“Oh my goodness, it’s so white!” Sterling says with childlike wonder as she leans over April’s lap to get a better look out the window as their plane to Vermont descends out of the clouds. In small doses, she has seen snow before, but nothing like this. This is an absolute winter wonderland. “It looks like the North Pole!”
April chuckles to herself, probably getting endless amusement from this, but Sterling doesn’t care. She’s allowed to be excited for her very first White Christmas. “Yes, Honey. That’s just what winter looks like up here.”
Sterling rolls her eyes. “I know that, but it’s still cool as heck!” She knows she’s supposed to be preparing for landing, but she quickly unbuckles her seatbelt, needing to share in this excitement with someone who gets it. However, the buzzkill in the window seat brings her back down into a sitting position the second she tries to stand up.
“Sit down, Sterling. You can fangirl with Blair when we land in five minutes.” April takes out her AirPods and stores them in her Millennium Falcon-shaped case. “Besides the fact that it’s dangerous and a flight attendant will yell at you, first-class isn’t even supposed to interact with economy.”
Sterling scoffs. “Sounds like some Titanic nonsense to me.”
April nods, looking like she sees absolutely nothing wrong with this fact. “Now, please buckle up, or I will do it for you.”
Sterling doesn’t know why that threat makes her grin like an idiot as she blindly buckles her seatbelt while looking into her wife’s eyes. “Have I ever expressed to you how much I love it when you boss me around?”
“Not verbally, but I used contextual clues,” April says with a smirk before looking out the window again. “So, before we get to the chalet, I feel like I should explain a few things to you.”
“Like why you call your aunt’s rental cabin a ‘chalet?’ Where are we, the French Riviera?” The idea of any vacation cabin being any fancier than her aunt and uncle’s not-at-all fancy lake house is laughable to her. And that’s not even getting into the fact that she knows April has a penchant for peppering in French in casual conversation.
“It’s a chalet, Sterl. I very much doubt we’d be getting our own bedroom if it was a cabin,” April argues, seeming to be trying to take her mind off of the plane landing as she grips the armrests hard enough for her knuckles to turn white.
Sterling puts a comforting hand on April’s, giving her a smile of reassurance just as the wheels touch down on the tarmac. “You survived,” she says and April rolls her eyes.
“Yes, I know that,” April grumbles, annoyed. “And just so we’re perfectly clear, I am not afraid of flying, I am afraid of landing in this frozen tundra. It’s icy.”
“You don’t have to explain yourself to me, Babe,” Sterling assures her, always enjoying when she can see a more vulnerable side to her wife as she unbuckles her seatbelt again to lean over April, delighted to find that it is currently snowing outside. “I’m sure Blair’s super excited to be in the place where the most iconic Bernie meme spawned.”
April giggles and puts on her best elderly Jewish man voice. “I am asking again for you to buckle your seatbelt.”
“Mehmehmehmehmeh,” Sterling says mockingly as she sits up straight and at least makes it look like she’s buckled in. “So what do we do once we get to the chalet?” she asks as their plane pulls up to the gate.
“Get settled and hit the slopes as soon as possible?” April replies as if this is so obvious, ignoring one very obvious detail.
“Okay, but I don’t know how to ski,” Sterling says, fairly sure she’s going to go flying headfirst into a tree before Christmas Day.
“And that’s why I’m going to teach you,” April says, turning to kiss Sterling on the cheek. “And I’ll buy you all the hot cocoa you can drink when we’re done.”
“Promise?” Sterling asks, raising her pinky, requiring a more binding oath to get her to hurl herself down a mountain.
April doesn’t bat an eye as she takes Sterling’s pinky with her own, squeezing tight. “I promise. Along with pizza and french fries.” She smiles as if she just made some kind of reference that Sterling should get, but outside of knowing that April is not usually for the mixing of ethnic food—assuming that April would even think pizza and fries count as ethnic food at all, let alone when they’re from a ski lodge—Sterling is drawing a blank.
“There’s my baby girl!” Franny squeals the moment they walk through the door of a rustic-looking house that’s twice as big as Sterling’s parents. Knowing better, Sterling steps out of the way fast so that Franny can barrel into April for a bear hug, which is still in progress when Blair and their parents enter with their bags, all chilled to the bone despite their brand new winter attire.
“Franny, so good to see you,” Debbie says once April’s aunt finally releases her, forgoing a hug and instead of handing her an expensive bottle of spiced rum with a red bow tied around the neck.
“Deb, a real woman after my own heart,” she says, seeming genuinely touched by the gift. “I’m so glad you all could come on such short notice. I know it’s not exactly easy to uproot for Christmas, but you’re family now,” she says, emphasizing her point by reaching out to put a hand on Blair’s cheek. “And cold as ice! Come in, come in. Everyone having lunch before we go back out on the slopes. And Debbie, thank you so much for getting that grocery list to me. I can’t wait to try that yummy Christmas punch.” She’s talking as she leads them in from the foyer into a huge living room with high ceilings, exposed beams that look like whole trees stripped of their bark, and a fireplace big enough that it wouldn’t actually be far fetched for a portly man in a red suit to use for access to the house—a terrifying concept when Sterling puts it into those terms.
“Yeah, that’s what the rum’s for,” Anderson chuckles as he takes off his parka to reveal the same hideous reindeer sweater he’s been wearing every Christmas Eve since before it was cool to do so. “Hey y’all,” he says, giving a small wave to April’s family, who are all seated on a large sectional couch, eating charcuterie off of a board on the coffee table while watching Home Alone 2: Lost In New York.
