"Just an hour left" Gen huffs, making sure his fake ears and hair were still in place in the mirror of the restroom.
He straightens his red and green elf hat on his head before walking back to see if his costume needed any adjustments. He scrunched his nose in disgust when he sees himself in the mirror because the red and green elf costume was hideous and too festive for his tastes. Gen admits working part time as a mall Santa's elf was not how he expected to make extra cash on the side while in college. He thought he would be working as a waiter or checking people out in a supermarket. Not putting on a fake cheerful act with a huge forced smile as he directed the next kid over to sit on Santa's lap so they could tell him what they wanted for Christmas while Gen desperately wished time would pass by faster so he could go home.
The job wasn't hard, it was easy in fact, it was just Gen would rather not be working at all, but he needed to save money to afford to go on the huge trip that his friend's and him were planning to take this coming spring break. They were planning to go to the Bahamas for that week and it was that mental picture of him relaxing on the beach near a clear green ocean under blue skies with the sun shining bright on him was the sole reason why he kept pushing forward. Even when he had to calm down a screaming kid that did not want to sit on Santa's lap or had to clean up any dirty messes that were left behind by nervous children. It was fine, it was all for that gorgeous memorable vacation trip on the beach.
He turns around to see the backside of his costume to make sure nothing was out of place before exiting the restroom, hoping that his coworker could handle the line by herself without any bad things happening. As he makes his way outside back into the hectic mall, he notices that the line to take pictures with Santa was longer now than when he went into the bathroom. Great. That meant they would probably have to stay over closing time to get everyone in and he wouldn't be off the clock until then.
Gen looks up and around as he walks through the area admiring all the Christmas decorations hanging around the mall. He likes Christmas. He's not too fond of the colors being mainly green and red, but he can admit that it's nice to see the place decorated and lively with people shopping for the holidays. The song playing overhead switches over from a mellow calm instrumental version of Silent Night to full blown loud upbeat cheerful Mariah Carey's All I want for Christmas. Gen groans and is tempted to cover his ears. He swears this song went from being one of his favorite Christmas songs to now on the very bottom of the list since working at a mall during the Christmas rush. You could only listen to it the first 10 times in a row before it started to haunt your every waking thoughts and caused him to almost want to quit the job.
He tries to distract him from the song by just admiring the pretty decorations as he makes his way back to his workstation. As he gets closer to the area he works in, he notices his pink haired coworker frantically looking around.
"Gen! Mr. Rodgers wants a mountain dew and says if he doesn't get it, he's going to lose his… marbles." The pink haired woman nervously says, looking over at the mall Santa that had a kid on his lap that was excitedly telling him he wanted a new bike.
Mr. Rodgers was the mall Santa and he knew the older man did not say marbles. His words were more than likely cruder than that and Gen knew he wasn't joking about throwing a fit if he didn't get what he wanted. Gen had walked into the mall Santa one day outside angrily yelling into his phone about the deal being off before hanging up the phone and pulling out a cigarette to smoke. He had no idea what deal Mr. Rodgers was making, but he knew it was best to get the mall Santa what he wanted because he didn't want to be on his bad side.
"I'll get it Luna. You stay here and quickly get more people through." Gen sighs, turning back around to make his way over to the vending machine back near the restrooms.
"Thank you!" Gen hears the pink haired woman shout after him as he strides over to the soda machine.
He quickly puts in a couple dollars when he arrives in front of the machine. He presses the button for the drink and watches it drop out. Gen guesses he might as well get himself something too and puts in more dollars before pressing the Coke button. He quickly makes his way back, so he doesn't leave Luna alone by herself with the mall Santa and photographer.
Only Luna and he were working today which made things more chaotic and fast paced. He hopes his coworker was handing things well and nothing too bad happened while he was away. As he arrives again closer to the area, he notices even more people got into line. Gen curses under his breath wondering if it wasn't too early for him to close the line so they wouldn't get more families for today.
"Here you go Luna." Gen tells the pink haired girl, handing her the drink.
"Thanks Gen! I'll go give it to him." She says before making her way over to the mall Santa.
Gen opens his drink and takes a long swig before placing it down on the ground near him. Well they have less than an hour left till closing time, so he desperately hoped this remaining time went by fast. Gen continues to usher families into the area while thinking about what schoolwork he had due this week. He was trying to remember if his sociology professor had assigned them a quiz tomorrow when suddenly he hears a man's irritated tone of voice from one of the families near the front.
