Genre: Slash, but this is G rated
Word Count: 1690
Prompt:It's Christmas Eve and Illya's back has gone out. Disappointed that he is missing Taste's Christmas party, he instead plays host to the Man in the Red Suit.
Grey, Merry Christmas. I hope you enjoy your trip to the Foothills
“Okay, just a few more feet.” Napoleon kicked the hall carpet out of the way and helped Illya walk slowly through the living room to the recliner. Carefully, he eased Illya down, but even that brought a hiss of pain in response. “Sorry.”
“Not your fault,” Illya said through gritted teeth as he put reclined it He managed to get one leg up, but he was sweating with the effort.
“I told you to take the pain killer before you left the doctor’s office.” Napoleon lifted the other leg and reached for a blanket.
“And have you try to carry me in? No, thanks. I still have some dignity left. Not much, but some. Besides, if you’d thrown your back out, we’d be in real trouble.” Illya let his head plop back on the pillow and clamped his eyes at the blast of pain. Involuntary tears trickled out the corners of his eyes.
Napoleon said nothing, but pulled out a bottle of anti-inflammatory pills and shook out one into the palm of his hand. “Take this.” He handed it to Illya and then grabbed one of the ever-present bottles of water. While Illya swallowed that one, Napoleon repeated the process with the pain killer. “And this one.”
“Don’t even start with me, Kuryakin.” Napoleon snapped. He felt badly to have to be so firm, but he also knew just how deep that stubborn streak ran. He handed Illya the pill and watched him swallow it. Then he pulled up the blanket and covered Illya to the waist. “Now, you just rest. Do you want me to turn on the tree for you? Do you need something to read?”
“No, but if you want to, you can. You don’t need to stay here, Napoleon. I know that Vinea’s busy now.”
“That why I hired extra staff, so that I would have some flexibility. I didn’t think it would be having to take care of you, but there’s nothing I’d rather do and no place I’d rather be.” Napoleon plugged the lights in and stood back. “I think it turned out very nicely this year.”
“Seriously, Napoleon. I’m going to be asleep in twenty minutes.” Illya stared at the tree and sighed. “You did a good job this year decorating it.”
“We did… aside from the usual distractions.” Napoleon kissed Illya’s brow. “Now is there anything you need?”
“No, I’m fine.” The end table was loaded with books and trade magazines. There was water, medication and the remote control for the TV, all within easy reach. “I’ve just got a pulled muscle, I didn’t have major surgery. I hurt, but it’s not life threatening. Go to Vinea. Your staff will be delighted to see you.”
“Well, if you are sure you are okay, I’ll just go and check on things.” He pulled his jacket closed and then spun to shake a finger at Illya. “Rest and I’ll be back in ten minutes.!”
“I’m resting.” Illya eased the recliner back and stared up at the ceiling. “After all, what else would I be doing the day before Christmas?” He ran down a laundry list of things in his head. While the doors to Taste were closed to the public from now until New Year’s Eve, Illya knew the restaurant was far from quiet. The kitchen would be buzzing with activity. Matt and Winston would have an ongoing battle about how much brandy to use for the Christmas pudding and keeping the rest of the kitchen staff busy preparing the tradition feast for Taste’s and Vinea’s staff. Rocky would be supervising the clearing of the tables and chairs, and the tree, once tucked in the corner, would be carefully moved out. Presents would be staged, ready to put under the tree at the proper minute. The twins, Celeste and Stella, would be busy making egg nog and Tom and Jerry mix. Someone, probably Roxanne, would be hunting down fresh greens and flowers while Napoleon’s staff would be carefully setting aside the wine that would soon be arriving to Taste’s bar.
And here he sat. A blanket over his legs as if he was an infirmed old man. Illya looked at the tree and made a face. “Thanks loads, Santa.”
The voice made Illya craned his head over his shoulder. A man dressed in a bright red and white fur trimmed suit stood there.
“Okay, I think it’s fair to say that the drugs have kicked in. You’re not real.”
“If that is the story you prefer to tell yourself, then I am not real.” Santa moved to the hearth where their stockings hung. It was an old joke and Illya knew that Napoleon crept down in the middle of the night to fill them. Santa reached into his bag and pulled out some small packages.
Buerre Noir jumped down from the couch and began to do figure eights about Santa’s feet. He bent down and lift the little cat, who purred and chirped. “Why, yes, I think you have been a very good cat this year, but I think the stories you tell me about Moutard are a bit exaggerated.”
