So, MoashLannister asked me to post this on his behalf. I'm not exactly certain why, but I guess that's his business.
I'll get around to paying my own comments on the stories so far at some point in the future, but it's not my turn in the spotlight, so without further ado...
Prompt: Shizune and Hisao, first Christmas living together trying to decorate the apartment together in a way they both agree on
As the elevator dings, I step off of it and onto my apartment floor, a plastic bag in my hand. The cold air of winter makes me shiver despite all the layers of clothing I’m wearing, but soon I’ll be back home. To where warmth and affection are waiting for me.
Walking down the hallways, I greet several neighbours as they pass by, preemptively wishing me a Merry Christmas. Truth be told, I’ve never held much value in the holiday. Before, it was just an excuse for me to get presents from relatives and the like. This year in particular however, Christmas is going to be of far greater significance.
After a bit of walking, I finally reach my the entrance to my home at the end of the hallway. I open the door and take off my shoes, the heater here immediately providing a comfortable warmth. As I walk down the hall to our living room, I’m met with quite a sight.
Despite the actual holiday being days away, the living room already seems like it’s celebrating the Christmas spirit. The walls are adorned with lights, the table is already outfitted with a green and red tablecloth, and right next to the small TV is a small Christmas tree. I’m dumbfounded at the sight of it all, feeling as if my apartment somehow traveled forward in time.
Of course, there’s only one person responsible for this, and she’s currently coming out of our bedroom in a green and red sweater.
[Oh, you’re home.] Shizune signs once she sees me, without surprise or even the slightest bit of excitement. [Well, what do you think? And if you say that you aren’t impressed, you’re sleeping on the couch.]
[I…] I can’t find the appropriate words to sign to her, so I simply put my package down on the table and sit down on the couch. Honestly, considering how thorough Shizune decorated the living room, I’m surprised the couch itself isn’t green and red. [Where did you find the time for this?]
[You underestimate my ability to work efficiently. Shameful.] Shizune adjusts her glasses in a smug manner, approaching and sitting on the chair beside the couch. [For that transgression, I won’t be sitting next to you on the couch.]
[Are you seriously going to punish me for that?] I sign, an incredulous look on my face. Shizune always seems to think of something I do wrong and punish me in the most roundabout ways imaginable. [What’s next, a ban on sleeping together when I forget to buy dinner?]
[Don’t give me ideas.] Shizune gives me a smirk, as if she’s really considering the thought. Thankfully, the last time we had a ban on that ended rather badly for the both of us, so I doubt she’ll want a repeat of that. I know I don’t.
[Seriously, tell me what you think.] She asks, her features softening a bit. [Great? Amazing? Meticulously perfect? All those adjectives are acceptable.]
[...I don’t like it.] I respond as bluntly as I can, causing her to actually look shocked. [Not that it isn’t beautiful but…]
[But what? Is what I’ve done not satisfying enough for you? Should I buy a sleigh and two dozen reindeers too?] Shizune retorts, looking extremely annoyed. I was hoping not to have another argument so close to the first Christmas we’re celebrating while living together, but it seems that was too optimistic. Arguments are part of our relationship, for better and for worse.
[It looks beautiful, and you did a wonderful job.] I repeat, trying to placate her. If there’s one thing that’ll set her off, it’s insulting her competence. [I just wished it were different…]
[How?] Shizune signs, her frustration growing. [How different? Do you want the lights to be five inches to the left? Do you want me to throw out the tree? Do you want me to rearrange the entire room so that it’s facing east instead of west? What do you want me to change?]
[I don’t know.] I answer without thinking, my frustration building up as well. It’s funny to think that after all this time together, something as simple as Christmas decorations can drive us to this point. [I just...I don’t know. Something about it just makes me feel a little sad, alright?]
[Well you can keep feeling sad.] Shizune gets up, glaring at me. [Until you give me a good reason, the decorations stays. If you don’t like it, pay this month’s rent in its entirety.]
And with that, she walks to our bedroom and slams the door. I don’t know if it’s because she couldn’t hear it or she’s just that angry, but that slam is probably the loudest thing I’ve heard in a long time. Even in our more heated arguments, it’s never gotten this bad.
Again, I note how this all started because of Christmas decorations, and I couldn’t help but laugh at the absurdity of that.
I look again at the decorations she’s spread out, which must have taken quite the effort, regardless of what she might say. It all looks so good, and yet...I don’t like it. Not in any visual sense, but from some reason I’ve yet to fully internalize.
