Day 10

Title: Day 10
Author: tarotgal
Fandom: Strokes
Rating: PG
Pairing: None
Summary: More of what happened during Christmas 2006 with the boys.
Notes: Written during my 12 Ficlets in 12 Days in 2014 project for SomethingClever

The song stopped just short of a spectacular bridge. Coyote hadn’t written it yet, but he was still pretty sure it was going to be a work of genius when he did. The door to the apartment opened and Coyote looked over from the couch to see Marty shuffling in with a dripping umbrella in hand. Instinctively, Coyote pulled both his legs up onto the couch, bending and tucking one under himself. This warm, dry apartment was good enough for him.

After hanging his dripping trench coat up on the coat rack and leaving his wet shoes by the door, Marty came over and joined Coyote on the couch. He greeted his boyfriend a second time with a kiss then settled down so he was sitting sideways to face Coyote. “I heard music just before I came in. How goes the song?”

Coyote shrugged. “It’s nothing special.”

“Nothing special yet.”

Coyote shrugged again. “Not that it matters…”

Instantly, Marty went from supportive to sympathetic. “You haven’t heard back from the clubs?”

“We don’t have a single gig booked until January. That’s like a month away; I’m going through performance withdrawal!” He chuckled sadly, shaking his head. “I’m sure things’ll pick up eventually. The band’s too good to call it quits. It’s just tough, you know?” He glanced over at the window, the dark gray clouds against a solidly gray sky stared ominously back at him. “I miss real winters with cold and snow instead of this depressing rain. I miss having a steady job.”

Marty bent his arm, resting his elbow on the back of the couch, and rested his head against his fist. “You miss your friends, Yo.”

“I just saw them on Halloween.”

“So? You can’t miss them more than once a year?”

Coyote was starting to make a habit out of shrugging. “I miss them all the damn time.” He looked down at the couch cushions and his guitar, running his fingertips along some of the strings, but not plucking or strumming. “We’ve got friends here, but it’s not the same. The guys are…  family. And better than my real family, that’s for sure.”

Leaning forward, Marty placed a tender kiss on Coyote’s forehead then dropped another onto his lips. “I’ll get dinner ready if you want to Skype them. If you call now, you might be able to catch them before Sweetie and Nik head out to the club for the night.”


There was never a great time to be standing in line at the department of motor vehicles. Certainly no one in their right might chose to be there when they could be somewhere much more inviting like a dentist’s office or perhaps Guantanamo Bay. But if they were serious about adding a third limo to the fleet at Strokes, the paperwork had to get done to make that happen. And, given that Sweetie was the one in charge of doing the club’s taxes every year, he was the one who knew the importance of making this happen by the end of December.

But he felt like some part of his soul was being slowly crushed as he stood in line, took a number, then sat around waiting to find out if the forms he had filled out were correct or if he would have to stand in line for a new number and wait all over again. Certainly what holiday spirit he had in him was gone by now. Not to mention that he was already anticipating the way he would be laughed at when they saw his legally changed first name; people always did. But Nik had known what he was doing when he’d nicknamed him that, and Sweetie hadn’t had any problem embracing it.

Number 584. That was what Sweetie clutched in his left hand. In his right was his phone, helping him pass the time with a game. They were only up to number 517. This was going to be a long day.

As Sweetie lost his game spectacularly, allowing aliens to invade the planet (where they would no doubt do away with everything beloved and leave all the DMVs standing and operational), his phone rang. Quickly, he answered it before the techno ringtone could get on too many people’s nerves. “Hello?” He hadn’t recognized the number, but the voice on the other end knew him. And it knew him well enough to deliver news that made him scrub his hand up and down his face. “All right. I’m on this side of town already. I’ll be right there.”

With a sigh, he gathered the forms and his winter coat. After standing in a short line to turn in his number, he headed out into the cold with his head bent and scarf wrapped several times around his neck.

The drive to the ice rink was more like a quick hop, and parking was no problem, as it was still early in the day. Sweetie saw some of Jamie’s teammates heading out to their cars after practice. And he saw Jamie’s car sitting there still, of course.

Sweetie walked inside and marched straight into the locker room as if he belonged there.  And, yeah, he had the right equipment so he didn’t stand out like most of the players’ significant others. He also knew his way around the rink with a stick, if it came to that. But this was Jamie’s team, Jamie’s world, and Sweetie was terrified he’d do something to embarrass the man. So he walked through the area on instinct, trying to keep his eyes straight ahead and his cheeks from going red. Luckily, he found medical before he hit the changing room.

He found Jamie sitting on an exam table, dressed in street clothes instead of his uniform. A young man almost half their age was holding an ice pack against one side of Jamie’s forehead. He had to shift it to keep the pressure applied when Jamie lifted his head and saw Sweetie. “Heyyyyyy Sweetie! You’re here!” He reached out with one hand, flexing his fingers.

