Summary: Boone and Charlie meet in a ski shop (AU set in 1981)
Note: Happy Christmas to themoononastick, who asked for this fic last year. It's based on The Waitress's song "Christmas Wrapping," (although I went with a different title.) Yep, I wrote it! "Unusual" pairing and all! I even set it in the same year as the song, just for fun! Hope you like it. :) Many thanks to zelda_zee for the beta!
Spending Christmas by himself was no big deal. In fact, it was kind of cool. Boone hadn’t felt like going on the annual skiing trip with the fam this year. No, he was here, alone in his modest bachelor apartment, trying to prove something, he wasn’t sure exactly what anymore.
He’d put up a little tree on the tabletop and was even cooking Christmas dinner for himself: turkey, mashed potatoes, the whole shebang. Of course, since he was sipping on his last bottle of Stoli, kept nice and cold in the freezer, everything was taking a bit longer than it should, but it didn’t matter. No one here but himself. He wasn’t even that hungry but he enjoyed going through the motions. No maid, no cook, no fancy catered dinner, just him tackling the small turkey he got from the local grocery store. It was in the oven now and he had, he thought, an hour or so before it would be done.
At least it warmed the small room. He’d never realized how crappy these old “historic” Southern California buildings were. No central heat, no sealing on the windows, no carpet on the bare floors. There he sat, bundled up in a sweater just as though he was in Alaska or something. “Might as well be Siberia,” he muttered, feeling well and truly alone. It was his own choice, but nevertheless he started to feel the first pang of regret.
As he pounded his third glass of “Christmas cheer” -- vodka and cranberry juice -- the scrap of paper on the fridge, held there by a magnet for nearly a year now, kept catching his eye. He didn’t know why he’d held onto the damn thing this long. That piece of paper pretty much summed up the whole year: never got a single thing he wanted. What difference would it make now that the year was nearly over? He was glad to see the last of 1981, to be honest.
He plucked the paper from the fridge, turning it over in his hand for the millionth time. In a thick, drunken scrawl, Charlie had jotted down his name, his number and a quick doodle of himself playing guitar. Boone had been more than a little dazzled when he met him at the Big Bear ski shop last year. He’d always been a sucker for a British accent and he hadn’t been able to stop himself from kind of eavesdropping when he heard one in the shop, finally turning to see who it belonged to.
His first impression was one of mild disappointment. Not really his type. On the short side, kind of an odd nose. The guy looked positively elfin in his striped scarf, his cheeks red-bright from the cold, although the shaggy, coal-black hair kind of destroyed the effect. He was combing half-heartedly through the ski jackets on a rack, looking very out of his element with his checkered Van's and skintight red leather pants. Boone pegged the guy as straight anyway, from the way he flirted shamelessly with the clerk with the Sheena Easton ‘do when she asked if he needed any help.
It was the tune the guy whistled that made everything click into place. He was in Driveshaft! He was famous. Well, kinda. Boone immediately pictured him in that half-animated video that had been in constant rotation since MTV had debuted a few months before. He’d probably sat through it 100 times. Everyone loved MTV. He’d pretended to share the hot frat guys’ crushes on Martha Quinn, when of course Alan Hunter was much more his type of veejay.
A rock star, now that was something interesting. Boone made his way over to the rack, feigning disinterest as he started to thumb through the jackets. His hand brushed the other guy’s -- Charlie, he thought his name was -- as they both pushed aside the same ski jacket and Boone mumbled an apology
“’s all right, mate,” Charlie said. “Hey, you ski?”
“Yeah, a little,” Boone shrugged. Only since he was five, but even though he was good, it still wasn’t really his thing.
“Man, I got roped into this ski vacation and I don’t know what the hell I’m doing here,” Charlie said, dropping his voice and looking over his shoulder, as if it were a crime to admit to less than extreme enthusiasm for skiing in a ski shop. He appeared to be wearing eyeliner, which seemed strangely exotic, along with that out-of-place accent. “It was all my brother’s idea,” he sighed in a tone Boone knew all too well. “And then he takes off with the first pair of tits he sees. I should have just stayed in L.A.”
Boone nodded. “Yeah, my stepsister’s got a new boyfriend and my mom and my stepdad always fight on vacation ... at least I don’t mind skiing on my own.” Shit! Boone hadn’t meant to unburden on a complete stranger, especially one he was hoping to impress.
