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Title: I Ain’t Been Nothin But Bad
Artist:heard_the_owl
Genre/Pairing: Richard/Misha
Rating:Nc-17
Word count:15,146
Warnings/Spoilers:Utter crack, Disney fusion with Prep and Landing, Elves.
Summary:Richard's been working as the Director of the Nice list for over a hundred years, he's good at his job, helping Santa and his other elves make Christmas happen on time for all the human boys and girls. But this year is different, this year he has to work with the new Director of the Naughty list, Misha Collins. Which wouldn't be a problem if he hadn't been Richard's drunken one night stand the night before he started. But they're both professionals, how hard can it be to get the job done?



I Ain’t Been Nothin But Bad.

December 31

“Magee?” Richard says as he files the last of what feels like a trillion reports from this year's list. “I’ve finished the last of the reports for the nice list. Are we clear to go for the first?”

“Tiny and I are still checking the redundancy concerns for the naughty list since Peterson is retiring, but yes, it seems everything is in order for tomorrow. You should go enjoy the party, Richard.”

“Yeah,” Richard sighs. “The party. Sure. Alright, I trust I’ll meet my new counterpart tomorrow then?”

“Yes,” Magee answers in that tone she uses when she’s distracted, which is pretty much always. “Collins is ready to take over as Director of Naughty List Intelligence starting first thing.”

“Collins?” Richard questions. “Never met him.”

“He’s a coal elf,” Magee answers. “I’m sure you haven’t, since you don’t like to, what do you call it? Oh yes, 'slum it downtown'.”

“Go suck a chestnut, Magee,” Richard warns. His dislike of coal elves in general is fairly widely known, but he doesn’t want to have to defend himself to his boss, no matter what their previous relationship might be.

“Take the candy cane out of your ass, Richard. Go to the party, get drunk on eggnog, find a cute boy and get laid. Try to have a life.”

She hangs up then, conversation over. Richard says to no one in general as he holds the phone, “This is Frosty signing off.”

Richard has always hated that call sign.

He hits the streets; it's hard to avoid the celebrations that has been going on since Santa returned from another successful year. It’s how it’s been for as long as Richard can remember. He’s four-hundred-and-sixty-two years old now, done his job as the Director of Nice List Intelligence since he was promoted from the Prep and Landing squad a little over a hundred years ago. Sometimes he misses the simplicity of being one of Santa’s secret service. Prep the house, bring in the big guy, party hard until the middle of February and then start training again.

He misses his partner, but Beaver has long since retired and moved to a more tropical landscape. As it is now, Richard spends the year in political negotiations with his counterpart about which kids end up on the nice list and which ones belong on the naughty. It’s a lot of responsibility, and Richard spends the year making tough choices about which children’s dreams of Christmas will and will not come true.

He’s pretty jaded about it, honestly; being put on the naughty list means no Santa, and a visit from the coal elves, a lump in the stocking and a note to try harder. Richard is still not sold on the tough love motivation, but after a millennium of this protocol Santa gets what Santa wants.

So instead of six weeks of drunken revelry, Richard gets tonight. He’s tempted to just go back to his empty apartment, but the roads are all blocked due to the festivities and it’s a long walk home in the cold since he can’t use his snow mobile. So as disgruntled as he is, he heads to the nearest bar for a drink. At least that way he might be freezing halfway home, but he won’t feel a thing.

He’s four nogs in when he finds himself on the dance floor, fairly uncertain as to why he’s out there, but enjoying the rocking sea of bodies just the same. The music is blaring, his blood is pumping, and Richard forgets for a minute that he’s almost too old to be here; being on the upper end of the age range in which elves pair off makes dating difficult for him, especially since he’s gay.

He’s trying not to wallow. Besides, it’s hard to be morose when you’re being pressed back up against the bar by a blue eyed, dark haired angel of an elf.

“What’s your name?” Richard asks, dropping his head down to lick a stripe up the other elf’s perfectly pointed ear.

The guy laughs, a deep chuckle that goes right to Richard’s dick. “Look, you’re not really interested in what my name is. And I’m too drunk to care that you don’t want to know. How about we just head to my place and see where this goes?”

It’s the best offer Richard has had in almost a decade; he doesn’t need to be asked twice. The path to Blue Eyes' place is a blur; he vaguely remembers some drunken stumbling on both their parts, thinks he may have dropped to his knees at one point while Blue Eyes was struggling to unlock his door, and tried to blow him through his pants. They may have fallen inside then and spent an hour making out on the floor with the door wide open.

It’s possible Richard may have broken down and begged Blue Eyes to fuck him halfway through the rim job he was getting. It’s hard to remember clearly.

What he is clear on is how it felt when they finally made it to the bed and Blue Eyes buried himself to the hilt inside of Richard’s out-of-use body. It’s been so long since Richard has been fucked and this guy melts his marshmallows in all the right ways. He’s on the verge of coming before Blue Eyes starts pinching the tip of his ear with one hand while he grips Richard’s hip hard enough to leave marks with the other.

After that, well he’d had a lot of eggnog, and gotten his brain fucked out his ears. He kind of melts into the bed that feels a little dusty and smells faintly of coal. Richard has just enough brain cells left to wonder why that is before he passes out, Blue Eyes coming inside him and then stretching out on top of him with a groan of pleasure.

January 1

Richard slams his way into the office, hair sticking up everywhere and his whole body still reeking of sex. He should have just gone home, never should have drunk that much, certainly never should have gone home for the night with some strange elf only to wake up alone in the guy's apartment this morning.

