John Sheppard stuffed his hands in his pockets as he crossed University Boulevard to the Hennings Building, where the offices of the staff of the Department of Physics and Astronomy were located. The December afternoon was bitterly cold, with an icy wind blowing in from the sea. It was just beginning to get dark and, all over the campus, twinkling lights were beginning to show in the windows of the buildings.
John had been Security Operation Manager for the Vancouver Campus of the University of British Columbia for almost a year now, having taken over the role from Marshall Sumner after the former incumbent had been killed in a car crash. Although they hadn’t always got on John had still been saddened by his death and it had initially been with reluctance that he’d agreed to step up to the position on a temporary basis, having only worked for the University for three months.
John had discovered that he enjoyed the role as Acting Security Operation Manager and when the position was formally offered to him, he had accepted and hadn’t looked back. It helped that he got along well with his second in command. Like John, Evan Lorne was also a former member of the United States Air Force and had left for the same reason John had. Being gay in the military wasn’t easy and both men had suffered due to the don’t ask, don’t tell policy. Lorne had applied for the position of Assistant Operation Manager and the two men had clicked from their first meeting.
John and Evan had tossed a coin to see who was working when over the holidays, with John taking Christmas off and Evan taking New Year, carefully working the dates so that they both had a four-day vacation. That was the easy part, the hard bit, John knew, would be persuading his workaholic partner to take the time off.
John jogged along the pavement round to the entrance to the Hennings Building, breathing a sigh of relief as he entered the warm foyer. A Christmas tree twinkled cheerily by the stairs and John grinned to himself as he thought of the surprise he had planned for his partner.
He took the stairs to the first floor two at a time and jogged along the corridor, stopping outside Rodney’s office. He tapped on the door and waited for a response, just in case Rodney was in a meeting.
“Now what, Simons? How much clearer can I make it for you….”
“It’s me, Rodney,” John walked in with a grin, knowing that Rodney never remembered his students’ names correctly, “Simmonds still giving you a headache?”
Rodney heaved a huge sigh of relief. “Oh, thank goodness, he’s been in and out five times in the last couple of hours. Seriously, I really don’t see how he’s going to last through the next semester, even with Zelenka giving him private tutoring.”
“Term finished on Tuesday, why is he still here?” John slouched against the edge of Rodney’s desk and crossed his arms.
“I’m beginning to think he doesn’t have a home to go to. Zelenka left yesterday to visit his brother for the holidays so I think I’m going to be stuck with Simons for the duration,” Rodney replied with a groan.
John grinned. “I’ve got a solution for that, and it has internet access so you can’t say no.”
Rodney looked at him suspiciously. “You’ve booked us somewhere for the holidays haven’t you,” he glared at John, “you know I don’t like vacations.”
“C’mon Rodney, the only reason you don’t like vacations is because you know I like going places hot and sandy where I can surf. This time I’ve chosen somewhere closer to home where it isn’t hot or sandy, has a real log fire and has internet access.”
“And a proper bathroom?”
‘Yes, Rodney, and a proper bathroom. Shower, deep jetted tub and private hot tub on the deck. You’ll love it.”
Rodney stared at him dubiously. “How long for?”
“It’s just four days. We leave tomorrow and get back on 26 December so I can have a quick handover with Lorne before he and David take off for New Year. Come on, it’ll be fun.”
“Your idea of fun doesn’t always work out that way.” Rodney grumbled, crossing his arms and frowning at John.
John had to give him that, Hawaii had been pretty much a disaster, which was why John had gone for something completely different this time. Rodney shouldn’t get hospitalized with sunburn and heatstroke on this holiday.
“I’ll have to bring my laptop; I need to finish reading the undergrad reports.”
“Okay, you can bring your laptop, I know the job of a lecturing and research professor doesn’t finish when the semester ends.” John knew which battles to pick and just because he was agreeing that Rodney could bring his laptop didn’t mean he’d give him much chance to log on.
“You didn’t even consider giving me any notice about this did you.” Rodney peered at him suspiciously. “To get a reservation over Christmas you must have had to book it months ago!”
