When Gamzee stumbles in late afternoon, bookbag spilling out onto the floor, door shutting against the cold weather outside, Tavros is curled up on the sofa underneath a warm fuzzy blanket and looking for all the world like the most comfortable thing in existence.
Gamzee tugs his hat off, rubbing at his ears to get them warm again, and leaves his boots and jacket by the entryway. The street outside wants to ice over, and he's fantastically glad that Tavros' apartment is closer to campus than his own.
It makes coming over as often as he does much more believable.
Tavros sits up to wave at him, and Gamzee saunters over, collapsing onto the sofa next to him and sprawling out on top of Tavros, all lanky arms and legs and unruly hair that Tavros pets as he laughs softly. There's some kind of old-timey Christmas movie on, and a glance to the logo in the corner of the screen gives Gamzee the assurance that Tavros is, indeed, on the happy-fuzzy-Christmas-movie channel. He sighs and rubs his cheek against his best friend's hip.
"How long have you been watchin' this, Tavbro?"
He shrugs in response. "I guess, probably, um, all day?"
"Shit, motherfucker. You really like these. Kinda thought you were exaggeratin'."
"Uh, no, I really do. They're just, so sweet, and happy, and I kind of wish people still, did things like this."
Gamzee makes a thoughtful noise, listening intently though his eyes are closed. "Like what?"
"Like…like taking sleigh rides, and making, um, popcorn strings for a tree, and cookies and cider, and, uh…" He stops mid-sentence, and Gamzee looks up to find him blushing and cuddling down further into his blanket.
"Nothin' wrong with all that. Shit like that was made for you. All cute and sweet and stuff."
Tavros gives another breathy laugh and pets Gamzee's hair again.
Gamzee smiles lazily, mind turning over and over.
The next day, Tavros has his last final, and Gamzee takes the time to run to the store and pick up a few things. He has plans.
When Tavros comes wheeling up to the front door of his apartment, Gamzee is already leaning against the glass, bundled up in his jacket, grocery bags in hand, Tavros doesn't even question it, just lets him in. He doesn't try to peek as they ride the elevator up. He figures Gamzee will tell him what's going on soon enough.
As soon as he's unlocked the door, Gamzee is herding him inside, shutting and locking it behind the two of them and wheeling Tavros into the kitchen before the smaller boy can think to protest, and then he's tearing around the room, pulling out plates and bowls and knives and grabbing the roll of paper towels from next to the sink and carrying everything over to where Tavros has been parked at his own table.
Gamzee is about to start dumping groceries everywhere when he wanders off with a mumbled "forgot…"
Tavros just blinks after him, but then Gamzee returns with Tavros' iPod speakers, commandeered from his bedroom, and sets the whole thing up on the counter. Electric guitars come roaring out, but they're playing…Christmas music, and Tavros laughs. Gamzee turns back around at the happy noise, and then he digs into the bags that he's brought.
Boxes of graham crackers, strings of tiny candy canes, bags of gumdrops and red licorice twists, tubs of icing, little plastic bottles of sprinkles and sugar dust…
Large brown eyes grow impossibly wider at each new item, moving between the mountain on the table and his best friend.
"What, um, what are we doing?"
Gamzee smiles brightly, all brilliant teeth and slightly-cracked makeup from the winter cold, and he drops down into a chair next to Tavros as he begins opening boxes and pouring out candy, scooting a plate in front of his friend.
"We're gonna get our festivity on by makin' some sweet-ass gingerbread houses and listening to holiday jams. That cool with you?"
It is, apparently, more than cool with Tavros, because he nods quickly and leans over to wrap an arm around the tall boy's shoulders.
"Don't be up and thankin' me yet, Tavbro! My architecture skills ain't really up to par."
Tavros chuckles. "Then I'll try, to make sure your house doesn't, um, collapse."
"That sounds awesome. What would you say to us buildin' one awesome house together? Just so I don't fuck everything up."
"Sure! I'd rather build, a house with you, than a house by myself."
Something hot and tingly starts to grow in Gamzee's belly, and he plunks down a container of icing in front of Tavros, doing his best to not lick the knife after stirring it.
