Camille had already started cooking for Christmas dinner (well- a late lunch really) when the doorbell rang. She had just put the turkey in the oven and was adjusting the timer for four hours. Yes, she had gone a little overboard with the twenty pound turkey, and made it with a “treasured family stuffing recipe” of Cameron's. But they could always have leftovers.
The doorbell rang again as she pressed start on the timer. She hoped it would be Linus, since he promised to help her cook. She crossed the small kitchen into the living room to answer the door. She swung open the door, almost crashing into Cameron. They were both taken by surprise, Camille nearly crushing the bouquet he had in his hands.
“Oh. You're not Linus.” She frowned and spun on her heel, leaving Cameron standing in the doorway.
He walked into their living room, still holding the bouquet of yellow Gerber daisies and crème colored roses and carnations. It had reminded him of sunshine, and thought it would be appropriate for Kirsten. Although he probably wouldn't admit that he put in the online order a month ago, just after Thanksgiving. If Christmas was anything like Thanksgiving, he would get a last minute invitation and wanted to be prepared. He had planned on giving the flower arrangement to both girls, under the premise of friendship. Now, at least he could skip the pretense and give them to his girlfriend.
He followed Camille into the kitchen. “Well hello Cameron, why don't you come inside. Merry Christmas by the way,” he retorted.
Her face softened. “I'm sorry Cameron. It's just Linus is late. He was supposed to help me cook.” She tilted her head and placed a gentle hand on his shoulder. “But that's no excuse. Merry Christmas Cameron. Thanks for coming over.”
He nodded. “Thank you. Merry Christmas to you too. And I'm sure Linus will be over soon.”
“Thanks.” She started getting out the ingredients, making sure she had everything she needed for the rest of Christmas dinner. “I'm sure Kirsten will be out in a minute.”
“Do you have a vase? I can put these in water.” He held up the bouquet that she nearly crushed moments ago. It didn't look worse for the wear though.
“Oh right.” She opened one of the cabinets and pulled out a vase, handing it to Cameron. “Here.”
“Thanks.” He quickly filled it with water, arranged the flowers, and took the vase out to their dining room table, placing it in the center.
He heard footsteps a split second before arms went around his waist. “Hey Cam,” Kirsten whispered into his ear and hugged his back. Her warm breath tickled the back of his neck.
He turned his head to kiss her cheek. “Hey there Sunshine.”
She let go of him in favor of holding his hand. “What's that for?” She pointed at the flowers with her free hand.
“They're for you. I hope you like them,” he said hesitantly.
She smiled at him. “Yellow is my favorite. Thank you.”
His eyebrows raised slightly. “Oh.” His expression softened and he smiled. “I don't think I knew that about you. Well, good to know. And I'm glad you like them.” He filed away that piece of information for future reference.
He pulled her in close, fingers grazing her cheek as he leaned in. She smiled into his lips as he kissed her. He still couldn't believe that Camille hanging up mistletoe was the best thing to happen to him in a long time.
Kirsten quickly responded with the intense focus that she approached with every other aspect of her life. She pressed her body flush against his, running her hands up his chest and settling on the sides of his face.
His hands wandered down her back. He pulled her closer with one hand and traced gentle circles at her hip with the other. She responded with a soft hum. That only elicited more of a reaction from Cameron, gently taking her lower lip between his teeth.
“Wow, and you're not even under the mistletoe this time,” Camille interjected. “This is good. This is progress.”
They broke apart. Both wanting to keep contact, they stayed flush against each other.
Kirsten gave her roommate the famous death glare, with good reason. At this particular moment, she wished they were alone with no chance of interruptions.
“What?,” Camille asked, holding up her hands in surrender. “I'm just saying that you two are adorable. And finally together.”
Cameron was barely paying attention to the conversation. He was fixated on Kirsten. She was breathing heavy and had a light flush to her cheeks. He smirked with the knowledge that it was because of him.
He kissed her forehead. “Well Snowflake, those pies aren't going to bake themselves. Shall we?”
She nodded. “Sure... Frosty?” That came out as more of a question than she intended. She didn't know how he managed to pull off all the new nicknames.
He laughed lightly. “We'll be back in plenty of time,” he directed at Camille.
“You better. And please no weird kale pies or something.” She flinched and wrinkled her nose in disgust, recalling the one time Cameron made breakfast smoothies for the four of them. They would be good he said. Clearly that was not the case.
He chuckled. “Don't worry, it will be edible. And nothing with kale, I promise.”
Cameron wrapped his arm around Kirsten's waist and led them to his car.
Just as he was unlocking his car doors, they saw Linus pulling up behind him and swiftly exiting his car.
