Fireside Christmas - A 'Smile Upon Me' Interlude
Nate and I decided early on to make our very first Christmas a special one. With all the relentless romantic energy of newly awakened love, our plans just about circumnavigated the globe before we began to flesh something out. Since he loves sun and warmth, my first choice was Hawaii, and since I love snow and skiing, his first choice was Canada. In my eyes, that was so sweet of him that I just had to kiss him. We managed no more planning that night, unless you'd say we decided on what kind of night-life we wanted to have, wherever we ended up going. Only, that didn't really count as planning, since we spent just about every night that way. Going out now and then was fun, yes, but sooner or later the bed kept calling us back home. Or rather, it became too difficult to keep our hands off each other. The next day, though, we had a final debate over breakfast, and decided on Colorado. That way, we would hopefully catch both some sun and some skiing. After checking out various kinds of living arrangements on the web, we agreed without any debate to rent a cabin from Christmas Eve through the holidays. I called the booking agency, and since we were out early managed to get exactly the kind of cabin we wanted; one quite far from the rest of the world, small and cosy and with a large fireplace. To my surprise I found out that a snowcat was included with the rent, and I immediately decided to keep that a secret from Nate. He loves surprises, almost as much as I love surprising him. Skis and all necessary equipment, the sales clerk told me, could be rented at the main hotel at fair cost, and he asked me if I wanted them to prepare equipment for us and have it ready at the cabin. I asked Nate and he agreed; by this time he was bouncing with excitement. At times, he's really no more than a little boy. Settling the deal turned out to be difficult with a boyfriend wrapping his arms around my neck, letting his fingers slip down the front of my t-shirt to play with my nipples, but I somehow managed to keep my voice fairly level. As I hung up after giving the clerk my credit card number, I was rewarded with a nibbled ear. At once, I melted completely in his arms, and didn't notice that I was being kissed before he slipped his tongue in between my lips. Several minutes later, just as I was really getting to enjoy myself, he broke the kiss with a start and sprung up.
"Oh my God, Chris, we'd better start packing! We have to decide what to wear at the after-ski. Are we gonna go as a couple or do we stay in the closet? We could get a matching set of clothes, that'd be fun, don't you think?" I just shook my head, laughing at Nate's antics. "You smirk! Let me tell you about the important things in life; you can never start packing clothes too early. I know we've got months, but... Where are you going?"
"To my wardrobe," I said, grinning at him. "I need to start packing for our holiday in Mauritius in 2005."
"Are you making fun of me?"
"Heaven forbid! I'm just dealing with the necessities of life. Think clothes, breathe clothes, eat... ah!"
"Prick!" With that, he pounced me and soon had me pinned to the floor. For a small guy, Nate's a veritable pitbull, and he sat down heavily on my stomach and began to tickle me. "I'll make you eat that one coloured shirt of yours!"
"Hey, no! Stop!" I cried in between fits of laughter. "I give... I give up! Please!"
"You'll see, I'll make a fashionable gay man out of you any day." He smiled warmly at me as he helped me up. I was still out of breath. "But seriously, which do you prefer? Everything in perfect order and ready to go with weeks to spare or me in total panic the day before we leave?"
"There's nothing in between? No sensible choice, like getting ready with a couple of days to spare?"
"Okay, then I'll let you start packing whenever you want." I pulled him to me and kissed his cheek. "And as for being a couple, honey, I've told you we won't ever hide that. Don't feel ashamed about..."
"Oh Chris, I don't! Please believe me, I don't! I just thought maybe it would be a good idea to keep it low. I don't want to spend Christmas being harassed by some nutter with no brains and an attitude."
"I doubt the religious ones will go skiing on Christmas, Nate." I kissed him again, and to my delight the tiny worried wrinkle on his forehead vanished. Smiling, I took his hands. "We are a couple, lover-boy, and we've got the same rights as anybody else to go on a holiday as a couple."
"I guess you're right." He let me hug him to my chest, resting his head on my collar bone. "I just want everything to be perfect."
"I'll settle for fantastic, Nate."