And when he starts eating the gumdrop shrubbery almost faster than Tavros can lay it down, Tavros laughs and sticks one to the end of Gamzee's nose.
Gamzee shakes sprinkles into Tavros' hair in retaliation.
Later that evening, when they're laid out on the sofa together, heads at opposite ends, Gamzee's eyes scope out the room. He notes the new gingerbread centerpiece, unusual in decoration, maybe, but with some very solid walls. And then he starts looking for power outlets, already planning the next festive shenanigans.
Three days later, the icing has hardened on their dream house, and Gamzee is standing in Tavros' living room with a box over one shoulder while Tavros gapes up at him.
"Because you can't have Christmas without a tree, Tavbro, and your pad is definitely lacking."
"But you didn't have to, um, by yourself…"
"I'm not doin' nothin' by myself. You're gonna get yourself up in here with me and help."
Gamzee sets the box down and lays into ripping off tape while Tavros watches in amusement. The tree isn't anything extravagant, being a four-foot affair, but that only means that Gamzee can put it up even faster and start in on the accompanying bag.
"No popcorn strings, but I got some nice sparkly shit." He pulls out silver strings of tinsel that immediately begin shedding on the carpet, along with a little box of colored lights and another one of red and green ornaments, and maybe the decorations don't really match, but Tavros smiles at him, anyway, gesturing for the lights so that he can start unwinding and untangling.
Tavros is better with delicate things, so he ends up adding the ornament hooks and making sure they're properly curved while Gamzee tosses on tinsel and lights, looking completely pleased with himself at the helter-skelter placement, and Tavros has him hang half of the ornaments, too, even though the sides of the tree will probably look very different as a result.
Gamzee ends up with tinsel slivers in his hair, and he shimmers a little when he plugs in the lights. They color Tavros in a warm glow, and Gamzee thinks he could definitely get used to this.
When Tavros puts the star on - which is probably more glittery than it has a right to be, but Gamzee had thought it was pretty - Gamzee wishes he had a camera. Because the way Tavros' tongue pokes out of his mouth as he centers the thing is nothing short of adorable.
There are still some tiny candy canes left over from the gingerbread houses, and the pair sits there crinkling and tearing through plastic until the little tree is covered in obnoxious, cheesy decorations.
Two days before Christmas, there is a hard freeze that turns the semi-melted snow solid before it's deceptively covered again, but Gamzee still makes it to Tavros' apartment in the afternoon, loaded down again, and Tavros is likely starting to wonder just how much money Gamzee is spending on all of this. The taller boy is grinning widely, more excited than he's been even the past few days despite the way his nose is red from the cold, and he drops his bags in the kitchen before wandering back out, empty-handed.
"I'm all about not freezing you into a popsicle, but the ice isn't supposed to up and melt anytime soon and I've got something you'll really wanna see."
Tavros' curiosity must be getting the better of him, because his eyes go back and forth between the window and Gamzee's eager expression, and he nods.
"Okay, I guess."
"Here's the catch, Tavbro. Would you be cool with…" Gamzee pauses, not really sure exactly how to phrase it. "…cool with me carryin' you?"
Tavros' breath hitches, and Gamzee isn't sure what to make of that.
"Just downstairs!" he adds hastily.
Sizing him up with a look that's half pensive and half amused, Tavros nods, and they get themselves bundled up nice and warm before Gamzee sweeps Tavros into his arms, completely flattered and humbled at the way Tavros trusts him.
He isn't much of a hardship, and Gamzee isn't even breathing heavily by the time they get downstairs.
What's waiting for them is a bicycle taxi, and the blankets inside have remained thankfully unstolen. Gamzee minds the potential ice on the sidewalk as he carries Tavros carefully over, and the boy is speechless in his arms. He continues to stare while Gamzee bundles him into the tiny carriage, blankets piled across his lap and around his shoulders.
He finds his voice again when Gamzee is hunting inside his jacket for something.
"Gamzee, uh, what are we doing?"
"Sleigh ride, motherfucker! Except you--" he pulls out a pair of brown felt antlers attached to a headband, donning them before slipping a red clown nose over his own "--get a reindeer instead. 'Cause reindeer are lots more festive than horses."
