It was the night before Christmas and all through the flat, two creatures were stirring—especially the rat. When Yuki disappeared shortly after picking you up from work, you expected him to be in the bath, trying to warm up after so much time spent in the snow. You found him, however, in the living room, hanging up stockings. Behind Yuki stood the twinkling Christmas tree, already ornamented; next to him sat a stack of (badly) wrapped presents.
“Busy while I was out?” you asked after you had taken all of this in.
“I just thought it would be a nice surprise for when you got home.” Yuki sat back to admire his handwork on the stockings. “I picked up the cake as well.”
“Huh. Sounds like there’s not much more for me to do.” With that, you collapsed gratefully onto the couch. Even after having lived with Yuki for the past four months and finding that his family was more than willing to pay all the rent, you still couldn’t bring yourself to quit your cruddy retail job. It would have to do until you graduated—though the holiday rush was causing you to rethink this plan. You couldn’t ever remember being so tired before.
As your eyes drifted shut, Yuki hummed in agreement. The cushion next to you shifted, and then you felt Yuki’s hands gently shifting you so that you were leaning against him. “Still upset that we didn’t go visit my family for Christmas?”
You could hardly believe that he was bringing up your stupid almost-fight. Did you appear at all as though you were in the mood to berate him at that moment? Maintaining consciousness was difficult enough. “You just don’t want me to meet that ex-girlfriend of yours you have all those pictures of.”
To your surprise, Yuki chuckled. Though he certainly wasn’t as quiet as he’d been when you’d met him in your first business course two years back, the fact that he thought something funny enough to laugh like that had you opening your eyes.
“Tohru was never anything more than a friend,” Yuki said with such a sweet smile that you blushed at having brought up the matter to begin with. “I merely thought it would be nice to make our own Christmas traditions.”
He had such a weird way of saying sweet things when you least expected them. Staring at him probably only made your blush more evident; you had to cover by snorting and settling back onto his chest. “I hope you’re okay with our Christmas traditions involving me falling asleep on top of you.”
The gentle fingers in your hair were answer enough. “I don’t mind,” he said once you had nearly drifted away entirely. “The quiet is nice.”
Perhaps if Yuki hadn’t said that, the scene that followed would never have happened. Almost before he had finished voicing the sentiment, someone began to pound on the door. Yuki disentangled his hands from your hair.
“I wonder who that could be,” he said as he got to his feet. “I told Kakeru not to come.”
Woe be unto Kakeru, had he chosen to go against Yuki’s expressed wishes of being left alone on Christmas. It didn’t seem like Komaki would allow him to, but you were well enough acquainted with the couple to know that she wasn’t always able to restrain him. You were so confident that whoever it was at the door would be expelled that your only response was to roll over and try to go back to sleep.
“What’s this? Is [Name] such a child at heart that she goes to sleep early on Christmas Eve to expedite the arrival of Santa Claus?” That voice. You knew that voice. Your eyes popped open, you flipped over and saw, to your horror, Yuki’s older brother standing in the living room. “But Yuki! You did not tell me how whimsical your girlfriend was.”
“Ayame, what are you doing here?” Yuki demanded, rounding the corner with Mine in tow. He looked much more upset than he would have had the visitors actually been Kakeru and Komaki—and with good reason. “I told you not come!”
“I know that, Yuki, but I also know what a lonely Christmas it would have been for you and [Name] if you’d really had to spend it alone.”
“Let me guess.” Already Yuki looked as tired as you felt and his brother hadn’t even been there for ten minutes. “Everyone else in the family had plans that didn’t involve you.”
A very long pause followed this statement. Then, Ayame beamed. “Don’t be silly, Yuki! I will have you know that there are only three men in the entire world that would go to such lengths to spend Christmas with their brothers—I, of course, being first among them.”
Yuki only frowned.
“We tried to visit Hatori and Mayu’s,” Mine whispered, holding a finger up to her lips, “but Hatori slammed the door shut on us.”
“Did he,” Yuki stated. Ignoring this, Ayame threw himself on the couch next to you. You opened your mouth to tell him to get the hell away, but he interrupted you by slapping his palms several times against his legs.
“Come, come! It was a rather long trip, you know. It would be polite in this situation for the woman of the house to offer refreshment to her guests.”
“Ayame…” Yuki began in a sigh. Too bad for him that he had missed his chance to smooth things over.
“Hey,” you said. Ayame didn’t react. “Hey, you. You with the stupid hair. I don’t cook.”
He ignored your jab at his hair and, blinking, said, “Still? I would have thought Yuki would have tamed you in the months it has been since our last meeting.”
“I. Don’t. Cook.”
“Well, why don’t you at least try?”
