December 1

In the Central European country of Tepidash, famous for being one of the oldest nations in the modern world and for having the only working democratic monarch dictatorship in history, a new phenomenon was swiftly becoming all the rage. Apparently, this was something that had been tradition in a large part of the world for scores of years, maybe even longer than that, and as tourism grew, the greater number of foreigners visiting their little country brought with them amazing stories of this wonderful "holiday season," as they called it. Naturally, the Tepidashians became enraptured with the wondrous tales and began to crave this tradition like any addict would crave their poison of choice. Pretty soon, people were imploring Prince Ladpants, the sole ruler of Tepidash, to adopt this celebratory custom.

And so Christmas became a national holiday.

Everywhere, stores were filling up with goods from all over the world, merchants importing anything that seemed to have the least connection with this Christmas phenomenon. Window displays began to feature "holiday spirit," which was thought to be a visual statement rather than a feeling, an atmosphere. Soon the streets of every town were adorned with everything from snow globes depicting the grand capitals of the world to entire fir boughs, and it was not uncommon for people to hang tinsel out their windows. The air smelled of gingerbread baking in ovens and Japanese fireworks sparking in the alleys. Dogs with red clown noses and Santa hats proudly stood at the center of every roundabout.

Up at Knowledge—the highest school of Diversity, Tepidash's second biggest city—a new club had even been founded as a result of the student body's intense interest in the new tradition. The Christmas club took upon itself to, first of all, collect as much information about the holidays as possible and then to make sure that everything was implemented accordingly as the school prepared for the first Christmas celebration ever. For it was up to them to make this a tradition worth keeping!

Fucking tinsel tossers, Cody Silver thought to himself grumpily as he passed yet another group of Christmas club members busily throwing long strands of tinsel in every conceivable color over furniture, curtain rods, flower pots, and lamps. For days now they had been going around the entire school and the student dormitories covering everything in the hideous, glittery decorations. He highly doubted that people around the world actually subjected themselves to this colorful atrocity; most likely it was just a fabrication of some sparkle-loving girls who saw the opportunity to finally re-style Knowledge according to their "taste."

Cody was currently in his fourth year at Knowledge, which he knew roughly coincided with senior year in most high schools around the world. Learning about other countries and their customs was a part of his education, since he was studying to become a royal spokesperson and would one day serve as Prince Ladpants' representative when dealing with foreign politicians. In Tepidash, however, the school system was remarkably different. Children began their educations at age six and spent four years in a preparatory school, which in Diversity was aptly—or unimaginatively—named Preparation. They then moved on to Enhancement, the advancing stage of their education, until, at the age of fifteen, they would choose a profession and proceed to learn everything they needed to know about their future job at Knowledge, the highest school. Regardless what profession you chose, you spent six years at Knowledge and graduated at age twenty.

Almost eighteen years old now, Cody felt like he was finally starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel. He had always known what he wanted to work with and was eager to reach his goal. There had never really been any obstacles in his way or doubts about his ultimate success; he was a diligent student who did not allow for distractions. Well, except for one …


Up until ten months ago, the two years older James Hargrove had been his roommate at Gamma Boys, their dormitory. They had never been that close, but they had still been friendly with each other and treated each other decently. Life in their room had been simple and pleasant—until Cody fell in love with James. At first, he had tried his best to hide it, because to him it seemed like staying friends with James would be much preferable to confessing his feelings and risking a falling out. Same-sex relationships were in no way taboo in Tepidash, but there were still a lot of boys who were afraid of losing their masculinity if they got involved with another guy. Sensing that James was one of them, Cody had decided to love his roommate in secret.

Unfortunately, that plan had not really worked out … As Cody's feelings for James had grown, it had become increasingly more difficult for him to hide them, and eventually he had found himself unable to resist the urge to touch or to kiss James. Needless to say, it had become impossible for them to continue as roommates. But even though James had been livid with Cody for "taking advantage of him," it had become steadily more apparent that the younger boy's feelings were reciprocated, at least in some capacity. James was just too stubborn to admit it to himself.

And now Cody only had five and a half months to convince him that they belonged together. After that, James would graduate and move southwest to begin his career as a cableway engineer in the mountains, and that would effectively put him beyond Cody's reach. And so far, he had not made enough progress to still his anxiety. Grim thoughts were therefore clouding his mind as he shuffled down the corridor toward the history classroom and the final period of the day. He was so preoccupied that he did not even register the blond guy casually leaning against the wall outside the classroom until he tripped him up.

