I'm driving home for Christmas

Oh, I can't wait to see those faces

I'm driving home for Christmas, yea

Well I'm moving down that line

And it's been so long

But I will be there

I sing this song

To pass the time away

Driving in my car

Driving home for Christmas

The usual early tunes hit the air of the whole human race just like every year for the past century at least. Vijay Chandasara wasn't a stranger to them. They Christmas spirit liked to grab him by the feels in the least expected moments and places and he gladly accepted the holiday cheer even if for a moment.

And that moment not always felt long enough.

For most part it was the past that derailed all of his cheerful emotions and slapped a handful of dark muddy pain, self-doubt and grief stricken veil in his face.

Before he met this adorably cute but so damn shy and frightened boy he didn't know how it felt to be happy again. His father had left a whole mess for him and his family to pick up and having a well known public name wasn't the most exciting experience because after that arrest his name meant dirty mud and crime and immediate judgment from all sorts of shit eating society members who were so damn self-righteous and in their own mind perfect his sudden acquaintance meant endless shade and incredible shame.

Vijay didn't mind being left alone. To skip all the damn parties and other shit he actually hated but never admitted that to anyone.

However it took a while to understand being left alone and having zero friends wasn't exactly the same as the paradise he imagined.

He was surrounded by people which meant he wasn't alone but he still felt lonely as he didn't have any other friends that came from less spectacular backgrounds and that left a sting. Sting that singed any hope to one day feel less of what he realized wasn't the same thing.

Then he met the Whitly boy, merely less than a year younger, bright minded boy with big blue-ish-sometimes-green-ish eyes, but shy as fuck. In this world being that shy could be dangerous sometimes. But only in the darkest of corners behind thickest of curtain would he ever admit to his own heart that he loved that shy boy more than he ever expected was possible.

And sure, Mal was turning into a cute candy even back at their young age, adding to the image of their future looks. Surely he'd keep that way until old age, or at least until Vijay sees him again. Preferably today and before the whole city turns into a blizzard kingdom of doom.

A mildly fleeting glimpse of the past made the longing itch return along with deep ache Vijay couldn't exactly pinpoint but didn't need far too look for.

He missed the currently more chaotic energy and all the tingles it brought with it. Mal was his shy chaotic ball of energy and he loved that more that he'd ever find words to wrap that whole feeling in.

Either way the underlying pull never truly went away because one reason was the connection that deepened and made Mal so much more open and HIMSELF than he'd ever let himself be.

Surely that's part of Whitlys' charm. But not really.

Malcolm has been afraid to open up and be himself because of his father's crimes and the resulting attack from bullying society that knew no measure to their confusion. And it all was thrown at the boy suppressing so much of him that it's been taking decades to slowly rebuild. And seeing even a small moments of that is worth so much more than anything in this world.

But sitting around and feeling emotional wasn't what Vijay planned for this day of storm-in.

There were fancy plans that he'd already predicted two days in advance would fail. Classic Whitly move being this distracted by everything all at once.

Therefore the lesson was to never plan for stuff that would lead to heartache and financial loss just because one Malcolm Whitly couldn't make it. He'd long come to accept the other for who he was and having no qualms about who he will become.

It's gonna take some time

But I'll get there

Top to toe in tailbacks

Oh, I got red lights on the run

But soon there'll be a freeway yeah

Get my feet on holy ground

It's been a moment since he last looked at his phone and the temptation to just text to the elusive boy was overpowering the more time passed.

Vijay knew the open window between driving conditions and the hole-up for the week was getting narrower and if he truly wanted to capture that shy treasure for himself before world turned to shit he needed to make his plan snappy.

And while the old songs kept bouncing off of the city and people cheered with trees hanging off their shoulders with bags of decorations jiggling among their boot heels flashing faster than snowflakes hit the ground. It was something that urged Vijay towards the nearest mall to pick up something that would survive Mal's bad time management but still meant something.

Neither of them ever were any good at gift giving. Mal having his mother to rely on learning that art had failed graciously with their family having so much money gift almost lost meaning. Gil had been that piece of father figure Mal was missing most of his life.