But Charlie looked at him with an appraising glance. “Pretty boy like you having to do anything alone is a downright shame.”
Boone blinked. Was he flirting with him? So those rumors were true! “Oh, uh... I don’t mind.”
Charlie smiled, his eyes crinkling up in wicked amusement. He actually chuckled. “What’s your name?”
”Well, ‘Uh, Boone,’ I’m gonna be pretty bored around here, so I’m in room 405 at the lodge if you get bored too.” His hand brushed Boone’s. “In case you want a drink or... anything.”
Boone’s cheeks actually flushed. You’d think he’d never been picked up before. “It’s Charlie, right?” he said.
“It is,” Charlie grinned. “Guess you can’t go incognito when you’re in one of six videos MTV plays all the damn day.”
“No,” Boone laughed. There was something about Charlie that was quickly growing on him. He’d had his share of boys as pretty as he was and they were usually a total bore when they weren’t fucking, good only for that and for being seen with. Not that being seen with a rock star wasn’t good too, but, Boone had to admit, spending time with someone with a spark of intelligence and loads of talent beyond the bedroom suddenly seemed very attractive.
He was just starting to speculate about Charlie’s other talents when a heavy-set guy, far too old for the leopard-print purple leather jacket he was sporting, entered the shop. “Charlie, c’mon,” the guy said, waving his hand. “They’re all waiting.”
“Of course,” Charlie said to the guy, nodding. “Sorry. Band business. See you later,” he said with a parting wink to Boone. “Room 405.”
But later that evening, when Boone had gone in search of room 405, there were security guards outside who wouldn’t let him pass, no matter how much he insisted he’d been invited. He didn’t see Charlie on the slopes or at the bar or in any of the shops and he figured, well, that was it.
Until his last night there when he saw Charlie, flanked by a couple of tipsy-looking girls, go figure, staggering out of the bar. Boone decided not to say hello. What was the point? Charlie was clearly with his company of choice. But Charlie stopped. “Hey!” he said, rather too loudly. “Boo... Boone, how you doing?”
”Great,” Boone said, conscious of how the girls looked at him, trying to decide whether to be jealous or flirty. Maybe he was going to get invited back to Charlie’s room with them, and the two blondes were clearly going to say what a great idea that was, whether they thought so or not.
But Charlie didn’t invite him back to his room. “Anyone got a pen?” Charlie demanded and one of the girls produced one from her purse. “Fantastic,” he grinned, swaying drunkenly. He searched in his pocket and produced a crumpled strip of paper. “Here,” he said, holding it out to Boone after scribbling something on it. “’s my number in L.A. You’re from L.A., right?”
“Yeah, I am,” Boone nodded, taking the scrap of paper.
“Great,” Charlie said, and with a last dazzling grin, he let the girls lead him to the elevator.
Boone stared at the paper. Could be legit. Or as much of a dead-end as the hotel room invite. He might give it a call when he got back to town, just to see.
But it had been weeks before he’d even tried. Things had heated up again with Bryce, the modern dance major. Bryce was too gorgeous for words and too convenient and frankly, too well-hung to dismiss, but Boone caught himself wondering, “What If” every time that damn video came on. He’d made the mistake of mentioning having met Charlie to Bryce and now he was teased endlessly about his “rock star boyfriend.”
It got annoying but then Bryce would strip down to his form-fitting Calvin Klein briefs and Boone would forget to be annoyed.
Alone in his kitchen, Boone sipped his drink. Bryce was long gone, finally hooked up with someone richer. Boone couldn’t say he missed him, other than the sex, and even that had gotten a little boring, to be honest.
He’d run into Charlie again, this time in March at a little shop on Melrose, but the timing was off. Story of his life. There was Charlie, wearing dark shades and skinny black jeans and an artfully ripped Buzzcocks T-shirt, trying on an assortment of leather cuffs. Boone had to look twice -- if that was Charlie, his hair was now a lot longer and blonde and spiky -- but that wasn't the only thing that made him hesitate to say hello. He was sure that he wouldn’t be remembered. Someone in a band probably met dozens of people a day, probably didn’t even remember the countless people he’d fucked.
But Charlie -- yes it really was him -- had smiled big and bright, face lighting up on seeing him, even wrapped him in an exuberant hug. “Boone, mate, good to see you.”