A coal elf at that. Richard is horrified.

Not to mention that he's already late for work on the first day of the year, the day he’s supposed to meet his new counterpart. His snow mobile was still at the office, meaning he had no time to shower and no way to go home to change.

His left ear has a hicky on it. This is the worst day ever, in the history of elfdom.

Or at least that’s what he thinks before busting into the conference room where Magee and the big guy himself are waiting, and sees Blue Eyes sitting at the other end of the table.

Oh, roasted chestnuts.

“Richard,” Santa says with a smile. “Looks like you had a long night, son. Glad you’re here. This is Misha Collins, the new Director of Naughty List Intelligence.”

Richard’s heart stops and he almost cries, every bit of professionalism already shoved out into the cold. And Blue Eyes – Collins - just looks up at him and smiles.

This is going to be the worst year of his life.

*****

“So,” Collins says as Richard watches Magee and Santa leave. There’s a pit in his stomach the size of a Santa’s sleigh at the idea of being alone with his one-night-stand turned co-worker. “Are we going to stare at the door all day? I got a big pay raise taking this job and I assumed we would be busier than that.”

Richard blinks, one long, soul sucking blink where he holds his breath and prays to Rudolph that when he opens his eyes again he will no longer be in the this room.

It doesn’t work; Collins is still right where he was a moment ago.


“I’m going to assume by the look on your face you’d prefer if I acted as though you hadn’t just caroled your bells on my sheets last night,” Collins says flatly, almost as if he wants a different answer. But no way in all of the Pole is Richard stupid enough to involve himself with a co-worker, and certainly not a coal elf.

“Have your job duties been explained to you in detail?” Richard asks. He’s purposely avoiding addressing the issue, hoping Collins will get the hint.

The coal elf’s eyes seem to pinch up for a moment before sharpening and leveling Richard with a gaze that is strict professionalism at it’s best. “I was told you would explain the nature of our partnership to me after we met. Other than that particular concern, I’m well versed in what’s expected of me.”

“Oh,” Richard swallows, takes a deep breath and gets turned around for a second by the smell of the other elf on his own skin. He flashes back for just an instant to the way Misha tastes, the noise he makes when you nibble on the tip of his elegantly pointed ear. There’s an ache in Richard’s chest he can’t quite shake. Then Misha clears his throat and it’s like the snow starts falling again outside. “Our relationship….”

“Never mind,” Misha snaps as he grabs the digital device affectionately called a fruitcake off the table top and heads toward the door. “You’ve made the nature of our relationship very clear.”

Richard slumps into a conference chair and smashes his forehead twice against the giant table as soon as he’s sure he’s alone.

“Frost bite!”

Richard slinks to the shower, avoiding as many of the other elves as he can along the way. There’s something horribly awkward about being congratulated on what a good job you’re doing when you feel like the worst elf in the entire North Pole. Richard feels like he’s wearing a sign that says, “I had unprotected, anonymous, drunken sex with my new partner last night. Aren’t I just the naughtiest elf around?” But thinking of being naughty makes him think of Misha….

It’s the guilt more than anything that has him beg Magee for help. She sends Tiny to his house to bring back an extra set of clothing while Richard escapes into the gym shower room to clean himself up. He pointedly ignores the bruises along his hips, the rug burn on his knees and elbows, and the ache in his back. It’s like he ran a marathon last night in Misha’s bed. There’s a big part of Richard that wants to dwell on it, wants to lean against the shower wall and stroke himself to another orgasm thinking about the way the coal elf had touched him last night. But he’s already crossed too many of his personal lines in the last twenty four hours. Instead he dries himself off, tugs on his clothing, and heads back to his office to bury himself in his paperwork.

“It’s better this way,” Richard mumbles to himself as he struggles to focus as Misha moves into the office just across the hallway and gets settled in. The cold shoulder he’s getting wouldn’t hurt so bad if he didn’t have vivid memories of how giving and open Misha was with him last night.

He eats his lunch alone in his office when he should be making the new guy feel comfortable. Richard doesn't approach Misha again that day; he keeps his head down and tries not to notice how the other elf slams his door shut as he leaves for the day and refuses to even glance in Richard’s direction.

He’s figgy puddinged this whole thing without even trying, and now Richard has no idea how to make it right. That being the case, he decides just to see it through. He figures Misha will eventually forget, and Richard will quit pining for what he doesn’t have time to take care of.

After all, Richard works endless hours; he’s selfish, odd, and overly dedicated to his career. Who would want that? Who would want him?

February 14th

“Happy love day,” Misha announces as he strolls into the conference room which is adorned with brightly colored tinsel. “Oh, that’s right, love means nothing to you.”

Even Santa laughs, the huge jerk. Richard bites the inside of his cheek as he fakes a smile. Everyone thinks Misha is kidding, the jabs and rude comments not being too far off from typical male elf behavior. They’re known to be competitive. But Richard knows the truth all too well. Misha is still angry with him.

Richard’s plan to let the whole thing blow over isn’t going as he expected. After a week of the coal elf keeping his distance Misha had become a sudden and unexpected lunch time partner for Richard. He had to admit, even now, that he’d enjoyed it. Misha has a uniquely passionate view of the world and their place in it. He accepts their anonymity with a grace few elves are able to muster, and though he is in charge of the naughty children list, he clearly sees the best in everyone and works to convince other people of the same.