That had given the needed softness and gentle touch that Mal had after all these years. However his gift giving still lacked majorly.

Not much else was to be said about Vijay himself. Being boy his father had not been overeager to let his son to turn to girly stuff so he didn't get too close to gift wrapping. But after the arrest things changed and it took some while to get decent practice but it happened and while he may have some chunk of money he also tried to think deeper. Hence the little trip to a special store.

Once back to the outside he noted that the weather had managed to get worse. The snow was falling more heavily and some gusts blew large piles of snow over the crowds that were hurrying to gather their things before it was too late.

Vijay had watched about four news coverings about the hurricane heading towards New York City and the whole state was under warnings and whatnot. He considered the options and decided it was time to lure his fellow corner table boy.

It wasn't like their relationship was defined by any means. They both were busy with work, Malcolm maybe more since he got to see with his own eyes the whole process of the man. And neither got into labeling what they had. Sure the sparks obviously were still intact since their younger days but he also knew for the other it all was more heavy. He'd taken his father's arrest a little more deeper to heart than Vijay did. And they kinda were just holding onto each other until life made them go separate ways.

So he did what he'd always have done- lured the other into small invitations and left barely noticeable hints until his jewel fell for some of that and they got reunited for a moment before next work call pulled the boy away.

But Vijay was patient and felt no hurry. As they said- the best things came with wait. So he waited.

The one thing he deduced was certainty of Mal being sent home before he reached the precinct. He just hoped the man would hold enough brain cells to actually listen. Knowing his penchant for skipping orders and attracting trouble Vijay decided he probably should get home and prepare for either outcomes.

He did kinda invite the man to his place but also offered the comfort of Mal's place knowing how he liked his own space and order for things. In either case it still nagged for some emergency packing for "just in case" scenario because it was Whitly they were talking about.

As the sudden gust blew Vijay's collar up to man's nose he quickly shook himself out of thoughts and tried to hail a cab to get going.

The day was turning late already and as he observed the heavy black clouds far off the coast it was sure to soon turn rather adventurous.

Luckily he's always liked storms. They kept him fascinated and intrigued. As someone from New York where such things weren't that often seen guest and if they did it was mostly a hearty thunderstorm or generous winter storm he knew he had to have at least some first aid on hand. And by the looks- a thicker winter coat.

While the traffic was ever so slow back to Manhattan he mentally went through his wardrobe. Already knowing to choose comfort over style he managed to put together something that was available and not too shabby to wear. Even Mal liked to wander his home in just PJs and some warmer later on top. So he also scavenged for extra layer just to be safe.

After that had been planned ahead and some extra stuff for emergencies added mentally to his backpack he allowed himself a moment to chat flirtatiously with the man in question and decide upon hunkering down at Mal's place. And with that they'd finally gotten to his home somehow.

It was funny how time flew by just with simple things on mind.

So I sing for you

Though you can't hear me

When I get through

And feel you near me

Driving in my car

I'm driving home for Christmas

Driving home for Christmas

With a thousand memories

Already aware of his companion being less attentive than usual was giving him an unease of how things may have been going for the guy. At least he was replying his texts. Unlike other times. But Vijay held the knowledge and sense of his dearest of friends and hopefully something more with time.

However when things started to look rather sour he wished they already were a bit more than whatever their relationship status may be now. That would make things easier. Like taking care of the wayward man or just being there for him more often than he was now.

Which was a quite futuristic thinking on his side as it was clear Mal himself wasn't actually aware of anything.

His mind was too wild to keep many thoughts in line and Vijay had seen that firsthand long ago. But he wasn't the whiny pushy type anyway. He let the untamed chaos unravel and picked up the remnants with extra care. Naturally over the time it had strung a soft streak between them and years later he came to realization he didn't mind that at all.

Just like their less public activities that often turned into chaos they also let the softness still that and eventually it was just balanced rhythm.

That he liked and in recent years even missed a lot. Therefore he'd been contemplating to just talk with the man about his feelings and hopefully Mal would be willing to share story about his feelings so they could figure out what should be the next step and how fast or whatever they felt they needed to move on.

