Word count: less than 2500 words (but getting there, muhaha!)
Summary: And of course, not having Christmas nookie would be the ultimate sting of failure, wouldn’t it?
Notes: The title comes from Photosynthesis, by Frank Turner. Um, this fic feels kinda weird to me, because 1. River is weird enough on his own, and 2. It just. It feels different somehow. Maybe it’s just River. BTW, cruentare, River is the bitchiest, most inconvenient muse ever. He kept abandoning me and then coming back when it’s time to go to bed, so thanks so much, my body clock is still screwed, but I love him anyway. Much thanks to rasgado for being my beta, for putting up with the silliness and the corniness, and whatever shit I came up with.:)) I swear, when we turn Junjou Romantica, I will not be surprised.
So here goes.:) Happy hols, you girls, and I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it.:)
It’s Obvious My Angry Adolescent Days Are Done
River hated Christmas.
Ok, that was a lie. He loved Christmas. He enjoyed getting a tree, decorating it, putting colorful tinsels all over the flat he shared with Lex, and hanging stockings on the fireplace. He enjoyed getting presents for all of his mates and his siblings, and picking out frames to print into cards he could send out. He liked it when people went out caroling, because he used to do that with his siblings when he was younger, and it reminded him of the rowdy noisy playtimes they used to have. He loved the snow, he absolutely loved the snow, and all the snow angels and snow men and snowball fights he had won and lost, and really, Christmas reminded him of the simple joy of living, and he loved every bit of it.
Except the bit where he had to get a present for Lex.
This should have been easy. Figuring out the one present a person wanted for Christmas was a three-step process: looking for hints, making a conclusion, and purchasing the present. This process had never failed River before. He’d been able to figure out an unbroken line of perfect presents for all the people he’d ever thought of giving presents to -- Chim’s harddrive expansion, Nathan’s new car security system, Inigo’s son’s college plan (which was also a joke somewhere in there, but Inigo wasn’t laughing), a new pack of smokes for Leon (because he was easy to please that way) – and all of these, he’d been able to conclude by visiting their flats at least a week before the holidays.
So, figuring out what Lex wanted for Christmas shouldn’t have been difficult at all, especially since the man bloody lived with him. But no, he’d searched the flat high and low for clues, dissected each and every sentence that came out of Lex’s mouth for hints, and even hacked into all of Lex’s email accounts (that afternoon when Lex was kipping out on the couch, because he’d been wrapping presents in the living room and so River was prohibited), yet, all efforts were fruitless.
Which is how he found himself wandering into different shops in Paris, which is a long way from their flat in New York, and since he’d said he’d only be out to buy milk, he hadn’t thought to bring his ‘It’s-fucking-winter-in-Europe’ coat. (Also, that would’ve totally blown his cover.) Shivering, he brought out his mobile from his pocket, hitting speed dial.
“Te voy a mat – I mean – feliz navidad,” Inigo picked up after three solid rings.
“What are you getting Lex for Christmas,” he said, because he was straight to the point, and maybe the cold was making him sound a little desperate.
“Hello to you to, Rio,” the voice sounded amused. “My caller ID didn’t register your number, how strange.”
“I’m in Paris,” he snapped, because he couldn’t stand the cold, and it was Christmas Eve and he still didn’t have a fucking present, “Answer, right now, Torres.”
“If you’re attempting intimidation, you’re failing miserably,” Inigo told him, and he could almost hear the smirk from the other end. “And I told you, you can’t just wing it when it comes to his presents, didn’t I?”
“Spare me the lecture,” he tried to say through his chattering teeth, and he started pacing if only to get his blood flowing properly, “Any hints?”
“None,” came the answer.
River really didn’t want to grovel, but then he thought of the brilliant post-present-opening shag he could be getting from Lex, and he figured his pride could hack it. He was about to say ‘please’ when Inigo’s little munchkin of a son began making noise in the background and Inigo nearly immediately took this as his way out, excusing himself then very obviously cackling cruelly as he hung up the phone.