John squirmed. “I didn’t want you having the chance to change your mind. You need a break, Rodney. You’ve been working non-stop since we got back from visiting Jeannie at the end of August.”
“Okay, okay. You’ve made your point. I still need to get this lot sorted and pack. I need to pack! Where are we going? I need to know where we’re going so I know what to pack.”
“Rodney don’t panic! I’ve already packed for both of us.” John admitted. “I did it while you were at that departmental meeting on Tuesday evening.”
Rodney frowned. “I didn’t notice anything missing!”
“Rodney, you don’t notice anything missing when just about every item of your underwear is in the wash,” John countered with a chuckle.
“Hmm, that’s true,” Rodney agreed. “So, I just need to sort out the laptop and anything else I need.”
“Yup, bring everything you need back to the apartment tonight and we’ll be ready to leave in the morning.”
“You’re not going to tell me where we’re going?” Rodney asked hopefully.
John grinned. “You’ll find out in the morning.” He turned and left, almost skipping back down the stairs. Persuading Rodney to go on vacation had been easier than he’d thought.
It was almost mid-day by the time they arrived at Whistler Village. Rodney, of course, had insisted on stopping for coffee, even though the journey itself was under two hours. It was a popular holiday destination so the roads themselves were always cleared of any build-up of snow on a regular basis, so the weather didn’t trouble their journey.
John pulled off Highway 99 just before they got to the village itself and followed the road past several luxury chalet style townhouses, stopping outside one nestled between the trees. They both got out of the car and John left Rodney staring around while he went to greet the rental agent who was waiting for them.
“Hi. John Sheppard.” He held out his hand to shake that of the agent.
“Good Afternoon,” replied the young man. “I’m Paul Walker, welcome to Whistler. The heat’s been on so the place should be nice and warm. The groceries you requested are in the kitchen and hopefully everything will be to your liking. The contact number in case you have any questions or problems is in the welcome pack on the side in the kitchen. Is there anything else I can help you with?”
“No, thank you. I’m sure everything will be just fine,” John replied.
“I’ll leave you to explore then. Instructions for the heating, water and hot tub are all in the welcome pack, along with details of all the restaurants in case you wish to make bookings or arrange for food to be delivered.”
“Okay, thanks.” John smiled as the young man made his way back to his car. He turned to Rodney. “Well, what do you think,” he drawled. “is this okay for you?”
“How much did this cost?” Rodney gazed around the open plan ground floor of the building as they entered. The large tiled entryway led into a well-fitted kitchen on the left, with breakfast bar and dining nook, and a generous living room with the promised log fire burning brightly in the grate. Large picture windows looked out over the Whistler and Blackcomb Mountains. A tall Christmas tree, beautifully decorated, stood in the corner of the living room giving the chalet a real Christmassy feel.
“It doesn’t matter what it cost, Rodney,” John said in exasperation. “It’s Christmas and it’s our treat. Just go with it and enjoy it. Now help me bring our stuff in and we can explore the rest.”
They didn’t have much luggage, so it didn’t take long to bring their bags in and carry them upstairs. The chalet had two bedrooms, both with en-suite bathrooms. John led Rodney into the master bedroom, which also overlooked the mountains. A king-sized bed was sumptuously made up with rich burgundy linens that matched the curtains.
“Come on,” John tugged at Rodney’s arm. “The hot tub is on the roof terrace, come and see the view.”
They climbed the stairs and stepped out onto the deck. The panoramic view of the mountains and, in the opposite direction, Alta Lake, really was amazing.
“You were right, John,” Rodney confessed. “This view is pretty spectacular, if cold.” He shivered.
“Once you get in the hot tub you won’t be cold,’ John chuckled. “Trust me.”
“You said we have internet access here?” Rodney queried as they made their way back downstairs.
John rolled his eyes. “Yes, Rodney, there is internet access. Hopefully, you won’t want to make too much use of it.”
Rodney sighed. “You’re not going to let me get any work done are you?” he accused John without heat. “You were just softening me up to get me to agree to come.”
“Guilty as charged.” John smiled softly. “You need the break, Rodney. There’s lots to do here without going anywhere near a pair of skis and it will be nice just to spend some time together away from work.”
