A/N: This is the Secret Santa gift for learntosayhello. I included your request, albeit in a slightly loose manner…but you'll see what I'm talking about. I'll apologize for the French beforehand: I do not speak it at all, which is why the character speaks it mainly in quotes.

I actually started writing two stories, but time only allowed me to finish this one. If all goes well, you'll have the second part of the gift until New Year.

I hope you enjoy your gift.

Joyeux Noël to everyone!

Noël, mon beau rêve

"I love you, Matt, I'd never cheat on you, you know that!" I plead, trying to reason with him, but he's beyond listening.

"Don't lie to me, Jack! I was there! " The voice explodes in the kitchen, making me wince.

"Mat, listen to me, we were just talking." I bite my lower lip, trying to think of a way to appease him.

"Godammit, Jack, you were flirting with him! I saw you, smiling and laughing with that creep at the club!" Shards of ceramic fly everywhere as the cookie jar crashes to the floor, swept off the table by a furious hand. I flinch at both the pain dripping from the words, and at the booming sound of the jar breaking.

"I wasn't, God, why won't listen to me!"

"He was touching you, his hand on your arm, and you let him! "

"There's no one else, Matt. You're it for me. I love you. " I throw caution to the wind and rapidly walk over to him to wrap my arms around his neck. "I love you." I murmur the words into his neck, trying to soothe the beast I know is dwelling within.

I'm suddenly pushed against the wall and his lips slam on mine powerfully, staking his claim. I revel in the feel of the kiss, pouring everything into it. One of his hands tightens painfully around my wrists as he growls and uses his other hand to tear at my shirt. Buttons fly and I'm gasping for air, trying to catch my breath and face the onslaught he's launching on my senses. He's out of control, biting my lips and ripping my clothes off, and I love it when he gets like this. Only I can make him lose it so completely, and it gets me equally wild. Kiss for kiss, I match him and sharply pull at the buttons of his jeans, pushing my hands into them and grabbing his ass to bring him against me.

"Don't ever let anyone touch you again."

The pleasure bursts through my body as his mouth latches onto one nipple, sucking and nipping at it as he roughly grinds his hips against mine. "It's only your touch that affects me", I gasp and wrap one leg around him

"Good."

It's wild and uncontrolled and everything that sex should be: sweaty, dirty and utterly satisfying. We're collapsed in a heap on the floor, leaning against the kitchen cabinets, limbs entangled, both of us trying to catch our breaths. I throw a glance at him and see he's surveying the mess around us: torn shirts, crumbled jeans, socks and boxers thrown on the kitchen table and even in the flower pot in the corner. I can't stop the laugh that erupts from me.

"Is this how you imagined this scene for your play, Ry?"

An elegant brow arches up, pulling with it the corresponding corner of his sinful mouth. Even naked and rumpled from the awesome sex we just had, he still manages to look perfect, as sexy as ever. Sexier, even.

"Quite accurate, our interpretations of Jack and Matt. Though I'm sure the theater will draw a line at the actors having sex onstage, like we just did. A great inspiration for my writing, nonetheless."

I chuckle and willingly move into the comfort and security of his arms, snuggling into him as I look at the flickering lights of the candles I arranged in the window.

"It's already been a year. I can't quite believe it."One year since I met Ryan, one year since I found love –the best year of my life, with many more to come.

"Do you remember? God, what a Christmas Eve!" I grin at him. "Those two women, poor them, they didn't have much of a Christmas, did they?"

I can feel his chest rippling as he lets out a laugh at the memory of that particular Christmas Eve, one year ago.

"One coffee, two sugars, no milk. That's $3. Happy Holidays! " I smile vacantly at the snarky lady in front of me and my shoulders drop in relief as I see her exiting the coffee shop.

"One more hour, Nate, and you're off duty. Let's hope there won't be any more clients like the one that just left." Jane lays a comforting hand on my shoulder and I smile gratefully at her. It's incredible how rude people can be, even on Christmas Eve when everyone should be happy and excited.

"I guess not everyone gets into the spirit of Christmas quite like me", I grin at Jane. She shots an amused smile at my red sweater displaying a pair of golden bells, tied with a forest green ribbon.

"That's for sure".

"Oh, but I forgot to show you. " I bend over to look under the counter and get out a similar pair of bells, like the ones on my sweater, and set them with a wide grin on the counter, next to the muffins. Jane's eyes are brimming with mirth and we laugh together, the tiredness slipping away and leaving me in a more positive frame of mind.

"They're pretty. "

I glance in the direction of the voice and my mouth literally falls open at the guy standing on the other side of the counter, a crooked smile on his lips, head cocked to one side and studying me with blue eyes bright with amusement. He looks back at the bells and gently picks them up, making them clink cheerfully.

