Leg Injuries and Christmas Chill

Christmas Eves were typically filled with many different versions of one song played over and over while drunk uncles sang along, seeing how many cookies you could stuff in your mouth at once, candid pictures among the family that they’d later blackmail you with, faked happiness at horrible gifts to make the giver feel good, and extremely old relatives smothering everyone and telling stories of when they were young without taking a breath. However, this Christmas Eve was different for Nick. He hadn’t gone home to see his family. Instead, he was now walking along the deserted streets. Even carolers had gone in by now. A howling wind twisted around his body, snowflakes falling onto him and the ground he was treading on.

The blistering cold nipped at what little exposed skin bared itself bravely to the outside. Nick had his arms wrapped tightly around his midsection, which, under the warm coat, pressed against a small bouquet of poinsettias as well as a small box tied to the bouquet. He was trying desperately to keep the gifts safe until he arrived at his destination. It wasn’t much farther now… It was in sight now, and he was thanking God that he hadn’t frozen to death. As he reached the door, he could almost feel the warmth from inside.

He entered the hospital and pulled down his scarf from his face to offer a smile to the secretary who offered a warm grin and signed his name in for him. He headed down the white hallways, looking to his left until he found room number 0325. Unzipping his jacket, he pulled out the gifts, detaching the box from the flowers. He took in a breath before he placed his gloved hand on the metal knob of the door and pushed it open.

A blonde boy lay in the lone bed in the room, knees curled up to his chest and the blanket just up to his ankles while he slumbered. A glass of water and a plate with crumbs lay on the bedside table right near his brown leather eye patch. An empty vase stood behind the three items on the table, matching the cobalt blue of the walls.

A smile spread across Nick’s face at the sight before him. He placed the small box on the pillow by the blonde’s head before pouring the water from the glass into the vase. Situating the poinsettias into the container, he took the blanket and pulled it over the boy’s shoulders, who stirred slightly, before sitting on the edge and watching his chest expand and contract.

A groan escaped the blonde’s lips, not exactly wanting to awaken. Nick leaned down to his ear and whispered, "Merry Christmas Eve, Riley." Riley muttered his response into his pillow, in which Nick just ignored, and opened his one good eye to find a wrapped gift in front of him. He went to grab for it, but the brunette slapped his hand away.

"Wait until Christmas Day," he told him with a grin on his face while Riley scowled.

"Hand me my patch," he ordered Nick, who obliged quickly. The blonde sat up and, as quickly as possible, tied his patch around his head. However, Nick still caught a small glimpse of the scarred eye. Of course, Riley never liked showing it to anyone, but he had caught small glances at it out of curiosity.

"How’s your leg?" Nick asked tentatively, watching his friend shrug.

"Not much better, but they say I’ll be out in a few days. It really sucks that I’ll be here during Christmas," Riley answered with a slightly sour look gracing his countenance. Nick only nodded, glancing down at the slight bumps under the blanket that were the other boy’s legs.

Riley had gotten into an accident a few days previous to Christmas Eve in which he had been messing with his father’s power tools. He had been sitting with his legs to the side of him while he turned things on and off out of boredom until Nick had come down with food which had scared him into dropping the tool, which drove right into his left calf. Nick had quickly dropped the food and called an ambulance, apologizing to his best friend, who swore that it wasn’t his fault, over and over.

"It’s not your fault, though. I shouldn’t have been stupid enough to try to mess with those things," the blonde offered with a slight smile. He reached out to pat Nick’s, who seemed to be biting his lip, arm. Glancing at his watch, Nick counted down what seconds were left until Christmas Day.

"Open it," he finally ordered Riley, who gleefully took the small box in his hands and obliged, as he gestured to the box that had been still lying on the pillow. The moment Riley laid his one good blue eye upon the gift within, he found himself both speechless and smiling to no end.

Inside the box was a picture of the two of them with their shirts off at the beach they had gone to in the summer. Nick had his arms wrapped around Riley, his cheek pressed to the other boy’s as they seemed to be laughing jovially at something. They had probably been up to pouring a huge amount of lotion on sleeping tanners’ stomachs and then kicking sand on them. The picture was in a silver frame with a little engraving at the bottom: ‘Always close no matter how far.’

"I brought you some poinsettias, too, so that it feels more like Chr--" Nick began, but he was cut off by his friend, who had taken the action of pressing his lips against the brunette’s. He barely had any time to react before Riley had pulled away with a huge, boyish grin.

"Merry Christmas, Nick," he told the stunned boy, who just stared at the blonde while he touched his fingers to his lips. After a moment of the two staring at each other, Nick finally regained his composure and launched himself at the boy in front of him, minding his injured leg, of course.

"Merry Christmas, indeed," he murmured before their lips met once more.