W.A.R. Part Two - The Cold Winter

(2nd edition)

Chapter Ten - The Christmas Eve Party

by Jeff Wilson

"Billy, I've asked you three times to vacuum this carpet!" mom scolded me from the living room. If she'd asked me to vacuum, I didn't remember. All weekend, mom had been a nervous wreck as she tried to do a thousand different things to prepare for the Christmas Eve party. I was so sick of Christmas and it hadn't even come yet. Now it was the day of the party and she was on a rampage trying to make everything perfect for the big night.

I began vacuuming the living room for her when she yelled at me to clean the bathroom. When I went to clean the bathroom, I heard her bellowing to clean my room. When I started straightening up my room, she once again yelled at me to vacuum the living room and I finally had enough.

"I already vacuumed the floors mom! I can only do one thing at a time! Jesus!" I snapped.

"You watch your language, young man!" mom scolded. "Just help me a little bit for once instead of arguing with me, please!"

It had been like this all weekend. Dad had long ago retreated to the garage, and mom was mad at him for not helping so she was taking it out on me. I felt like a slave, and I was ready to tell her to go fuck herself and the party. But I kept my mouth shut. I knew that mom wanted to make everything for the perfect just like grandma had so effortlessly done for so many years. Even though grandma was gone, mom felt like she had to impress her.

Mom had been baking and cooking all day and had even skipped Sunday church services to prepare for the party. We expected my cousins and aunt and uncle early in the afternoon, so I really didn't see any purpose in cleaning my room. My cousins were notorious for trashing my room and all my stuff anytime they came over. No matter how much I complained to mom, she didn't seem to care. Most of the guests would arrive around six o'clock, though some wouldn't arrive until after Christmas Eve church services.

The worst part of the weekend had been that Brett had been sick since that day we'd kissed. How I remembered that moment! It seemed so long ago, yet so fresh in my mind. I only had to close my eyes and feel his soft lips against mine. It was exciting and scary and perfect and weird and a million other things. I couldn't wait to see him again, and hoped he wouldn't be too sick for the party.

My cousins arrived and made a beeline for my room. I warned them not to touch my stuff and my mother and aunt scolded me not to be selfish. My uncle had been smart and joined my dad in the garage. I tried to sneak out with them, but mom caught me and put me back to work in the kitchen.

A loud crash came from my room and I sighed angrily. I wasn't going to have anything left by the time they were done. My mom was so busy cooking and talking with my aunt that she didn't seem to notice the carnage they were causing. About an hour before the party, she yelled at me because my room was a mess.

"Why is your room still a mess, Billy? We only have an hour before people are going to start showing up!"

"I told you, my room was clean until those two got here!" I protested.

"Don't you blame your cousins! Just get your room cleaned up right now!"

"But mom!" I cried.

"William Aaron, don't you start or you're going to get it!" mom warned.

"I hate Christmas..." I mumbled under my breath.

I cleaned my room, again... I warned my cousins when no parents were around that if they touched my stuff again I was going to kick them in the balls as hard as I could.

The guests began arriving. Mom and dad had invited people from their jobs, as well as friends from the neighborhood. Dustin and his parents were the first people who showed up that I knew. I was shocked when I saw Dustin. While he showed no sign that he'd been in a fight with Brett, his hair was gone! All gone! He was shaved completely bald! He looked like a metal helmet had rusted on his head.

"What happened to your hair?" I asked.

"Nothing," Dustin snapped. "Just shut up about it."

"But I loved your hair!" I continued.

"I said shut up!" Dustin warned.

Dustin's dad, who looked like he had already had a few beers, overheard our conversation. "I shaved his head," he said.

"But why?" I asked. Dustin looked terrified that I had asked, but Mr. Smith just laughed.

"The stupid little shit head spends more time on his damn hair than he spends on his basketball. Then he lets a kid half his size beat him up. So now he doesn't need to worry about his hair anymore."

Dustin looked humiliated. I knew how much his hair meant to him. I offered to let him play video games in my room. When we got to my room, I closed the door behind us leaving my obnoxious cousins outside.

"Are you okay?" I asked.