Fuck it, he thought, then dialed another number. “Chim,” he said as the other line picked up.
“I’m not telling you what I got him for Christmas,” Chim immediately replied, and hung up.
He was about to apparate home when he realized he still hadn’t bought milk. He bought an insanely expensive one from the closest dairy store. He knew he could’ve just bought one from the convenience store down the corner of their flat In NY, but then he’d thought, if he couldn’t get Lex a proper Christmas gift, he could at least give him the finest milk he had the power of purchasing.
It wasn’t easy to be in love with Lex. He was moody, and manipulative, and was quite a cold bastard when he chose to be. To make it all worse, he could also be very materialistic.
He vaguely recalled how Lex’s gray eyes glazed over and the corners of his lips turned downwards ever so slightly as he stared at the gift certificate his mother had sent him for his birthday. It was the look of utter judgment and River simply could not stand to even think of Lex looking at him in that way. He particularly didn’t like being judged, more especially so by the man whose arse seemed to have been carved out of marble by the gods themselves. By the man whose arse he could salivate over at any given time of the day. By the man who could refuse him access to such arse should he come up with the wrong present that night.
And of course, not having Christmas nookie would be the ultimate sting of failure, wouldn’t it?
The flat was quiet when he came in, and there were no signs of motion anywhere, so he assumed that Lex had stepped out. He placed the milk into the fridge and dropped down onto the couch. He fished around for the remote, but couldn’t find it. He gave up the cause and closed his eyes instead.
He was about to doze off when his mobile vibrated, jumping to life in the pocket of his denims.
‘You could always be a thief,’ said Leon’s SMS, and immediately, River was cursing his inferior brain for not having thought of it sooner.
He got up and off the couch, and was out of the flat within two seconds.
About seventeen minutes later, River limped into their flat, and took the cooled milk bottle from their fridge. He held it against his so-swollen-now-rapidly-closing eye.
It wasn’t his fault, really. It was that damned Leon and his idea, which had seemed brilliant at the time. He had broken into Inigo’s flat to steal his present to Lex, and was, of course, found out. Inigo had swung a baseball bat (his gift to his son, or rather, was) on his thigh, and, when he’d collapsed out of the shock of it, not really of the pain, Inigo had kicked him in the face for good measure. Inigo had grinned and even patted him on the back on his way out. Still no hints.
Grumbling, he checked his timepiece. Lex would be home any minute now, and he still had no present.
He decided that perhaps he just needed to clear his mind. Maybe he’d been reading too much into this, looking too deeply into everything and all that. What he needed was a change in perspective.
Which, of course, in Russian, roughly translated to an ice-cold bottle of beer and a few songs at Rock Band.
He turned on the console before leaving the living room to go to the kitchen and have the milk bottle replaced with a Guinness. When he came back to the living room, he realized he hadn’t found the remote yet, so the TV still remained on sleep mode. He cussed under his breath, and proceeded to look for the blasted thing.
It wasn’t on the coffee table, or under it. He’d also checked the couch, and under all of the pillows and even under the couch itself (hissing when he put weight on the bad leg). No such luck. He’d tried on the TV, and behind it, but it was being quite elusive. He eventually found it in one of the drawers, tucked underneath old newspapers. Why it was there in the first place, he didn’t bother trying to figure out anymore, as he pushed the button and the telly came to life before him.
What was running through his mind as the thing came on was how much better his television and Rock Band experiences would be if they had surround sound, when the sounds came on and it was literally coming from all around him. He immediately turned around, and, for the first time, noticed the small black boxes tucked neatly onto the different corners of the living room ceiling.
He tried to think of when it would’ve been possible for Lex to have the system installed without him noticing. He’d only been in his studio across the hall for the past week, and he would’ve noticed if anyone had come in, and he realized that the only time it would’ve been possible was when he had been banned from the living room, but even then, nobody had come in, which only meant –
“Couldn’t wait ‘til tomorrow, hmn?” Lex was smirking as he dropped his keys into the bowl they kept beside the front door. The moment he saw the state of River’s face, however, the smirk disappeared from his face and was replaced with a scowl, and he was striding toward River angrily, “What have you done to yourself!”