Charlie smelled good, of tobacco and leather and some kind of woodsy aftershave Boone couldn’t name. His scruff scraped pleasantly as he planted a quick peck on both of Boone’s cheeks.
“Hey, you too,” Boone grinned. The year was looking better already.
“You never called, you know,” Charlie frowned, seeming genuinely disappointed.
“Oh, yeah, I guess I didn’t,” Boone flushed. He considered telling Charlie how he’d tried to get into his hotel room but decided against it. Or how he did call, once or twice, but the phone just rang and rang. Maybe his having appeared to be hard-to-get was working in his favor.
“Well, never mind,” Charlie said, clapping him on the shoulder. “Barely been in town anyway. But hey, what are you doing right now? There’s a smashing pub right around the corner.”
“Sounds good,” Boone nodded, letting his mind wander to where things would lead after a few drinks.
And then Boone remembered. “Oh shit! My sister has this recital in, like, an hour. I kind of have to be there. But listen,” he scrambled in his pocket for a pen and something to write on. An old receipt would have to do. “Here’s my number. Because I really want to have that drink.”
“You bet,” Charlie nodded, seizing the number and appearing to commit it to memory on the spot.
But it had been July before Charlie had called and invited him to join him on his boat. God, it sounded fantastic and Boone wanted more than anything to spend the day with Charlie, sunning himself, slowly getting drunk on Mojitos or something and then retiring to some lower deck for a long makeout session.
Of course the guy had picked the worst time ever to call. Boone was currently covered in Calamine and high on Tylenol 3 smuggled in from Canada, having suffered the worst sunburn of his life. He’d fallen asleep in the backyard, at noon, with no sunscreen on. Really fucking stupid. At least, he’d figured, he wasn’t missing anything.
Boone had gritted his teeth and explained why he couldn’t make it and then threw the phone across the room, or at least as far as the cord would reach. Fucking bad timing.
He got drunk, against doctor’s orders, but he really needed to be drunk right now. God, he hated this year, he really fucking hated it. Shannon would not stop teasing him about his missed opportunity – unfortunately, he’d let her in on the saga of his near-misses with Charlie -- and so he threatened to distribute those photos of her before she’d gotten her nose done. She’d just stuck out her tongue and kept right on. It was a full week before he could take a hot shower again. Just as well, as cold showers seemed to be his lot for the foreseeable future.
Then came fall and school took up all his time, that is, the hours that weren’t occupied with Hans, an incredibly luscious blond Adonis from Berlin. They didn’t talk much, but then they didn’t have to. Things were perfect, until he caught him fucking some other guy. It was only a few days before Halloween. Boone was having a party and they’d planned to go as Luke and Han from Star Wars. They’d even talked Shannon into doing her hair á là Princess Leia. Now Shannon had other plans already lined up and Boone was going to scrap the whole thing, and then he remembered Charlie. “What the hell?” he thought, and dialed his number.
Shockingly, Charlie not only answered, he’d stayed on the phone for an hour, relating a series of highly amusing drunken adventures from his tour of Finland, the highlight of which was how he talked a Finnish cop out of throwing him in jail just because he was handcuffed, naked, to a statue in the town square in the middle of the night. “I told him I was the victim of an overzealous fan, which really, wasn’t far from the truth. He ended up loaning me his jacket and giving me a ride home. Pity he was so homely. I think he rather fancied me. I mean, he had seen the goods and all.”
Boone was laughing so hard he nearly forgot why he’d called. “Hey, I’m having this Halloween party tonight. Nothing fancy, just a few friends and if you’re not busy...”
“Yeah. Yeah, why not?” He could hear Charlie’s grin through the phone. He’d given him the address and suddenly he felt on top of the world again. Fuckin’ Charlie Pace was coming to his party and he’d have to royally fuck screw things up not to get him into his bed by the end of the night.
At least this time he had the sense not to tell anyone that he was expecting Charlie. It would blow their minds when he showed up. So he’d sat there, watching the clock and checking the front door all night, slowly getting drunker and drunker and madder and madder as he realized Charlie wasn’t coming. He hit on some guy dressed in a white T-shirt and shorts -- he was from “Chariots of Fire,” he helpfully told Boone as he’d eased off his “costume.” Boone never did figure out which guy he was supposed to be from that movie, the Christian or the Jewish guy or one of the Americans or whatever, but it didn’t matter. He couldn’t have been that religious.