"Santa Claus isn't real and I need to get to the craft store before it closes to buy mason jars."
Gen eyes widen in shock because who had the guts to loudly declare that Santa wasn't real while waiting in line around a bunch of children who were anxiously excited to take pictures with who they thought was the real Santa. He stares in the direction of the voice and watches as the family frantically looks around noticing the impact of the man's words.
"Santa isn't real?" A small blonde girl says from the arms of a man who was holding her near the young man who told the crowd of children the Christmas mascot was nonexistent.
"Senku! No sweetie, Santa is real! Your brother was just joking, right?" Gen watches a beautiful blonde woman say to the child before glaring at her son next to them.
Gen doesn't get to hear how the younger man responded because his words are drowned out by all the children around asking their parents if Santa was real or not and the crying of some kids from the idea of Santa not being real.
"Hey hey Santa is real! He's over there waiting for you, see!" Gen tries to reassure the children around him waiting in line.
Gen was slightly panicking because he didn’t want to get an earful from parents later complaining about how their child's perception of Christmas was ruined because of some stranger in the line loudly declaring to all around that Santa wasn't real. Last thing he wants is for his boss to get onto him, he really needed this job for his Bahamas trip. He didn't want that slipping away from him so Gen embarrassingly tries to pick up the spirit of the families waiting in line by singing a Christmas song.
Out of the corner of his eye as he sings, Gen notices the man who is the reason for all the commotion looking his way. They make eye contact and Gen stares into the deep ruby red eyes of the man before sending him an annoyed glare. This was the man's fault! Even if the man that was around the same age as him was attractive, it didn't stop Gen from being upset about his blaring confession.
"Gen is everything okay?" He hears Luna say as she makes her way over to see why there where children crying.
Gen breaks contact with the red eyed man and turns to tell Luna what happened so they could fix the problem together.
Just a few more minutes and then Gen could go home to plop on his bed to take a well needed nap. He was currently moving all the stanchion back inside the area while Luna tended to the last family of the night. They ended up going 20 minutes later after the pictures with Santa booth was originally supposed to close.
Which Gen is upset about, but he also got to witness the sheer embarrassment of the ruby eyed man which was a satisfying tradeoff for the other man making him sing annoying Christmas songs while trying to calm down screaming children. As soon as the red eyed man's family was up next, the older blonde woman grabs the child from the arms of the older man next to her before walking over to deposit the young girl on to Santa's lap.
"Say cheese for the camera Suika!" The blonde woman had said urging for the child to smile. Gen watched from afar as the picture was taken and then the woman motioned for her whole family to gather around the mall Santa.
"Everyone gather around to take another picture now. We need this one for the Christmas greeting family card." She demands, walking over to stand next to the mall Santa.
Gen had stared as the whole family walked over to embarrassingly stand in for the picture. He notices that the older man walks over to stand next to the woman, two older blonde daughters stand on the other side and finally their ruby eyed son drags his feet along as he takes his place in the picture frame. Gen had caught the gaze of the other younger man's and he smirked trying not to be overly amused at his anguish of having to take a picture with Santa Claus as an adult.
"Say cheese!" The blonde woman had exclaimed as the family in a monotone chorus say cheese putting on fake happy smiles.
Gen was grateful he didn't have any younger siblings where he had to tag along to memorable childhood events. But Gen was also an only child and he always did wonder how it would feel to have any younger siblings growing up. He guesses he might be a little jealous that the red eyed man had other siblings to share fond memories, just a tiny bit though he definitely did not want to be forced to take pictures with Santa at the age of 21.
Gen continues to put up the stanchion, once he's done he takes another drink of his coke and then turns around and jumps when he sees someone standing close to him.
Standing in front of him was the young man from earlier who announced to the whole line that Santa wasn't real. Gen wonders how long the other man had been standing there behind him and wonders why he came back here.
"Why are you here? Did you come back to crush other children's innocent hearts by telling them Santa isn't real because if you are then you're going to have to wait till tomorrow." Gen scoffs, crossing his arms.
"No, I actually came to apologize for that. It just slipped out accidentally. I was upset that my parents were making me stay in line to take a picture with that money grabbing holiday mascot instead of letting me go to the craft store to buy mason jars before they closed." He says causing Gen to look down and see the plastic bag in his hands.
