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Under the tree at Christmas

Chapter Text

Disclaimer: I don't own any of the CSI NY characters, I'm only borrowing them, and I promise to return them in minty fresh condition when I'm finished.
Original characters are my own invention.

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Mac packed the evidence bags into his CSI kit before locking it securely. He glanced across the corridor to the hospital room where a young child was surrounded by her family. This had been an unexpectedly good resolution to a case. A missing child had been reunited with her family and without any apparent trauma from the experience. Mac and his team had worked round the clock, but as he watched little Kylie Webster get yet another hug from her parents, he knew that it had all been worth it.

Mac had a smile on his face as he started to leave.
“Detective Taylor?” Mac turned around to see an elderly woman approaching him.

“Can I help you?” Mac asked.

“I’m Florence Webster,” the woman said as they came face to face. “Kylie’s grandmother. I just wanted to thank you from the bottom of my heart.” She reached out and took Mac’s in both of her wizened ones and shook it with a strength that belied her age. “You have given my son and daughter in law the greatest gift that they could have asked for this season. Thank you so much.”

“You’re very welcome, Mrs. Webster,” said Mac. He nodded towards the room, “How is Kylie doing?”

“She’s tired and hungry but thank God there doesn’t seem to be anything wrong with her, bar a few scratches and bruises.” Florence smiled, “She seems to think it was all one big adventure, but she’s glad to be home.”

“Well, I’m glad we were able to help.” Mac tried to pull his hand away, but Florence’s grip was firm.

“You’ve given us such a gift; I just wish that there was something that I could give to you.” Florence looked at Mac intently, “Detective Taylor, what would you most like to find under your tree this Christmas?”

“I don’t usually put up a tree,” said Mac, “I find that I spend a lot of my time at the office even during the holiday season. Criminals don’t tend to take any time off.” He found himself transfixed by Florence’s gaze for a few seconds more before she suddenly smiled and let go of his hand.

“Buy a tree this year, Detective Taylor,” said Florence. “I have a friend who runs a Christmas tree lot. Tell him that I sent you and he’ll find you the right tree. And who knows what you’ll find under it on Christmas morning.”

Mac took the address that Florence had pressed upon him but didn’t really intend to follow her suggestion. And then a day or so later he had found himself only a few blocks away from the lot with some time to spare, and on a whim had decided to check it out.
He had thought that with less than a week to go until Christmas Day, that there wouldn’t be that many trees left to choose from, but as soon as Mac had mentioned Florence’s name to the owner, Nick, he’d been led to the back of the lot where there had still been a good selection.

“I always keep a few trees back here,” Nick had told him, “For those who need them the most. Take your time, you’ll know your tree when you see it.”
As far as Mac was concerned, a tree was a tree, but he looked carefully through the selection and less than half an hour later he found himself back on the road, a Christmas tree tied to his roof rack and the scent of pine needles clinging to his coat.

The next day, Mac ended up going directly to a crime scene and hadn’t realized that more than just the pine scent had ended up on his coat until Don greeted him, “Yo Mac, that must be some really expensive pine scented aftershave you’ve started wearing.”

Mac had looked at him in some confusion as Don continued, “It’s such good quality that I can almost see the pine needles.”

Mac glanced at his coat and realized with a little chagrin that there were indeed pine needles clinging to it. “Thanks for the heads-up,” he said, as he brushed them to the ground. “I bought a Christmas tree yesterday,” he added. “It must have been shedding more than I thought when I carried it indoors.”

“You bought a tree?” Don’s face lit up. “You gonna have a decorating party? I’m an expert with a roll of tinsel!”

“I think I can manage it on my own,” said Mac, with a wry smile. “But thanks for the offer.” He shifted his kit to his other hand. “Now, what have we got?”

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By the day before Christmas Eve however, Mac’s tree remained as bare as it had been in the lot.
Work had of course taken precedence over such trivial tasks as tree decorating, and Mac had been working round the clock on a particularly difficult case. It hadn’t ended well, and while Mac had had the satisfaction of knowing that he’d accumulated sufficient evidence to keep the perpetrators in prison for a long time, the fact remained that more than one family would have an empty space at the table this holiday.
Mac finished his reports, signed off on the last of his paperwork and left the office, knowing that the next morning, or even sooner if a case came in, he would be back to repeat the whole cycle again.

