Teddy came over for Christmas dinner of course, but that was with the whole family, the extendable table barely fitting in the living room, and the kids playing on the floor. They were coming up with new Santa traps to test out next year, and Teddy was brought in as a consultant.
“Now if you loosen the bannister here, he’ll have no support, and come crashing down the stairs!” He drew a few connecting lines on Louise’s diagram, and the kids all nodded, transfixed by his expertise.
Tina looked worried. “Wouldn’t that kill him?”
“Oh no,” Teddy smiled reassuringly. “Unless you want to. Then all you’d have to do is remove some floorboards here,” he took back the crayon and circled a spot at the top of the stairs, while Gene and Louise leaned in eagerly.
Bob watched fondly as he cleared the table. He remembered coming home the previous night, finding Teddy trapped under the fridge, insistent that he open the Christmas card before saving him.
After propping the appliance up, Linda shuffled the kids off to bed while Bob stayed in the kitchen. He had to admit, it was one hell of a sight, Teddy tied up to the fridge with one hand, shirt loosened and covered in food stains. In any other circumstances it would not be appealing, but Bob and Teddy always connected on a different level.
He leaned over Teddy, awkwardly straddling his thigh as he struggled with the rope.
“Crap.” His fingers slipped, and he fell forward, landing more solidly on Teddy. His hands fell around the trapped arm, his own warm fingers wrapping around the chilled skin. Teddy groaned softly, a pitiful sound that reminded Bob of whales in nature documentaries, and he pulled back in embarrassment. “Look, Teddy, I’m so sorry. You know the kids, they take things too far but this-“
“No, it’s fine, don’t worry.” They always talked over each other, sentences overlapping and collapsing and re-forming as their conversations turned to arguments. They could both get really heated at times.
“No! I will make this right! You will let me apologize and I’ll free your arm and-“
“Bobby!” He interrupted him with a kiss, short and chaste but just enough to derail his train of thought.
He kissed him again, and this time Bob closed his eyes, leaning in to the soft touch. Teddy smelled sweet, with smears of grape jelly on the back of his neck, and orange juice soaked into his collar. The chill from the fridge felt amazing against his flushed cheeks, and the wide expanse of Teddy’s soft body trapped underneath him felt intoxicating.
Instantly he pulled back, remembering where he was and why Teddy was trapped. “Crap, sorry again.”
Teddy laughed, a breathless huff. “It’s fine Bob, I’m ok. Honestly this is one of my better Christmas Eves.”
“Mine too,” he whispered back quickly, too in the moment to realize how untrue that statement was. He twisted his head to kiss Teddy again, before turning back to the problem at hand. “But seriously, I suck at knots. I could get a knife, but I’m afraid to cut you by accident and-“
Teddy thumped the back of his head against the fridge shelf, sending another orange rolling to the floor.
“Wire cutters,” he grumbled. “I’m so stupid. I bet a pair of wire cutters would work. I’ve got some in my tool box, in the back of my truck.” His free hand fumbled in his pocket for a minute, before finding the keys and passing them to Bob. “No rush. I’ll wait.”
He tried to hurry, he really did, but he took ten seconds for himself. Standing out on the quiet street, snow falling softly, the cold air helping clear his head. Calling it a rough night would be an understatement. Shaking his head, he snapped back into action and unlocked Teddy’s truck. He grabbed the whole tool box to be safe, and made his exhausted way back up the stairs.
He found Lin in the kitchen, sitting at the table and talking with Teddy.
“Bob! You didn’t tell me you almost died!” His face was all lit up in worry, and that made Bob’s heart clench.
“Teddy, I found you trapped under a fridge. That’s a little more important right now.”
Teddy just shook his head, not entirely convinced, but Bob ignored it and got to work. A gnawing thought kept circling in his head. If they had died tonight, run off of the road somewhere upstate by a vengeful candy cane truck driver, then Teddy would still be stuck. No one would ever find him here, all because Bob asked him for a favor.
He shook his head again. Linda kept talking, telling an enchanted Teddy all about her Dutch baby. It was a genuinely helpful distraction, helping normalize things while Bob dug around for the cutters. He finally snipped the wire just as Linda got up to pour the coffee.
“Ohh, that’s better,” Teddy said, cracking his shoulder. He massaged his wrist, the red marks standing out on his cold skin.
Bob squeezed his shoulder twice in apology. “I’m sorry, Teddy.”
Teddy smiled back, that big dopey grin of his. “I know, Bob. I forgive you.”
They sat around for another ten minutes, Teddy trying to loosen up his stiff muscles before driving home, and Bob surveying the mess.
“The kids will be cleaning this all up in the morning,” Linda said confidently. “Or else Santa’s never stepping foot in this house again.”
“I wouldn’t blame him,” Teddy joked.
But here Teddy was, the very next day- or well, hours later that same day, playing with Bob’s kids like nothing had happened.
Teddy looked over, noticing Bob watching him. He smiled again, and Bob smiled back.
A little while later Bob was walking Teddy to the door, both arms full of leftovers packed up for him.
“Are you sure this isn’t too much food?”
“I want you to have it. It’s the least I can do after having my entire literal fridge fall on you.”
Teddy smiled again. “I didn’t mind it so much,” he said. “And I still have some of that rope the kids used.”
Bob laughed to cover up his hitched breath. “Talk about it tomorrow?”
“See you at lunch,” Teddy agreed, leaning in to kiss Bob’s cheek. He still smelled faintly like barbecue sauce, and Bob’s stomach flipped. He watched Teddy walk to his truck, and realized he wouldn’t be able to look at his fridge normally for a while. Shrugging, he knew it was worth it.