Everyone except Richard.

He should have kept his mouth shut. Richard has never known when to let a good thing go. So after two weeks of companionable lunch dates he had to go and bring up Misha mentioning he had a date the following evening. It’s a long story, but suffice to say Richard ended up wearing more of his lunch than he managed to ingest.

He’s learned since then to never, ever mention Misha’s penchant for passionate flings. They don’t last anyway; Misha once mentioned he rarely finds anyone challenging enough to hold his interest for more than a week or two. Part of Richard cringes to be counted amongst those discarded, another part of him wants to see if he could hold onto Misha if really given a fair chance.

Not that he’s pining. They’ve both moved on. Misha to an elf named Sebastian and Richard to his own hand under the covers at night. Perfect solution to an imperfect problem, aside from the fact that Richard is feeling more and more lonely as time goes on. It’s not something he’s ever really thought about before. His career has always been enough, hasn’t it?

“I’ve called you here to discuss the strategy for the upcoming holiday season,” Santa announces as Misha slips into the chair next to Richard’s. It takes Richard a moment to stop staring at the teeth marks on Misha’s pointed ear. There’s a flash of rage through his body and he clenches his teeth so hard his jaw hurts.

Someone’s been chewing on his…his…well, okay. Misha doesn’t belong to Richard at all, does he? If there had been a chance for that to happen Richard has certainly ruined it all by now.

So yes, he’s an idiot, best not to dwell on it too much.

“We’ve changed the game plan a bit,” Magee adds as she starts projecting the team assignments up onto the screen at the front of the room. “As you can see we’ve left all assigned partners together for the upcoming season. Everyone did well last year and we like to play on our strengths. However, we have a Prep and Landing team and a Coal Squad team down to one person a piece. Both of their partners retired after last season, leaving Jensen Ackles and Jared Padalecki without a teammate.”

“So we need to begin the recruitment process from the academy,” Richard says without thinking. It’s the way things have always been done.

“Not so fast, son,” Santa says. “This is the first time in a very long time we’ve had a member from both squads in need of a partner at the same time. I think it would be in our best interest to revisit cross-training.”

Richard gets a sinking feeling in the pit of his stomach. “But we assessed that option and decided it wouldn’t work. Too disruptive to the way we have the system set up.”

“Yes, I know.” Magee answers. “On a global scale this would be chaos, and we all know that, but we have two well qualified elves who know their respective jobs and both need a partner. We’ve decided to partner them up and see how they do with each other. They can be our special Special Ops team. We’ll hold them in reserve for multiple child households where there may be a number of dangerous factors to consider. Their partnership will last for the whole of this season and if it goes well then we can consider renewal. If it doesn’t then they can be assigned partners from their regular squad for next year.”

“Have they already been informed?” Misha asks with a grin that tells Richard he’s in full support of this totally not tinsel idea.

“They are meeting currently,” Magee nods as she gulps her coffee. “The wheels are in motion, gentlemen. I suggest you get on board before the Polar Express runs you down. And by gentlemen, I mean you, Richard.”

Santa chuckles as he gets to his feet, belly quivering slightly like the bowl full of jelly it is as he leaves the room. Magee glares at Richard pointedly before turning to check with Tiny about her next appointment. Clearly he and Misha are being dismissed.

Richard sighs, considers that maybe it’s time for him to move on from this, but he’s an elf and Christmas is just what they do, all they do. So he follows Misha out the conference room door and down the hall to the elevators without so much as Ho, Ho, Ho.

He’s not expecting Misha to hit the emergency stop button on the elevator once they’re inside.

“I just need to know,” Misha demands after the elevator slides to a halt. “What’s your issue with coal elves?”

“I’m not having this conversation,” Richard blurts, pressing himself against the back wall, trying to give himself more space.

“I hate to break it to you,” Misha smirks. “But yes you are. I got clearance from the big guy to keep you in here until you spill your guts.”

“You dirty, nasty, underhanded, poor excuse for reindeer pellets of an elf!” Richard snarls as he launches himself across the small space and grabs for Misha’s jacket with both hands. They end up tussling, his papers and Misha’s fruitcake hitting the ground all around them as they bounce off the walls.

“Keep insulting me and I’m going to deck your halls,” Misha snaps back, shoving Richard away with one hand and shaking him by his shirt with the other. “What is your problem, anyway? One night you’re all over me and the next morning it’s like I have some kind of disease. You won’t even look at me half the time. Everyone around here keeps telling me to let it go, they say you hate coal elves. But you sure as Frosty’s pipe weren’t complaining when you were sucking my dick on your knees in the snow. So I try to just make friends, I try to forget about it. But no, you want to act like I’m some kind of town slut. I’m done with this, Richard. You and I are going to work through whatever your problem is with me and we’re going to do it now, or we will sit in this elevator all stinking day.”

Richard isn't sure what exactly pushes him off the edge he’s been hanging on for so long. Maybe it’s the fact they’ve been talking about him, that Misha sought people out to try and find out why Richard was treating him so poorly. Maybe it’s the way his head is almost snapping back and forth from Misha shaking him so hard. More likely, though, it’s the sight of the teeth marks covering Misha’s ear that drive him completely out of his mind and have him slamming back into Misha’s body, forcing him backwards until he’s pinned in against the wall. He yanks his shirt free of the coal elf’s grasp before grabbing Misha by the hair and crushing their mouths together in a kiss so rough it’s almost crossing a line Richard likes to stay away from.

