A/N: Chapter dedicated to disgusteddiscussion, stretch4mental, Catherine Julia Jefferson, anonymous, 28% for reviewing the previous chapter.
'Damon was rhythmically tapping his fingers against his knee, as he sat on the window sill, blankly watching the city below as it was being covered with snow. It wasn't that he didn't like snow, nor was he particularly fond of it. His only memories of snow were of him watching it from the window, exactly as he was doing now-alone.
Damon sighed. Usually the Christmas season meant nothing to him. He did not go into a shopping frenzy nor did he torment himself over what presents to buy; mainly because he'd never had anyone to buy them for. People had labeled him a loner. A child raised in an orphanage is seldom any other way but alone.
So he had always been alone for Christmas.
Not this year, though.
Damon sighed again and leant his forehead against the window. This wasn't like him at all. Damon did not get over emotional, he didn't get melancholic, he didn't think of the past, he didn't feel sorry for himself. 'This is all Leander's fault', he scowled darkly as he checked the clock on the opposite wall. 'He's late again.'
He closed his eyes, fighting the tormenting thoughts and doubts that were worming their way into his brain. Ever since he'd been in danger of losing Leander due to his excessive possessiveness, he'd had to learn how to reign in his impulses. He wasn't one to make the same mistake twice, though God knew it hadn't been easy. It still wasn't.
As much as he tried, he had no control over his thoughts. For the past few weeks, he'd seen less and less of Leander. It was enough that they still weren't living together as they had before, but lately their time together had been sorely cut down. Leander kept making excuses: on one night he was rehearsing, on another he was too tired, he'd been asked to hold a class, and so on. He had promised to be at Damon's apartment by 8 pm at the latest.
'It's almost 9 pm already.'
This wasn't the only thing on his mind. As violent as his jealousy was, he was actually aware that Leander wasn't really cheating on him. His mind knew it at least; it was all a matter for his heart to catch up with his brain.
Added to his insecurity was also the fact that there was only one week left until Christmas, and he still had no gift for Leander. He didn't have the faintest idea what to get for him, either. A violin was out of the question: he'd already gifted Leander one some 9 months ago.
What to get him?
His musing was interrupted by the front door opening and closing, and the sound of Leander's voice dissipated any other thoughts from Damon's head, other than the fact that Leander was indeed, home.'
I walked into Damon's apartment, and was startled to see him leaning against the door jamb, a scowl on his face as he broodingly watched me. I silently sighed. I knew I was late, and that he'd be angry. Truthfully, I had no idea what excuses to make this time. It's been going on like this for weeks now, and I was sick of lying to him. Thank God, there was only one week left until Christmas,and then things could go back to normal.
"You're late again."
I walked up to him and wrapped my arms around his neck, rising on tiptoes to kiss his lips gently. "I know, and I'm really sorry. I'd have called you, but my battery died."
He resisted my kiss at first, his arms still crossed protectively over his chest, but it didn't take long until he pulled me against his hard body and thrust his tongue in my mouth. The kiss turned almost violent, and I enjoyed every moment of it. I could feel the love, and the possessiveness flowing out of him in waves; it was, I supposed, the only way he allowed himself to express it, ever since we came close to losing each other over this. He tried never to voice his jealousy in any way that I would find upsetting or offensive, but that didn't mean it still wasn't there, brimming over the surface, pulling at the reigns he so tightly held. And I wasn't making things any easier for him at that moment.
I pulled back from the kiss and leant my forehead onto his shoulders, enjoying the feel of being in his arms. "I missed you today."
Damon's arms briefly tightened around me, before he took a step back and pulled me to the window, hugging me from behind and setting his chin on the top of my head.
"I did, too."
We watched together as it snowed over the town. 'Aren't you going to ask me why I was late, Damon?' As the silence stretched on, I realized he wouldn't. On one hand, I was relieved that I wouldn't have to make up another excuse. On the other, it bothered me that he was still so afraid of losing me, still so insecure that he was afraid to voice his concerns. I realized I had to distract us both, to keep us from getting gloomy and depressed.
"Come on, let's go out to the park."
"Leander, it's evening and it's snowing."
I grinned and turned around in his arms, pecking his lips.
"Precisely. I love snow, and since it's almost nighttime, we'll have the park to ourselves. Come on." I put my puppy-eyes look to the test, and it lived up to expectations wonderfully. Damon's features softened and he sighed.
"I'll go put on my coat."
"Grab a pair of gloves while you're at it, too. Oh, and the camera too."
He scowled at me, and love unexpectedly flooded me, simply from seeing those eyebrows lowered over his eyes, as I had seen them so many times before. Would he ever understand how much I loved him? I could only hope so.