Everyone gives various greetings, with April’s Uncle Tom’s standing out to Sterling the most. “Thank God you all made it. The weather below the clouds is positively dreadful, is it not?” he says, bouncing April’s cousin’s baby—who has about doubled in size since they saw her last—on his knee.
“Are you kidding? It’s beautiful,” Blair says, taking off her jacket and tossing it at Sterling to catch before she makes a beeline for the fancy meat and cheese. “Becs, lovin’ the hair, by the way,” she says, referencing April’s cousin’s unnaturally dark hair now sporting pink and blue streaks.
April’s cousin Becca giggles. “They’re just extensions, but don’t tell that to my boyfriend Zachary’s parents. They’re super old-fashioned and it’s just so much fun to mess with them.”
Sarah rolls her eyes as she takes Baby Leah back from her father. “Yeah, well, I’d be careful before you have them giving him one of those ‘marry her and we’ll cut you off’ ultimatums. Because most people aren’t like my mother-in-law and actually mean it.”
Becca scoffs. “Who said anything about marrying him? I just like his di-”
“Rebecca, we have company!” Franny scolds her youngest child.
“-Diverse stock portfolio,” Becca says with the guiltiest innocent look Sterling has ever seen, and the second Franny and Tom look away from her, she makes sure to gesture with her hands a good eight inches apart from each other.
“Anderson and Debbie, why don’t I show you where you’ll be staying?” Franny suggests, leading the two of them down a long hallway while Uncle Tom excuses himself to the kitchen for tea, leaving all of the young people to have their incredibly sinful conversation.
“But I guess both of those come with the territory of dating a Lee,” Rachel says once they’re gone, and Sarah and Becca giggle with their sister while Sterling notes that April is shifting a bit awkwardly beside her.
“What is that, like he’s an heir of the Lee Jeans empire or something?” Blair asks, sitting next to Becca.
Sarah’s husband Ari clears his throat uncomfortably. “No, like the Robert E. Lee Lees,” he says, side-eying his wife.
Rachel makes the kind of tired sigh of a girl who has had to explain this an inordinate amount. “As well as the Founding Father, Richard Henry Lee. When you run in certain circles in the state of Virginia, it’s sort of inevitable that you’ll encounter a few of them. Most of them are a lot more progressive than you would think.”
“The bar is on the ground,” Ari insists, exacerbated.
“Babe, you’re just still upset about me dating Carter Lee in college.” Sarah adjusts Leah on her lap. “Who was a Democrat, I might add. Unlike…Rachel, what was his name? Horace?”
Rachel seems extremely offended to have this be brought up. “Harold. His name was Harold Lee , and I only went out with him for like a week.”
Blair frowns, putting this together. “Wait, you’ve all dated a Lee?”
Cousin Seth, whose wife Daksha is sitting in his lap, scoffs. “I haven’t. But Sterling, Blair, please excuse my sisters. I promise you will never get used to any of them.”
Sterling shakes her head. “Nah, I really like you guys.”
“Aww, that’s so good to hear,” Rachel says, sounding genuinely touched.
“Seeing as we’d have to revoke our approval of you being married to our baby cousin if you didn’t,” Becca adds.
April frowns and seems to instinctively take Sterling’s hand in her own, as if defending their marriage, regardless of what her cousins think. “Because I trust any of you to have sound relationship advice.”
“Oh ho ho. Look who’s gotten smug since she got a rock on her finger,” Rachel says, seeming rather impressed with April’s confidence.
Sarah, on the other hand, seems playfully defensive. “Yeah, yeah. Talk to me when you guys have gotten into a knock-down, drag-out fight over whether or not you should name your beautiful little baby Gertrude.” She gives a pointed look to Ari.
“Or over your husband using your favorite karahi to fry bacon in,” Daksha adds, and unlike Ari, Seth shows no shame whatsoever for this transgression.
“That is why. We have. A dishwasher,” he insists, frustrated.
“That doesn’t mean that you can use my pans to cook meat. I’m a vegetarian!”
“Really? Because I’m pretty sure I’ve seen you go to town on a corn dog fairly recently…” Seth says, reading his wife for filth in a very April fashion.
Sterling would gladly stay and watch how that all unfolds, but April puts a hand on her arm to get her attention.
“Honey, maybe you and I should go get settled in our room,” she says, grabbing the handle of her roller suitcase with one hand and taking Sterling’s with the other.
Sterling picks up her large duffel bag and allows April to lead her to the staircase without argument. As fun as April’s family can be, there’s only so much she can hear of other couples’ quarrels—playful or otherwise. Goodness knows she and April have enough of those on their own, even if they’re never regarding anything major. “So where do you think your mom is?” Sterling asks as she and April get to the top of the stairs and go down a hallway.
“Likely finishing her second glass of Cabernet in the kitchen,” April says nonchalantly. Sterling has noticed that in recent weeks, she’s been acting more callous toward her mother, and while Mary might not be totally innocent, she doesn’t deserve to be made the bad guy in any scenario that John Stevens is also involved in.
Still, Sterling holds her tongue, seeing as she knows that every subject surrounding April’s parents’ divorce is a touchy one.
“Here we are,” April says, choosing the door on the left at the end of the hallway and opening it. “After you, Mrs. Stevens-Wesley.” She gestures into the door and Sterling heads right on in.
It definitely fits the whole rustic vibe of the house, complete with a red flannel comforter on the hand-carved bed, and an impressive taxidermied deer head high on the wall above it.
“Nice rack,” Sterling says, referring to the deer’s antlers, but obviously the bad double entendre isn’t lost on April, who rolls her eyes.