Rodney gave him a mock glare before grinning. “Okay, I give in. I’m in your hands for the next four days. But you better feed me soon because I’m beginning to get light-headed.”
“Okay, you better change into your boots and put your thicker coat on, it’s about a ten-minute walk into the center of the village but the Grill & Vine bar is only a few minutes away if you don’t want to go far.”
“Let’s see what it’s like. If we don’t like it we can try somewhere further afield.” Rodney agreed as he pulled on his hat, scarf and gloves.
John’s smile was soft with affection as he watched Rodney bundle up. He hadn’t thought it would be this easy. Normally, trying to get Rodney to forget about work for just an evening was like pulling teeth, but now that Rodney was here, he seemed to be willing to throw himself into the experience. Or, John thought, maybe he was just hungry.
They crossed Tantalus Drive back onto Whistler Way heading towards the center of the village. The Grill & Vine was literally only a few minutes’ walk and, liking the look of the tavern atmosphere and the menu, they decided to try it out.
“The Angus beef tenderloin looks good.” Rodney commented as they perused the menu after ordering beers.
“That’s what I was going to have,” John agreed. “We can add fries to share as a side dish too.”
They chatted companionably as they ate their meal. They both agreed that the steak was very good indeed, the service was excellent and discrete, leaving the two men to enjoy their meal without interruption. They finished off the meal with coffee before deciding to wander through the village, just savoring the festive atmosphere. Knowing what he had planned next, John carefully guided Rodney in the direction they needed to take, eventually hopping on one of the local buses.
“Where are we going now?” Rodney asked inquisitively.
“You’ll see in just a moment; it won’t take long to get there.” John grinned.
Rodney looked heavenward. “John, you better not have signed us up for some dangerously crazy activity,” he warned.
“Fun, Rodney,” John corrected. “Not dangerously crazy.”
Rodney huffed suspiciously and John laughed, knowing it was all for show. As much as Rodney pretended not to trust him, John knew that he did. Rodney wouldn’t have agreed to come on vacation with him if he hadn’t.
“Tube Park?” Rodney queried, as the bus pulled into the stop. He stepped off the bus looking from John to the sign in front of him. “We’re riding in giant inflatable tires?”
“Not exactly tires but yes. You sit in them and slide down gentle slopes. It’s not dangerous, just fun.”
It was fun. The tubes did go pretty fast and it was exhilarating flying down the slopes in the tubes. Rodney was screaming and laughing with a freedom that John hadn’t seen before and he had just as much fun watching Rodney as he did riding the tubes himself. When they were done, they both had rosy cheeks and red noses.
“Wow, that really was fun.” Rodney laughed enthusiastically. “I don’t think I’ve ever had so much fun outdoors in my life.”
“You see, the outdoor life can be fun.” John bumped shoulders with him as they walked back to the bus.
“You’re right,” Rodney threw up his hands in supplication, “I shouldn’t have doubted you.” He sighed. “It’s just that everything my parents or my school wanted me to do outdoors failed, I was never any good at any of it. Always made to look like a fool with everyone laughing at me.”
“Maybe you just didn’t have the right teachers and maybe they just didn’t pick the right sports for you to do.” John stopped and turned, pulling Rodney to face him. “Look, maybe you’re not good at sport, but you are good at other things. Just look at the research you’ve done, the papers you’ve written, the students you teach who have gone on to be successful themselves. That’s where your genius lies. I could ski perfectly down that mountain,” he indicated Blackcomb Mountain behind them, “but I couldn’t do half the things you do. We all have our own skills and that’s important. You are important.” He stared earnestly at Rodney, willing him to understand.
Rodney looked back at him, nodding. “Okay, I see where you’re coming from, I just felt like such a failure; I couldn’t play sport, my piano teacher didn’t think I was any good, but then after I built the atomic bomb for my sixth grade science fair I think people started to realize that I was good at something.”
“You’re a genius, Rodney, people just didn’t appreciate that when you were a kid.” John kissed Rodney soundly before grinning as he led Rodney over to the waiting bus.
Christmas Eve dawned bright and clear. Fresh snow had fallen overnight, and the sun glistened and sparkled on the pristine surface.