Sweetie came closer and reached out his hand, taking Jamie’s. Jamie tried to pull him close to snuggle, but Sweetie kept his distance. “I knew I shouldn’t have let you go to practice today. Sin said you were sneezing all through Jackal practice yesterday.”

“Aw, these guys are overreacting.” Jamie rubbed at his nose. “I’m fine.”

“People who are fine don’t dive face-first into the ice.”

“It’s just my fever. The cold ice felt good against my forehead.”

“They told me on the phone that you were unconscious for a few seconds.  And it looks like you’re going to have a lump on your head for Christmas. Congratulations.”

Jamie swung his hand, with Sweetie’s in it, back and forth. “Don’t be… be mad… Ihh-Choo!

One of the team doctors held out a tissue box. Sweetie took a tissue and before he could put it in Jamie’s hand, Jamie leaned forward, sniffling, nostrils flaring. Sweetie rolled his eyes. He loved the guy, but he was not about to wipe Jamie’s nose for him in front of Jamie’s teammates, doctors, and coach. And if Jamie were in his right mind, he wouldn’t want this either. Sweetie stuffed the tissue into Jamie’s hand and took a step back, turning to the doctor. “What’s his temperature?”

“It was one hundred and three when we peeled him off the ice. We gave him some Aspirin and got it down to one-oh-one, but the ice pack might be throwing it off if we try to take his temperature again.”

Sweetie nodded. “Does he need to go to the hospital?”

“Not unless his fever gets worse or he passes out again. Just keep an eye on him and try to get him to rest…”

IihhhhChshhhh! ihhhShooo!” Jamie sneezed into the tissues. Then he raised his head before snapping forward again and sneezing freely suddenly. “ihhh-H’chooo! HihShuhhh!

Jamie had been sneezing for a day or two; he’d kept Sweetie awake almost all night. He was used to the sneezes by now. But Jamie was going to be embarrassed when his fever passed and he found out he sneezed on half his team, made them sick, and they had to forfeit games. “Okay, babe. You heard the doc. Time to go home.”

“Great.” Jamie climbed down off the table and started patting his pockets. “Where are my keys?”

Laughing, Sweetie took his arm. “You passed out.” Sweetie raised a finger then circled it around in the air, gesturing to the hockey team’s medical staff in the room and everyone else in the building by extension. “You’d better believe that none of us here will let you drive yourself home. That’s why they called me. I’ll send one of the guys back for your car.”

Sniffling, Jamie nodded. He let Sweetie manhandle him into his winter coat and stuff a hat on his head. Then Sweetie led him out into the brisk December air.


Auntie Al always woke early on Christmas mornings. He had done so since he was a little boy. He would sneak past his parents room and into his little sister’s bedroom. Together, they would go downstairs and tear into their stockings. They would eat oranges, cookies, and candy canes until they were on a serious sugar high. Then they would brew some coffee, which was really all it would take to call their parents downstairs to open presents. He had loved spending those Christmases with his family, and he loved spending these ones with his family as well. He had been through rough times in his life, but the best thing that had come out of them had been meeting Nik, Sweetie, and the others.

And on Christmas morning, he wanted nothing more than to wake up early, sneak up to the kitchen, and start the coffee that would get them all out of bed and to the living room where they’d set up the tree. So he woke early, got dressed quickly, and started toward the stairs.

With his foot on the bottom stair, he froze. The smell of coffee was strong, undeniable. He knew he hadn’t brewed it. He knew none of the others would have touched his coffee—not even Sin. Even though the kid had only been with them a few months, Sin was so helpful around the house and in the kitchen. But Sin knew that coffee duty was his.

At once, Auntie Al turned, walked a few feet, and knocked on the door to Pit’s bedroom. He waited a moment but heard nothing. After knocking again, and still getting no response, he barged in. “Pit!”

Pit rolled over, opened his eyes, and sat right up in bed. “Auntie!” He grabbed for a blanket, pulling it over his bare chest. “What’s the big idea? It’s...” He groaned. “It’s six in the morning!”

“And we have an intruder.”

“What?” At once, Pit jumped out of bed. “What did you see?”

Auntie Al spoke in a hushed whisper. “I didn’t see anything. But there’s someone in the kitchen. They’re making coffee.”

Pit stopped halfway across his bedroom. He stared at Auntie Al. “You woke me up at six in the morning to tell me a mysterious intruder made it through the security gate, broke into the house, and instead of stealing all our valuables he made coffee instead?”

Auntie Al sniffed, catching the scent again. “And not just any coffee—the good stuff.”

