Christmas Countdown: December 1
Detective Mac Taylor trudged through the snow-filled parking lot. It was Christmas night and he was finally heading home. He’d insisted on taking the Christmas shift for years, ever since being put in charge of his team. Their particular job didn’t stop just because it was a holiday, but Mac was determined that his people wouldn’t suffer for it. As much as possible, he took that burden himself.
Claire had understood Mac’s dedication to his job and never resented sharing his attention during Christmas. After she’d died, Mac had thrown himself into his work, using it as a balm for his grief, especially during the holidays. Danny Messer had changed all of that, as he’d altered so much in Mac’s life, all of it for the better. No more was Mac allowed to wallow in sorrow and despair. Of course, Danny had a tendency to brood himself, with good cause, but it didn’t stop the younger man from protesting when Mac did it.
Even with a new love in his life, Mac had worked Christmas. He still had a responsibility to his people and, besides, it gave Danny a chance to spend time with Aiden’s father, making sure his Christmas without his daughter wasn’t too lonely. Mac grimaced. It was full dark and, no saint, he’d spent more time away from his lover than he would have liked.
He’d almost reached his SVU when something cold hit Mac on the back of the neck. He startled, dropping his briefcase and whirling to face his attacker. He fully expected to find teenagers or maybe some lowlife who’d had too much eggnog. Instead, he was confronted by his lover, who was grinning from ear to ear as he tossed a snowball from hand to hand.
“Looks like you haven’t lost your arm,” Mac greeted Danny, relaxing from the fighting crouch he’d automatically assumed. “Not that I really needed a demonstration.”
“Aw, c’mon, Mac, you were lookin’ so serious,” Danny retorted as he approached the older man. “I couldn’t resist.”
The parking lot was deserted and Mac allowed himself to be frank in his appreciation of Danny’s athletic form as the other man strode over to him.
“I seem to recall your boss giving you the day off,” Mac stated wryly.
Danny looked up at the sky. “Ain’t day no more, Mac.”
Mac snorted. “Like that has anything to do with our job.”
“You have a point,” Danny responded with a grin. “Anyways, some of Aiden’s other family came over, so her dad wasn’t alone no more.”
Mac let the younger man approach and enfolded him into a one-armed embrace when he got close enough. Maybe it was his imagination, but even through the bulky winter coat, he could feel his lover’s heat. Danny returned the hug, one of his hands coming up behind Mac’s back and snaking up towards his head. Mac was anticipating having his head tugged down so that Danny could kiss him.
What he got was a snowball down the back of his coat. He’d forgotten that Danny was still holding it.
“What the-. . . .” Mac sputtered, jerking away from his lover. He stomped around, pulling at the back of the coat to rid himself of the ball of snow. It only took a few moments to dislodge it, the lingering white stuff already melting and running unpleasantly down the back of his neck.
Cold, wet and still wanting his kiss, Mac looked at Danny. The younger CSI was smirking.
“You think that’s funny?” Mac asked blandly.
“Yeah,” Danny admitted. He was standing under a light and, even from behind his glasses, Mac could see his eyes dancing with mischief. “I don’t get a chance to surprise you often.”
“I suppose you don’t,” Mac replied. He casually turned to the side and surreptitiously brushed some snow off a convenient car. “But you know what they say about paybacks.”
He whirled and threw the handful of snow at Danny, who whooped and jumped out of the way. It didn’t even come close to hitting him, but that hadn’t been the point. Mac used the distraction to run at his lover, but Danny was quick. He backpedaled until he was out of reach, and then Danny bent and picked up some snow. Mac had to duck as the snowball was sent his way with unnerving accuracy.
The battle was pitched.
It was a wonder that security didn’t come out and demand to know what was going on. Perhaps if it hadn’t been Christmas night and relatively quiet, they would have. As it was, the two men had their snowball fight without interruption. The parked cars became bunkers and impromptu forts, shelters that the fighters could hide behind to fire their missiles.
Mac had the advantage of Marine training and strategy; he was sneaky and ruthless. Danny, however, had once wanted to be a professional baseball player and it showed in the strength and accuracy of his throws. For several minutes, they were evenly matched.
“You ‘bout ready to give up, Taylor?” Danny called out. He was leaning against the side of the building; Mac had retreated behind a minivan a few moments earlier.
What he didn’t know was that Mac had circled around. Not answering the taunt, Mac snuck up on Danny from behind. A rare grin graced Mac’s face, the air cold on his exposed teeth. All of Danny’s attention was focused on where he thought Mac was hiding, allowing the ex-Marine to get within a few feet of him.
“Boo,” Mac said.
Danny yelped and almost jumped out of his skin. He turned, just in time to get hit square in the chest by Mac’s expertly timed snowball. Between the surprise and the impact, Danny lost his balance, ending up flat on his back in the snow. Mac was by his side in a heartbeat.
“You okay?” He asked, a worry frown wrinkling his forehead.
“Hell, yeah,” Danny grinned up at him. “I’m gonna have to get you a collar with a bell on it. You are way too good at bein’ sneaky.”
Mac looked down at his young lover. Danny’s cheeks were flushed with a combination of exertion and cold air, his smile was wide and bright, and his eyes were dancing with amusement. In short, Danny was too kissable for his own good. Mac didn’t even try to resist, he just gave Danny a hand up from the ground and simply pulled him into his arm so that he could kiss him soundly.
“What was that for?” Danny asked when Mac finally let him breathe again.
“To the winner go the spoils,” Mac explained. “Now come on, let’s go home.”
Danny brushed at his pants. “Yeah, I’m cold and I’m wet.”
Mac wrapped an arm around the younger man’s waist, guiding him to the SUV. “I bet I can warm you up.”
“I bet you can,” Danny’s grin was lascivious. “I just wish we could use Santa’s sleigh and get home quicker.”
They reached the SUV and separated long enough to each go to their respective side and get in. Mac started the vehicle and immediately started fiddling with the heater controls.
“It’s going to take it a few minutes to warm up,” Mac commented. “Here, come close until it does.”
Danny didn’t need much encouragement. He slid across the seat and under Mac’s arm, snuggling close.
And even though the heater did eventually start spitting out warm air, they stayed that way for the rest of the home.
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