Misha just drives him crazy.

He tilts Misha’s head to the side and bites down on the ear that’s already wearing someone else’s mark. It’s not a cultural thing, Richard is just lit up inside about it. Misha is his, deep down inside where Richard lets himself have what he wants. No one else needs to be touching him. The coal elf’s hips slam up against his as Misha chokes out a, “Chris Kringle!” Richard drops his head further and sucks down the long column of Misha’s neck until his shirt gets in the way, then back up to his mouth where Misha melts into him, curling his quivering arms around Richard’s neck and holding him close while they relearn the flavor of each other.

It’s Misha who starts tugging at their leggings, his hips rocking against Richard’s as they rub up against one another and dig up under each other’s shirts. “Want you,” Misha rumbles as he yanks his own leggings down until the tangle up with his boots. He twirls, facing the wall of the elevator and tilts his hips back toward Richard in a blatant invitation. Richard hesitates.

“Misha…” So much to say, so many meanings. He doesn’t do things like this and this is their second time together without so much as a date between them. They’re at work, still co-workers, not even friends.

“Please,” Misha pleads. “Wanted it the first time, but we were both too drunk.”

Richard watches, almost detached from the movement, as his hand reaches out to cup around the curve of Misha’s exposed ass. His pale skin fits so perfectly into Richard’s hand it’s almost unreal. They both groan at the contact, Richard’s fingers dipping into the crease to brush over Misha’s hole and finds him loose, already lubed.

“Did you fuck him?” Richard asks as he pushes two of his fingers inside Misha more quickly than he normally would.

“Nnnnooo…” Misha gasps as his eyes roll up and he bites at his lips from the sensation. “Oh….” His hips rock back as Richard’s fingers push further inside. Misha jackknifes when Richard finds his prostate and tortures it with aggressive strokes as Misha keens and twists on his fingers.

“Tell me.”

“Went home at lunch,” Misha pours the words out with hitches in his breath. “Masturbated, oh!” He whines as Richard pulls his fingers out and tugs down his leggings, working his way inch by inch into Misha’s body. “Thought about this,” Misha gasps out. “Wanted this. I haven’t been with anyone since you. I promise. Just making out.”

It’s enough of an answer for Richard right now, Misha squeezing him so tightly that he can barely focus on anything but filling the coal elf up with his come. He’s slamming in hard, gripping Misha’s hips and chanting, “Don’t you dare come,” into Misha’s ear.

“Oh holy holly leaves,” Misha almost shouts. “Why?!”

“Because after this I want to suck you off,” Richard answers. “Can’t leave a mess all over the elevator wall now can we?”

Misha makes a noise like a snow bunny squeezed too hard and rolls back into Richard at just the right angle to make him see snowflakes and groan out his release. They’re both panting, so close they're breathing each other’s air before Richard slips free and turns Misha around on shaky legs. He drops to his knees, moves Misha’s thighs further apart and slides his arm between them at the same time he sucks the head of Misha’s purple, clearly aching dick into his mouth. His fingers slip back inside Misha’s body with ease. He’s so full of Richard’s come, and it only takes a few moments before Richard is drinking him down, sliding his fingers out, and helping Misha to redress.

He hits the button to make the elevator go again just before dipping his head down and kissing Misha’s still somewhat senseless lips. The coal elf is a warm, temporarily contented weight at his side as Misha hums his pleasure.

“My ex-husband was a coal elf,” Richard says as he tugs his clothing back into some semblance of order. Misha’s eyes turn to him, still glassy, but aware enough to pay attention. “He worked the Coal Brigade and had a partner who was like family to us. We were together all the time. They were having an affair. I never knew. It went on for years behind my back and the other coal elves on the brigade did a lot to keep me from finding out. He left me for him. Eventually his partner got promoted to Director of the Naughty List and I worked my ears off to get where I am today. I wanted that reindeer turd to have to look at me across a table for the rest of his career and remember how he tore my life apart. We were friends, I cared about them both and they treated me like a broken toy. The worst part is the rest of our coal elf friends turned their back on me, too. I lost everything.”

The doors open, Richard steps out into the hallway and says, “So now you know.” And yeah, he’s a coward. He turns and almost runs away without ever looking back.

March 10th

It’s not avoiding if you see each other everyday at work. Honestly, they’re even having lunch again on a regular basis. So maybe that’s progress. Richard can’t get the taste of Misha out of his mouth no matter what, and the sounds the coal elf made while they tossed their Christmas cookies in the elevator are still haunting Richard’s dreams.

Which is why he finds himself in the stable tonight instead of heading straight home.

“You smell like coal,” Thrasher announces as Richard wanders into the reindeer’s quarters. “You haven’t smelled like that in a long time.”

Richard flushes pink all over, and the reindeer has the nerve to look at him from over the top of the sunglasses he wears all the time. “It’s my partner,” Richard mumbles.

“Sure it is,” Thrasher snorts, front hoof pawing at the ground.

“I slept with him,” Richard blurts as he sits down on a bunch of hay. He’s not going to examine why his chosen therapist is the meanest reindeer in all of the North Pole. His life is weird enough as it is. Still, he can trust Thrasher; they’ve been through a lot together and Richard knows the reindeer would never betray his confidence. “Twice.”

“You’re an idiot,” Thrasher comments. “I’ve known that for a long time. You didn’t have to prove it.”