With the heater on inside my car, we really hadn't noticed just how high up into the mountains we had gone. So as I parked in the hotel's lot and we got out, the cold was like a punch in the gut. I found myself gasping as I thought my lungs would freeze, but Nate seemed unaffected. We picked up the key to our cabin, and I made Nate blush by putting my arm around his waist as we walked through the reception and out the doors. The only reaction I noticed was an elderly couple smiling at us, the man pulling his, I assumed, wife closer to him. Outside, two young porters, barely out of their teens, waited to take us to our cabin on snowcats. One of them loaded our bags onto his machine, while Nate and I took our seats behind the driver on the other one. Nate was grinning from ear to ear, and no doubts, so was I. The ride was great fun. The two teens were obviously very skilled rivers, because we kept up good speed, and they even jumped a couple of times, flying through the air after hitting some bump in the road. As we landed after a long jump, I heard Nate scream with joy from behind me. His grip around my waist tightened, and became more deliberate as we ascended the snowy peaks. By the time we reached our home for the next week-and-a-half, he had me so aroused I had to adjust my pants before getting off the snowcat. The cabin was a small one, like we had know when we chose it, but it looked very inviting. The edges of the roof had been decorated with multi-coloured Christmas lights, and above the entrance hung a twig of mistletoe. Nate's eyes lit up as he realised that I wasn't about to reject such a fine tradition, and we shared a long kiss while our drivers carried our luggage inside. As I tipped them, they were all smiles, and one of them nodded towards the window where we could see Nate as he had started to unpack.
"Not yet, but we're planning to. This is our first Christmas together."
"Good for you." He laid his arm around the other's shoulder. "Jack and I got married this summer. Hope you guys'll be as happy as we are."
"Yeah, so do I."
I ended up tipping them more than I had planned, and as I closed the door behind me I was wearing a wide, happy grin on my face. Nate grunted as I crushed him from behind, but readily accepted a kiss.
"So whose canary did you eat?" He asked when I finally let him go. "You're looking... frisky."
"Did you know our drivers are a couple?"
"Yeah, I saw that right away. They looked like we do when they were watching and touching each other." Nate hung away the last of our clothes, then walked over to where I was arranging our Christmas presents underneath a decorated tree that the management must have put there. "You know, baby, suddenly I don't feel like climbing back into the closet. Not at all."
"What made you change your mind?" I could tell that he needed a hug, so I gave him one.
"The way you held me back at the hotel. It felt like nothing in the world could ever hurt me."
"You're right, love." I tightened my hug, and he leaned into me. "Because I won't let anything hurt you, or anyone."
"I know." He kissed my neck. "Thanks, Chris. I love you so much."
"Love you too, Nate."
We stood like that for a while, just holding each other. I love the feeling of Nate's warm body against mine, and his arms around my back. Kissing is great, and sex even better, but for comfort or for just showing our love for one another, these long hugs are the best. Eventually, as if on a given cue, we drifted apart and began to explore the cabin. Apart from the living room, with its cosy-looking couch, a coffee table, TV and stereo, and of course the fireplace, there was a small bedroom with a soft bed so narrow I begun to get excited. The only way for two people to sleep in there would be wrapped in each other's arms. From the way Nate rubbed my butt cheeks I could tell the he, too, was getting naughty thoughts. The kitchen was little more than a stove and a fridge, which was packed full with Christmas food, beer and sodas, milk and butter and even a bottle of champagne. Nate immediately stated that he wasn't a fanatic teetotaller, and that he'd be more than happy to share it with me. The cupboards held lots of dry foodstuff and cans, as well as bread and breakfast cereal, and a nice selection of fruits and nuts. There was even a bowl of candy which we decided to save for Christmas Day. The bathroom was actually larger than both the bedroom and the kitchen, since it held a large bath tub. This looked too inviting to resist, so while I went to build a nice fire in the fireplace, Nate poured us some hot bath water. The smell of bath oils told me we were stocked with such stuff as well. No wonder, really, since we had paid a king's ransom for the place, being peak season and all. But it was worth it. The sense of isolation, this being one of the farthest cabins the hotel owned, gave the place a kind of romantic shimmer. It really felt like we were utterly alone, just Nate and me. I stood in front of the fire, feeling its warmth spreading in the room, and I found that I liked the idea. Just him and me. And our love...
"Hey Chris, come and see!" I walked into the kitchen to see him point out through the window. "They forgot one of the snowmobiles!"
"Not at all, baby." I put my arms around him and kissed his cheek. "That one's for us."
"Really?" His face lit up like it was already Christmas morning. "You knew...?"