"Mason jars? Are you making candles? You don't seem like the candle making type." Gen asks, curious because the scarlet eyed man in front of him did not look like the type to be making diy craft projects.
"Ha no. I'm making Christmas ornaments. I'm Senku by the way" Senku says, giving him a wide attractive grin.
Gen would have taken the man named Senku in front of him as the Mr. Scrooge type from the way he saw and talked about the holiday. It's very odd to hear him say he's making Christmas ornaments after calling Santa the mascot of a corporate cash grab scheme.
"I'm Gen, but how are you planning to make ornaments out of glass jars? Is that even possible?" Gen asks, curiously wondering how the jars would hold up on a tree from the weight.
"No, I'm using the jars to make crystals."
"Make crystals?" Gen was very intrigued to know how to make ornaments out of crystals now.
"Yeah. I'm boiling water, adding borax after, stirring, and then pouring that into the jars. The process is called recrystallization, which is when a solution of compounds can be dissolved in hot water and then once cooled the substance crystalizes. I plan to make candy canes out of pipe cleaners and then hang them into the jars, so they crystalize. Then once they're all nicely crystalized, bam you now have some festive holiday crystal candy cane ornaments. Isn't that exhilarating?"
Gen got lost in the science breakdown part of his explanation. The only words he picked up from the other man's statements were crystals and candy canes.
"That's cute. Are you planning to make them with your little sister?"
"No, but if she wants to join in then she can. I have to make them for class. My Astrophysics professor is forcing us to make Christmas ornaments using science as a grade every week until this fancy Christmas party the science department throws for their students and faculty every year."
Gen stomach drops. He knew exactly what party Senku was talking about and he had a suspicion he knew what professor he was referring too. He hoped he was wrong though and decided to ask to confirm.
"You're one of Dr. Xeno's students?"
"Yeah I am. Are you one of his student's too?"
"No way. There's no way I could survive any class pertaining to science or math without failing miserably. I'm a psychology major for that reason." Gen laughs, opening his drink to take another swig of his coke.
"Psychology is a scientific field too. Even if it involves the study of the human mind and its functions, it's still a science related field nonetheless."
"Yeah, your right, but at least I'm not using my cognitive skills to crunch long confusing numbers. That sounds erriblytay to do that for a career."
"It's not. It's exhilarating and anything can be achieved with the power of science."
"You sound just like Dr. Xeno. He's always going on about how science is elegant." Gen scoffs, thinking about the long scientific explanations the older man recites to him on a daily basis.
"How do you know Dr. Xeno by the way? You seem as though you know him personally and I doubt a psychology major would take one of his classes if they are complaining about math." The ruby eyed man asks, giving Gen a curious stare.
"Oh he's…. my father." Gen answers.
"Wait you're Dr. Xeno's kid? I know he has a son because he's mentioned it before, but I always thought his kid was younger. He talks about you as if you're a preschooler. He loves to mention your neat little magic tricks and how you enjoy keeping up with the flowers in the garden you guys tend to together." Senku surprisingly says, looking over at Gen with a intrigued stare.
Gen wants to combust on the spot. It doesn't surprise him that one of his parents liked to talk about him to his students, but the fact that one of his student's thought he was a 5 year old from his mentions of him was embarrassing. Gen was adopted and never knew his real parents or cared too. He doesn't remember the exact moment he came into his parent's lives because he was two at the time, but he always saw them as his real family. His father Dr. Xeno used to work as a scientist at Nasa but retired and decided he wanted to be a professor to teach the next generation of scientists and his other dad Stanley was a veteran and worked as a military officer.
Gen had a great childhood and couldn't have asked for better parents. Though they were both a bit overbearing and embarrassing at times he still cared and loved both dearly. He just wished his father didn't talk about him to his students and if he did at least say he was a college student too. He didn't want them thinking he was a child who did cute little easy magic tricks and helped his parents out in the garden. Gen considered himself a semi-professional in the magic biz since he has performed in front of numerous large crowds before and it was his backup plan just in case school didn't work out. Plus, he grew and took care of more than half that garden himself. He didn't want students like Senku here to think he was a big toddler.
"Yeah I'm adopted. I assure you I am not a preschooler. I'm a junior in college!" Gen huffs, tightening his arms tighter.