Richard blinks. “You know what?” he huffs. “Go choke on a chestnut, I’m taking my box of candy canes and going home.”

It’s a dirty lie and they both know it. Thrasher loves candy canes as much as Richard loves…well, this isn’t really about Richard. The reindeer catches the back of Richard’s jacket with his teeth as the elf turns to leave and gently, but firmly, drags him further into his living area.

“You've got to be careful,” Thrasher warns. “Dancer got into my last box and you know how he gets when he has sugar. He took a dump in the sleigh; the big guy was so pissed he told me if I let it happen again I was going on a candy cane free diet.”

But Richard notes, with a grin, that the warning doesn’t stop Thrasher from tucking the gifts Richard has brought him into a hidden enclosure in his rooms. Saving them for later, no doubt, and Richard appreciates the extra precautions. Thrasher would be worse than Magee without coffee if he lost access to his candy canes.

“So you like this guy?” Thrasher asks as Richard sits back down. The reindeer shifts from hoof to hoof as he waits for Richard to come up with some kind of answer.

“I…I want to like him,” Richard admits and even that comes out sounding like a personal failure.

“It was almost two hundred years ago,” Thrasher reminds him. Richard winces, tossing some hay in front of him like a shield as he sighs. His old friend is right, of course. He’s being the bitter old man he swore he would never turn out to be.

He doesn’t want that.

“It still hurts.” Richard admits softly, rubbing at the center of his chest where the pain feels like it's settled and turned colder than snow.

“It might hurt forever if you let it,” Thrasher comments, flipping the candy cane in his mouth around before leveling Richard with his gaze, huge head dipping down so they come eye to eye. “Is that what you want?”

“No,” Richard murmurs. “I want to be happy.”

“Then it’s time to change the way you do things,” Thrasher says before nudging Richard with his snout in a gruff expression of affection. “Now get out of here and let me get some sleep. Flying trials are in the morning and I have to bust some of these young kids' asses back in line before they start thinking they’re the fastest thing out there.”

Richard snorts; Thrasher is the baddest, meanest, fastest reindeer of them all, Santa’s best kept secret. He’s a task master, and Richard is glad he’s not one of the new reindeer recruits come tomorrow.

He heads home contemplating his next move. Once upon a time, when Richard was younger than Misha is now, he was a romantic. It’s a skill he thought he lost a long time ago, but maybe, just maybe, it’s time he rediscovered it and allow himself to hope for more than cold winter evenings alone with his regret.

April 1

Weapons check day, always one of Richard’s favorites, is the time to get a look at the new gadgets the technical team has been working on for the last fifty or sixty years. This time, though, he gets a glimpse into the coal elf side of the security team. Previous years Richard has had no need to be present for that because of the team divisions, but with how well Jared and Jensen are performing together it’s been decided that both Richard and Misha be present to witness the demonstrations.

The combined team of coal and prep and landing elves has been working wonderfully in simulations. Jared and Jensen have been building on each other’s strengths while they learn to compensate for their individual shortcomings. Not that they have all that many shortcomings, really. Interviews with them individually have shown a mutual respect and admiration growing into personal friendship. They’ve frequently been seen together outside of the training center, enjoying dinners out and their time off. In fact, Richard knows that Jensen personally requested his work schedule be altered so he could have it match his new partner’s. When Richard had asked him about it, the normally reserved and unflappable leader of his team had blushed to the tips of his pointed ears and stammered out a number of obviously false reasons.

Richard had approved his request, of course. Who is he to stand in the way of young love? Something about that giant oaf of a coal elf clearly melts Jensen’s marshmallows and as long as they keep things at work stable Richard couldn't care less what they do in their free time.

He’s been relieved to note that Misha seems to share his belief in that regard.

Misha. Richard is a little bit ashamed to admit that he’s made little progress in that department. He’s just not sure how to approach it; every time he tries they end up arguing, having angry sex, and then stalking off in different directions, fuming and confused.

He just wants a date; he’s not sure why Misha has to make it all so complicated. Richard isn't exactly willing to admit it might be his fault too. Still... staring at the side of Misha’s face as they wait for the presentations to begin, Richard takes in the tiny lines around his counterpart’s eyes and mouth, the delicate curl around the tip of Misha’s slightly longer than normal ears, the smudge of coal almost hidden by the hair on the nape of his neck, and sighs.

He’s wants Misha more than Hermey wanted to be a dentist.

There’s a throat clearing across the room and Richard’s attention snaps back to the room. By the grin curling Misha’s mouth, Richard assumes it’s not the first time they’ve been trying to get his attention.

“This is the upgraded sparkle launcher for this season,” Matt announces as he holds up what looks like a tommy gun full of little glass Christmas tree baubles. They look harmless, but all elves know the value of sparkle. They sneak into human homes uninvited and unannounced. Humans have a penchant for having pets and when you’re smaller than the average house cat it’s imperative that you have some kind of protection.

Sparkle, disguised as a harmless decoration, offers the prep and landing and coal elves a chance to complete their jobs without being harmed or having to harm any other living thing they might find in a home. One blast from a sparkle and humans, animals, and elves alike pass out immediately with peaceful dreams, and wake up thinking what they saw that night was all a crazy dream.

It’s effective and proven to have no side effects. Fortunately, given what happens next.

Matt gives an impressive demonstration of the gun's performance, ending with the comment of, “We’re still working some of the kinks out.”