Tavros swallows, but no sound comes out, and Gamzee continues.
"That, and it's kinda hard to find a real legit horse and sleigh around here. I wouldn't trust no one but myself with you, anyhow."
The smaller boy reaches his arms out, eyes watering, and Gamzee leans in so that Tavros can hug him, doing his best not to get his makeup all over the side of Tavros' face.
"It's perfect. Thank you."
That is…more than he needed to hear, actually, and Gamzee pulls back and touches their noses together, wind-reddened skin to red foam.
"Then let's get this show on the fuckin' road."
Said road has thankfully been salted, so the ice patches are few, and Gamzee navigates the bicycle easily around the largest ones. He doesn't go far, largely because it's so cold and he really doesn't want Tavros to get sick, but they hit a park after a few blocks, and Gamzee walks the bike onto the sidewalk, though they're really not supposed to be there. There aren't enough people around to care that a bicycle taxi is sitting on the grass.
As soon as the taxi is settled, Gamzee clambers onto the seat next to Tavros, justifying the way they cuddle close together with the way the cold that is kept at bay by their shared blanket.
Tavros reaches up to flick at one of Gamzee's antlers, the attached bell jingling in the snowy hush, the noises of the city muted, and Gamzee kind of wishes they could stay like this forever. Sniffling, Tavros leans his head on Gamzee's shoulder, and Gamzee promises himself…just one more minute.
Another minute turns into two, five, ten, and Gamzee bikes the two of them back to Tavros' apartment when the wind starts to blow a little harder. He parks it out front, intending to return it as soon as possible, and carries blanket-wrapped Tavros to the elevator and through his doorway.
Settling him on the couch, Gamzee swaps the snow-damp blankets for new ones, then heads off to the kitchen.
"You just stay right there. I've got something else, too."
Tavros' chair is close enough to the couch that he could leave if he wanted to, could go peek on Gamzee in the kitchen if he wanted to, but he doesn't. He sits there, curled in fluffiness, until the banging in the kitchen stops and Gamzee emerges with two mugs of cider, cinnamon sticks still spinning a little from being stirred.
"Careful. Little hot."
Tavros rolls his eyes and takes the mug with a smile, sighing and settling back into the sofa.
"You still have, um, your nose on."
Gamzee laughs and pulls it free, letting it roll across the floor. He'll get it later. But the foam has removed a good portion of his makeup, and Tavros sidles closer to poke at the bare patch.
"You could, take this off, if you wanted."
Breath stuttering in his chest, Gamzee blinks at him, but Tavros doesn't look away, so the taller boy ends up rising and heading for the bathroom, at Tavros' request.
Tavros' smile upon his return, sans makeup, is worth it. Even moreso the hug he gives as soon as Gamzee is close enough.
"Do you want to, stay?" The question is mumbled into his side, but there is no way Gamzee would have missed it.
"Like a sleepover?"
"Christmas sleepovers, huh? Sounds like somethin' I could get on board with. Want me to go ahead and turn on the cheesy Christmas movie channel?"
Three hours later, Gamzee's jeans have been thrown aside, and he's splayed out in his boxers and a shirt of Tavros' that the boy let him borrow. Said boy is currently slumped over on the sofa, the side of his face pressing into Gamzee's belly, and Gamzee assumes by the fact that Tavros isn't crying at the end of "It's a Wonderful Life" that he's fallen asleep.
He should probably get up and put Tavros to bed. He should probably go wash the cider pot in the kitchen. But he also feels like he should stay right here, just like this.
It isn't a difficult decision.
When Tavros wakes up on the sofa, Gamzee is still underneath him, but the taller boy has pulled him up to drape over his chest, and Tavros props himself on his elbows to look Gamzee in the eye.
"You're, still here."
"'Course I am, motherfucker. Where else would I be?"
Tavros flushes and puts his head back down so that Gamzee can't see it, and he can feel the rumble in Gamzee's chest when he speaks.
"And we're snowed in, anyhow. Wanna look?"
Gamzee watches as Tavros scrambles up with wide eyes, clambering into his wheelchair that hasn't left its post before rolling to the window, face pressing against it in eagerness. The whole of the outside is white, blanketed as far as they can see, even several floors up, and Tavros actually squeals in joy before his expression draws down in concern.
