants. The only thing that is not blue is the paper bag that Caboose is holding on with his other hand.
And not to be poetic or anything, but it reminds Church of the summer skies that frames a bright, almost glaring, sun that warms the ground.
Just like the pair of eyes that are staring at him right now.
After another too long of a pause, Church coughs awkwardly and raises his own hand to shake Caboose’s.
“Church, Leonard Church,” Church says out loud before immediately cringes inwardly. Maybe, he just realises, that having a name such as ‘Caboose’ isn’t as ridiculous as it first sounds, considering his own name is Leonard fucking Church.
He redirects his focus to the warmth coming from the mitten-covered hand instead.
“Church,” Caboose parrots the word back, though he says it with an emphasis that Church akin to someone reading an ancient sacred text. “That’s a nice name.” Caboose continues before beaming a large smile at him.
He avoids looking at Caboose’s eyes.
“Oh!” Caboose suddenly sounds out, letting go of Church’s hand and jumping a little, as if he just got poked in the back. “Here you go, Merry Christmas!” Caboose chirps out, presenting the paper bag with two hands to Church.
An instinctive flare of anger rises up within him when he hears the phrase 'Merry Christmas" said to him. He could've snapped and told the guy that he's Jewish and say that he doesn't celebrate Christmas and that he should not assume that everyone celebrates it but-
“What?” Church says instead, ignoring the unpleasant cold that is eating his fingertips now that Caboose had let go his hand.
“Chocolate Chip Cookies, I made them myself!” Caboose proudly announces, before his face turning slightly red as he hastily adds on, “E-Er, n-not all by myself! I had some help,” he pauses, before elaborating on, “Just a little. Not much at all. I mostly made them myself.” He finishes, though he mutters something about ‘stupid tucker’ to himself.
Not knowing how to react, Church grabs the paper bag of cookies by the top with his right hand, “Thanks, er, C-Caboose,” Church says.
“You are welcome!” Caboose chirps out, his smile gets even wider.
Church ignores the fluttering feeling in his chest.
“Well then,” Caboose says, and he looks like he is about to step backwards, but instead, Caboose takes a 180° turn and walks a step forward before turning back to face Church to wave at him, “Enjoy your cookies, Mr Church!”
“Church will do, Caboose,” Church chuckles slightly at the scene, unable to hold back the upwards twitch on both sides of his mouth.
“O-Oh I see,” Caboose says after a slight pause between them, looking ever so slightly flustered than before, "Bye Church!"
Church gives Caboose a wave as Caboose runs back to his house before closing the door; he does not say goodbye to him, though.
He then walks to the kitchen and sets the bag of cookies down before walking to his previously heated up mac and cheese, left sitting sadly on the counter.
And while Church does not like to eat a cooled-down mac and cheese. Nobody does. But he is no stranger to it since he is a lazy bastard just like everybody else. And on days when he wants it hot, he can always just put it in the microwave again.
But instead, Church thinks about the bag of cookies on the table, before proceeding to throw the mac and cheese back into the fridge. He then reaches in to grab one of the cookies inside and examines it, feeling it between his fingers before taking a bite of it.
Church thinks, that he could be thinking about his newly acquainted neighbour. How his eyes shone brilliantly like the summer sun, threatening to melt away the frozen negativity that Church is so used to. Or how the big smile is framed by a strong, chiselled jaw that he can’t seem to look away from. Or how the warmth of the cookie between his fingers reminds him of the large mitten-covered hand around his. Or how the sweet taste of chocolate chips in the cookie resembles the fluttering feeling he felt earlier.
But instead, Church recalls back about that time Carolina visited him, and that she just might, just might, be right about him.
I should really get some real food.