“Tinsel,” Misha whispers as Matt turns to put the gun down on the table to move onto the next new toy. But the gun discharges with a bang by itself. Everyone in the room jerks, and Richard looks up just in time to see the sparkle barreling toward him. But then Misha’s solid weight slams into him, taking the full effect of the sparkle himself. It’s a double dose, enough to put down a full grown human.

Richard grabs hold of Misha’s suddenly limp form as he starts to collapse. He cradles his partner to his chest as the other elves in the room scramble to ensure no more accidents happen and then rush to get help. It’s not necessary; Misha is breathing normally, like he’s had a few too many drinks and passed out on the floor. Richard is only worried about how long he might be under for. The effects of sparkle are temporary but a dose of that magnitude could take a day to sleep off.

“Take him home, son,” Santa suggest softly as the others rush around in a panic. “Look after him like I know you want to.”

“But,” Richard begins, not sure what exactly he’s trying to say.

“Richard,” Santa sighs. “Maybe I’m not the one to be talking to about forming new relationships; I’ve been married since before you were born. But I do know what that look on your face means; I’ve been wearing it myself every time I look at Mrs. Claus since the day we met. Love needs to be nurtured, Richard. You’ve gone far too long alone. It’s time for a change. No more being a Grinch for you.”

It’s hard to argue with the big guy, especially when Richard suspects he’s right. He finds Misha to be lighter than he appears as he carries him to his snow mobile. It’s instinct more than anything else that makes Richard drive down the curving and snow covered streets to his home, instead of taking his sleeping partner turned friend turned…hopefully lover to his own residence.

Dragging Misha into the house is more work than Richard expected. It’s like he’s getting heavier the farther away from work they get. Still, the way Misha burrows into his arms and moves to inhale his scent makes all the effort more than worth it.

He ends up debating for a moment about making Misha comfortable on the couch or indulging in a long term fantasy that he has. Richard is weak, he can admit that, so he takes Misha’s still sleeping form to his bedroom and slips him down onto the bed with a groan. Misha’s head rolls toward him then, noses bumping together as his blue eyes slip open just a bit to gaze at Richard’s face blearily.

“I want to love you,” Misha whispers, words slurred as though he’s had way too much nog. Then his eyes slip shut again and his breathing evens out as he slips back into his sparkle induced dreams.

“I want to love you, too,” Richard whispers back, pressing a kiss to Misha’s forehead and stroking his fingers over the tip of his ear. He tugs off the other elf’s shoes and loosens his over shirt, doing the same for himself and then dragging a shawl from the foot of the bed up to cover them both.

Richard slips into dreams indulging in his most secret fantasy: having Misha in his bed, in his arms, for the whole night.

May 9th

He stomps on the fear that this is the dumbest idea he’s ever had in his very long life the whole ride to Misha’s house. Richard’s leggings are too tight; his hat feels like it’s squishing his head. He needs to turn around and just go home. But then who’s going to help him eat all this food?

“Have you lost your mind?” Misha blurts after he opens his front door and sees Richard standing on his doorstep carrying two bags full of groceries.

“Probably,” Richard admits with a blush that reaches his hairline. “I’ve been wondering the same thing myself.”

Misha stares at him for a long time, so long in fact the bags he’s carrying start to feel heavy and Richard has to shift his stance to make sure the load he’s carrying doesn’t just hit the ground and splatter all over both their feet. “Can I come in?” he asks. “I come bearing dinner.”

“Food?” Misha brightens, cocks his head to one side and smiles. “You brought me dinner? Come on in then. I’m starved.”

He turns, leaving the door wide open for Richard to follow him inside and kick it shut. Part of Richard’s brain wants to hesitate, wait for instructions as to where Misha wants him to go. His partner must sense his hesitation. “Go have your way with the place, Richard,” Misha says with a grin. “After all, it’s not like you haven’t been here before.”

Heat pools in Richard’s gut: just the memory of the two of them curled up together on the very spot that Richard is now standing makes him so hard he wants to drop the bags again just to tug at his pants. It’s not like they haven’t had sex since that first time, but their relationship is complicated to the point of giving Richard heart palpitations and stomach aches. Even after the night Misha spent in his arms recovering from the sparkle.

Richard had woken up the next morning to find Misha missing, the sheets barely disturbed, like he had dreamed the whole thing. They’ve never even managed to have a conversation about it. They always end up arguing about something else. Telling someone you think you’re falling in love with them should absolutely not be this difficult.

“To what do I owe this pleasure?” Misha asks as he curls back up on the couch where he was clearly sitting before, surrounded by a warm blanket, a box of tissues, and a trash can.

“You’ve never missed work before,” Richard comments as he starts the process of unpacking the grocery bags he’s carrying. “I was concerned and wanted to check on you.”

“That’s sweet,” Misha says flatly. “I’m not sure sweet is a good look on you.”

It’s a joke, Richard can tell by the way Misha’s lips are curving up on the sides. “Fuck you,” he shoots back mockingly.

“Not tonight, dear,” Misha laughs. “I have the plague.”

The laughter dissolves into a fit of coughing so severe it has Richard rounding the counter into the living room to rub the other elf’s back as he chokes and sputters his way through it. Misha finally collapses back against the couch with a groan and says pitifully, “My whole body hurts.”

He doesn’t bother to tamp down on the swell of tenderness he feels as he scrubs a hand through Misha’s messed up hair and tucks his head against the side of his neck. Richard can hear the wheezing as Misha breathes, and his worry must somehow show because Misha murmurs, “They gave me medication, said the wheezing would improve in a few days.”

