Author: Drazuki PM
Quinn never had any good luck on Christmas Eve. Then he met Noël. Secret Santa Slash- For Griezula. One shot, m/mRated: Fiction T - English - Romance - Words: 3,575 - Reviews: 21 - Favs: 34 - Follows: 2 - Published: 12-25-09 - Status: Complete - id: 2756366
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
A/N: So I missed a few secret Santa wishes, and while I attempted it, I don't think this came out with my usual humor, so I can't call it a "dramedy". But it certainly is feel good.
Christmas Eve was never a lucky time for Quinn.
It was like all the mishaps and tragedies of the years past were amplified by this end of the year holiday. What was supposed to be a day of family, friends, gifts, warmth, and cookies, would be lonely, mournful, giftless, cold, and with a severe lack of baked goods. Every year something bad happened to Quinn on Christmas.
Quinn's mother died on Christmas Eve four years before, and his father followed her the Christmas Eve after, his dying words saying he was going to be her Christmas present this year. He missed them both dearly, but he supposed they were better off wherever they were. His older sister might as well have been dead, having disowning him two Christmas Eves ago because he slept with her husband's brother and her husband, a wealthy businessman, disowned them both.
Of course, instead of standing up for her brother, Brigid simply bowed down to her husband, who showered her with cash instead of love. Not that Brigid complained. What he missed most really were his nieces and nephews he was forbidden to see.
His Christmas Eves usually were in the company of his friends the past few years. But this time his friends moved away and had no intention of coming home for the holidays to their dreary hometown that Quinn was still stuck at. Most of their families opted to go see them, since they were just as eager to get out as their kids had been.
His boyfriend, the aforementioned brother-in-law of sorts, dumped him early that day. Something about getting cut off from the family fortune. Typical.
And it was as if the heavens above were singling him out when his beloved dog, Xerxes, had to be put down. His boyfriend had the balls to go with him to the vet and dump him there, the bastard.
Well, he supposed it wasn't all bad. He still had a job as a kickboxing instructor, a house that was fully paid for, a Siamese fighting fish named Uzi…
He sat on the park bench, nursing a steaming to-go cup in the frigid evening cold. The skeletal, whitened trees were alight with tiny bulbs, making it look like the stars came down to rest among their empty boughs. With the dreaded sight of an empty home on Christmas morning, he was doing his best to cheer himself up this Christmas Eve. So he got himself a peppermint-laced hot cocoa from the coffee shop down the street from his house and a slice of their decadent gingerbread cake.
He was about to enjoy the spicy morsel — one of the few sweets he allowed himself to eat while on his strict diet — when he was tackled by eighty pounds of fur. Well, he wasn't. But his cake was. In one bite, the random dog did a disappearing act with half of his cake.
"Hey!" he exclaimed, knocking the dog from his lap and his hot cocoa in the process. The dog, a large mutt looking brindle with dewy brown eyes, licked its chops and gazed imploringly up at Quinn, as if asking, "Please sir, can I have some more?"
Before he could berate the dog, who sported a bright red paisley handkerchief instead of a collar, he noticed the dog had an uncanny resemblance to his dearly departed pit bull mix, Xerxes.
"Hey there boy…" he murmured, giving the dog and affectionate scratch behind the ear. The dog, however, was transfixed on the slobber-covered other half of his case.
"Well, since you already drooled all over it," relented Quinn, putting the plate on the ground and letting the dog go to town. It was Christmas Eve after all. Aside from the bags full of toys he gave the children's hospital every year, he hadn't given out a single present.
Quinn looked up to see a man striding towards him, breath coming out in wispy clouds as he stomped through the slush. It had only snowed very lightly that morning, making it a grey, wet Christmas instead of a white one.
"Sorry about that, sir, Gabe's got a problem with personal space when it comes to food," chortled the man. He gave a short whistle and pointed to his feet. The lumbering mutt spun around and bounded back to the stranger, sitting at his feet and rearing on his hind legs, paws tucked up against his ribs. The man smiled, leaning down and ruffled the dog's ears.
"No worries. I should lay off the calories anyway," replied Quinn, wiping the crumbs off his lap.
The stranger chuckled and adjusted his thin-framed glasses. He cut an imposing figure, tall and broad, tapering at the waist. But his intimidating stature was undermined by his dimpled, disarming grin. His teeth weren't perfect, but they were pearly, which was certainly good enough for Quinn.