“You’re a child,” she says and starts to unpack her suitcase while Sterling merely unzips her bag and tosses it onto a nearby chair before coming up behind April and wrapping her arms around her waist. “What are you doing?” April asks, though Sterling can hear the smile on her face.
“You didn’t by any chance happen to pack a certain supply case, did you? Because I’m pretty sure my parents are still upset about that,” Sterling says, looking over April’s shoulder to peer into her suitcase, absolutely not trying to see if there’s any Christmas presents hidden in there, seeing as April’s is in her duffle bag under her Christmas footie pajamas.
“Never you mind. Though you and I would have to be a lot quieter if I did,” April says coyly. “Either way, I call dibs on being the first to give you a Christmas present.”
Sterling raises an eyebrow. “Is that like how I was the first person to give you a present on your birthday? Like how I woke you up by-”
“-Yes, Sterling. I remember what transpired. But whether or not I’ll be regifting that to you remains to be seen.” As April shoots her down, Sterling does notice her wife trying to subtly hide something red and lacy hidden in one of her extra shoes.
Sterling makes a mental note to not wear footie pajamas tonight. “I guess I’ll just have to be extra good today to avoid your naughty list.” With that said, she leans down to start kissing April’s neck, having a mini celebration in her head when April doesn’t put an immediate stop to it like she normally would if she had any intention of stopping things from going further.
“Mmm,” April hums, clearly enjoying all of this way too much. “I have it on good authority that you’ve been very good this year, Mrs. Stevens--Mother!” Sterling feels any hint of arousal leave her the second April says this and she looks up to find Mary standing in the now open doorway. “Can’t you knock?!”
Sterling lets go of April like a hot potato and puts a good five feet of distance between them while Mary does a horrible job of not seeming to be satisfied at having interrupted her daughter’s intimate activities.
“Oh, I’m sorry Sweetheart. I didn’t realize you two were...busy in here,” Mary says, smiling innocently. “I just wanted to check up on you and make sure you’re feeling alright. I know the flight up here scares you.”
April crosses her arms. “I am not afraid of the flight up here, just the landing, Mother.”
“Don’t you take that tone with me, Young Lady. Now, before we all go back out on the slopes, do you have your long underwear to wear under your snow pants? Because I know you can get stubborn about that, but frostbite is real and your father is positively chomping at the bit for any reason to criticize me to our mediator.”
“Wait, why should that matter in your divorce? April’s an adult,” Sterling asks, confused.
“It indeed does not truly matter, Sterling. Especially since April is so much of an adult that she’s legally married to you. But my soon-to-be ex-husband seems to think he can continue to drag my reputation through the mud by attacking my parenting. So April Elizabeth, I ask again: do you have your long underwear?” As annoying as she can be, Sterling can’t help but feel sympathy for her mother-in-law, if only because she also understands having to tolerate John’s presence for April’s sake. Though thank God that Franny is not willing to make that same concession, or this holiday would already be significantly less peaceful.
“Yes,” April says, though Sterling is fairly sure she’s lying.
Mary smiles, satisfied. “Well, then you two better get a move on getting ready. We only have so much daylight and the resort doesn’t do night skiing on Christmas Eve.”
“Yes, Ma’am,” Sterling says politely, figuring she owes Mary at least that much since it’s kind of her fault that her mother-in-law’s former PTA rival has invaded her Christmas vacation. “And thank you again for allowing my family to come along.”
It was in no way, shape, or form Mary’s idea, but she is perfectly content to smile and take the credit for it. “You are most welcome, Sterling.” With that, Mary leaves them, shutting the door behind her, and April breathes a loud sigh of relief.
She collapses on the bed in a huff. “I can’t believe I actually spawned from that,” April says, sounding like a real teenager for the first time in a while.
Sterling is unable to help herself as she does a bad Bernie Sanders impression. “I am once again asking if you brought your long underwear.”
April hucks a reindeer throw pillow at her head.
“Is this really necessary?” Sterling asks, looking around at all the other people who are just stepping into their skis and heading out to the chairlifts like real adults.
April, kneeling in front of her in the snow, doesn’t answer, she just directs the toe of Sterling’s right ski boot into the corresponding binding on the ski, as she had for the left. “Put your heel down hard,” she says, hands on the ski and Sterling’s ankle.
Sterling does as directed and feels the binding snap to the boot as she looks over and sees a little boy no older than five being helped the same way by his dad. “So embarrassing…” she says under her breath, the sound mostly blocked out by the light whooshing of the mountain wind that already is stinging her cheeks.
April looks up and gives her a reassuring smile. “Soon enough, you’ll be able to do this yourself like a pro. And I got you a present.” Something tells Sterling she might not be too happy with this present when April reaches into her jacket pocket, and she knows she’s right when April pulls out a neon pink rubber bungee cord-looking thing. “This is an Edgie Wedgie. It will be your best friend today. No doing the splits or overlapping skis on my watch.” She attaches the ends of the cord between the tips of Sterling’s skis, screwing the clamps into place.
“Okay, that name sounds fake and I definitely don’t see any adults using one of these,” Sterling says, wondering if it’s too late to just skip this and go watch A Christmas Story in the lodge.
April gets on her feet and steps into her own pair of skis in all of two seconds. “You barely count as an adult, My Love.” She isn’t wrong about this, but Sterling doesn’t appreciate it. Especially not when she continues to say, “Now, until you get better balance, poles could prove hazardous, so you’re going to have to scoot to the best of your abilities to the rope tow.”
At this point, Sterling thinks that April just has to be messing with her and she has no frame of reference to prove that wrong. “I thought you use a chairlift to go up the mountain,” she says and points at one of the five or so lifts leading to various heights and directions.”
