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"Boodah," Wade calls from the kitchen, listening as the dog obediently trots into the living room. A moment later there's a familiar oof and Heath cries out indignantly, Wade stifling his laughter into his sleeve before finishing up with the dishes and shaking his hands out, heading into the living room to lean against the doorway and watch.

"Get 'im off'a me!" Heath all but yells, staring indignantly at Wade. "I wasn't movin'!"

"I heard the couch squeak like it does when you stand up," Wade scoffs. "Stay, Boodah. Good dog."

Panting, Boodah remains sprawled across his owner's chest, looking delighted to be laying there, despite the daggers Heath is glaring at Wade. "When the hell did he start listening to you over me?" Heath wonders, the anger fading into a certain kind of hurt as he pouts, slumping into the couch cushions. "I was bein' good, and you go and pin me down with my own dog. Not fair, man."

Wade sighs, swayed by the pitiful look on his face, and heads over, kneeling next to the couch and running his fingers through Heath's hair. "You scared me, yeah? I thought you hurt yourself like Zack did not even a week ago, and you actually have a couple days off and I know you. You'd run around and try to make this holiday special for us, like you're not in pain, so I'm doing my best to make you relax and take it easy for once. I know you don't like doing it, but you need to. For me, hmm?"

Heath groans, then yawns. "Damn, Boodah, you're better than most blankets," he murmurs. "Fine, Brit. You win. For awhile." He blinks tiredly up at him. "But I wanna have some fun at midnight. Even if it's just to go out and watch the fireworks. Or somethin' like that."

"I think that can be arranged," Wade nods, slipping his hand into Heath's and squeezing gently. "Just close your eyes and take a nap first, yeah?" As soon as Heath listens to him, he pulls away and drags a blanket over Heath and Boodah, careful not to cover the dog's face with it, and then puts a pillow under Heath's ankle. It's not broken, he'd just twisted it on the way down, but it still hurts to walk on, much less wrestle, and Wade had spent the past week worrying during the holiday tour. As soon as he'd seen how swollen and bruised it was, he'd sent Heath to the couch and found more and more imaginative ways to keep him there over New Years weekend.

"I love you," Heath mumbles sleepily.

"I'm not sure if you mean me or the dog," Wade jokes, returning to Heath's side.

"Both," he says, a smirk on his face as Wade leans in and kisses him.

"I love you too," Wade tells him before pulling back, eyeing Boodah as he stirs, ears lifting as if listening for something. "Yeah, you too, you mutt." Boodah whines happily before settling back into sleep. "I spoil you both." He chuckles and leans against the side of the couch, watching Heath and Boodah and knowing that he wouldn't change a thing.
"You're really not coming?" Zack's face is frozen as he stares at Dolph, the grin slipping from his lips. "I mean..."

"Miz did try to end my career barely a month ago, kid. I'm obviously not feeling it this year, so you go ahead, have fun, hang out with Justin Roberts and Morrison, and I'll be here, enjoying football and stuff. Don't worry about me." He pats Zack's face and even kisses him, but it's all numb, empty.

"Oh. Yeah. Ok, sure," Zack breathes, staring down at his crutches and feeling even worse than he did when the doctor had looked him in the eye and told him he could be out anywhere between four to nine months.

Leaving for the airport alone is awkward, he stumbles around wishing Dolph a Happy New Year and kissing him goodbye, then struggles with the uber he'd called, relieved when the driver comes out to help him with his bags. California is warm, beautiful, but he barely notices any of it even when Mr. Belding is the one who picks him up. Chatters the entire drive to Miz's house, most of it not registering with Zack. He feels lost without Dolph by his side, he'd never gone to these parties without him before.

He does laugh when Morrison leads him into the main room and there's a cutout of Ziggler standing there, but it's a broken, kind of desperate laugh that makes everyone look at each other worriedly before they try to distract him from the obvious absense next to him. Even finds him a cane when he complains that his crutches are ruining his suit. He tries to get into the party, takes pictures with people that he hasn't seen in much too long, and feels a little more like himself, but still.

