I want to take this opportunity to thank everyone who stuck with me through this story. It’s finally here, the end, and I hope you enjoy. 🙂 At some point, probably close to next Christmas, the entire thing will be compiled into a free PDF for your e-book readers. I’ll let you know when I have more (or, well, any) info on that.
As always, here are hte links to the previous installments, if you are just coming on board.:
Christmas Story Continued; Oct 27, 2010: https://sixdreamweavers.wordpress.com/2010/10/28/a-christmas-story-continued/
Christmas Story Con’t Part III Nov 9, 2010: https://sixdreamweavers.wordpress.com/2010/11/10/a-christmas-story-cont-part-iii/
Christmas Story Part IV;Niv 23, 2010; https://sixdreamweavers.wordpress.com/2010/11/23/a-christmas-story-part-iv/
Christmas Story Part V; Dec 14, 2010:https://sixdreamweavers.wordpress.com/2010/12/14/christmas-story-cont-part-iv/
Christmas Story Part VI: Jan 3, 2011:https://sixdreamweavers.wordpress.com/2011/01/03/christmas-story-continued-beyond-christmas/
Christmas Story Part VII: Jan 11, 2011:https://sixdreamweavers.wordpress.com/2011/01/11/christmas-story-continued-part-seven/
Christmas Story Part VIII:https://sixdreamweavers.wordpress.com/2011/01/25/christmas-story-continued-part-viii/
Christmas Story part IX: Feb 8, 2011:https://sixdreamweavers.wordpress.com/2011/02/08/christmas-story-continued-part-ix/
Bchristmas story Part X: Feb 22, 2011: https://sixdreamweavers.wordpress.com/2011/02/22/507/
Christmas Story Part Eleven: https://sixdreamweavers.wordpress.com/2011/03/22/christmas-story-cont-part-ten-eleven/ >
Christmas Story, Part Twelve: https://sixdreamweavers.wordpress.com/2011/04/12/santas-elf-nearing-the-end/
Cody drew in a deep breath. He studied the door before him. It wasn’t much of a door. Just an ordinary, black-painted wooden door with three bevelled glass panes across the top and a Christmas wreath on a hook. It was a nice enough door. He wasn’t sure that he felt the same about the man on the other side of it.
His father had been very accommodating. He’d expected more reticence on the old man’s part, but Peter had been forthcoming with a hard hug and a smile the moment he was within arm’s reach. He’d listened to the explanation of Jack’s partner being shot, the funeral services to be held the day after Boxing Day, and the Boyfriend, rescued from his empty house after hearing the news of his lover’s death.
Part of him wanted to be angry that his family had reached out to this stranger, accepted his place in the dead cop’s life without batting an eye. Even invited him into Jack’s home like he was an old friend. Part of him couldn’t help the sigh of relief that maybe, just maybe, he no longer had to walk on eggshells around his own family. He had this stranger to thank for that. And he would have, too, if the stranger had been there. But Jack had taken him home and it had taken all evening to get the story out of him as to why.
Now he stood, outside this door, staring at the embedded brush strokes of the thick paint and wondering what on earth he was going to say to his erstwhile lover.
“Can I even call him that?” After all, Kriss had only been in his life for a week. The best week he could remember in a long, long time, but still. Only a week.
Then he’d left.
Jack’s explanation of why made no sense to Cody, but then, Jack had maintained that Kriss’s explanation to him hadn’t made a lot of sense, either.
Cody would just have to get the reasons from the man—elf—himself.
“Fuck.” He breathed the curse into the winter darkness, wishing it had more vehemence behind it. He should be mad. He should be furious and on a plane back to Anchorage.
He touched the cold, black paint. Kriss was just on the other side. So close.
The door moved from under his hand and he started, jumping back and nearly toppling backward down the steps.
Kriss’s hand shot out, gripped his downy parka and hauled him forward. They met, chest to chest, breath mingling.
“You going to stand out here all night?” Kriss asked, his voice airy and tenuous.
“Maybe.” Cody peered up at him. The golden glow of the porch light revealed a face thinner than he remembered, more care-worn. Sadder.