And of all days in time why it couldn't be not this day or week or whatever long they we're going to let that hurricane blow itself out. Although it was a beautiful idea he knew that with the younger man's luck they will get some chaotic adventure instead. So as he started to pack his belongings he kept that in mind and tried to think of more things he'd need because the nagging feeling in his chest after the last text grew more and more nagging. Not that he was one to believe in such things but having one Malcolm Whitly in his life he felt the sensation of feeling more than just regular stuff had developed into some spidey-sense at this point.

He already could sense the unease growing so the last thing he thought of was a powerful flashlight and extra batteries that he kept charged at all times.

And he already had the spare key that Malcolm had once given him. After their fun night Mal had let him sleep in and left a cute note saying it's about time he had it and if that wasn't a sign he didn't know what else was.

If that wasn't Mal saying he wanted more of him in his life he had no idea what would else that mean.

So all packed he called the cab and dressed up to wait for the ride to come and tried not to read more into the situation than it was. Maybe it was weather or the special time of the year that sneaked these thoughts in his mind but right that moment he did long for the shorter man's closeness more than ever.

I take a look at the driver next to me

He's just the same

Just the same

As his ride came he did a quick mental check of things he had and satisfied of stuff he packed he jumped in the back and told the address. And as they slowly carved their way towards the place he once more got reminded of the looming weather and already crowded streets. Traffic had gotten worse from few hours ago when he got home and a shiver made its way across his spine. Like the slight tingling at the back of his head.

It's gonna get worse once the storm rolls up to their curb. And he was okay with that.

Already things had taken a flight instead of previous roll. Awnings that weren't yet rolled up struggled against the winds and few people tried to help small shops place shutters on their windows as well as pack things indoors.

Some later shoppers still ran around with bagfuls of stuff, probably presents to their families, and few roamed across the streets.

The driver had his festive mood on as he'd already decorated the cab and radio played the Christmas tunes among few more weather reports. Luckily the man was just humming to the tunes leaving Vijay with his observations and musings.

Someone called the old driver, probably his wife, and the man promised to try and bring them the darned cake. To which Vijay chuckled. Sure he had forgotten about such thing as food but one little birdie texted him that there was food all stocked and they should be fine. Also that there was a cake if they had the mood for such thing. Wink emojis following. That reminded him to check for more messages. But nothing had followed so he hoped Mal was at least on his way. Otherwise he was starting to get worried of the man who could be in trouble. It caused the ticklish feeling strengthen.

He knew sometimes Malcolm struggled with focusing even on the simplest things and quite often he'd been the guy to find his elusive boy in places he had no clue he'd gotten. He was considered introvert person but he held that depth that only rare people knew existed within him. And god, that softness, it came out only in most personal moments. For both of them it seemed. Vijay himself was known to be loud and hyperactive and bold. He kept his appearances as that rich frat boy that loved to party too much and held the center of attention. That was just a mask he never bothered to remove after boarding school and other private schools and even colleges. He had a talent for showing up barely on time and not pay attention to classes. Everyone believed he just bought his way through grades like every other rich kid in town. He was never caught studying or attending those class meetings for nerds. But he did survive Uni and random jobs he took up for what everyone believed fun and quick fuck.

Most girls saw him as that cute boy with money and extra fun and maybe a quick fuck in somebody's office after hours. But little did they suspect his heart was already taken by someone special. He usually tricked the girls by more booze and powder, even weed and some tablets, so they'd go hook up with someone else while he hid in dark corners and snorted thick lines and kept to his imagination of having this special one beside. He got drunk and played the big loud jock so nobody would see he never was who they thought he was.

It was easier that way. To keep the demons away and hold the hope alive.

Even after so many years things hadn't changed much. Nobody but his boy knew the real Vijay Chandasara. He never let anyone else see the real man behind the brat mask. And why should he?

He actually had no real friends, not a wholesome family, relatives looked at him from above because of the permanent stain his father left. He didn't change his last name so every new job had questions about this and that speck of dirt from past. Maybe he saw how it turned out to Malcolm and decided that nothing would hide his past from his future, so he plowed through all the judgements and critique like the trucks outside through the piles of snow.

