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Visions of Sugar-Plums

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It's the night before Twelfth Perigee's Eve and not a creature is stirring, not even the wigglers. Who for once in their lives finally went to bed early, after Tavros earnestly informed them that Santa can only come if you're sleeping. They're probably still awake, but at least they're in their room with the door closed, and it's still before midnight.

Tavros collapses into the chair next to Dave and puts his head down on the kitchen table. The point of his right horn presses into the back of Dave's hand, resting on the keyboard of his laptop.

"Nose goes on putting the presents in front of the idolatrous graven image of the Empress," Dave says.

Tavros groans quietly, and Dave pulls his hand out from under his horn to pat Tavros's shoulder. "That was pathetic enough that I'm as stirred as a martini to do it for you." He saves the article he was writing and goes to fetch the grubs' presents out of his and Tavros’s bedroom closet. The gifts've already been wrapped - Dave did that ages ago - but they both knew better than to leave them sitting out, wrapped or not. Samar's too obedient to open them early, but Hasa wouldn't think twice about it, and Samar would follow her. Thus, the closet.

Dave sets the gifts down on the floor of the living room and returns to the kitchen, where Tavros has finally mustered the strength to stop macking on the kitchen table and is sitting up. Just as well; Dave was starting to feel jealous. He ducks under Tavros's horn and sits back down.

He's managed to bash out another paragraph of this music review by the time Tavros turns sideways in his chair and leans back against Dave's shoulder. He's warm, maybe a little heavy but Dave doesn't really care.


Tavros grunts. "Kyozam said he'd look after them until they fell asleep."

"Lusi are the best babysitters." Dave cards his fingers through Tavros's hair, missing the mohawk that Tavros grew out years ago. Hair fuzz just feels better against his fingers. "What's say we pull off the ironically realistic winter holiday parental horizontal tango of going to bed early and being too tired from progeny-wrangling to have sex."

Tavros chuckles. "You say that every year, I think."

"That just makes it a family tradition, violable only on pain of ancestral action against our prosperity and the health of our family dynamic, to be compounded by bizarre curses only resolved by the Learning of the Lesson through Hollywood shenanigans and humiliation."

"Bed?" Tavros asks.

"Yours or ours?"

Tavros sighs. "Mine."

"Off you go, then." Dave pushes Tavros off him and saves and quits out of the file before shutting down the computer. Tavros is done brushing his fangs before Dave goes to sleep himself, on the other side of the bedroom/respiteblock from where Tavros is probably dreaming of happy hopbeasts and flowers in his recuperacoon.


He wakes up when Tavros climbs out of the recuperacoon. It's still dark out, and the clock on the nightstand reads 4:04, still too early for the kids to be awake and come crawling all over them in anticipation of gift-opening.

"Go back to sleep," Tavros murmurs when Dave rolls over to look at him. "I'm taking a shower and then I'll be back."

Dave rolls back over and nods off most of the way, into the space between sleep and wakefulness.

The fairy lamp on the nightstand sits up and speaks eldritch yet unfrightening things in his ears, spinning the beats of hours beneath her fingers as she turns time forwards into alternate futures: one where Samar dies in a hate crime on the streets of Dallas his sophomore year in college, another where Hasa falls in with the Cult of the Sufferer, loving and hating all equally, filling her quadrants with service to the worlds.

He startles back to consciousness when Tavros closes the door behind himself coming back in the room.

Something inside him gone cold from the now-forgotten dream, Dave says, "Do me a favor and come over here."

"Not sleeping well?" Tavros asks, lying down against him, solid and comforting. He's warm and damp from the shower, skin humid against Dave's.

"The kind of dream that whinnies at you and races off into the dawn light with your peace of mind hoisted across the saddle about to be tied to some train tracks."

Tavros smiles, half-visible in the light from outside the window. "Remember any? Of the dream, I mean."

"Naw." Dave presses his cheek to Tavros's shoulder, enjoying the salt-musk-soap smell of him. "How about you play big damn hero, rescue my peace of mind, and claim your reward?"

Tavros strokes at Dave’s belly for a moment, then, "No, thanks, not right now. Not - for sex, or anything. Just this is fine."

Dave stays like that for a while, finds himself drifting off and waking every so often from strange dreams that he only half-remembers glimpses of.

There's a record scrawling backwards under his fingers, playing "Amazing Grace" on a broken bagpipe as someone sings along a half-step off every note, voice metallic and wheezing; Gamzee with gold painted over his face, eyes flickering violet-mad as he laughs and cries at the same time; Terezi cradling a doll limp against her chest, each arm a scale balancing the weight of the unbearable; Tavros, silent, curled up into himself on the couch, eyes blank and wide, too horrified or terrified or pained to cry; Samar and Hasa each cut down the middle from head to toe and sewn to the other, one screaming eye and half a nose each, pus and mixed blood seeping out from between the stitches.

