Slasha, Baby 2007
The Night Before Christmas
Summary: Twas the Night Before Christmas and strange goings on occur in the house.
Author Notes: The prompt ruled out angst and death fic so may I present to you a fic whipped up from a dash of crack, a hint of schmoop, a pinch of fairy tale magic and lashings of seasonal cheer. A belated Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to you chaosmanor!
Post-Reveal Notes: alilacia came up trumps with a very, very last minute beta. Thank you so much!
Orlando loved Christmas. Always had. Some of his earliest memories were Christmas ones. He liked to think he could remember his first Christmas. After all, he had been nearly one and his Mum was always going on about what an intelligent baby he'd been. He was reasonably certain that he could remember being lifted up in strong hands to put the star on the top of the tree. Okay, so maybe he'd been two. Still, it was a great memory; all that sparkly gold glittering in front of his eyes. Obviously he hadn't actually put it on the tree with his own baby hands but it just went to demonstrate the point that Christmas had been a major part of Baby Bloom's life, if Baby Bloom could remember it even now as Big Boy Bloom.
Christ. He must be tired if he was calling himself "Big Boy Bloom". Orlando considered Christmas induced exhaustion to be a dreadful thing. It was a complete catch 22. You needed to energy to cope with the exacting process of finding perfect gifts and the travelling thousands of miles to be where you wanted with who you wanted. Not to mention the socialising. Oh God the socialising. It was utterly the best time of year for socialising. So you needed energy for all those things, but all those things were just exhausting.
Recently Orlando had come to love Christmas even more because it compelled him to stop for a while. His life had to slow down so he could get to his family. To Viggo. It was so easy for one thing to run into another into another and before you knew it the two weeks you thought you had free were filled with signing a hair brush or a t-shirt and designing both a lunchbox and a Christmas card for charity. It was an absolute rule: Christmas was sacred. No matter what. Whether his family joined him, or he joined them -- life slowed down.
This circled back to the point that life might slow down but the need for energy increased exponentially in relation to the days before Christmas decreasing. He had spent most of the day wrapping presents and working on the ongoing project of making the place look lived in. Buying his own house was all well and good but it didn't feel like home yet. There had been rumours of strange happenings around the house and so it had been on the market for longer than might be expected. It had been vacant for quite a while and the sense of emptiness still lingered. His people had done a pretty good job of getting his stuff unpacked and set up but Orlando had wanted it to feel more like him and less like a bungalow at Chateau Marmont. He loved the Chateau, but it was by nature impersonal. Sidi needed his own place too, and he'd settled in pretty quickly once shown to his usual blanket and bowls.
The other thing was, of course, that Viggo was going to stay with him over Christmas and he didn't want Viggo to see a house that other people had put together. Viggo's places were so him. Rationally, Orlando knew full well that to be a result of years in the same places. Years of relationships and Henry growing up and Viggo acting and travelling and creating books and poetry and art, whereas Orlando hadn't had a proper home the entire time he'd known Viggo. Really, the last time he'd lived in a house of his choosing for longer than a year or so had been when he'd lived in the massive house share in London when he was a teenager. Even the place he stayed in during the time in New Zealand had been chosen by someone else. Now he had his own home, two actually if you included the one in the UK and he wanted... Well he just didn't want it to look like a bungalow at the Chateau.
There had been much moving and rearranging of just about everything in the last week. He'd managed to find a real Christmas tree with its roots still attached so he could plant it in the garden after Christmas was done. It was so great having a real tree which smelt exactly like it should. Aileen had said she could get someone in to decorate for him, but that was missing the point entirely. When he was younger, every year he and Sam had been allowed to pick a new ornament from the local garden centre for the tree and this year his Mum had brought over some of them so he could have them on his own tree. She'd even brought the star, the one he remembered from his first Christmas. The shine was a little duller which only added to the beauty of it in Orlando's opinion. Pretty much as soon as he could talk his Mum had encouraged him to makes wishes on that star on Christmas Eve - many of which had actually come true as it happened.
He was pleased with how things looked but yeah - Christmas induced exhaustion indeed.