Midnight approaches and Zack closes his eyes against the reality of having no one to kiss. Sure, Dolph had given him a free pass-- because Dolph always finds it easy enough to give kisses away-- but Zack's not interested, even though he does consider it for a brief moment. Dolph's brother is around here somewhere and he thinks maybe, if he closes his eyes, he could pretend, but it's not the same and he quickly brushes the idea away. Trades the cane back for his crutches, relieved that they make people keep their distance so no one gets any ideas at midnight.

He stands by himself and counts down with everyone else, hangs out and tries to dance with Maryse and Morrison's girlfriend, Taya, but his leg hurts and the flashing lights are giving him a headache, so he excuses himself around 2 AM and escapes upstairs to the guest room. Downs some pain killers and gingerly lays down, his leg stretched out stiffly before him. "I hate this so much," he breathes, tears filling his eyes. He laughs brokenly at the thought of crying himself to sleep on New Years when there's a knock on the door. Trying to brush the tears aside, he sits up as Ryan lets himself in, Dolph's brother looking wary and compassionate as he stares back at him. "I'm ok."

"No you're not, and that's ok." Ryan sits on the edge of the bed and stares at his hands. "My brother should be here." Zack doesn't say anything and Ryan exhales. "He's not used to this, you know. Outside of your arm injury a couple years back, you've never been hurt before. He's overwhelmed and a little out of his element here. I think he's also trying to get used to doing things without you, since he's on the road so much and you're going to be rehabbing for a few months."

"Hell, I'm not overwhelmed?" Zack asks. "My career's just been railroaded for the better part of a year, and he can't even come with me to a party with all of our friends?"

"I understand," Ryan says. "I do. Just... try to give him a chance when you see him again, alright?"

"Maybe," Zack sighs. "Maybe. I just... can I sleep now, Ryan? I just can't think anymore right now, I'm waiting for painkillers to kick in, and..."

"Yeah, sure," Ryan tells his brother-in-law. "If you need anything, I'm in the next room over." He stands up and walks to the door. "Good night, Zack. Happy New Year."

Zack closes his eyes and doesn't say a word.

He doesn't see Dolph until early Monday and they freeze in the middle of the apartment when they come face to face. Dolph, for his credit, looks ashamed. "I'm sorry, kid," he mumbles.

"Sure," Zack sighs, trying to manuever past him with his crutches.

"Hey, kid, wait--" Dolph's hand on his arm feels like fire and he wrenches away, gritting his teeth as pain stabs up his knee and he drops his crutch. Dolph grabs it, steadies him, moves so fast that Zack's head spins. He hugs him tightly and buries his face in his neck, breathing noisely against his coat. "I'm sorry, I'm so sorry, ok? I just couldn't..." He shakes his head. "I hate this, but I know it's harder for you, and I shouldn't have been so selfish. The apartment was so quiet, and I realized as soon as your flight was gone that I'd screwed up. I should've gone with, and had a great time with you and our friends, but I stayed here and wrecked the whole holiday for both of us."

"We're going to be apart enough the next few months, I just... thought we'd get at least this one weekend together," Zack mumbles. He sniffs as Dolph pulls away and cups his face, struggling to hold the tears in. "I needed you there, and you weren't, and it just sucked."

Dolph continues to repeat his apologies, pressing his forehead to Zack's, before kissing him slowly. "I missed you so much at midnight. Did anyone... I mean did you...?"

"I didn't want anyone but you," Zack mumbles, eyes downcast.

Dolph exhales shakily before kissing him again, softer, longer. "Happy New Year, kid."

"Happy New Year, bro."

"I'm glad we get this time together, sir," Spud mumbles, his eyes closed against the sun as Ethan massages down his back in long, steady strokes. They'd spent Christmas with his family, which is always an adventure, and now they're here. Floating aimlessly on Spud's friend's boat, left alone to their own devices in the Florida sun.