"Yeah I can see that now. Do you really do magic? Can you show me a trick?" Senku smirks.
"I do, but I don't have anything on me so sorry no can do."
"That's a shame, would have liked to analyze your trick and tell you exactly how you did it since magic isn't real."
"Wow! First you say Santa isn't real and now magic? You must be so fun at parties." Gen teases.
"I assure you I'm the life of the party at social gatherings." Senku retorts back.
"Oh yeah? Guess I'll have to see this weekend at the Christmas party then."
"You're going to the party?" Senku asks him.
"Yeah my father forces the whole family to accompany him to all the events he attends at the college. They become quite boring after the first few times, but now I'm curious to see your ornaments on that big ole tree in the middle of the hall."
Every year Gen was dragged to this Christmas party that was held for the science department and students at the college. He didn't want to be there half the time since he knew no one there besides his parents and a few other professors. The huge tree in the middle of the hall for the party was the one thing Gen enjoyed about the event. Every year Dr. Xeno would make his students in every class he taught, create ornaments using science for the Christmas tree at the party. All the ornaments were vastly different, and Gen found it astounding to see all the different charms, work, and personality the students put into creating their decorations.
"I can point them out to you as an amends for earlier." Senku says.
"Wait you think showing me your candy cane crystal ornament is enough for me to forgive you? Your loud announcement earlier made me have to sing infuriating Christmas songs to try to calm down crying children!" Gen exclaims, pouting while giving the man across from him a scrutinizing glare.
Gen watches as Senku is about to respond back to him, but then he hears a shout from across the mall and turns his attention up to see one of the blonde sister's from earlier frantically wave her hand.
"Senku were leaving! Hurry up or where going to leave you." The blonde says before jogging to catch up with her family that was leaving the mall.
"I guess I'll see you at the party then. See you later." Senku says, before turning to make his way towards the entrance of the mall.
"Bye" Gen says to his retreating figure watching him leave.
Well Gen wasn't expecting that. Talk about weird surprises. It was odd, but also he did enjoy talking to the other college student. Senku was funny, down to earth, smart, and attractive. Gen couldn't have asked for a better person to randomly strike up a conversation with. He never would have guessed that he was one of his father's students.
Wait now that Gen thinks about it, him having to deal with upset children today was actually in a way his father's fault. If the professor hadn't assigned his students the task to make ornaments, then Senku wouldn't have been impatient to leave the picture with Santa line and spill to the crowd that Santa Claus wasn't real.
Gen mentally makes a note to teasingly complain to his father about this when he gets home.
"Gen you knew the party was this weekend. Did you purposely dye your hair that way to patronize me? Now you look like a delinquent." Xeno scolds, eyeing his son's mix matched hair.
"I didn't do it to annoy you. It just came out this way accidently. You can't say I look like a delinquent just because of my hair. Someone's appearance doesn't dictate if their trouble. Stop being so judgmental!" Gen exclaims, shaking his head at his father's claims.
They were currently making their way inside the college to attend the party. The event was casual formal, so Gen was wearing a dark purple sweater, khaki pants, and brown chukkas. Earlier in the week Gen had decided he was going to dye his hair white because it seemed more Christmasy and he thought it would make his elf costume for work look better than his normal dark black hair. However, halfway into applying the bleach he had a wild hair to be different and stand out from the crowd. Which is why his hair was now half white and half black.
His father Xeno however did not agree with his new hair color and has been nagging at him all week to fix it. Which Gen was not going to do, so now they argued about it whenever the older man brought it up.
"Leave him alone Xeno. You know there's nothing wrong with it. Besides it's hypocritical to call him a delinquent when he's not the one who's been arrested before." Stan says, defending his son.
"Wait you've been arrested before?" Gen asks. He's never known this piece of information about his parents.
"Stan! Yes and No. It happened when we were kids. We got in some trouble, but it turned out fine. They let us go once we explained everything to them."
"That's still being arrested! You have no right to call me a delinquent anymore when I'm the one without a criminal record." Gen huffs, opening the door leading to the party for them to walk in.
The party is always slow in the beginning, but that's just because for the first hour it's mostly just the other professors and faculty that are present chatting amongst themselves. The students usually didn't arrive until an hour later after the event started because that's when the food was served. Gen understood why everyone his age waited till then to come because that meant less time socializing with your professors and there was free food. No college student passed up the opportunity of free food especially tonight when it was being catered from a well-known restaurant. Because the other people his age didn't start showing up till later, Gen was doomed to be dragged around by his father as he made him greet all his coworkers.
