The first soft flakes of snow were just starting to fall, barely touching the cold glass of the windshield before being instantly swept away. Techie stared out the window, wondering if the snow would lie, or if it would just turn to cold grey slush. Beside him Armitage was drumming his fingers on the steering wheel.
“You know I’m glad that you won’t be spending the holidays alone,” he said when the silence seemed to stretch too long. “I was worried when I said I’d be going away.”
Techie glanced over, catching a hint of redness on Armitage’s cheek, “I’ve told you before, you really don’t need to worry about me.”
“Yes well, I can’t help it sometimes. Big brother instinct.”
Techie smiled, technically they were only half brothers, Armitage’s father had abandoned their mother when Armitage was only three. He’d never mentioned that she’d remarried and had another son. It wasn’t until Armitage was at University that his dying father had thought to inform him. It had taken a long while to track Techie down to the foster home he’d been placed in when his parents had died, and absolutely no time at all to whisk him out of there when Armitage discovered the state of the place.
He’d been twenty-two then, in the middle of his studies and suddenly responsible for a scrawny sixteen year old that he barely knew. Still, Armitage made the best of things. His father at least had left him a good amount of money, and when his brother finally started talking, after a month of nothing but gestures, they were able to work out a plan for the future.
Twelve years later and Techie still had the feeling that Armitage was looking out for him. Nevermind that he was a grown man about to spend his first Christmas with his boyfriend and that Armitage himself was about to be whisked away by his own partner of the last few years.
“I’m sure Matt and I will have a wonderful Christmas together, Armie. You just think about your vacation, maybe try relaxing? Kylo’s taking you to Hawaii after all.”
Armitage smiled, mostly to himself, a rare softness falling across his features for a second before he straightened, “Yes, well. I hope Matt will be taking just as good care of you.”
“He will.” Techie glanced around, recognising the houses either side of them, even beneath their amazing coating of lights. “We’re almost there.”
“Oh my, would you look how garish these houses are!” Armitage said, freckled nose wrinkling, wide eyes belying his wonder at the flickering rainbows dancing along the sides of the buildings and sending sparkles of light into the grey sky. “I hope your Matt has slightly more decorum.”
“Um…” Techie’s own eyes widened as they drew closer to Matt’s house, seeing his own Christmas decorations for the first time. Beside him Armitage’s mouth widened in disbelief.
“It’s the one with the reindeer isn’t it?”
Techie could only nod mutely. The modest little house he was used to had been completely transformed. Eight glowing reindeer stood on the roof by a light covered sleigh that was in all likelihood visible from space. Shimmering icicles ran down the walls and the path was lit by glittering candy canes. Each window was ringed with strings of light in every colour, flashing and dancing in time with the blooming golden stars that sat above the windowpanes.
“I’m guessing he really likes Christmas?” Armitage smiled in bemusement. “I think you’re going to have a lovely week.”
The car slid to a halt just as the front door opened and the large form of Matt was silhouetted inside. He gave a wave and dashed out, almost sliding on the wet path.
“Hey! Hi! Let me get your bags. You’re Armitage right? It’s nice to finally meet you! Was the drive OK? I know the weather channel said the snow wouldn’t lie but I was worried just in case. This is a really nice car, wow!”
Matt was babbling, his large hands shaking as the light flakes of snow slowly started to flatten the curls of his hair. Techie smiled and hauled his bags from the car, watching Armitage look Matt over, face blank.
“So you’re Matt?” his voice was serious but Techie could see the glint of amusement in his brother’s eyes, “I hope you’ll take good care of Techie this week. I know you’ve only been dating a few months and you’ll understand that I’m a little wary.”
“Y-yes… um… sir?”
Techie snorted and rolled his eyes, “Okay Armie, don’t torture him.” He turned to his boyfriend, “Matt seriously, just ignore him, he likes to think he’s scary.”
“Oh… okay,” said Matt with a glance at the elder Hux, Techie could say what he wanted, the man was scary, “would you like to come in?”
Armitage sighed, “Much as I would like to, I have packing to do.”
“But you packed last week,” Techie said with a puzzled frown.
“Yes but I know for a fact that Kylo has not, and if I leave it to him he’ll be wandering around Hawaii in three layers of black like some oversized goth.” Armitage shuddered, “Really it’s better if I do it.” He gave Matt a firm handshake, “I really am sorry to rush off, but it was nice to meet you, hopefully we can talk properly soon. Have a lovely Christmas.”