Returning home, Mac glanced guiltily at the tree in the corner of his living room but just couldn’t summon up any interest in decorating it.
“I should have left you for somebody who might have appreciated you a bit more,” said Mac, raising a glass of wine to the tree.

The knock on his door a few minutes later, startled Mac somewhat. He was even more surprised when he opened the door to see Don standing there, a box in his hands and a Santa hat on his head.

“Ho ho ho!” said Don, a wide smile on his face. “Jo said you’d told her that you hadn’t had a chance to get decorating yet. And since it’s bad luck to have an undressed tree in the house at Christmas, I rounded up a few bits and pieces that I had left over.”

“Jo told you?” Mac had mentioned it to her in passing but was surprised that she’d passed it on to Don rather than just showing up herself.
“Yeah,” said Don. “She was going to come over as well, but she’s got some last-minute stuff to do with Ellie.” He shook the box and Mac heard a tinkling noise, “So, youze just gonna leave me standing here?”

Mac smiled, “Come on in Don, you know you’re always welcome.” He stood aside to let Don in, noticing the stray flakes of snow on the younger man’s coat. “Has it been snowing long?” asked Mac.

Don shook his head, making the bell on the top of his hat jingle slightly. “Was just starting when I got outta the car,” he said, holding the box in one hand as he shrugged out of his coat.
Mac took the coat from him, brushing away the flakes before hanging it up.

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Don followed Mac into the living room and whistled in admiration when he saw the tree in the corner. “Whoa, that’s a beaut!” he said. “I kinda figured you’d have ended up with the runt of the litter you were so late getting one, but that’s real nice. Tall but skinny enough so you don’t got any wasted space in the middle.” He nodded approvingly, and then glanced at the box. “Just hope I have enough here to do it justice.”

“We can always go for the minimalist look,” said Mac.

“Where’s the fun in that?” grinned Don. He put the box down on Mac’s coffee table and removed the lid. “So, where do youze want to start? I got lights, baubles, tinsel…the works.”

“We’ll start with the lights,” said Mac. “Unwind them first and we’ll see if they work before putting them on the tree.”

“Yes Sir!” said Don, snapping off a mock salute. He rummaged through the box until he felt the string of lights, pulling a face as he lifted them from the box, bringing a string of tinsel and a few baubles with them. “How the hell did they get this tangled?” He shook his head in disbelief, the bell on his hat tinkling in accompaniment.

“There is a scientific explanation for it,” said Mac, “But the usual cause is bad packing.”

Don stuck his tongue out at Mac, who smiled in response.

The lights were eventually disentangled from the other contents of the box, tested, and then wound around the tree.
“Now that looks better already,” said Don, standing back and nodding approvingly. “Okay, ornaments next.” He held out the box to Mac, who picked a few at random, arranging them to his satisfaction before letting Don place the next few.

They worked their way through the box, until Mac reached in without looking and instead of shiny colored bauble, found a small plastic piece of mistletoe in his hand. He looked at it in amusement, “I’m sure you’ll be needing that more than I will,” he said with a smile.

To Mac’s surprise, Don didn’t return the smile and there was a troubled look on his face as he replied, “I don’t how that got there, Mac. I haven’t put any up since…” He swallowed hard, forcing a smile on his face, “It’s probably been stuck at the bottom of the box for years. I guess I should have tidied it up before now.” He took another drink from the glass of wine that Mac had poured him and shifted uneasily on his feet.

“I think we’re nearly finished anyway,” said Mac, “A few strings of tinsel should do the trick…once we’ve untangled it all!”

Untangling the tinsel gave Don a chance to collect himself and his normal good humor had been restored by the time he and Mac finished winding it around the tree.
“Just one more thing,” said Don, as he reached into the box, pushing aside the remaining few decorations, carefully ignoring the mistletoe until he found the star shaped tree topper and pulled it out. “You want to do the honors? It is your tree. And I can always lift you up if you can’t reach.”

Mac shot him a mock withering glance and took the topper from Don’s outstretched hand. He turned it around in his hands and noticed some needles sticking to it. Mac shook the needles into his hand and frowned as he took a closer look at them. “These are fresh needles,” he said, a note of surprise in his voice. “Don, did you take this off your own tree?” The look on Don’s face was answer enough. Mac felt a wave of annoyance come over him, “What, do I look like a charity case to you?”

“No,” said Don, quietly, “You look like a friend who needed a helping hand. That’s what friends do for each other.”