Viggo was due in an hour or so, having been away himself for a quick promo tour. Their last time together had been about four months ago. Or was it five? Too long. One of the longest gaps actually. It was getting to the point where Orlando knew they would have to talk about how things were working. Viggo's career was on such a high, and Orlando knew how excited his lover was about the kinds of opportunities opening up to him. Hell, Orlando was excited for him, of course he was. Thrilled. He adored reading about all the award nominations and wins. Orlando had known Viggo was an acting genius within three days of him arriving on the set. Which, he was always pleased to note, was two days before he remembered falling in love with the man so it wasn't like he was biased or anything when he assessed Viggo as a genius.
So although Orlando was dead chuffed that Viggo was in demand -- he'd had enough of not seeing him for months on end. It was hard to tell, really, what Viggo thought. Time moved so fast for both of them. And until this year it had largely been Orlando all over the place -- LA, the Caribbean, New York, Japan, London. Viggo had been nearly as surprised as Orlando himself when Orlando walked up the gangway on a boat to ice, water and sky and away from the whole Hollywood thing. It had been... different having a more stable existence. The summer in London, most of autumn in LA (not that LA had an autumn). Orlando liked it. He felt as though, finally, he could keep up with himself. Not with Viggo though. Viggo was flying and Orlando wasn't exactly sure what Viggo wanted these days.
Although Orlando could think of two dozen other things he wanted to do to the house, he had to face the fact that he had done all he could before Christmas properly started. Christmas was due to begin the moment Viggo walked through the front door, opening it with the key Orlando had had couriered to him. He didn't expect Viggo to move in or anything. The key was to show Viggo that the house was for both of them. It was meant to show Viggo that Orlando was serious about making their relationship a central part of his life. Career was important to Orlando; the key said Viggo was more so.
Just after buying the house, Orlando had been looking at it and the way it sat in amongst all the dark foliage and remembered something Viggo had said. Viggo had been talking about how absence of colour makes things blend together better. Orlando had looked long and hard at his new home and Viggo's words made sense and so he'd had the house painted black - blending it in with its surroundings. Orlando wasn't one for seeing metaphors everywhere but it seemed to him that that was what he wanted for their relationship. He had started to hope that they might achieve a similar subtle blending together of complimentary shades of love. That they might achieve a balance between them by creating an absence of the flashy colours provided by drama and the adrenaline of rushed meetings and outpourings of emotion.
He showered in his new multi-shower headed two person shower. As an experiment he turned the massage nozzles up as hard as they could go -- for about ten seconds. The things felt like needles! Baby Bloom had had showers in the bath with one of those rubber attachment things that you pushed over the bath tap and the water came out in a gentle spray. Perhaps that had ruined him for power showers forever.
As he soaped his body and washed his hair, Orlando wondered to himself exactly what it was he wanted these days. Really, what it came down for was to have a chance to sit down with Viggo and get to know each other again. They'd been together a long time, but for most of that time they hadn't been physically together at all. Orlando felt he didn't really know what Viggo thought about them. He looked down at himself. He wasn't the same person Viggo had fallen in love with any more than Viggo was the same person Orlando had fallen in love with. They weren't just older... the changes went deeper than that. Orlando knew that the love was still there, in some form anyway. Clarification; that was what was needed.
Orlando wasn't one for relationship conversations, truth be told. It seemed so cold-hearted to sit down and talk, as if you could actually plan love out. God, he wished there was some way he could find out what Viggo was thinking without actually having to talk about it. It seemed to Orlando that that made a reasonable enough Christmas wish. He had no need of wishes for money or fortune or fame or security. He just wished he could find out where Viggo was at with their relationship. He wished he knew where he stood. He laughed at himself. Since when did he make Christmas wishes in the shower? But maybe he'd make a quick one when they put the star on the tree later on. He turned his thoughts back to more practical matters of nail cleaning and hair conditioning. After he was done he flicked the television on as he scrubbed his hair dry and towelled off. Sidi was curled at the bottom of the bed, barely raising his head when Orlando came into the room. It being Christmas Eve, the station was about to show a reading of 'Twas the Night Before Christmas'. He smiled. Perfect. It really was Christmas, and Viggo really was arriving soon. He checked his watch. An hour or so to go. Maybe a little more.
