Something to Unwrap

Ten years in LA and Jason is no longer baffled and vaguely disturbed by the lack of winter weather. It still looks and feels like Christmas everywhere he goes - people still put up Christmas trees and decorate their houses and offices, stores still play Christmas music, he can still pick up a fruitcake at Ralph's. (Not that he ever plans to, but he could if he wanted.) At any decent sized mall he runs the risk of encountering a winter wonderland complete with cotton snow, disgruntled elves, and a line of restless little kids all dressed up so their parents can plop them on Santa's lap and have their picture taken.

And of course there are presents to give and receive.

So far it's been a pretty decent Christmas for gifts. Mr Hatch (Jason will never be able to call him Gleeson) got him a pair of tickets for any game from the Dodgers' upcoming season. They're good seats, better than Jason would be able to get on his own. He got a present from Sasha, the receptionist/secretary at the gallery, a flat gift-wrapped box that looks suspiciously like it contains jewelry. (He thought ahead and bought her a necklace when he was in Santa Barbara earlier in the month.) Even Jennie stopped by the gallery today to give him something - she joked that she'd gotten him a hamburger phone, and he won't be surprised if that's really what's in the box - and invite him to her New Year's party and tell him they should hang out sometime. He kind of misses her when he hasn't seen her for a while. They were a complete failure as a couple but they make good friends.

Jason's parents sent him some gifts, at least one of which (he knows) is going to be Red Sox-themed. He's pretty sure one of the books is Dennis Lehane's latest novel, because his dad has spent the past two months talking about it. (Jason's dad claims to have met Dennis Lehane in a Whole Foods in Brighton. Jason might believe this if either his dad or Dennis were the kind of people who regularly shopped at Whole Foods in the first place.) For the past few years, his dad's parents in Arizona have sent him a kachina doll each Christmas, and from the size and shape of the box that arrived at his place two days ago, he'd bet they continued the tradition. He actually hopes they have - he likes kachinas and thinks their mythology is fascinating. His mom's mom in North Carolina has very probably sent him another scarf or a pair of mittens, despite Jason and his mom both telling her (like they do every year) that he lives in southern California where it never gets that cold.

He drives home on Christmas eve thinking about what kinds of presents his folks might have sent him and what kind of kitschy gift Jennie bought him and is Micah going to like his presents. Jason took them over yesterday - a reproduction movie poster for Bad Day at Black Rock, a gorgeous picture book about Mexican folk art, and a pack of erasers shaped like various pieces of sushi. (That one's more of a stocking stuffer.) He also wrapped a box of gourmet dog treats for Maybelline and Dodge. The plan as far as Jason knows is for him to go over to Micah's house tomorrow, about when most people would be in church, so they can unwrap their gifts together. Jason just hopes Micah hasn't spent a lot of money on him.

He has no idea what to do with himself for the rest of today. His friend Edie is having an open house starting around seven, but Jason has spent so much time among so many people for the last few months that he's kind of looking forward to not having to go anywhere, see anyone, or do anything. He figures he'll make something nice for dinner, maybe try to bake the cookie-mix-in-a-jar his cousin sent him, drink eggnog, and watch TV. Maybe he'll call Micah's house and wish a Merry Christmas Eve to the crowd of people that's always there, but mostly he plans to slob around his apartment and relax.

When his grandparents still lived in Arlington, his mom would go to midnight mass to make her mother happy, but after his grandparents moved, she stopped. Jason and his parents always went to church on Christmas day, picking the latest morning service possible so they could open their presents first. Jason remembers waking up at six o'clock one year and being told in no uncertain terms to put his ass back in bed, it was way too early to be up.

He hasn't been to church since he's been in LA. He doesn't really miss it. His parents are probably going tomorrow, though, but they should be home before he heads over to Micah's. He can calculate the difference in time zones without thinking now.

He's a little surprised to hear noise coming from his apartment when he gets home. He's sure he turned the TV off when he left in the morning, but maybe he didn't hit the off button on the remote hard enough, because there's definitely sound coming from inside.

He's even more surprised to find Micah of all people apparently decorating his place when he opens the door. Jason has a tree, for no other reason than he likes them, and he already decorated it with ornaments and tinsel and little white lights, and he puts out holiday cards when he receives them, and his presents are already under the tree, and he has a little carved-wood nativity that used to belong to his grandfather, and he's done some general seasonal decorating, but still, here's Micah with tinsel wrapped around his neck like a scarf, hanging things on Jason's tree and rearranging the nativity on the coffee table with pine branches and is that a poinsettia?

"What are you doing?" Jason demands, more startled than anything else. He notes that the TV is indeed on, so he wasn't hearing things. "How'd you get in?" He doesn't remember giving Micah a key. Micah turns away from the tree, completely unsurprised, and grins at him.

"I told the super I was your boyfriend and I'd forgotten to give you your Christmas present," Micah says. "She let me in. She's glad you found someone."

"Redecorating my tree is a Christmas present? I liked the way it looked."

"No, I just had to do something while I was waiting. I brought you a plant." He waves at the poinsettia. It does look nice, but still. Micah comes over to where Jason is still standing in the doorway. "I wanted to surprise you. We have this tradition in my family that we open a present Christmas eve before we go to bed, but I haven't given you anything yet so you don't have anything to open."

"I got presents." Jason gestures to the tree.

"Well, yeah, but you don't have one from me."

"I thought I was going to see you tomorrow."

"You are. But I figured I could be your present tonight, and you could unwrap me." His expression gets serious, but Jason still has to resist the urge to snicker. Active seduction sits uncomfortably on Micah, although he definitely gets points for trying.

"So you broke into my apartment?" Jason asks. Micah's expression changes imperceptibly and Jason feels bad, but he's not yet comfortable with the fact that he can apparently come home at any time and randomly find Micah in his place. "Why didn't you call me? I would've come over."

"You know my house - anyone could walk in. I think Citgo lost his place, anyway. He kinda moved into my guest room." He smiles a fond smile. "The dogs are over the moon."

Somehow Jason is not surprised by either of those pieces of information.

"I can be with people tomorrow," Micah goes on, his voice and face naked and honest. "Tonight I just want to be with you."

He's smiling hopefully at Jason. Jason unwinds the tinsel from around Micah's neck, says "I can't take you seriously while you're wearing this shit," and kisses him.

It's a soft, gentle kiss, a romantic kiss but not a long one, and when they pull away Jason is glad he hasn't made any plan for tonight.

"I was going to have a relaxing evening of movies and eggnog," he says.

"We can still have movies and eggnog. Just, you know, we can have sex too."

Later that night, after dinner and nog and dessert and Miracle on 34th Street, after Micah has serenaded him with an assortment of Christmas carols sung in the most sincere voice imaginable, after they have unwrapped each other and made his bedsprings beg for mercy, Jason burrows under the covers with his boyfriend and thinks that no matter what's actually sitting under his tree, it has already been a fucking fantastic year for Christmas presents.