Mac sighed, the anger fading as quickly as it had arrived, “I’m sorry Don, it’s just, it’s been a long week…that case…”

“It’s always a long week, there’s always a case,” said Don. “But I figured that for at least one night, maybe I could help youze focus on something else for a while. Even if it meant stripping my tree a bit.”

“What happened to undressed trees being bad luck?”

“Didn’t figure you for the superstitious type!” Don smiled at Mac and was relieved to see the smile returned. He hadn’t been working that case with Mac, but he’d known enough about it to know that Mac had taken the outcome hard. And when Jo had mentioned Mac’s lack of decorating, Don had suggested that they help the guy out with an impromptu decorating party. Jo had reluctantly pleaded a prior arrangement with Ellie, so Don had ransacked his tree to provide the necessary excuse. “Come on, let’s finish this.”

The star did add the final touch and Mac admitted to himself that decorating the tree had taken his mind off work, but the mood had been broken somewhat and he wasn’t entirely surprised when Don checked his watch a little while later and said that he should be going.

“Of course,” said Mac, “I’ll get your coat.” He glanced out the window and stopped in his tracks. The light scattering of snow that had left traces on Don’s coat, had increased in intensity and the drifts were already piling high on the decking. Mac moved closer to the window and looked out. “I’m not sure you should be going anywhere,” he said to Don, who pulled a face when he saw the amount of snow.
Mac quickly checked the forecast on his laptop, “It looks like it’s not going to ease off for a few hours at least.” He looked up at Don, “I can make up a bed for you on the couch. By morning, the streets should be starting to be cleared and it’ll be a lot safer driving in daylight.”

Don bit his lip as he considered his options, then he shrugged, knowing that he didn’t exactly have any plans for the rest of the night anyway, “If you’re sure you don’t mind a house guest.”

“You’re always welcome.”

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A few hours later, Mac was wakened by a crashing sound. Instantly alert, he hit the lights and slid out of the bed, pausing for a second to listen for any further noises, before making his way towards the door.

There were no signs of intrusion, the front door was still secured, but Mac could hear muffled noises of what sounded like a struggle coming from the living room. “Don!” he thought, throwing caution to the wind as he flung open the door and hit the light switch.

To Mac’s relief, the only occupant of the room was the person who he had expected to see there. To his surprise, Don was flat on his back, barely visible beneath the now horizontal Christmas tree.

“Don!” Mac rushed forward and crouched down beside a somewhat dazed looking Don. “What happened? Are you hurt?”

“I’m okay,” Don grimaced, “Little help please?”

Mac stood up. “What happened?” he asked again as he got a grip on the tree and started lifting it.

“Went to take a leak,” said Don, rubbing a hand over his eyes. “Took a wrong turn in the dark on the way back, next thing I know, the tree jumped me…ow! Watch it with those branches!”

Mac had started shaking with laughter and nearly dropped the tree back on top of Don, but he managed to control himself and pull it upright, settling it back securely in its stand. He reached out a hand to Don, and seconds later, he too was upright.

“The tree jumped you?” asked Mac, a twinkle in his eye. “Should I arrest it for assault on a police officer?”

“Oh yeah, very funny,” said Don. He brushed his hair impatiently, sending pine needles flying.

“Wait, you’ve got something caught in it.” Mac frowned as he reached forward and tried to dislodge a larger piece of debris from Don’s hair. “What the hell?” He pulled back his hand. “How on earth did the mistletoe get in there?”

“What?” Don reached up and felt the shapes under his fingers. He pulled at the plastic and yelped slightly as it pulled on his scalp.

“Let me,” said Mac, “I can see what I’m doing.” Mac reached up with both hands and tried to disentangle the sprig from Don’s hair. “It would be easier if you weren’t overdue a haircut!”

“Yes ‘Mom’!” said Don, grinning. The grin faded slightly as Mac pulled on the mistletoe.

The mistletoe was stuck as firmly as if it had been glued in, thought Mac as he tried to tease it out. “This might hurt,” he warned Don as he took a firmer grip. He tugged sharply at the mistletoe, but all he managed to do was pull Don off balance and making him stumble forward. He would have fallen if Mac hadn’t caught him, at least that was how Mac had justified it to himself, even as his arms encircled the younger man.

Don had instinctively grabbed at Mac to stop himself falling and now he found himself staring into Mac’s eyes. They held each other’s gaze for a few seconds before Don said, in a carefully neutral voice, “Well…seems like a shame to waste it…” He shook his head and made the berries dance.