The bed did look awfully inviting. Just for a little while maybe. The towel hit the floor and he climbed under the brand new and incredibly fluffy duvet. As Orlando fell asleep the reader was just telling the television audience that not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse.
When he woke the room was darker, the sun beginning to set. He closed his eyes for a moment, enjoying the luxuriant feeling of waking from a nap. He really was beginning to get old if a nap made him feel this content. The duvet seemed intent on smothering him and he reached out to push it away from his face. He pushed at it once and it didn't move. Trying again, Orlando found he couldn't make the duvet move an inch. It seemed to be made of stone which was clearly impossible and so he blinked his eyes open to see what the problem was.
On seeing what he saw, several things happened at once. First of all he yelped in shock. Except it what he heard wasn't a yelp. Not a yelp at all. What he heard... was a squeak. A squeak?! His hand flew to his mouth in surprise at the noise and he only barely shut his eyes before nearly gouging himself quite badly with a finger nail. A finger nail that should not have been long enough to gouge anything out - accidentally or not. He squeezed his eyes tight shut and took a deep breath. He raised his hand again and cracked an eyelid to look at it again. He couldn't see very clearly, and no matter how much he blinked his eyes wouldn't seem to focus, but he could see enough to know that something was very, very wrong.
He should have been looking at his hand. His hand was alright as hands went. Long fingers. His veins were a bit prominent along the back perhaps, and sometimes his fingers were a bit chewed up but still, an alright hand. This was not his hand at all. He flexed his fingers experimentally. Well. On second thoughts it appeared he was indeed looking at his hand because when he asked his fingers to move the ones he was looking at moved obediently. Except those were definitely not his fingers. His fingers didn't have leathery skin and long fingernails. Claws really. His thumb and little finger certainly did not splay out at almost right angles from his hand like that. He turned 'his' hand around and there was that squeaking noise again. Orlando wasn't sure what to be more worried about. The fact that the palm of his hand now seemed to have... pads? Or that he was squeaking.
He tried to sit up, and discovered he couldn't. His body just wouldn't bend that way. That was when he looked down for the first time. This time the squeaking was more faint. A squeak of utter disbelief. He looked down and saw dark brown fur. Fur roughly the colour of his own hair. Actually, fur exactly the same shade as his hair. And feet. Feet that looked like his... 'hands'. He tried to reach backwards to push himself up and away from the strange spectacle but his arms wouldn't obey. It was about this moment that Orlando realised he didn't seem to have arms any more. On some instinct he didn't know he had he flipped himself over on to his stomach. This seemed to work well but his momentary feeling of accomplishment was immediately destroyed by something hitting him in the face with the force of a whiplash. A rising two note squeak of confusion emerged as Orlando twisted his neck to look backwards in order to ascertain whether what a very small voice in his head was suggesting was true. It was. Orlando had been hit across the face with a tail. Not just any tail. It was his tail. Orlando had a tail. His very own tail. He'd just hit himself in the face with his very own tail.
Orlando began to berate himself for his clumsiness before realising that perhaps, on balance, the problem was not so much his clumsiness as the more pressing concern that he appeared to have turned into a... a... mouse. There! He'd thought it. He appeared to be a mouse. Orlando squeaked three times. And then wondered if any other mice in his house would be offended by hearing him say "What the fuck?" in Mouse. If Mouse was a language. Fascinating point that. Perhaps he could find another mouse and have a conversation which would be interesting to say the least. Did his house have mice? He hadn't seen any but then, of course, the house definitely had at least one mouse now. Orlando again made the effort to pull his thoughts back on the main point here which was not this no doubt fascinating linguistic dilemma but to repeat: He appeared to be a mouse. Complete with tail.
At that moment a rumbling noise vibrated through the house and Orlando just about jumped right out of his skin. Without thinking he tried to burrow straight under the duvet, every instinct screaming at him to hide. His face seemed to be on fire as he wriggled under the edge of the duvet. There was a flurry of short, sharp noises that hurt his ears even more than the rumbling and then the most awful vibrations ran through the bed and into his body. Violent trembling took over his body and for a few seconds his entire world was a flare of bright red panic.