"Le bruit de Noël. "He shots me a smile, then he sets the bells back down on the counter. "It's great to see people still rejoice at the arrival of Christmas. "

I mentally slap myself to come to my senses. "We're still children, at heart. That's always a good thing, that we remember and cherish the child within."

"You are right, of course. "His genuine smile turns mischievous. "Wrote your letter to Santa yet?"

I grin and bustle around behind the counter. "Of course. How else will he know what to bring me." I look over my shoulder to see him laughing silently, as his eyes follow me. I turn back and set the mug with hot chocolate in front of him. "For the child in you."

I bite my lip to contain the laugh trying to escape, but as his erupts undeterred from his chest, I give up and let my mouth curve in a smile.

"Thank you. It's been… " He blinks slowly, then shakes his head. "Too long to remember the last time I drank hot chocolate. Thank you, Nate."

I stare dumbly at him, and something must have shown on my face, because he grins and points to the name tag pinned to my chest.

"It says so right there. Unless you put on the wrong name tag."

I blush, feeling lightly stupid. "It is mine. I guess I'm a bit slow this afternoon."

He take a sip of the chocolate, then glances around. "It's not that busy now, but I suppose it hasn't been like this all day."

"God ,no." I groan as I remember the lady that started complaining about how there was too much milk in her coffee, and not enough sugar, and how the coffee tasted bad, and why wasn't it made from quality beans. "It's frightening, how seriously people take their coffee." I give a mock shudder and he lets out a soft laugh.

"Have much time left of your shift?" The sympathy is there, in his blue eyes, together with something else I can't decipher.

"Actually…"I glance at my wrist and smile " only about 20 minutes or so."

"That's great. So…" he pointedly looks at the mug in front of him. "How much do I owe you for the hot chocolate?"

"Oh, it's on the house. " I wave his words away, trying to keep the blush from spreading. God, could I be more obvious than that? I'm pretty sure he's getting ready to punch my face or scream harassment any moment now, and then where will I be? In a cage, no doubt. I impatiently push my glasses back up my nose, and risk a look at him, only to see him staring at me with a slight smile.

"You keep doing that, I'm not even sure you're aware of it."

"Uh, what?"

"Touching your glasses here ", he mimics the move, "whenever you're nervous or embarrassed. I'm pretty sure you don't even know how easily it betrays your true feelings."

"Oh. Um." I think I just did it again.

Damn.

"Anyway. I was wondering if you'd like to have dinner with me. " He flashes that killer smile again and I'm sure I'll be saying yes to anything he'd ask of me – especially if he continues to smile like that."It's only fair that I get to make up for the free drink."

"I…okay." I nod and see his lips quirk in a smile. "Let me just get my coat."

I head over in the back room, where Jane is taking her cigarette break. She glances up as she hears me coming in, and a wicked glint comes into her eyes.

"So…who's the hottie?"

I'm pretty sure I'm blushing, but there's no escaping that. "I…don't know." I unpin the name tag and wrap the black scarf around my neck, before shrugging on the coat.

"What's his name? Did he ask you out?"

I sigh and drop next to her on the bench. "Yeah, he did."

The smoke from her cigar swirls around us. "What's the problem then?"

"I don't know. He seems great."

"So he does. It should make you happy he's asked you out."

"I am. It's just… I don't even know his name." I take a deep breath and take off my glasses, staring blankly at them."It's been a while since I went out with someone. I wouldn't want to screw this up. "

Jane smirks."Especially on Christmas Eve." She drops a kiss on my cheek and briefly wraps her arms around me. "Think of him as a gift. Unexpected and delightful in its surprise."

I nod and hug her back. "Thanks. See you tomorrow. "

"Have fun. And stop thinking!" She yells after me as I get out of the room.

He's waiting for me, glancing around with interest at the people around him. I take a moment to study him while he's turned away from me. Tall, lean, with tousled brown hair and sharp, piercing blue eyes, paired with elegantly arched brows. A straight, patrician nose, sensual lips and a firm ,sculpted chin. He's masculine and elegant, and so damned attractive, I can't help but wonder why he'd want to go out with me, and on Christmas Eve no less.

As if feeling my eyes on him, he turns his head and those godly lips quirk in a smile when he sees me standing there.

"I'm ready."

He nods."Good. Did you drive here?"

"I live three blocks away, so I came on foot."

"Okay, then we're using mine. "

Just as we're about to go out, a female shriek resounds in the coffee shop, followed by a string of screamed insults that has every customer and staff glancing at the table in question. To our surprise, two women, both incredibly beautiful, are facing each other, daggers in their eyes. One of them is soaking wet, strands of dark hair clinging to her cheek and, judging by the empty glass the other one's holding, it's not difficult to comprehend what went on.