April throws her head back and laughs. “Oh Honey, no. No, you have to use the bunny slope until you can get the hang of things a little and then maybe we can try one of the intermediate runs. Follow me.” April uses her rather convenient-looking ski poles to push off from where she was standing and glides effortlessly toward the aforementioned tow rope, which has a line made up almost entirely by kids.
Sterling does her best to follow, but the ‘gift’ of the Edgie Wedgie makes scooting a little difficult. Already she’s wondering why she didn’t go along with Blair to rent a snowboard instead—at least she would look cool. “Now I know you’re lying about that name,” she calls after April and eventually catches up with her to stand in the line.
“Indeed I am not. You have much to learn, Young Skywalker,” April says with an adorable, infuriating smile. She’s having way too much fun getting to mansplain something to Sterling. “When it’s your turn, grab the rope and hold on tight until you get to the top of the slope. I’ll be right behind you.”
It sounds so simple when April says it, but Sterling finds that actually holding onto the rope is a bit hard for her as a not-fit person. Still, she refuses to be further humiliated in front of all these kids, so she holds on until she gets to the top, with April coming up fast behind and then to the side of her.
“Here, grab my pole,” she says, holding out one of her ski poles horizontally like a bar in front of Sterling.
“That’s what he said,” Sterling says, unable to resist, even if it makes April groan loudly as she does as she’s told and grabs on with both hands. She’s a little delighted to find that April is able to push both of them with one pole a lot faster than she can scoot to the edge of the slope.
“And we have reached the final and most important part of your training before you attempt going down. Are you ready?” April asks, glancing at the slope which looks almost flat to Sterling, though she nods anyway, convinced that this won’t be hard at all. “To go slow, I’m gonna need you to pizza.” As she says this, April moves her skis into a triangle shape. “To go faster, you french fry.” She makes her skis parallel to each other.
Even if she ends up getting horribly mangled today, Sterling can at least get some satisfaction in knowing what the pizza and french fries thing was about. “Anything else?” she asks, watching kids fearlessly fly down the hill right as they’ve gotten off the rope tow. With every minute she’s on this mountain, she’s further convinced that she should never again travel further north than Tennessee.
“Take it as slow as you can. You aren’t allowed to die,” April says after thinking about that for a second. She leans up to attempt to kiss Sterling, but all that achieves is knocking their ski helmets together. “Raincheck on the kissing. But good luck, Sterl. I believe in you and I’ll be right behind you in case you fall.” With that, April pats Sterling on the butt and gives her a light shove so that Sterling starts moving downhill.
At first, it isn’t so bad. Sterling keeps her skis parallel under her, gradually gaining a little speed, and is actually starting to enjoy herself until she realizes she might be going downhill a little too fast and remembers what April said about turning her french fries into pizza. A quick change of her skis is enough to slow her momentum somewhat, but then comes another issue entirely when she sees a snowboarder on their butt directly in her path, and she realizes that April never actually taught her how to turn.
“Right, Sterl!” April calls from behind her.
Figuring that it probably works similar to the Alpine Racer game at the Fun Zone, Sterling leans hard to the right--a little too hard, and finds herself losing her balance as she tumbles into the snow...and then proceeds to roll down the rest of the hill, her skis popping off her boots somewhere along the way.
“Yeah, Sterl!” she hears Blair cheer, though she’s face-down in the snow.
Sterling rolls over onto her back and sees her sister clapping as April slides into a stop next to her.
“Oh my God, Sterl, are you okay?!” April fusses, getting herself out of her skis in all of two seconds so that she can drop down and kneel over Sterling. She yanks Sterling’s helmet off of her head and holds up three fingers, which Sterling has to squint to see because they’re way too close to her face. “How many fingers, Babe?”
“Thr--” Sterling can’t even finish the word before Blair is knocking April out of the way to look into her eyes.
“Sterl, you good? I’m running twin concussion protocol. Say the mind password,” Blair says, a throwback to the time when she got a concussion in a lacrosse game and couldn’t think in complete sentences for a week.
“Marva Junior. I’m fine, Blair. But give it to me straight: are there kids laughing at me right now?”
Blair looks around. “Yeah, there are. Need me to help you up?”
“Not unless you want April to yell at you for not supporting my spine.”
Blair breaks twinspeak and turns to April. “She’s fine.”
“How could you possibly know that from just staring at her intently?” April asks in a shrieky voice, and while she’s distracted, Sterling sits up.
“April, I’m fine,” she says calmly. “My pride’s a little bruised but I think I’ll be okay.”
“I’m sure that’s what Natasha Richardson said,” April says, causing both twins to gasp in total outrage.
“Don’t you dare invoke the Queen’s name to feed your Munchausen by proxy. Sterl was wearing a helmet.” Blair is very passionate about the not-at-all recent passing of the late fictional Twin Mom.
Sterling sighs, defeated. “April, seriously, I’m fine. If you wanna go find my skis, we can go again and I’ll prove it to you. Even if there’s snow in places where snow should not be right now.” Truly, her crotch is very cold, and she knows why as she gets to her feet and feels snow fall into her boots.
“That’s my Sterl,” Blair says proudly. “You get back on that horse. And while you do that, I’m gonna go get cocoa. From the lodge. On the top of the mountain,” With that said, Blair puts one foot into her snowboard and kicks off to the chairlift that leads to the top, complete with warning signs with two black diamonds on them…for some reason.