They left the chalet for breakfast at the Grill & Vine, walking carefully along the snowy path. Both men were more relaxed than they had been in a long while. In fact, John didn’t think he’d ever seen Rodney smile so much, let alone laugh. It filled his heart with affection again at the complicated man he’d fallen in love with.
They bantered good naturedly over a full English breakfast, filling themselves up in readiness for a busy day.
“So, what’s on the agenda for today,” Rodney asked as they left the restaurant and headed for the Mountain Square. “Or is that another mysterious secret?”
John pointed towards the gondolas leaving the Square. “We’re going on a sightseeing ride,” John explained. “We start off on the Whistler Village Gondola up Whistler Mountain, grab a coffee at Roundhouse Lodge, then take the Peak to Peak Gondola across to Blackcomb Mountain. We can have lunch there at The Rendezvous Restaurant and then take the Blackcomb Gondola back down again.”
Rodney stared from John to the gondola his jaw dropping. “Are those things really safe?”
“Of course, they are. With the number of people who use them the safety is checked regularly. As far as I am aware there have been no incidents with these gondolas.” John hesitated and took a deep breath, turning to look straight at him before saying softly. “Rodney I wouldn’t risk your life, you’re too important to me.”
“Oh.” Rodney said, just as quietly. “I don’t know what to say to that. No, no, don’t get me wrong, I know you care, and I feel the same but just hearing you say it like that …” He broke off and John could see how overwhelmed he was, so he pulled him into a hug.
Rodney finally pulled away. “Okay, that’s enough mush. Come on, let’s go and enjoy ourselves. This is just another one of your ways to fly isn’t it?”
“A very slow way of flying.” John laughed as they walked towards the entrance.
John smiled in affection at Rodney’s almost childlike pleasure. “Just think of the view you’ll get once we get to the top.”
“We’re really lucky to have such good weather,” Rodney mused. ‘This wouldn’t have been the same if it had been wet or foggy.”
“It would be spooky in the fog though, but no, just about everything here is weather dependent. You could be here for two weeks and not get to do half the things we’re doing. Thankfully the weather looks good for our whole stay.”
“Is that the one we’re doing next?” Rodney had just spied the Peak to Peak Gondola. Unlike the Village Gondola, which just travelled up the mountain at a regular distance from the ground, the Peak to Peak Gondola travelled high above the ground from Whistler Mountain to Blackcomb Mountain.
“Yes, you can have a coffee fix first though,” John replied with a laugh. “And something stronger if you need, there is a bar too.”
“I think I might need it for that.” Rodney gulped visibly at the thought so John didn’t mention that some of the gondolas had glass floors, he wasn’t sure if Rodney would completely baulk at the ride if he knew that.
They stepped off the gondola and made their way into The Roundhouse Lodge for coffee, after which they wandered around for a while, just taking in the view, before making their way to the Peak to Peak Gondola.
“Why are there two different queues?” Rodney asked as they got closer.
“There are two types of gondola, some have a glass floor so you can see below you as well, you get a completely uninterrupted view,” John explained. “There aren’t as many so the queue’s longer. Which would you rather do?”
Rodney stared at him for a moment, chewing his lip as he considered the options. “Okay, let’s go for it. You may just have to hold on to me all the way though, it’s a long way down.”
John grinned in delight. “Cool, I didn’t think you’d go for it.”
“Rodney raised his eyes. “I may just regret this, or I may not be able to actually get on when it comes to it, but I’ll give it a go.”
“Thank you.” The reply from John was soft and affectionate. “It means a lot to me that you’ll try.”
Rodney beamed at him and John could see the steely determination in his eyes as they joined the queue for a glass floored gondola.
The queue moved quickly, and it wasn’t long before they were ushered into the next gondola. Rodney took a deep breath as it moved out of the station. He clung tightly to the side and John made sure he was close, gripping Rodney’s arm firmly as they glided out into the open air.
At first Rodney stared straight out but, as John had guessed, curiosity soon got the better of him and he glanced down, flattening himself against the side of the gondola as he did so. A smile spread over his face and he looked up at John in sheer enjoyment.
