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Christmas In Pittsburgh

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"Sid, Sid," Geno says, "why you hate Christmas?"

"I don't hate Christmas," Sid says. "I just don't do much Christmassy stuff before I go home to see my family."

"Sad, sad life with no Christmas," Geno says mournfully.

Sid's protest that, "I celebrate Christmas!" doesn't do anything to make Geno stop looking at him pityingly.

And that's how Sid ends up trying to prove to Geno that he does, indeed, enjoy Christmas.

*

The first thing Sid does is take Geno skating.

"Sid," Geno says with a frown, "we already practice today."

"Not practice," Sid says. "Just skating. For fun."

"For fun?" Geno asks skeptically.

"Yes," Sid says. "It's an outdoor rink. It's all decorated and lit up for Christmas. It'll be fun." He holds out a handful of cloth. "I got you a toque and gloves and a scarf to wear."

"I have toque and gloves and scarf," Geno says.

"Just put them on," Sid says, "so we can go skating."

He's at least ninety percent sure Geno's laughing at him when he does what Sid says.

Geno's toque, gloves, and scarf have reindeer on them. They don't exactly match the ones Sid got for himself - penguins with Santa hats - but Sid bought them from the same place, and they sort of go together.

"Lost of Christmas," Geno comments.

"I told you I celebrate Christmas," Sid says. He even lets Geno change the radio in his car to a station full of Christmas carols.

It's a weeknight, so the rink isn't as crowded as it probably is on a weekend, although there are still plenty of families and couples skating around it.

"Really just skate," Geno says.

"I said so," Sid huffs. "I would just tell you if I wanted to practice. You're so suspicious."

"Sid go on ice," Geno says, "always want to practice."

"Not today," Sid says. "Come on." He tugs Geno onto the ice, and they join the flow of people skating circles around the rink.

A couple of people stop them to ask for autographs or pictures, but mostly they skate easy circles around the rink with occasional bursts of speed to race.

"This is fun, right?" Sid asks.

"Cold," Geno says, "but fun, yes." His cheeks are red with the cold.

Sid reaches up to tug Geno's toque a little farther down his forehead. "That's why we're bundled up."

"Yes," Geno says. He returns the favor by pulling Sid's scarf up around his chin. "Just like picture of Christmas in America."

Sid laughs, and that warms him up as much as anything else.

*

"Why I want to come to your sad no Christmas house?" Geno asks when Sid invites him over in another attempt to prove he has Christmas spirit.

"It's not sad! And I put up a tree."

"Oh, tree," Geno says. "All Christmas now."

Sid laughs. "It's decorated. You can come over and see for yourself."

"Yes, have to now," Geno says mock seriously. "Make sure Sid know what Christmas is."

"I know what Christmas is!" Sid says it again when he waves Geno into the living room where he set up the tree. "See? My house is not sad."

"Is a good tree," Geno admits, looking up at where it rises above both of them. "Like the lights."

Sid might have gone overboard with the lights, but if he's going to have a tree even though he's not home very much, he wants it to be bright.

"Bring me here just to look at tree?" Geno asks.

"No," Sid says. He goes to the kitchen and starts pouring the ingredients he measured out earlier into a saucepan. While they're heating up, he gets a tin out of the pantry. "Peppermint hot cocoa and Christmas cookies."

"You make cookies?" Geno says with raised eyebrows.

"I told you I don't hate Christmas!" Then he admits, "My grandma made them."

Geno laughs, and takes over the task of putting some of the cookies on a plate while Sid finishes making the cocoa.

When the cocoa's done, Sid divides it into two mugs, tops it with whipped cream, and hooks a candy cane over the edge of each cup.

"Very fancy," Geno says, the teasing light this time.

"Bring the cookies," Sid says. He moved the couch when he was making space for the tree, and he put it where he could sit and see both the tree and the fireplace. There's a fire now, one Sid built earlier so it would provide a warm and cozy atmosphere when Geno came over.

"Now we just sit?" Geno asks, the lightest edge of teasing in it again.

"Yes," Sid says with a laugh. "We did something cold last time. This time," he gestures at the fire and the hot cocoa, "we're doing something warm."

"Is very nice," Geno says. He tilts his head. "No stockings."

"I'm not even going to be here on Christmas," Sid protests with a laugh. "Drink your cocoa. Enjoy the fire. We're celebrating the Christmas season."

*

If throwing a party doesn't convince Geno that Sid likes Christmas, nothing will, so Sid goes all out for it. He gets Beau and Borts to spend an afternoon helping put up lights on the outside of the house. He puts more decorations up inside the house to go with the tree. He orders a lot of food and even more drinks. He loads up a whole playlist of Christmas music on his iPod.

"I know you brought the stockings," Sid says to Geno halfway through the party. The stockings, and the stocking holders they hang from, appeared on the mantel sometime after the party started, and Geno is the most likely suspect.

"Not me," Geno says solemnly. "Thought Santa bring stockings."

Sid dissolves into giggles. "Don't pretend you don't watch all those Christmas movies on cable. You know Santa fills the stockings. He doesn't hang them."

"No idea who bring stockings then," Geno says, but he's starting to let his smile slip.

Sid keeps laughing. "They're not going to get filled here anyway. Santa knows I'll be in Cole Harbour on Christmas."

"Maybe Santa fill while you're here," Geno suggests.

"That's not how it works."

"How you know? You not even like Christmas." Geno has that sly look on his face that means he's teasing, but Sid falls for it anyway.

"I like Christmas!" Sid gestures at the party. "Look, it's all very Christmassy."

"Yes," Geno agrees, his face finally sliding into a smile. "Very Christmassy. Just like movie. Only one thing missing."

Sid frowns, because there's nothing missing. They're surrounded by friends, the house is decorated, and there's even eggnog. "What?"

"Kiss," Geno says.

Sid looks up at him. "There's mistletoe. Somewhere." He's pretty sure it's been moved around a few times since he hung it up earlier.

"Not mistletoe kiss," Geno says. "Kiss because want to kiss." He looks at Sid with a weight Sid can almost feel.

"Oh," Sid says. "Yes, there should be that kind of kiss." He smiles and leans up to meet Geno leaning down.