Mincemeat, Sugarplums, and the Tinned Duck

Recipient: ripsgirl
Author: azrhiaz
Pairing: Billy/Elijah, Billy/Dom (sort of)
Rating: R


I. 'Twas the Night Before Christmas

This year, it was Elijah's turn.

Although it could certainly be argued that Christmas in Scotland was more, well, Christmasy than the holiday in the land of palm trees and balmy (if rather bland) sunshine, Elijah had pleaded the case to Billy and won. It was his first Christmas in his brand-new house, and Elijah was quite proud of it.

Also, if he stopped long enough to admit it to himself, he very much wanted Billy to see the house all decorated up pretty, and to be proud of it, too. It wasn't a thought he wanted to dwell on—the sound of Dom saying bloody twee, innit? kept popping into his head unbidden—but it was true.

So Elijah had convinced Billy (who really had more room) and Dom (who really was keen on the idea of a surfing holiday) to come to L.A. In preparation for their arrival, Elijah had gone nearly mad at Restoration Hardware and Pottery Barn, searching for the most minute details to outfit the Craftsman Bungalow in period-appropriate holiday style.

The result had turned out quite well; on every table and bookcase, square silver votives gleamed. A red cashmere throw across the arm of the new leather club chair invited curling up, and best of all, the shiny nickel rolling bar, complete with vintage martini glasses and Deco ice bucket. The tree, too, looked great (although Elijah had discovered, with much Grinch-approved language, that it was initially a foot too tall, which necessitated a hasty purchase of a hand-saw that caused multiple blisters).

The scene was set, and Elijah even remembered to throw a little cranberry-peppermint potpourri on the stove when Dom called from the airport. He was scheduled in first; Billy had to catch a connector in New York that had a two hour layover.

So the house was smelling quite festive when Dom arrived, looking disgustingly tan and fit.

"Lij! Good to see you, mate," Dom said, enveloping Elijah in an unbelievably tight hug.

"Yeah, you too," Elijah replied, extricating himself when air became a concern. "Come on in." He saw that Dom, true to form, had traveled light, bringing only one ancient black valise. Elijah picked it up and moved aside quickly, letting Dom pass.

Dom took a look around and whistled. "Very nice, Lij." The foyer was little more than a half-wall with built-in shelves that opened onto the living room, and the view of the twinkling tree and the gas fire were seriously homey.

"Thanks," Elijah said, and he felt a little rush of pride. "Here, I'll show you to your room."

"How many bedrooms have you got?" Dom inquired, following Elijah through the living room and down a short hallway.

"Um…three," Elijah said. He stopped at the first door on the left and opened it up, revealing a bedroom that might have been a large broom closet in a former life. The twin bed was made up with a beautiful new log cabin quilt and a pile of down pillows, but that didn't quite hide the fact that the room was barely big enough to turn around in.

"Cozy," Dom observed dryly.

"Well, you know, these Thirties houses had smaller rooms," Elijah said, trying not to babble. He'd spent a good deal of time agonizing over who would get the smallest bedroom (truth to tell, the other guest room wasn't a great deal bigger), but in the end, it came down to one simple thing.

He'd wanted Billy to be just that much closer to him—one bedroom away instead of two, a little plaster instead of an ocean and a million unsaid wishes.

"Yeah," Dom agreed, and Elijah hoped that wasn't a knowing look in his eye. Dom took the valise from Elijah. "I'm just going to freshen up a bit. Bathroom?"

"Across from you," Elijah said, pointing to the door on the right.

"What'd you do to your hands?" Dom said, nodding at the palmful of blisters. "Too much wanking?"

Elijah punched Dom on the upper arm, just hard enough to hurt. "Oh, ha ha. The tree bit me."

"Is that what they're calling it these days?" Dom said, ducking out of the way of Elijah's next swing and laughing.

Just then the phone rang. "That'll be Bills," Dom said, and Elijah felt his heart give the same funny little flip-flop it always did.

II. And All Through the House

As Dom guessed, the call was Billy, checking in from La Guardia. After a long afternoon in which Elijah and Dom kept busy with Elijah's new Xbox 360 and many rounds of Dead or Alive: 4, Billy finally arrived. He greeted Elijah with a warm smile and a hug that was less rib-cracking than Dom's, but squeezed Elijah's chest just the same.

Elijah had thought they might grab a bite out—several excellent sushi restaurants were open late, including the place with Billy's favorite lobster rolls—but Billy was too jetlagged, so they ordered in Chinese instead.