Great. Not even a minute into arriving and Gen was being already forced to follow after his parents as they made their way over to the group of professors. Gen puts on a fake cheerful smile and greets all of the teachers around the group answering any nosey questions they ask him about college and his life. It wasn't until one of the other older adults comes over with alcoholic drinks and asks them if they would care for one, does Gen see his break to back away a bit to have some space to breathe.
"Sure, I'll take one!" Xeno says, grabbing one of the glasses from the person.
Gen immediately turns to look over at his other dad to see if the older man would stop him. He doesn't and just continues to act like he's absolutely thrilled to be there even though Gen knows he's just as miserable as he is.
"Aren't you going to stop him?" Gen asks, wondering if he was just going to let it happen knowing the consequences.
Xeno was a lightweight. Gen had witnessed firsthand numerous times the professor getting tipsy which only resulted in him becoming overly friendly, loud, clingy, affectionate, and if you asked Gen annoying, but he would never say that last one out loud. Gen was hoping his dad Stan would do something about it, but it didn't seem like he was. That meant the night was going to be extremely bothersome.
"It's fine. Let him loosen up for the night. It's not every day he gets to enjoy himself like this. I'll stop him if he goes overboard." Stan reassures Gen, grabbing for a glass of water over alcohol.
It seems like his father Xeno was not going to be their designated driver tonight. He was going to tell his dad Stan he could drink if he wanted and he would drive, but Gen actually did not want to be looking after both of them so instead he doesn't. For the next 40 minutes Gen watches in horror as Xeno downs one drink after another hoping that the other older man would stop him, but no Stan just stands there sipping his water watching Xeno have a good time.
"Gen comes over here. Show them your lil magic trick. The one with the Rubik cube." Xeno slurs, reaching over to pull his son into their conversation.
Gen swats his grabby hands away before coming over. He pulls out a deck of cards because he always came prepared for situations like this. His father sometimes liked to tell anyone who listened that Gen did magic and wanted him to show them. That request became even more persistent when he was tipsy.
"I don't have a Rubik cube, but I do have a deck of cards I can use." Gen says, shuffling his card deck.
Gen does a basic "Is this your card?" trick and enjoys the ohs and ahs from the group of professors. He rather be doing basic magic tricks then standing around doing nothing staring into space. Even if it was for a bunch of drunk people it was decent practice. He continues to do simple tricks for his audience until he gets bored and decides he's done for now. He's pretty sure the older man will make him do more card tricks later for another group of his coworkers eventually anyway.
"Having fun?" Gen asks, as he comes back over to see how his other parent was coming along.
"Oh yeah I'm having the time of my life." Stan says, making Gen smirk at his dull response.
"That answer doesn't sound convincing. Why don't you go join them?" Gen teases.
"Cause all they'll talk about is the latest science discovery or the math calculations on how it's impossible for Santa to travel across the globe in a day."
Gen laughs. He's right, earlier he heard the group of professors discussing how the only way Rudolph's nose could glow red was by bioluminescence. Gen is about to tell Stan about this, but then in the corner of his eye he catches someone familiar walking in the direction towards the Christmas tree.
"I'll be back in a bit." Gen tells the older man, before striding over to the person he was hoping to talk to this evening.
"Hey! You showed up earlier than any of the other students. You do know most don't come until they serve the food, right?" Gen playfully asks, coming over to stand next to the ruby eyed man from the mall.
"Hello. I wasn't informed. But I'm glad to know I wasn't late then." Senku says, glancing over towards Gen.
"Nope. You're early at least by student's measures. Only thing happening now is all the old folk getting drunk off their asses before their students arrive. Which is kinda weird right? I mean it's sorta unprofessional for them to be very tipsy while interacting with their students."
"Wait there serving alcohol at the party? Not everyone attending is 21 and over." Senku asks.
"I think they know students won't show up till an hour later, so they just always drink a bit before that. Then after the younger crowd comes, they make you show ID to have a glass."