Before Linus could get in a word, Cameron thought he should warn him. “Good luck dude. Pretty sure she's pissed,” Cameron said.
He slumped his shoulders. “Yeah I figured. I overslept,” Linus admitted.
“There you are,” Camille exclaimed from the doorway. “I thought you were going to be here half an hour ago.”
“I know, I'm sorry I'm late.”
“Just come inside,” she sighed. “Just for that, you get to peel all the potatoes.” She pulled him inside and slammed the door shut with more force than was really necessary.
“Aren't you glad we're going to your place to bake? We'll get to miss them fighting,” she said.
He shrugged. “Who knows. Maybe they'll still be fighting by the time we get back.”
~ ~ ~ ~ ~
The first thing Kirsten notice when they entered his apartment was the scent. Cinnamon with a hint of vanilla. She turned towards Cameron and glared at him. “I thought we were baking together?”
“We are. I just got up early and wanted to make cookies for everyone.” He smiled sheepishly. “I was going to bring some to your place, and the rest into work on Monday.”
She wrapped her arms around her stomach and pouted. It was just the smallest movement of her lips, imperceptible to anyone else, but Cameron noticed.
He took a step closer and rubbed his hands up and down her arms. “Hey,” he said softly. “Please don't be upset with me. I was going to make the cookies either way, and I didn't want us to have so much going on in the few hours we have before we have to be back.”
She relaxed into his touch. “I don't do upset.”
Her pout was still there though. “I was hoping you wouldn't, especially after I tell you that we're making chocolate pecan pie.” She glanced up at that. “Camille told me it was your favorite.”
She narrowed her eyes, before playfully rolling her eyes at him. “Fine. Where do we start?”
He pecked her on the cheek and brought his hands down to hers. “Come here.” He pulled her into the kitchen. Having already set out most of what they needed earlier, they were pretty much good to start. “I'll get started on the pie crust, and you work on the pecan pie filling? I have the recipe pulled up on my laptop.”
She nodded. Following a recipe couldn't be too difficult. She read over it quickly and looked at what was sitting out, and what she would need to locate. She would only need to get butter and eggs. Cameron had even set out his mixer and measuring cups.
“Oh, and once that's in the oven we can start on an apple crumb pie. Linus told me that's Camille's favorite.”
“What's with making our favorites?,” she asked.
“I wanted to be a good guest.” He had already expertly mixed his ingredients for a pie crust and was rolling it, while Kirsten had only gotten the eggs out. “Besides, I made pumpkin pie for Thanksgiving and no one mentioned that they didn't like it.” He had taken home seven pieces of pumpkin pie, because he was the only one that ate a slice.
Kirsten had just finished mixing the pecan pie ingredients, while Cameron had already made two pie crusts and started slicing the apples.
“Are you sure you even need my help?,” she asked. There was no accusation in her tone, just honest curiosity.
“Yes, I do in fact.” He leaned over to kiss her on the cheek. “Besides, after the pies are in the oven, I can give you your Christmas present.” He smiled proudly.
“I thought you didn't do Christmas presents.” She recalled a conversation where he said his family didn't really exchange gifts. Kirsten finished assembling her pie, placed it in the oven and set the timer.
“I don't usually, but for you I'll make an exception.” He smiled even wider than before. “And you celebrate Christmas. What kind of boyfriend would I be if I didn't get you a gift?”
“I guess that's a logical conclusion.”
Cameron had pulled up the apple crumble recipe and started mixing the remaining ingredients for the filling. “Can you get the crumb topping? I'll be done with this in a minute.”
She nodded. She finished with it just in time for Cameron to add the filling into the pie crust, followed by the crumb topping. He covered it with aluminum foil and placed it in the oven. He set a separate timer.
He quickly put away all the bowls and utensils in the dishwasher. “See, we finished faster than if I just did it. Plenty of time to exchange gifts.”
“Well since I've never seen you bake, I'll have to take your word for it.”
“Wait right here? I'll go get your present.” He rushed off to his bedroom.
Kirsten was thankful that she thought to put his gifts in her bag before they left. It seemed entirely logical that she bring it over to his place, since he would have brought it home anyway. She wandered over to his Christmas tree, admiring his collection of ornaments. He had quite the collection- the flash, star wars, a Nintendo controller, and even a NErDy periodic table of elements ornament. Mixed in were a few handmade ones and two ornaments with family pictures in them.
A pair of arms snaked around her waist, quickly followed by a kiss in her hair. He held up a small silver gift bag filled with red tissue paper. She could see a box on top wrapped with little snowmen. “Merry Christmas, Sweetie.”
There was something about the low and breathy way he said it made her heart beat a little faster. She took a few breaths to compose herself before speaking. “Well it wouldn't be fair for me to open mine, without giving you yours. Would it?” She hesitantly removed herself from his grasp, turning to kiss his cheek before crossing his living room to her bag.