“You are sad,” Cody whispered, realizing for the first time that whatever else had happened in the interim, he hadn’t stopped caring about this creature. His hands came up to clamp over Kriss’s and hold them in the tight grip on his coat. “So sad.”
Kriss only nodded, blue eyes locked on his. “So much happened.”
“And all you remember is that someone you loved just died.”
Kriss twisted a hand free. “Not all.” He backed up a few paces and Cody was forced to move with him, their hands still clasped over a fistful of his coat. “Come inside.”
Cody nodded, still captured by the lost expression on Kriss’s face.
Once inside, the door closed and coat hung in the closet, they gravitated to the warmth of the kitchen where Kriss had a kettle on the stove and a mug with powdered soup in the bottom waiting.
“Still drinking this stuff?” Cody pulled the mug round by the handle and snorted at the picture of a jolly, happy Santa face on the other side.
“Michael loved Christmas. He pulled this mug out December first and used it every morning.” Kriss’s finger traced along the rim. “I thought I’d get sick of seeing it every year…”
The breakdown was like a stop action photo series. Kriss’s face crumpled. Tears spilled and his head bowed, and Cody could stand the distance between them not a moment longer.
He pulled Kriss close and held him as tight as he dared, feeling the boney form shaking in his arms. “I’m here,” he whispered. “I’m here.”
Like he had the first time Kriss had walked into his life, Cody patiently cared for the man’s needs, soothing his tears until the kettle whistled, then stirring the hot water into the mug and encouraging him to drink the liquid.
“You must think I’m insane to like this stuff,” Kriss sniffled as he sipped the drink.
Cody just shrugged and settled beside him where he was sitting on the couch.
“It reminds me of you. Even while I was with Michael, and I didn’t know what the memory was, it felt…like something important.” Kriss lifted his face and caught Cody’s eye. “I didn’t leave on purpose.”
“Tell me what happened?”
Kriss explained everything, his memory coming back more and more quickly as he talked, as he settled into the story. “Now you’re here,” he said, peering at Cody over the rim of hi mug, “It’s like it all happened yesterday and Michael is the dream.” He frowned, his brow knitting into a tight whorl of wrinkles. “But not a dream at all, because he was my Michael. He loved me.”
“And you loved him,” Cody said quietly, examining what saying that out loud did to his insides.
Kriss nodded. “But I didn’t…it wasn’t…I didn’t remember you. If I had, I would have found a way to contact you, to come back…”
“No.” Cody shook his head and touched Kriss’s hand where it worried at the rim of his mug. “No, it happened this way for a reason. If you had come back, I wouldn’t be here now. I wouldn’t have talked to Jack today.” Cody dropped his gaze, picked at a loose thread dangling from the cuff of his sweater. “I haven’t talked to him like that since we were kids. Since…”
“He told me about the accident. About your…friend.”
“Boyfriend,” Cody grated through clenched jaw and years of calcified pain. “He was my boyfriend. The first guy I ever kissed. Ever…” he felt the heat ride up into his cheeks. “I loved him.”
“With all the fierceness if a fifteen year old heart,” Kriss agreed softly.
Cody nodded, but didn’t look up. “So I know how you feel. About Michael.”
“You’re not mad.” Kriss’s voice was filled with quiet shock.
“I was.” Cody felt it only fair, after all his companion had been through, the truth he’d risked telling knowing how dangerous it was to take that kind of risk with a cop, that he return the favour. “I was so angry. And hurt. But some part of me knew you couldn’t have just…disappeared like that. Not without something I didn’t understand going on to take you like that. So suddenly. Maybe it was just wishful thinking. I told myself every day I was a fool to believe you. That you were just bored and gone, not wanting to deal with my issues. But I wanted it to be real. I wanted you to be everything you said you were. I wanted there to be that kind of magic in my life.” He leaned across the space separating them, cupped Kriss’s face in his hand. “And look. Here you are, and here’s the magic.”
Kriss giggled slightly, sniffled and his soup sloshed out over his fingers. “Oh.”
Cody took the mug from him. “You need something a little more substantial than that.”
Kriss nodded. “I do. I’m hungry. Tired.” He sighed. “Not magic any more, I think.”
“Wrong again.” Cody moved closer, touched his lips to Kriss’s. “This is where the magic really begins.”