“This really is something else.” Rodney’s voice was full of awe. “I would never have dreamed in a million years that I’d ride something like this. It’s just incredible, what a way to travel, the view is absolutely amazing.”
John stared down with him at the tiny trees and skiers on the slopes far below them. They could literally see for miles; the village in the far distance, the mountains and glaciers around them and the forested trails near the base of the mountains. He had to agree, it really was an amazing way to see the sights.
All too soon the ride was over, and they jumped out at the Blackcomb station.
“That really was an experience of a lifetime,” Rodney remarked.
“We could do it again next year, make it a yearly trip. Although I’ll have to let Lorne and Parrish have next Christmas, but we could do new year.”
“Next year?” Rodney looked bemused, as if he hadn’t even entertained the thought of them being together in another year.
“Rodney, don’t you think we’ll be together next year?” John asked in alarm.
“I didn’t really think you’d want me for that long,” Rodney replied in a small voice.
“No, Rodney, I want you for as long as you want me. Forever won’t be too long for me.”
“Yes, really. Rodney.” John tugged him close and kissed him repeatedly until Rodney giggled and squirmed and John pulled off laughing. “Okay, so now we’ve established that we’re in this for the long haul, how about some lunch?” John led him over to the Rendezvous Restaurant and they were soon choosing their lunch.
After their meal they took a gentle stroll around the area, snapping photos and just enjoying being together and admiring the scenery. Eventually they’d seen everything and made their way to the Blackcomb Gondola to return to the village.
“You know, I never really thought I would enjoy this kind of winter holiday, but it’s more fun than I thought it would be,” Rodney admitted as they arrived at the bottom of the mountain. “Or maybe it’s just doing it with you, spending time with you and seeing you enjoy yourself. After the way I was ridiculed and bullied I’ve always been a little selfish, just taking care of myself, you know? I never realized how much enjoyment I could get from seeing someone else, someone I care about, having fun.”
“I’m having fun because you’re enjoying yourself, and you’re enjoying yourself because I’m having fun.” John chuckled. “You know, I think that’s just the way things are supposed to be.”
“That’s good then.” Rodney beamed at him. “Now I guess you’ve got somewhere planned for dinner.” He looked at John expectantly and John laughed.
“Of course, I have. Hy’s Steakhouse, I know what you get like when you’re hungry. I can’t risk you being cranky or collapsing from hypoglycemia, that would kind of spoil the holiday.”
“Huh, I guess it would wouldn’t it, it’s in your best interests to keep me fed.”
“Yes. And that’s why I booked all the places we’re eating our main meals, so they know about your allergies in advance and so that I know that they can accommodate them.”
“You really have gone over and above.” Rodney shook his head in disbelief. “No-one has ever been this nice to me before, I’m not used to it.”
John laughed softly. “You’re worth it, Rodney. I’ve never felt so comfortable and in tune with anyone else like I do with you, I just love spending time with you and I just can’t imagine not being with you now.”
John opened the door to the restaurant, and they were soon seated at their table, enjoying a meal of steak and fries, followed by brownie sundaes.
After their meal they strolled slowly through the village, enjoying the lights, music and nightlife before returning to the chalet. They rounded the evening off with a soak in the hot tub and followed that with slow, lazy sex on the fur rug in front of the wood fire, before sitting naked sipping hot chocolate, with just the twinkling lights of the tree and the dying fire.
They had a lazy Christmas morning, sitting in front of the fire dressed in funny Christmas themed pajamas John had secretly bought before the holiday. It had taken a while for John to persuade Rodney to wear his but, in the end, Rodney had rolled his eyes and acquiesced. John had brought all their gifts with them so, after a quick breakfast of bagels with cream cheese and smoked salmon and coffee, they took turns opening presents from each other, from Rodney’s sister Jeannie and husband Kaleb and from Rodney’s eight-year-old niece, Madison. John had also exchanged gifts with Evan Lorne whilst Rodney had done the same with Radek Zelenka.
Eventually, they took a long shower together, before dressing warmly and wandering out into the snow.
“So, what have you planned for today?” Rodney asked, squinting up at the sun as he put on his sunglasses.