Knowing that confronting her now would simply lead to another heated argument, I decided to watch some TV to cool off. Predictably, most of the channels are currently showing Christmas shows. I pick one at random and decide to stick to it, putting the remote down and simply letting my mind wander for a while.
It’s funny to think that we’ve gone almost an entire year of living together, when sometimes it feels as if we’ve only been here for a week. An argument over a missing item, or a minor delay in doing the chores, or even who’s supposed to make the bed. One would think time would do away with those things, but it hasn’t.
Some might consider that grounds to move out, and yet we’ve stuck together through it all. Our mutual stubbornness, while being the cause of our verbal sparring, is also the thing binding us together. Nothing less than that would be enough to keep one of us from simply breaking off from the other out of frustration.
Hell, we’ve been in a relationship for so long, it’d be crazy to think of us breaking up over something as stupid as that. Arguments are par for the course, and it’s not as if we hold any grudges over them.
I hear her sitting down next to the couch, but I don’t break my gaze away from the TV. Not because I’m still mad, but because I know what she’s going to do next. Shizune leans her body against mine, one arm wrapping around my body. I can feel her warmth enveloping me, and I return the favour my leaning my head down to rest on hers.
We can’t talk like this, but we don’t need to. Sometimes things are just better when we’re conveying our feelings without the need for words.
Coincidentally, the program we’re watching is a romantic movie, the couple on screen being everything we weren’t: overly affectionate, never speaking up against one another, and completely boring. It almost seems unrealistic how they never seem to even have differing opinions, to the point where they might as well share one mind.
Perhaps I’m a masochist, but I’d prefer Shizune’s energy than this...lazy way of proving that you’re in love with one another.
Unsurprisingly, she breaks away from me. I turn to look at her, and her face looks oddly shy. [Are you ready to talk now?] She signs slowly. [Or do you want to keep doing this for another hour?]
[I’m ready to talk now, and I think I can give you a proper reason this time.] I respond, not bothering to turn off the TV. [I wanted to decorate this place with you. It’s our first Christmas together, after all.]
[Is it really that important to you?] Shizune asks, not a hint of sarcasm in her expression.
[Well, yeah.] I feel my cheek heating a little at the admission. [We’ve been in a relationship for three years now, and this is our first year living together. Remember last Christmas?]
[...No] Shizune replies, looking mildly confused. [I can’t say I do.]
[Exactly. We didn’t do anything last Christmas, or the year before that.] I try my best not to seem frustrated or angry at that fact, and find it surprisingly hard to.
[We were completely separated during that year and a half, only visiting once every few months, if even that. Our birthdays, anniversaries, Valentines, they went by and all we could do is send crappy postcards and letters to each other because we were stuck with college duties.]
[We agreed that was for the best.] Shizune argues, though she doesn’t seem like she really wants to. [We couldn’t let our relationship get in the way of our education, and in the end we did manage to reunite and rent a place together. Isn’t that worth it?]
I nod my head in agreement, then gaze at her seriously and sign. [Did you feel lonely during that time? Did you ever want to break our agreement and take a train down to where I was?]
[That isn’t relevant now.] Shizune answers, trying to sidestep the question entirely.
[Perhaps it doesn’t, but humor me.] I implore, feeling just a bit desperate for an answer. [Did you, during the year and a half spent away from me, feel lonely? I’ll tell you right now that I did, that I wanted to come see you, even knowing you’d be angry. It got so bad one day that I had one foot in the train station, ready to buy a ticket...]
She glares at me for a bit, seeing if I’m going to falter. I’m not, and when it’s made clear to her, Shizune gives up and answers. [Yes, I did.] Her hands are fast, as if she’s embarrassed to even answer that. [Perhaps not as...extreme as you, but yes. Being apart from you for so long wasn’t easy, I’ll admit that much.]
[Maybe I’m being greedy.] I start to sign to her, my face inching closer to get a better look at her. [But now that we’re finally living together...I don’t want us to just do things separately anymore. I want this place to be home. Our home, our Christmas.]
Shizune places a hand on my cheek, cupping it slightly. She smiles at me, a humorous one at first, but eventually softening to be genuine affectionate.
[You’re being silly.] She signs once she pulls her hand away. [This is our home, no matter who’s doing the decorations or the chores. As long as you return here every night, sleeping next to me on our bed, that’s enough for me.]