"It's just hair. It'll grow back. I needed a haircut anyway..."

"He didn't have to scalp you," I fumed. "Why is your dad such a douche bag?"

"Hey, shut up about my dad," Dustin replied. "This wouldn't have happened if it weren't for your bastard friend punching me. Anyway, it didn't hurt. It's just hair. It'll grow back. I wanted him to cut it anyway."

"Okay..." I said. "You want to wear a Santa hat to keep your head warm?" I asked.

"Sure," he replied. I handed him the hat and he quickly tugged it onto his head. He looked ridiculous. "Hey, we can keep what we said the other day between us, right? I was just really emotional about getting punched in the face and I said some stuff I didn't mean."

"Of course," I replied. "You know I'd never tell people about private stuff like that. You're my best friend."

Emily and her parents arrived soon after and I allowed her into my room. She sat near Dustin as he played video games and they talked. It always seemed like those two had something going on that nobody else knew about. I'd known them both forever, but even I wasn't in on some of their silly jokes.

Bobby and Joey arrived about the same time after church services had let out. Bobby's mom had made more food and we all ate with the parents. The dads had taken over the living room, and the moms were in the dining room and kitchen. Dustin and Emily seemed to be even more secretive than before and now I was getting the feeling that they were whispering about me! I kept my eye on them, but I also was trying to listen in on our parents' stories. Dad and Donnie always had the best stories, half of them ending with them in handcuffs. Our moms could only sigh and shake their heads at the amount of hell the two of them had raised in their youth, while Bobby, Joey, and I listened in rapt attention.

It was Bobby who first asked me where Brett and his mom were hiding. I looked at the time and I knew that they should have been there by now. I went to the kitchen to ask my mom if she knew anything.

"Jen had to work tonight, and Brett's been throwing up all day, Billy. She called a few hours ago. I told you they weren't coming."

"No you didn't!" I answered angrily. "Great! What a stupid party this turned out to be!"

"You have plenty of other friends here tonight. Your life doesn't revolve around Brett. Go play," mom dismissed me.

"Whatever!" I sulked. "This is stupid!" I fumed as I stormed out of the kitchen. I had planned to go to my room and continue to pout, but Emily stopped me before I got to the hallway.

"Hey, Billy," she smiled.

"Hey," I said, distracted. I just wanted to go to my room.

"You know, tomorrow is Christmas," she said.

"Duh!" I replied, annoyed. "Why are you being so stupid?"

"Boy you're crabby. What's wrong?"

"Nothing," I lied. It didn't matter that I had a house full of guests. I missed Brett!

"I know what will cheer you up," she smiled. Then she looked above my head. I followed her eyes and found that I was now standing under a mistletoe being held up high by Dustin, who had sneaked up behind me while Emily was talking to me.

"What the heck?" I asked, not understanding what was going on. And then Emily kissed me right on the lips. There was a bright flash of light and a lot of laughter. I quickly realized the flash was from my mother's camera. The laughter was coming from all the adults, who had stopped their conversations long enough to watch me receive my first kiss from a girl. I was still a little confused and shocked by what was going on.

"Merry Christmas, Billy!" Emily laughed. The parents gave a cheer and went back to their stories. Emily leaned close to me and whispered, "You kiss pretty good for a boy with braces."

I self-consciously wiped my mouth with the back of my hand. Dustin put his arm around me and laughed. "We've been trying to figure out when we were going to do that to you for three days. You should have seen the look on your face!"

"Yeah..." I said. "Pretty good joke..." I just wanted to get out of there as fast as possible. "You should get my cousin Jesse." I sneaked into my room and grabbed my coat and boots. I managed to escape through the back door by telling my mom that I just wanted a little bit of air. But as soon as I was outside I took off as fast I could through the snow to the woods. I was glad to get out of the house. I was a little embarrassed by Emily and Dustin's trick.

I was more worried about Brett than anything else. I hadn't seen him in a few days and knowing that he was still sick just made me want to be with him even more. I just wanted to do what I could to make him feel better. It only took about fifteen minutes to reach Brett's house. I didn't bother knocking, I just opened the unlocked door and let myself in. I slipped off my boots and walked quietly through the kitchen. I peeked into the living room and saw Brett was lying on the couch watching television.