Maybe now he sees that Mal's choice is helping him just now while his choice is okay for him now. It didn't feel like that years ago.

He sighed at the memories and just in time realized they already were slowly crawling up the street where Mal lived. Sans other people but full of snow the whole street looked like some apocalyptic movie set. Piles of snow in some corners while bare asphalt in others. Few broken light poles littered the sidewalk and traffic lights already out. They slid through the scenery like a ghost ship and even radio held a breath for what's to come. The driver was saying some expletives in what sounded like Russian and Vijay chuckled. Mal would find that funny too.

So as they pulled up to the right building Vijay heartily tipped the man and wished him safe journey home as he turned out to be his last client for the day.

And why not, it was already pretty damn late. Five in the afternoon didn't hold the candle to time already leaning toward seven. With all his nostalgia it'd taken two hours to get here and now it looked like nobody was home or trying to get to one. Not a single person showed up while he fished through his pockets for the key and he even found a crumb of chocolate bar for the stray cat that meowed it's way around his ankles. Small pile of random bits of long forgotten granola bars later he finally locked the door behind his back as he contemplated the echoes of the lonesome place.

Just like Malcolm the eerie silence was broken by rough sounds of the storm outside. And it felt so damn fitting he nearly chocked on the tears that suddenly materialized on his cheeks.

Trying to erase this moment of unnecessary weakness he put the bag on his shoulder and started the journey to the top floor.

Just like the chaos outside it seemed the chaos within the boy never ceased to interfere. The doors were closed but not fully locked. At least it wasn't a robber but the owner of the place himself as he recognized the pattern. He's been distracted in the morning. Vijay knew the signs. And it worried him.

Christmas was a hard time for Mal. He didn't actually celebrate anymore. He more than not just found distractions for the few days it lasted and then came back to usual order of things as the world around kept turning. He could understand that. So when they got together their Christmas time was a shared time together and away from others and just some snort or a puff of weed and lots of talks about everything and sometimes other things like skating or snowball fights or even attempts to just slide downhill on a piece of cardboard. Of course they had to visit families but even with that they managed to break into a library and read some books and even sneak few out and hide so they could keep them without anyone knowing.

They had few drinks too before they managed to have sword fights and many times a good archery practice.

But it was the calm pace and soothing presence of each other beside that was it.

And before they knew it things turned around and they lost each other to some petty stuff that he still blamed the parental side for. He never wanted to break what they had. He was happy like that. But his family saw it differently and while he may never actually remember the real reasons it was implied he wanted more than Mal was ready or willing to offer and their ways parted.

Truth to be told he believed someone told Mal something and he'd taken to heart without checking with him and so when he'd fallen out of that window during a drunken rage after having a fight with his mother he didn't know the actual extent of the situation. When he woke up at hospital it was all swept under yet another rug and left to be forgotten as he was thrown into another boarding school.

And so he kept floating and tried not to let his emotions wild. Though sometimes he struggled with that a lot. Drugs, booze, fights, suicidal thoughts and occasionally even experimenting with stuff had led to him wearing a constant mask of somebody else while keeping his true self only for himself and hoping one day he could return to his lost boy and mend all the wrongs he allowed.

Eventually it did happen. Maybe less fierce on Mal's side but not entirely indifferent. Of course the blasted FBI made it hard to keep in touch but that didn't matter because Vijay didn't allow himself loose and after a while he did locate the elusive one and told him what happened and that he still wanted to spend time together. He was so happy and full of love when Malcolm said he wanted too.

So they slowly returned to some of their old activities and his deeply hidden soft side came out and he cherished every moment he could spend with the other man.

To say he was shallow was deeply misunderstood and he liked to sometimes take that mask off and be something he didn't need to hide. He may be louder and talked more, he never denied he was the extrovert while Mal was introvert. But even that chaotic energy that came with all the baggage that was the Whitly boy didn't make him cringe like Mal feared. Quite opposite even. He did love the fact Mal could be himself too. He didn't mind the wild chaotic intimacy they shared once in a while, not his endless random rambles about this and that while they were high. Sure his demons were still the bigger part of the picture but it never made him want to run. On the contrary, it made him want to hold onto Mal even tighter.