April makes an amused noise. “Ill-advisable for a beginner, but I’ll be on the lookout for when she comes down on one of the rescue mobiles.” She seems far too amused by this grim prediction, but she’s probably not wrong either. “I’ll be right back with your skis. But may I just say that your resilience is endlessly sexy?”
Sterling smirks. She gets such a confidence boost from being married to who she considers to be the hottest girl around (if slightly crazy). “You may.”
It’s so strange for April to be imparting all of her father’s ski lessons onto Sterling (whether she knows it or not) when the man himself has been permanently banned from any and all activities with his not-yet ex-wife’s family. Not that he doesn’t deserve his exile, but April can’t help but feel bad for him, seeing that in the absence of siblings or living parents, she and her mother were all John ever had in the way of family. And now here they are on Christmas Eve, with her father doing God knows what, while April does her best to teach her (young) adult wife to ski using the same things that once worked on her when she was a toddler. Well, everything except the ski harness her dad kept her on until he could trust she wouldn’t go uncontrollably flying down the mountain—something tells her that Sterling would probably not be down for getting put on an actual leash. At least not when Blair is here to make fun of her for it.
“You’re doing so good, Baby,” April praises Sterling as they make it back to the bottom of the Bunny Run for what has to be about the twentieth time (though only the third or fourth that Sterling’s managed to complete without any small or large tumbles).
Has it necessarily been the most exciting day on the slopes? No. Has she managed to go traversing the more interesting, challenging runs with the gorgeous views and the bragging rights? Also no. But this is what April signed up for when she took it upon herself to teach her wife to ski, and there is always next year to go on more daring adventures.
“April, I’m really cold and I’m pretty sure I’m just one big bruise now, so I’m gonna go get that cocoa and pizza you promised, ‘kay?” Sterling says, sounding exhausted.
April looks around, noticing that it’s starting to get dark, which means that the ski lifts will be closing soon anyway. “Okay, Honey,” she agrees, only a little sad to not be able to take Sterling up on one of the intermediate runs even once. She gets out of her skis and assists Sterling in doing the same before they head into the lodge, where April is quick to grab an empty table.
“Cocoa with whip and little marshmallows, right?” Sterling recites April’s preference a little loud for her liking, seeing as it’s a sugar bomb unbecoming of a grown woman.
“Yes, please,” April says quietly and watches Sterling go to order at the counter just as the lodge door opens again and in steps an only slightly frozen Blair, who finds Sterling immediately.
April sighs and sits back in her chair. There’s no question that she wouldn’t want to go back to how this trip used to be before she and Sterling were married, but having her in-laws here perfectly exemplifies that absolutely nothing about her life before will ever be the same. She always knew that that came with the territory of growing up, but she never anticipated it would all happen so fast.
After a minute, Sterling and Blair come to sit at the table with the cocoa and slices of pizza, and April is forced to stop thinking too in-depth about the ramifications of getting married at 18 years old. “So Blair, it looks like you survived the summit.”
Blair smiles. “Yes, as much as I’m sure that disappoints you, April. I think you probably remember that I used to skateboard to pick up dudes. How was the Bunny Hill?”
Sterling rolls her eyes. “You picked up that one skater guy and then you moved on to Jennings. But the Bunny Hill was fun. April’s a great teacher.” She reaches over to put a hand on April’s back, and April sits up a little straighter at that.
“Well, it helps to have an excellent student,” April says, stretching the truth a bit, seeing as Sterling fought tooth and nail to not go up the rope tow the last five times, but she isn’t going to reveal that when she could just make bedroom eyes at her wife and make her sister-in-law squirm.
“Somehow I don’t believe either of you, but okay,” Blair says, shoving half her slice of pizza into her mouth in one bite. “After this, I was gonna try to get up to the top one last time before closing, if you’re feeling brave, Sterl?”
Sterling snorts at that. “Uh yeah, I don’t feel like dying today. But hey, maybe April would want to go with you?” Though she isn’t looking at Blair, April is quite sure the two of them give Sterling the exact same facial expression--one of disgust and surprise that she would even suggest that. “Oh, come on. April, I know you are way too good of a skier to only go on the Bunny Hill with me, and I don’t feel comfortable with Blair skiing all the way down the mountain in the dark by herself.”
Though the company would not be at all ideal, it is a tempting idea to April--skiing down the entirety of the resort would certainly make up for an otherwise pretty uneventful day. And she doesn’t see the harm in accepting when she knows Blair will shoot it down anyway. “Yeah, okay,” she agrees, nodding.
Sterling grins. “Well Blair, if April’s in, then what do you say?” she asks, turning to her sister, who gives April a look saying she knows her game here.
“I’d say...you’re on, Sister-In-Law. We’ll head up as soon as we’re done here.” With that, Blair eats the rest of her pizza while April is stunned into silence, realizing what she just signed herself up for.
“You guys are gonna have so much fun!” Sterling enthuses, leaning over to kiss April’s cheek and whisper in her ear, “Thank you for being a good sport. All I want for Christmas this year is for you guys to at least try to get along.”
April smiles wide with no such feelings of happiness behind it. She just has to remind herself that it’ll just be one chairlift ride and then she and Blair are clear to just go down the mountain. None of that implies that they even have to speak a word to each other, but will most definitely earn her brownie points from Sterling. “Well, you better hurry up, Blair.” She sips her cocoa and makes a sound of satisfaction.
Once she’s in her skis, April already knows that the plan probably won’t be able to go forward. There’s no longer anyone in line for the chairlift to the top of the summit, with only empty seats going up the wire as the day skiers seem to be clearing out for the night. All of the telltale signs of a resort about to close.