"Me too," Ethan says, leaning over to kiss his shoulder. It's warm, and it's quiet, and Spud never wants to move again. But Ethan doesn't want to spend all day aboard so they swim around the boat, racing each other-- to Ethan's disgust, Spud actually beats him-- they play cards and laugh at each other's horrid hands, grumbling when luck turns against them. There's no real meal, just snack food, crab cakes and popcorn shrimp, chips and dips, and so much bubbly that Spud's head starts to spin before they even make it to 9 PM.

The ocean is dark and calm, and he lays in Ethan's arms as the clock ticks ever closer to midnight, Ethan tilting Spud's jaw up so he can kiss him lazily. "Can this be our yearly tradition, sir?" Spud mumbles, rubbing his fingers over Ethan's jaw and shifting the position so they kiss deeper, more intently, and Ethan groans against his lips. "Just us and a boat in the middle of nowhere?"

"Sounds good to me, Tiger." Ethan smiles and pulls away, looking up at the stars. "It's really gorgeous out here." Their fingers tangle together and he exhales. "Back to the grind next week."

"Mm hmm. Maxel better stay away from me," Spud exhales, closing his eyes as he leans against Ethan's warmth, trying to ignore his stifled laughter. "Shut up!"

"Sorry, it's just kind of funny."

"No, it's not. None of that was funny," he pouts, crossing his arms over his chest and looking away.

"Either way, you looked adorable, holding him," Ethan offers, nuzzling closer to him.

"I do not look adorable ever, sir," Spud grouses.

"Yes you do," he whispers in a way that makes Spud shiver.


"You do." He grips him tighter and presses a kiss to Spud's forehead. They remain quiet, watching the stars until midnight, when the new year arrives and Spud twists around, kissing Ethan. "Here's to a happier year," Ethan offers, stroking Spud's face and kissing him back.

"Yessir," Spud murmurs, lips twitching into a smile as he leans more into the kiss, forgetting all of the bad of the year prior in this moment.
"MMA training on New Years, ay," Alberto mumbles, watching as Ricardo limbers up. "Come, mi valiente, I'm ready!"

Ricardo nods and approaches him, biting his lip as he puts his gloves on. "Kick? Si?"

"Si," Alberto says, preparing for the training. His protective gear eats Ricardo's kicks, his punches. All Alberto has to do is recommend corrections in Ricardo's stance now and again, because for the most part, Ricardo is an easy learner. "Higher!" he barks as Ricardo steps forward to kick, distracting him and sending the kick high and loose- glancing off of Alberto's face.

"Ay dios mio!" Ricardo cries as Alberto drops, holding his face. "El Patron, lo siento!" He runs to him and holds his arm, trying to get a look at him.

"No, no, I'm fine," Alberto sighs, easing back on his heels. "It was my fault, I distracted you while you were mid-strike." He wipes at his stinging lip and grimaces. "Don't worry, mi valiente. It wasn't your mistake." He scrubs at his face and pulls Ricardo in, kissing him. "I love you. Calm down, si?" He rubs his shoulder gently until Ricardo's breathing eases, his grip slacking.

"I thought I seriously hurt you," he admits weakly. "I would never, ever want to do that..."

"And you never have," Alberto tells him, cupping his face and making him look. "See, no permanent damage." He grins as Ricardo examines every inch of his face with his hands and eyes, relaxing when he sees the truth to Alberto's words. "Alright?"

"Alright. I love you too." Ricardo presses closer to him and kisses his jawline carefully. "Well, this is a terrible way to end the year."

"Si, right? Let's go somewhere fun, get something to eat," Alberto suggests. "Ring in 2017 properly... with sushi and champagne... maybe some kisses?"

He grins when Ricardo looks up, nodding sheepishly.

Dean doesn't do posh clubs. Neither does Seth, really. Bars, sometimes, maybe, if they're in that kind of mood, or it's the only thing open after events, but for the most part, they find themselves staying at home. Enjoying their own liquor and music. But it's New Years and they're both antsy in different ways, wanting something to do. Seth is aimlessly looking at his phone when Dean approaches him, holds a hand out. "C'mon."