The other man doesn't respond and instead they continue to look up at all the ornaments on the tree together. Gen chances a quick glance over at Senku to take in his outfit. The theme for the party was Christmas, so he was wearing an outfit identification to Gen's except his knit sweater was a dark maroon with a snowflake design upon it. Xeno had tried to get them to all wear identical outfits to the party, but Gen had bluntly refused. He was tired of wearing anything green or red and wanted to wear something non-festive for once.
"So, are you going to point out your ornaments to me?" Gen asks.
"I thought you said showing you my ornaments wasn't enough for you to forgive me?"
"It's not! I expect a formal apology!" Gen pouts.
"I did apologize verbally though. I thought you heard me, but I suppose your hearing might be declining and you might want to go get that checked out."
"How mean! Are you saying I'm old? We are no more than 3 years apart! That's ageism! I should report you to the dean."
Gen hears Senku chuckle before he notices his eyes wander frantically over the tree again.
"There's one." Senku says, pointing up towards a candy cane ornament.
"Oh, is that the one you used the mason jars for?" Gen questions, noticing that the candy cane had a slight shine to it.
"Yep. Which not only did my sister end up joining in me making those, but the whole family did."
"Aww how cute. Which others did you make?"
"That circuit board one right there." Senku says, pointing towards another tree shaped ornament to the far left of the candy cane.
"You made that?" Gen asks, squinting his eyes to try to make out the design of the ornament.
The ornament was shaped like a Christmas tree and was lit up in bright red, blue, and green lights. From this distance it looked like a normal Christmas tree ornament, but the more Gen stared at it, the more he could see the faint distinct features that showed it was a circuit board.
"Yeah. I cut the circuit board out to the shape of a tree, scratched candy canes on the silkscreen, used the exposed copper to make ornaments, the garland is made out of resistors, and the LEDs I applied to represent the lights on the tree."
That sounded like a long process that Gen was tempted to ask more about. He was curious to know how the inner workings of the tree functioned, but he knew he wouldn't understand the complicated explanation the other student would give him. He can only admire how something so technical could be made into a unique charming Christmas ornament.
"It's azzlingday! Any others you made on the tree?"
"There's one more set I built. There up towards the top of the tree." Senku says, glancing up at the top of the tree where a set of vivid ornaments hung upon it.
Gen looks up in the direction that Senku was looking at. He's blown away by the set of ornaments that are visible on the top of the Christmas tree. The glass bulbs are painted to represent the solar system. There's one for each planet and Gen recites the names in his head as he admires each one. He's not quite sure how the other man made each one, but he's curious to find out.
"Wow! These are amazing. How did you make them? Did you hand paint them?"
"No. A buddy of mine grandpa is a glassmith and I was asking him for advice, but then he said his grandpa could just show me how to do it. So, I spent a day in their garage learning how to blow glass. It's an exhilarating process, I'm grateful they were able to teach me how to do it."
"That was nice of them to teach you. I've always been interested in seeing how glassblowers make glass decorations."
"It's a tedious practice, but it was fun to do. If you want, I might be able to ask my buddy to possibly use their garage again. If you're interested."
Gen is ecstatic to witness the process in real life. He's about to tell Senku he would love that very much but is rudely interrupted.
"Gen! Where you go? Stan said you left. Why?"
Gen huffs and turns to look at his father over his shoulder, staggering towards him. The older man obviously was at his limit for drinks this early in the night and Gen was quite annoyed he bothered his conversation with Senku.
"Yes, I wanted to talk with my friend here." Gen tells Xeno, hoping his parent would leave him alone.
"Hey there Dr. Xeno." Senku greets the older man.
"You friends with Senku? Elegant! Senku is one of best students." Xeno slurs, looking at the pair of them.
"Yeah we were admiring the tree and having a lovely conversation, so if you could-" Gen starts, but is annoyingly interrupted again.
"You should show him your magic tricks!"
Gen scoffs upset at himself for bringing the card deck with him after all. He should have left it behind because then he wouldn't have been forced to show every person in the building his simple card tricks by his father.
"Yeah Gen. You should show me a card trick. I would love to see one." Gen hears Senku teasingly say next to him.
Now Gen was being cornered to perform a trick for the two men around him. Great. He supposes he best just get it over with and do the simple trick.
"Fine, but just one." Gen says, pulling out his deck of cards from his pocket.
He shuffles the deck and then fans the card out, urging Senku to pick anyone that his heart desired. He watches as the ruby eyed man shifts the bag in his hand to the other before reaching over to pick a card. He hadn't noticed till now that the other student was carrying a Christmas themed bag in his grip and he's curious to know what it's for.