“Blair, we might have to take a raincheck on the skiing from the top thing. Looks like they aren’t letting anyone on,” April says as she watches two people actually be turned away by the chairlift operator, though it doesn’t seem to deter Blair.
“Nonsense,” she says, speeding over to the chairlift operator just before he’s about to shut off the controls, with April behind her. “Heeey. You don’t think there’s any way you’d let me and my sister take one last trip up, do you?” Blair asks in what’s probably intended to be a flirty voice.
The chairlift guy gives them a remorseful look and shakes his head. “Sorry, Ladies. The lifts are due to close for the night before I could get you to the top.”
“But they’re not closed yet?” April asks, thinking that this is in fact a violation of the rules when it comes to things like this. Even Disney will let you get on a ride after park close if you’re at least in line beforehand.
Blair cocks her head to the side and pouts at the guy. “C’mon, you can’t make just one exception? I promise you we’ll come down the mountain as fast as we can. It’s just that my sister here has been spending the day teaching a needy kid how to ski and she really wants to see the view from the top.”
April has to try not to laugh at Sterling being referred to in such a way, but Blair isn’t wrong. Though the lift operator doesn’t seem to have any sympathy for her plight, which leaves April to speak the one universal language that she knows will get through to him as she pulls a $100 bill out of her zipped jacket pocket. “Let us go up, and this is yours,” she says simply, taking a page right out of her dad’s playbook, and after he looks around to make sure nobody sees, the lift operator takes the money and shoves it into his coat.
“Alright, come on, quickly,” he says, opening the chain blocking the way in, and letting them catch the next double chair up.
As they ascend the mountain, April and Blair do what neither of them could have ever anticipated--they share a small high five.
“Nice going, Sis. Really came through with those shady business genes,” Blair says, seeming genuinely impressed as she pulls down the safety bar over them.
April frowns in confusion. “What was that about by the way? You’ve never been one to subscribe to the whole ‘me being married to Sterling makes us sisters’ thing.”
Blair nods, eyebrows raised. “Oh, no, I don’t at all. But I figured that in the event that we would have to seduce the chairlift guy to let us on, it was best to not eliminate you as an option by calling you my sister-in-law. Sterl is ample proof that some people go for the whole tiny and crazy thing you’ve got going on. Plus you’ve got a nice ass.”
Somehow, that explanation did not give April any of the warm fuzzy feelings she thought it might, and honestly she’s grateful for that. And for the compliment regarding her backside. “Um...thanks. I think.” She looks down and sees a pair of snowboarders pass under them, and almost unconsciously, she knocks her skis together, chuckling as the accumulated snow on them falls on the heads of the snowboarders. When she looks up to see she’s receiving a judgmental look from Blair, April feels the need to explain her actions. “Force of habit. When my dad first took me on a chairlift, he told me the best time to get the snow off one’s skis is when a snowboarder is under them. Because skiing is the more dignified snow sport.”
Blair narrows her eyes. “You sure do seem to do a lot of stuff based on the ol’ convict’s life lessons, don’t you?”
April often wonders if Blair realizes she has such a keen ability to bring up and amplify the most painful of subjects like she’s open-palm slapping someone’s sunburn. “Yes, well, as far as I’m aware, he’s my dad. So some of it was bound to get passed on.”
Blair scoffs. “That’s just an excuse for you to not have to take responsibility for your own shitty actions and you know it.”
April can honestly say that she is not used to anyone daring to speak to her like this. “Oh, I’m sorry, Blair. Do I need to give you an in-depth account of all the times my dad decided to hit me for being insolent? Because I quickly found out that the best way to avoid that was to just be Daddy’s perfect little girl, and in doing so made myself decidedly imperfect. So yeah, it’s an excuse, but I’d think that you, Miss Liberal Feminist Woman Empowerment, might understand why that is.”
April knew that doing this with Blair was a mistake. They generally aren’t alone together for one good reason; the only thing they have in common is their love for the same human golden retriever. Aside from that, April is sure that it would be no great loss to either of them if they weren’t in each other’s lives at all.
There’s an awkward silence for a while, with only the humming of the chairlift as they go higher and higher up the mountain, their chair now at least 25 feet off the ground. April hopes that it might last the whole rest of the way, but as she’s constantly being reminded, God doesn’t like her that much.
“Does Sterl know? About that stuff with your dad?” Blair asks, her voice having lost its usual edge, but April is in no mind to care.
“Somewhat. I figured it would be best for the sake of her and my dad not hating each other if she didn’t know the exact details, but she’s not an idiot.” April sighs, thinking that maybe her life would be a lot easier if Sterling was actually a beautiful fool, but she’s also eternally thankful she isn’t. “Just…please don’t talk to her about any of this. I’d like to think that my dad got the wake-up call he needed when he finally had to face consequences for his actions, and I don’t need ancient history holding back all of us trying to be a family.”
Blair shakes her head in disbelief. “God, you’re so delusional if you think that my sister could ever just buddy up with the guy who she knows beats and disrespects women--including the one girl she’s totally obsessed with. And that’s not even getting into your obsession with having a perfect family, which, newsflash, is never going to happen, no matter how hard you go with your Suzy Homemaker act. No family is perfect. Not mine, not even yours down there in the fancy ski house. So how about you just give it a rest because you are honestly so exhausting.”
“Fuck you, Blair,” April scoffs, tired of having to deal with the girl who must have constant drama revolving around her or she will surely die. If she can help it, those will be the very last words she intends to speak to her sister-in-law this whole trip.
But then, God’s wrath strikes again and the chairlift abruptly stops as the lights on the posts go out.
“Um, what the fuck?” Blair says, looking around and even behind them for any sign of why this is happening, but April knows why.