Without asking, Seth grips his hand and allows himself to be pulled up and out of the house, neither bothering to look for a coat. Ah, the magic of Nevada. They walk side by side down the street, in awe of how quiet and peaceful it is, when Dean leads Seth up one of his favorite paths to hike. "Man, isn't it a little late for this?" Seth chuckles, trying not to worry. He's not a big fan of hiking, especially at night when animals could be who-knows-where doing who-knows-what, but he trusts Dean.

"Just a little further," Dean urges him, continuing up to a small look-out. It's almost midnight, Seth realizes, watching the seconds tick away on his phone. "Ten, nine, eight," Dean murmurs.

"Seven, six, five, four," Seth continues before they turn to look at each other.

"Three, two, one..." Midnight strikes, 2017 hits, and they smile at each other before leaning in to kiss, Seth startled when the ground rattles with fireworks being shot off almost directly in front of them, Dean snickering as he struggles to calm his racing heart, gaping at the bright lights.

"You did that on purpose!" he exclaims, swatting Dean on the arm.

Dean feigns injury, gripping his arm for a moment, before grabbing Seth and pulling him in closer. "This is my favorite place to go on New Years," he explains. "I just wanted to share it with you." He cups Seth's face and kisses him again, not bothering to apologize vocally, but saying it all in the press of his lips, and Seth exhales, giving in.

"Jerk," he mumbles with a kind of fond frustration in his voice that makes Dean grin.

"This is an awful way to spend New Years," Enzo moans, writhing around on the couch and grousing further when Cass raises an eyebrow at him. "I'm sorry, big guy, it just is! I wanted to go dancin' and maybe-- maybe--" His voice dies away as Cass stands over him, his size overwhelming even after all of this time.

"We'll dance some other time, but you need to rest, Zo. Your ass is more bruised than most fruit I've seen, and that's bad, man. I didn't make it any easier when I threw you at Mahal last Monday. Now c'mon." He hoists him up and sits on the couch, sprawling Enzo out across his chest and stroking down his back to quiet his complaints. "I know it's not a fun holiday, but it's what you need right now. Tell ya what, on Valentine's Day, I'll get us reservations at the swankiest club in all'a Florida, and we'll dance the night away then, alright?"

Enzo nods, but it's clear he's still not happy. "I'm sorry I'm wreckin' this holiday for ya too, Cass. First Thanksgivin', and Christmas, now this... it's just like I can't get outta my own way enough to think about you for a minute, and..."

"You didn't wreck anything," Cass exhales. "I put all'a this into motion when I locked you outta the locker room naked. 'Cause of that, Rusev's been after ya nonstop so yeah, sure you may not have made the situation better for yourself but I've not been doing anything to stop it either, so... you have nothing to apologize to me for."

Enzo doesn't say anything for a long moment and Cass plays with his hair, wondering if maybe he's fallen asleep, but before he can ask, Enzo stirs and looks up at him. "Ya know, you're right. This is all'a your fault." But he grins and leans up, tangling his fingers in Cass' long hair before kissing him. "I love you anyway though."

Cass chuckles into his mouth and breathes a little easier, the things he'd been feeling since Rusev attacked Enzo finally out in the open. "Good, 'cause I love you too." He hugs Enzo carefully and flicks the TV on to watch the ball drop, hoping that the rest of the year looks a little something like this, just without the bruising hopefully.

"Boys, oh Boys, where oh where did my pretty Boys go?" Dalton asks, standing in the middle of the living room with his hands on his hips as he looks around. Sure, the twins are in their twenties and he's this side of thirty, but they like to play games sometimes so a round of New Years Hide and Seek had made them all feel giddy like children. Until the Boys had actually hidden and Dalton couldn't find them in his too-large house.