"The sales guy told me when I booked the place. I just thought it'd be a nice surprise."
"It is. I loved the ride up here. But I've no idea how to drive one."
"How hard can it be? We'll just keep on safe roads until we get a hang of it."
"Until you get a hang of it, babe." He shivered. "I would be afraid just to touch the damned thing."
Once we got out of the bath, shivering because the water had been all but completely cold before we knew it, it was dark outside. Instead of really doing anything, we rebuilt the fire which had died down while we were preoccupied, and sat down cuddling on the soft, fluffy rug in front of the fireplace. It was chilly at first, because we hadn't bothered to get dressed, but as soon as the fire was burning properly we got warm enough. I closed my eyes and lay down on my back, pulling Nate with me so he came to lie with his head on my out-stretched arm. He turned over on his side, facing me, snuggling up as close to me as possible. I could feel his hand touch my chest lightly, his fingers trailing their way from my navel up towards my face. He stroked my hair and my cheek while burying his face in the nape of my neck. Soon I felt him kiss and lick me there, and it was all I could do to sigh contentedly before I was all his. I rolled over so our faces were just inches apart, then hugged him to me as our lips met. We were both aroused by now; that was easy enough to feel as our naked crotches rubbed against one another, but we did nothing more right then than kissing and rubbing each other's backs. At some point, we slept for an hour or two, and by the time we woke up, the fire had begun to die out again. Nobody said anything as I got to my feet and pulled Nate with me. It was as if the closeness and the isolation combined to make all words redundant, and we prepared for our Christmas Day in a warm and comfortable silence, pausing only now and then to brush against each other or just steal a peck to the cheek. To me, it was Perfect. I fell in love all over again, and I could easily tell that he was affected in much the same way, from the way his eyes all but glazed over every time he looked at me. That night, Nate made slow and gentle love to me, yet with a fire I hadn't really seen in him before. Both of us had tears in our eyes as we went to sleep, him in my arms.
Lo and behold, we had been good boys that year! Santa had left us a nice bunch of loot, and it was impossible for me not to get infected by Nate's child-like joy. For each gift he ripped open, he would fling himself around my neck and hug and kiss me while he thanked me with tears in his eyes. The necklace I'd bought him set him off completely, and he soaked my shirt good before he pulled himself together. It was a silver chain with a round silver pendant inscribed `LOVE' on one side and `CHRIS' on the other. He put it on immediately, and swore he'd never take it off. Then it was my turn to blubber for a while as I opened a small gift to find a really nice wrist watch. On the back were the words `My Chris forever, Nate'. The rest of our gifts were clothes, books or CD's, except for the fact that we had both given the other a framed photo of us both together. That made us laugh. Once all gifts were opened, we sat on the living room couch for a while, just holding each other and trying in vain not to grin like complete idiots. Once it was nearly time to start working on our Christmas dinner, Nate got up to tidy away all the torn wrappings, but I stopped him.
"Just leave it. Wrapping paper all over the floor is a part of Christmas."
"Really? It's been a while since I celebrated Christmas properly."
"You poor thing." I noticed his saddened face and pulled him into yet another hug. "I can tell how much you love it."
He nodded. "I always loved Christmas, but it's been a few years since I had anyone to celebrate it with. Thank you so much, Chris, not just for the gifts, but for you. For you being here with me."
"You're so welcome, my love." I kissed him. "This is my best Christmas ever."
"I love you so much, Chris, I hope we'll always be together."
"Me too, Nate, me too. The only way you'll get rid of me is if you throw me out."
"I'd never do that."
He cried quietly against my shoulder, I think it was mostly happy tears, while I stroked his hair and whispered reassuringly in his ear, feeling more in love with my man for every passing minute. Once he had recovered from this overload of present happiness and past disappointments, Nate was heavily aroused, so before anything else we engaged in some brief but fierce love-making right there on the couch.
Our first Christmas dinner was a splendid success. Since I had known beforehand that there would be Christmas food in the fridge, one more fact that Nate pouted over not having been told, all I had brought was some turkey filling, made after the family recipe that my mother swears is older than Chicago. Nate loved it, and made a mental note to tell mom next time they spoke. Not that he really needed to be extra nice to her; she had fallen completely for his charm the instant they first saw each other, and had in fact been quite disappointed when I told her about our plans for a Christmas on our own. Apart from the turkey, we had potatoes, a rich gravy sauce and vegetables, and Nate made a nice side dish of salmon and shrimps. Needless to say, once it was time for dessert, home-made cheese cake, we were both stuffed.
