Party for Two
Sean looked down at the piece of paper in his hand and scowled, mentally cursing whoever it was up there that thought this was so damn funny. It was just his luck. He hadn't talked to is family in years, years, dammit, and now here they were, sending him an invitation to a Christmas party.
So, basically: fuck.
He did not want to see his family. There was a reason he hadn't talked to them since he left home for college, a reason he had ignored their calls and emails and made sure he was off campus when they decided to pay him a visit. They had seemed to get the message, because eventually they left him alone and he thought that was the end of it. But now, here was this invitation -- and how? He was out of college and hadn't informed them of his new address -- saying they wanted him to come to a Christmas party. Why now? Sean thought he'd made it clear that he didn't want anything to do with them. He just didn't like them very much. But then again, Sean didn't really like people that much on the whole. They had to be damn special for him to like them, and even more so to care. And there was really only one person Sean felt that way about.
"Hey, Sean!" And just like that, Anthony Higgins came waltzing into Sean's apartment, with no knock whatsoever, and Sean's heart somersaulted in his chest. There he was, the one person Sean really cared about. And Sean was pretty sure the level of caring he'd reached concerning Tony far exceeded normal friendship parameters.
When Sean answered, his voice was laced with annoyance but there was a smile on his face. "Tony, I know you lived here for three years, but now you don't, so can you stop barging in like you own the place?"
"Don't be so quick to get rid of me, Sean. I'm still here for a while yet."
"A week ain't a while, Tony."
"Didn't say a week."
Sean frowned. Tony wasn't telling him something.
They stood in silence, Sean with his eyebrow cocked and Tony glaring right back at him. Minutes ticked by and Tony finally gave up, sighing and shaking his head.
"I'm not moving out, Sean. Lucy, well she turned me down, so it's not just a week anymore." Race turned and slammed his fist into one of the many boxes around the apartment, boxes he now needed to unpack. "I'm... I'm staying here. I'm still living with you."
Sean couldn't believe his ears. Lucy, turn down Tony's offer to live together? There was no way. "But why? You two have been dating since before we became roommates, Jesus, why'd she turn you down?"
Tony bit his lip. "She thinks... she thinks that..." Tony trailed off, trying to gather his thoughts. "It's because of you."
"It's because of... what?"
"You, Sean, you, it's because of you. You know Lucy, she loves conspiracy theories, not to mention she's the jealous type. She knows you're gay and she thinks that because we live together, we're sleeping together, too. She says she's tired of there being other people on the side and that if I wanted to fuck you, fine, but not while I was with her."
"Did you try to knock some sense into her?"
"I tried to tell her that I wasn't sleeping with you and that I loved her and only her and that all I wanted was for her to move in with me, but she just told me to shut the hell up and then stormed away."
Sean had no idea what to say. "Uh, Tony, I mean, I, I'm sorry --"
"Don't worry about it," Tony said, cutting him off, "if Lucy's to stupid to realize that the only person I've slept with since I met her is her, then I shouldn't be hung up on her." He shook his head. "And all this time I though she had some real brains in her noggin."
Sean went to get a beer for Tony, and when he handed it to him, Tony eyed Sean's hand suspiciously. "What's that?" He asked, gesturing to the piece of paper.
Sean looked at his hand and cursed. He had forgotten about that. "It's a Christmas party invitation. From my family."
Tony took a gulp of his beer and squeezed his eyes shut tight. "Great. I can't spend Christmas with Lucy, but I thought I would at least have you. But now I guess I'm spending Christmas alone. Great. Just great. This is all Lucy's fault. Damn her and her jealous streak."
"Tony, I'm still gonna be here. It's not like I was gonna go."
"No, go, spend Christmas with your family. Don't stay because of me."
"I wasn't. I'm serious, I wasn't going to go. I don't like my family."
Tony looked at him like he was crazy. "Sean, it doesn't matter if you don't like them, they're family."
"Don't give me that 'blood is thicker than water' crap, you know I don't buy it."
"Just go, Sean. They're your family. They might not be as bad as you remember. You haven't seen them in a few years, you never know." With that, Tony walked over to the couch and fell onto it, mumbling something about how Christmas shouldn't be spent alone.
Sean walked over and stood right in front of his friend. "Tony, I'm telling you, I don't want to go see my family. I don't like them, at all, and they don't like me. There's no point."
Tony raised his eyes to look at Sean. "Why? What's wrong with them? I know you don't like people, Sean, but they can't be that bad, can they?"
Sighing, Sean feel onto the couch beside Tony. He gritted his teeth; he hated opening up to people. But this was Tony, and he deserved an explanation. "They used to be really great. Like really, really great. They were kind and loving and it seemed like they'd love me no matter what. They never said anything about homosexuality being wrong. So after dating a couple guys, you know, just to make sure because I didn't want tell my parents I was gay and then not be, I came out. Said 'Mom, Dad, I'm gay', and expected them to nod and thank me for telling them and start having the same conversations with me they did about dating girls except about guys. But they didn't. They looked at me like I was the scum of the earth and then spent the next three years until I went to college acting like I wasn't their son. They kept me in my room when guests came over, they ignored me when we went out to dinner, and they left me at a neighbor's house when they went on family trips. Basically, I was treated like an unwanted pet."
"But didn't they call you and try to visit you while you were in college?"
"My sister and brother did; my parents didn't. But they were only there to try and convince me stop being stupid and be straight again so Mom and Dad would let me come back home. It's probably them who sent me this invitation, making a last-ditch effort to 'save me from the fires of Hell' or some crap like that."
"Or maybe," Tony offered, "they're trying to apologize."
"Maybe," Sean allowed, scowling.
Tony sighed, giving in. "You really don't want to go?"
"Fine." He stood up and crossed over to the kitchen, opening up cupboards and pulling out flour and sugar. "Then help me make cookies, we're having our own damn Christmas party."
Sean smiled a little and went to the fridge to pull out eggs and milk while Tony got everything else. Sean was a closet baker; their kitchen was stocked with supplies and he wouldn't turn down a chance to use them.
Tony measured out the ingredients and handed them to Sean, who put them into a bowl and began to mix them together with a wooden spoon.
"I think we should make them in the shape of snowmen," Tony said.
Sean laughed. "Whatever you want," he answered, giving the bowl to Tony so he could have a turn stirring.
Tony smiled back at him and then turned his attention to the cookie dough, which still wasn't blended completely. He stirred vigorously, but only succeeded in sending the dough flying all over the place.
"Um..." he said, and was just about to get some paper towels when he got a look at Sean.
There was a smudge of cookie dough on his cheek, right under his left eye. Tony stared for a second and then slowly leaned in, licking the cookie dough off. He pulled back quickly and stepped away, going red. "You, uh, you had something, you know under your eye," he managed to stutter.
Sean gripped the counter, trying to stop shaking so much. "I didn't mind," he said after a few minutes of sexually charged tension. "The question is, would you mind if I did this?" Sean stepped forward and lightly kissed Tony.
Tony smiled and slowly opened his eyes. "No, I do not mind at all. And I wouldn't mind if you did it again."
Sean was more than happy to oblige.