Green

Outside, it is snowing. Inside, it is green.

Jack is outside with the snow. Lumpy Christmas trees crowd around him, pushing away from the rotting fence at the edge of the nursery and raking their crazed branches through the wind. Garlands woven of miscellaneous evergreen plants twine around the wooden sign out front, which proudly proclaims, "Breezewood Garden Centre."

Jack opens the door and steps in.

"Dave?" he says as he pulls off his hat. It is crusted with snow and ice, and the snow melts flakes into cold crumbs on Jack's hand.

"Hey." A navy canvas smock falls to the floor beside Jack's feet, and David stretches. "What's up?"

"It's cold."

"No, really?"

Jack grins, and slides an arm around David's waist. His coat catches on David's sweater, and the sleeve rides up his forearm.

"Smartass," he whispers.

Together, they walk into the greenhouse.

Even though it is winter, the nursery and greenhouse still have a kind of inner warmth, like the glow of an unseen candle. The greenhouse is filled with pine boughs and poinsettias. It is too cold for anything else.

David gently disentangles himself from Jack's arms and walks over to the boxes in the corner. He lifts one up, and glances over at Jack.

"Give me a hand?"

Jack nods, and picks up another box. It's lighter than he expected, given its size. Together, Jack and David exit the greenhouse and go back into the main store.

"What's in these?" Jack plunks his box down on the counter, ignoring the cloud of dust he sends up, and pulls himself up beside it. He looks down at David.

David flips open his pocket knife. "You'll see," he says. The packing tape snaps apart and its sharp scent mingles with the evergreen in the air. Jack cranes his neck to see into the box, but he is too far away. It doesn't look like there are any Styrofoam peanuts in it, but Jack didn't really expect there to be. David does work at a garden center, after all.

Jack knows nothing about plants, but the bunch of dark green leaves and white berries that David pulls out of the box is something that anyone, regardless of previous gardening experience, would recognize.

"Mistletoe," he says, and slips off the counter to stand in front of David. Jack's hand encircles David's wrist, gently pulling it and the mistletoe up and above their heads.

One of them initiates the kiss. Jack thinks it might have been him, but he doesn't really care at the moment. The mistletoe drops forgotten to the floor as David's hands entwine themselves in Jack's hair, and Jack loses himself in warmth and happiness and the combined scent of pine trees and David.

Quietly, reluctantly, perfectly, David pulls away.

"Got to put this stuff up. Gerry will fire my ass if I don't finish by tomorrow." He pulls out a few more handfuls of mistletoe, and looks around the room. Jack runs a hand through his hair and chuckles quietly at him. David rolls his eyes and heads for the back room, emerging a minute later with a stepladder.

"You're helping," he says like an extremely scrawny boot camp general. He marches past Jack, and Jack follows, his grin growing wider. He watches as David sets up the stepladder near the door to the greenhouse and use a piece of twine to attach the sprig of mistletoe he is holding to the door frame.

David steps down and looks at his handiwork, his eyebrows furrowed thoughtfully. Jack's arms encircle his waist before he can be anal about the mistletoe's angle. The grin is gone from Jack's lips, and they are put to another purpose entirely.

David sighs, and looks down at the box of mistletoe at their feet. "I really need to get this done, Jack."

"Can't it wait?"

"No."

Jack pulls away sulkily, and David drags the stepladder to the middle of the room.

"I think," he says absentmindedly as he adjusts the ladder, "I'll make you do this one. Since you were distracting me."

"Is that what they call it now?" Jack says as he climbs up the ladder, box of mistletoe in hand. He attaches the first sprig deftly, as though he has been decorating garden centers all his life. When he reaches for another one, though, David grabs the side of the ladder.

"What are you doing?" he asks.

"Hey, if you're gonna be festive, you might as well go all out," Jack replies, finishing with the second sprig and going for another one.

"Jack."

"What?"

David smiles ruefully and crosses his arms. "You're going to get me fired. Of course."

"No, I'm not."

"You really are."

"Your boss will love it. I swear."

Jack smiles as David walks out of the room.

When he returns ten minutes later, neatly folded smock in hand, he almost drops it. "Jack!"

Jack jumps off of the ladder, which is now on the other side of the room. "I knew you'd like it."

"What the hell?" David is slowly circling the room, eyes glued to the ceiling. Waxy green leaves and white berries cover it so entirely that it looks more like some kind of Christmas-flavored jungle than it does a store.

"There's still another box left," Jack says, wandering back to the counter. "Maybe I should use it, too."

"No!" David sprints across the room, and grabs the remaining box from Jack's hands. "This is going away now."

He rushes into the greenhouse, leaving Jack standing in the main room. As he lays out the mistletoe along with the holly and poinsettias and evergreen boughs, he writes a mental speech about the exact ways Jack is like a spastic two year old who cannot be left alone for more than two minutes before someone or something gets hurt.

When David gets back into the store, the only thing he says is, "You are the weirdest person I have ever met."

"You love me for it," Jack says.

"I'm just resigned, is all." He pulls Jack into another lingering kiss. Then, there is no more talking.

Outside, it is still snowing, but inside it is very, very warm.

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