time to __________

The sky had been clouded over and there had been a few fat flakes falling when they had all gathered up on that top floor, each with presents for others and everything being set under the large tree that nearly brushed the ceiling. They had moved their weekly meal and movie up to the middle of the week to fit with the day. Christmas Eve.

They had all gathered, staring at the large and simply decorated tree in Lex and Eoghan’s living room. The floor around it covered in gifts of all sizes, some small and others much larger. They all had decided that it had been a perfect time for celebration. There had been food from all over the world, this one particular evening with a theme of ‘cook or bake something from where you were born’. The table had overflowed with food of all sorts and colour, the leftovers had been split into separate little containers so that everyone could have a bit of everything that was left to bring home.

As the evening had progressed, they had settled about the tree, Mira having volunteered himself to hand out gifts. He’d pick one up, read its tag and hand it off to whoever it was meant to go. He made sure to keep his blanket for his brother for last as he didn’t know if he’d be able to keep on giving out the gifts once he’d handed his brother his own.

People had been happy, there had been cheering, some alcohol and a lot of wrapping paper scattered everywhere. It had been a beautiful eve, especially for those who hadn’t had a Christmas Eve to celebrate before or for those who hadn’t had one to celebrate for a while now.

It had been rather late in the evening, almost early in the morning when all parties had started to head back to their own place. The only ones who stayed were Quentin and Yael, the pair not much caring for the idea of getting dressed back up and lugging everything back to their own building. The cats were going to be fine, they knew. They had had their food before the pair had left and the litter boxes had been cleaned completely and utterly.

The sky was blue, so absolutely blue. It hadn’t been that blue in almost a week at this point and they had had more snow in that past week than they’d had since snow had started falling. Yael was gazing out the window at the clearness of the sky. A soft sigh escaped him. In his hands, a warm cup of steaming tea and Quentin at his side, also gazing out with a pleased sort of smile.

“Once we’re done with this we’ll let you guys have some quiet time. I’m glad we helped you two pick everything up though, this place was a mess.” He laughed softly, still warming his fingers with his cup of tea. There had been more wrapping paper than he’d ever seen in his life, it had been an interesting sort of thing to just pick it all up. Fold what hadn’t ripped and put away everything else. They’d thrown most of the ripped bits into the fireplace, it had seemed the best and easiest of options.

“You two could stay but I know you’d want to check in on your little four-legged gang. If you need any help with the gifts though, I don’t mind heading out with you two.”

Quentin looked at their little pale of gifts. An armful and a half for sure but it was so beautiful and calm outside he was rather certain that it wouldn’t be much of a problem to head back across. He shook his head. “That’s kind of you but I think we should be able to manage fine.”

Eoghan nodded, leaving them to their sky-gazing. He recalled doing that much when he’d been on his own before, even when Lex had been with him. He loved just staring at the sky when it was clear and blue enough for him to see nothing but that when he gazed outside.

In another apartment, tangled together on the floor in front of the fireplace, the three youngest souls of their little group stirred, just barely. It had been the second time in their lives that the twin had had alcohol, Mira had handled the taste of it as poorly as with wine though it had been a bubbly of sorts this time.

The fire, long since out, had warmed them when they’d first come back inside, arms full of gifts. They’d helped Armin back down to his own apartment first and then had come back up to their own. They had built up a fire to warm the area up first and things simply had gone from there, so exhausted from their gathering, the food and the bit of alcohol, they all had eventually drifted off, Agni’s new blanket settled across the lot of them.

Cyrille was the first one to open his eyes. He stared at the ceiling above him blankly as he tried to recall much from the night before. With a bit of thinking he recalled the food, the bit of alcohol, all of the gifts. Once that was clearer in his mind, he became aware of the weight settled on him and he lifted his head just so. There, on one side, Agni clinging to one of Cyrille’s arm as if he was protecting it. On the other side, Mira was nestled closer, his head against a shoulder and one leg tangled. It warmed Cyrille and he breathed a soft sigh of content.

He was more than a little aware that this was likely to not happen overly often but it was nice to know that they did trust him enough to sleep this way with him. It was comforting in ways he couldn’t recall having ever felt before. He closed his eyes again, relishing in the warmth he felt, not just from the closeness of their bodies but from the comfort of knowing he was trusted.

Armin was looking at the gifts settled along the low table of his living room. It had been years since he had seen gifts at all and he wasn’t exactly sure of what he was meant to do with them, at least in a general sort of way. He knew what he would do with the crocheted scarf, he knew what he’d do with a new blender. The idea of fresh smoothies every morning made his mouth water just a little.

He felt a tightness in his chest, a desire to cry and he tried to squash it down. He knew those tears were good tears but he didn’t really want to cry at this point, even for a good reason. It felt so strange to be around people who cared this way about him, at times he tried to forget but it still was usually there, in his face.

These people considered him their friend, they saw him as someone they could trust, someone they wanted in their lives and someone worth giving gifts too.

He reached out, fingers curling about the beautifully crocheted green scarf. He brushed his fingers over its softness and wrapped it about his neck a couple of times. It was so soft. He had another scarf that did its job perfectly well but it was a scarf he’d brought for himself. This one had been hand-made with love and- well he wanted to wear it and he was going to wear it.

Finally, he laughed softly, all this happiness as it bubbled up inside of him burst up and out. He laughed. He laughed until he cried, those tears of happiness soaking their way into the scarf he refused to take off. He’d hang it to dry it, that was aside the point. He felt absolutely cherished and he had forgotten what it had felt like for the longest of times.

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