He reached into his pocket and set a handful of treats down on the floor. Instantly, she was joined by a big yellow tom. “I have some for you, too.”
“Not too many. I don’t want them to get fat,” Illya muttered.
“Ah, surely, Mr. Kuryakin, you know there are no calories in Santa’s treats.” Santa returned to his task and didn’t stop until the stockings were bulging. “So what do you want for Christmas?”
“A good back,” Illya muttered, crossing his arms.
“Nothing except for Napoleon’s happiness and a long life.”
“Oh, I dare say the two of you have many happy years ahead.”
“Then I’m content.”
Santa laughed, his tummy shaking slightly. “You are an easy man to please, Mr. Kuryakin.”
“I can think of a dozen people who would disagree with you.”
“Why are you not happy, Mr. Kuryakin?”
“I am,” Illya admitted with a smirk. “Except for my damn back.” Illya smiled, a tiny little thing. “Sorry.”
This time Santa’s laugh was a full bodied one. “Oh, dear, oh dear, you haven’t heard me when Blizten steps on my toes or I get stuck in a chimney. I could teach you words, young man.”
Now Illya joined him. “I never thought of it in that way. I just wish…”
“That you could be part of the fun and mayhem.” Santa moved on to putting packages around the tree. “If it makes you feel better, they miss you as well.”
“Sure they do.” Illya snorted and crossed his arms. “When the cat’s away…” Moutard jumped up into Illya’s lap and settled down, purring loudly.
“The mice don’t know what to do with themselves.” Santa finished his task and turned back to Illya. “The truth of the matter is that they are very devoted to you.”
“I know.” Illya stroked Moutard’s head. “And I to them.”
“Then perhaps that is the key to your happiness. Remembering that they will do anything for you.” Santa held out a brightly colored candy cane to Illya. It was tied with a delicate bow that instantly drew Moutard’s attention. “No playing with the ribbon, my friend. You will have your gift soon enough. Here. This is for you, Mr. Kuryakin. It will make you feel better.”
“Is it a magic healing candy cane?” Illya was hopeful.
“If only that was a gift I could give.” Now Santa looked sad. “So much pain and misery I could relieve. No, just the usual peppermint variety, but I find that when I’m feeling down and lonely, it brightens my spirits.” He popped a bit of a broken one into his mouth. “Try it.”
“Maybe later.” Illya set it aside and sighed. “I think I need more than a candy cane for that.”
“It is your choice, Mr. Kuryakin.” Santa hoisted his sack onto his back. “And now I must be off. There are many people to see and houses to visit.” He walked to the fireplace and waved his hand. The flames died out and he stuffed his sack inside. “Just remember, Mr. Kuryakin, to believe. Mr. Kuryakin? Illya? Illya.”
Illya opened his eyes and looked into Napoleon’s face. “Hi.” He smiled and blinked his eyes sleepily.
“Hi. Hey, I brought over a few people who wanted to see you.”
Illya glanced past Napoleon’s shoulder and gasped. The living was transformed into a Christmas wonderland of people. Everyone from Taste and Vinea had crowded into the small living and dining room. Furniture had been pushed back or even remove. Presents fought for a space under the tree and tumbled onto the floor.
“Cara, we brought the party to you.” Matt bent to hug him as several of Taste’s employees echoed the sentiment. “It wasn’t the same without you, so we thought we could celebrate here as well as the restaurant… plus there are no tables and chairs to put back.”
“How did you do all of this?” Illya sat up to survey the rest of the room. The smells coming from the kitchen made his stomach grumble. “And when?”
“All afternoon. We thought we woke you up a couple of times.” Napoleon wrapped his arms around the twins’ shoulders. “Thankfully, because of modern medicine, you slept on. Now it’s time to celebrate.” Napoleon looked down and his brow crinkled. “I only have one question, though.”
Illya smiled again, his mind a whirling mass. “Only one? I have about a hundred, but ask yours first.”
“Where did this candy cane come from?” Napoleon held up brightly colored candy cane, tied with a delicate bow.
Illya grinned and shifted slightly in his chair. Moutard yawned, stretched and looked back at Illya. He could have sworn that the yellow tabby winked at him. “Santa gave it to me.”
At that Napoleon laughed and hugged Illya and the night drew in until it was only big enough to encompass a very full, very content living room and miles away, Santa was very happy, indeed,