Word Count -- 1,282
Summary: Aaron asks Rhys for some help with putting up the tree and finalizing their holiday plans, even though he knows Rhys will have something to say about all of Aaron's geeky ornaments. Rhys puts his own special touches on the holiday decorating as only a fae could. It’s set in the Kept Tears universe and you can find the novel here.
Author’s Note -- Happy holidays, 2014. Written for the 12_daysofficmas community using this cute prompt.
Rhys held up a marshmallow snowman. He was perfect with tiny gold sugar-ball eyes, mouth and buttons. He sparkled with heavy crystalline sugar. Aaron wasn’t sure what the arms were made of. His mother had given him a dozen of them.
“I can’t eat this, Aaron. It’s too cute.” Rhys put the snowman back on the dish.
“I know. I told Mom that. How am I supposed to bite the head off of him?” Aaron lugged a plastic storage container closer to him.
“It’s just wrong.”
“That’s what I said. Mom laughed at me.”
“I have no doubt.” Rhys lounged back against the couch, distracting Aaron from his attempt at decorating his apartment. “What do you need me to do now?”
Aaron pointed to the pencil tree his mother had set up. “Put the lights on that for me.”
“You don’t really seem like the decorating type unless it’s putting geek stuff out.” Rhys smiled at him.
Aaron rolled his eyes. “Just put the lights on the tree. I told Mom you would. It was the only way to keep her from putting even more Christmas stuff up all over the place.” His mother loved Christmas more than anything. She needed a small pole barn to store her decorations. He was glad his brother could stop by and help her get it all out. Between his wrecked leg and missing arm, Aaron wasn’t that much of a help.
“You humans have such strange ideas. Dead trees covered in candles, like that wasn’t a fire hazard back in the day, flying deer, food in socks, Santa Claus.” Rhys gave an exaggerated wave of his head.
“You have a problem with Santa?” Aaron arched his eyebrows.
“A magical man who can be everywhere at once?”
“You can do similar things,” Aaron reminded him.
“And Santa is a right jolly old elf.” Rhys picked up the lights and started putting them on the tree.
“So he is.” Aaron thought about that for a moment. “Wait. You’re not suggesting Santa is real, are you?”
“Santa no, elves yes.”
Aaron nodded. “I think I met a couple. You are coming to Mom’s for the holiday, aren’t you?”
“Of course. I’ll even go to the church if you want. It’s not a holiday for me, but I’m glad to spend it with you and your family. I’m looking forward to seeing your brother and sister.”
“They can’t wait to meet you either. Mom has laid out a huge spread of cookies for the holiday.”
“They won’t all be too cute to eat?” Rhys pointed to the marshmallow snowmen.
“No, most will be typical Italian cookies and gullets. Here.” Aaron handed Rhys one of the brown sugar waffle cookies.
“Mmm, now that’s delicious,” Rhys said after taking a bite. “Have any more lights? You do know that this tree is pre-lit, right?”
“Yes, but like most pre-lits, it died out in less than two years. Only part of it works so supplemental lights are needed.” Aaron gave him the second set of lights.
“Is there anything you’d like to do for the holidays?” Rhys took the lights and started toward the top of the tree.
“I’m not sure I’d like to go out and eat maybe see a movie or a play. There are the Santas and the trains at PPG Place.”
“I do like trains,” Rhys said, making the lights float onto the tree.
“That’s cheating, Rhys.” Aaron laughed. “We can go to Nicholas while we’re over there. They have the best coffees and teas.”
“Sounds good. We can go over to the Rivers, too. I’ll spot you, part of my gift to you.”
Aaron grinned. “Thanks.” He had managed to enlist the help of Rhys’s twins over Halloween to figure out what to get a faerie who was pushing six hundred years old. Aaron had the money from the military, but it wasn’t enough to live extravagantly. He couldn’t handle work and school plus his various therapies. Aaron didn’t particularly like Rhys having to take care of him. It had taken time for Aaron to feel comfortable with Rhys buying most dinners and paying admission for him. Mostly he was okay with it now. He just hoped Rhys didn’t go too expensive on their first Christmas. On the other hand, the man was a prince so was being spoiled so bad?
“There. I have the lights on.” Rhys gave the tree a satisfied nod.
“You can help me with the ornaments.” Aaron pulled the top off a plastic container. He reached in with his prosthetic hand closing over the box for an ornament.
“I can put them all up if you need me to,” Rhys offered.
“They’re all plastic so I can’t break them. It’ll be fine. I’ll start with this one.” Aaron let the box rest in his prosthetic hand and fished the Galileo Seven ornament out of the box.
“Is that a Star Trek shuttlecraft?” Rhys’s eyes opened wide. “Are you telling me that whole box is filled with Star Trek ornaments?”
“No. There are Star Wars, Dr. Who and Superheroes, too. There are some from Scooby-Doo and I even have Cornelius from Planet of the Apes.” Aaron beamed.
Rhys cupped Aaron’s face, kissing him. “King of the Geeks.”
“You love it,” Aaron replied.
“You wouldn’t be you without your geekiness.” Rhys kissed him again before pulling a Captain Kirk ornament out of the box. “Oh, look there’s a Sheldon “Soft Kitty” ornament in the box. Uber-Geek!”
Aaron could hardly argue that. Together they made short work of the small, thin tree that fit his tiny, tight apartment. When they got down to the last few ornaments, Rhys put his hands in the small of his back, stretching backwards.
“Can you handle the last few?” Rhys asked. “I’ll go put on some tea or something.”
“Sure, that sounds good.” Aaron pointed to a pile of silver tinsel. “You’ll have to put up the tinsel for me and help me with the star.” Aaron stood a few inches taller than Rhys. He used to be able to handle the star without a problem, but as good as his prosthesis was, it wasn’t like a real hand. He hated asking for help but it had gotten better, less embarrassing. Still, it was hard to admit he occasionally needed a helping hand, no pun intended.
Aaron rotated the mechanical wrist so he could see the hook loop and rethread it with a new hook.
“Why do you have butterscotch Schnapps in your cupboard?” Rhys sounded amused.
“It’s Corinne’s. She likes to put it in her hot chocolate. She keeps whipped cream in the fridge too.” Aaron didn’t mind. Corinne, his steampunk and study buddy, spent as much time in his place as she did her own.
“That sounds delicious actually. I’ll make that.” Rhys ran water into the kettle.
Aaron got the last few ornaments up. He didn’t hear the water getting hot and Rhys was quiet. That was always suspicious. “Is it ready?” he asked, sealing up the plastic storage container.
“I didn’t hear the whistle.” Aaron turned then smiled.
Rhys stood in the doorway to the kitchen, whipped cream can in hand. He had lost his clothes and had the tinsel draped around him. “I thought you might want to unwrap a Christmas gift early,” he waggled the can. “so I turned the water off.”
“I think putting the star on the top can wait.” Aaron caught the tinsel with metal fingers, tugging gently. “I want my gift.”
Rhys put his arms around Aaron, kissing him. “I knew you would.”
Aaron caressed Rhys’s muscular back. “Merry Christmas to me.”