"Say, aren't you an instructor at that martial arts center…?" started the man, brushing back his cheekbone-length red hair with one hand and gesturing with the other. He was wearing black gloves. They fit his comfortably-worn black overcoat and slacks. Quinn pinned him for a businessman. Hardworking, but not high up, making a decent salary, enough to keep himself neat and tidy without extravagance.
"Quinn," he said, holding out his hand. His knuckles were leathery from punching soft but unrelenting punching bags.
"Noël," replied the man, actually having the politeness to remove his glove and shake his hand. His hands, in comparison, weren't exactly buttery soft, but definitely not hands of a pencil pusher. They were also significantly warmer than Quinn's gloveless hands. It made Quinn smile a little more coyly.
"So what has you out here at this time of night?" asked Quinn, rubbing his cold hands together. Without his warm drink cup to huddle around, the cold was finally getting to him.
"Well, when you gotta go, you gotta go," he chuckled, gesturing to his dog. Gabriel looked up and made a half-hearted woof. "And I have a few errands to run still. Christmas Eve and all."
"Seems like the time you should be cozied up in your home with egg nog and family," murmured Quinn, pulling his black beanie down farther over his reddening ears.
"Which begs the question, what are you doing out here at this time of night?" Noël asked with a slight smile.
"I was enjoying a gingerbread cake and cocoa," he pointed out, indicating the empty plate and spilled to go cup.
"I must formally apologize for my dog's…lack of manners then," Noël said, sternly wagging his finger at the mutt, who was licking his crotch unconcernedly. "…case and point."
Quinn laughed and it felt rather nice. The stranger smiled and offered his hand.
"And I must replace your lost cake and cocoa, it's the least I could do."
Quinn grabbed his hand and pulled himself up. "You don't need to."
"I insist!" Noël exclaimed, thumping his shoulder. "Besides, a mug of hot cocoa with cinnamon and whip cream sounds absolutely heavenly. But I have a few stops along the way, if you do not mind."
"Uh…I don't. I have nothing better to do," he said with a shrug.
"Oh?" Noël raised an eyebrow. "What about the cozy home and egg nog and family you mentioned I should be doing?"
"No family to mention at the moment," murmured the kickboxing instructor, picking up his cup and plate to put in the trashcan. "And all my friends are out of town for Christmas."
"So you are all on your lonesome for Christmas?" he said with a slight shocked tone. "It's a good thing Gabriel spilled your cocoa then. No one should be alone on Christmas."
"…what world were you raised in? A bunch of people are alone on Christmas," snorted Quinn.
Noël chortled and shook his head, "But no one should be."
He gave a smile that made Quinn think of marshmallows in hot cocoa, sweet and white.
"So…what errands do you need to run?" asked Quinn as they walked. It started to lightly snow.
"A bunch of little things, shouldn't take any time at all," replied his companion.
They spent an hour or so walking. But every so often Noël was suddenly sidetracked to a house or a rundown apartment building. There, they would find an elderly man who walked with a cane, a heavily pregnant teenage girl, a single father working Christmas Eve, wide-eyed children at the orphanage, and one time a sad little kitten sitting inside a fallen wreath on a doorstep.
When they saw Noël, their eyes lit up and they smiled and hugged him, asking what he needed and if they could help him. He would always decline and produce something from the folds of his coat to give to them for Christmas.
The older man got a letter from his grandson, who was in the Navy, saying he'd be home Christmas Day. To the young expecting woman he gave an envelope stuffed with gift cards for baby clothes and diapers, which he said was 'from her mother, who wish she'd come home'. The girl cried happily and promised Noël she'd leave the next day. Noël helped the single father finish the freight he was unloading, with Quinn's help, and was able to go home and see his children, with a box of delicious candy.
The children got little wrapped up boxes that they swore they wouldn't open until tomorrow morning. He even gave a little boy his glasses, since they had the same prescription and the boy had his lenses cracked. Noël assured both Quinn and the boy he didn't really need them. The kitten was given to a little old lady that owned and worked the book store, who had recently lost her shop cat, Poe.
Some presents were small, others were big, but they all brought smiles to both Noël and the recipient, as well as Quinn. As the night went on, Noël's coat became less bulky to show he wasn't as broad as originally supposed, most of it being the bulk of the presents he was hiding.