“I brought soup,” Richard says gently as he slips free of Misha’s warm weight against his side, and tucks the elf under the blankets before returning to the kitchen to put dinner together.

“Good,” Misha rasps. “I don’t think I could chew much.”

Richard passes the time while he cooks them dinner by filling Misha in on his work day. There's not much to say, really, so instead of the facts Richard finds himself thinking out loud, giving Misha his ideas and concerns about where they’re headed with upcoming meetings and discussions. Misha doesn’t answer much, but when Richard stops working to look over at him his blue eyes are watching him thoughtfully. It hits him, then: this feels like what he had before. Richard remembers nights just like this one, hundreds of years ago, where he made dinner and his lover sat listening to him talk. He had always loved those evenings; much preferred them to being out and about. The intimacy of those moments long forgotten until just now, and Richard feels a pang of regret that he had ever forgotten how much he loved this connection.

By the time the food is done Misha looks ready to drop off to sleep, though he keeps coughing frequently and rubbing at his chest like it hurts him. Richard brings the trays over and helps drag Misha into a sitting position so he can eat. The first few bites are taken in silence. Misha chews the stew thoughtfully as though he’s examining the ingredients, even though he never asked Richard what exactly he was making.

“Mistletoe?” Misha finally asks.

“Yeah,” Richard shrugs. “It’s supposed to help with healing, and it adds a good flavor. It’s an old family recipe.”

“I’m allergic to mistletoe,” Misha says so seriously that Richard is immediately trying to rip the bowl form his hands before rushing to call for help of some kind, but then, finally, after he realizes the noise Misha is making is actually laughter and not the beginnings of suffocation, he stops and glares at the other elf.

“You are an asshole!” Richard snaps, flopping back onto the couch and swatting at Misha’s hands when he tries to touch him.

“You’re so gullible,” Misha croaks. “Would you have nursed me through asphyxia?”

“I’m temped to choke you and give it to you anyway,” Richard huffs, but he can’t hide the grin spreading across his face. Misha is never boring.

“This is wonderful,” Misha says a moment later as he holds up his almost empty bowl. “Thank you.”

“If you think that was good, wait for dessert,” Richard grins as he scoots a little closer. They finish eating quietly, Richard relieved that Misha's coughing seems to have settled down. Then he’s up, even though Misha protests that Richard doesn’t need to make anything else.

A few minutes later he’s bringing glasses full of a fruit and yogurt parfait mixture. Misha gobbles it up like he hasn’t eaten in weeks before slumping back onto the couch with a happy sigh and letting his eyes start to slide closed.

“I should go,” Richard says as he gathers the dishes and puts them into the dishwasher. “You need rest.”

“Just a few more minutes,” Misha begs, and Richard doesn’t really want to go anyway so sliding back onto the couch beside him and slipping under the blanket when Misha lifts it up isn’t really a chore. He closes his eyes as Misha settles against him, thin body leaning into Richard's as the minutes tick by and Richard’s limbs start to feel heavier. He’s comfortable, warm and full, with someone he cares about at his side. Misha’s breathing is more strained than he would like it to be, but he’s not coughing right now so Richard counts that as a small victory and comfort.

“Would you stay?” Misha says softly just when Richard was certain he had fallen asleep. “If I asked you to?”

“As long as you would have me,” Richard answers, perhaps more honestly than he meant to.

“Tinsel,” Misha says, and Richard can feel his smile against the skin of his neck. Misha doesn’t ask him to stay, though, doesn’t tell him to go either. Richard drifts off to sleep sitting up on Misha’s couch with Misha's body pressed close against him; so many questions rolling through his mind, not an answer in sight.

He’s starting to think that must be how Misha likes it.

June 20

“Maddie Beaver?” Misha asks as they dig through what feels like a never ending pile of paperwork for both their lists. The year is winding down to Christmas, and as crazy as it sounds, negotiations for the naughty and nice kids starts in June. That way they know who to keep an eye on in the hopes they might have a chance to turn it all around before the night before Christmas.

“Naughty,” Richard says decidedly.

“Come on,” Misha almost whines. “She’s not that bad!”

“She hacked her father’s twitter account. Multiple times,” Richard points out. He takes a sip of the flavored hot coco Misha brought him when he came in, only just now noticing that it must have come from his favorite place from all the way across town.

“Okay, so that’s a point,” Misha agrees with a nod. Richard grins. Her behavior is hard to argue with, but Misha’s a bit of bleeding heart.

“Where did you get this?” Richard asks as he holds up the coco.

“None of your business.” Misha won’t even look at him.

“You would have had to get up an hour early this morning to get to the shop that makes this and back in time to meet me here,” Richard comments before taking another gulp of his favorite drink. He’s not even sure how Misha knew this was the kind he likes. They’ve never gone there together.

“It’s coco, Richard,” Misha snorts, even though his ears are getting pink. “Not a wedding proposal or anything. Just drink it and shut up.”

Richard lets it hang in the air a moment between them, just long enough for Misha to look up at him as if he’s wondering why Richard isn’t speaking. Then he leans across the table, around the fruitcake and past the documents, and presses his lips against Misha’s forehead in a tender, affectionate kiss.

Misha is clearly utterly flustered. He blinks, shaking his head a little like he’s frankly not sure what’s going on. Richard thinks he looks cuter than a baby reindeer. “So tell me more about the Beaver girl, since you’re so sold on her need to be on the nice list this year.”