"I'm not going to play in the snow like a 5-year-old. " But he still put his gloves on, and I could only smile. By now I knew there was no way he'd refuse me something like this.
We walked together down the street and into the park, my hand safely tucked in his. It was quiet, and dark, with only the street lamps lighting our way. Looking up, you could see the snowflakes dancing around, swirling in the sky.
I let out a laugh and stuck my tongue out, trying to catch one.
"Leander, what are you doing?" His voice was amused, and as I turned my head to smile at him, I saw his lips were also curved upwards.
"Catching snowflakes on my tongue", I solemnly answered. "It's the thing to do when it's snowing. "
Damon pulled me to him. "You can be so silly sometimes."
I must have scowled or something, because he grinned and kissed the tip of my nose. "Cute."
"Yeah, yeah." I mockingly rolled my eyes at him, before tugging him towards the park entrance. "Come on, Damon, I want to make snow angels!"
I let go of his hand and skipped ahead, twirling around with my arms outstretched. "Don't you just love the snow?"
"Well, not really."
"Why ever not?" I couldn't imagine someone not liking snow. Then again, this is Damon we're talking about, I thought fondly.
"It's too white, there's nothing… special about it. Not to mention, it's damn cold."
I snorted. "Next you're going to tell me you're plotting to steal Christmas, too. My own personal Grinch."
"I just might. Everybody turns crazy this time of year; makes you want to strangle then with Santa's beard."
I heard the click of the camera, and suspected he was taking pictures; a glance in his direction, and my opinion was confirmed: he was taking pictures of me. Exasperated, I ran towards him and mock growled.
"Don't you ever get bored, snapping pictures of me?"
Damon shot me a surprised look and brushed my cheek with a finger, letting the camera hang around from his neck. "Never. Besides, you were the one who told me to bring the camera."
"Well, yeah, but to take pictures of the park, not of me. You must have tons of them by now, in various poses and …states of undress." Amused and flustered at the same time, I half-smiled at him.
"And yet, I always find myself being fascinated by you." His fingers combed through my hair, letting the strands escape one by one. "I'm starting to see the appeal of snow; your hair shines in the moonlight just like it."
I sighed and closed my eyes, felt the touch of his lips on my eyelids. I leant into him and snuggled close, breathing deeply that cinnamon aroma that was Damon's, and his alone. His arms came around me, and he dropped a kiss on top of my head.
"Anything else you want to do before we leave?" His voice rumbled deep in his chest, as smoky and seductive as always. His fingers were rubbing my scalp rhythmically and I couldn't hold back a purr of pleasure. My lips touched his neck, and he chuckled. "Just like a cat."
"Hmm. We still have to make the snow angels." I looked up at him and grinned. "Don't think you're getting away so easy. Come on."
I pulled him along to a place where there was enough space and snow for what I needed and, pulling the hood of my jacket over my head, I let myself drop flat onto my back.
"Come on, Damon, don't be a bore! At least pretend you're enjoying the snowy season!" I grinned up at him and started moving my arms and legs in the snow, effectively creating the desired effect.
"You're going to get sick, Leander." His tone was admonishing, but he stretched out next to me, staring up at the sky above. I reached out my hand and grabbed his, sighing in contentment.
"You know I love you Damon, right?"
His fingers tightened around mine. "Yes, I do."
I nodded."Okay." I tugged the camera from him and snapped a picture of us laying just like that, his head next to mine in the snow. Then I rolled over until I was hovering above him, staring into his stormy gray eyes and I smiled. "I'm ready to go now."
Damon's eyes flickered over my face, stopping at my lips as he whispered. "In a moment." His hand shot out and grabbed the back of my neck, pulling me down to him for a kiss that left me breathless and wanting more. His tongue slipped possessively inside my mouth, caressing and rubbing against mine, a claiming I was content to let happen. Unconsciously I thrust against his thigh, and couldn't hold back a gasp at the delicious friction. He broke the kiss with a bite on my lower lip, and his eyes flickered with intent. "Now, we can go."
We reached the apartment in record time and tumbled inside like crazed men, pulling and tugging at clothes, desperate for a more intimate contact. As my hand brushed against Damon's zipper, he growled deep in his throat and turned me around to face the wall, hands pinned above my head.
"You drive me crazy, Leander. I have no control over myself when you touch me." This was whispered hotly into my hair, then I felt the touch of his lips on my nape, the sharp sting of a bite, the soothing contact of his tongue. I shivered and whispered his name, and was arching my neck and trying to rub back against him.
He locked my wrists in one of his hands and pulled me off the wall, running his other hand over my chest, as his mouth trailed lower down my spine. "Can you even imagine what you do to me?" He punctuated his words with a tweak of my nipple, biting down on my skin when he heard my moan.