“Thanks, you too.” Matt took Techie’s bags from him, watching with a smile as he wrapped his older brother in a tight hug.
“Have a wonderful holiday Armie, tell Kylo I said Hi.”
“I will. We’ll Skype you on Christmas Day. You two have fun.”
“Oh we definitely will.” Techie wiggled his eyebrows, making Armitage shake his head as he turned for the door.
“I did not need to think about that,” he muttered.
Matt and Techie waved from the door as he drove off, Matt’s arm already snaking around Techie’s waist, pulling him into a tight embrace the instant Armitage was out of sight.
“Well that was intense.” Matt’s voice was a low rumble against Techie’s chest.
“Oh that was nothing, if he didn’t like you, you’d know about it.” Techie threaded his fingers through the shorter curls at the back of Matt’s neck, pulling his lips down insistently for a kiss.
Matt’s breath warmed him from the inside out, the hard muscles of his body pressing tight against the softer planes of Techie’s own. “Still,” Matt said as they pulled apart, “I can’t believe you implied we’d be having sex.”
“Of course we’ll be having sex Matt, I’m here all week.” Techie gave a wide smile, “And I’m pretty certain he and Kylo will be doing the exact same thing.”
Matt blinked and pushed his glasses up his nose, “Okay, I didn’t need to think about that.” He led Techie into the house. It was just as enthusiastically decorated inside with garlands hung over the bannisters, streamers draped from the ceiling and candles all around in little novelty holders. The crowning glory of course was the Christmas tree; a frosted confection of evergreen branches and glitter adorned with baubles like sparkling gold bubbles.
“Wow! This is… wow. You really go all out, don’t you?”
“Don’t you?” Matt opened the door to the kitchen and the room filled with the scent of gingerbread making Techie’s mouth water and his mind go blank.
“What was that?” Techie was too busy marvelling at the sight of cookies piled high to hear Matt’s question.
Matt just laughed and pressed a kiss to Techie’s cheek, handing him a cookie. “I said don’t you go all out for Christmas?”
Techie shifted, teeth coming out to catch his lower lip, “Well I’ve never really had the chance to. Maybe before my parents died, but I don’t remember that, and then I was with Ma- my foster mother,” he folded in on himself, “and I don’t want to remember that.”
Matt stroked a finger down Techie’s cheek, “I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to make you think about it.”
Shaking his head Techie took a bite of the cookie, feeling the sweetness spread through him with a warmth that he always associated with Matt. “It’s okay. Armie got me away from that. And well… I don’t think his dad really celebrated Christmas, so we never did either, it’s only since he started seeing Kylo that we’ve even had a tree and presents and stuff.” Techie smiled, “It’s been nice.”
Matt wrapped Techie in his arms, hands stroking across the silken strands of his hair, “Well I’m just going to have to make things even nicer.” He pressed kisses across Techie’s face. “I’m going to give you the best Christmas ever. Starting right now.”
Techie wrapped his arms around Matt’s neck and giggled as he was hoisted into a pair of strong arms and kissed thoroughly. “Is it too early for bed?” he asked, watching Matt’s face break into a wide grin
“Let me just turn off my oven and then I’m all yours.”
“You’re making more?!” Techie said incredulously, “I don’t think I can eat that much.”
“Oh it’s not all for us, there’s a bake sale going on at the church tomorrow and I said I’d make something.”
Techie smiled, “That’s really nice, I didn’t know you went to church.”
Matt switched off the oven and turned to Techie, “I don’t,” he grabbed the thinner man around the waist and threw him over one shoulder, “they just really love my baking. Now, I believe you said something about bed?”
Wiggling slightly Techie reached down to run his hands across Matt’s ass and hearing the intake of breath as he squeezed, “Lead the way.”
The next morning dawned crisp and cold, the wavering light of the pale winter sun just creeping across Techie’s face as he lay. He was snuggled in a ball of blankets, Matt wrapped around him, the heat of his skin almost burning against Techie’s own. Poking his head out Techie could just see the glitter of ice crystals in the windowpane, sparkling on the inside of his eyelids when he ducked back down into the cocoon of warmth. Matt shifted, pulling Techie closer.
“Mmm, good morning.”
“Morning,” Techie pressed his cheek to the warmth of Matt’s skin, “how can you sleep naked? It’s freezing.”
Matt simply kissed the mussed hair at the top of Techie’s head, “I have you to keep me warm baby.”
“Mmhmm, I find that hard to believe. So what are your plans for today, more baking?”