At 4:57 he wakes yet again and, trembling minutely despite himself, curls closer to Tavros, rousing him.

"Bad dreams?" he asks, stroking along Dave's arm.

"Must be." He traces aimless lines on Tavros's chest, then stretches up, leaning over his body to kiss him. Tavros opens to him, warm and sharp, mouth full of the lingering taste of fang polish, maybe still smelling a little of sopor slime, and Dave shifts to kneeling over him to get a good angle on the kiss, deeper and sweeter.

Tavros holds onto him, arms wrapped around his waist, and then breaks the kiss and says into the corner of Dave's jaw, "Are they going to be asleep long enough?"

"Kyozam'll take care of it."

Tavros wiggles a prosthetic leg; Dave lurches to the side awkwardly to make room for him to slide it so Dave's got one knee between his thighs.

Tavros strokes down Dave's cheek. "I can see your eyes."

"Little beacons of terror, them," Dave says. "Wish I could turn 'em into lamps, be a prop in horror movies and for troll Santa. David with your eyes so bright -"

Tavros, snickering, shuts him up by pressing his palm over Dave's mouth. Dave licks it, and Tavros's fingers twitch against his cheek as Tavros manages, "Wouldn't Santa rather have me, because of the, horns?"

Dave turns his head enough to say, "Oh man, you're right, and the way your eyes get when you're surprised, should strap you to the front of a truck, headlights and tacky taxidermied deer all rolled into-" and Tavros shuts him up with a kiss this time, pulls him down and devours his mouth.

Dave can feel Tavros's bulge starting to wake up, so he grinds down slow, feels Tavros gasp against his tongue, does it again, and Tavros's knee pulls up so one of his hips is cradling Dave, the other between his legs. Not their favorite position ever, but smooth and not too much stress on either of them. They stay like that, rocking together through their clothes and one or the other of them making soft, pleased noises every so often, though honestly Dave only sounds like that when Tavros treats him like a real fine car, pulling off some good manual shifting. Whereas Tavros makes it when - he sneaks a hand down, rolls to the side to make room to slip it under the waistband of Tavros's pajama pants, finds a fully-unsheathed bone bulge and Tavros's nook relaxed, full-open and near-dripping.

He slides his fingertips along the slick folds of muscle, and the desperate little grind-and-moan it elicits makes everything in him seize up in indecision. He's not sure whether he wants to do it again, because it's an amazing noise, straight down his spine, or if he wants to give Tavros everything his body language is asking for, all at once and right now.

He compromises by drawing a swirling darkwarm circle over Tavros's opening, pulling away when Tavros tries to shift onto his fingers. Does it again, just to recapture that moment of feeling Tavros's hunger, but this time he lets Tavros sink onto him, reveling in the soft tightening of Tavros's muscles.

"I think I should take my clothes off now," Tavros murmurs, and Dave props an elbow up, rests his head on his palm, looks at him.

"Depends," he says, and doesn't move. "Have you been a good wiggler this Earth sweep?"

Tavros works his arm out from under Dave, slides it up under Dave's shirt to rest over his stomach. "Wouldn't that be, on a list?"

"I ain't Santa; it's my birthday suit that's all red. So like I said: naughty or nice?"

"Well," Tavros starts, and from the innocent look on his face he's got something good, which is why Dave doesn't interrupt him with finger-fucking, "I'm not sure Santa keeps track for trolls, but if you rate me like a human, then: a lot of white lies, more harmful truths, too many cookies for our wigglers, and not enough sex."

"Mitigating circumstances. You've been busy being a good dad, making sure the kids won't run off and join the circus."

"If they did, would it be okay to have sex, then?"

He knows Tavros means it as a joke, but it makes his stomach drop, coldbright with terror. He sinks his fingers deeper into Tavros's warmth, wanting the reassurance, and manages,"Not sure how Santa would feel about that, but since you're his backup Rudolph, he'd keep you on his nice list."

"Good, I," Tavros's breath hitches as Dave strokes out, into him again, "think?"

"Gold star for sucking up to the teacher," Dave says. Pulls his fingers out and heaves himself up to kiss Tavros to prevent any follow-up on that remark, wanting to wrap himself up in Tavros's skin and his smell, of soap and sex and home.

Tavros slides his hands over Dave's back, under his t-shirt, blunted claws scraping lines in Dave's skin, and pulls him down. Rocks up, bulge pressing against Dave's hip through their clothes, and breaks the kiss to say, "Do you mind if I get undressed?"