"So, are we opening presents tonight, or tomorrow morning?" Dom asked around a mouthful of crab rangoon. They were all sitting on Elijah's living room floor, eschewing Elijah's cherry Macintosh dining table for the simple pleasure of eating straight from the cartons.

"What do you want to do, Lijah? Doesn't matter to me," Billy said, swatting Dom's hand when he tried to steal Billy's Moo Goo Gai Pan. Everyone was a bit tipsy already, courtesy of the lovely bottle of Macallan that Billy had brought, which was proving a fine—if highly untraditional—accompaniment to Chinese food ("hooray for multiculturalism," Dom had said by way of a toast).

Elijah felt his throat constrict a little, watching the easy way they fell together, back into place—Dom and Billy, matched set extraordinaire. Salt and pepper. Peas and rice. Toast and tea—

"Lij?" Dom was staring at him now, and Elijah snapped back.

"Oh, sorry. Um…dunno. Whatever you guys want to do is fine with me." Elijah took a bite of his Szechuan beef without tasting it, his mouth already numb from the scotch. "I thought we might do it tonight, just so you guys can sleep late."

"Well, I won't be sleeping in if I'm to put on the turkey," Dom said, and it didn't escape Elijah's notice that Billy had gone ahead and traded Dom the carton of Moo Goo for the fried rice.

"I didn't get a turkey," Elijah said.

"A roast won't take as long, but still—"

"I though I'd cook this year," Elijah said quickly, and both Billy and Dom stopped chewing in surprise.

"Not to take the piss, Lijah, but…you can't cook," Billy said, and Elijah felt his face flush.

"That's not fair. You're just saying that because of the quiche incident."

Dom snorted. "Yes, well, my microwave still hasn't forgiven you for that one. Seriously, I don't mind cooking, Lij. It's no big deal."

Except it was a big deal as far as Elijah was concerned. "No, really, I can do it. You always cook. I've got everything all planned out. Got a cookbook and everything."

"Well, if you really want to, sounds good to me," Billy said and flashed Elijah a lovely warm smile that made Elijah think of light on a snow-field.

"Masochist," Dom muttered, but at that moment Elijah couldn't have cared less.

III. Not a Creature Was Stirring

Later, when the Chinese food was history and the vintage martini set was well and truly christened, Elijah sat in the club chair, halfway watching A Christmas Story and pretending very hard that he didn't see Dom curled up on the couch with Billy, or the way his head fit just so in the crook of Billy's neck.

IV. There Arose Such a Clatter


Flashing, red pain went off in Elijah's head like a big, old-fashioned Christmas light. After a moment he identified the source of the pain as his alarm clock, and he caught sight of the time—7:59—before throwing it across the room. The last thing he remembered was martini number three and, he suspected, an utterly mortifying moment of getting a bit sniffly when Ralphie finally got his Red Ryder BB Gun. The mechanics of getting to bed remained an unknown quantity, and his mouth felt like Puff the Magic Gin Dragon had used it for a litterbox.

Groaning, Elijah swung out of bed and staggered toward the bathroom. When all pertinent business was taken care of (most urgently, the consumption of a large dose of Ibuprofen and about a gallon of water), he stepped out into the hallway.

And froze at the sight of Dom's bedroom door, wide open, and the perfectly made empty bed inside.

"Fuck," Elijah said, and then his feet were already moving towards Billy's door, even as his head was saying no, don't look, don't fucking look, you don't want to look.

But he looked, and there they were, curled up together like spoons, and it didn't help much that they were still dressed. Elijah shut the door as quietly as he could and went off to start Christmas dinner.

V. What Was the Matter

He began with a pot of coffee and the grim determination to see this thing through, but by ten o'clock, it was obvious to Elijah that the center could not hold. Dom had stuck his head through the kitchen door around nine-thirty and asked if he could help, but Elijah had briskly directed him to the plate of danishes on the dining room table and said he had it under control, thanks.

The new Bon Appetit cookbook was propped open on the kitchen counter, open to the gorgeous picture of proscuitto rolls with arugula. In the picture, they were rolled up nice and evenly, with elegant little garnishes of lemon zest curling cheerily on top. Elijah had figured it couldn't be that hard—just follow the directions, and it's not like it's rocket science, after all—but his rolls looked nothing like the picture.

That is, if you could call them rolls at all. The proscuitto was paper-thin and delicate, and when Elijah spread the gorgonzola cheese on it, it tore. He tried just plopping the filling in the middle and patting it down with his fingertips, but then it looked lumpy. Then he tried warming the cheese a little in the microwave to make it spread easier, but it melted. Cursing, he finally tore up the arugula and threw the proscuitto and gooey cheese on top of it.