“You’ll see.” John replied with a grin, leading the way along the path.
John had booked a table at The Keg Steakhouse for lunch, after which he led Rodney to the Whistler Heliport for the private Blackcomb Signature Helicopter Tour.
“I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised that we’d be actually flying at some point.” Rodney grinned. “Did you ever fly something like this?” He indicated the Jetranger Helicopter ahead of them.
“Not quite like this, but similar ones. I qualified on seven different types of helo,” John admitted as they climbed aboard.
The helicopter took off and started by heading north, through the remote backcountry terrain of the Soo and Rutherford Valleys, before reaching the remarkable Ipsoot Icefield, one of the lesser known icefields due to its isolated location. It boasted several kilometers of icefall with open crevasses, ice caves and a glacial river.
After about twenty minutes, they turned and headed south to Rainbow, where the helicopter landed on the summit glacier, which gave incredible views over the Whistler Blackcomb resort.
For the final 20 minutes of the tour they flew over iconic Whistler landmarks of the Black Tusk, Garibaldi Lake, Cheakamus Glacier the Peak to Peak and the resort itself.
“Wow, that was incredible,” Rodney breathed as they landed. “I know I’ve flown over these mountains by plane and it looks impressive from up there, but you don’t realize quite how amazing it is unless you’re close up like we were.”
“Yeah, it really was something, wasn’t it? I’m glad we took cameras, although I don’t think the photos will really do the scenery justice,” John agreed.
“The pilot knew what he was talking about too. I’ve been forced on some tours where the guides just read out from a script and you can tell that’s all they know about what they’re showing you.”
“Yes, it’s great when you get a local, he knew the history of the area so well and his memories of growing up around here were interesting,” John replied. “It was good of him to take photos of both of us too, we haven’t got many just of the two of us.” He pulled Rodney close with an affectionate smile.
“I can’t believe you dared to plan and book all of these without even asking me,” Rodney admitted. “If I hadn’t been so fed up with Simons interrupting me, I would probably have argued against going away.”
John laughed. “So, I have something to thank Simmonds for then. You do know his name is Simmonds not Simons?”
Rodney shrugged. “He’s lucky I recognize him. They all know I’m hopeless with remembering their names, he’s used to it by now.”
John grinned as he shook his head. He did know that the students, and many of the faculty, were well aware how hopeless Rodney was at remembering their names. He remembered faces though, so fortunately never offended anyone by completely ignoring them. He wasn’t always very tactful though, so did offend some people by what he said. The fact that he was a complete genius in his field and was always ready to help people out in any way he could went a long way in his favor. John knew Rodney would actually be surprised if he knew how well respected and liked he was within the scientific community.
The meal was excellent. They both started with the BC Oysters Four Ways. For main, Rodney had the Rossdown Chicken Breast while John had Quebec Venison Loin. For dessert Rodney chose Valrhona Chocolate Tart, served with mocha cream and espresso macaron while John couldn’t resist the Sticky Toffee Pudding which came with caramelized granny smith apples and spiced crème fraiche ice cream. They rounded meal off with a coffee that even Rodney was impressed with.
“Wow, thank you John,” Rodney gave him a soft, affectionate smile as he pulled him in for a kiss. “That’s the best Christmas dinner I think I’ve ever had.”
John smiled in return, taking Rodney’s hand as they walked through the brightly lit village. Music was spilling out from the bars and Christmas trees, decorations and lights were on now that it was dark, making the place festive and cheery as they strolled companionably along the path.
“So, where to next, back to the chalet or have you got something else planned?”
“We have something else planned,” John replied with a mysterious smile, “all will soon be revealed.” He led Rodney towards the bus stop and they were shortly travelling up the lower slopes of Blackcomb Mountain, finally arriving at their destination.
“Sleigh Rides?” Rodney asked in amazement as they alighted the bus.
“Yup,” John replied, grinning at the look on Rodney’s face. “Just for the two of us. Come on.”
The sleigh was waiting for them. Two beautiful Percheron horses, hitched up to an open sleigh. The driver, a jolly man wearing a Santa hat, got them settled in the sleigh, bundled under blankets and furs to ward off the chill of the evening.