Once Senku picks a card, Gen tells him to memorize it, cuts the deck in half, and tells him to place the card into the middle of the cut deck. This was one of the easiest simplest tricks in the book. He's pretty sure Senku wouldn't find this impressive, compared to the drunk group of professors from earlier.
"Is this your card?" Gen asks, pulling out the ace of hearts from the card deck he fanned out in his hands.
"It might be."
"I'll take that as a yes." Gen says, shuffling the cards again.
"Elegant! Amazing! Bravo!"
Gen has to stop himself from laughing from how enthusiastic his father was, clapping his hands excitedly over his little magic trick. He admits he found it amusing and enduring how supportive Xeno was about his magician hobby. He knew the older man didn't believe in magic one bit, but he still hyped Gen up over any trick he performed. Even if he went over the top at times like now, he still appreciated the support, nonetheless.
"Xeno! I was looking for you everywhere. I was only gone for 2 minutes to use the bathroom and when I came back, no one knew where you went."
Gen was wondering how his father Xeno managed to slip past Stan who was watching his every move intensely like a hawk. Seems the older man saw the perfect opportunity to slip away and decided to come find him.
"Stan! I look for Gen."
"Yeah yeah come on. Let's leave him alone to talk to his friend. Let's slow down on the alcohol too and drink some water instead."
Gen watches his dad Stan drag the professor away as he mumbles on about how he wants to stay to see Gen do more tricks. Once there a distance away he turns his attention back to Senku.
"What did you think about the trick?" Gen asks.
"It's fairly simple to decipher. After you tell me to memorize my card, you cut the deck in half, hold the top half in one hand and bottom half in your other hand, and then with a quick slide of hand you look at the bottom card of the top half of the deck in your hand without me looking. Then you urge me to place my card on the top of the bottom half of the deck and then place the top half on top of it. After that you fan out the cards again and you'll know exactly which is my card because it will be right next to the one card you saw earlier on the bottom of the top half of the deck."
"I was asking if you thought my trick was amazingly mind blowing not for you to ruin the fun by explaining it! It was magic Senku, can't you agree with me just this once about it?"
"No there's a proper explanation for it, so it is not magic. If you can ever do a trick that leaves me fooled, then I'll be more than willing to admit it was magic." Senku teases.
Gen was going to hold him on that word. He was definitely going to find a trick that would make a nonbeliever like Senku admit that magic was real!
"What's that bag in your hand for?" Gen was extremely curious to know what was in the bag. He doesn't remember there being a Christmas gift exchange for the party.
"It's for you."
"For me?" Gen asks, surprised. He wasn't expecting the other man to say it was for him.
"Yeah. It's an extra apology for the mall incident. You said pointing out my ornaments to you wasn't enough. So, I came up with another solution to get you to forgive me."
Senku hands Gen the Christmas themed bag. He stares down at the bag in his grip and is stunned because the last thing he expected was to be getting a gift from the other student. He feels slightly guilty for not having a present to give Senku back.
"Thanks?" Gen says, unsure about what to say in this unexpected situation.
"No problem. I'm sorry if the wrapping looks horrible. I realized I'm not a pro in the gift wrapping department."
Gen opens the bag and peers down inside to see a poorly wrapped gift. It's the thought that counts, Gen supposes pulling out the gift decorated with red candy cane wrapping paper. The present has numerous amounts of tape around it and is crinkled clumsily all over. He just hopes that Senku never applies to be a gift wrapper because he's certain the other man would probably get fired before his first day ended. Gen rips the paper open and carefully picks up one of the four glass bottles in the case they were neatly placed in. Inside of the glass bottles was a dark carbonated liquid. Gen has an idea of what it is, but asks to make sure.
"Yeah, but it's not just any regular soda it's homemade by yours truly."
"I asked Dr. Xeno what you liked and besides the magic and flowers he mentioned you enjoyed drinking soft drinks. I remember you were nursing a coke at the mall."
"Hmm yes I'm a huge fan of coke. It's going to take a lot of convincing for anything to out beat it for me."
"Well I'm 100 billion percent sure that Senku Cola will taste better than Coke Cola."
"Guess we'll see about that." Gen says, cracking open the bottle.