Just as soon as she signed those words, Shizune suddenly gets up, adjusting her glasses and looking down at me with a smirk on her face. [...Dishes and laundry for an entire month. Mopping the floor for two months. Those are my terms if you really want to me to take down and redecorate the place with you.]
[...Alright.] I agree without even putting up a fight. [If you wanted me to do that, you could have just asked.]
[And be in debt to you? Not a chance.] Shizune looks incredulous as she signs that, and oddly adorable too. [Shall we get started or do you still want to see more of this romantic drivel.]
[Glad to know you don’t like this stuff.] I tease, closing the TV and getting up from the couch. [I’d move out if we were going to watch things like that all Christmas.]
[God, no.] Shizune gets up and starts to walk towards the spare room, motioning me to come. [Seeing those two on screen makes me skin crawl. All compliance with hardly a challenge or even so much as a reasonable discussion. Absolutely disgusting.]
[And unrealistic.] I add as she opens the door. The spare room is technically supposed to be for guests who decided to stay overnight, but seeing as that’s never happened it’s basically become a repository for all our junk and equipment.
Of course, Shizune forced us to organize the place regardless. As I’m thinking about how that made things convenient for us, I suddenly felt her lips touching mine in a quick kiss before breaking away to grab a ladder.
I let out a sigh. As much as I want to return her kiss, I know she won’t allow it until we’ve completely redecorated the entire living room, so I simply start helping her get the ladder out of the room, though I’m unable to get rid of the smile I’m currently wearing.
Who knew such a silly thing as taking down decorations just to put them up again could make me so happy?
[A bit to the left.] Shizune demands, tapping her foot in irritation. [No, not your left. MY left.]
[Last time you said left, you were referring to my left.] I counter, the ability to sign being difficult with a bunch of Christmas lights in my hand. [I thought you pride yourself on consistency.]
[...Two months of laundry.] Shizune says simply, her face tolerating no argument against it. [And make sure the green and red lights are alternating. There, I’m giving you that consistency you so desire by reminding you of things you should remember yourself.]
[Thanks, I appreciate it.] I reply sarcastically before setting up the last of the lights. My body is tired from doing the labor, both in taking down the decorations and in rearranging them. Discussing how to rearrange things took up an entire half an hour by itself, as Shizune insists on changing it as much as possible, while I insist on keeping it mostly the same. A weird inverse of our stances earlier.
I’m sweating, my girlfriend is shouting orders at me, and I haven’t even gotten a minute of rest or something to eat. And yet, I’m satisfied. Doing this with her is more than worth the effort.
As I finally set up the lights on the wall and step down from the ladder, Shizune flips the switch. The lights look pretty, though they’d probably look even prettier if the main lights were off. I turn to Shizune, who simply looks at the lights with a look of acceptance.
[There’s a reason I decorated things so early.] Shizune signs, her face turning towards me. [Well, a few reasons actually: you were tired from college recently, my own ability to do the job correctly, among others. But the main reason is that I plan to throw a Christmas party here, and Misha is going to attend.]
The sudden news almost makes me fall from the ladder. Once I balance myself, I immediately sign back. [Wait, is she really? Isn’t she really busy in America?]
[She’s apparently found time for herself, though I have my suspicions about how true that statement is.] Adjusting her glasses, Shizune immediately points to the Christmas tree. [Move it closer to the couch. That’ll be the last of the redecorations...for now.]
Despite feeling fatigued, I make my way near the TV and lift up the small tree. It’s lighter than I thought, though still a strain to my already dwindling strength. I quickly move it right next to couch, placing it down with a thud.
[Good job. It was completely unnecessary, but good job nonetheless.] Shizune gives me a teasing smile as she lays down on the couch. [All this ordering around is making me thirsty. Care to grab me some juice from the fridge?]
[Orange or apple?] I respond, feeling as if I’m barely able to stand.
[I was being sarcastic.] Shizune gives me a disapproving glare. [Three years together and you still can’t discern that. Shameful.]
[Well, I’m not exactly in the best mental state.] I reply, though immediately sign again when her glare intensifies. [And it’s my own fault. I know, I know…]
[Good. Now sit.] Shizune lifts her legs up from the couch, motioning me over. Eager to get a break, I drop down on the couch as her legs come down to rest on my lap. Having been in this position before, I immediately put my hands on her legs and begin rubbing them. [Ah, you don’t need me to tell you. Good.]
[There’s never a break with you. I know that much.] I retort before my hands go straight back to rubbing her legs. [If I don’t get a job as a teacher, I can at least make a living as a masseuse.]