Mac made no argument, instead he leaned forward and brushed his lips against Don’s, almost hesitantly at first, and then with more confidence as Don reciprocated, his tongue pushing against Mac’s lips seeking access. Access that was willingly granted.
It could have been seconds or even minutes later, when Mac felt Don’s hands moving around his body, one snaked up to caress the back of his head, the other moved downwards, cupping his ass. Mac came to his senses and let go of Don, pulling slightly away from him. “You can’t stay here…”

Don’s face fell and he let go of Mac, “Dammit, sorry Mac, I didn’t mean to go too far. Maybe I just had too much of the Christmas spirit.” He backed away, “The storm sounds like it’s eased up. I can probably get a cab…”

“Shhh,” said Mac, reaching out to lightly caress Don’s cheek. “I didn’t mean that.” He took a deep breath before continuing, “There’s a time and place for everything. This may be the right time…but we’ll be much more comfortable in a mattress than the floor…” He stepped back and held out his hand in as clear an invitation as any Don had ever received, “Besides, I don’t fancy getting pine needles in any intimate places!”

Don’s resulting laughter was like bells to Mac’s ears as he took Mac’s hand and let himself be led away from the tree.

Somewhere along the way, the sprig of mistletoe fell away, but it had already done its job.

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The next day, Don smiled as Jo approached the crime scene. He was a little disappointed that it wasn’t Mac’s call, but he consoled himself with the thought that he would be seeing Mac again later that day and – in the absence of any other commitments – they would be spending Christmas day together in the shadow of Mac’s tree and Don’s decorations.

“Morning Jo,” said Don, raising the crime scene tape to let her through.

“Thanks Don,” said Jo as she ducked under the tape. “You seem in a very good mood today.” She sniffed the air, “And is that a new aftershave? I love that pine scent.”

“Let’s just say it was an early Christmas present,” said Don.

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Meanwhile, Mac was driving to another crime scene, his thoughts split between the case and his Christmas plans with Don. A wry smile appeared on his face as thought that while technically it had been Christmas Eve rather than Christmas Day, Don Flack had indeed been a most wonderful gift to find under his tree.
The thought amused him so much that Mac didn’t even realize that he was driving past the lot where he’d found the tree in the first place.

But it was no wonder he didn’t recognize it as it looked as it if had been closed for years.

 

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The end

Chapter Text

Disclaimer: I don't own any of the CSI NY characters, I'm only borrowing them, and I promise to return them in minty fresh condition when I'm finished.

 

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“It’s bad luck to have an undressed tree in the house at Christmas,” Don Flack – Under the tree at Christmas.

Those words had been part of the first spark that changed their relationship. Whether it was true or not, Mac Taylor wasn’t about to take any chances, and every year since then, big or small, their trees, at first individual, and then the ones they shared, were always well decorated by the big day.

If it had been up to Don, there wouldn’t have been any actual tree visible once the decorations were on. While Mac was of the ‘less is more’ mentality when it came to decorating the tree, Don too the ‘shove as much on the tree as possible’ approach.
“I remember one year as a kid,” said Don, as he picked out a shiny gold bell shape from the box. “I felt so bad for the ornaments left in the box that didn’t get to on the tree. I thought it wasn’t fair that they were missing out on the Christmas fun. Got so worked up about it that Mom had to send Dad out to get a second tree just to hold them. After that, I think she wised up. Next year she brought down a much smaller box of decorations and said that the rest had ‘gone to live on a Christmas tree farm upstate’.” There was a wistful smile on Don’s face at the memory.

Mac laughed at the image of a tousle headed Don arguing the case with his parents, but he was more than happy to indulge Don’s taste in tree decorating, and so many other things besides. After all, thought Mac as he picked out a shiny red bell and hung it beside the gold one, when it came to loving Don, more was most definitely more.

The didn’t always get to spend the entire day together of course. While they did their best to co-ordinate their holiday schedules so that they were either both working or both off, sometimes it seemed that the criminals in the city went out of their way to ensure that Mac Taylor and Don Flack didn’t get a proper Christmas Day together.

But they always managed to mark the occasion somehow, catching a few hours on the day itself to share a meal and exchange gifts. One year it had been almost ten at night when they’d eaten a frozen meal zapped in the microwave. But Don had worn his Santa hat, Mac had plucked out a few carols on his guitar and if the turkey had been a little dry, at least they’d been able to eat it together.

