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Twice Shy

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James thinks it’s been about sixteen years since he last had a good Christmas.

Strangely enough, when he was growing up it was the one day of the year that he loved. Mac had never hurt him on Christmas Day, never berated or belittled him. They were all together, as a family, and while that didn’t mean he’d ever gotten more than a Happy Christmas out of his dad, it did mean that he had good memories of Christmas with his mum and Nathan and Ellie.

The last good one that he remembers was just after Alfie was born. Marnie had been rushing around, Mac helping Nathan and Ellie set up their toys, and James had been left holding the baby, literally. He was happy that day.

After that, the memories are just sadness. Disappointment. The older he got, the further Christmas slipped away from him until he’d arrived in this purgatory of a village and been forced into frivolity.

Christmas with the McQueens had been a living nightmare that he didn’t like to dwell on.

Last year…

James stares at his depressing little Christmas tree in the corner and takes a sip of wine.

Last year, Harry had been here, sitting next to him in that ugly jumper, making him feel things… Things that weren’t just lust. Actual, real feelings of love and hope, a desire to protect him, a desperation to make him happy.

He remembers kissing him, the feel of Harry’s lips against his, the press of their bodies together. He remembers dragging that ridiculous jumper off him. He remembers falling onto the bed, hands everywhere at once. He remembers kissing Harry hard as he came so that he wouldn’t embarrass himself saying words it was far too early to say.

He also remembers that they’d fallen asleep together, Harry curled up beside him like the world’s most adorable hot water bottle. He remembers waking up and revelling in the fact that Harry was there.

Not for the first time, he wishes he’d stayed in bed a little longer, held Harry a little tighter. Maybe if he’d stayed then he could have done something or said something to make Harry see how different it was between them. That they had something special.

The rest of his memories of last year are mostly depressing. If he spends too long thinking about it he ends up overcome with disgust at himself.

He doesn’t need that right now.

He misses Harry.

He misses Harry with every cell of his body. Every day without him feels wasted. He wants to talk to him. He wants to share a stupid joke or talk about work. He misses the face Harry pulls when James doesn’t get a pop culture reference. He misses the way his eyes would light up when James said something amusing. He misses his face and his voice and his awful taste in music and his ridiculous eating habits.

James finishes his wine and picks up his phone.

It’s a stupid idea. He’s not actually drunk enough to excuse it. If he calls Harry now it’s with the full knowledge of what he’s doing.

His finger hovers over Harry’s number.

He married someone else, rings in his ears and he closes his eyes, tries to block it all out again.

James had been pushed to his limit that day. First Harry, then Romeo, then Mac. By the time Harry had shown up at his door James had been spoiling for a fight and Harry had paid the price.

Which isn’t to say that James was wrong, but that didn’t make it any easier.

Merry Christmas he types, thinking a message is easier than a phone call. He can plan what he wants to say this way.

I hope you’re

-what exactly? Happy? That sounds nasty even though he doesn’t mean it to be. Safe? Dear God, he hopes Harry is safe and not on the streets again -

enjoying yourself is what he types and then twists his face at. That just sounds snide.

What he wants to say is I miss you and I’m sorry and Come home.

James deletes the message completely and taps his phone against his forehead in frustration. Why is this so hard?

He almost drops it in surprise when the phone beeps, informing him he has a message. With shaking hands he unlocks the phone and opens it.

Merry Christmas Harry has written. Hope you’re having a good one x

You too James replies. And Happy New Year.

It will be :)

James stares at Harry’s message for far too long, leaving it unanswered.

Somehow he thinks the new year is going to be a lot more interesting than Christmas.