There was no telling how long he quivered under the weight of the duvet for. The next thing he was conscious of was a thumping and then the rumbling noise again. Something about it made Orlando wake up from his panic just enough to recognise the sound. Viggo's voice! Viggo was there! He concentrated and managed to make words out of the waves of sound.
"I guess he's out is he, Sidi? More shopping? Come on then, let's go get my stuff in from the truck okay? Yeah, I know, it's good to see you too boy."
"Okay Sidi. Let go now... I'm gonna need that wrist later, you just ask your master. Ow, owwww... leave! Thanks, appreciate it."
The shout had Orlando burying his head into the duvet again. Everything hurt. Everything was wrong. He pulled his head out of the comforter and the instant relief he felt led to him realising why his face was hurting. It was his whiskers. It was his bloody whiskers. And the noise! Everything seemed so much louder to him than it normally did. Sounds felt like crashing waves ready to squash him flat. How did mice cope with it?!
But Viggo was here and Orlando needed to get to him. Viggo would know what to do. Except that so far as Orlando was aware, Viggo spoke many languages but Mouse was not one of them. First things first. Get to Viggo.
Orlando crawled out from beneath the duvet and made his tentative way to the side of the bed. His tiny mouse heart quailed when he reached the edge. It was a freaking precipice! Glancing up and away he caught sight of a blurry movement in free standing mirror he'd placed to reflect the bed because... Well, basically for perverted sex reasons that now seemed utterly irrelevant. He could see a small, brownish creature looking back at him. He wondered if he was perhaps a little numb, in shock really. He wondered this because his first thought on realising that he was looking at himself was to be utterly relieved that he had definitely turned into a mouse, not a rat. Mice were cute. Look at Mickey and Minnie, or Dormouse in 'Alice in Wonderland'. Although Dormouse was perhaps not a good role model because he just slept all the time and was half drowned in the teapot. Perhaps it would be better to model himself after DangerMouse. DangerMouse was like 007 but in mouse form. If Sean "006" Bean was a mouse he'd be DangerMouse and that was an encouraging thought. Orlando decided to behave as Sean!006!DangerMouse would and Sean!006!DangerMouse would no doubt get his arse down the side of the bed without any fuss. He began to hum the DangerMouse theme tune in his head for extra confidence: "He's the Strongest... He's The Quickest.... He's The Best... DangerMouse!"
Orlando looked at his feet... paws... whatever the fuck they were and their nails... claws... whatever. Mice could climb all sorts of crap, right? Sidi just walked straight down the stairs, head first, so how scary could that be? He himself had bungeed, snowboarded, fallen from very high heights and survived. A two foot climb down was simple, right? If Aragorn was a mouse, he'd manage it. Hang that -- if Legolas or Balian were mice, they'd damn well manage it. He was going to manage it too.
A slightly shaky paw reached forward and down to take the first step, nose following, and before he knew what he was doing he was crawling backwards, away from the sheer drop. Orlando was, distantly, pleased about how quickly he was adapting to moving about in mouse form. Except that going backwards didn't help him go down. Perhaps if he went down arse first that might help. He shuffled himself round in a 180 degree on the spot turn that went reasonably well, apart from the unfortunate tail entanglement with his back paws. To say that seeing the tip of his tail twitching next to his face was unsettling was an understatement. Concentrating incredibly hard brought results as he managed to convince it to flip back behind him and over the edge of the mattress.
He reminded himself to think like Sean!006!DangerMouse and slowly shifted backwards. He squeaked nervously as he felt his arse drop slowly into thin air. His back paws seemed to pretty much automatically cling on to the fitted sheet and the first few cling-release manoeuvres went quite well. It was the join between mattress and box spring that proved his undoing. Orlando was relieved to discover that mice could twist in mid air pretty easily and land on all fours with only minor jarring to the body. The fall gave him a minor fright but Orlando held on to the bigger picture. He was on the floor. He could get to Viggo.