"Are you sure you don't want any cake?" I asked in a strained voice. "Not even with strawberry jam?"
"Chris, no! Please! I won't eat again, ever!"
"What about the candy? We can't just leave that."
"Chriiiiis!!" he groaned. "You're slaying me! Stop talking about food!"
"Candy's not food. Neither is that creamy cheese cake, with sweet delicious jam running down its sides..."
"Do I have to kill you?"
"Relax, baby, I'm just pulling your leg. We'll save it for later. You don't have to eat anything."
"Thanks. Now maybe I'll live."
"Unless..." I stood up and pulled my pants down. "Unless you care for a hot dog?"
"Now that I can manage." He licked his lips. "Is it cream-filled?"
We did manage to finish off the cheese cake towards the end of Christmas Day. Apart from trying on our new apparel and listening some to our new music, we did very little that day. All the dishes were left for tomorrow, but we did pack away the left-overs. When it was all but completely dark, with just enough light left outside to make out the jagged skyline of the mountains, it began to snow. Nate brought in the mistletoe and strung it up above the couch, and then we turned off all the electrical lights, sitting instead by the warm glow from the fireplace, watching the falling snow. We talked a lot that day, sharing both stories and secrets of Christmas Past and, in Nate's case, even exorcising some demons of the past.
"That's all behind me now," he sniffled at one point, after crying for a while over a particularly painful memory. "Maybe I'll cry sometimes, Chris, but I want you to know that I'm happy anyway. It helps so much just that you're here, holding me. Comforting me. I hope you know how much I love you."
"I do." I kissed his forehead, then held up my left hand, adorned by the new watch. "It says here, 'My Chris forever'. And it's true, I know that. Nate?"
"Can we... you know... do that ceremony thing? This winter, maybe, or at least once spring is here?"
"I thought we agreed to give it a year..." Suddenly, Nate seemed out of breath. "That it'd be better than pushing things."
"Yeah, I know. But I don't need to give it any more time. And I don't think you do, either." I was leaning back on the couch, with Nate lying on top of me with his head on my chest. Now he turned around and met my eyes with the most intense gaze I had ever seen from him. I could only manage a whisper. "Actually, I'm sure you don't need more time. I know it's forever, Nate, you don't ever have to be afraid I'll leave you."
"Yes," he whispered back, tears now flooding his eyes, "I believe you. It is forever, Chris."
We kissed, a sweet, tender kiss that soon turned deeper and more passionate until we couldn't help making love right then and there. With Nate on top of me, all over me, inside me, everything felt so right, so good that it would have to last forever. There was just no way it could ever be anything else.
I woke up some time later, not really remembering moving from the living room into the bedroom. All I could recall were cries of ecstasy and hands touching every part of me. Our love had, like our sex, reached a new height that day, and I was beginning to wonder if there was a limit. Some point where love couldn't get more intense. Maybe, I decided as I kissed the soft lips of the sleeping man next to me, but I knew we would, if we ever reached it, break beyond it. After a little while, I realised that the sound that had woken me up was still there; a high-pitched whine that rose and fell in strength. As I got out of bed, I had to gasp. The bedroom was freezing! I dashed over to the wardrobe and gathered up my clothes, then returned to the bed and got dressed beneath the quilt. At first I thought a window had been broken, but instead I found that the heating system was off. And we had no electricity. In the pale pre-dawn light coming from outside, I saw that the snowfall had turned into something that could only be described as a class-A blizzard. The whining noise came where the storm blew against tiny cracks and bad insulation in both walls and windows. I quickly picked up Nate's clothes and tossed them onto the bed, then woke him up. He took one look at the snowstorm outside.
"Damn, it's cold! Is the power out?"
"Yes, babe, and the heating's gone, too. I'm going to tap up as much water as I can, it looks like we're trapped here."
"No shit!?" He pointed out of the kitchen window. "Look, the snowmobile is almost buried."
"It is?" I followed his eyes and saw that he was right. The vehicle had been turned over by the wind, and would soon be gone beneath the amassing snow. So would the cabin, before long. "Nate, this looks bad."