Yes, the night terrors weren't for the faint of heart, but he wasn't either. He didn't care for few bruises here and there while he hugged the traumatized man tightly to his chest and murmured soothing words in his ears until he calmed down and sobbed while he kept holding and soothing.

He just knew Malcolm Whitly was way more than what he allowed world to see and then felt embarrassed by himself. They'd fallen out of touch after Mal came back to the city and Vijay had his own demons coming after his ass.

But then he'd crawled out of that gutter to a new hope and other opportunities that he'd taken on like a matador took upon his bull. And then they met on a case and he felt that old pull strengthening and that adrenaline rush keeping his high as they promised each other to try better at keeping close.

And so they kept to that by Mal giving him the key.

And that's why he was greeted by massive chirping from a cage on a counter as he came inside. Little bird was chirping and tweeting like crazy and he saw that she needed some attention and love in the form of food. That meant Mal wasn't there yet. And it seemed he hadn't been in the whole day.

He lifted the watch face up to his nose and realized he'd been standing and staring at the door more than was okay for a human being on a mission. And his tingles brushed over the skin on his arms with a newfound fierceness. As he picked up the phone the only bar left was struggling to hold up. And just as he was about to put the phone away it let out a competitive shriek that spooked the male enough to drop it out of the vague hold.

Sunshine was now really shrieking like no tomorrow and that alone gave him biggest chills of his life.

He saw it was the weather alarm trying to compete with a distraught parakeet which only made his stomach drop out of his feet, his heart already about to leap from his throat. So he allowed himself that momentarily panicked slip of control as he let his suddenly shaky legs to pull his ass on the floor. Vijay had to close his eyes and concentrate on breathing for a bit before he could take a less shaky breath and compose himself enough to crawl over to a couch and lean against it. Eventually it eased up and he was able to stand up again.

While his legs felt weak and breath kept hicuping in his lungs he pushed that aside to evaluate the situation. Once more his watch told him he'd lost two hours more than was okay. He managed to neatly drop the seeds in Sunshine's feeder and gave her clean fresh water. Still the bird was stressed and while she stopped shrieking her chirps suggested deeper worry that he felt twisting in his stomach.

"It's gonna be okay, girl. I'll try to find him and promise to bring him home." he told to the bird and she even allowed a scratch session before she pushed his fingers away and tweeted sternly.

He took that as her way of telling him to stop brooding and get to action.

Top to toe in tailbacks

Oh, I got red lights all around, uh

I'm driving home for Christmas, yeah

Get my feet on holy ground

With that Vijay took as deep breath as he could without chocking and looked at the alert. Hurricane was here and it's been upgraded. The swing of it will take in about an hour and predicted landfall was straight at Long Beach and Hamptons.

Also service will be down and emergency services would have trouble to reach destination in the dangerous conditions. The wind will pick up even more and for some hours it'll be fuckatry of disaster before it will calm down and then after a while slam it all back up at them.

Classic hurricane just colder than usual, right?

He then checked the single bar fading in and out, meaning the grid was already failing with wind.

The building had backup generator and he hoped its been maintained or at least had a brother. He saw that pool was already drained and windows shuttered so he held to a hope. He knew roof had a small terrace situation going on with a garden or something but he assumed that had been taken care of earlier. He saw the supplies were okay and they had extra water stored in larger bottles by the wall. He walked over to the back counter and pulled a fresh bottle while trying to ping Mal's last location. Thankfully they both had iPhones so he'd managed to sweep their both data for emergencies and he even managed a way to feed some satellite connectivity with a help of an old buddy that was in computers and shit.

So all he could do for now was to hook up the satellite and swing by the last location he was now seeing.

It appeared that for a second his signal had pinged nearby.

Actually…

Quite nearby that was…

Right down the street…

He literally just drove past that spot mere couple hours ago..

Momentarily his weakness returned with a swing so majestic he came to on the floor with a parakeet in his face.