[Don’t get too confident. I’m still more skillful in that regard, or are you forgetting the time your face looked like it was in climax?] Shizune smirks as she sees my face go red from the memory.
[Still, I appreciate the service. My legs were rather sore after making so many trips to the mall for all those decorations. You cannot fathom the depths I had to go to in order to get a Christmas tree that can fit into our living room.]
[You really went all out on this, didn’t you?] I say, once again stopping my massage. A minor inconvenience about our relationship, but something we’ve grown accustomed to. [...I feel bad about redecorating now.]
[Oh, for heaven’s sake.] If Shizune could have let out a sigh at that moment, I have little doubt she actually would. [No use feeling bad after the deed is done. Stand by your choice like a real man, or have you not grown a backbone after all that time spent with me?]
[Sorry, sorry.] I say, immediately proving her right. [So, Christmas party? How big is it going to be?]
[Well, an early Christmas party, seeing as it’s one day before the actual day.] Shizune shifts her body, now laying on her front with her head turned to face me. [My back, if you would.]
[As my master commands.] I reply sarcastically as my hands move to her back, rubbing it gently at first before slowly getting harder and harder, only stopping to sign something to her. An inherent disadvantage that we negated by placing a mirror whenever she wants a massage...in the bedroom, which isn’t where we are.
[I’ve taken the liberty of inviting your parents.] Shizune continues as I keep massaging her. [And mine, though I doubt my father will actually attend. The same goes for Lilly’s branch of the family, who I also sent an invite out of simply courtesy. A few of my old associates at Yamaku, Misha included.]
[Sounds like a lot of people.] I note as I move to her upper back. [Are you sure they’ll all be comfortable with how little space we have.]
[That’s assuming they bother to come.] Shizune corrects me. [Truth be told, I expect it’ll simply be me, you and Misha. She’s the only one who’s accepted my invitation, in any case.]
[Just like the old days.] I feel a bit of nostalgia while signing that. It’s been quite a while since the three of us spent time together. We’ve been in touch ever since she left for America, but the distance sometimes makes it difficult for us to maintain our bond, which bugs Shizune more than she cares to admit.
[Just like the old days.] Shizune repeats, looking a bit wistful. [I wonder what she looks like now. She told me she got rid of the pink dye her hair had, and lost a lot of weight.]
[I’m sure she’s still the same person, deep down.] I say, trying to assure her. [The moment you two reunite, it’ll be as if nothing really happened. After all, isn’t that how we were like when we finally got together, after all that time apart?]
[I don’t know, I feel like she’s no longer the Misha we knew. At least not entirely.] Shizune actually looks worried as she signs that, looking away from me for a split second. [I wonder if it’s better if we keep our distance. That reuniting will simply expose how far we drifted off from one another.]
[Do you believe in Misha?] I ask, a simple question to deal with a simple problem. If there’s anything that Shizune’s taught me, it’s that sometimes things are simply less complicated than we make them out to be. [Do you still believe that you two are friends? That you want to be her friend?]
[Yes!] Her answer is immediate, and she seems almost offended that I insinuated otherwise.
[Then believe that she feels the same way.] I give her a calm smile as I sign that, feeling amused that I’m playing the rational one for once. [She wouldn’t put in the effort to maintain communications with you if she didn’t want to talk to you, and she certainly wouldn’t come all the way here if she didn’t believe that you two are still friends.]
She takes a moment to think about it before signing back. [I hate to admit it, but you’re probably right. I’m simply letting our distance influence my perspective.]
[Wow, you’re admitting I’m right. Who are you and what have you done with my girlfriend?] I respond sarcastically, chuckling a little.
[Shut up and massage me.] She commands, and I go back to rubbing her back, my face showing a smug grin. We don’t say anything further as I continue rubbing her back until my arms start to get tired.
[Thank you.] She says just as I finish, somehow knowing that I’m done. [Not for the massage, that was only above average.]
[Ouch.] I sign as I lean back onto the couch. [Sorry that I’m not in the best of shape, I just redecorated my apartment room.]
[Bah. Work out more.] Is all Shizune says as she sits up on the couch, staring at the package on the table. [So, when are you going to tell me about the cake?]
[So you knew it was a cake, huh?] I respond. [The bakery I frequently go to happened to have a discount, even more so since I was a regular customer.]
[Cheap and efficient. I’m impressed.] Shizune compliments me, reaching for the package and opening it to reveal a rather nice looking chocolate cake. [...This isn’t your Christmas present, isn’t it?]