"You bitch, how dare you!"

"Oh, please, afraid your make-up'll come off? Don't worry darling, Maybelline or not, your husband still prefers my ass over yours!"

Slap! The blonde's head jerks to one side as the brunette's palm makes contact with her cheek. I wince in sympathy and glance at the man I'm with, bemused to see the smile he's sporting.

The blonde is quick to return the favor, and in the blink of an eye, the brunette's cheek is bearing the red imprint of a slap.

"Ladies…" I watch Joseph, the boy who works the shift after mine, bravely approaching the pair of raging women. "If you'd both calm down, I'm sure…"

Slap!

The chuckle escapes from my new friend's lips as he shakes his head at Joseph's attempt.

"Don't you lady me, and stay out of this!" The blonde's raging mad, and I'm sure neither of them are aware of the show they're putting on.

"Ô femme! Femme! Creature faible et décevante! " With these whispered words, my companion leaves my side and walks over to them, charming smile in place.

"I'm sure you wouldn't want to solve this in a place where anyone can hear your private business. "He sweeps his hand over the coffee shop, pointing out the fact that the women are making a spectacle of themselves. The brunette's eyes widen and she immediately pulls back her shoulders, her back going rigid with embarrassment.

"We're not done talking, Elise. Meanwhile, keep your badly manicured fingers away from my husband."

The ladies leave separately and I watch him with something akin to fascination as he makes his way back to me.

"You're a brave, brave man."

We look at each other for a few seconds, then we both explode in laughter over the ridiculousness of the situation we've just witnessed.

"Women are dangerous creatures in their feelings, be they of love or hate."

He shakes his head and we both share another smile as he opens the door to the coffee shop for me, a gesture that has me blushing shyly. He does the same thing with the car door, holding it for me while I climb in, then neatly closing it, before coming around to get in.

"Where are we going?"

Maybe I should be worried, simply going off with a stranger to God knows where, but somehow I'm not. I look at him and notice his eyebrows furrowed in thought.

"Would it make you uncomfortable if we'd go to my place?" He glances at me and I can see he's worried I'll make a run for it. "I have food already, it just needs to be heated up. I'll drive you home afterwards."

I study him for a few seconds, but my mind is made up already, so I nod. "Alright. " I pause for a moment. "You're not luring me into your den to hack me up then bury me under the kitchen floor, right?"

I can see him biting his cheek, struggling for a serious, solemn face. "Even if I were, would I actually admit to that?"

We both start laughing and whatever tension there was still in me flows away, soothed by his easy nature. He parks in front of a tall, modern building.

"I live on the 7th floor." I must have looked horrified, because he chuckles and climbs out of the car, leading the way to the front entrance. "But don't worry, there's an elevator."

He opens the door to the apartment and waves me inside. The sound of it clicking shut is somehow ominous but, before I get to turn around, I can feel his fingers skimming the back of my neck, a fleeting touch that has me shivering a little in its intensity.

"Let me take your coat." He does so, neatly hanging it next to his. "Make yourself at home."

His apartment is wide and spacious, discreetly elegant and sophisticated, just like the man itself, with a tall, silver-decorated Christmas tree tucked in a corner. With a startling gasp, I realize I don't even know his name. He hears it and his brow shuts up in inquiry.

I smile, a little embarrassed by my oversight. "What's your name?"

"What?" He stares blankly at me for a few seconds, before he figures out that has yet to introduce himself. "Oh, my. I'm so sorry. " He takes my hand in his and brushes his lips over my fingers. "No wonder you hesitated in coming with me. It's Ryan. Ryan Jackson. "

"Nice to meet you, Ryan." His lips curve and mine move up in answer.

"Likewise, Nate…"

"Nathaniel Pierce. "

He grins and reaches to push the black-rimmed glasses up my nose. "I like it. Somehow, Nathaniel fits you better than Nate."

"I expected yours to be something along the lines of Claude, or…Jacques. "

Ryan's eyes twinkle with amusement as he gently pulls me towards the living room, leading me to the couch.

"Sit."

He disappears for a few moments in the kitchen, returning with an opened bottle of wine, and two glasses.

"Jacques." He laughs lightly, pouring the wine and handing me a glass. "Because of the French, I suppose?"

"Well, yes."

I raise the glass to my lips but my hand is stopped. "For a lovely evening."

I nod, and finally take a sip of the red liquid, enjoying the feel of it sliding down my throat. He does the same, before setting the glass on the small glass table and walking over to a tall bookcase.