Pit rubbed his hand over the back of his neck and sighed deeply. “Okay. But only for you, Auntie.” He yawned powerfully and scratched at his ass, just barely covered by shiny green boxers. The nearest stairs were in the exercise room, so he grabbed a small dumbbell. Then he led the charge up the stairs, toward the kitchen.

They heard sounds from the kitchen, and the smell of coffee grew stronger with each step. “Should we call out?” Auntie Al whispered, one hand on Pit’s back.

“If it’s a burglar, do you really want to let him know we’re coming?”

Auntie Al shook his head and followed behind Pit. Pit approached the kitchen door, which was open a crack. On the quiet count of three, they burst into the kitchen… where Coyote yelled with surprise and dropped the pitcher of cream.

“Yo!” Pit set the dumbbell down carefully on the floor. Then he threw himself at the man, wrapping him up in a proper bear hug. Auntie Al joined him a second later.

“You always tell us when you’re going to come visit,” Auntie Al said. “You scared the hell out of me!”

Coyote kissed Auntie Al’s cheek then pulled out of the hug. “I didn’t know I was coming until Marty surprised me with the flight as a Christmas Eve gift. He’s asleep on the living room couch, by the way. It’s, like, three in the morning our time.”

Pit chuckled, “It’s early here too.”

“Which is why…” Coyote turned, brandishing the coffee pot. “I brought a little taste of my new home back to my old one. Except, I spilled the cream.”

“I bet that’s what Marty says.” This earned Pit a punch in the arm, which he returned, playfully.

Auntie Al ushered the two men over to the table. “Sit, sit. I’ll get the cream and clean up the mess.” But before he started to fuss, he took a moment to pause and smile at the two of them in his kitchen. “So good to have you here, Coyote. We’ve all missed you.”


Christmas evening found the house’s residents—and guests—all gathered together in the living room. The lights were off except for the candles stashed strategically all around the room and the Christmas tree’s white bulbs glowing brightly. Sin and Trip were back from Church, and not even Nik had given them a hard time about going. Nik was enjoying a night off from the club, which was closed for the holiday, by starting in on the liquor early and making sure everyone who wanted one got a cocktail. Pit wore a hat entirely made out of bows from the presents they’d exchanged that morning, his penance for losing the bet that they couldn’t find A Christmas Story movie playing on television somewhere at any given moment of the day. Auntie Al tidied up a little in-between conversations and genuinely appreciative hugs. Olly had worked a morning shift at the AIDS hospice and was heading over to his sister’s for dinner, but he was glad to be at the house now relaxing with everyone else. Sweetie sat on the floor with Jamie lying beside him, his head in Sweetie’s warm lap, his red hair being slowly petted. Jamie had a box of Kleenex almost permanently attached to his side, though he kept drifting in and out of sleep and partaking in the festivities around him only when he felt up to it. Marty sat on the couch, beaming, as Coyote sat next to him, tuning his guitar.

They’d had to pay extra to take the guitar on their flight, which had limited the number of carry-on bags, but it had been worth it. Coyote had entertained people at the terminal all evening. Even passengers in sour moods because of delays or missed connections had seemed better off when passing by Coyote’s music; some of them had even stopped for a while to listen to a whole song or three. And Coyote had loved every second of it. He had even taken requests.

And now he planned to give them all a present. Marty recognized the chord and smiled proudly. Coyote had written this song for his family, not even realizing he would have a chance to perform it in person instead of through internet video chat. Marty knew the guys would love it, and not just because it was a spectacular song.


When the taxi dropped them off at their building, Coyote made a dash for the cover of the awning over the door while Marty paid the driver. They dragged their small suitcases into the elevator, and Coyote brushed the raindrops off his guitar case on the trip up to their floor. “Welcome back to Seattle,” Marty said. “Glad to be home?”

Coyote actually nodded. “Glad to be home with you after a… a good… I’m going t-to-hahh-AHchoo!

The elevator doors opened and Marty led the way back into their place. He closed the door behind them and then pulled Coyote past the couch, into the bedroom. They both fell onto the bed—Marty with a heavy sigh and Coyote with a small series of coughs. “Traveling is so exhausting. Feels like that flight took a whole day.”

“Yeah,” Coyote agreed, draping an arm over his eyes and coughing again.

“But it was worth it?”

Coyote’s mouth turned upward into a smile. “Totally worth… worth it…”

“You’re going to sneeze again, aren’t you?”

“Uh-yeah.” Coyote’s breath caught. “Hah-hahChooo! Hahhh… hahshooo!

“Bless you.” Marty scooted closer and put a hand on Coyote’s chest. He rubbed reassuringly. “Worth it even though you caught Jamie’s cold and had to fly home all stuffed-up?”

“As least I have you to look after me.”

Marty rolled onto his stomach, gently eased Coyote’s arm away from his face, and kissed him.