[It’s part of it.] I confess, not wanting to give anything away. [I figured we should make up for not spending the last two Christmases together, so I’m planning something else. But you’ll just have to wait and see.]
Shizune flashes me a predatory grin. [I’ll wring the secret out of you soon enough, but for now I’m content with simply eating this cake along with you. 70-30 my way, of course.]
[I bought the cake.] I claim, rolling my eyes. I don’t really care how much of the cake I eat, but I also know that giving Shizune any leeway would be tantamount to surrendering, something she’ll never let me live down. [65-35. My way.]
[You forced me to redecorate.] Shizune inches herself closer to me, her grin persisting. [60-40.]
[50-50 and I’ll grab the untensils from the kitchen. Final offer.] I cross my arms, indicating that this is as far as I’m willing to go.
After a second of consideration, Shizune finally relents. [Deal.]
[I can conclude.] Shizune says after finishing her last slice. [That you’ve bought a good cake.]
I can only chuckle in response, knowing the rather satisfied look she showed after eating her first bite of it, and the bite after that, and the bite after that. The cake was really good, and I almost find myself sad that it’s all gone now.
[Glad you agree. I’ll buy another one during Christmas itself.] I offer as I turn on the TV again, showing another Christmas special. [It’s not a part of my surprise gift, but it’s something I feel like I should do.]
[Because you’re the man of the apartment?] Shizune asks, the snark practically oozing from her face.
[No, because I love you.] I respond earnestly and without any hint of sarcasm on my face. It seems to work as Shizune looks like she’s caught off guard, actually flustring for a split second.
[I love you too.] She answers, and then gets up. [I suppose it’s only fair.]
[What’s fair?] I ask, raising my eyebrow. What I’m met with is an almost shy smile from Shizune, meaning that it’s something really romantic or really unpleasant.
Without answering me, she walks to our bedroom and closes the door, meaning I probably shouldn’t follow her. Instead I sit back and watch the Christmas special, only half paying attention as my thoughts wander into other things.
It’s already been three years that we’ve been together, but it only feels like the last year, and specifically the last few months, where we’ve started progressing at breakneck speed. In that span we’ve finished our college educations, are now looking into promising job opportunities, moved in together and have spent more time with each other than ever before.
I still feel like doing more with her. Not immediately, and perhaps not even for a while yet, but I don’t want the momentum we gained to stop. I want to keep going, both in my career and in my relationship with her, to see how far I can go. No matter what, I refuse my life to grow stagnant and unsatisfying.
First things first, create an unforgettable memory when Misha gets here. I think both Misha and Shizune deserve that most of all.
As I continue musing about the future, I hear the door open and I can’t help but open my mouth at the sight of what comes out, even if part of it is obscured by the TV. As Shizune walks back to the couch, I get a better view of what she had in mind, and my jaw drops even further.
She’s wearing what can only be described as an outfit for a very sexualized version of Santa Claus. Her Santa hat is normal enough, but below that is a strapless red crop top with white fur trimmings, allowing her black bra straps to show on her shoulders. Accompanying that was an extremely short mini-skirt, red and with white fur trimmings as well.
As she saunters towards me, holding up a mistletoe and smiling devilishly, I can’t help but be awe-stricken by how utterly effortless she looks right now. Guess I wasn’t the only one with the idea of creating an unforgettable Christmas memory.
[This WAS supposed to be for after the Christmas party.] She signs, stopping just in front of me. Her pose gives off a domineering impression as she looks down upon me with a playfully menacing look. [But seeing as how you’ve already given me a present early, I figured it’s fair that I do the same. Besides, I need to let off some steam after being forced to decorate this place twice.]
[I would imagine. Are the other presents related to this...outfit?] I pretend to be dismissive about the whole situation, but both of us know who’s in control here. She jumps onto me, sitting on my lap as I wrap my hands around her to keep her from falling.
[You’ll find out when it’s time. Trust me when I say that it’ll be more than worth it.] Shizune signs, playfully dangling the mistletoe in front of me before pulling me in for a long kiss. She tastes sweet, and there’s hints of the chocolate we ate just a few moments ago. When we finally part, she looks straight into my eyes, her gaze having affection and lust in equal measure.
[Now then…] She signs with her chest pressed to mine. [Shall we…”redecorate” one last time?]
The only response I give her is a kiss on her neck as any pretense of holding back vanishes. Christmas may not be here yet, but this is certainly the time to be merry.