Misha launches into a well thought out and detailed argument that sort of boils down to “But I like her!”

Richard is feeling generous today. Maybe it’s the belly of warm coco, maybe it’s the way Misha keeps looking at him from beneath his lashes. “Okay, fine. But it’s only provisional. She has to be good or she back to being your problem.”

For a second, he thinks Misha might hug him, but the other elf just grips the table instead.

*****

It’s so late in the evening that it might as well be called morning. They’ve been working through names and actions, gifts and consequences since this morning and Richard’s head is so scrambled he feels like Dancer trying out new straps on his flying gear: little sick to his stomach.

At some point they decided to pack it up and head home, though “home” seemed to be Richard’s house with all their work dragged there with them. They eat leftover stew that Richard is mostly sure is still good, though from the way Misha is inhaling it he’s not sure it would have mattered too much if it wasn't. After that it was back to work, bent over files and computers, until he finally just tosses the stuff off to the side and flops back against his sofa with a groan, rubbing his hands over his face.

Maybe he’s getting too old for this.

“Calling it a night?” Misha asks, putting his own paperwork to the side.

“Calling it a morning,” Richard snorts. It’s more frustration layering his voice than humor.

“You look like you need a snuggle,” Misha says teasingly. As he talks he eases his way onto the couch beside Richard’s body, turning and leaning back until he’s sliding his head into Richard’s lap and draping his legs off the end of the sofa.

“Are you forcing snuggles on me?” Richard asks with a grin, his heart racing as his hands slip over the top of Misha’s forehead to smooth back his hair. The other elf feels warm next to his body. The weight of Misha settling against him feels like a much needed anchor that Richard has been living far too long without. This is the connection he’s been missing without ever even knowing it. As Misha leans into him further, nuzzles at his stomach through his shirt, and exhales like he’s been holding his breath for a very long time, Richard finds himself mirroring the motion.

Exhaling feels really, really good.

“I like it here,” Misha murmurs into the dim light of the living room. “With you.”

Richard’s tongue feels like it’s swelling six times its normal size. It makes forming a response almost impossible.

Almost.

“I like you here, too,” Richard almost whispers, but as he watches the smile slip across Misha's face, he knows he was heard. “Stay.”

It’s just a single small word, but it carries so much meaning. It changes the whole picture of the rest of their lives if Misha understand exactly what Richard is asking, how badly he wants this.

This game they’re playing…he’s tired of it. He’s enjoyed the dancing, the arguing, the teasing, the sex. It’s all been more fun than a box of home made cookies, but Richard wants more than just this.

He wants Misha, wants to keep him forever.

“I didn’t bring my toothbrush,” Misha says conversationally, like they’re discussing where to go for dinner.

“I have a spare,” Richard counters with a quirk of his eyebrow and a grin.

“Touché.” Misha chuckles, reaching up one long, thin arm and tangling his fingers in Richard’s hair. He drags him down to be kissed as though Misha is as desperate to melt into him as he is to do the same to Misha.

It’s not like any of their other kisses, no background irritation, no hurt feelings, just the sweet gentle pressure of Misha’s lips against his own, the warmth of their bodies close together, and the way Richard feels.

Love. Richard had almost forgotten he was capable of feeling something so wonderful.

Misha makes a noise against his mouth. It’s a small sound, almost a mewl, as their lips slip apart and their breath mingles together. Richard’s hands have ghosted lower and lower on Misha’s body, starting on his neck and slipping across his chest, until his hand is now burrowed up underneath Misha’s shirt and rubbing circles in a slow pattern, over and over. Misha’s hips move restlessly, and his hands cling to Richard’s hair, his shirt. They share a look, full of promises that neither of them feels capable of voicing.

He’s not really sure how he ends up walking to his bedroom with Misha clinging to him like a monkey. It sure isn't a graceful process, instead including lots of walls being bumped and doorways walked into while they both laugh and blush and stop to lean against anything they think might hold their weight long enough to make out.

They make it to the bed, though, and that’s pretty much all the matters. Once they’re there and settled, Richard rolls on top of Misha and nearly smothers him with kisses, lost in the joy of being together and for the first time feeling like he understands where they stand, and what each of them wants.

“Stay,” Richard says again, more firmly. It’s less of a question this time and more of a confirmation of this change they’re experiencing together.

“Yes,” Misha whispers breathlessly, smiling up at him before dragging him back down to kiss some more.

It’s how they pass the time until the alarm goes off in the morning: curled up in each other’s arms while they take the time to explore all the little details of their bodies they’ve missed before. Richard finally gets the chance to kiss the moles on Misha’s back and run his tongue along the lines of his muscles, and Misha spends what feels like an hour searching out every sensitive or ticklish spot that Richard has.

They eventually run out of time, have to get up and drag all of their stuff back to work with them on no sleep. They're feeling exhausted physically, but emotionally rejuvenated.

It’s a new beginning for both of them.

Part 2

Comments

( 2 comments — Leave a comment )
nicole_sill
Mar. 13th, 2012 05:02 am (UTC)
YAY! Misha/Richard fun times.
This is so cute. But I'm confused, is Tinsle a good thing? I can't tell if its a subsitute for cool or a swear word...
gedry
Mar. 20th, 2012 12:14 am (UTC)
Yes! Tinsle is a good thing!
( 2 comments — Leave a comment )