He takes a long sip and can feel Senku's intense stare on him waiting for his response. Okay it tasted a lot better then what Gen expected. It wasn't overly sweet or strong. A neutral flavor that had an amazing after taste. He wasn't sure if it would beat a nice cold bottle of Coke, but he wouldn't refuse it if someone gave him a bottle of Senku's.
"It's okay." Gen says, taking another swig.
"Just okay? Your reaction was obviously more than that. I have eyes and you just took another drink. You wouldn't have done that if it was just okay."
"Fine. It was good. I might have to drink a few more to determine which is better." Gen says, continuing to drink the cola.
"Is it enough now for you to forgive me?" Senku asks.
"Hmm can you add cherry to this? If you can then I'll forgive your apology."
"I can add any flavor you want to it, if you would just say you forgive me."
"Fine I forgive you then. Thank you for the gift by the way, but please do tell me how you made it."
"I can't just drop the secret recipe like that. That's like me asking you to explain every magic trick in the book."
"It is not! You would figure out all the magic tricks anyway so that is not fair because I'll never be able to figure out how you made this!" Gen exclaims, giving Senku an upset pout.
"Fine. As long as your promise to never tell another soul the secret ingredients to Senku's Cola."
Gen grins while he happily listens to Senku explain the process of how he created the soda. He's not too sure how much time passes, but soon more students arrive at the party.
"Hey Senku!" A brunette man says, coming over to where they are standing near the tree.
Senku introduces his friend Chrome to Gen. Gen finds out that Chrome is also a student in the science department but is a geoscience major. He also learns that Chrome grandfather is the one who is the glassmith who helped Senku make the solar system ornaments.
"Yeah you can definitely come over and see the process if you want! My grandpa is always happy to have company that are eager to learn about glassblowing."
"Thank you! I would love to see how it's done." Gen says.
"It'll have to be after New Year’s though. I'm going out of town that weekend. Which I'm sorry about again Senku." Chrome says.
"It's fine Chrome. I can just spend the New Year's by myself with my family this year."
"Do you guys spend the New Year's with each other?" Gen asks, curious to know how close their relationship was. He had been studying their behavior together and it seemed they were just close friends or at least a huge part of Gen hoped they were just that.
"Yeah Chrome and his family usually come over to our house." Senku says.
"But my family is taking a trip this year to a ski resort, so I'll unfortunately have to leave Senku to fend for himself with his family." Chrome laughs.
"If you want you can spend New Year’s Eve with my friends and I." Gen blurts out, hoping he's not coming on too strong to the other man.
Ever since he entered college, Gen has spent New Year’s Eve with his friends. It took him a lot of convincing to get his parents to agree to let him spend the holiday with his group of friends. However, they finally came to an agreement that Gen could spend New Year’s Eve with his friends, but only if he spent the following day with them. His good pal Ryusui threw a huge fancy party every year on that day where he invited everyone around their age that he knew. He seriously doubted his friend would care if Gen brought along another friend of his.
"Yeah I am! My friend throws a grand party every year where he basically invites anyone with a heartbeat that he knows. So, I'm sure he'll be fine with it, but I can ask really quick." Gen says, pulling out his phone to shoot the blonde man a quick message.
As soon as Gen hit send on the message, it only took less than 30 seconds for Ryusui to reply back with a "Sure! Bring whoever you want. A friend of yours is a friend of mine! ;)". Gen shows the message to the two other boys beside him.
"See it's fine. Only if you want to though. I don't want to seem like I'm forcing you." Gen says, desperately hoping it didn't come off as weird him asking out of the blue.
"Yeah that sounds cool. I have to ask my parents first, but I'm sure they'll be fine with it. Here give me your number." Senku says, pulling out his phone.
Gen feels the butterflies flutter in his stomach knowing that Senku was considering going to the New Year's party with him and that giddy feeling intensified when the ruby eyed man brushed his hand when he handed him his phone to put in his number. He's not too sure when he started low key crushing on the science student, it might have been the first time he saw him in line at that shitty mall when he declared Santa wasn't real to a group of children, but all he knows is that the other man in front of him was kind, smart, funny, and attractive. He checked off all the boxes on Gen's potential boyfriend list and he was thrilled to see where their relationship would go from here. As Gen hands Senku his phone back with his number in it, he mentally notes to thank his father later for continuing to assign his students to make ornaments for the annual science department Christmas party tree.