Bryce had his usual half-minute warning before Lasair walked in the front door; Setanta sat up on his prized braided rag rug – the one that was probably going to look like a doily under a draft horse in about six months, according to Lasair – and turned his head toward the door, whining softly, tail thumping frantically against the floor.
“What am I, chopped liver? – you’ve had me all to yourself all afternoon.”
The tail thumped harder, and Bryce chuckled. He’d decided to take the day before Thanksgiving off work, not because he had any plans, but because all his clients seemed to. So there was no point in dragging his ass in to the office, and a great deal of point to lounging around the brownstone, getting caught up on his TBR pile, while his SoulShare went out to explore the city.
He actually wouldn’t have minded going along, but Lasair had wanted to go up to the American Museum of Natural History and watch them blowing up the balloons for the parade tomorrow, and given the apparently genetic Fae difficulty dealing with enclosed methods of transportation, that meant Fading to the Upper West Side, which humans weren’t equipped to handle –
The door opened, and Bryce looked up from his book, startled, as what looked like a mountain of Citarella bags lumbered in. “What the hell?”
“Would you mind taking the bag with the eggs? – it feels like I’m about to drop it.” Lasair’s voice was slightly muffled, though now that Bryce looked more closely, he could see his partner’s hair, and a bit of the side of his face.
Bryce unfolded himself from his chair and carefully unhooked the bag dangling from two curled fingers. “Don’t try to come the rest of the way in, you’re going to trip over a dog.” A dog who was doing his best to wrap himself around Lasair’s feet and climb his legs at the same time.
Lasair’s laughter followed him into the kitchen. He set the eggs on the table, then returned to help with the rest of the bags. “Did you leave anything in the store?”
The face he uncovered as he relieved the Fae of a bag of French bread was puzzled, or at least pretending to be. “Quite a bit, actually.”
“I love you, Rapunzel.”
The words came more easily each time he said them, sounded just a little less strange. Who ever would have thought…?
Lasair followed Bryce back into the kitchen, and the two of them started covering the counters and the small table with bags. “What possessed you?” Bryce scanned the bounty – crusty French bread, a bag of Yukon Gold potatoes, eggs, a couple of squash, four heads of various green things Bryce couldn’t even identify, three different salad dressings, wild rice, pumpkin pie, pecan pie, and Jesus Horatio Christ a twenty-pound turkey.
Lasair came up behind Bryce and slipped his arms around Bryce’s waist. “Thanksgiving. Although I’m not sure that’s technically possession, you know I’m still learning English.”
Bryce shook his head. “Well, I suppose this will make up for all the years I haven’t celebrated.”
“You haven’t?” He felt Lasair stiffen in surprise. “Why not?”
“Because when I was a kid, Thanksgiving sucked more than just about any holiday.” Bryce closed his eyes, trying not to shudder at the parade of memories – a few family Thanksgivings at his grandfather’s house, put on display by his father to make sure the old man realized the next generation of heirs was being properly raised. Then more years in what was nominally his own house, but had really been taken over by his grandfather after dear old Grandad’s stroke – years of being the perfect kid, and having any perceived imperfections beaten out of him after dinner. And then, after his Deep Dark Secret had come out, and it wasn’t any good pretending to be anything close to perfect any more, he’d taken to feigning illness on Thanksgiving. No one had particularly cared.
Least of all Bryce Newhouse.
How had he ended up in Lasair’s arms? And why was Lasair’s shirt wet?
“What is it, súmiul?” He could feel Lasair’s lips moving against his ear.
“It’s stupid.” He struggled to speak past the lump in his throat. “I didn’t care how much Thanksgiving sucked when I was a kid. I didn’t have a fucking soul, I didn’t care about anything.” He palmed away his tears.
Lasair’s palms were cool against Bryce’s hot cheeks. “Maybe you didn’t care then. But you can care for that little boy now.” A kiss fell on Bryce’s forehead. “And you can let me cook for him, and feed him, and give him the kind of happiness I saw as I walked around this city today.”
“I don’t think you’re really a Fae.” Bryce tried to laugh. It was either that or start crying again.
Lasair smiled, the smile that had first proved Bryce truly had a heart. Maybe the smile that had given it to him. “Oh, but I am. Fae do understand gratitude, though I’ll own most of us think of it more as a sense of liability.” Kisses brushed Bryce’s cheeks. “But I rather like the thought of being perpetually in your debt.”
Another attempted laugh was cut off by a kiss that meant business. Bryce was just starting to melt into it when a startled yelp was followed by the unmistakable sound of a dozen eggs hitting a linoleum floor.
“Setanta,” they both groaned together.
“Off the table,” Lasair added.
The Fade-hound’s tail wagged furiously, clearing the kale and the endive and the God-knew-what-else off the table to join the eggs.
Lasair laughed. “Take him back in the living room, súmiul. I’ll put things away.”
Shaking his head, Bryce did as he was bid, flopping down on the sofa with the ecstatically wriggling puppy.
He was late to this particular table, no doubt about that… but as his face was washed by an adoring puppy, and his Fae partner puttered around the kitchen putting away enough food for an army, Bryce settled back on the sofa with a hesitant smile.
It was good… no, it was fucking amazing… to have so much to be thankful for.