"Are these cinnamon cookies?" Markus asked while leaning on a counter.
Simon nodded his head enthusiastically and took off his -pink- kitchen gloves after he set the hot tray next to Markus. "Yeah, thought Carl would like it."
"Well, they smell delicious, I'm sure the old man's gonna love it."
"I hope so." Simon stepped aside to put his head on Markus' shoulder. "He needs to treat himself every once in a while."
"Except the 'every once in a while' becomes 'every other day'." A soft laughter escaped from Simon's lips. "I'm serious, he's like a toddler. I can't stop him. No matter how hard I try, he always manages to sneak something-"
"Are you two gossiping about me?" Carl's voice filled the room before he was seen. "You know I have the ears of an elephant."
"Yeah, yeah..." Markus chuckled and slapped the hands of Carl before they could reach the cookies. "Leave them for later tonight, besides they're too hot to eat anyway. It could upset your stomach."
Carl grumbled in the response. "You're underestimating me." He said, but gave up without putting up much of a fight.
"I'm caring about you."
Simon made a noise of endearment on the Markus' comment. Coming to Carl's place to celebrate christmas was, without a doubt, a great idea. Despite his age, Carl had the youngest soul Simon had ever seen and he was glad to meet the person that had a huge impact on who his boyfriend was today.
Deciding to leave the father-son to their cat fight, Simon made his way to the living room to check up on North and Josh.
"How's the decorating going?"
"Awful. Terrible. Horrible." The distant voice of North was impossible to track down.
"She's under the christmas tree." Josh pointed at the gigantic tree at the corner of the room, so Simon started walking towards there.
"Uh... I don't thinkㅡ"
"I'm down here!" Came the North's voice from somewhere.
"Dear lordㅡ North, how did you even end up there?" North was 'in' the tree, decorations were all wrapped around her and her head was nowhere to be seen.
"I don't know. Help, please." Simon tried not to laugh out loud as he crouched down and held North by her arms, saving her from the mess she's in slowly. This was probably the first and the last time he was going to hear her beg for help.
"Oh, thank fuck." North put a hand through her hair to fix it, but she wasn't really successful. "I thought I was gonna shut down there. After all that shit we've been through, didn't think a damn christmas tree was going to be the one to take me down."
"Yeah, you're welcome, I guess."
They made their way to Josh, who was decorating the west part of the room, and sat down on the couch next to him. "At least the tree looks pretty good." Josh said.
"'Pretty good'? Bitch, I decorated that tree, it looks great." North smacked Josh's leg. "Whatever, I'm gonna go and change my clothes. Bye losers." She sticked her tongue out and grabbed her backpack before heading up to the stairs in quick movements.
"Why is she in a that much hurry?" Simon asked curiously.
"Her girlfriend is coming over tonight."
"Girlfriend?" Simon almost shouted. "I didn't know she had one." And he thought they were close.
"Well, not yet. But hopefully she will by the end of this evening." Josh sent him an sympathetic glance. "And, don't worry, she wasn't planning on telling anyone from the beginning. I just catched her while she was texting."
Before they could continue their little 'gossip', Markus left the kitchen and walked up to them to join Simon on the couch. There was a slight frown on his face and a crease between his eyebrows. Simon put a hand on his knee and bumped their shoulders as Josh realized that this was going to be too intimate for his liking and decided to busy himself with decorating the place again. Besides, there was no one that could cheer Markus up better than Simon.
"He... He misses him." Markus said shortly.
"Who misses who, Markus?" Simon asked to clear things up.
"Carl. He misses Leo. But he's refusing to call him."
"Oh..." Of course Simon knew who Leo was and his relationship with Carl. Between the Leo and his father was always rocky but he also knew that they were trying again. Leo had been around for the last couple of months and he even apologised to Markus regarding his behaviors. He was going to therapy and trying to be better. "But why though, I thought they were on better terms lately?"
"They are. Carl's just... Scared, I guess?" Markus slipped his fingers into Simon's palm and Simon tightened his around Markus'. "I think they got into another fight yesterday."
Simon pressed his forehead on Markus' temple. "It's all going to be fine."
"I hope so..." Markus stopped mid-sentence. "Actually, could you guys distract Carl for me... Josh?"
"I'm always happy to help." Josh replied quickly but then turned his head to the other side in embarrassment. "I mean, it's not like I was listening to you guys."
Markus let out a low chuckle. "Just don't let him know I'm gone. It'd only take half an hour, I think."
"What's on your mind?"
"It's a surprise! But you're gonna love it." And with an excited, childish smile on his face, Markus was gone in 5 minutes.
"What was that?" Josh poked Simon under his arm.
"I have no idea, Markus being Markus." And with that, they started taking turns on distracting Carl.
Simon went first, forcing old man to help him put the cooled down cinnamon cookies on plates and decorate them with icing. The hardest part was to stop Carl from eating them all.
When Carl tried to ask something about Markus, Josh immediately came and started talking about how the evening was about to start and it was time to change their clothes. "Why don't you let me help you?" Offered Simon, "Did you know that I was designed to be a family domestic assistant too?"
Without giving Carl a chance to protest, Simon made their way to Carl's room in a hurry. "Simon- Simon, son what's going on?"
"Uh... Nothing? What do you mean?"
"Where did Markus disappear-"
"Oh, hi!" The loud voice of North cut Carl off. She was dressed in a purple button-up and black skinny jeans with black boots. Her hair was tied up in a low braid behind her. "Have you guys seen Chloe?" She asked, her voice full of excitement.
"No, not yet... But Markus went to get her." North was about to ask why but she stopped when she saw that Simon's led was spinning red and there was a weird expression on his face.
"Okay, cool... What are you guys up to?"
"Ah, I'm just gonna help Carl change for the evening," The ringing of the doorbell echoed in the house. "And looks like we should hurry up." Simon added.
North waved them goodbye and started going downstairs, taking two steps at a time. Without anymore fuss, Simon helped Carl to wear a sweater (it was the ugliest piece of clothing Simon had ever seen but Carl insisted, for some reason) and a comfortable looking pants. "Let's head down."
The smell of cinnamon was filling the air as they joined the group. Markus was back and he was talking to a blonde girl and a boy -who's back was turned against them, but it didn't stop Carl from recognising him. His own son. "Leo?"
"...Dad," The said boy turned towards them quickly and he too, had that abomination of a sweater. "Dad I... It's okay, if you- I mean, if you want me to... leave."
"No, Leo, why would I?" Carl was speaking softly. Like he was trying to comfort a scared cat.
"I just... thought you were angry with me." Leo scratched behind his neck, looking down on his shoes.
"I invited him." Markus added, just in case. "I couldn't let him spend the holiday alone, he's my brother after all."
"I couldn't be happier, boys." Carl beamed, his eyes shining with tears threatening to spill. He reached and put his hand on Leo's. "Welcome home, son."