He scuttled towards the door, pushing down the hysterical squeak that rose in his throat at the thought that he was scuttling at all. Orlando had run, danced, jogged, walked, staggered and even on one or two memorable occasions crawled (for Viggo of course), but this was the first time he had ever 'scuttled'. He blinked hard and kept going.
The stairs were a blur. Orlando just tried not to think about them really. He tried the first two arse first again but it was so difficult not to be able to see where he was going he pushed his nerves to one side. Orlando asked himself sternly if he was a mouse or a man. It being the case that he did indeed appear to be a mouse, it seemed better to behave like one and head first it was. Apart from a couple of awkward tumbles the stairs could be considered a relative success. He was three steps from the bottom when he felt a tingling run down his entire body in a most unpleasant fashion. The tingling turned into a screaming sense of unease and he looked about for a hiding place. The only likely looking place was a pair of his shoes on the stairs.
A dark shape came into view at the bottom of the stairs and his body made the decision for him. Before he knew it he was up and over the edge of his trainer and backing into the toe. His whiskers screamed in protest as they brushed over the inside and he settled into the widest part of the foot. Then it happened. A huge black... nose poked it's way into the trainer and sniffed. Orlando could actually feel the air rush towards the nose; his own fur moved by the power of the sniff. His brain shouted "No, Sidi!" but all that emerged was a strident squeak. Sidi's nose forced its way further in and Orlando could smell the full force of his pet's dog breath mingled with the unholy reek of his own feet. That was when he realised. He was going to be eaten. His own pet was going to eat him and that would be that. The red panic began to rise again, shutting down his conscious thoughts as the trembling kicked in. Orlando tried desperately to hang on to his inner 006!Aragorn!Legolas!Balian!DangerMouse self but the fear! The fear was like nothing he'd ever felt before.
And then... deliverance.
"Sorry Sean, hang on a second. Sidi! Leave that alone. Leave it! He's messing with Orlando's shoes. Sidi! Come on... Outside with you if you're going to be this hyper."
The nose retreated and although the ensuing bang of the door about burst Orlando's ear drums, he'd never been so grateful for Sidi being sent outside.
"Honestly, Orlando loves that dog but he'd have a fit if Sidi ate his trainers. Yeah, those weird ones with the separate toe thing? I know, I don't get them either but if Orlando likes 'em then Sidi needs to not eat 'em."
Orlando was still in a state of deep trauma over being nearly eaten by his own dog but was pulled out of it quite nicely by hearing Viggo criticise his beloved trainers. The nerve! Just as soon as he was himself again he'd be having a word with Viggo about that. He interrupted his own thoughts as there was a sound of a squishy impact and Viggo started speaking again. Orlando inched forward until he could just poke his head out and over the rim of his shoe. Viggo was sitting back on the huge sofa. Orlando had bought it new for the house and Viggo looked perfectly comfortable. That was when Orlando made the discovery that mice couldn't smile, because he really wanted to smile at the sight of Viggo half sprawled across the overstuffed cushions. He wanted to give a big approving grin at the sight, but he just couldn't make his face work that way.
"... no clue where he is. There's no note or anything. I thought he'd be here but maybe I messed up the times or something. Probably out last minute shopping."
Orlando sat back on his hind quarters and considered matters. His ears appeared to have found a way to control the sound levels and he could hear things much more clearly now. However the main problem remained. How was he meant to communicate with Viggo? He turned the problem over in his head as he half listened to Viggo's conversation.
"No, his is all done and under the tree. He's got an amazing tree set up -- some of the ornaments look old. I think he did it himself."
"You know as well as I do that there would have been someone only too happy to come and decorate Monsieur Bloom's Christmas tree. It's an interesting place he's got himself here -- first time I've seen it."
"Yeah, it really is black and I'm not sure why - I'd get it if it was yellow or polka dots but black... not sure. I think we've got some catching up to do. Been apart a lot lately."
At this Orlando tuned in to the conversation properly.
"You're joking right?"
"Well tell Ian that no, we're not breaking under the pressure, and yes, I still want to be with Orlando. Better still I'll call the old coot up and tell him myself."
"Fuck off Bean. You know better than that."
"You also know better than that. I don't want to dredge anything up but I know you know exactly how hard it is to make anything work in circumstances like these."