"Don't worry, we've got plenty of firewood. Just toss out the food that'll spoil into the snow."
"Wish I'd thought about that."
"Hey, we can't all be geniuses! I'll get the fire burning again."
I put on my boots and my jacket, then hauled our food outside. It was really cold, and the darkness and the snow conspired to keep my visual range down to a few metres. The strong gusts of wind made it feel even colder. Once I was back inside, Nate helped me out of all my clothes and into a warm blanket. Then he led me to the rug in front of the fireplace, and we sat down, pulling the blanket around us. From the unhindered way his body heated mine, I deduced that he was naked, too, and I began to feel aroused. If the isolation earlier had been exciting, to be lost up here without heating, electricity or, soon, water, was a total thrill. All we had was each other, and our supply of firewood.
"I got in touch with the hotel on the radio phone," Nate said as he snuggled up to me. "They're busy helping people in real danger right now, so when I told them we were okay and had both food and wood left, they said it might take until tomorrow night before any rescue can come."
"So that means we're..."
"...we're gonna be just fine," he promised, winking. "I know a good way to keep us both warm..."
And was he right? Oh yes. It took two nights for the rescue team to reach us, mainly because we kept insuring them that we were fine, and that they should go on and save the people who were in real trouble first. To Nate and me, two days of what could have been a life-threatening danger, instead became like a camp-out. We kept the fire burning high, day and night, and piled up whatever blankets, quilts and sheets we could find in front of the fireplace. Food and drinks were plentiful, due to the well-stocked kitchen we had arrived to, and for cooking we used the fire. Making toast on a stick or grilling hot dogs and turkey left-overs brought back many memories of childhood camp-outs, and I think we laughed more during those two days than we had during the previous months of our relationship. No matter what kind of horrible, thrilling or embarrassing recollection I shared, Nate would top it with one of his own, forcing me to outdo him again. Not that we spent most of the time talking, far from it. Our rock-solid confirmation of our love for each other had really boosted Nate's self-confidence, and he began to show me an innovative side to his love-making. I was eager to learn, and came to realise that I was only just getting to know the basics of gay sex. It really could get so much better, which Nate proved to me with great love and care, and which I happily returned. The rescue team found us asleep in each other's arm once the blizzard had let up enough for snowcats to travel the mountain roads. Trying to deny what we had been doing turned out to be impossible, not only because of the physical evidence coating my stomach, but mainly because the scent of male arousal had turned quite heavy inside the cabin. Both of us blushing like crazy, we still managed to get dressed and pack with us a few necessities before we were taken down to the hotel. One of the rescuers joked that they should have taken an early holiday, because the only danger we had been in was that we might have died of fatigue before the storm had subsided.
We spent the following three days at the hotel, without much to do since all the cabin guests meant we had to share a room with four other men. No-one made any remarks, though, of the fact that we shared a bed. The fourth day, the cloud cover went away, and as soon as the roads had been ploughed, we were taken back to the cabin. Since we were itching for solitude, it took us another full day before we finally got around to do any skiing. While winter sports are fun, my fondest memory of that holiday is still being trapped in the storm. It brought us so much closer it was as if our love, which I had thought of as outstanding even before, turned into an unbreakable bond. Those days and nights by the sparkling fire are something Nate and I often talk about, and sometimes try to re-enact when we celebrate Christmas, even though that takes quite a bit of imagination when the sun's high in the sky and the temperature is near-tropical. Tropical? Well, yes, Hawaii did turn out to be too much of a temptation to resist. So this year, Santa wears speedos and the reindeer go surfing. I'm sitting here with a nicely cold coconut drink, writing some postcards to envious friends, while Nate's in the next room preparing. In a minute or two, I'll be treated to something really special. He has promised to dance for me, wearing one of those huge flower necklaces and a grass skirt. And nothing else.
Well, that's it for this little Christmas special. Hope you've enjoyed it. The title is a good-humoured play with Drew Hunt's beautiful Fireside Romance, which I`m pretty certain he doesn`t mind. I strongly suggest you go and find it in the relationships folder, right away! The regular SUM series will hopefully soon return, since I'm beginning to get over the worst case of writer's block I've ever had. This little tale is a step in the right direction. As always, thoughts and comments are most welcome to firstname.lastname@example.org.