"Is that you, mom?" he asked weakly. He had a blanket covering him and there was a bucket next to him on the floor. His hair was mused up and unwashed. He looked exhausted and pale. His left eye was still a little bruised from Dustin punching him and even though it had healed up it looked horrible because he was so pale.

"It's me," I said quietly.

"Hey, dude... Aren't you supposed to be having a party?" he asked.

"How could I have any fun without you?" I asked.

Brett started to laugh, but then he began coughing a horrible wet cough that sounded like he was about to launch a lung out of his chest. He grabbed the bucket next to him snorted and spit whatever phlegm he'd coughed up into it.

"Oh gross!" I exclaimed.

"Yeah. I've been doing that for three days. That and throwing up. I think I'm dying!"

"I think you spent too much time running around in a snowstorm," I replied.

"Yeah probably," he said. "Anyway, I am glad you're here. I missed you."

"I missed you too," I said. "If I'd have known you were this sick I would have come over."

"You didn't have to do that. I don't want you to get sick too."

"Well, I kissed you, so you probably already gave it to me," I said.

Brett laughed and then started coughing again. When he stopped coughing he smiled weakly at me. "Our first kiss and I give you the flu. Now that's love."

"Well, I guess Emily's going to be sick too then," I said. "She kissed me tonight."

"Emily kissed you?" Brett asked. "Like seriously or on the cheek or something?"

"Dustin and her had a mistletoe they were playing around with. They did it right in front of everybody and they were all laughing at me. I felt like an idiot."

"So how is that different from any other... Oh shit, I'm gonna puke!" Brett didn't get to finish his insult. Instead he grabbed his bucket and threw up. I had to turn away. I can't watch somebody barf. Even the sound of Brett puking was making me queasy. It sounded like a burp gone horribly wrong. Finally and thankfully it ended. "I'm sorry," he groaned. He wiped his mouth with a tissue and threw it in the bucket. "I feel like shit, dude. You remember the time you stepped in Joey's puke during the ball game?"

"Of course I remember. It was disgusting!"

Brett looked into the bucket. "I don't remember eating puke."

"Oh my god Brett, shut up or you're going to make me barf too!" I laughed.

"So tell me about the big kiss," Brett said. He looked like he was feeling better now that he'd gotten whatever was in him out of him. "Was she better than me?"

I laughed, "No!"

"Did you like it? I've worked a long time to make you gay, so she better not fuck it up!"

"You're terrible. You know that's not how it works. And I'm not gay. I never said I was gay. You did," I explained.

"I guess if you're out kissing girls when I'm not around I'm going to have to work harder," Brett joked.

"She said I kiss pretty good for a boy with braces," I said.

"I thought so too," Brett quipped.

"It made me think about things though. Seriously. When she kissed me... I guess somewhere in my head I've always wanted that to happen. I always kind of thought that if I was going to be with a girl it would have been Emily. But then it happened, and all I could think about is how much more I loved kissing you. Isn't that weird?"

"I thought it was pretty cool when you did that," Brett said. "You shocked the hell out of me when you did it. I thought for sure I'd just blown everything by telling you how I feel about you. I thought you'd hate me."

"You don't ever have to worry about that. I could never hate you. But now we're at a place I never thought was possible. I'm just wondering where we go now."

"What do you mean?" Brett asked.

"Like, what are we now? Are we like boyfriends or something?" I asked.

"I don't know. This is all new territory for me, too. I've been so scared. Ever since I met you I knew I wanted to be with you, but I never thought it was possible either. But now I find out that it is possible and I'm even more scared. What if we screw everything up?"

"Well, I think we should take it slow. I don't want to ruin this by doing anything too quickly. Let's really get to know each other even more than before. We don't have to hide our feelings about each other anymore, because we know that we love each other. Let's just concentrate on being the best friends we can be, keep our dicks in our pants for now and see where we end up."

"Right," Brett agreed. "Just because we kissed doesn't mean we have to commit to anything we're not ready for. Let's be friends without all the pressure of being more than friends. We can know each other without being weird about it."