Narrowly avoiding a painful face planting, Cody swirled around and directed an angry glare up at his assailant. "Ellis, what the hell!"

Above him, Ellis Guinevere burst out laughing. "That was fucking amazing!" he expelled between snorts that were reminiscent of a pig's oinking. "You just went straight down! Ooooh, I should have filmed that!"

Indignant, face burning with embarrassment, Cody got up from the floor and brushed himself off in what he hoped was a dignified manner. "You can be such an asshole, you know that?"

The comrade just shamelessly went on guffawing, unable to stop even when Professor Reinholds showed up to let them into the classroom. A stern look from the professor managed to temporarily quieten him, but as soon as the lecture began, Ellis was desperately pressing his hands to his mouth to muffle his almost maniacal giggling. Determined to not let some snickering buffoon interrupt his class, Professor Reinholds simply ignored him and focused on the rest of the assembled students, but that strategy quickly failed when Ellis suddenly burst into laughter so loud that the room echoed with it. The little man's face turned red as a freshly boiled lobster, and he promptly ordered the blonde out of his class.

While this was happening, Cody—who was sitting at the desk on Ellis's right—had sunk down in an attempt to distance himself from his friend. Loyalty was something that he valued above most other things, but he would rather not get kicked out together with him and miss a lesson in one of his favorite subjects. He was sure that Ellis would understand and not blame him for temporarily pretending not to know him.

History was a subject that was not in Cody's curriculum, but that he had chosen as an elective simply because it had always fascinated him. One would think that world history would be a compulsory course for everyone who wanted to go into politics, but for some reason it was regarded as secondary information. Prince Ladpants' spokespersons were instead expected to study the necessary historical information about the country of a visiting dignitary shortly before an arranged meeting, rendering history lessons superfluous. Nevertheless, Cody always listened carefully during lectures, studied the course material thoroughly, and worked hard on all the assignments.

"Right, now that that little … disruption … has been dealt with," Professor Reinholds said dryly, "we can move on to your next project." And without further ado, he proceeded to bend down behind his desk and produced a stack of thin, colorful boxes of some kind. Slamming them down onto the desk, he continued: "As you all know, we are now to celebrate Christmas, a holiday that has long been of tremendous import all around Europe, America, and even countries like Japan. There are many things that we do not know about this tradition, even though the Christmas club is unearthing new customs every day—"

Cody could not help but snort at that. "Unearthing," was it? As if they were digging up important archaeological findings or something!

"—and I would like for you all to explore and analyze one such custom," Professor Reinholds prattled on, picked up the stack of boxes from the desk, and started to go around the room handing them out to the baffled students. "That is why I want you to take these advent calendars and open them every day, carefully recording your observations and compiling them in an end-of-term essay."

Cody skeptically inspected his box upon receival and discovered that it was not a box at all, but rather some form of thick card that seemed to be hollow on the inside. There was no lid to open to reveal its contents, but one side was littered with numbers in various sizes of print, and the cheap cardboard was lined around each number, forming detachable pieces that reminded him of jigsaw puzzles.

A girl tentatively shook her card and yelped in surprise when something rattled inside of it.

"Ah, yes," Professor Reinholds said, as if it was a mere afterthought, "these advent calendars have mysterious contents that have great significance to Christmas celebrants—in fact, this may just be the most important object connected to this tradition. Everyone has one, and each day they open the little compartment with the corresponding date. I dare say that this may be a form of worship, and I want you all to go through this ritual every day with the utmost reverence! I know, I know, the term ends at the twelfth and this thing goes on until the twenty-fourth, but you can hand in your papers at the beginning of next term and it'll be fine. Now, open the compartment with the number 1 on it, for the first of December—see what's in it!"

Frowning, Cody located the first window and carefully peeled the cardboard square off. Below the cardboard was a transparent plastic container of some kind, and in an indentation lay …

"Chocolate?" he exclaimed, affronted.

Nobody else seemed to react the same way as him, and some actually laughed in delight and exclaimed over the "cute" figures depicted on their pieces of candy. That only fueled Cody's growing indignation.

"Is this a fucking joke?!" he demanded exasperatedly.

The entire classroom fell silent.

Professor Reinholds blinked at him, nonplussed. "Joke? No, this is perfectly serious."

"But it's chocolate!"

"Yeah, we never get chocolate in school!" said a pig-tailed girl in the front row, grinning with childish delight, completely misinterpreting the reason for Cody's outburst.

He swiveled around at her. "This is supposed to be a serious class—and we're expected to write an essay about opening up some stupid chocolate box like some preparation schoolers?! Surely you see something wrong with that!"