"Dammit Damon, touch me! "
Nimble fingers worked at the buttons of my jeans and pushed them down my thighs together with my boxers, leaving me bare and panting; the fleeting touch on my cock had me almost losing it.
"So hot, so hard…"
"Damon, I need you inside me."
"Soon, baby, soon."
I whimpered as he took his hand away, only to have my knees go weak when he brushed his finger against my entrance. Pushing my palms flat against the wall, Damon dropped to his knees behind me and tightly grabbed my hips with his hands. The thought of what was coming next didn't even compare with the sensation of his tongue licking hotly my puckered hole.
It felt never ending, the torture Damon was putting me through. No amount of begging seemed to sway him from having his way with me. Not that I minded, but I needed him, so badly.
Countless moans and whimpers later, the pleasure became so intense it hurt.
"Damon, now, God!"
Damon dug into his jeans pocket for the small bottle of lube and a few moments later he was steadily pushing inside me, his fingers digging into my hips.
"God, Damon, harder…" I thrust back and would have dropped to my knees if he hadn't been supporting me, when his cock brushed against that special place inside and sent shards of pleasure running through me. I was painfully hard, but as I reached down to touch myself, he slapped my hand away and wrapped his hand around my shaft.
"Mine." His touch, combined with the powerful thrusts and the sting of his teeth on my ear had me tumbling over the edge, his name on my lips. Through the pleasured haze, I could hear him growl my name in response as he followed me under.
I entered Damon's apartment in a rush, already taking off my jacket and shoes. I'd been putting the finishing touches on Damon's gift, and it had taken me a little longer than anticipated. I knew he was probably a little pissed off, since I was supposed be here an hour earlier, to decorate the Christmas tree together with him.
I couldn't believe how fast the last week had passed. Going out with Damon that night to the park had calmed the waters a little, strengthened us some. Damon wasn't used to really enjoying himself, so I was glad when I was able to rope him into these types of activities. It had taken considerable effort on my part to convince him to put up the tree together. He'd finally caved in, after much protest and grumpiness.
Speaking of which, I looked up and saw him scowling at me. "You're late."
I bit back a smile. He'd changed, little by little, during the last few months. Not living together had helped us both: I'd managed to secure my identity, to be able to function in this relationship without losing myself to it; he'd managed to somewhat curb his possessiveness, or rather, to express it differently than before.
I went to him and stood up on my toes, briefly pecking his lips and grinning when his scowl deepened. "I know, I'm really sorry. Come on, we have work to do."
He reluctantly trailed behind me and gestured towards a box full with Christmas ornaments. " Here's what we bought this week. Though why you'd need so many, only you know."
I remembered that particular experience and it had me involuntarily grinning.
"We're going shopping!" I smiled serenely at Damon and patiently waited for the explosion. He didn't disappoint.
"No." Damn, he was so hot when he scowled!
"Damon, you haven't even let me finish."
"I don't have to. I'm not going shopping. Not ever."
I rolled my eyes and set myself to changing his opinion. Some begging, puppy-eyes style and a few well placed kisses and touches later, we were going shopping for Christmas decorations.
"What do you think of these tiny, silver stars? They're so cute!"
The look on Damon's face was worth every moment I spent convincing him to come with me.
"Leander, I don't give a damn about silver stars, shiny red globes or tiny Santa Clauses. I have work to do."
"Oh, stop being so grouchy! Ah, by the way, we're decorating the tree at your house on Friday. There's no need for a tree in my dorm room."
His silver eyes flashed dangerously at me, and in a blink, I was dragged out of the shop, pushed into the nearest toilet and the closest empty stall, and plastered with my back against the cold tiles. His fist was tightly grasping my hair, pulling on it to make me look at him.
"You're stretching it, Leander."
He didn't miss the shiver that racked through my body, nor did he mistake it for something else. He grinned and licked my bottom lip.
"Leander, you're still far from being able to play these games with me. But, we're doing it your way. Compromise is the answer to all problems." He pushed his knee between my legs and gently pressed against my rock-hard cock. The sharp intake of my breath and the slight tremble of my lips told him everything he needed to know. His smile turned predatory.
"Start negotiating, Leander."
Well. Needless to say, I had fond memories of that particular …exploit.
"The tree has to look good, warm, and homey. " I said as I hung the silver stars he passed to me. The whole job took less time than I had expected. Almost in no time at all, we had the tree all decked out and ready. I was holding the last tiny, silver angel in my hand, ready to find the best for it, when I felt Damon's arms wrap around me, and his lips on my neck.