“I thought we agreed no presents?,” he asked. He had technically already bought her gifts before Camille brought up the issue about a month ago. Kirsten had said that she never really bought gifts for anyone before, so that made Camille's argument stronger. They had all agreed no presents, and instead they would play a game of guys versus girls laser tag a few days after Christmas.
She shrugged. “That doesn't mean I had to listen.” She handed him a similar gift- a small box wrapped in red and gold striped paper and a plain envelope. “You first,” she said.
“It doesn't work like that Princess. I gave you yours first,” he smirked as he handed her the gift bag.
She set it down and removed the box, and meticulously removed the wrapping paper. Underneath, she found a simple cardboard box with a logo of a store. She opened it and revealed a wreath ornament with the picture of the four of them inside. The picture was of them out celebrating a case, and Camille had asked the waitress to take a picture of them. She ran her fingers over the cool metal, running along the ridges of the leaves and berries of the wreath. It was perfect.
“Well?” Cameron was nervously shifting his weight to his other leg, studying Kirsten for any indication that she liked it (or not).
Cameron's question redirected her attention. A wide smile broke on her face. “It's great, really.”
“I love it Cameron.” She wrapped her arms around him.
He lightly patted her back. “You know, there's one more present in there.”
She pulled back, grazing his cheek with her fingers before reaching for the gift bag. She searched through the tissue paper, finding a light blue cloth folded neatly. “It's a- towel?”
He ran his fingers through his hair, resting a hand on the back of his neck. He always did that when he was nervous. “It's a swimmers towel actually. It's extra absorbent.” She just creased her forehead, running her fingers over the material. “I just figured you could use it at work.”
“Alright.” She nodded, accepting his conclusion. “Now you.” She pointed at the gifts he had set down on his coffee table.
He changed strategies, opting for the envelope first. He hastily opened it along the seam. Inside were two movie tickets. He read them. They were tickets for Star Wars. What was more intriguing to him was the printed date on the bottom of the movie tickets when she purchased them- it was from two weeks ago. His brows furrowed. “But I already-”
“You already saw it three times with Linus, I know. Those tickets are for us.”
He beamed at her. “But that means you'll have to watch the first six, before we go see the new one.”
She nodded. “I know. That's why we're seeing it next weekend.”
“Well alright.” He set the tickets down and picked up the small box, noticing the light weight to it. He unwrapped it a bit more carefully than the envelope. Inside the box was a Tardis ornament.
“I was hoping you didn't have that one already.”
He set it down and pulled her in for a hug. “I didn't. Thank you.” He pulled her in close, breathing in the scent that was uniquely Kirsten- her soap and hints of sugar from the baking. He didn't realize how much he had missed it, how much he had craved it already. He never wanted to let go, so he pulled her in closer and placed a kiss in her hair.
She wrapped her arms behind his back and gently squeezed back. “You're welcome.” She fit perfectly into the crook of his neck. The scent of Cameron's aftershave overwhelmed her senses. It gave her a comfort and warmth that she never really experienced before. It shouldn't be that surprising, considering she trusted Cameron more than anyone else. But it was nevertheless a pleasant feeling. She settled in a little closer to him.
A loud tone went off, causing them to separate. “I have to check on the apple pie.” He kissed her forehead before rushing off to the kitchen.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~
Camille had just put the sweet potato casserole in the oven, as Linus checked on the turkey. The mashed potatoes and broccoli side dishes were cooking, and the table was already set.
“Turkey should be done soon,” Linus said. He sat down and propped up his feet on the small table in their kitchen.
Camille sat down across from him, swatting his feet off the table. “Well, I'd say this is shaping up to be a great Christmas dinner.” She smirked and picked up the Santa hat, placing it back on Linus's head. She adjusted her own so that it was more centered.
They both heard a set of keys at the door, and moments later Kirsten and Cameron met them in the kitchen.
Camille eyed them up and down, while stealthily grabbing two reindeer antler headbands from the small table. “How many desserts did you make?” She narrowed her eyes at Cameron.
He was carrying two travel containers with pies, and another larger container stacked on top that was larger than the two pie containers combined.
“You should have seen his apartment,” Kirsten remarked.
“Well, let's see what Santa's elf brought with him.” Camille removed the top container and inspected the contents, handing it off to Linus so she could quickly place each headband on both Cameron and Kirsten.
“Really Camille? Elf?,” Cameron asked. Camille had moved so quickly that he didn't see what she placed on his head. He ran his fingers over it and looked over at his girlfriend. She had reindeer antlers, and he could guess that he had the same.
