UNWRAPPING
1+2, lime, ficlet, humour, sap
For jania, for Christmas fun!



“Good God, It’s a yeti. Carrying a shopping bag.” Duo opened the front door to the apartment and let the bulbous figure shuffle in past him. “Welcome, mythical creature. You are far from home but I hope that the big, bad city will treat you well this Christmas -”

Shunh unh, Dunh,” came from the moving mound of thick winter coat, scarves and shawls. It waddled into the lounge and a giant, gloved hand dropped the bag it had been carrying.

Duo followed, grinning. “Is that a Christmas gift for me?”

The visitor shook the upper part of its body. It was difficult to identify it as a head, because it was wrapped in several scarves that hid where its neck met its body. Cannht fiunh annuhnging suitanhnl.”

Duo sighed and tugged at the end of one of the scarves. “Heero – because I assume that it is you underneath all this clothing – I can only understand what you’re saying because I am attuned to your chi, have worked and lived with you almost 24-7 over the last year, oh, and because I talk that language when I’ve had too many beers and my tongue swells. But no-one else will work it out. Can I remove some layers?”

Two bright blue eyes peered over the top of thick cloth, darting from left to right in the room.

“Yeah,” answered Duo. “The heating’s on at last. The landlord fixed the boiler. I had to offer him three mince pies and several sherries, and then when he got fresh, I had to threaten him with an imaginative use of holly, but the repair is done in time for Christmas Day. Here, let me.”

He started to unwind one of the scarves around Heero’s neck, freeing the lower half of the other man’s face as well as his eyes. “This is mine, isn’t it?” he asked, casually. “Thought I’d lost it last year.”

“… down the bnhk of the counhn…” muttered Heero, his mouth full of woolly ends.

“Yeah,” smiled Duo. “That was a laugh, last Christmas Eve, wasn’t it? I’ve never known Scrabble to be played quite that way, I mean, actually scrabbling for the tiles down the back of the cushions like that. But it was fun, though you were pretty clumsy, hands all over me.”

Heero made a soft coughing noise.

Duo concentrated on a thick, striped shawl that was tangled over Heero’s left ear and nose. “We got this one in that charity shop, remember? Good thing, too, because the boiler packed up last Christmas, too. We had to huddle up together on the couch after the Scrabble game, this shawl over our shoulders, sitting in front of that one-bar portable heater for the rest of the evening.”

“It was great,” murmured Heero, his eyes following Duo’s careful movements.

“Huh?” asked Duo, an armful of striped fabric. “Sorry, I didn’t catch that.”

Heero shook his head and stood still while the rummaging around his coat collar continued. Duo tugged out a length of a particularly expensive-looking green scarf, finally opening up his housemate’s face to the fresh air again, and releasing a bunch of tousled dark hair above it. “And, of course, this one’s Quatre’s. He called to say he and the other guys won’t be over for a day or two – other commitments, he said, but then he snickered for some reason.” He smiled, chatting on easily. “You remember why he left this scarf? He thought he was interrupting something when he came over that night. He was bringing us some of his special, excessively alcoholic Christmas cake and just let himself into the apartment. When he found us on the couch, all bundled up -”

“ – lying down -” Heero said, softly.

“Yeah,” Duo nodded and continued, “ – sort of lying down, too, well, he got all flustered, dropped the cake on the table and dashed back out. Left his scarf behind, and he never dared ask for it back.” Duo smiled, even more broadly. “Do you remember the shocked look on his face?”

Heero shook his head. His eyes were unnaturally bright. “I wasn’t looking at his face.”

Duo looked away but his eyes were sparkling as he tugged the green scarf completely free. “He must have thought we were making out, or something.”

“Must have,” breathed Heero. His face was flushed all over, now. Duo’s fingers were inside his coat collar, releasing the last scarf.

“This is a new one, isn’t it?” Duo sounded puzzled. “It’s gorgeous. The colour looks the same as your eyes. And it’s very soft, better quality than Quatre’s – how can you afford cashmere? We said we’d have a quiet Christmas here, not spending too much on food or presents, just making our own entertainment -”

“ – like last year?” Heero’s voice was almost a squeak. “That’s what the label said!”

Label?” Duo still sounded puzzled.

Heero’s voice tumbled out like a snowball rolling down a hill. “It was on the mat when I got up early – the scarf, Christmas wrapped, labelled for me from Secret Santa, with the message that it might bring me a Christmas like last year. So I put it on – and a couple of others, of course, because I knew the weather was on its way towards freezing out there tonight – and I went shopping for your present.”

“Well, it wasn’t from me…” mused Duo.

Heero wasn’t stopping any time soon, though. “But I couldn’t find anything suitable. I wanted to get you something special this year – something to tell you how much I appreciate your friendship, how it’s been great living here in the city with you, how I would like more of…” His words ran out. He smiled a little ruefully; he blushed more deeply. He picked the shopping bag back up and held it out to Duo. “Anyway, I failed. This was all I came back with.”

Duo peered in the bag and then grinned back. “This is all special, Heero.”

Heero glanced into the bag, too, and frowned. “A new set of Scrabble?”

Duo laughed aloud. He sounded very warm and happy. “No. I mean being here with you. I feel the same about it all. And that message was pretty spooky – I’d like a Christmas like last year, too.”

Heero still frowned, but now his eyes shone with their own heat and light. “Like – watching A Christmas Carol for the fourth time? Like eating cold pizza because we can’t cook anything? Like getting very slightly boozy on Quatre’s Christmas cake?”

“Yeah. Just like last year,” murmured Duo. His hand slipped the top button of Heero’s coat. Then the next. “I admit I was hoping you’d want to repeat the performance. The boiler only broke this year because I kicked it. I was trying to set the scene so you’d remember what we got up to last year.”

Heero swallowed heavily, as if some of the fluff from the scarves had got stuck in his throat. “I never forgot.”

“Me neither.” Duo was very close to him, his hands slipping inside Heero’s coat as he undid the buttons, his fingers warm against Heero’s shirt front. “I just wanted you to be OK about it.”

Heero was grinning, too, now. Really broadly. His jaw ached from it. “I can always shop for your present in the January sales…”

Duo shook his head. “No. I don’t want you to. You don’t need to. All I want for Christmas is you, Heero.”

Heero blinked hard. “And that you’ve got.”

Duo nodded, loosening the last button of Heero’s coat and pushing it impatiently off his shoulders. “That’s my present. Unwrapped. Or, it will be, soon.”

Heero was still blushing but his eyes glinted wickedly. “So long as the boiler keeps going, of course. And do I get to unwrap you, too?”

Duo made a strange growling noise in the back of his throat. “Just take those gloves off and get started.”


End