“That motherfucker let them turn off the lift,” April says in disbelief. “And he even took my $100!”
Blair gives her a look of disbelief. “Um, I don’t think the mean man taking your pocket money is our biggest concern right now, April. Seeing as we’re probably going to freeze to death up here.”
April isn’t willing to accept defeat that easily. “There’s no way that’s going to happen. Sterl’s down there. She can let them know they have to turn it back on.”
“If Sterling doesn’t think that we already made it off the lift before they turned it off. Which means it would then take her a bit longer than it would take us to ski down the entire mountain to even realize something’s up, and by then everything might be totally closed down. And then what, Superior Skier? We’ll be popsicles by morning, that’s what. Merry Christmas.” Blair’s take is pessimistic, that much is for sure. But she isn’t incorrect, either.
The feeling of impending doom washes over April as she comes to that realization. “Oh my God, I’m going to die next to you." She’s very much regretting not putting on her long underwear like her mother told her to as her butt is already starting to go numb. But no, she just had to put on her lacy red undies so that she could tease Sterling when they got back to the chalet. And now she can’t even look forward to a good Christmas railing because she will be dead before midnight at this rate.
“Well, there is at least a bright side,” Blair says, and April is almost too afraid to ask, but curiosity gets the better of her.
“And what’s that, Blair?” April asks, taking off her helmet and holding it under her arm.
“Sterling is gonna get so much action as a hot young widow.” Blair sounds way too amused by this horrifying prospect as she too removes her helmet.
Meanwhile, April is busy taking in a breath, filling her singer’s lungs up to capacity before letting out an eardrum-shattering screech loud enough to be heard in Canada.
“Jesus, I think my ear’s bleeding,” Blair says in disbelief when April’s breath finally gives and she’s forced to inhale again, feeling her vocal cords burn. “What was that?!”
“That was how we’re going to get off this mountain. Because like Hell am I ever letting any Funeral Sluts lay a hand on my wife.” As opposed to regular, everyday sluts, Funeral Sluts with their grief fetish seem particularly egregious to April.
“Okay, you’re gonna have to explain to me what the fuck is a Funeral Slut?” Blair seems particularly amused and perplexed by what should be a rather self-explanatory concept.
“Sluts at funerals?” April says, confused, and when this doesn’t seem to satisfy Blair, she adds. “Well, it’s like when my dad’s business partner, Gerald’s, wife died of cancer. At her funeral, there were like three slutty women all over Gerald. Funeral Sluts.”
“Hon, I don’t know how to tell you this, but your dad definitely bought that guy some hookers,” Blair says, making a great deal more sense than she should. “I mean, this is the same Gerald who your dad tried to pin the whole beating a prostitute thing on, yeah?”
“Oh. Oh, you’re probably right. Gross.” April makes a face of disgust, as the idea of her dad purchasing the services of sex workers for others is somehow even more vile than for himself.
“But back to the subject at hand. We’re on a mountain and your crazy Canary powers could have probably caused an avalanche or something.” Blair says, looking around in the dark for some sign of such an impending disaster as April rolls her eyes.
“It’s been scientifically proven that vocal sound vibrations aren’t enough to trigger an avalanche,” April explains, though she doubts such logic really means much to Blair. “But if you have a better idea to get us off this death trap, then by all means, enlighten me.”
Blair looks down behind them to the ground. “How high up would you say we are right now?” she asks.
“High enough that you would most certainly break one or both legs, if not die if you were to try jumping off,” April replies, knowing where that was heading. “I could try my Rape Whistle Scream again?”
Blair shakes her head furiously. “For the sake of not wanting tinnitus when I’m older, please don’t. Also, please don’t call it that ever again.” Blair leans her head back and groans. “This is just my luck to be stuck hanging thirty feet in the air on Christmas Eve. I shouldn’t even be here, in a state with snow and your crazy rich family.”
April nods. “Oh, the fact that you aren’t supposed to be here is something that I can certainly agree with. But unfortunately for the both of us, loving Sterl means making personal sacrifices.” Being a person who never much cared for making such concessions, April knows that this is indeed a sign of how completely Sterling Stevens-Wesley has her heart, even if Blair can’t see it.
“I’d make all the sacrifices for her because she’s my sister and she’s too good. Honestly, neither one of us deserve to have that kind of personal sunshine in our lives.” Oftentimes, Blair and Sterling’s unusual level of affection for each other is pretty annoying to April, but she has to agree with her on that.
“We don’t deserve her, but she loves us anyway, and that’s why she’s Sterl,” April says, just thinking about how much she loves that blonde doofus who always knows how to make her laugh or feel better about something. The real tragedy of dying on this chairlift tonight would actually be that she’d never get to look into those big, crazy, blue eyes again. “Look, this might be the Christmas spirit talking, but maybe the two of us should work on not actively antagonizing each other, for Sterl’s sake.”
Blair makes a face of utter disappointment. “Awww, but messing with you is so much fun!”
April gives that no response but an unamused look.
Blair rolls her eyes. “Okay, okay, I’ll stop actively listing the reasons why Sterling should divorce you every time we talk.”
April gasps, appalled that it was all somehow worse than what she thought. “You do that?!”
Blair’s straight face breaks and she giggles evilly. “No, but I was the reason you got dicked down hard after that dinner with your dad. So, you’re welcome for that.”
April contemplates the drop and the likelihood that she would die if she jumped now. Because truly, death would be preferable to knowing that Blair has any kind of knowledge--let alone control-- of her and Sterling’s sex life. “I did not get dicked down, thank you very much. That is somewhat impossible when there are no dicks involved in the relationship.”