“We’re really going on a sleigh ride.” Rodney smiled excitedly at John and John’s heart melted at the childish delight on Rodney’s face.
“We really are,” he replied, pulling Rodney close as the gentle horses started off at a slow pace along the trail.
They glided smoothly along the forested trails, the moonlight glinting off the snow made the ride magical as the bells from the horses’ harnesses jingled as they trotted along. Every so often, the trees gave way and they had an amazing view of the lights of the village beneath them as they climbed higher up the mountain.
Eventually, the horses stopped outside a small cabin and John and Rodney were shown inside, where a blazing fire and mugs of hot chocolate and warm gingerbread awaited them.
“This is amazing, John,” Rodney said softly, as they cuddled together in front of the fire with their drinks. “Thank you for making our first Christmas together so special. I know I’m not the easiest person to get to know, or to get along with, and I really don’t get what you see in me, but much as I probably don’t show it I really do love you and appreciate everything you do for me.”
John pulled him into a kiss, he tasted of chocolate and ginger as John plundered his mouth and they were both breathless when he pulled back.
“I know Rodney, and I love you too,” he replied softly.
They snuggled back together and finished their drinks before, a little reluctantly, returning to the sleigh for the journey back to the village.
Back at the chalet, they undressed and slipped into the hot tub. John pulled Rodney close into a deeply passionate kiss. Their tongues dueled for dominance and John’s hands slid lower, cupping his ass and pulling him closer.
“Well this will be a first,” Rodney giggled into his ear. “I’ve never had sex in a hot tub before.”
“Did you just giggle?” John honked out a laugh as he tickled Rodney.
“No fair.” Rodney huffed out as he tried to wriggle out of John’s grasp.
“You’re not going anywhere.” John drew him back, nibbling on his ear before dropping gentle kisses across his cheek until he reached Rodney’s lips, taking him in a deep kiss.
John pulled Rodney around, so he was sitting on the ledge and John was straddling his legs. Still kissing Rodney, he slid his hand down, palming Rodney’s erection.
Rodney groaned in pleasure, feeling John’s arousal against his own as John wrapped his hand around both their erections, slowly at first and then building the intensity until they were coming together.
They rose early the following morning, having breakfast again at the Vine & Grill, before returning to pack up the car. They didn’t have to leave until after lunch and John was determined to make the most of the morning, he also had one final surprise for Rodney.
“Dog sledding?” Rodney exclaimed, as John pulled into the car park.
“I thought it would be a great way to end the holiday,” John replied with a grin.
“This looks a little wilder than the sleigh ride,” Rodney commented with a little apprehension.
“It’ll be fun!” John exclaimed with enthusiasm.
Rodney grinned at him suddenly. “Okay. You’ve done so much to make me happy these few days and this one is definitely for you; the speed must be almost like flying.”
John knew he was beaming as they were introduced to the six dogs and were given a quick run-down about the physiology and skills of the specially bred Arctic sled dogs; they really were beautiful animals and even Rodney was impressed.
The dogs were eagerly anticipating the run and were obviously keen to get going so they settled on the sled, with John sitting behind Rodney with his arms around him, and they quickly set off. John whooped with joy as the dogs picked up speed and ran evenly through the winding forested trails of the Callaghan Valley. The scenery was beautiful with the clean snow and the sunlight filtering through the trees. It certainly was a fantastic way to end their holiday.
They had a quick lunch at the High Mountain Brewing Company and then made one last stop at Tim Hortons for two large coffees and a box of Timbits for the journey.
“Thank you, John,” Rodney said as they got back into the car with their coffee. “No-one’s ever done anything like this for me before, it’s been the best Christmas present ever, and what did I get you? A new, engraved, limited-edition knife.”
“Rodney, don’t, I love the knife, you know I’ve been wanting a new one for a while.” John shook his head at him and drew him into a quick kiss. “Anyway, this holiday was for both of us. You agreed to come with me, and you’ve had fun. Watching you enjoying yourself made it fun for me too, I’ve had a fantastic time thanks to you, and you gave me the best gift of all, the gift of your company. That’s something priceless.”