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This Christmas
Chapter Fifteen


`Twas the night before Christmas, and all through the house...

Okay, so it wasn't really a house. More of a bungalow. A very nifty bungalow, yes, but a bungalow.

Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse...

Well, that's not entirely true. Three creatures were stirring. AJ and I were most definitely stirring. I'm not sure about the hermit crab. It was probably stirring. They do that, after all. See, we decided that we needed something to represent our love child, so we picked up Hermie. Come the flight home, we were going to set Hermie free on the beach. Until then, Hermie was spending Christmas with us. No one should be alone on Christmas. Especially not a hermit crab.

The stockings were hung by the chimney with care...

Yeah, about that...they weren't stockings. They weren't even socks. They were...well, remember the hats from the market? We turned them upside down. We figured that would suffice.

In hopes that St. Nicholas soon would be there...

And that he had learned to use the front door. Apparently, they don't like to put chimneys in the bungalows for fear that some idiots will burn them down. Go figure.

And Papa in his kerchief and I in my cap...

Papa looks freaking adorable in his kerchief. Can I say that? As for my cap...well...we talked about the stocking thing, right? There ya go.

Had just settled down for a long winter's...

"Fuck you!"

I smiled prettily and batted my eyelashes. "Yes, please."

AJ groaned. "Man, this sucks. If I can find a block that won't budge, it'll be a fucking miracle."

"Not as big of a miracle as you, darling," I replied with an air-kiss. He rolled his eyes.

"Yeah, yeah. You do that. Go ahead and gloat. It's not my fault that my motor skills suck."

"They don't suck half as well as I do," I winked.

AJ sputtered. "Taylor, for the love of God! I'm trying to play, here!"

I smiled to myself. Call me evil, but tormenting AJ is kind of fun. "As long as you don't knock down the tower. We're at twenty-six levels. We've got to keep going."

"Whoever invented this game should be shot," he grumbled.

"Funny. I kinda like it."

"Much to my chagrin," he grunted before placing a wooden block at the top of the tower. "There. Now, can I knock it down so we can go to bed?"

"Nope. I've got to try my luck first."

"Luck that we know has no limitations," he sighed. "Why couldn't we have played checkers or some other, more normal game?"

"Because normal is boring."

"You're boring."

"I love you, too," I replied cheerfully as I attempted to tap another block out of place without knocking the tower down.


"I hate you."

"Maturity, anyone?"

"You want maturity? I'll give you maturity. I'm exhausted, woman. It's eleven o'clock. You spent all day dragging me through the waves with the excuse of teaching me how to surf, which we both know you don't know how to do..."

I interrupted him with a Cheshire grin as I removed the desired block and set it atop the tower. "We both know?"

He grunted. "Fuck you again. And we both know now."

That was fun. Teaching AJ to "surf", I mean. He's gullible enough that he actually thought the direction of the wind and the size of the boards were throwing me off. Hardly. I just like watching AJ tumble around in the ocean with swim trunks on.

God, couple life is good.

"You had fun."

"I had fun watching you prance around half-naked," he corrected. "Swallowing my body weight in salt water was not fun." He glanced doubtfully at the tower before looking pitifully up at me. "Do I really have to find a block to put on top of this thing?"

"Yes." Duh. That's the point of the game, smart one.

"But Taylor, I'm tired. Tomorrow's Christmas. I want to go to sleep so Santa jump his fat ass down our nonexistent chimney and give me a present or two."

I rolled my eyes and stifled a smile as his whining. "Tough luck, Nick. Besides, you know you're just going to get coal in your stocking this year. Why the hell are you anxious for Santa's visit?"

AJ shrugged and began tapping laboriously at one of the blocks in the tower. "Well, I figured he had some pretty good shit for me this year. Hell, I managed to get you already, didn't I?"


"You suck."

"Not as well as you do," he countered with a smile. "Remember?"

"Shut up."

With a sigh, he removed the block from the middle of the tower and set it on top. "Why do I suck?"

"Because you aren't allowed to say things like that when I can't kiss you afterwards!"

AJ frowned. "Those kind of things are only worth a kiss? Damn. I must be losing my touch."

"Nah," I returned with a sly smile. "I just drive a hard bargain."

"No shit. And here I thought this stupid game of Jenga was enough to earn brownie points..."

"Oh, it does. Just not enough for sex."

He looked up hopefully. "Enough to make mad, passionate love?"

"We'll see how tall this tower gets," I teased. AJ groaned.

"Your turn, babe."

But I was already on it. I'm competitive like that. When it comes to games, it's hard to get me to chill out. There's just something about it...I've got to win. Especially when it comes to verbal sparring. Unfortunately, I live with a genius, so verbal victories are few, far between, and usually a result of sleep-deprivation on Diana's part.

