To provide a little counter-balance to the angst of that last one, how about a snippet from Padrig talking about his first Christmas with Nick?
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(Click to read more!)
I’ve always loved Christmas. Maybe it was years of growing up with Aunt Cecily. She always made Christmastime extra special for me. I don’t know if it was just because I’d lost my parents so young or because she didn’t have any family nearby either, but it was a wonderful time of year for us. We would spend all day Christmas Eve baking and watching Christmas specials and she always had my mates round for Boxing Day. We never did very big things, but it was always very comfortable. Love and family were the main things for us.
I guess that’s a part of how I knew from a very early age that family didn’t always look like the “came-with-the-frame” family. Sometimes family was just a lad and an adopted “aunt” – I never felt like or called myself an orphan, incidentally, I wasn’t Oliver Twist or Harry Potter. Sometimes it was me and Aunt Cecily and my mates or her friends. After she died, it was just me and my mates, especially Freddie and Archie.
My definition of family changed in the biggest way the summer I met Nick. Aunt Cecily was my family, Freddie and Archie will always be my family, but Nick… it was like we had always been a family, it was that natural. I moved in with him in mid-November and I couldn’t imagine ever feeling more right than I did with Nick.
You’d think our first Christmas together would have been picture perfect, wouldn’t you? Well, it was, really. In every way but one – I was miserable.
There was a good, long traffic mess on Friday night, three days till Christmas, and I was stuck waiting for my connecting bus in rare, messy London snow. I was already feeling a bit under the weather at work that day, by the time I got home I was chilled to the bone. All I wanted was a hot shower, my jammies and dressing gown, and a strong, hot cuppa.
I got the best thing for it – a big hug from Nick as soon as I walked in the door. And then I got a concerned look and, “Hey, you look a little peaky.”
“Yeah, stuck waiting on the corner for the bus from the station.”
“You’ve a mobile, just ring me. I’ll come for you.”
“I know, but I didn’t need to bother you, love.”
“Bloody Brits….” Cute, coming from him. “Why don’t you go for a hot shower and bundle up? I’ve got some soup for us as soon as you’re ready.”
“You might be a god,” I said, kissing his cheek. I didn’t want to give Nick my germs. When I came back downstairs, in my flannelette pyjamas and my warm plush dressing gown, I wasn’t feeling any better at all. I was more comfortable now home, but the aches had set in all over. There was no getting away from it, I was well and truly unwell.
Nick had two paracetamol on the table with a glass of water for me when I walked into the kitchen. “How are you feeling?” he asked gently.
“Like shite. At least it’s the weekend, but I’ve got so much to do, Nick,” I whinged.
“Anything I can’t do?”
“Well, no, but….”
“I know. We can do things together as much as you’re feeling up to it.”
I brought three large boxes of just Christmas stuff when I moved in – Nick had his holiday stuff in a single red Ferragamo shoe box - and I’d barely done any decorating yet. We did have a tree in the corner with fairy lights on that we did the weekend before, but none of my other stuff was up.
Nick’s soup was good, even if I could hardly taste it, and did make me feel better (well, it might have been the paracetamol, but I’m saying it was the soup). Nick snuggled with me all night and that made me feel better as well. I spent all day Saturday on the couch. Nick did the decorating, I supervised – except for the part where I fell asleep for about an hour.
When I woke up from that nap there were probably a dozen wrapped pressies under the tree and something tucked in my arm. It was a plushie Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer.
“Hey, sleepy,” Nick said from the doorway to the kitchen. “I’ve got some tea on, and there’s some soup from last night. Sound good?”
“Brilliant,” I said, holding up Rudolph in acknowledgement.
“He didn’t want to wait for Christmas to cuddle you,” Nick said with a wink. “I was never happier to be a ‘misfit’ than the day I met you,” Nick said, sitting beside me on the couch and kissing my cheek. “I might be a misfit to the rest of the world, but we fit and that’s all that matters to me.”
I remembered a few weeks before telling Nick why Rudolph was my favorite holiday character – he made me feel alright about being a “misfit” too. Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer was the “It Gets Better” of its time for me.
The rest of our holiday was lovely. I was still down with cold until about Boxing Day, but Nick and I had a whole week to spend cuddling, and that’s just what we did. No matter how under the weather, Nick and I fit together just right. It was true what Nick said, we fit with one another and that was all that mattered. I’ve always had family around at Christmas, but that was the first year I had a family of my own to share Christmas with – Nick, Rudolph, and I, the misfits with the perfect fit for one another.
One morning Padrig Kennedy comes home to find his partner, Nick Glenfielding, in bed with another man. Shocked, hurt, and vulnerable, Padrig flees and meets a stranger who seems to offer comfort—but he force-feeds Padrig a steady diet of drugs and prostitution instead. When he finally surfaces from his hell, it’s to another system shock: he’s now HIV positive.
Nick descends into darkness as well. Devastated by losing Padrig, he finds no consolation in the legal career he doesn’t love and tries to find solace in alcohol, spending his days in an ever-deepening haze.
Padrig and Nick find each other again, but their relationship can never be the same. If they’re to stand any chance of a future together, they must do the improbable: make sense of the past and learn to cope with new burdens they’ll bear for life.