Christmas in Amsterdam

Erin woke up early the morning of his first Christmas ever spent away from home. He woke up early despite having gone to bed late, and despite the fact that Christmas in Amsterdam wasn't quite as big a deal as it was at home. At least, he was sure there wasn't a pile of presents under Joost's little tree. He had Joost's present in his guitar case, anyway.

He sat up and poked Joost in the shoulder until his boyfriend was awake, and then wished him a Merry Christmas.

"Mm," Joost murmured. "And to you. What time is it?" The Rijksmuseum was open today and at some point Joost had to go to work. Erin didn't think that was fair.

"Seven. One year my sister and I were so excited we got out of bed before sunrise. My mom was not happy." He grinned. "She made us go back to bed."

"I can't do that - you're already in bed."

"I know." The grin widened. "I got you a present."

"You did?"

"Yeah, because I didn't know about Sinterklaas, and I still feel bad."

"I told you not to worry about it. We also celebrate something like an American style Christmas." He yawned, then sat up in bed and kissed Erin good morning. "What did you get me?"

"I have to go get it. Stay here." He climbed out of bed and went into the other room, where he'd left his guitar case on the couch. He opened it and took out Joost's Christmas present and his guitar, and then brought them both into the bedroom.

Joost had gotten out of bed and was rummaging through his dresser.

"Hey," Erin said, "back in bed." He pointed to the bed with the neck of his guitar. Joost raised an eyebrow at him and sat. At least he was still wearing his pajamas and hadn't gotten dressed yet.

"I got my sister to send me this," Erin went on, handing Joost the present. It was a New England cookbook, recipes from Vermont, Maine, New Hampshire, and Massachusetts. There seemed to be a lot of dishes that required maple syrup, and after Erin had gotten it he'd wondered where they were going to find authentic maple syrup in Amsterdam, and if they could substitute something else or if he'd have to ask his sister to send him that too. "It tells you how to do a real clambake, with a hole in the sand and everything. It's got really nice pictures, too." He leaned over as Joost flipped through it and tried to turn the pages to the recipes he'd liked.

"Thank you," Joost said, grabbing Erin's hand and moving it so he could close the cookbook. He kissed Erin on the lips. "I looks very interesting. Perhaps I'll cook something from it tomorrow."

"Not tonight?"

"Jan and Anna are having us over tonight. I didn't tell you?"

"No, you did." Erin tried not to pout. He liked Anna, but Jan was weird and his English wasn't good, and after a while Erin got tired of asking Joost to translate.

"There will be a lot of people. You won't have to talk to Jan all night." Joost grinned. "You will have more chances to practice your Dutch."

"Well, ok. Anna's a good cook, at least."

"Always food, with you." Joost laughed. "I know why you like me."

"The cooking and the sex."

"I'm good." Joost was clearly joking, and when he flexed his arms, Erin laughed.

"Oh, I have something else for you too."

"You don't have to buy me a lot of gifts."

"I didn't buy this one. I wrote you a song." He knew he looked incredibly pleased with himself. He didn't think the lyrics were that great, but he'd tried to write some of them in Dutch, and when you tried to write poetry in a language you only kind of knew, you were bound to sound stupid. He just hoped Joost didn't mind.

From the look on Joost's face as Erin rested the guitar on his thigh and started to play, he didn't.

It wasn't a long song, maybe three minutes, and Erin would be the first to admit it wasn't a great song, but it was in a way a love song, and when he was done Joost took his face in both hands and kissed him, a long, slow kiss that was more of a thank you than anything he could have said.

"So you liked it, huh?" Erin asked, when they pulled apart.

"I did, yes. Very much. And now I have something for you."

"What was that you were saying about not buying presents?"

"This is less of a purchase and more of a promise." Joost got off the bed and went back into his dresser, poking around until he seemed to remember something and went out to the other room. Erin sat on the bed with his guitar and waited.

Joost came back with a flat little box, about the size of something you might put jewelry in, and held it out to Erin.

"I have been keeping this in my satchel," he said. "I have waited for a good time to give it to you."

"What is it?" Erin took the box.

"Open it and see."

Joost hadn't sat down, which Erin thought was a little disconcerting, but he opened the box anyway. It was a key on a long chain. It looked like a house key. It really looked like Joost's house key.

"I want to wake up next to you every morning," Joost said. "Besides, you should not be paying to sleep at the hostel when you spend half your nights with me."

"Wow," was all Erin could think of to say. "You want me to move in with you?"

"Will you?"

"Of course! Oh, man, this is... wow. I'm kind of a slob."

"I know."

"I do my dishes, though."

"I know that too."

"...When do you have to be at work?"

"Half ten."

Erin glanced at the clock, then grabbed Joost and pulled him down, so Erin ended up on his back on the bed with Joost on top of him. Erin really only knew one way to adequately show his appreciation and his love, and they had a lot of time.