"But, uh, I'm sorry that, you're stuck here!"
Gamzee's smile is muted and soft, but no less genuine, and he bends to press a kiss to Tavros' forehead. "Ain't nowhere else I'd rather be."
"But now you can't, see anyone else!"
"No one else I'd rather see, either."
Tavros tries to find something else to say, but Gamzee looks out the window in thought for a moment, and Tavros closes his mouth. Gamzee is debating if this is the right moment. This is what he's been working toward for so long, and it feels right, telling him now. But he's so nervous. Nervous of ruining things.
But he'll never know until he tries.
"If I'm gonna be up and snowed in, I guess it's good that I already got your present with me."
That probably hadn't been what Tavros was expecting, and when Gamzee turns to face him again, he tilts his head in confusion. Gamzee's throat is starting to close up, and damn, this is really fucking difficult.
Tavros takes his hand, and Gamzee nearly bursts into tears. Perfect. Tavros is a goddamn perfect motherfucker.
"What did you, get me for Christmas, Gamzee?"
The answer is so hushed that Tavros doesn't reply at first, probably trying to make sure he heard what he thought he did, and Gamzee continues on.
"Wanted to give you a Christmas like they have in your movies. A Christmas like you wanted. And I dunno if you saw it comin', but what I wanted to give you…" He isn't doing this right, he's sure. He's stumbling over his words and he's probably just confusing Tavros and fuck it.
Gamzee presses the barest of kisses to Tavros' lips, and when they part in surprise, he manages to restrain himself and not take advantage of that. He pulls back after a moment, long enough to assure Tavros that he means it, and the other boy is staring in what looks like wonder. But Gamzee doesn't want to hope, just in case.
"You…all of this was…you…"
He feels a little better that Tavros is scrambling for the right words, too, even if the right words aren't ones that Gamzee wants to hear.
And then Tavros' face blooms into a wide smile. "Gamzee, were you, uh, courting me?"
He huffs a little. "It sounds all ridiculous when you put it like that."
But Tavros is still grinning, and his eyes are fucking sparkling in the light. And maybe they're just reflecting the lights on the tree, but Gamzee is pretty damn sure that Tavros is about to cry.
Tugging on the hand that he still holds captive, it takes little effort to pull Gamzee down again, and the boy is thrown completely for a loop when Tavros presses a hand to the back of his skull and kisses him.
"You're, uh, kind of a moron." The words are whispered against his lips, and god, Gamzee doesn't want to be anywhere else, ever.
"Tavbro, does this mean that we're, uh, that you--"
"Yes, Gamzee. Yes."
And Gamzee is so overjoyed at the response that he can't help but lean in again, kissing Tavros and thrilling when Tavros kisses back.
"So what now, brother? How does this perfect Christmas of yours end?" Anything he wants, Gamzee will do. Anything that will make him happy. But at the look in Tavros' eyes, Gamzee swallows and wonders if he knows what he's getting himself into.
"Well, for starters, you're going to, pile a bunch of blankets over by the tree, and then you're going to, carry me over there. And then we cuddle."
"For starters. You kept me waiting, for a really long time, Gamzee."
"You're still, keeping me waiting."
Gamzee blinks, and then he laughs, shaking his head as he turns to start rearranging the blankets from the couch. Maybe he really is a moron. But it's okay, because Tavros is there to be taking care of him. And Gamzee is the luckiest motherfucker in the whole wide world.
Tavros wheels closer expectantly, and Gamzee can nearly feel his impatience. When the pile is complete enough, Gamzee turns to the smaller boy and swings him up into his arms. Tavros' own go around his neck as Gamzee collapses back onto the mass of blankets, and he shifts around until he's got his face buried against Gamzee's neck. This is, as far as Gamzee is concerned, the best Christmas ever.
And then Tavros leans up to kiss him again, and Gamzee makes a pleased, surprised noise in the back of his throat.
"Is this, okay?"
"This. Us doing this."
"I'm up for anything a brother wants to do. You're not the only one who's been waiting and hoping and all that business."
Tavros laughs. "Oh. Good."