"There. Salad," Elijah said, and moved on.

11:08: the rack of lamb made it into the oven successfully, but the red wine-shallot reduction did not appear to be reducing properly. Elijah wasn't sure, since he wasn't an expert on reductions, but it seemed to be going too slowly, so he turned the heat up to high.

11:10: the reduction reduced to a solid brown lump of shallot glue.

"Need any help?" Dom called from the dining room.

"No!" Elijah yelled back, a little more forcefully than he'd intended to.

11:35: the potato and shiitake mushroom gratin, in an obvious show of solidarity with the mutinous reduction, bubbled over on the bottom oven rack and caught fire, sending a cloud of black smoke billowing out of the kitchen.

"Fuck, fuck, fuck!" Elijah yelled, grabbing for the oven mitts and fishing the gooey mess out of the oven.

Billy burst through the kitchen door, looking faintly ridiculous in the Homer Simpson slippers that Dom had given him, and Dom followed. "Lijah? Are you okay?" Billy said. He looked very worried.

"Yes. No. I don't know," Elijah said, staring at the blackened goop he'd thrown into the sink. "I think I kind of ruined dinner."

"What else is in the oven?" Dom asked, going over and taking a look.

"Rack of lamb. But I burned the reduction, and the proscuitto rolls are fucked, and now this," Elijah said, and it was the stupidest thing in the world, but he felt very much like crying.

"Hey, it's all right," Billy said, reaching out and rubbing Elijah's arm. "I'm sure we can salvage it. And the most important thing is we're together."

"I just wanted everything to be perfect," Elijah said.

"Well, I've got a tin of mincemeat pasties my mum sent you. I forgot to get them out yesterday—those will do for dessert," Dom said. "And the rack of lamb looks fine. No reduction required."

"Hey, I think I've got something, too," Billy said. "Just a second." He stepped out of the kitchen and returned a moment later, holding a small tin. "Duck. I forgot about it last night, too."

Elijah looked at the tin and couldn't help but laugh. "That's a very small duck."

"It's confit," Billy said, laughing too. "I knew you loved duck, so I thought you should try this. It's really good."

That was the last straw, knowing that Billy had remembered something so small—Elijah recalled the one time that he'd eaten duck with Billy, three years ago in New Zealand, at a little Thai restaurant that had incredible duck pad thai and a beautiful view, and it didn't seem possible that Billy had thought of that. Elijah felt the tears well up despite his best efforts, and Dom quietly stepped out of the kitchen.

VI. Sugarplums

"You know, I can probably run out and find some tinned chicken, if you'd rather," Billy said, moving in close and putting his arm around Elijah.

"No, sorry, I'm being stupid," Elijah said, wiping his face angrily. "I just wanted everything to be perfect. Especially…well, especially for you. But it's okay, you know, you being with Dom and all. I don't mind. I mean, I guess I've always known."

That last part had slipped out before Elijah had applied the self-edit button, and he cursed himself silently when Billy stiffened beside him. "Is that what you think? Lijah, I'm not with Dom."

"But you two—I saw you this morning. Curled up in your bed."

Billy removed his arm and stepped in front of Elijah. "Look at me, Lijah," he said, tipping Elijah's chin so that Elijah was face to face with him. "Dom's like an overgrown lap dog. You ought to know that. And we're best friends, so I don't mind, but that's all it is."

"I thought Orli was the lap dog," Elijah said.

"One of the many things they have in common," Billy replied with a smile, and then his face turned serious again. "But this…you did all this for me? You didn't have to impress me, Lijah."

"Well, good, because I'm sure I didn't," Elijah said bitterly, but Billy stuck a finger on Elijah's mouth, shushing him.

"Actually, you did," Billy said, and then Elijah couldn't think anymore, because Billy was kissing him, and it was dissolving-sweet, Billy's tongue warm and filling Elijah's mouth with the taste of cherry Danish and fulfilled dreams.

A hoot from the kitchen doorway brought Elijah screeching back. "About time!" Dom said, and then he bounded in, grabbing both Billy and Elijah into a three-way hug. "Thought you two would never get it."

"You knew?" Elijah said, and he sort of wanted to feel a bit put out with Dom, but Billy was kissing just underneath Elijah's earlobe and he decided it was all good.

"'Course I knew," Dom said. "Bloody obvious, innit?" He gave them each a wet and noisy smack on the cheek. "Now, when's dinner? I'm starving."

And it was the best Christmas dinner ever.


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Fabulous artwork ©2002 by Hope.
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