"Thank you." The words were whispered in my hair, and he pulled me tighter against him. I went all soft inside. From the little he'd said to me about his past, I knew he hadn't had a real Christmas celebration before, with a tree and gifts and everything it entailed. I leant my head on his shoulder and covered his hands with mine.
"No need to thank me. I love you." I turned around and cupped his face in my palms, softly kissing his lips with all the tenderness I felt flowing through me. He sighed and hugged me tightly, and we simply stood like this, in silence, enjoying the feel of being in each other's arms.
"Oh, yeah. I know everyone exchanges gifts on Christmas morning, but it's my family tradition to do it on Eve's Night. " I smiled apologetically. "Be right back."
I dashed out of the room and got out the gift- wrapped package I had stashed in my backpack. I turned back to where he was. I took Damon's hand and pulled him down with me under the Christmas tree to give him the package.
"Here. I…" I averted my eyes from his. "It's nothing fancy, but I hope you like it."
Damon gripped my chin between his fingers and silently stared into my eyes, before running his thumb over my lower lip, which I had been mercilessly chewing on. He then looked at the gift he was holding in his lap, before slowly unwrapping it.
He studied the soft leather covers of the album he was holding, where some words were engraved in silver letters. He quietly ran his fingers over them, and just as silently opened the album. Damon stared at the photos in the album for a few moments, before looking at me, obviously befuddled.
"Photos of me?"
One my one, as he turned the pages, pictures of him, in various poses, filled his vision: him sleeping, concentrating on his work, taking photographs. Taking a deep breath, I looked him straight in the eyes, as I tried to explain.
"I… I thought it necessary to understand you better, to … know you better. In order to do that, I had to understand your art better. So I… I started taking pictures, trying to look at the world, and at you, through the lenses. You showed me so often how you saw me, I figured it would also be a good idea for you to see yourself through my eyes." I gestured helplessly towards the album. "It's the closest I could get, since I have zero talent in drawing."
"You…" He closed his eyes for a few moments, before opening them and leaning over the album to kiss me softly. " You took pictures of me. Thank you, it's …amazing. You're amazing. " He looked at the last one, the one I took in the park, with us stretched out in the snow. As he glanced at me with a wry smile, I bit my lower lip and nodded.
" I stole it from you. You developed the film you had that night as soon as we got to your place, but didn't stay to actually look at them. I…snuck in and grabbed it."
"So that's what you've been doing these last few weeks when you were always running late? Putting this together?"
I nodded slowly. "Well, I had to learn a little Photoshop, study a little on photographic techniques, then actually work with the pictures a little and take them to be developed."
"They're good, they really are." He closed the album, staring once again at the silver letters.
"Cras amet qui nunquam amavit; quique amavit, cras amet." He read the words softly. "May he love tomorrow who has never loved before; And may he who has loved, love tomorrow as well." Damon's eyes held mine pensively.
"I do, you know."
"Huh? Do what?" I was lost in the stormy silver of his eyes, the eyes I had grown to love so much.
"Love you. I do. I have, for some time now. " He cocked his head to the side. "I thought you figured that out when I went to take you back."
"I…" I was lost, utterly lost, with my brain shut down like a melted circuit. "You love me?"
He sighed and, with a smile on his lips, he pulled a small box from one of his pockets. "I had planned this a little differently. But then, when you're involved, things rarely go as planned."
I took the box and opened it slowly. No, it wasn't a ring; it was a silver key, shining brightly against the lavender colored velvet.
"I want you back, Leander. Back to sharing everything with you: the house, the food, the bed. I want to come home knowing you're going to be here, to fall asleep knowing you're still going to be next to me when I wake up."
I didn't realize I was crying until I felt the tip of his finger brushing a tear away. "I made mistakes before; I can't promise I won't make others in the future. But I can promise you not to forget saying the words to you again." Damon brushed his lips over mine. "I love you; will you come back to me?"
"Oh, God." I gasped, desperate for air, trying to calm down enough to give him an answer. "Oh, God Damon, yes!" I pushed myself to my knees and curled up against him, breathing that cinnamon scent in, feeling it flow through my body and soul. Was there ever a better Christmas gift than hearing the person you love say those three words back to you for the first time?
As we sat there together, watching the lights flickering in the Christmas tree, his arms wrapped around me, I realized that no, there wasn't.
Hearing him say "I love you" was quite probably the best gift he could have given me.
A/N: So the story has come to an end. While the conflict was resolved in the previous chapter, I needed to write this to tie up the only loose end left: Damon had to say the words to Leander, right? ;)
Thank you for those who've read this story; most of all thank you to those of you who reviewed and those who've been with me in this from the start- it was you who kept me writing.