He sighs and walks into the kitchen, staring mournfully out at the gloomy, rain-soaked yard. "It's so unfortunate," he says, his voice echoing through the lower level of the house purposely. "If I'm unable to find my darling Boys by midnight, I suppose I will just have to go kiss-less. What is a peacock supposed to do then?"

He hears it then-- a giggle, followed by a hissed shushing noise-- and closes his eyes, lips twitching up into a smirk. He has found them, walking aimlessly around the kitchen before approaching the bedroom. The bed is huge to accomodate the three of them, and the headboard is monsterous, leaving a sizeable gap between the wall and mattress and he kneels down by the bed, hanging his head in feigned moroseness. "I miss my Boys so much, but I suppose they are just too good hiders for me. Perhaps I don't deserve them after all." He sighs sadly and stares up at the ceiling. "Maybe some day I'll find happiness elsewhere, but for now I choose to be alone and mourn what could've been..."

His overly dramatic monologue cuts short when arms wrap around him, Brent laughing and squirming to get out from between the mattress and headboard, kissing Dalton cheerfully as soon as he does. "How did you find us, Dalton?" he asks, dark eyes gleaming with mirth.

Brandon joins them, looking dusty and put upon, and Dalton smiles, wrapping an arm around them both, drawing them into him. "Oh, a cute little giggle led the way," he says, kissing first Brent and then Brandon with loud, exaggerated smacks.

Brandon rolls his eyes but Brent looks quite content with the situation, hugging Dalton back. "How long until the New Year?"

"Less than an hour," Dalton says. "Come, Boys." They stand up and follow him into the living room, waiting until he's sat down to snuggle in on either side of him to watch the last bit of the New Years specials on TV while they wait for the countdown.

Dalton is playing with Brandon's lip ring gently, his other hand trailing up and down Brent's face, when the ball drops and they stare at the clock, watching as it flicks to midnight. "Happy New Years, Dalton," the Boys murmur together.

"Happy New Years, Boys," he whispers back before kissing first Brent, then Brandon.

"I'm so glad my knee's better," Zema says, walking with Robbie through chilly Chicago streets while they waste time waiting for midnight. "I was thinking I'd never get to wrestle again."

Robbie smirks and takes his hand, squeezing it. "I told you you would be fine, you just had to give yourself time." Tucking him in against his side, Robbie sighs. "I know you wanted to wrestle through stuff, but I'm glad you listened to me. If you had hurt yourself worse... I'm not sure what I would've done."

"It was difficult," Zema admits. "But I'm sorry I worried you. Nagging injuries are the worst, and I'm not good at slowing down and taking care of myself. I just want to fight harder, do more, win faster."

"I know. That's why you have me, I take care of you when you won't or can't." He musses Zema's hair up and laughs when he huffs in protest, swatting at Robbie's side. "So back at it next week, huh?"

"Yeah. TNA, then I have something else in Florida on the 14th." He leans his head on Robbie's shoulder and hums, tugging at the cord of Robbie's hoodie. "Make Mandrews regret ever touching me..."

"Hell yeah you will, Z," Robbie says with all of the confidence in the world. They're still walking when Robbie notices a clock outside of a bank. "Hey, it's five minutes to midnight." Too far away to walk home in that time, they opt to sit down on a nearby bench and watch the clock. As soon as 11:59 flips to 12:00, Robbie grips Zema's face and kisses him intently, smirking. "Happy New Years."

"Happy New Years," Zema exhales, eyes fluttering open. "I love you."

"I love you too." They sit for awhile longer on the bench, watching a few fireworks getting shot off from nearby houses, until it gets too cold and they head back to Zema's apartment, eager to get warm and welcome 2017 in properly.

"It is already 2017 here," Okada says slowly, running his hand through his hair. "Wrestle Kingdom is days away. Japan is... bustling. Quite busy. But it still feels empty, you know?"

Nakamura's eyes are dark. Almost unfathomable in the grainy screen that Okada is using to video chat with him. "I miss you too," he says, his words slow, stilted as he works to become more fluid with English. "NXT is... interesting, I enjoy the challenge. But it is... not the same."

