So This Is Christmas (cont)

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Wufei pulled his car into the garage and got out, sighing in relief -- then blinked in surprise.

There was a very dejected-looking Duo huddled in front of the door to the house, shivering. He looked up and managed a sheepish grin.

"Hey, 'Fei."

"...Hello, Duo. Forgot your keys again?"

"Yeah."

Wufei pulled him gently to his feet and picked up the grocery bag he'd been sitting next to. "Why didn't you pick the lock?"

"Forgot the lockpicks too," Duo admitted. "If you hadn't come home in another ten minutes, I was gonna break a window. I hafta put the turkey on." He almost whimpered in relief as Wufei opened the door and warm air rolled out over them both.

"What's this?" Wufei asked, peering curiously into the shopping bag as he carried it into the kitchen.

"Chestnuts," Duo answered. "All the time we were shopping, you know how I kept saying we were forgetting something? Chestnuts. You've got to have roast chestnuts at Christmastime!"

"So when you remembered, you went blasting out of the house without your keys?"

"Um... yeah."

Wufei smiled, pulling Duo into a warm hug. "I missed you."

"I missed you too, 'Fei. Hope you made those jerks crawl home. If I'd been there, I'd've given them a piece of my mind!"

Wufei started to laugh.

"'Fei? What's so funny?"

"I think -- haha -- oh, god! I think I did it for you..."

----------

Much later...

Duo snuggled drowsily up to Wufei, running slow fingers over his chest. "Mmm... told you I knew a better way to warm up than a hot shower."

Wufei chuckled, stroking Duo's back. "True."

There was a pause.

"Much as I hate to say it, we should get up."

"Nnn... plenty of time yet."

"I'm not so sure. What time is it?" Wufei stretched over to the bedside table and retrieved his watch.

There was another pause. This one, however, had more than a trace of 'Oh God, What My Eyes Are Telling Me Just Cannot Be True, Please Hold While I Restart My Brain' in it.

"Duo." Wufei's voice was unnaturally calm.

"Mmmh?"

"IT'S SIX-THIRTY!"

"Oh SHIT!"

Blankets exploded in all directions as they erupted out of bed.

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6.55pm:

The doorbell rang.

"I got it!" Thundering footsteps came down the stairs.

"DUO! ARE YOU WEARING CLOTHES THIS TIME?!"

"Yes, Mama!"

Outside, both Lady Une and Sally blushed. They blushed even more when the door was yanked open to reveal Duo... with his hair loose, shirt open and untucked. Both sets of eyes did a quick flick-flick down and up again, focussing determinedly on Duo's face.

"Heyyy, Une! Sally! Glad you could make it," Duo cheered. "C'mon in! We've got eggnog and punch and all sorts of stuff!"

Another car pulled into the driveway.

"Cool! Heero and Relena are here too! Hey, Your Majesty," he called out, "glad to see you got rid of the pink limo. I always wanted to step on it with Deathscythe, accidentally-on-purpose."

Relena blushed bright red as she saw him, but managed a response. "Oh? With or without me in it?"

"Hmmm..." he mused, tapping his chin. "Now there's a question... ack! Heero! No! Just kidding! KIDDING!"

Relena giggled as Heero chased Duo into the house, fanning herself with her handbag.

----------

Over the next half hour or so, all the guests arrived; the house was bustling as Duo and Wufei showed everyone to the various guest rooms. (Several bits of mistletoe were tried out on the way there.) As it was the first time most of them had seen the house, they were also kept busy showing people around and answering questions... like, "Why have a fireplace if you've got central heating?"

Duo gave Catherine a 'duh' look for that one. "For snuggling in front of, of course!"

"Ah. Silly me."

Wufei walked past where Une and Relena were eyeing the drinks suspiciously. "I made the eggnog in the red jug," he said quietly, "so it should be safe..."

They reached for glasses.

"...if Duo hasn't got to it yet."

They put the glasses back down.

----------

The turkey was perfect.

In fact, everything was perfect. Relena complained after her third slice of fruitcake that she was surely going to gain weight, but Duo told her "one day of indulgence out of 365 won't hurt" and passed her another slice. Despite the fact that she had switched to soft drink before the meal began, a faint alcohol flush was beginning to spread across her cheekbones; you couldn't tell, though, because every time she looked at Duo or Wufei she blushed. Wufei had already brought her a glass of ice water and turned the central heating down because he thought she looked overheated.

After dinner, everyone was about to adjourn to the lounge room when Duo spoke up.

"Everybody... since we're doing all the stuff that's usually done on Christmas Day today, so that certain hard-working people--" he mock-glared at Une and Sally, then Heero and Relena "--don't have to worry about being called back to work for an emergency and missing all the good bits, there's something I want to set up. Could you all wait in here for a minute?"

Everyone agreed, and Duo thundered upstairs.

"Any idea what that's about?" Heero muttered to Wufei.

"No idea. When I came home this afternoon, one of the cupboards in our room had a sign on it saying 'Keep Out -- Secret Christmas Business -- Duo's Stuff'. It wasn't there before; it might have something to do with this."

"Sounds likely," Zechs agreed.

Footsteps thundered downstairs again, past the dining room door and into the lounge. There was a short pause, and Duo ran off for another trip.

A few minutes later, Duo stuck his head in the door. "Okay! You can come in now!"

They filed into the lounge room.

Relena gasped in delight. The main room lights were dimmed, but Duo had turned on the lights on the tree, and multicoloured fairy lights twinkled from all around the edge of the ceiling and across the mantelpiece. The fire was burning brightly, and twelve huge Christmas stockings were hanging from the firescreen in front of it.

"I wanted to hang them from the mantel," Duo said, holding something behind his back, "but I figured it was a bad idea if they caught fire, so... Okay! Everyone sit down and I'll get them for you!" And he whipped the Santa hat out and pulled it on. "Santa Duo is on the job!"

As everyone found seats on various bits of furniture, Wufei caught Duo's wrist as he bounced past. Pulling him close, he smiled up into his eyes and whispered "Thank you," then tugged his head down for a kiss.

Sitting primly in an overstuffed armchair, with Heero perched on the arm, Relena smiled wickedly and piped up in song.

"I saw Wufei kissing Santa Claus, underneath the mistletoe last night..."

One by one, Sally, Noin, Une and Catherine joined in. "They didn't see me creep, down the stairs to take a peek..."

"Relena! Women! Stop it!"

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Snow gently fluttered down onto the frozen lake. In the forests around it, wild creatures turned their heads towards the elegant house as cheerful sounds drifted across the landscape.

"All right ladies, all together now!"

"Noin! Sally! --QUATRE?!"

"And after this verse, ladies and gentlemen, I have a video disk to play for you; Chang Wufei plays Duo Maxwell in 'Snowbound'!"

"NOIN! GIVE ME THAT DISK!"

* * * * *

And so this is Christmas
And what have we done
Another year over
A new one just begun
And so Happy Christmas
We hope you have fun
The near and the dear one
The old and the young

A very Merry Christmas
And a Happy New Year
Let's hope it's a good one
Without any fear
War is over, if you want it
War is over now

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