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It wasn't that Ryan didn't like Christmas. He wasn't some sort of grinch, and for all that Catholicism rubbed him the wrong way, he didn't really associate Christmas with being Christian, so that didn't cast a negative pall over the holiday either. It was just that for Ryan, Christmas had always meant that his father could get OT, Spencer had to be with his family that day and the only thing open was the movie theaters. Ryan didn't dislike Christmas, it was just inconvenient, and inconvenience annoyed Ryan.

This year, Jon Walker and his awful, awful Christmas sweaters weren't helping to alleviate Ryan's annoyance any. Ryan had met Jon's mom, so he was pretty certain she wasn't the one sending him those things, which was really the only reason to wear them. And even then, really only in her presence, so she would think it was a regular occurrence.

Jon's sweaters--besides being completely unseasonal in LA and Vegas--were actually more garish than things like the special holiday M&M's that Brendon was always needing to buy fourteen bags of, or the pandemonium of lights that Spencer always helped his family put up or the wreaths in the stores that told Ryan that every errand he needed to run was going to take longer than it normally would. Jon's sweaters were just one, big, ugly reminder of what time of year it was and that Ryan was ready for it to be over before it had even begun.

He tried not to say anything, of course, because Spencer really loved Christmas, and Brendon had enough of his own issues over the holiday without Ryan reaching out and sharing his, and it wasn't Jon's fault that if he had to go beyond white t-shirts and jeans he just wasn't very fashion-savvy. Ryan didn't even question the fact that he would have mocked Spencer or Brendon ruthlessly for this lack on their part, just assumed that it was because Jon was newer, or something.

Ryan still hated his sweaters, though, it couldn't be helped.

A week before the holiday, Spencer invited Ryan like he did every year. Ryan refused like he did every year, because Spencer really did deserve some time alone with his family, especially on Christmas, and Ryan wasn't a big enough jerk that he didn't know it. Brendon invited him, but there really was nothing scarier to Ryan than the thought of being surrounded by lots of Mormons on Christmas. Jon invited him to hang out and Ryan asked, "Why is it that you didn't go home again?"

Jon shrugged. "My parents are on vacation out of the country. Seemed kind of stupid."

Yeah, okay, that was fair. "What are we gonna do?"

Another shrug. "Movie? I think that sushi place you like is going to be open."

"You don't like sushi."

"I'll get noodles."

Ryan couldn't say why the idea of actually spending Christmas with someone made him somewhat uneasy. Since he couldn't spell it out to himself in words--or, at the very least, images--he said, "Yeah, okay, sounds good."

Jon smiled, and Ryan wasn't going to say it made the sweater work, but, okay, fine, it sort of did.


Ryan really had only ever exchanged gifts with Spencer and Brent and then later on, Brendon. He made a last minute run to the grocery store right before they all closed before Christmas Eve, and on his way out he stopped by the books and magazine aisle and impulsively grabbed "Death and Taxes" which Jon really liked, but was never willing to cough up the money for, even now that he had it. He threw it atop his frozen dinners and orange juice, sighed at himself and used the self-checkout lane.


Ryan arrived on time despite his general disdain for promptness. Jon said, "Hey." He had gone with a red t-shirt for the evening. Ryan felt unaccountably touched at the gesture of comfort. Then he rolled his eyes at himself. Jon asked, "Something I said?"

"No, just, y'know, thinking about something."

Jon didn't ask. Jon was good like that. He knew when Ryan wanted to say more and when he just wanted things left alone. Jon asked, "Hey, before we go, I got eggnog. Wanna have a small aperitif?"

Ryan laughed at Jon's slight accenting of the question. "Sure, sounds good."

Ryan followed Jon toward the kitchen in the loft Jon had begun keeping in Summerlin. He wasn't really paying attention to where he was going when he bumped into Jon's back. He fell back slightly, "Um, sor--"

Ryan never even saw Jon twist, and Jon was not usually a stealthy guy. But the last syllable of his apology was lost in the thought, "Hi, lips," and then, "Hi, lips. Jon's lips." Ryan thought about winding his hands in Jon's shirt and making sure he couldn't move away, but that seemed a little presumptuous, so instead he just let Jon take the lead, or, well, continue to have the lead.

Just when Ryan was beginning to be incapable of supporting himself with his legs, Jon pulled back. Ryan stumbled a little. He looked to the side, chewed on the lip that Jon had been sucking on quite sweetly and said, "Um, I got you a present. Sort of."

"Is it as good as the present I got for myself?" Jon asked, pointing up at the mistletoe hanging low from his high ceiling.

"No," Ryan admitted.

"We'll just leave it for later, then," Jon said, and went to play some more with his present.

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Skin by egelantier, photo by microbophile