“Nah, I just need to drop them off with Mrs Kanata and then we’re going ice skating.”
Techie blanched, “Matt, I can’t skate.” He let out a breath as warm lips were pressed down his neck.
“Good. I’ll have to hold you up then.” Matt’s hands roamed under the hem of Techie’s shirt, making him turn into the embrace, pressing their lips together.
“We really should get up,” Techie whispered, “otherwise I’ll just want to stay here all day.”
Matt shook his head and smiled, “You’re right, we have things to do. Out you go.” With one hand he scooted Techie forwards and out of the warm bed, snickering when Techie squealed at the cold. He threw off the blankets and stood, completely naked in the chill air, blinking. “Um… where did you put my glasses?”
Soon enough they were washed and dressed, with Matt wearing a particularly interesting jumper that was decorated with knitted sprigs of holly and the message ‘Deck the Halls’, red bells took the place of berries and jingled with every step. Techie meanwhile was bundled up in a lumpy maroon scarf that Armitage had made the year before. It was badly knitted and very ugly, but it was warm, at that was what mattered. His hair was pushed back from his face by the band of his earmuffs, exposing the scar above his eyebrow. Much to Techie’s relief Matt hadn’t asked about it, merely kissed the mark and hugged Techie close.
Mrs Kanata turned out to be a tiny little woman who doted on Matt, insisting they come inside for eggnog before she would let them on their way. Techie sipped at the creamy liquid, smiling to himself as Matt was poked and prodded by the older woman, who seemed to think Matt wasn’t eating properly.
“You’ll make sure to feed this one up too,” she said with a glance in Techie’s direction. “He looks cold. Don’t you worry, I’ll make you a sweater too. Mattie loves the one I made him.”
“Wearing it today Maz,” said Matt with a smile.
“You’re a good boy Matt. The church bake sale would be nothing without your cookies, they’re almost as good as mine.” Mrs Kanata patted Matt on the hand.
“I learned from the best.” Techie couldn’t help but smile as Matt was bent almost double to receive a kiss on the cheek. “We’re gonna go skating now, but give me a call if you need anything.”
“I’ll be fine, you boys have fun. I’ll have that sweater for you soon enough.”
“That’s really not necessary Mrs Kanata-” Techie started, only to be cut off by the wave of one hand.
“Nonsense, you need to match your man, don’t try to stop me.”
Matt sniggered from the door, “Seriously, don’t.” He shrugged on his coat, glasses steaming up instantly as the cold air hit them.
“So how far to the rink?” asked Techie as they wandered their way to the outskirts of the town. Every branch was hung with drops of crystal, shining like beaded glass and Techie’s breath rose in a fog ahead of him. The clouds shone a rich creamy yellow overhead, making Matt look up, one dark eyebrow raised. It would definitely snow soon.
“We don’t have a rink,” he said as they reached the crest of a small hill. “We have the pond.”
Techie’s eyes widened; below them a small lake shone like a mirror of polished glass. Families crowded together on it’s surface and around the edge, the sounds of shouting and laughter soon floating up to where the two men stood. “Okay, it’s official,” said Techie, “you live in a Christmas card.”
Matt just laughed, “It’s nice in summer too, they have model boat races.”
“Hmm, it sounds like I need to stay here in Summer too.”
Matt’s cheeks reddened, “You can stay with me whenever you want. It’s a bit far for work though,” He bent to rest his chin on Techie’s shoulder, “That’s one of the reasons I stay with you so often.”
“Ah, and I thought you liked spending time with me,” Techie teased, a glint in his eye.
“Well that too,” Matt led him to a wooden bench by the edge of the pond, miraculously empty despite the crowds of people. There was a crease between his brows and flush on his cheeks as he took Techie’s hands in his own. “Actually Techie, it’s more than that.” Matt swallowed visibly and Techie felt his heart speed up in his chest, “I never thought I could be this happy.” Matt looked into Techie’s eyes and quirked his crooked half smile, “I love you.”
Blood thundered in Techie’s ears and he felt his chest tighten, he was suddenly so much warmer. He gripped Matt’s hands tight and leaned forwards, “Oh Matt, I love you too.”
Matt let out a breath and surged to wrap Techie in his arms, the bells on his jumper still tinkling away beneath his coat. Techie giggled against his chest and sank into the warmth. Matt’s glasses were clouded as he pressed his face to the bright softness of Techie’s hair. He could feel pressure lessening in the pit of his stomach, of course he’d had no reason to be nervous, Techie felt the same way, Techie loved him. This really was shaping up to be the best Christmas ever.