Quinn turned his attention to the sidewalk to see a homeless woman huddled by a trash can, warming her bare, gnarled fingers by cupping her hands around an empty soup can, which has a wisp of smoke drifting from inside. He had seen her rummaging through the trash bins of swankier homes on Colebrook Avenue and once or twice had given her a protein bar he had left over from work, since he never carried change.
"Mrs. Meek," Noël said cheerfully, stopping in front of her. The elderly woman looked up, squinting at him from under the faux fur of her plaid winter hat. She wore neon orange tights, which probably weren't staving off the cold, feet tucked into huge Wellington boots and a thin jacket over her thin shoulders. Her frizzy white hair looked like stuffing from a teddy bear trying to escape the furry hat.
"Oh, if it isn't Mr. Noël!" she suddenly exclaimed, her toothy grin wrinkling her papery thin skin. "And Gabriel, the little angel."
"I see that hat I gave you last year is still treating you well," he said with a smile.
"That it has, my ears never been warmer."
"But Mrs. Meek, I daresay that old coat of yours is threadbare! Cotton can't be staving off this cold."
To Quinn's surprise, Noël removed the coat he was wearing. He pulled out a few things from the pockets, putting them into his slacks' pockets, before gently putting the coat on the woman's shoulders. He was wearing a simple red sweater and a white scarf wrapped around his neck.
Mrs. Meek shimmied her arms into the coat and tucked it close to her. Tugging the lapels, she gave the man a toothy grin.
"My bod's warmer than a leather car seat in Death Valley, Mr. Noël," Mrs. Meek gave several bobbing nods. The man laughed and it was a warm, cinnamony sound that made Quinn warm from the toes up.
"But my dear Mrs. Meek, it seems I carelessly forgot one thing!" he exclaimed, kneeling beside her and delicately picking up the woman's shaking hands. "Your fingers are simply blue. This will never do, my dear."
Then, he removed the gloves from his own hands and slipped them onto hers with the utmost care. Despite Noël's hands were significantly larger than Mrs. Meeks', they fit just perfectly. She admired the leather and wiggled her fingers to set the woolen lining.
"You always give the best Christmas presents, Mr. Noël," she sighed softly, lovingly stroking her coat with her new gloves.
"I wish I could give more, my dear, dear, Mrs. Meek," Noël said softly, straightening up. "There is a Christmas dinner being held a few blocks down. Would you like me to escort you?"
The old woman bobbed her head yes and Quinn, feeling useless, rushed to help her up, supporting her thin frame made bulky with layers of old clothing. She smiled toothily at them as Noël took up her other arm and they started to walk, albeit slowly.
"And what is your name, young man?" she asked, looking up at the kickboxing instructor with watery grey eyes.
"I've seen you around. You used to walk around hand in hand with that blond fella."
Quinn winced at the mention of his ex. "I don't go on walks with him anymore, ma'am."
"Pity. The two of you were so cute together," she mused. "But you and Noël look cute together too."
She stopped talking but started humming Christmas carols as they helped her hobble along, both of them easily towering over her and a good deal wider than her. Gabriel trotted ahead of him, tail wagging in time with Mrs. Meek's humming. Quinn was trying hard not to blush, despite the cold had already made his nose look like Rudolph's.
The Christmas dinner turned out to be a soup kitchen, but it was bustling with people, eating up slabs of turkey, mounds of lumpy potatoes, cups of green beans, and a good slice of apple pie after they were finished. Once Noël got her situated, he bid farewell to the people in the soup kitchen (who all seemed to know him by name) and left with Quinn.
"Why does everyone know you around here and I've never seen you in my life?" he asked curiously. Noël shrugged.
"I guess I leave quite the impressions the first time around. And there are plenty of people I have yet to have the pleasure of meeting in this fine town."
Quinn vaguely wondered if they were talking about the same town as they were once again walking down the slush-covered sidewalk. Despite the lack of his coat, Noël looked like he just radiated warmth and life, and it made Quinn wonder just where this man had been and why he had never seen him.
"Now I do believe I promised you hot cocoa and cake," Noël purred with a smile at Quinn. "Unfortunately, all the stores are closed so I insist you come over to my house, and I'll whip you up something proper."
"Your house?" Quinn said, trying not to squeak. He was too manly to squeak.