"Yeah. True. And it's kinda been me away more lately anyway. He's used to it though. He gets it."
"Sure he does. He knows he just needs to snap his fingers and I'm right there. Lan's an independent type; likes his space so he just doesn't snap those pretty fingers of his. Wasn't sure if he'd want me around this Christmas anyway. New house, his family's in town..."
"Of course I'm serious. He's so fucking independent it's hard to tell whether I'm just... holding on to something that's not there so much these days, you know? Whether he's moving on and just doesn't have the heart to tell me."
Orlando heard his squeak of shock before he realised he'd made it. "Moving on"?! What the fuck was Viggo talking about? Orlando wasn't moving on anywhere. He'd moved in to this house and that was all the moving he was doing. Viggo was still talking.
"No... No.... I kind of figured the key and the invite meant I was maybe worrying too much. Still. He and I need to talk. I need to know what the plan is. If there is one. There are some projects I'm looking at. Some of them would mean I'd be away for a long time."
Orlando's clawed paw curled nervously over the rim of the shoe. Away for a long time did not sound good. If Viggo wanted to go obviously Orlando wouldn't ask him to stay but 'a long time' was not good.
"That's what I mean! He's perfectly capable of looking after himself and he doesn't need me hanging around LA or London or wherever. I'm not going to be that guy Sean."
"You know... that sad old guy hanging round where he's not wanted. The charity case. I won't be that guy."
Not having his usual thumb to chew on in times of stress, Orlando gnawed on the tongue of his trainer in absent minded anxiety.
"You don't know that. Look. I only know how I feel. That's why I said to you that Lan and I need to catch up. Of course I'd stay if he wanted me to. I'm not ashamed to say I'd do just about anything he wanted me to, I love the hell out of him...."
The intensity of Orlando's gnawing kicked up a notch.
"More. More than I did at the start. He's so much more than we realised back then. I mean, clearly he was something special but we had no real idea did we. Do you remember that night in the bar? Yeah.. that one... when I told you?"
"Your memory is freakishly accurate. So yes. I'd stay. I'd move right in here. Shit. I can't believe I just said that. I didn't even know I would til right then, but I would. I'd move right into this big, black house with his big, insanely hyper, black dog and his incomprehensible trainers..."
Orlando stopped chewing on said trainers as Viggo reached the end of his sentence. He spat out the shreds of rubber he'd managed to strip off the tongue as he listened carefully.
"... if he asked me to. But I'm not forcing myself onto him."
"You perverted freak. You know what I meant."
Viggo shifted and got up off the couch. Orlando ducked back down into the relative safety of the inside of his shoe. He barely even noticed the 'scent' in there any more. Viggo's voice faded as he wandered away towards the kitchen. Orlando curled up to think. So far as he saw it he had two problems. First: he was a mouse. Second, and more importantly: Viggo was as at sea about 'them' as he himself was. Which was a strangely comforting thought. He began to rehearse some opening gambits for the conversation he wanted to have. When he could speak again of course. He was five or six in when Viggo headed back in his direction.
"I hear you. Yeah. And don't tell Ian I called him an old coot okay? I'm gonna lie down for a bit until he comes back from wherever he's gone off to. The flights to get here were crazy."
The stairs vibrated under the weight of Viggo's tread as he headed up to the bedroom.
"And to you and the girls. Merry Christmas Sean."
Orlando hopped out of the shoe and looked up the stairs after Viggo's retreating back. It might as well have been the north face of the Eiger but Viggo was up there and he wanted to be near Viggo. Orlando began to climb. It was dark outside by the time he reached the landing. He had almost stopped thinking about the fact that he was a mouse, so focused was he on his climb.
If the stairs were the Eiger, the climb back on to the bed was of Everest proportions. The vertical climb was exhausting. By the time Orlando flopped onto the mattress his forelegs were throbbing and his lungs burning from the exertion. It was worth it though, because there was Viggo.
Although his eyes still wouldn't focus for him the all encompassing smell of the man was nearly as good as seeing him clearly. Orlando crept forward and realised Viggo was on his side, facing away. He headed up to the pillows as gently as possible and settled himself on the linen by Viggo's neck.
