He sighed and rolled over, not quite awake. The strange sound happened another three times and he finally opened his eyes. His room was dark and quiet except for—thwack!—whatever was making that sound. He stumbled out of bed and to the window, where the sound seemed to be coming from. He drew the heavy drapes back and struggled for a second to get the window to open, the cold weather outside versus the heat inside causing a thin layer of ice to form. He got the window open and stuck his head out to see what was going on.
“Shit!” He jerked to the side just in time to avoid taking a snowball to his face, the projectile flying past him and onto his floor instead.
“Oops! Sorry Alex!”
“Brendan? What are you doing down there?” he asked staring down at his friend standing in the bright moonlit snow.
“Trying to get you to wake up! I must have been pelting your window with snowballs for the last ten minutes! Come down here!”
Alex sighed and looked back at his warm bed. He could just ignore Brendan and go back to sleep... “All right. I’ll be down in a minute!” He slid the window shut and hurried to get dressed, throwing his coat on and grabbing his scarf, toque, and mittens in one hand and his winter boots in the other as he hurried downstairs. At the door he jammed his feet into his boots and headed outside, tugging on his toque and mittens and throwing his scarf around his neck as he headed around the house to meet Brendan.
“What’s this all about?” Alex grumbled.
“Come on!” Brendan took off across the campus and Alex had no choice but to follow.
They reached a nearby park and it didn’t take long for Alex to figure out where they were going. Someone had started a fire inside the pit in the centre of the gazebo and there were dozens of people milling about, most with paper cups of coffee from the cart that was set up near the gazebo. The peaks of the gazebo were strung with lights and the entire thing looked like it was straight out of a winter wonderland.
Alex stared in amazement.
“Someone decided to throw an impromptu party before we all leave for Christmas break,” Brendan said grinning.
“Wow.” He turned his head and realized Brendan was staring at him.
“Yeah.” Brendan looked away. “Hey do you want some coffee? Or I think they have hot chocolate?”
“I’ll be right back.” Brendan hurried away to the coffee cart.
Alex sighed and shook his head, watching Brendan at the coffee cart among the sparkling lights. He smiled as Brendan carefully picked up the two paper cups and picked his way across the frozen path.
“I couldn’t decide so I got the guy to do half coffee, half hot chocolate. I hope that’s okay?”
“That’s perfect,” Alex said taking the offered cup. He took a sip, nearly burning his tongue. “Do you want to take a walk while we wait for these to cool?”
“Yeah, okay.” They fell into step together and started wandering down one of the parks looping paths.
“It’s a really nice night for this,” Alex said quietly once they were a discrete distance away from the gazebo where most of the people were gathered. “Seems like the perfect setting if someone wanted to ask someone something.”
Brendan stared down at his coffee cup, picking at the edge of the lid. “Yeah.”
“Hey Brendan,” Alex said stopping at a park bench and carefully balancing his drink on the arm.
“Duck!” Alex scooped up a handful of snow and hurled it at Brendan. The snow hit Brendan squarely in the back and he turned around and stared at Alex in surprise, giving Alex the perfect target for his next snowball.
“Now you’re in for it!” Brendan declared as Alex’s second snowball struck his shoulder, narrowly missing his face. Brendan dropped his coffee cup on the seat of the bench and grabbed some snow to retaliate.
“Is that the best you can do?” Alex teased as Brendan’s first snowball missed him widely. He had to dodge quickly to the left to avoid the second snowball following on the heels of the first. His foot slipped on an icy spot and he fell, glad that the side of the path was just grass covered in several inches of snow.
“You okay?” Brendan asked hurrying over to him, reaching down to help him up.
“Yeah,” Alex said laughing. He reached up to take Brendan’s hand and instead pulled him down into the snow with him.
Brendan yelped in surprise and Alex quickly moved so he was sitting on Brendan’s legs, leaning forward to pin his shoulders to the ground. “Now you’re not getting up until you ask me out!” He grinned down at Brendan.
Brendan stared up at him and started to smile. “Would you go out with me?”
“Well…” Alex pretended to think it over then dipped his head and kissed Brendan. “Okay.” He got to his feet and pulled Brendan up with him. “We’d better get back to the fire before we freeze,” he said brushing snow out of Brendan’s hair and wondering where his toque had gone. He spotted it lying in the snow and grabbed it, shaking the snow off of it before tucking it into his pocket.
They picked up their drinks and headed back towards the gazebo, hand in hand.