It was early December. Nicky was beyond excited. This would be the first Christmas that she and Red would spend together out of prison. Unfortunately, Lorna was with her own family, and Red's sons were with their wives and children.
Nicky was fine with celebrating just the two of them. But…It will be kind of lonely. Red is more than enough for her, but Christmas is a celebration involving family. Ever since meeting Red, she's had a huge loving family. Going back to just one relative, even just for a holiday, makes her feel cold inside.
"Hey Red?" Nicky asks, over the breakfast table.
"Hm?" Red's mouth is full of the kasha she'd made earlier that morning for the both of them. Nicky usually hates oatmeal, but this one is pretty good.
"Can I…Invite some family over for Christmas?" She's hesitant to ask, not wanting Red to think that she isn't enough. "Not Marka," Nicky rushes to explain when she sees her mother's face harden. "Just a couple cousins."
Red swallows, and takes a sip of tea. "I don't see why not. Just make sure they aren't the type to be rude little shits." Nicky grins.
On Christmas Eve morning, Nicky is awoken by the doorbell ringing. She groans, climbing out of bed, and stretching. She walks downstairs, and answers the door.
Nicky is bear hugged by a squealing mass of blonde hair and floral smells. She hears laughter, and wraps her arms tighter around Megan. They break apart and Nicky ruffles her straightened hair. "Hey kid! Missed you. This the wife I've heard so much about?"
Nicky looks at the woman on the porch, holding two suitcases. She has dark brown eyes, short brown hair, and is dressed in a white shirt and jeans. She's got a nervous grin.
"Yeah! Nicky, this is my wife, Graham. Graham, this is my cousin, Nicky!"
Megan's happiness is contagious, and Nicky shakes Graham's hand and helps her with the suitcases. By the time they're settled in, Red's in the kitchen brewing coffee. Red smiles at Megan and Graham, as they sit down at the table.
"Hello. I'm Red Reznikov. You must be Megan and Graham. Nicky's told me a lot about you."
"She's talked a lot about you too, ma'am." Megan's smiling at Red, and holding Graham's hand under the table.
"No need for the 'ma'am'. We're family now. I'm just Red to you." Red smiles warmly at Megan, and hands her a cup of coffee. Megan adds several spoons of sugar, as well as a generous amount of milk, before beginning to sip.
Lunch has passed by the time Lou shows up. She knocks on the door, wearing a pair of black sunglasses, and a green army jacket, with several alien/cryptid/supernatural patches on it. "How's it hangin' Mulder?" Nicky teases, wrapping her cousin up in a hug.
"Not too bad, Nichols. Not too bad. And you?"
"Well, I'm out of prison, so I can't complain. But yeah, I'm actually happy. I'm clean. The most I do is have an occasional drink."
After a brief chat, Lou stalks inside, taking in the house. She plops down on the couch, where Megan is sitting next to Graham. "Hey cuz. Missed you."
As per usual, Megan hugs Lou tightly. Lou merely chuckles and plants a sloppy kiss on her forehead. Nicky smiles from the doorway as her family interacts. Her cousins and her mother. She feels happy.
They all go to bed, happily. Lou takes the couch, while Megan and Graham get the guest room. Nicky, unfortunately has to deal with listening to her little cousin fuck her wife and vice versa, all night. She ends up putting in her earbuds as soon as she realizes that that's what those sounds are.
The next morning, the five of them sit around the table, happily conversing over breakfast. "So, have you and your roommate caught any aliens yet, Lou?" Megan giggles into her coffee, at Nicky's question.
"No, we haven't, Nicola. But we've found plenty of evidence around our area." Lou is known in the Nichols family as an avid believer of cryptids, aliens, and the supernatural, as well as a partying stoner ("Can I smoke in here? No? Ok. That's cool."). She lives with her roommate (an older woman named Lorna, who used to work for the government), who believes the same.
"So, are cryptids your thing, Lou?" Red is genuinely curious.
"Why yes, they are, Red. Thank you. How about I tell you all about the time I was abducted?" Megan sighs, and Nicky groans, as Lou launches into her story of being abducted by aliens and used as a Guinea pig for alien fertility drugs.
After her story is finally over, Megan pipes up with her own. "I have a cool story too! Well…Not really cool, but interesting!" Megan begins telling the story of meeting her wife at straight camp, riding off with her into the sunset, and converting her parents into queer allies upon her return. This story, Nicky can tell, will be the one their future kids will ask to hear before bed every night.
After breakfast, the family gathers in the living room to exchange gifts. Nicky is given the task of handing out the gifts from herself (and Red) first. She starts off by handing Red a copy of Julie and Julia: My Year of Cooking Dangerously by Julie Powell. Megan gets a copy of Fun Home: a Family Tragicomic by Alison Bechdel, while Graham gets Dykes to Watch Out For, also by Alison Bechdel. Finally, Lou gets Mythical Monsters by Chris McNab.
Nicky receives her presents last. From Graham, she gets a book on cat care. She's confused at first, until Megan dashes upstairs, carrying down a kennel. Nicky grins, as she coaxes the little brindle ball of fur out of his hiding place. He's got a bob-tail, and half of one of his ears is missing, but he looks incredibly handsome.
"He's a rescue. He doesn't have a name yet, though."
The little kitten nuzzles and licks Nicky's hands, as she pets him. "His name's Jasper." Nicky grins, when Jasper looks up at her and mews upon hearing his new name.
From Lou, Nicky receives a surprisingly luxurious coat. "It's cold as hell here. I'm not having you freeze."
Finally, she reaches a gift from Red. She unwraps it slowly and carefully. Inside is a velvet box. Within said box, there's a beautiful necklace, with a golden pendant of a fox. Nicky tears up, as she puts it on. As she looks around at her family, Jasper purring in her lap, she feels perfectly content.