The confusion and stress of the situation began to flood in but Orlando just breathed deeply and the warm Viggo smell reassured him. Everything would be okay. He had no idea how, or when, but he knew that Viggo loved him and that meant everything else would be okay. Even if he was a mouse.
Exhaustion pulled him under, and sleep soothed his lingering doubts away.
Orlando awoke to a kiss. He was being kissed. It felt gorgeous - all soft yet firm. He stretched out and kissed back. For about 1.5 seconds before remembering. He was a mouse! And mice didn't get kissed. He jolted upright, pushing his kisser away.
He looked down at himself and saw nothing but skin. Normal, pale, wonderfully familiar skin. His sun tattoo. He patted his torso, checking, but it was definitely skin. Not fur. Not a shred of fur. Except where should be fur obviously. Not a mouse. Not. A. Mouse. Orlando thanked all the deities he could think of in two seconds flat for his not being a mouse anymore.
His head whipped round. Viggo. Viggo was there and was looking at him with real concern on his face. Orlando stared at him briefly before gazing back down at himself. He lifted a hand and checked it. Fingers and thumb in the right place. No pads on the palm. Normal. Not a mouse's paw at all. Orlando shook his head slowly in confusion. He must have been dreaming. Viggo must have just arrived while he was asleep and gotten into bed next to him and it had just been a dream. Of course it had been. That damn 'Night before Christmas' show with its mice not stirring business had been on the TV. That was all.
"Orlando, it's just me. Were you having a dream?"
"Erm..." No squeaking. His voice worked again. Thank God all over again. "Erm... yeah. A dream. Must have been a dream. But it was so real. I'd turned into a..." He looked at Viggo. "It doesn't matter. You're here and it doesn't matter. Bloody hell Vig. It's so good to see you."
Orlando pressed himself into Viggo's warmth, feeling Viggo's arms immediately wrap around him and hold him tight, and there was more kissing. Deep, amazing kisses where their mouths fit together just so and their noses didn't bump and their teeth didn't clack. The kisses of two people who knew how they fit together perfectly.
Drawing away, Orlando looked at the face of the man before him. Sharp cheekbones and faceted eyes. Firm lips and the perfect-as-anything chin cleft. "We fit. We just fit together, don't we?"
It was impossible to miss the worry that flitted across Viggo's face. "Yeah, we do. We've fitted for a long time."
"And we will for a long time more, right?"
Viggo looked concerned. "Do you want to talk about the dream? It seems like it's kinda got to you."
"No! I mean... no, I don't want to talk about it, thanks all the same, but we will, we'll be together, won't we Vig?"
"If you want us to, sure we will."
"Of course I do. Fuck it... of course I do."
"Then we will..."
"Excellent!" Orlando interrupted him and followed on with a searing kiss. He felt excited, exhilarated. Viggo wanted him and he wanted Viggo and they were going to be together and it was Christmas and it was going to be great! He pulled away and hopped out of bed.
"Where're you going? No fair kissing and running like that."
Orlando was headed to the dresser. "We've got stuff to do!" He pulled on jeans and a loose black sweater. "Dinner to cook." He turned a grin (he could grin again!) on to Viggo. "Come help?"
Viggo slid off the bed and stretched, his bare toes curling in the carpet. "Sure. But you were all naked and in the bed and a man gets ideas you know."
Orlando laughed as he headed out the door. "Later. Definitely later. But before that, my family are coming over yeah?"
"Yeah, I remember. I guess I can stand to wait a few hours." Viggo followed him out and down the stairs.
Half way down Orlando paused. "Hey. Where's Sidi?" He knew his dog well enough to know that the animal clung to Viggo like glue for the first few hours after they were reunited.
"Oh, shoot. I forgot. I put him outside earlier because he was messing with your shoes and forgot to let him back in. Sorry about that but it's quite warm outside and I'm sure he's been having an incredible time chasing leaves or whatever he likes to do to have fun."
The tingling sense of panic crawled over his skin again and Viggo's words rather faded out of his hearing half way through. Orlando felt dizzy and sank down to sit next to the trainers on the third step. "He was messing with my shoes?"