"I read a lot in French, I enjoy the language. I even lived in Lyon for a couple of years. I just moved back here. France stopped being an inspiration for my writing at the time."

I walk over to him and glance at the wide variety of authors: Proust, Geraldy, Baudelaire, Balzac, Banville, Dumas, Sartre, Camus and many, many others. Of course, if I understood well and he's a writer, a great number of books is a given.

His finger brushes one of the books as he murmurs "Il n'est rien de réel que le rêve et l'amour." His suddenly somber eyes pin me with their intensity. "What do you dream of, Nathaniel?"

I'm frozen on the spot, the blue swirl of his eyes dizzying me. "I dream of never having regrets." He turns thoughtful as I ask him the inevitable question."What about you?"

"That the quote is wrong; that this is as real as it gets."

His hand cups my cheek softly for a second, before he takes off my glasses and sets them on a shelf. In the next moment we're suddenly kissing. I don't know who initiated it, and frankly I can't summon the strength to care. His lips are relentless, persuasive and soon his tongue slips in, silky and wet, to rub against mine. My arms fly of their own volition to wrap around his neck and a moan slips past my lips, only to be swallowed by his.

He pulls back and leans his forehead against mine, both of us breathing heavily.

"I did intend to feed you."

"I know. " I can feel his breath fanning against my cheek.

"I didn't expect you to sleep with me tonight."

His thumbs are gently caressing my cheekbones. "I know."

"Will you stay?"

My eyes slide shut and my voice drops to a whisper. "Yes."

Ryan steers me to the bedroom and we fall together on the bright red sheets. We start slow, just kissing and enjoying the feel of getting to know each other for the first time. There's no rush, no need to hurriedly fumble through this, as if it's some sordid affair. Maybe because it's Christmas, or maybe simply because it's us, but it feels like more, much more than an easily forgotten one night stand.

The clothes slip away silently, unhurried. The touches are hesitant, full of wonder, like it can only be with a new lover, who has yet to unravel you and know your secrets. Soft gasps, quiet moans, a slow ascent to the ultimate peak of pleasure, then the unimaginable feel of him inside me, the thrill of his body surrounding me and we both slip away together into oblivion.

It's dark. There's only a sliver of light filtering from outside through the wide window. I glance outside.

"It's snowing. "

Ryan's arms tighten around me and his lips brush the top of my head. "Yes."

We fall silent. There's no need to fill it with words, when the silence is so much more expressive than pointless words ever could. We lay there for a while, bodies entangled, his fingers caressing my bare shoulder.

The sound of old, timeless bells rings throughout the neighborhood, marking the beginning of another day, and suddenly, it's the 25th.

"Merry Christmas, Nathaniel."

I smile and push myself on one elbow to look down at him. "How do you say it in French?"

Ryan's lips quirk, while the silky words flow from his tongue. "Joyeux Noël. "

I kiss his lips gently, and murmur against them. "Joyeux Noël, Ryan. "

"I still think you sound like sex when you speak French."

Ryan playfully nuzzles my cheek and pushes my glasses up my nose, before moving his lips to my ear to whisper.

"Il me vit, il m'aima. Je le vis, je l'aimai."

I fake a moan and he rolls his eyes at me.

"So what did you just say?"

Ryan grins and pecks my lips. "He saw me, he loved me; I saw him, I loved him."

I sigh contentedly and touch my lips to his chest, just above the heart. "I love you. Merry Christmas."

Ryan picks me up and carries me to the living room, snuggling us together under the Christmas tree. He picks up a small box and gives it to me, before tightly wrapping his arms around me.

I open the box and can't stop the warm love that spread to me at seeing the pair of small, golden bells, tied with a forest grin silk ribbon.

"You remembered." The words come out whispered from my mouth.

He looks down at me with those blue, bottomless eyes of his, then bends his head slightly to kiss my forehead tenderly, before softly clinking the bells. "Happy anniversary, baby. And Merry Christmas."

"Noël, mon beau rêve blanc" (A line from the French version of the song "White Christmas" )- Christmas, my beautiful, white dream

Le bruit de Noël. – The sound of Christmas.

"Ô femme! Femme! Creature faible et décevante!" (quote by Baumarchais, "Le marriage de Figaro") – Oh, woman! Woman! Weak and deceitful creature!

"Il n'est rien de réel que le rêve et l'amour."(quote by Anna de Noailles, "Le Coeur innombrable, IV, Chanson du temps opportun") – Nothing is real but dreams and love.

Joyeux Noël. – Merry Christmas!

"Il me vit, il m'aima. Je le vis, je l'aimai." (quote by Pierre du Ryer, "Cléomédon") – He saw me, he loved me; I saw him, I loved him.