“Ayame,” Yuki said, more sternly.
“What? Is this another situation like Tohru’s? Do you expect me to take [Name] out for a meal as well?”
“I don’t think that’s a very good idea,” you said shortly.
“Whyever not? After all, I have decided to forgive you for taking the place of Machi as Yuki’s beloved in his heart.”
“Gee, thanks,” you said through your teeth. You’d never met Machi, but given the constant asides you got about not matching up to her when Yuki’s brother was around, you were seriously starting to dislike the girl. Yuki must have sensed this, because he rapidly attempted to change the subject:
“So how is work at the store?” he asked Mine. “Are you busier than normal?”
“Yes, of course!” She lifted a large piece of fabric you had assumed to be her coat. “I brought some projects along so we don’t get behind during vacation.”
Yuki appeared very relieved. “So that’s not something to forcibly change [Name] into?”
“What?” you asked, but no one heard.
“Don't be silly,” Mine sang. “[Name] isn’t as cute as Tohru or Machi! Dressing her up would be a waste.”
Quite abruptly, you got your feet. The other three in the room fell silent. You didn’t bother to answer their unasked questions as you began to traipse toward the door—at least not until Ayame decided to speak up:
“Good heavens. Could it be you’re going to get food since you are so adverse to the idea of preparing it?”
“I just need a breath of fresh air,” you snapped, and threw the door open and shut behind you before he could say anything to make you angrier. Outside, you could no longer hear his voice. All was silent and dark. Everyone else in the apartment complex, it seemed, was inside, enjoying their loved ones or a nap. Lucky them. Once Ayame decided to stay, he normally didn’t leave until Hatori came looking for him. For once you could actually look forward to your hectic work schedule, as it would get you out of the house more often.
You felt bad, knowing that you had left Yuki inside to deal with his relatives on his own. He said that his relationship with his brother had only improved in the past few years, but they still clashed frequently enough. Still, Yuki was not the one constantly being compared to women he had never met or being told that he wasn’t good enough for his significant other—an idea you heard fairly often anyway, considering that most people at the school thought Yuki far too rich and beautiful to date someone like you.
Your bitter musings were interrupted by the door nearby opening. You spun quickly on the spot, preparing to run if it was either Mine or Ayame. The worry was needless; Yuki stepped out and closed the door behind him.
“You forgot your coat,” he said as he offered it to you. “And your shoes.”
“Oh,” you said. “Sorry.”
Unsure of what to say in the way of an apology for your recent tantrum, you simply took the coat and shrugged it on. Yuki, however, only continued to look upset. “You’re not going to leave, are you?”
“To go get food for that guy? Fat chance.”
Yuki blinked. “No, I meant—Ayame didn’t put you off of me forever?”
It was your turn to blink, and then to blush. “What? No! I just—I need a warning whenever Ayame is going to come around so I can mentally prepare.”
“I…don’t think I can promise that.”
“I know.” You sighed wistfully and stared off into the distance. The apartment complex had transformed into a wonderland of sorts, dark, with squares of light shining from each room, and snow falling quietly down all around you.
“[Name], I’m sorry. Ayame means well. He just doesn't know how to express it. And I don’t think you’re worth less than Tohru or Machi. They’re both very good people, but I’m not dating them. I’m dating you.”
You nodded. Suddenly your throat felt tight and your eyes felt as though they were burning. God, if you cried and Ayame walked in on it, you would have to punch him to save face.
“I’m sorry,” Yuki said again, “for ruining your Christmas.”
“Eh?” You looked wildly up and around at Yuki. His eyes were focused quite firmly on the ground beneath his feet. To get his attention, you grabbed his hand with one of yours. “Christmas isn’t ruined. In fact, I bet this is the best Christmas ever, even if Ayame does decide to stay half a month.”
“But he’s so loud,” Yuki protested.
“It’s quiet out here.” Still looking at you, Yuki cocked his head. For the moment, all was silent but for the gentle hissing of the snow as it melted against the hall floor. Even that slowly dissipated as the flakes began to pile up against one another. Yuki smiled.
“That’s true. And it’s definitely not quiet inside.” He squeezed your hand before adding, “I know getting food for them is a hassle, but I bet there’s no one else out for a walk right now. Want to pick something up so we can stay outside a little longer?”
You squeezed his hand in reply. “I’d like that.”
“I’ll go get your shoes.” Before ducking back inside, Yuki pressed a quick kiss to your cheek. It did not take long for him to return, likely because he had refused to explain your disappearance or need for shoes to his guests. You pulled your boots on equally fast, then allowed him to hold your hand again as the two of you set off. The snow that continued to fall was perfectly silent.