The girl started at his verbal vehemence. For a moment she looked as if she was about to cry.

"Mr. Silver!" the professor thundered, his inner lobster once again shining through. "I will not have you behaving like a delinquent! Out of my class, right now!"

Cody's jaw dropped. He had never been kicked out of class before!

"That is totally unfair!" he protested. "I have a right to express my opinion!"

"Yes, you have—on the other side of my door!"

Shocked and upset, Cody slammed the door open and stalked out of the room, scaring the living daylight out of Ellis, who was apparently waiting for him outside. Too angry to care, Cody just kept going. He had no intention to stick around, so the blonde could either follow or stay behind; see if he cared …

Ellis probably hesitated briefly, because the corridor lay silent behind him for a few seconds before swiftly approaching footsteps announced that his friend was hurrying after him. "Hey, wait up!" he called, but Cody was not planning on stopping until he reached Gamma, or maybe even his room.

He started down the stairs, taking them two at a time.

"Hey, hang on just a second! What happened in there?"

Not until they were well outside Knowledge's gates did Cody make any reply. He felt as if the school had failed him, and he just could not stand to be inside its walls. When they were out in the street and leaving the school grounds behind, he finally felt a slight relief of the pressure that had built up in his chest. Slowing down a bit, he said, "I got thrown out."

Ellis raised an eyebrow in confusion. "For being my partner?" he wondered.

"No, for questioning our next assignment."

"Well, that's stupid," Ellis stated matter-of-factly.

They walked in silence for a few minutes. Then Cody groaned. "Ugh, I've never been so humiliated in my life!"

"Really? Not even when James caught you groping him in his sleep?"

"Shut up!"

"Or when you greeted the president of Finland with your fly open during your finals last year?"

"That is not the same thing!"

"Or that time you were stalking James's supposed girlfriend, tripped over a tree root and stumbled into her cleavage right in front of her real boyfriend and walked around with a black eye for a whole week?"

"Okay, okay! I make a fool of myself a lot—so what?" Cody muttered, his cheeks burning with shame.

"Bro, you are the poster child for jackasses."

"Remind me why I am friends with you."

Ellis threw his arms out and grinned with mock self-satisfaction. "Because I am so awesome!"

Normally, Cody would spend Tuesday afternoon in soccer practice, but due to a water leak in the gymnasium, all activities were suspended for the remainder of the year. Since getting kicked out of history had soured his mood, he did not feel like studying, so he instead accompanied Ellis to the common room for some laid-back card games. If he was lucky, maybe James would show up, too … Although knowing his former roommate, he would probably show up in the company of some annoying, disgustingly beautiful girls …

Cody shuddered at the mere thought.

"You getting cold?" Ellis wondered while he set to work shuffling the deck. His long, slender fingers jumbled the cards with impressive celerity and effortlessness, a testament to his dexterity as a physician in training. Not for the first time, Cody observed that Ellis was the perfect package deal; a doctor-to-be that not only possessed a top-notch skillset and a winning personality, but who also looked incredibly good. Many a girl had pined over his curly, blond hair and his soulful, green eyes; his muscular body and his genuine, brilliant smile. He was the kind of guy who always stood by his friends, who was quick to help and knew how to keep a secret. If you had a problem, regardless of magnitude or nature, Ellis was your man.

"No, was just picturing something … bad," Cody muttered, silently hoping that it would just be them tonight. This day had not been going awfully well, so the quieter the better. Less than a year ago, he would never even have considered hanging out with Ellis Guinevere, but the longer they knew each other, the more at ease he felt in the blonde's company.

Ellis nodded soberly. "Ah, yes … the downside to being young and prone to angst," he said in a tone that was either dead serious or mocking sarcasm. It was never easy to tell with him.

He dealt out five-card poker hands.

They had hardly even begun playing before Cody's current roommate, David Olsen, showed up and put his arms around Cody's neck, leaning in over his shoulder. "Oooh, are we playing strip poker? Dibs on the first guy who gets naked!" he said, and elegantly slid down onto the chair next to him. Zealously clean and proper, as always, David was wearing gray slacks, a crisp, white button-down shirt, and a black vest. His two-inch, brown hair was perfectly coiffed and smelled of apples, which strangely enough did not clash with his expensive Armani cologne. Always on the hunt for new conquests, he prided himself with dressing well and keeping a high standard of cleanliness. He had a reputation to uphold.

"No, we are not playing strip poker," Cody informed him in a tone warning him to not stray into NSFW territory.