"Exactly," I replied.

"And we can still make out sometimes. Right?" Brett asked.

"Of course!" I laughed. "And if we decide to go further someday, I might be okay with that too, someday... Way down the line, maybe... Like in a year or so."

"Yeah, just not tonight because I feel like death," Brett replied. "I feel a lot better though. I really think things are going to be awesome between us. I've never felt like this around anybody before."

I knelt next to him and put my hand on his forehead. He was sweaty and hot, but I didn't mind. I kind of ran my fingers through his damp hair. It was nice to be able to touch him and not wonder if he thought I was weird. He closed his eyes and smiled. "That feels nice," he said softly.

"I guess I should get back to the party before they start to miss me," I sighed.

"Yeah," he replied. "I'll be okay. You go."

I bent down, brushed Brett's hair back with my hand and kissed him gently on the forehead. "I love you, Brett," I whispered.

"What?" Brett asked.

"I said I love you," I replied.

"I know," Brett replied. "I just wanted to hear you say it again." He smiled at me.

He was asleep again before I left the house. He looked so peaceful laying there quietly. I could have stayed there all night by his side, but I had to go back. If I was gone too much longer mom was going to send out a search party. I locked the back patio door as I left and walked quickly back through the woods to my house. It was getting late and there was no moonlight to help me see in the dark. I really should have brought a flashlight, but I wasn't thinking when I'd left. My house soon came into view and I had planned to sneak quietly back inside. I was getting ready to open the back door when I smelled a familiar scent. Salem cigarettes. I'd know that scent anywhere.

"About time you got back, boy," dad said. I hadn't noticed him sitting on a lawn chair on the back porch.

"Hey dad," I said. "What are you doing out here?"

"I'm `looking for you.' At least that what I told your mother," dad replied.

I laughed, "You're looking for me in a lawn chair?"

"Did I really need to look to know where you ran off to?" he asked. "How is he?"

"Who?" I asked.

"We both know who," he replied. "As soon as I heard he wasn't coming I wondered how long it would be before you snuck out of here."

"I wasn't sneaking," I protested. "I just wanted to check up on him!"

Dad laughed, "It's okay, boy. I've wanted to sneak out of here since your uncle showed up. He can't keep his hands off my stuff and never puts anything away. Remind you of anybody?"

Now we both laughed. We sat outside in the cold for a while and listened to the sounds of joy and merriment coming from inside the house. Dad lit another cigarette and for a while we didn't say anything. We just enjoyed each other's quiet company.

Finally, dad spoke, "So, that was some kiss earlier..."

"Yeah, I guess," I replied. I felt my face getting warmer.

"You don't need to feel embarrassed. They got your cousin and Joey while you were gone. Donnie's going to have a hard time with that girl of his if she hangs around Dustin too much," dad said. For a while after that, we were silent again. I never quite knew what to say or how to act around my dad. I always felt like he knew what I was thinking and it made me nervous around him. I wished for Brett's easy-going nature sometimes. He could talk to anybody. I always had to think about things too much.

Finally, mom came outside and found us. To my surprise, rather than scold us for sneaking out of our own party, she joined us on the porch and sat down next to dad. She grabbed his cigarette, and to my shock rather than throw it away she took a puff!

"Whose idea was this again?" she asked.

We all laughed. While the party continued in our house without us, we sat outside and just enjoyed being with each other for a while. It had been a hard year for our family, but we had survived. We were still a family, and we still loved each other. Maybe we even respected and understood each other a little more than we had before. After the party ended, mom surprised me by putting off the clean-up until the next day! I went to bed happier and more excited about Christmas than I had since I was little. And the next morning, I threw up and spent the whole day hugging the toilet. It was the best Christmas I'd ever had.

Hi! That concludes Part Two - The Cold Winter. I hope that you have enjoyed reading it. I hope it's fun to see the development of the love between the boys. I know the romance has been a little slow in building, but I think it'll be worth it. There will be some huge developments in the next part - The Broken Boy. That part will begin soon!

I would love to hear from you! You can reach me at: jkwsquirrel@yahoo.com

Next time: Part Three - The Broken Boy - The Chair.