“Silicone counts,” Blair insists.
April shudders with disgust. “Why do you have to know everything? You don’t see me out here asking about whatever plural frat guys you’ve no doubt been hooking up with, let alone asking for details.”
“Five frat guys, four student-athletes of varying genders, three art history majors, two psych geeks...and a partridge in a pear tree,” Blair says, singing that last part, indicating that likely all of it is exaggerated--or at least April hopes.
“You fucked a bird?” April asks antagonistically, somehow with a completely straight face. “Regardless, it would be much appreciated if you would refrain from talking about me in that way with Sterling.”
Blair frowns as she paraphrases a kids movie. “You are a sad, strange little prude, and you have my pity.”
April takes a few deep breaths, realizing that being civil with Blair will be a lot harder than she even thought. “Don’t pity me. Sterling does just fine in that department. I’d just rather not talk about it.”
“Why not? Sex is a beautiful thing and you’ve only been experiencing it for a few months--I’d think you’d be excited to share.”
“Not with my wife’s sister,” April says, wondering how that’s even a question.
“Well hey, at least I’m not Emily Dickinson.” Blair waggles her eyebrows at this, and as disgusting as that implication might be, April struggles to not laugh a little at it, which seems to delight Blair. “Ah! I knew that would get you. You’ve seen the Hailee Steinfeld show, right?”
“I’m a lesbian, Blair. Obviously, I have seen Dickinson.” April can say she’s fairly affronted that Blair would think so little of her. “Though I’d say you’re more of an Austin than an Emily.”
Blair gasps. “You bitch! I’m clearly the Lavinia if you and Sterl are the lezbefriends.”
Despite themselves, they both start giggling at this, with April wondering if their relationship could be improved if only they would talk more about gay TV shows. She’s caught up in wondering if Blair’s ever seen GLOW when she finally notices the way Blair is leaning back and craning her neck in April’s direction behind the chair pole. “What are you do-” April starts to ask before Blair’s suddenly leaning in and kissing her very much against her will, but it lasts a few seconds anyway because Blair has a firm hold on the back of April’s head to keep her from pulling away until Blair ends it with a disappointed look on her face.
“Yep, still don’t get it,” she says, shaking her head while April continues trying to wrap her head around what just happened.
“I’m going to tell Sterling you did that. Don’t you ever do that again!” April says, horrified that she’s got the taste of Blair on her lips, which she furiously tries to wipe away with her jacket sleeve.
“I had to know for science what my sister feels for you, and I still don’t understand,” Blair says with a shrug, and then like magic, the chairlift begins to move again.
April sighs, thankful that she will most likely be surviving this holiday after all. “Don’t quote me on this, but I think what your sister sees in me is someone who…excites her while also providing a feeling of home and security. I’m domestic, but I’m not boring. And it helps that she’s actually interested in women.” She gives Blair a look that’s equal parts annoyed and amused that she thought April has some kind of true love’s kiss superpower.
Blair looks off, seeming to actually think about what she’s about to say before she says it. “I think that Sterling has always weirdly been drawn to you ever since we were kids, and that I always saw it but didn’t like to think that someone else could have that deep bond we share. And I also think that objectively, you can be hot when you want to be.”
“Thanks?” April chuckles, wondering if that’s supposed to be a genuine compliment. “And just so you know, I picked out your Christmas present from Sterl this year.”
“You did not,” Blair scoffs, despite having not even opened the present yet, which April went to great lengths to find when Sterling was stressing over figuring something out while also dealing with midterms.
April shrugs, figuring it doesn’t really matter anyway. “No, I’m lying. But I have a feeling you’re going to really like it.”
“Well, even if you are a big liar…thanks. Sterl’s gifts can vary wildly in quality.” Blair’s whole demeanor seems to have softened a bit, but that could be chalked up to them actually being able to get off this chairlift soon, at which point they won’t have to speak to each other the rest of the trip if they want.
April smiles, amused. “Like a giant Black Friday TV that’s mostly for her, as opposed to theater tickets and a fancy dinner? Or a couple’s cooking class versus a Vitamix?”
Blair laughs. “Oh, make no mistake. That Vitamix is for her, too.”
“Yeah, I’ve already banned glow sticks in the house for a reason,” April says, knowing her wife all too well.
“Oh, you don’t have to worry about glow sticks. It was a knife in The Forbidden Smoothie Part 2 that broke Mom’s Oster.” This revelation from Blair is also nothing new to April.
“You act as if I haven’t been obsessively stalking your sister on social media for over five years,” April chuckles, intending it mostly as self-deprecating humor, but it’s also entirely true.
“You guys have been together for two.”
The two of them stare each other down without blinking, Blair clearly anticipating for April to say she’s joking again, but she holds firm and eventually Blair turns away again.
“I have to admire your Edward Cullen level of obsession. That and your Victorian Orphan vocab are probably the real reason why Sterl’s into you. You got that vampire vibe, even if you’re short.” If April didn’t know any better, she’d think that Blair was actually trying to be playful with her.
“A short vampire that’s gonna beat you back to the lodge.” April decides that if by some Christmas miracle, the two of them can start to get along (in their own way, of course) she’s going to roll with it.
“Oh, you’re on, Edythe. I’ve played all the SSX games.” Blair rubs her gloved hands together menacingly.
“The fact that you know the name of genderbent Edward Cullen is so embarrassing,” April teases.
“You knew it too, so clearly Sterl and I aren’t the only ones who read Life and Death.” Blair makes an excellent point, even if April only read a gay version someone made on the internet by combining Life and Death with the original Twilight.