This year however had seen that rare beast, with neither Don nor Mac scheduled to work. True, Don had been working late on Christmas Eve, and Mac had been rostered on call for Christmas night, but they would have had at least most of the day together for certain.
And then Jo had told Mac a few days earlier that she was swapping shifts with him. “This is the first Christmas that you and Dan have both had off since you guys moved in together. Think of it as my Christmas present to you both.”
“But what about Ellie?” Mac had been touched by Jo’s gesture, but he didn’t want to take Jo away from her family time, and he knew Don would feel the same way.
“Oh, Ellie is getting to the age where spending all day with your family isn’t considered ‘cool’ anymore,” said Jo, with a rueful smile. “If I do get called in, she’ll be more than happy to chat to her friends half the night and order take out!”
Mac had made a token protest, and knew that he could have overruled her, but in truth, the prospect of knowing that he’d have the entire day with Don was not something he wanted to lose unless absolutely necessary. Of course, he thought afterwards, there was always the prospect of some major disaster taking place that would require both he and Don to be called in, but that was something he couldn’t plan for. The rest of the day however, well, Mac had various plans in mind.

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Christmas morning dawned and Mac allowed himself the luxury of a little lie-in before getting up to set his plans in motion. He’d planned with all the precision of a military maneuver, including built in contingencies should weather or any external forces disrupt them.

Don shifted sleepily in the bed as he felt Mac leave it. “Hey,” he mumbled, “Time to get up already?”

“Not yet,” said Mac, he leaned over the bed and kissed Don on the forehead, “Go back to sleep for a bit. I’m going to make you breakfast in bed.” He tucked the bedclothes carefully back around Don.

“Nice,” murmured Don.

Mac tied his robe around him and headed for the kitchen. “French toast with pancakes on the side.” A leisurely breakfast was something they rarely had time for, and Mac was looking forward to indulging Don’s sweet tooth.
Afterwards, weather permitting there would be a stroll in the park. It had snowed the day before and if there was enough left on the ground, Mac was more than willing to let Don persuade him to build a snowman. Then back home to cook the Christmas dinner for a mid-afternoon meal followed by the exchange of presents. Mac had a very special present for Don under the tree, and the rest of the day’s schedule would be contingent on whether Don accepted it or not. Mac put the thought firmly from his head as he focused on the current task at hand.

The breakfast tray was laden with pancakes and toast and coffee when Mac pushed open the door to the bedroom a little while later. “Merry Christmas, Don,” he started to say, only to stop dead as he beheld the sight in front of him.

A considerably more alert looking Don Flack lay sprawled against the headboard of the bed, as naked as the day he was born, well, except for the strategically placed Santa hat covering his modesty. “Hey Mac,” he said, a wide grin on his face. “Merry Christmas!”

Mac carefully put the tray down on the dresser, but he had a sneaking suspicion that the breakfast might have to be remade, and that his carefully thought-out plans had failed to take this contingency into account. “I’m trying to remember,” he said, moving over to the bed, “If an undressed Flack in the house at Christmas good or bad luck?”

“Depends on what you want to do with it,” said Don. He wriggled his hips making the bell on the end of the hat jingle slightly.

“Well for starters, you can lose the hat,” said Mac, a mock grimace on his face.
Their first Christmas together, Don had worn the hat, just the hat, in bed on Christmas night. Mac had initially been amused by it, watching it bob up and down as Don writhed beneath his tender ministrations but after a while, the constant jingling had proved to be a little bit distracting, and Mac had taken one hand from its exploration of Don’s body and ripped the hat from his head, chucking it in the corner. “Now, where was I?” he’d asked rhetorically, only to be faced with Don in convulsions of laughter.
It had taken a few seconds for Don to stop laughing long enough to tell Mac, “You got something against Santa hats? That’s gonna get youze on the naughty list for sure!”
“Time and place, Don,” Mac had reminded him, and then he’d bent his head and a few seconds later all thoughts of lists and hats had been banished from Don’s mind.

“Well for starters, you can lose the hat,” said Mac, a mock grimace on his face.
“Maybe there’s a surprise just waiting under there for you,” said Don, his eyes alight with mischief.

“I think I know exactly what’s waiting for me under there,” said Mac, dropping his robe and climbing onto the bed beside Don. He flicked the hat gently, making the bell ring. “Besides, I thought we’d agree to not open any gifts until after the dinner.” Mac didn’t really mind one way or the other, knowing that the only important thing in all of his plans was that Don was there to share them.

