The Ornament

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Santas, angels, and gingerbread men smiled at Thad from every direction. They hung from displays and fake trees of all sizes with Wise Men, drummer boys, nutcrackers, and woodland creatures. Grinning. All of them.

This was stupid. Who cared what Christmas ornament he chose? They were all alike. Cheesing it up like there really was magic in the air. Well, he wasn’t a believer. Not anymore. How could he be? This year had sucked. Outed in his senior year of high school, kicked out of his uncle’s house the day he turned eighteen, and too dumb to get into the local college.

The fuck did he have to be merry about?

And now he had to pick out an ornament for the company gift exchange. All twenty-two of them celebrated Christmas and some prick had the great idea for them all to buy a damn ornament, wrap ‘em up, and everybody’d get to choose one. Idiotic. So here Thad was with Chris to—

Okay, so his whole year hadn’t sucked completely. He had Chris now.

After he’d been outed, Chris had asked him out. Or hinted that he’d liked to be asked out because, apparently, Chris had been afraid of Thad even as he was excited by him. Go figure, the bad boy would attract the band geek. So Thad asked Chris out. Mostly because Chris was the only other gay guy Thad knew and, hey, he just might get laid—finally. Now, seven months later, they were sort of living together. Sort of, because they were in Chris’s parents’ basement, but at least they didn’t give them shit about it. Which meant, technically, Thad kind of had a family now too.

But he didn’t want to get a damn ornament. He’d been outed at work and half those assholes had switched gears to suddenly hate him. So what if he was good with cars and gay too? So fucking what? He was still better than the rest of them at everything from changing the oil on a Pinto to diagnosing a glitch on a Lexus—just like he had been before they knew he liked dick. Nothing had changed about him, but every ‘phobing douchenozzle made a point of ruining his day.

And he was supposed to buy them a gift?

Chris was the only reason Thad was in the mall right now. Dude was a pain in the ass sometimes. Raised on honesty and trained from birth or something to turn the other cheek, Chris was always making nice with everybody. If Chris really could kill ‘em all with kindness, Thad was still waiting for the bodies to pile up. So far…nothing. Chris smiled, bullies bullied, and somehow Chris walked away not caring.

Thad had no idea how he did that.

This ornament shopping trip was another attempt at murder through happiness or whatever the hell it was. Get them a “really awesome” ornament, full of holly jolly spirit, and maybe they’d forget he might get The Gay on them while in the pit under a shitty Oldsmobile.

Chris was obviously delusional. Thank God he had a mouth like a Hoover.

“This is stupid,” Thad said when Chris walked over to show him a glitter-covered snowman the size of his hand.

Chris smiled. He had a great smile. Nice eyes, too, all sky blue and twinkly. Always looked like he knew a secret. Thad still hadn’t gotten it out of him yet, whatever it was.

“How about this one?” Chris asked and held up the snowman.

It dangled from his index finger, twisting to the right on its silver cord like it was making sure Thad could see its profile. If the light was more direct the damn thing probably could’ve blinded him with the reflection off all that silvery-white glitter. And Chris had some on his cheek, so it was probably all over his hands. Which meant whoever picked that ornament would be glittery for life too.

Thad smiled.

“That’s a sinister grin,” Chris said. He looked at the snowman like it might explain.

“I think it’s perfect.”

Chris rolled his eyes. “Why?”

“I can’t just like it?”

“Not and smile like that. You think it’s the ugliest thing in the world and whoever gets it will hate it.”

No, he thought it would spread glitter like they thought he’d spread gay and he might as well enjoy seeing his fellow grease monkeys sparkling through the holiday season.

“Think about it, hon. Glitter. Gays. It’s perfect.”

Chris snorted, then held the snowman up near his cheek and made that face where he opened his mouth in a huge smile while also squinting his eyes. Thad saw the definition of adorkable every time Chris did that.

Thad chuckled and rubbed at his eyes. He heard a rustle of clothing while he had his eyes closed, and then he felt Chris pressed up against his back.

Of course, Thad’s first instinct was to look around to see if anyone was freaking out about two guys standing way too close together. He managed not to move his head and get a lecture from Chris, but he did open his eyes and quickly scan the area. Aside from two older ladies who didn’t even look, there was no one around.

“Think of it this way,” Chris murmured in his ear. “It’s our first Christmas together. You and me and a dinky little tree with this hanging on it.”

He rested his arm over Thad’s shoulder. Dangling from his hand was a simple red ball with white words and two little hearts painted on it.

Our First Christmas
♥︎ Thad & Chris ♥︎

Thad’s throat felt tight. Yeah, well, that was different, wasn’t it. Chris loved him, even though Thad was a fucked-up, dumbass orphan still figuring out how to live outside the closet.

Taking a chance, ignoring his fears, Thad turned his head enough to brush a kiss to Chris’s cheek just under his eye. “That one I really do like.”

Chris nuzzled into Thad’s cheek and left a kiss. “Everything’ll be just fine. You’ll see.”

Thad smiled at their ornament and still dangling from Chris’s hand and could almost believe he was right. Okay, maybe more than almost.