"Yes, come now," he said, taking the other's hand. "No one should be alone on Christmas."
"Don't you have family or friends or something to keep you company?"
This was the first time he saw Noël falter, his smile dimming, which only made the rest of him look sad and weary like a bad bulb ruining a string of Christmas lights. He pushed back his red hair from his eyes and gave a slight shrug. Quinn felt like a jerk for asking all of a sudden.
"If you don't wish to come home with me, that's fine too," Noël said with a half-hearted chuckle. "I imagine that sounds rather…like a proposition than a simple offer for hot cocoa."
"No, no, I know you were sincere!" Quinn said, touching his arm. "I was just wondering if you had someone who would be missing you right now."
Noël smiled a little, "No. My family's gone and I've been on my lonesome for quite some time."
"But…everyone knows you," the kickboxing instructor muttered, confused.
"They remember my kindness, little more," he replied. "I only come around here two days a year."
"Two days a year?" Quinn said perplexedly. "But you have a house. And why would anyone come here two days a year? It's the most boring town in the world."
Noël finally laughed, eyes lighting up again. "It may be, but I find I rather love this place. Which is why I came here twice, which is against the rules."
"You're confusing me, Noël."
The redhead smiled and took the other's hand. They began walking once more, Gabriel following behind them.
"There are some things you'll just have to take for unexplainable, Quinn O'Bailey," murmured Noël.
"….I never told you my last name."
"Doesn't mean I didn't know it."
"But you asked me for my name!"
"No, you never told me your name, I never asked for it. I've known you for a long, long time, Quinn Aidan O'Bailey."
The man turned abruptly to stare at Noël, who had a small, indulgent smile. The strange man adjusted the other's beanie so it covered Quinn's ears and said quietly, "Still up for hot cocoa and cake?"
Noël smiled. "Good, 'cause we're here."
Quinn blinked as Noël gestured with a nod to their left. Quinn turned and saw a quaint little red house with white trim that he had never seen before in his life. It had beautiful Christmas lights and candles in holly wreathes in the windows. The snow in his yard was powdery and looked like sugar. Noël took the other's hand and opened the little white picket gate that surrounded the place. With a bark, Gabriel bounded in and up the porch steps, dancing on his hind legs to get into the home.
Noël lead Quinn and opened the door, which wasn't locked. Quinn was instantly washed over with the smell of cookies, pine, and cinnamon. Although it was a modest house, there was no corner without something festive and bright. It wasn't gaudy and just felt like…home. Even though Quinn had never been in this place, or even seen it, he certainly felt at home.
His strange host suddenly turned at the threshold of the home and stopped Quinn.
"I actually have one more gift to give."
"Jesus, how many of those are you giving out tonight? Who are you, Santa?" Quinn said, only half-joking.
Noël chuckled, "No, I'm his grandson, actually."
Quinn stared at him, blinking a few times. The redheaded man smiled and continued.
"For the past couple of years, you've had a rough Christmas, haven't you? Your family, your friends…it seems like everyone is leaving you, right?"
His tongue felt like cotton as he couldn't find the words to confirm the other's observation. He wasn't sure how the other knew, but there was something sincere in the man's evergreen eyes.
"You've been a good man, though. You helped out your father when your mother died, you helped your sister through her twin pregnancy while her husband was off on business trips, you gave a battered pit bull a second chance, you help give free kickboxing classes to neighborhood children as an afterschool program…you've nearly religiously donated to toys since you were five," he chuckled softly. "Never expecting anything in return. Anything I'm forgetting?"
"..I…I don't know."
"Well, I don't think I am," he purred, hands on the other's shoulders. "And the last gift I have to give is for you, Quinn."
Noël pointed upward and Quinn was compelled to look. A little sprig of mistletoe with a bright red bow was tacked to the door frame. When Quinn lowered his gaze back to the redheaded man, he was suddenly in a warm liplock that made his toes curl. Noël cradled his hand in the small of the other's back, dipping the man back as he gave him a kiss that tasted of sugar and spice and it was oh so nice.
When Noël pulled away, lips reddened to the color of holly, Quinn gave a hazy smile and said, "Thank you for the gift. I really needed that."
Noël laughed and pulled him inside, purring, "Oh no, your real present you have to unwrap."
Quinn smirked as he pulled off Noël's scarf, believing this as going to be a very, very merry Christmas.