"Hey, it's okay. It was only those trainers and I think I caught him before he caused any damage - I know how you love those things."
"Yeah. I do love them," Orlando replied absently as he picked one of them up. "But you don't get why I do."
Viggo slid past him and stood at the bottom of the stairs looking at him with concern again.
"Well... no, not really. The separate toe thing is a little..."
It was easy to complete the sentence for him. "Weird."
"Kinda. But I know you love them so it doesn't matter what I think about your shoes, does it?"
"No. That doesn't matter at all."
Because it really didn't. Orlando didn't understand Viggo's penchant for going to the store in pyjamas, or wearing nylon football shirts so it really didn't matter at all. What mattered was the fact that when he looked closely at the tongue of the shoe there were small marks where the rubber was missing. Like tooth marks. And when he tipped the shoe back, tiny pieces of rubber rolled back to the heel. As though a mouse had chewed tiny strips off and then spat them out.
He twitched backwards as Viggo stroked his face. "Lan? Seriously... you're not right. What's going on?"
Staring at the trainers didn't seem to be helping things make any more sense. "I'm fine. I'm just..." He didn't know how to finish the sentence. 'I'm just recovering from being a mouse'? 'I'm just a little mouse-lagged'?
"I'm just... Did you speak to Sean recently?"
"Well... yeah. While I was waiting for you to get back home."
"I wasn't here when you arrived?"
"Right. Yeah. No. Of course I wasn't. Sorry. I'm just a little... Fine. Really fine. Vig?"
Orlando looked up. The man in front of him represented everything he wanted in the world. He wanted Viggo to be stroking his face like this for years and years and years. He wanted to be able to kiss Viggo awake every morning it was possible to. He wanted... "Move in with me."
Viggo's steady stroking faltered.
"I mean... or can I move in with you? I don't mind really. I mean there's studio space for you here if you wanted it, did you see it yet? It has a room attached that could be your own bedroom, if you wanted one. And there's a room that would be perfect for Henry, did you see that? And Fermé has his own dog house in the yard, I had it delivered, did you see?"
"No... No, haven't seen any of it because I didn't explore really. I was waiting for you and so I didn't... Hold on though. Move in? Together? This is why you've been acting weird? You wanted to ask me that?"
"No, I mean yes. That's right. Nervous, you know?" Orlando thought that sounded like it was as good a reason as any. "Didn't know what you'd say, yeah? Nervous. But then I just thought why not? I thought you might agree."
"What made you think that?"
Orlando looked down at the trainer again. "Would you believe me if I said a little mouse told me?"
"Bean can't keep his mouth shut can he?" Viggo laughed and Orlando was about to ask what he meant before realising Viggo thought Sean had called and told him. That worked. "So it won't surprise you if I say yes then, now will it?"
"You... you will?"
Viggo nodded and a rush of exhilaration tingled through Orlando in a pleasant change from the tingles of panic of earlier. "And I won't be needing my own bedroom either. Deal?"
Orlando's smile practically split his face in two. "Deal." He reached up and tugged Viggo down to meet him in a kiss and as he did so Orlando considered that he would never be able to listen to 'Twas the Night Before Christmas' again. Not that that mattered. Orlando still loved Christmas, more than ever now that Viggo would be with him, together snug in their bed while visions of sugar-plums danced in their heads.
He broke the kiss and murmured against Viggo's cheek. "Want to put the star on top of the tree with me?"
Together they slid the star on the top spike of the tree. It looked perfect. Exactly as it should. Orlando thought it best not to make any more wishes though. He didn't really need to; happiness seemed to have wrapped itself around him, coating him from top to toe in blissful warmth. Yes indeed, Orlando loved Christmas. Nearly as much as he loved Viggo.
Outside, Sidi was watching a most peculiar creature. A small figure with twinkling eyes and merry dimples, cheeks like roses, a nose like a cherry and a beard that looked as white as pure snow. Sidi cocked his head to one side as the figure chuckled and threw him a wink and a nod, laid his finger to the side of his nose and disappeared into the dark of the trees surrounding the house. The dog looked after the figure for a second more before resting his head on his paws and going back to sleep.