A Spoonful of Sugar

Role reversal was big this Christmas in the Conlon-Higgins household. Usually Sean was the one to be the Grinch around the holidays. But this year was different. It was Tony who loafed around on the couch all day, Tony who refused to eat Thanksgiving leftovers, Tony who refused to buy Christmas cookies, and Tony who acted like every ounce of joy had been sucked out of him. Sean was stumped. What to do?

He tried subtly playing. Christmas carols, but Tony switched them to Linkin Park. Next, Sean decided to take Tony to the Nutcracker, but Tony had too much to drink at the bar beforehand, making it too easy for him to stumble into a puddle of slushy water and soak his socks and the bottom of his pants. Tony spent the evening sulking and squelching.

It was the night before Christmas, and all through the house, not a person was happy, not even a mouse. Tony was sitting on the couch, staring at the television, not watching the marathon of A Christmas Story. Sean sat in the recliner, checking emails on his laptop. The entire day had passed in this fashion, and Sean was sick of it. He set his laptop on the coffee table, which was covered in the sports sections of the paper.

"I'm going down to the Jiffy store to get some smokes. I'll be right back," Sean said, stretching.

"Okay," Tony said listlessly, his eyes still glued to the television.

Sean jogged down the stairs and into the frosty winter air. He stuck his hands in his sweatshirt pocket and hurried to the Duane Reade around the corner. He was the only one in the store, besides a pimply-faced teenager working the counter. Sean made his way to the candy aisle, grabbing a box of candy canes. Next stop: hot chocolate from Starbucks. With the two drinks in hand, he charged back to his apartment building.

When he opened the door, Sean found Tony in the same state that he left him in. Tossing his keys on the counter, Sean strode into the kitchen, squatting down behind the counter so Tony wouldn't see him. He took the top off of the hot chocolates and set them on the floor. He tried ripping the plastic off the box of candy canes quietly, but that didn't work out as well as he'd hoped.

"Sean? What're you doing?" Tony called from the living room.

"Uh, opening a bottle of Advil," Sean lied smoothly. He snapped the top off of two candy canes and stuck them in the hot chocolate. The whipped cream had melted into a white puddle on the top of the ventis, not exactly the white fluffy mountain he had hoped for. Standing up, Sean went to the cabinet where they kept their liquor. He sloshed some amaretto in each and stirred it with the candy canes.

Sean walked into the living room and shoved the cup under Tony's nose. "Here. You could use some Christmas cheer," he snarked.

"Thank you, Martha Stewart," Tony said groggily, rubbing his eyes. He cautiously took a sip of the hot chocolate. "This is good. What's the occasion?" he asked.

Sean set his hot chocolate down next to his laptop, and said "The occasion? The occasion is I'm sick and tired of you mopin' around here like you got no Christmas spirit. Maybe you're depressed because you're six months out of college and you haven't found a decent job yet, maybe not. But that ain't no excuse to loaf around as useless as tits on a bull. It's the Christmas season, so make an effort to enjoy yourself."

Tony blinked. Then blinked again. "Oh," he said. "I didn't know you felt that way. I mean, last year, you made fun of me for watching the Macy's parade and laughed at me when I lit a can of Sterno and pretended it was a fire. This year I thought maybe I'd tone it down a little, and with me not bein' able to find work and the economy and all, I guess I forgot that it was Christmas."

"Naw, I don't mind Christmas festivities and stuff, but in moderation. I thought the Nutcracker was nice. The guys in tights were hot…and flexible," Sean said, grinning.

"Yeah, I wouldn't mind making that a tradition," Tony said, grinning back. He took another sip of his hot chocolate. "Man, this really is good," He said as he set his cup down and looked at Sean. The tip of Tony's nose was covered in whipped cream. Sean started laughing. "What? What is it?!" Tony asked frantically, rubbing at his face. Sean swiped at his nose and held his finger up for Tony to see.

"You had whipped cream on your nose. It was cute."

"So, that's what made me cute? There are no other physical attributes of mine that you are attracted to?" Tony said.

"Well, I do like your lips," Sean said, leaning in and kissing Tony softly on the mouth several times. "And I like your—" Tony cut him off with a kiss.

"I like your lips, too," he said smiling. The clock on the wall chimed midnight.

"Merry Christmas, Sean. Sorry I've been such a meatbag," Tony said.

"Yeah, yeah. Sure. But I guess Merry Christmas anyways."