“Yeah,” said Don, “But I really wanted to give this to you now.”
“Hmm,” Mac caressed the hat gently, “Even if it means foregoing breakfast for the time being?” It was a dirty trick, Mac knew, making Don choose between his partner and his food, and indeed there were some times, he thought with amusement, when he wasn’t altogether sure which would win out. But by the look on Don’s face, Mac was pretty sure he was going to be the winner…this time. He took a grip on the bell and pulled the hat away and was somewhat surprised to see a bright red ribbon wrapped around Don’s cock and tied in a bow.
“Haven’t I unwrapped this before?”

“It’s the gift that keeps on giving.”

If Mac hadn’t been so focused on the ribbon and what lay beneath it, he might have suspected something from the odd note in Don’s voice, but instead he just reached out and pulled on the bow, untying it, and releasing the delight beneath. A quick flick of the wrist and the ribbon was in Mac’s hand. He was about to toss it to one side, when he realized that there was fine gold writing on it. “I love you, Mac Taylor, will you…” Mac looked at Don in shock, “Marry me?”

Don bit his lip, as he waited for Mac’s reaction. “I know it’s a big step up from us just living together like we’ve been doing,” he said, hesitantly. “And if you wanted things to stay how they are, that’s cool. But we’re good together, you and me. We’ve weathered so much together, even before we were together, together, and I can’t imagine the rest of my life without seeing you right there beside me. And I want everybody else to see that too.” He laughed nervously, “I had this whole speech thought up. Maybe I should have gotten it printed on the ribbon, but then it might have been too long and I…”

Mac silenced him with a finger on his lips. “Yes,” he said, softly. “Yes, I will marry you.” He watched Don’s face light up.
The breakfast did indeed grow cold as they consummated their engagement, but it only meant that they worked up an appetite, and Mac had to concede that eating at the table was considerably more practical than in the bed.
Their walk in the snow had to be curtailed when it started snowing again, and when they got back to the apartment, Mac had to fight down the urge to take Don to the bedroom rather than the kitchen to prepare the meal. He’d had to content himself with kissing those oh so perfect lips of Don’s and caressing the rosy cheeks and promising himself that he could unwrap the rest of his fiancé later on.

The meal took longer to prepare than expected and by late afternoon, pretty much then only thing that had gone exactly according to Mac’s schedule had been the opening of the presents under the tree. But as he watched Don sitting on the floor and ripping open paper with as much excitement as a child, Mac really didn’t care about the schedule, or indeed anything other than the look on Don’s face.
“There’s one more present,” said Mac, who had deliberately kept this one until last. He handed Don a plain white envelope with his name on it.

Don looked at him quizzically, “Not very festive wrapping,” he said, holding the envelope up and shaking it. “Well, it’s flat, so it’s not a set of keys to a Ferrari.” He grinned at Mac.

“Better than that,” said Mac, who had enjoyed watching Don try to guess with varying degrees of success, the contents of each gift before he’d opened them.

“Feels like paper…you put a few C notes in there for me?”

“Better.”

Don gave up and opened the envelope, pulling out a sheaf of paperwork, scanning it quickly before looking at Mac in confusion, “Department designation of next of kin? Deeds of transfer…medical power of attorney, Mac, what the hell? Are you sick or something?” He dropped the papers on the floor.

“What? No, no,” Mac dropped to his knees in front of Don and took his hands in his. “There’s nothing wrong with me. I just wanted.” He took a deep breath, “Don, I love you. You are the most important person in my life and I wanted to make sure that everybody else knew that as well. Not just our friends and family, but I wanted it on record with the Department, the city…ev. I was going to get you to sign the papers and I’d have them filed after the holidays.” He laughed, “And then you went and stole my thunder with your proposal, which will cover most of this in one go.” Mac could feel the tension drain from Don’s hands as a smile appeared on his face.

“I guess it’s a case of great minds thinking alike,” said Don, visibly relaxing.

“Different methods, same result,” said Mac, “But then we’ve always complemented each other like that, haven’t we.” He pulled Don closer and kissed him on the lips.

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Later, when all the wrapping paper had been tidied up, the dishes washed, and the legal papers stowed safely away, Mac lay in Don’s arms in their bed and sighed contentedly.

“Not quite the day you’d planned, hmm?” said Don, softly.

“Not exactly,” said Mac, “But I did plan to be here, and to be with you. And in the end, that’s really all that mattered.”

The end