What Friends are For

Specs was woken up by the sound of a large snowball hitting his window. Actually, it was the third or fourth snowball that made him realize it wasn't part of his dream and forced him to open his eyes, wondering who the hell was throwing snowballs at his window.

Yawning, he pushed off his covers, shivering slightly in the cooler air, and made his way to the window. He pushed it open just in time to get a face-full of snow as yet another snowball was thrown.

"Sorry! I didn't realize you were getting up!" came a familiar voice from below, bubbling with barely-suppressed laughter.

Specs squinted down at the blurry scene below, barely making out a dark shape that was probably the thrower and a bright blond patch above it. There was only one person he knew that would a) be at his house throwing snowballs in the morning and b) had that shade of hair. "You're a bastard, Dutch," he yelled down, brushing the snow out of his hair. "What time is it?"

"Almost noon, so it's about time you woke up anyway," Dutchy replied. "Come on, there's snow!"

"There was snow yesterday," Specs grumbled, pulling himself back inside and finding his glasses. "There will be snow tomorrow. The one day I have off work, and this is when he notices there's snow?"

By the time he'd gotten dressed and made his way downstairs, Dutchy was lounging in his kitchen, munching on a granola bar. When he spotted Specs, he grinned, his face lighting up. "I hoped you were getting up instead of just going back to bed. Come on, let's go!" He pulled his coat off the back of the chair he'd left it on, heading for the door.

"Go? Go where?" Specs asked. "What about breakfast?"

"No time!" Dutchy called over his shoulder, struggling with his zipper. "Snowball fight in the park, us against Brooklyn. We need you!"

"Need me because you need people?" Specs asked, pulling on his own coat and slipping a granola bar of his own into the pocket for later. "Or need me because of superior snow fort engineer skills?"

"Both," Dutchy replied, dashing out the door and waiting impatiently for Specs to lock the door and follow him. "Besides, you have siblings. You're better at the whole sneaky thing."

Laughing and shaking his head, Specs ran after the blond to the park. It was amazing how a little snow and the release of pressure after finals turned college students into kids again, gleefully slinging snow at each other. Admittedly, the forts tended to be a bit better made than the three-snowballs-in-a-row they'd used back in elementary school, but still. There was something about getting completely soaked through, covered in snow and the occasional slush-ball, and shoving the enemy into a handy snowbank that brought back memories of a less stressful time.

One thing was for sure, even just the sight of David's face when he popped his head up at just the wrong moment and got a face-full of snow was more than worth spending the first day off he'd had since getting back from school wet and cold.

The battle lasted a good two hours, ending when everyone had had enough of the freezing weather. In the spirit of snowball wars everywhere, both sides insisted that they'd won, and that the losers would have to treat them to all the hot drinks they could stomach. Specs and Dutchy left while Jack was debating the finer rules of snowballs with Spot, shaking snow out of their hair. Now that they weren't running around, frantically trying to make a snowball while dodging someone else's well-aimed throw, the cold hit them, and they made their way to the nearest building to warm up.

"Now, wasn't that better than whatever you were planning on doing today?" Dutchy asked, brushing stray flakes of snow out of his hair and grinning.

"You mean, wrapping the last of my Christmas presents and doing some baking?" Specs asked dryly. "In my nice, warm house, in some nice, dry clothes?"

"Exactly!" Dutchy grinned, letting the sarcasm sail over his head. "Hey, coffee!"

He headed to the counter, leaving Specs to catch up to him. The building they'd picked to get warm in was, luckily, a café, and the smells of coffee and baked goods were almost intoxicating. The barista was giving the two of them weird looks, which made sense. There they were, a pair of almost-twenty year olds, covered in snow and soaking wet and acting like twelve year olds. It was bound to cause some confusion. Specs smiled at him in a way that would hopefully convey that no, they were not crazy and yes, they really were as old as they looked.

"Specs, how much money do you have?" Dutchy asked, leaning on the counter and reading the chalkboard of specials. "We should get coffee."

"You don't need any coffee," Specs replied, though he dug into his pockets anyway to find a soggy five dollar bill he'd forgotten about. "How's this?"

The blond squinted at the specials. "It'll buy one small peppermint mocha," he announced. "We'll take it."

The barista didn't looked pleased at having to handle the sopping wet bill, but he rang in the drink and handed over the change—a ridiculously small amount, considering the fact that it was little more than a small cup of coffee with some chocolate sauce and flavouring. The coffee was ready after a moment, and Specs took it before Dutchy could. "Thanks," he said, heading out the door.

Outside, the other boys seemed to have come to an agreement over who had won the snowball fight (Manhattan, according to Jack, and Brooklyn if anyone asked Spot) and were starting to drift off in clumps towards their homes. Despite the temperature and the occasional painfully hard snowball, it had been a good day, Specs decided. And, he had to admit—if only to himself—that it had been more fun than struggling with tape and wrapping paper. Even the overpriced coffee was good, sweet and minty.

"Hey, do I get to try that? Since I suggested it and everything?"

Specs laughed at the puppy dog eyes Dutchy was giving him. "Go ahead," he said as they started heading back to his house.

He held out the cup, but the other boy had a different idea, leaning in and kissing him. For a moment, Specs froze. Dutchy took advantage of it to slide his tongue into Specs' mouth, exploring it eagerly to find the lingering taste of coffee and chocolate and mint. After a minute that lasted for years, he pulled back, licking his lips. "Mmm, that is good," he said, grinning at the other boy's shocked expression. "What?"

Wordlessly, Specs, just shook his head, a smile forming on his own lips in response to Dutchy's. "You know," he said conversationally, "most people would have taken a sip from the cup." He gave the cup a jiggle, sloshing the coffee inside.

"Most people," Dutchy replied, slinging an arm around the other boy's shoulders, "are boring." Well, he did have a point, there. No matter what else people called Dutchy, 'boring' certainly wasn't brought to mind. "Now, you said you'd be baking?"

Specs laughed. "You can come, but only if you swear not to eat all the dough before I bake it."

"I would never!" the blond declared, insulted. "Well, maybe some of the dough," he amended. "What are friends for?"