Fucking geniuses. Who needs 'em?


"Don't knock it over!" AJ taunted with a grin. He was crouched down and making funny faces, trying to shake my concentration.

"Ain't no way, man. You know me. I WILL kick your ass in this thing."

He shrugged. "Long as you're kissing it later."

"Hey! No stealing my lines!"

"What can I say? It was a good one."

And the block went to the top of the tower. "For future reference, babe, they're ALL good lines."

"Ego much?"

I grinned. "Yes. Very much. Love me?"

"Gladly," he replied with a sigh. "I just wish we could put these stupid blocks away and get ready for bed."


"Hey, Age?"

"Hey, Tails?"

I frowned in concern. "What time is it?"

He rolled his eyes and stopped tapping long enough to look at his watch. "Quarter to twelve. Why?"

"Shit." I purposely tapped the block he'd been so gingerly budging, knocking the tower down in the process. "Jenga. Time to get ready for bed."

AJ glared. "Hey! I was winning, I'll have you know..."

"You won. Congratulations. Time to turn the lights out."

His glare quickly turned into a look of concern. "What are you so worried about all of a sudden?"

I flinched. "Let's not talk about it. It's stupid and girly and idealistic and shit."

He smirked. "Kinda like you?"

"Fuck off."

"Nah, I have a lady to do that for me now," he retorted with a wink. "Now, why the heart attack? Chill out."

"But we have to get the cookies and milk out and it's almost midnight! If we're not in bed, Santa's not going to come."

AJ arched an eyebrow skeptically. "You're fucking crazy. You know that, right?"

"Yeah, but crazy's a pretty good fuck," I shot back. "Go get a glass of milk from the kitchen, would you?"


Okay, time to explain tradition. I'm not really an idiot, nor am I much of an idealist--hell, I live with the queen of depressing reality. I am, however, big into tradition.

"Because Diana and I always do this."

"Your point?"

I shrugged. "I don't know. I know there's no Santa. Diana knows there's no Santa, but she still pretty firmly believes in the spirit of Christmas. That girl's got a fucking hard heart, but she's childish enough that she leaves cookies and milk out for Santa every Christmas Eve. I eat 'em for her before she gets up so they're gone by the time she gets into the living room. It makes her day. Sometimes, she tricks herself into believing in miracles again. Lord knows she needs something to hold onto. It's silly and stupid, but we've both been big kids for awhile now, so we've kinda retained some of our childhood tendencies."

AJ smiled softly and shook his head. "Okay. I'll get the cookies and milk. Turn the Christmas tree lights on, would you?"

I grinned. "Definitely."

AJ shuffled out into the kitchen for Santa's snack, and I turned happily towards our sorry excuse for a Christmas tree. Turns out that they aren't fans of firs in the Bahamas, so the only tree we could get was a potted palm. AJ and I were dorky enough to buy it and string it with popcorn and Christmas lights. Just to be politically correct, we even glued a plastic menorah to the top of it. I flipped the switch, and the lights glittered in the dim light of the room.

God, I love my life.

"Hey, I've got the cookies and milk. They're Chips Ahoy, but I doubt Santa's picky."

"Diana always makes them fresh," I told him, leaning back into his offered embrace. "That girl acts like a cynic, and she is, but something about the holidays makes her a totally different person."

AJ laughed. "Man, she's gonna make some guy really fucking happy one day."

"How so?"

"She cooks and gives blow jobs for a living. What more could a guy ask for?"

I smacked him.

"I'm just kidding, babe. Damn, don't get violent..."

I hugged him.

"Much better."

It's really no wonder that people think I'm the bipolar one. At first glance, Diana is much more normal.

I chuckled lightly at our makeshift Christmas decorations and smiled up at AJ. "Come on, hon. Let's go turn down the bed and get some sleep."

AJ smiled back and led me into the bedroom. "You know, I'm really glad you came, Tails."

"Between you and I, Age? I'm glad I came too."

He slid off his shirt and jeans and crawled beneath the covers. "Come join me."

Within moments, I was dressed in PJs and snuggled up to the world's sexiest Backstreet Boy with a beat-up version of The Night Before Christmas. He furrowed his brow in confusion.

"What are you reading?"

I chuckled. "Nothing you won't get to hear. If you're still a moment, I'll read to you."

And I did. I read the whole book with AJ mouthing the words silently, trying not to smile. When we got to the end of the book, he wouldn't let me close it. Instead, he studied the picture of Santa and the reindeer for at least five minutes before finally turning out the last light.

We were asleep by midnight.