For whole ten seconds he just stared and shook as he couldn't breathe through the pounding of his heart. But a small beak returned him to the land of living and he hissed lightly before patting her for all her worries.

"I'm okay, dear, I'll be okay. I gotta go and find out boy." he tried to calm down the feathered soul and it seemed to help. Maybe she was more than just a bird in a cage. He remembered Mal telling about her and that she was his therapy or something animal. Sure the other options weren't that much for Mal. Dog needed walks, cats liked their independence and fish weren't exactly interactive. That left the bird.

Also Mal was terrified of having other issues with fuzzier creatures that wasn't just them making a mess or needing socializing.

Not many, that excluded his family tree, knew Mal's had severe problems with furs or something that came with cats and dogs.

Maybe that was why the boy always had penchant for snakes and lizards.

But he'd seen Mal having severe reaction to a cat from being with one more than it was okay and that had escalated to a haphazard ride to the nearest emergency room. Turned out the boy had severe asthmatic reaction and he'd probably suffocate and die had Vijay been slower. Usually Mal didn't have such issues but something about that one occasion was enough to cause ruckus however keeping it from his family to this day felt odd especially since his bills were paid by Jess and she was famous for being nosey mother.

But then maybe it wasn't allergy at all. Maybe it was emotional state. Who knew now. They'd been a bit on the edge and something definitely set the boy off into long suffocation spell that was broken by ER's inhaler.

But now he felt like it was him needing that inhaler. His chest still felt tight and his heart kept differentiating between tap dance and straight out breakdancing.

Yeah…

About that…

Vijay wiped his palms across his rugged face and took as deep breath as he could. He was still shaking but now was not the time to dwell on that. With shaky Mal hands he dug out the small box of supplies and rummaged among pills and other knickknacks until he landed on two big red pills and two inhalers.

He grabbed the water and downed the pills and then braved both inhalers.

And took one with him and stuck the three green pills in the other pocket. Those may be of use if he doesn't get the boy home. Then he pulled out first aid and went after Mal's own med cabinet and checked over for something that he might need had he'd gotten injured or something. He avoided looking too deeply in the mirror that flashed by as he opened the cabinet. The face looking back may not be one he wanted to see right now.

He noted the various pill bottles and random inhaler. Some gauze and other shit was in moderate use it seemed. Still injury prone like ever. He almost giggled at that as the memories surfaced but he pushed them aside. He realized the immediate meds weren't there so he walked back out to kitchen. Now that's the sight he missed looking at.

Fleeting image of his own row next to Mal's caused goosebumps to jump up on his skin and he swallowed. That was not his intent. Not tonight. Not ever.

He quickly browsed through the bottles until he deemed Mal wasn't on some meds that he needed like yesterday. Unlike himself, the poke of his subconscious gave him a shudder.

Pushing all this aside once more he quickly packed a small crossbody pouch type of bag with just immediate resources. Then a quick side thought and he pulled two hoodies out of Mal's closet and put them both on and concluded with his jacket. Throwing the small pouch across his chest he put the phone in the pocket and grabbed that flashlight and extra batteries threw that in the jacket's pocket and put on the gloves. He tried hard to skip thinking about the timeline and Route Mal took this far but it kept coming at him like a freight train.

First he'd been circling around precinct for hours then took way too long and shaky route to one spot two blocks away until he finally made way too long to stop for even longer just at hands reach. He remembered at the last moment to put Sunshine back in her cage she probably escaped because he didn't realize the door needed to be closed properly. Damn.

Oh well, he did promise her to bring their boy back home, didn't he?

So he did. As he stepped outside once more he took a deep breath and pulled the ski mask on his face and pushed the beanie tighter on his scalp. He may appear vain in others eyes but truthfully he cared less about looks as long as he could be decent and do his job properly. He may look like random weather reporter at the moment but he believed it will save them both eventually.

And with that he felt his body steady itself and loose the residual shaking and hiccups. He was okay and so will be Mal.

And then he braced for the weather as the door clicked behind his back…

So I sing for you

Though you can't hear me

When I get through

Oh and feel you near me

Driving in my car

Driving home for Christmas

Driving home for Christmas

With a thousand memories