'Twas The Night by alyse [ - ]
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Category: Miscellaneous
Characters: None
Rating: PG-13
Genres: Friendship, Vignette
Warnings: None

Summary: 'Twas the night before Christmas
And all through the house...

Fandom: The Dresden Files

Story Notes:
Written as a treat for Temaris for Yuletide 2009, who wanted I would love to see something from the year or so that Thomas lived with Harry. I hope you enjoy it, Temaris, and Merry Yule!

Many thanks to A for the beta.

I should have suspected that something was up. Thomas had spent the last week or so with a look in his eye that I was slowly learning meant trouble. Trouble for me, that was, not necessarily for Thomas. But I'd let myself get distracted by a case, one that actually involved a client paying me cold, hard cash, and I hadn't pushed him about it. Not that pushing Thomas did any good, I was finally realising. Some things get through even my thick head, eventually.

But with Christmas coming up, I needed every cent I could get my hands on. Not for presents, not this year. No, I needed it for a much more prosaic reason - to pay the bills.

December was always an expensive month. The days were shorter and the nights were longer and colder, and even if I didn't rely on artificial lighting much at my apartment, and stuck to old fashioned heating in the form of an open fire, I still had to maintain appearances at my office, such as it was. And the Beetle needed new chains if I wasn't going to decorate the sidewalk with... well, me. Or any pedestrian unlucky enough to be passing by when the laws of perpetual motion in a frictionless environment took effect.

That was the only reason I'd let myself get talked into dealing with a mould demon.

Of course, they weren't actually demons, per se. Not the kind of 'summon them and have them eat your soul' demon that I'd had more than one unpleasant run in with. No, these were vicious, viscous little bastards, with needle sharp teeth and halitosis that could knock you flat from ten feet away.

The goo wasn't the worst of it.

So, all in all, I wasn't exactly up for whatever shenanigans my vampiric half-brother had in mind.

"Ah. Harry."

Thomas didn't really do guilty. Or rather, given that he was related to me, he did guilty all too well but he was a hell of a sight better at hiding it than I was. But he did shifty, and he was doing it now.

"What are you up to, Thomas?" So I was cranky. Cranky and smelly and unbelievably tired. Sue me. It's not like you'd get much.

"I'm wounded." He looked it, which meant I didn't believe it for a second. "After all we've been through..."

"Thomas." I said it as flatly as I could. I needed a shower and a shave and some heavy duty disinfectant if I didn't want those holes in my hand - I mentioned the needle sharp teeth, right? - to get even nastier than they currently were. "Would this be a good time to tell you I'm really not in the mood?" Would he even listen?

"But, Harry..." Thomas' voice was all too reasonable and his face had settled into the normal, bland expression, giving nothing away, that characterised the other members of his family - his, not mine. The House of Raith.

Now I believed he was wounded.

"Okay, okay. You've got five minutes, which is about as long as I'm going to be able to stay on my feet. And I need a shower."

Thomas' nose wrinkled. "Yes. Yes, you do."

To add insult to injury, Mouse - who had settled himself in front of the fire, looking less than happy with the world after the events of the day - woofed softly in agreement, the look on his doggy face making his amusement all too clear.

"You can talk, furball," I said. "I wasn't the only one to get..." There was only one word that covered it. "...slimed."

Now it was Mouse's nose that wrinkled. I couldn't blame him for that one. I might have been able to hose him off in the parking lot, which was more than I could do for myself, but I wasn't the one that had bitten those things back. It had taken three bottles of water before Mouse had stopped drooling and rubbing at his mouth. They smelt bad enough - I couldn't even imagine what they tasted like.

"Five minutes," I said pointedly, and, to drive the message home, I looked at my watch, a big, old fashioned winding one that survived most of what I threw at it, including mould demons. Still, the hint was lost on Thomas, who merely hesitated for a moment, and that - more than anything - clued me into the fact that this was important. Important to Thomas - which meant, I was beginning to realise, that it was also important to me.

"I... was wondering what plans you had for Christmas?"

Plans. I didn't have plans. I'd never really had plans, and certainly hadn't wanted to make any, not since... Well, at one point I might have been able to imagine spending Christmas with Susan. 'Might have been'? I'd actually imagined it, more than once. Of course, in most of my imagining it hadn't been the presents I'd been unwrapping come Christmas morning, but that was before...

"I don't have plans," I said, wondering if this was Thomas being less than subtle about maybe wanting some space to himself. We didn't talk about his, well, other needs. He didn't feed here - I didn't know where he fed, or if he did. I didn't want to know. Maybe he had plans of his own for Christmas, ones that involved my apartment now that he had nowhere else to go. It was another one of those things we didn't talk about. Never let it be said that Thomas got all of his avoidance techniques from his father's side of the family. "Look, if you want me out of the way..."

"No." It was too fast to be anything other than genuine. "I was wondering, actually, if you... well. If you didn't have plans, maybe we could do something together."

Oh. I should have realised. Now I just felt stupid, and Mouse wasn't helping, raising his head from his paws and giving me that look, the one I was all too familiar with. "I..."

Mouse pushed himself up onto his feet and shook himself energetically, shedding dark hair all over my rug, before moving over to stand next to Thomas. Right next to Thomas, as though I could miss the symbolic solidarity. White Court Super-powered Vampire or not, I was pleased to see that even Thomas came close to staggering when he had Mouse leaning against him pointedly. Mouse's expression stayed affable, tongue lolling out in a doggy smile. Behind him, on one of the bookcases, Mister stretched out, claws gleaming in the firelight, before staring down at me, inscrutable as only a cat could be.

And then I looked back into Thomas' face, where, for once, I could read at least some of the things he normally kept hidden behind it.

Oh, hell. I knew when I was outnumbered. I might have pointed out that three against one just wasn't fair if they weren't better odds than I usually got.

"Okay," I said finally. "I'm in," and I didn't miss the tension easing from Thomas' frame as he leant down to pat Mouse on the side. Had he really thought I'd say no? But then, had I really thought he'd want to do this, this whole family thing?

Maybe we both still had some learning to do about each other. Starting right now.

"But if you think I'm doing Christmas carols, you've got another thing coming."

The End