David turned pleading deep-blue eyes on him. "Pwetty pwease?"

"No—we're not getting undressed in front of a lot of people," Cody held firm.

"Aww … you guys are boring," David complained. Pouting, he got up and made to leave. But before he went, he bent down and pressed a wet, smacking kiss on Cody's cheek. "See you in our room later," he murmured seductively.

Cody automatically turned to look up at him and said, "Yeah, have a nice evening," and placed a reciprocating kiss on the corner of the roommate's mouth.

Then he was gone.

Across the table, Ellis was staring at Cody with a mixture of admiration and bemusement. "That is still fucking weird," he said, shaking his head and chuckling to himself.

Cody merely shrugged. "You get used to it after a while."

"I don't know if I ever will, to be honest. It's just so … I don't know. You're not supposed to be with David—you're supposed to be with James."

"Yeah, tell that to James—I don't think he got the memo," Cody snorted.

As a way to force James to confess to his feelings, Cody and David had been pretending to be a couple for the past ten months in the hopes of making James mad with jealousy. So far, their plan had worked to a certain degree, but they were still not together, so obviously not well enough. David kept saying that they needed to "up the ante," but in that pervert's book that meant to jump in the sack—something that Cody was not prepared to do with anyone but James.

But since they had been playing boyfriend to each other for such a long time now, casual displays of affection like the kisses they had just exchanged had become routine.

For the next two hours, the two boys kept playing and talking about everyday things, just enjoying the other's company in easy-going camaraderie. When it was time to break it up, Ellis stayed behind to talk to some of his classmates while Cody headed off towards the corridor that led to the staircase. Tired and more than ready for bed, he shuffled along, stifling a yawn.

When he turned the corner, James was there waiting for him. Before Cody could so much as cry out in surprise, the older boy grabbed hold of him and slammed him up against the wall, desperately pressing his lips to his. Shocked, Cody at first reacted instinctively and tried to push the taller and stronger aggressor away, but of course to no avail. As he realized what was actually happening, he knew a moment of astonishment. James was kissing him? In a place where they could get walked in on at any second? But he hated the thought of people finding out about their dalliances …

Hold on just a minute! he berated himself. James is actually making out with me, and I'm wasting time thinking?!

Finally getting with the moment, Cody threw his arms around James' neck and used the wall as leverage to pull his slender five-feet-three-and-three-quarters frame up to the older boy's six-foot height. Now that he was actively participating in the kiss, he was rewarded with a groan of approval from James, who tightened his grip around Cody's waist. For a wonderful, timeless minute or two, they were joined as intimately as two clothed people can be joined; mouths clashing forcefully; tongues twisting around each other; teeth nibbling excitedly at soft flesh, eliciting gasps of arousal.

Much too soon, James broke free from their embrace and stalked off towards the staircase, leaving Cody staring longingly after his retreating back. Panting from exertion and burning with desire, he readjusted his legs to alleviate some of the pressure in his suddenly too-tight jeans. Wow …

As if as an afterthought, James stopped and turned back around upon reaching the bottom of the stairs to face him. Apparently angry, he shook his right index finger at Cody and called, "You are not his! That bastard better watch out, 'cos he has no right to touch you!" And with those words, he thundered up the stairs and out of sight.

Cody made a little victory gesture and mouthed, "Yes!"

So, he had seen him with David earlier? Perfect! Judging by James's strong reaction and lack of restraint, they might just be nearing a turning point in their relationship if Cody made sure to speed the plan along a bit …

He returned to his dorm room with a huge grin on his face.

A/N: Hi everyone! :3 This is a Christmas Special about my favourite characters from my story Tepidash. The original story is still unfinished as of now, but I really missed all these funny, lovable characters and wanted to do something new with them, so I thought of the idea of Christmas coming to Tepidash. Originally, I meant for it to be like an advent calendar—one new chapter each day between December 1st and 24th—but due to some trouble with my whiplash, I am not going to be able to do that (I mean, I am obviously already running way behind for that... XP)

But I will say this: I will write on this story and upload new chapters as soon as they are done. (The progression will be updated regularly on my profile.) So, let's see where this will take us! X3 Also, I made a temporary cover image with some pictures from my The Sims 3 Tepidash family of Cody, James, Ellis, and David. This will serve as a cover until I have been able to draw a proper one, which may take some time since I've recently delved into digital drawing and am slowly learning the art of it. XP

Anyways, I hope you enjoyed this first chapter and that you will look forward to the next one! =D