And maybe at this point, River should’ve been panicking, because Lex looked like he could murder someone and River knew he was perfectly capable of doing it, but he wasn’t. Because all he could think of was that this was Lex, and how long have you been planning this, you bastard, and he knew it must’ve been weeks because for all of the skill sets Lex had, understanding Muggle technology was not one of them. This was Lex, technophobe, Mugglephobe, who literally jumped away from the telly the first time it had come on in his presence, and would not plug in the vacuum because it screeched bloody murder. This was Lex, whose face was all shades of confusion and frustration when he read the instruction manual of their microwave oven the first week it had come in.
And yet it had been Lex, telling him to stay away from the living room and locking him up in their bedroom because he was manually installing speakers into the room. It had been Lex standing on tops of chairs, disentangling himself from wires, and growing exhausted and kipping on their couch because it really had been a trying afternoon.
It had been Lex, and it had always been Lex, and now he’d had his hand on River’s face and was checking him for further damage and demanding explanations, and it should’ve been awful, really, but it wasn’t.
And all he could think of was shitbloodyfuckingshitson, I really am done for, and then his hands had found their way around Lex’s waist and then their lips were crashing together because he was kissing Lex, firmly, fiercely and fervently, and he really didn’t want to let go.
They kissed, lips and tongues and teeth and hands, and souls, River thought, but then Lex was pulling away, saying ‘Salve, your eye needs salve,’ but River couldn’t let him pull away, not this time. “Bugger the salve,” he nearly growled, and ran his hands over the expanse of Lex’s back before resting them on his hips, “I don’t need it.”
“Yes, yes you do,” Lex said, moving back slightly, but River kept his grip firm.
“I don’t need it,” River said, and this time, his voice was softer, and his face felt hot and flushed and for a moment he cringed inside, because of all the failed attempts at being suave this had to be the worst, but Lex hadn’t moved, and his eyes were bright with something he couldn’t place, so he just leaned in and their lips touched, and he was just ridiculously, unbearably happy, and when Living on a Prayer began to play in the background because the game went on standby, even that couldn’t kill the moment.
What eventually did break the moment was the dawning realization that ohgod, it was bloody Christmas, and they were driving to Inigo’s for dinner and he hadn’t got Lex a present.
“So, um,” River tried break the news to Lex gently as they pulled to a stop beneath a red light. “About the presents – “
“All here in the car, yeah?” Lex said smoothly, “Even the college plan thing you got for Inigo, yes. I wrapped it for you, it really was too easy to tell with the company name and logo screaming its purpose on the envelope. And honestly, River, a pack of cigarettes for Leon – “
“No,” he managed, “about yours…”
Lex stopped mid-tirade and turned to him.
There was a pause, and already River was afraid to look at him, because he already knew what judgment looked like, and what he wasn’t ready for was actually feeling it, “I, um.”
“It’s right here in the car,” Lex said, and River, for the life of him, could not decipher that tone of voice and he must’ve been wrong, because he thought Lex sounded parts amused and parts unsure at the same time.
“I couldn’t get you one,” he said, quickly but clearly, because when you’re committing acts of self-flagellation, they were better done quickly and cleanly. Mustn’t be masochistic.
“No, love,” and Lex sounded more sure this time, and his voice was softer and quite reassuring, “It’s right here in the car.”
And River was confused, so he turned to Lex, and then saw the meaning in Lex’s eyes, the slight flush of his cheeks, and River thought, “Oh.”
And behind them, cars honked because the light had turned green and it was time to go.
And they were both grinning like idiots as River drove on, because really, they should both be ashamed of their attempts at being suave, but they didn’t really care because it was Christmas, it was bloody Christmas, and River loved every bit of it.
Every tiny bit.
Snippet coming up, but don't know when I'll actually be able to write it :D Happy hols!