And then Gamzee is drowning in him again.
Where Gamzee expects him to be tentative, Tavros is sure. Where Gamzee expects him to be shy, Tavros is confident. Tavros is the one to part his lips first, and Gamzee gives up on hesitance.
"Do you, have any idea, how long I wanted you? And you just…"
"Sorry, Tavbro. I didn't know. Didn't wanna fuck up a good thing."
Tavros nods, the fringe of his mohawk brushing Gamzee's forehead. "I know. And thank you. For, um, everything."
"What all do you wanna do?"
Tavros laughs again and toys with Gamzee's hair. "I don't even know. I can't really, believe this. That you, um…yeah."
"All right." Gamzee rolls them over, surrounding Tavros in blankets. "You just up and tell me when to stop, then."
Giggling into his mouth when Gamzee's hands slide up his shirt, Tavros is all reciprocated touches and soft noises, and in between kisses, Gamzee pulls away just to see his face glow in happiness.
Shit, if he'd known confessing would make Tavros this happy, he would've done it ages ago.
Tavros' hands on his hips make him jump, and he props himself up on all fours over the other boy. "Tav? Wait, isn't this really fast? Don't you want romance and shit?"
"What have we been doing, for the past several years? Isn't that, what you did for me this Christmas? I think we've, uh, gone pretty damn slow." His voice is steady, and Gamzee isn't entirely sure what to do with a Tavros who knows what he wants; and what he wants is Gamzee. So he rolls with it.
"You make a good point, Tavbro." And he kisses him again, dropping down to press their bodies together, one arm going behind Tavros' back to support him when he arches up and sighs. And okay, wow, Tavros does want him. That right there is a fucking miracle, the way Tavros spreads his legs and makes a faint, high noise into Gamzee's mouth. He'd be sure he were dreaming, if not for the fact that the thrum of his heart is very much real, pounding in time with the movements of their hips.
It's Tavros who grabs at Gamzee's hand and pushes it between them, and he looks at Gamzee with this gaze that dares the other boy to say anything, so Gamzee just presses and strokes, and that takes care of that. Tavros' eyes flutter closed, and he moans, and oh, that is the best noise ever. Yeah, he needs to do that more often.
It takes a matter of seconds for Gamzee to undo Tavros' pants along with his own, and the other boy helps him shove them down, eyes opening again to watch Gamzee's as he slides both of their cocks together. Tavros gasps and actually fucking whimpers, and god, Gamzee is so on board with this. He pushes, grinds against him, and Tavros' hands at his hips urge him on.
The places where their skin meets are wet, and Tavros is panting against Gamzee's mouth, kissing abandoned in favor of breathing, except that Tavros keeps making these whining noises that make it difficult to remember to even do that. He licks at Gamzee's lips, and Gamzee opens his mouth further to touch their tongues together, the rocking of his hips rhythmic and intended to get them both off. He can draw things out later. For now, it seems he's been drawing them out long enough.
Tavros bites at Gamzee's tongue when he comes, moaning along the length of it, not hard enough to hurt, but enough to make Gamzee's cock twitch against their bellies. Now he's pushing through the mess between them, and the slide is so dirty, so perfect, and Tavros is still moving him, gasping because he's oversensitized. But his tongue is working into Gamzee's mouth, and it's so hard to breathe, and he might be getting a little dizzy, but that is so, so much more than okay. Because Tavros holds him when he climaxes, pets at his hair and his face and his back, whispers soft, sweet things that Gamzee can only understand with his heart because he can't make them out with his ears. But there's a warm, wonderful feeling spreading through him, and it's more than an afterglow.
It's Tavros' bright smile, completely unabashed and overjoyed, and Gamzee meets it with his own.
It's Tavros' warm body beneath his, still trembling and sticky, but so perfect that Gamzee doesn't even want to move, yet.
It's Tavros' sweet words whispered against his lips, the glow of his skin in the light from the tree, the way his arms wrap around Gamzee's shoulders and hold him tight.
Gamzee isn't sure whose present this is, anymore, but he doesn't need a tag to know that he belongs to Tavros, and Tavros to him. It's always been that way. He just needed a little help to see it.