He was too hungover the next morning to react much when Charlie called in with his excuse: His car had died and he’d had to walk to a gas station and by then it was too late, etc., etc. Boone mumbled, “Don’t worry about it,” and hung up.
When the Christmas party season rolled around, Boone was done. Done with empty-headed muscle boys, done with bad timing and rock stars that never showed and this whole damn year. Here he was alone at Christmas and he liked it just fine. He really didn’t feel like going back to that damn ski resort on the off-chance that Charlie would be there again. Really, he didn’t even know the guy. He’d had, what, three or four missed chances with him? They’d never even kissed, and yet that short little limey stayed on his mind more than any of the guys he’d actually hooked up with this year.
Boone finished off his drink. The turkey would be done soon and it was time to put on the potatoes. He whipped them maybe a little harder than they deserved but there was really nothing else to take his frustrations out on.
He was going to set the perfect table, even if no one else ever saw it, and so when he realized he’d forgotten the fucking cranberry sauce, he swore, but it wasn’t Christmas dinner without it, dammit. He let out a deep, aggrieved sigh, turned the oven off, and threw on his overcoat. He half-expected the store to be closed, but he had good luck for once and it was open. There were only a few shoppers, mostly stocking up on booze, so he had the cranberry sauce aisle to himself. He spent longer than necessary deciding on which brand and whether he preferred jellied or whole berries and finally just grabbed one at random.
He rocked on his heels in line, mind pleasantly blank as he waited his turn. Out of the corner of his eye, he noticed someone one line over bobbing his head in time to the song being piped through the store. He had to turn to see who thought “Wonderful Christmastime,” by Paul McCartney was so damn terrific and when he saw who it was, he simply had to laugh. It was none other than Charlie, wearing the familiar striped scarf and looking even more like a Christmas elf than ever, especially now that his hair was a natural light brown shade, without a single over-gelled spike in sight.
He glanced over, his eyes lighting up as he recognized Boone. He pushed his way out of his line and came over to join Boone’s. “We have to stop meeting in retail establishments,” he joked in that delightful working-class British accent. “What brings you out on this frosty Los Angeles night?”
Boone was aware that he was grinning broadly -- he just couldn’t help it. He held up his can of cranberry sauce and Charlie burst into giggles, holding up his own jar of the stuff -- displaying the only rock 'n' roll thing about him tonight, chipped black nail polish on one hand. “Cranberry shoppers of the world, unite,” Charlie laughed and other people were glaring at them but he didn’t care. Boone knew it wasn’t just the vodka making him feel warm and giddy.
“Shouldn’t you be somewhere really glamorous, surrounded by adoring fans?” Boone asked and Charlie just shook his head, still smiling that contagious smile.
“I'm spending this one alone," he said with the hint of a sigh. "Need a break; this year's been crazy."
"Me too,” Boone nodded. “Cooking dinner myself and ...” He paused, certain he was going to jinx himself again. “And it’s really too much food for one person and ...”
“Are you, my lad, inviting me over to your humble abode for a spot of Christmas dinner?” Charlie waggled his eyebrows, making Boone laugh even harder.
“I am,” Boone said when he got his breath back. “I am,” he repeated, more firmly, feeling that little flutter in his stomach that maybe, finally, this was going to happen.
“In that case, this is on me,” Charlie said with an exaggeratedly grand wave as he paid for both cans of cranberry sauce.
They walked to Boone’s place, shivering because it really was damn cold for California. His apartment seemed impossibly warm and cozy and bright and the turkey actually smelled good but none of that mattered as he turned to face Charlie, who had shrugged off his coat and jacket and was rubbing his hands, either to get warm or out of a joyful kind of expectation.
“Think this is gonna be a Happy Christmas after all,” he said softly, crooking his finger for Boone to bend down. His lips were warm and he tasted like cinnamon somehow, and they were both smiling too broadly to make it a really good kiss but that didn’t matter. They had the rest of the night to get it right.
The turkey was eaten cold the next morning, at the table now set for two. Smiling happily at Charlie, who was swimming in his plaid flannel pajamas, Boone was beginning to suspect that 1982 was going to be a really fucking great year.