She shrugged. “What? You get to call Kirsten nicknames all day long, and your panties get in a bunch if you're called one?”
“Yeah dude, lighten up,” Linus said. He had joined Camille in eyeing the desserts.
You had the standard chocolate chip and snickerdoodle cookies, miniature corn muffins, brownie bites with peanut butter swirled on top, and bite sized thumbprint cookies. Camille picked up one of the thumbprint cookies. “What are these?” She popped it into her mouth before he even had the chance to answer. Linus opted to try one of the brownies.
“They're made with homemade raspberry jelly,” he explained. “The others are with strawberry jam.”
The cookie practically melted in her mouth, the light flavor of the cookie mixing with the stronger flavor from the raspberry jelly. “These are so good!” She was already grabbing another couple from the container.
“I know. Kirsten ate like two dozen.” He sent a playful glare and a smirk her way.
“In my defense, they are really tiny cookies,” Kirsten said. “You could combine four of them to make a regular sized cookie.”
He took the container away from them, and set it with the pies on the counter. “Those are for after dinner.”
“Don't be such a worry wart.” She handed one to Linus. “You have to try this.”
Linus ate it in one bite. “These are really good. How many did you make?”
“One batch comes out to about eight dozen. And some are going into work too.”
“You could have just brought them all here,” Linus said as he pat Cameron on the shoulder.
“Well,” Camille interrupted. “Now that Cameron here has ruined our dessert before dinner, why don't we exchange gifts?” She grinned, and promptly rushed off to get her gifts for them under the tree.
Cameron followed with a sigh. “I thought you all said no gifts.”
“I changed my mind.” She handed them each a gift, wrapped in snowflake wrapping paper. She also handed Kirsten a card that read 'Kirsten and Cameron' on the envelope.
“What's this?,” she asked. She held it up so Cameron could see.
“You'll have to open it to find out. It's from Linus and I.” Camille grabbed the last of her gifts from under the tree for Linus.
“Well if we're exchanging gifts, we might as well all exchange.” Kirsten got the remaining gifts out from under the tree and passed them out.
Kirsten quickly opened the envelope addressed to both of them. In it contained a gift card for one of their favorite restaurants, with a note saying 'Enjoy your date. Xo Camille!'
“Thanks Camille,” Cameron commented.
She smiled smugly. “You're welcome.”
“Camille...Why is the gift receipt dated for two months ago?,” she asked. She glared at her roommate.
“I may have been planning the mistletoe for months.” She winked at Kirsten. “What? It worked.”
Kirsten just rolled her eyes as they opened their other gift from Camille, revealing the picture of the two of them kissing at the lab, framed as promised. Cameron blushed slightly, not thinking that she would actually follow through. Kirsten just smirked, because Camille got them exactly what she said she would.
Once all was said and done, Linus had received a Back To The Future blu ray set from Camille, a new sweatshirt from Kirsten (so he wouldn't borrow hers anymore), and four tickets to a murder mystery dinner from Cameron.
Camille got signed up for self defense/martial arts classes from Cameron, a sparkly low cut top from Kirsten, and a spa day for her and Kirsten to use over the Christmas break from Linus, since she had been stressed about her final projects.
Cameron got a set of laboratory shot glasses from Linus, because every scientist needed one apparently, while Kirsten received a new yoga mat.
Just as Linus was trying to plan out what day they should go for the murder mystery dinner, the timer went off in the kitchen. He rushed off to check on the turkey, while Camille hung back for a second. She glared at Cameron. “Don't you dare think about taking that off,” she said pointing to his antlers. With that, she spun around and rushed to finish the side dishes.
He adjusted the headband so it wasn't pressing against the back of his ears. He went to remove the headband, but Kirsten stopped him. “Leave it. It looks cute on you,” she said gently. “Besides, Camille will just make you put it back on.”
“Alright, fine. But only because you said it looks cute.” He grinned at her, which was an automatic reflex around her lately.
“So when do you want to go to that restaurant, Rudolph?” Kirsten nudged his shoulder.
He wrapped one arm around her waist. “How about after we see Star Wars, Blitzen.”
“Sounds like a date, boyfriend.” She smirked again, leaning her head on his shoulder. She thought that this was a surprisingly great Christmas, considering she couldn't come up with one good Christmas memory before this one. But she never really had close friends before.
Camille popped her head out of the kitchen. “Can you two come help take these out to the table?” Then she was gone just as quickly.
Between the four of them, they were able to get everything to the table in one trip.
Camille had poured wine for all of them. “I'd like to make a toast.” She raised her glass. “To friends, they're the family that you get to choose. And you're all pretty great. Cheers.” She looked at her friends, seeing smiles around the table.
They raised their glasses. “To friends,” they echoed.