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1996

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Nobody who stayed at Area 51 after the attack could believe that it was Christmas already. The rest of the summer and the autumn had passed by in a blur; there had been the initial joy of managing to defeat the aliens (for now at least and who could blame them for that when they were akin to ants when the aliens were like giants to them?) but that morphed into having to work even harder to salvage and rebuild what they could do.

The world for so many now was divided into a Before and an After. For Doctor Milton Isaacs it was Before (when Brackish could still talk to him and smile and kiss him) and the After (When none of that was possible and he was left to be the strong one who took care of his lover). Each day had been hard on them all but they pushed through it because they had to, putting one foot in front of the other foot and forcing themselves to work so that people like Doctor Brackish Okun hadn't been injured (or died) in vain.

Instead of being a time for celebration and joy, Christmas in the After was tinged with sadness, stained with regret and unspoken words. Husbands and wives wishing that they had told the people that meant the most to them in the world a simple 'I love you' more often, and those people who couldn't say it openly wishing that they had just shown it more through any small gesture that they could.

Everyone at Area 51 had noticed that the two doctors shared living quarters' some had guessed or had found out the real reason for it, others just assumed it was by means of convenience. Milton could keep Brackish organised, with all of his clothes actually on and in return he had someone to help him with those days when the stresses of his job became too much for someone to bear alone. Regardless of how much exactly that they knew, it was obvious how Milton had started to avoid the once shared quarters, taking on extra shifts or falling asleep in the more comfortable chairs in the lab break rooms.

The memories hit him like a tidal wave upon the shore every time he saw their door and remembered Brackish pushing him up against it and kissing him quickly after checking that nobody was about that could out them and cause problems for them both. They stung when he walked inside to see the clothes hanging up that he couldn't bring himself to move, there would be a day when he could dress (and undress) Brackish in this room again, stealing kisses and trying to stop the little noises that he would make when kissed in just that right way. Memories were the most painful thing about that room. They couldn't be avoided or held back, not when the few items that the couple owned held such significance for the both of them.

In the Before they had been as carefree as they possibly could have been, worrying about what would happen if they got caught and reported but knowing some of the other staff had their backs with it all and looked out for them. They could be safe and love each other discreetly. Life held such joy for them, discovering more things that they hadn't known about the other and their interests. In the Before they had spent time getting lost in each other's eyes, making each other laugh and smile. IT just made it harder knowing exactly how Brackish would have woken him up on Christmas day with a present, telling him that it wasn't much but he had to open it now, getting far more excited than any other adult had been on that day.

This year Christmas had snuck upon them all and everyone wished that they could have done something, anything, for it not to end up this way. Lab techs felt their hearts break when they saw Milton with his head on the bed by Brackish's hand, shoulders shaking violently with sobs. None of them dared to go into the room, they could hear Milton's forced light tone, telling odd stories and occasionally reminding his lover that they were both still here, even if they now spent nights alone because of stupid hospital rules and regulations. He was there next to him. The quickly whispered promises to never leave his side once he woke up, that he was entirely Brackish's and that wouldn't change, were still audible.

Nobody at Area 51 knew how the rest of their lives would play out, so much had changed in a short space of time and was still changing. They all appreciated the odd little friendships that had grown, especially when one lab tech returned back into the break room, coffee in one hand and tears in eyes. It didn't take much for them to reveal how they had found David Levinson sitting by Milton, finally coaxing the man up and to start smiling again.