"Hai," Okada murmurs, forgetting and going back to Japanese briefly, before he spots the growing smirk on Shinsuke's face. "Ah," he hisses, blushing. "Sorry. I forget sometimes. If there is a party for the NXT competitors and I am keeping you from it, I apologize. Please, go back to your friends. I will call you in the morning-- your morning..."

"Ah, no, they... they can party without me for awhile." Shinsuke's eyes gleam. "My good friend Okada called me to keep me company until midnight comes, it would be... ah, rude, to leave him now." At these words, a twisted tangle of emotions cross Okada's face, visible even in the shaky feed from Nakamura's phone, and they stare at each other for long, quiet moments. "I have done that too much recently, after all."

Okada trembles. He sniffs. "It's bad luck to cry on the first day of a new year," he chokes out, reciting a silly article of superstitions he had read a few hours earlier.

"I am sorry," Shinsuke tells him, his English sounding nearly perfect as if he'd practiced saying this many times recently. "I never meant to hurt you."

Okada laughs. "I... hm. Don't. I wanted you happy. You are happy. Yes?"

"Yes," Shinsuke says with a faint smile. "Happier when you tour with ROH and come to see me."

"Flatterer," Okada mumbles, a faint blush covering his face.

"It is midnight," Nakamura says after a moment, staring down at his phone's clock. "Thank you for keeping me company."

Okada nods. Stares into the screen. "I will see you Wrestlemania weekend. Hai?"

"Hai," Nakamura says with no doubt. "Happy New Year, Kazuchika."

"Happy New Year, Shinsuke."

They share a small smile and then the screens go black at almost the same time.

It's loud. Maria is behind them, sometimes dancing with Vinnie and sometimes with TK, Matt and Michael listening to football droning on before them. None of them are really into the game but it drowns out the music just enough that they feel almost like they have some privacy, Bennett's fingers scraping down Taven's shorn hair. "Have I told you I like your hair like this?" he asks quietly. "You look like an entirely different person like this... edgy. Dangerous. Hot."

"I've always been hot," he says with a sardonic little laugh until he spots the look in Bennett's eyes, his words fading away. "Michael..."

"Matt." They stare at each other, seeing the reflection of Maria in the TV as she continues to dance with TK, Michael exhaling. "I miss teaming with you."

"I miss it too, but you're happy in TNA, right?"

Bennett shrugs listlessly, continues to play with Matt's hair. His lips part when Michael tugs just so. "Not really. You're not there."

They're not a surprise, everyone knows. It's just something about it... they both like acting like they're each other's dirty little secret, even when in they're in a room full of people. Or tweeting each other dumb emojis in front of the world. Kingdom's Christmas picture, with Taven on one end of the table and Bennett on the other, had kind of been a give away, Maria at Bennett's elbow. "If I hadn't blown my knee out when I did..."

"I wouldn't want you to give up your six man championship though," Bennett tells him. "You're inaugural, no one can ever take that away from you." He tugs Taven closer and kisses him slow, barely a press of their lips before tipping his head back to look Matt in the eye. "I'm so proud of you for that, all you fought through to accomplish that." He rests his hand on Taven's knee, feeling the wispery lines of scars from his knee surgeries.

"Couldn't have done it without your support," he mumbles, eyes fluttering as Michael's fingers work magic by ridding his knee of its lingering soreness after his last match. "Seriously, even when we weren't together, I knew you had my back and if I needed you, you'd be on the first plane out. It gave me the strength to work through it all." He rests his hand on top of Michael's and sighs.

"And I know you'd do the same for me," Bennett hums, watching Matt and liking the expression on his face as he continues to lightly massage around the repaired joint. Pressing a finger under Taven's chin, he leans in and kisses him deeper, sighing against the taste of champagne on Taven's lips. "It's going to be a good year for us both."

"Damn straight," Matt agrees off of a faint groan, eyes gleaming when Bennett pulls away and presses his forehead to Matt's, searching his face with a grin.