Dave manages to not roll his eyes – Tavros would see – while Tavros shuffles out of his pajama pants. Dave takes the opportunity to distract him by letting his hands, one sticky, one not, drift over what remains of Tavros's thighs.

Tavros wraps one hand around Dave's shoulder to pull him back down, curls his prosthetic legs around Dave's hips. Except – Dave just knows that Tavros is slicking orange all over everything, so he pauses, rises away a little and pushes his boxers down around his thighs. Leans back down and lets his dick slide up along Tavros's bulge, two stiff leopard slugs long past saying hello wanna fuck and into oh yes oh yes, sliming all over each other.

A few experimental thrusts in, Tavros stills and says, "Do you want, inside, I mean, we don't have to, but I want you to," and of course Dave wants. Shifts back to give Tavros space to reach down and line them up, and if Tavros takes the opportunity to give Dave a few strokes with his hand, then Dave isn't complaining.

He's going to complain even less about the breathless way Tavros says, "You can, now," the way he gasps quick and short when Dave finally slides past the layers of muscle at his opening and inside him, warm and slick and not too tight, an easy, sweet sort of fit.

"Yes, oh," Tavros says, shifting his hips, probably to get a better angle, and then, "You can," and Dave draws half-out and slides in again and Tavros says something Dave can't make out, English words twisted up in his accent, and Dave leans forward, nearly folding him in half, and kisses him. Tavros accidentally scrapes his teeth along Dave's lip but instead of breaking the mood by apologizing he just licks at it, and if Dave watches him because closing his eyes makes him think of the dreams he doesn’t remember, nobody has to know.

At some point Tavros stops rocking up to meet him and just lies there, ankles crossed over Dave's back, breathing deep. Dave slows, too, letting his cheek rest on Tavros's shoulder, sticky with sweat. "Not doing it for you?"

"No, I don't know, I think I want," his legs slide back down to the bed, "Let me turn over."

Dave pulls out and off of him, lets him sit up on his own and turn over and shove a pillow under his hips – everything's probably going to be smeared sticky after this, but that's as good an excuse as any to do the laundry – and Tavros, the heavy lines of his back half-illuminated by the light through the window, says, "Ready now." Dave leans forward, sets his hands flat over Tavros's shoulder blades, over the scars from his wings, and sinks into him again.

It’s different, this, Tavros humping the pillow while Dave thrusts into him, but the force of it keeps sliding Tavros away up the bed, so Dave reaches up, a bit of a stretch that changes his angle inside Tavros, and grabs the jut of Tavros’s horns. Uses them to anchor himself to Tavros, deepening everything, and Tavros clenches and bucks happily onto him, a full-bodied endorsement, so Dave keeps that up, chews on Tavros’s shoulder a little as he goes.

Dave comes first, no surprise there, and gives Tavros some fingers instead, strokes them along inside him, feeling the soft warmth of him and then sliding down Tavros’s body to lick at the muscles around his opening that are usually shut tight to keep out dirt, now relaxed slick and musky-smelling. Uses his other hand to jerk him, and just keeps going until Tavros gasps, "Bucket," and Dave flash steps to the dresser to get it, draws Tavros to the edge of the bed. Sits him on Dave's lap with his knees spread open, keeps going until Tavros clenches around his fingers and comes, Dave’s hand wetted and the plastic bucket rattling with the liquid falling into it.

Tavros just about collapses back against him, warm and sweaty, and Dave pushes the bucket away with one foot, letting his hands fall away.

"I'm kind of a mess," Tavros says, sounding embarrassed.

"Uh huh." Dave licks a line along the side of his neck, tasting salt. "Want to lock the door to keep the wigglers out until we wake up?"

"At least let me put the bucket away." Tavros rises up off Dave’s lap, a little unsteadily, and sneaks to the bathroom to pour the bucket out and clean it. Comes back and sets it back in the dresser, then lies back down in the bed, which reeks ostentatiously of sex, even if the sheets are a darkish orange that means stains from Tavros won't show.

Dave's still sitting on the bed, feeling the pulse of passing time and cooling down, when Tavros sits up and puts his hand over Dave's, lacing their fingers together.

"You should sleep," Tavros says. "If you fall asleep tomorrow on the couch, you know Hasa will think of some prank to wake you up."

Dave lets himself smile a little at that, rearranges the sheets and lies down. "Just tell her that we have mad connections and can make sure she gets coal next year."

"I can't do that!" Tavros says, scandalized, but Dave can hear the smile in his voice.