They sat, wrapped in each other until the first flakes of snow started to fall and Matt pulled away with a soft smile. “So, ready to learn how to skate?”
“No, but I’ll try anyway.”
The skate hire was a ramshackle setup on the edge of the pond and finally Techie wobbled onto the ice, barely keeping his balance. Matt held onto his hands, pulling him gently across the smooth surface. He was no expert by any means and before too long he found himself slipping, losing his footing and toppling into the wet snow just starting to settle on the grass. Techie giggled, sailing past on his own skates, his lithe figure making it easier to keep balanced.
“I thought you knew how to skate,” chirped Techie, “since you’re king of Christmas and everything.”
Matt struggled back to his feet, resisting the temptation to hurl a snowball at Techie and choosing instead to tackle him in a full body hug, one hand ruffling his hair and knocking off the fuzzy green earmuffs.
The thick flakes of snow were starting to soak into their clothes by the time they were ready to head home and Techie could feel himself shivering. Matt pulled him close, “Not too far baby, I’ll light a fire when we get in, then we can roast chestnuts.”
Techie snorted in disbelief, “Okay really? That’s something people actually do? It’s not just part of a song?”
“Nope,” said Matt with a grin, “It’s a tradition at my place.”
Techie snuggled closer, “I’m coming here every year.”
“I hope you will.” Matt stopped, pulling Techie into a deep kiss beneath the glittering lights of another giant display. It seemed like everyone in Matt’s neighbourhood was just as enthusiastic about decorating as he was. Techie mentioned this as they wandered back to Matt’s.
“Oh yeah, there used to be contests but they got a little out of hand. People still like to show off though. Maybe after dinner we can take a walk and check them out?”
“Ooh that sounds good!” Techie slipped his gloved hand into Matt’s and squeezed tightly. “I can’t believe tomorrow will be Christmas Eve. Do you have any traditions for that?”
Matt paused to unlock the front door, “Well the weather’s due to turn so I thought we could stay in, maybe watch all the old Christmas specials, maybe some movies?”
By the end of the next day Techie had never felt so stuffed full of food, so content and so happy. He and Matt were curled in a sleepy pile on the couch, contemplating heading to bed when Techie’s phone buzzed, making him sit up in confusion.
Swiping the answer button he was greeted by the face of his brother, “Armie! This is a surprise, I thought you weren’t calling until tomorrow.”
“Well that was the plan,” Armitage’s face was pink and he sounded somewhat breathless, “but I just had to call you now.” The face of Kylo, his boyfriend, appeared behind him, a ridiculous smile on his scarred face. Armitage held his hand up to the screen to show a platinum band around his finger. “Kylo proposed,” he blushed a fantastic shade of magenta as Techie let out a squeal, “I said yes of course.”
A pair of toned arms wrapped around Armitage from behind, “He can’t resist me.”
“Oh shut up Kylo.”
Techie could barely see, his eyes were brimming with tears. Matt’s voice sounded behind him, “Congratulations!”
“Thank you Matt, we’ll need to have you over for dinner once we get back.” Armitage tilted his head on the small screen, “Techie? Are you okay?”
Nodding only made the tears spill down Techie’s cheeks, “I’m- I’m just so happy!” He felt Matt’s hand squeeze tight on his knee and gave a watery smile. “I just wish you weren’t so far away.”
“I know, but we’ll be back for New Year,” Armitage smiled softly, “I just couldn’t wait to tell you.”
“I’m glad you did, Merry Christmas Armie, and you Kylo.”
“Merry Christmas,” they said in unison with Kylo waving to both Techie and Matt. “See you in a few days Techie, I wanna make sure this boyfriend of yours is a decent guy.”
“He is,” said Techie, threading his fingers together with Matt’s, “but thanks for looking out for me Kylo.”
“He’s sweet when he wants to be.” Armitage’s fingers reached up to stroke in his fiance’s hair. “We’ll let you go now, have a good night.”
“Goodnight, and congratulations again.” Techie watched the screen go blank and leaned back into the circle of Matt’s arms. “This really is the best Christmas.”
“You just wait until tomorrow.” Matt kissed at Techie’s hair, holding him close.
“Hmm, with everything so far I wouldn’t be surprised if you turned out to be Santa.”
“Oh no,” Matt purred into Techie’s ear, hot breath whispering across his throat, “I’m a little too naughty for that.”