Neither of them can believe it still sometimes. That every hard ship from the last year had brought them here-- working together, living together, champions together. After CWC had driven a brief wedge between them, Ciampa hadn't been sure if things would ever feel the same again. But here they are, NXT championships resting on their shoulders, standing side by side outside of their apartment, breathing in the cooling night air as midnight ticks ever closer. "So... with everything we've accomplished already," Johnny says, almost hating to break through the peace with this random question, "What are your goals in 2017?"

Ciampa doesn't say anything for awhile and Gargano realizes he's staring at his title belt with a bit of awe still on his face. "I guess one would be to be longest reigning NXT tag champions with you. That's a good start, right?"

"Yeah," Johnny says, thinking that it sounds pretty good to him. "Anything else?" Ciampa shrugs and Gargano hums. "I have one," he says, feeling strangely brave and free while sitting here under the stars like this.

"Oh yeah? What's that?" Before Ciampa could even shift to look more fully at his partner, Johnny's hands are pressed against his cheeks, guiding him into a kiss that leaves him breathless and confused, tingling from head to toe as they pull away slowly and look at each other. "Johnny, if you did it now, it can't really be a goal in 2017, can it?"

"What if I said my goal was to do more of that in 2017?"

Ciampa swallows. Stares at him for a minute. "Well, I guess I'd say that's a goal I'd have to help you keep."

Johnny's affectionate grin quickly wipes away any confusion Ciampa's feeling and they turn back to staring at the stars.

Jason has a lot of "didn't think it was possible"s in his life. Finding a partner in NXT that he actually gelled with, becoming NXT tag champs, moving onto the main roster, becoming WWE tag champions... there was a time, while trapped with Tye Dillinger and struggling just to eake out one minor win, that he doubted himself, his ability. Then he met Chad, and Chad wanted to partner with him, and it all felt so impossible, but they became friends and then great partners, and champions. Moving to the main roster and continuing their success there seemed easy, but then Chad had been injured by the Usos, and Jason had lost to the Wyatts, and their chances had slipped away.

Until they'd both gotten the best Christmas gifts possible. The blue and silver belts on their shoulders, Chad's grin soft and easy as they stare at them in awe. "Can you believe this? It's been days and I still feel like I'm in a dream."

"I know what you mean," Jason sighs. "I was so afraid we would never get here. That I was... just... holding you back, keeping you from being great."

Chad laughs then sobers up when Jason doesn't laugh too, realizing. "What, you're serious? Jason, c'mon! I'm the one who held us back if anything, with my knee injury!" He tugs on Jason's face until finally he locks eyes with him. "This was not your fault, we wouldn't have made it this far without you. You've always had my back, kept me going when it got hard. I'd be nothing without you."

Jason scoffs. "I probably would've been fired by now without you." Chad stares at him, biting pensively on his lip, and Jason exhales, pressing his forehead to Chad's. "I guess neither of us should doubt ourselves. We're both strong where the other is weak, right? That's why we work so well as a team."

Chad nods emphatically, leaning closer. "Right. We really, really do." He closes his eyes and murmurs, "Jason..." Before he can say anything, Jason's lips are on his, a subtle kind of pressure that leaves him gasping when it disappears. "Jason."

"Sorry, I just... it's been a long few days, I should've thought before I--" Gable grips him by the back of his head, pulling him in once more and kissing him back, knitting his fingers together around Jason's neck and holding him in place as he introduces himself properly to his partner's lips. "Uh, whoa," Jason croaks out, breathless and dazed once Chad pulls back a minute later. "That was... whoa."

Chad laughs and brushes his nose against Jason's, lifting an eyebrow. "Yes. Whoa indeed."

Jason stares at him for a minute before shifting his position so he can see the clock behind Chad. "We have, like, an hour before it's midnight. How do you think we should pass the time?"

Chad laughs and leans back in, eyes gleaming. "I'm pretty sure I can think of a couple of ways."