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28 October 2014 @ 10:13 pm
The Delicate Brothers – ACT 1 (13/17)  
Title: The Delicate Brothers – ACT 1
Author: ladygray99
Rating: NC17
Chapter 13/17
Series: Whitman
Characters/Pairings:Charlie/Colby, Don/OFC, Alan/OFC, Ian/OMC/OFC, Megan/Larry, Tarry Lake, David Sinclair, Matt Li.
Word count: 2,028
Warnings/Spoilers: Threeways, spankings, shaving, sexual discipline, gross descriptions of crime scenes, masturbation, medical stuff related to pregnancy and childbirth, original characters.
Summary: Life progresses, life happens, life perseveres, and life is better with someone by your side. It's the start of the holiday season at the Granger/Eppes household.
Notes: Master Notes for Story. Thank you all so much for the Mouse love.
Beta: None, feel free to point out typos of which there are many I am sure.


Chapter 13

Charlie wondered if it was particularly bad form to put up a Christmas tree on the first night of Hanukkah, but the holiday season was shaping up to be particularly hectic so it was sort of now or never. He and Colby had found a couple of hours to pick out a tree (a far more complicated exercise that Charlie ever realized), and buy extra lights and ornaments since Colby only had enough to cover his usual little table top tree.

He held the tree steady while Colby bolted it into the base. Charlie had to admit the pine did smell nice.

"Okay, let it go," Colby said from the base of the tree.

Charlie carefully let it go and stepped back.

"Is it straight?" Colby asked still half buried in the pine.

"I can get the level out of the garage?" Charlie offered.

"No Charlie, just eyeball it. Does it look like it's leaning over?"

Charlie walked around the tree a couple of times. "Actually, it looks okay."

"Great." Colby shimmied out from under the tree. Charlie reached out and brushed the pine needles from Colby's hair.

"Now what?" Charlie asked.

"Now we string lights."

Stringing lights, like the selection of the tree itself, proved a far more complicated endeavor than Charlie would have suspected. He did some quick rough calculation on the length of a spiral around the outer area of a cone but Colby just shook his head and went about haphazardly putting strings of lights around the tree.

They weren't quite done with the lights when Alan and Kathryn showed up with groceries for dinner.

"Kathryn," Colby called out from behind the tree. "Will you please tell Charlie that advance geometry is not needed to string Christmas lights?"

"Well I'd hardly call it advanced geometry."

"Charlie, why don't you go help your father in the kitchen?" Kathryn said as she took the string of lights from Charlie's hands.

Charlie brushed the pine needles from his clothes and retreated to the kitchen.

"You've run from the tree trimming?" Alan asked as he started to peel apples.

"Yes, well, some things should be left up to the experts I think." Charlie took a large bag of potatoes and dumped them into the kitchen sink. "You know I never knew that just choosing a tree could be such a process. I always thought it was just 'hey there's a nice looking tree, let's get that one,' but no apparently there are criteria that must be met for the optimum tree."

"Why do I sense a whole new branch of mathematics being developed?"

Charlie just chuckled a little and began scrubbing at the potatoes while his father tossed the peeled apples into a pot. "Well as long as it makes Colby happy he can fuss with that tree as much as he wants. In fact I need your turkey recipe."

"You're making a turkey?"

"I am going to make a turkey and string boughs of holly and dress as Santa and throw myself head first down the chimney if that's what it takes to keep Colby happy this year."

"Is everything okay?"

Charlie scrubbed at a potato with a little more force than was strictly necessary. "His gingerbread hasn't shown up yet."

"His gingerbread?"

"Every year his mother sends two big loafs of gingerbread. And she always sends them via the office to make sure they don't get lost. His gingerbread hasn't shown up and it's probably not going to and he's pretending like he hasn't noticed or doesn't care but..."

"Those retched people are still his family."

"And it's killing him. I once asked him if maybe there was a hospital mix up. He showed me a picture of his father at the same age, it's spooky how much they look alike. It looked like one of his photos from Afghanistan except it was jungle fatigues instead of desert fatigues. I guess his brothers take after his mother or something."

Alan took the scrub brush out of Charlie's hand. "Why don't you go help Colby with the tree? I can handle this."

Charlie gave a little nod and went back out to the living room. The lights were apparently strung to a satisfactory point and Colby and Kathryn were hanging ornaments. Charlie surreptitiously slipped his phone from his pocket and took a picture of the scene just catching the smile on Colby's face as he turned around.

"You've been shooed from the kitchen?" Colby asked.

"Maybe. Now show me what's involved in hanging ornaments. I'm sure you just can't put them anywhere."

Colby handed Charlie a box of glittery glass balls. "Heavier ones go on lower branches since they're stronger. Don't hang them too deep into the tree but not so close to the end of a branch that they'll fall off. And try to hang them next to lights so they'll reflect."

"But don't put breakable ones too low." Kathryn added. "You have a small child coming over."

Charlie carefully plucked an ornament out of the box. It looked a little like a blue disco ball. He let dangle off his finger for a moment trying to judge how heavy it was. Unfortunately he didn't quite know what the strength and flexibility of the average pine branch was. He put it on a branch about eye level. The branch drooped and the ornament slid off the end. Charlie caught it. He spotted another branch at about waist level. It looked thicker. He slid the ornament on. The branch bent a little but the ornament stayed in place. Charlie couldn't help but feel a little please with himself. He looked to Colby who looked rather amused.

"What?" Charlie asked.

Colby swooped in and put a peck on his lips. "Nothing. I just love you."

Charlie felt himself blush a little. "Love you too."

Ornaments were still being carefully hung when there was a quick knock at the door. Don let himself in followed by Anne carrying Mattie. Charlie was always a little amazed at just how big Mattie was getting. He still had vivid memories of a tiny baby that fit easily across his trembling hands.

Anne put Mattie down and he instantly toddled towards the tree with its shinning lights and glittering balls of glass. Charlie scooped him up just before he reached the tree but held him close to it so he could reach out and touch the branches. His face got that look of wide eyed wonder as he rubbed his hands across the pine needles.

Don put Mattie's baby bag by the door. "Nice looking tree, Chuck."

"Colby picked it out as I was unfamiliar with the criteria that had to be met for an optimal Christmas tree."

Mattie got a good grip on a branch and put the end in his mouth. He quickly spit it out and made a face. Don laughed. It had been generally decided that unless something was obviously poison, a choking hazard or just really, really gross that they would just let Mattie chew on things, otherwise the entire family would have gone nuts trying to keep things out of his mouth. Alan had even informed them which bugs in the back yard were more or less safe to eat since both Don and Charlie had chewed on more than a few in their days.

Anne lifted Mattie from Charlie's arms. "That's right; pine smells nice but is not tasty."

"Where's dad?" Don asked.

"Kitchen."

"Have you got a star for the top?" Anne asked Colby as he hung the last few ornaments.

"Yep." Colby reached into a little cardboard box and pulled out a triangle of aluminum foil.

"You kept that?" Charlie asked seeing the foil.

"Why wouldn't I?"

"It's kitchen foil."

"So?" Colby began carefully unfolding the foil into a geometric star.

The previous Christmas Colby's cheap little plastic star had come out of storage cracked and crumbled. Charlie had grabbed a roll of foil from Colby's kitchen and put his origami skills to work making a star for the top of Colby's little plastic tree. Charlie didn't know Colby had kept it. He figured Colby would have just thrown it out and gotten a new star for the next year.

Colby breathed a little puff of air into the foil creation before carefully placing it on top of the tree. "There."

Everyone took a step back to look at the twinkling tree. Don gave an approving nod. "Mom would like it."

Charlie cracked up. "Yeah, she would." Charlie put his arm around Colby's waist. "Happy?" Colby smiled and gave a little nod. "Good."

"We should probably go see if your father needs help."

"You're probably right."

Everyone started heading in the general direction of the kitchen but Charlie quickly pulled Don aside.

"What's up, Buddy?"

"So, um, Martin was polishing up the family silver, don't ask, and he found something interesting way in the back of the cupboard."

"What?"

Charlie reached into the cupboard that usually held the good china and pulled out a menorah of heavy silver.

Don's jaw dropped. "Is that grandma's?"

"I think so."

"I thought Aunt Doris got it?"

Charlie put it carefully on the table. It made a heavy clunk. "I guess not. It was just sitting back there behind the really good china that never gets used. At any rate I found some candles that fit, and I don't know if you and Anne have talked about religion or anything, I mean she's kinda got that new age thing going, and I know it's after sunset already but I thought maybe you'd want to..." Charlie gave a little shrug. It was always slightly tricky for him. On the one hand he had never had faith in the existence of any type of greater begin, even as a small child. And as an adult he'd become more and more aware of the destruction heaped upon the world in the name of religion. On the other hand he did feel a little guilty completely disconnecting from his cultural heritage, what little his parents had presented him with.

"Yeah. I'd like that." Don ran his fingers over the freshly polished silver. "Why don't you find a spot for it and we can light it before dinner."

Charlie had already picked out a spot near the front windows. "Okay."

~

Don carefully balanced Mattie on his knee while smoothing out the piece of paper with the relevant prayers written out phonetically. He felt a little guilty about that. He still remembered his French lessons because they had come from a perky, buxom blond only a few years older than himself. His Hebrew lessons on the other hand, what few there were, had come from an old man who smelled a little funny if Don recalled. And that was about the only thing he did recall.

He and Anne had talked about religion a little. Neither of them were exactly devout or conservative. They had decided to basically expose Mattie to what they had and let him decide, or not, what he believed on his own.

Don lit the shamash candle. Mattie reached his hand out for the dancing flame but Don had him held out of reach. His little boy was rather like a magpie these days and would reach for anything shiny. He took a deep breath and very carefully he guided Mattie's still pudgy fingers to the candle and together they lifted it and lit the first candle. Mattie's eyes were wide and he babble rapid sounds as one flame turned into two.

He put the shamash candle back and started to read from the printout Charlie had given him. Don tried his best not to stumble but Mattie put a small hand to his father's lips obviously curious about the words he'd never heard before.

There was a chuckle from behind him. His dad was standing with everyone a bit of laughter in his eyes as Mattie tried desperately to stick his fingers in his father's mouth seeking the source of the new sounds. Don removed Mattie's hand. Found his place on the bit of paper and kept going.


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