Quietly, Lazarus slipped out of the apartment. Christmas was far too close and he hadn’t had anyone to share the event with for so long, he never had wrapping paper. So he was going to buy some. He had no idea what he was looking for. Christmas seemed like a strange thing to him now, and for him it had become just another day on the calendar. None of the days had any specific meaning. Not even weekends. It was all about the three days when he would change, and those three days fell across any week of the month.
He traipsed around shops for a few hours, not knowing exactly what he should get. For half of that time, he was dragging a roll of wrapping paper around with him and cursing its cumbersome proportions for the fiftieth time as he hit some old dear over the head as he tried to get through the crush of people. Before he left the town, he had the presence of mind to buy some tape too. Stressed, but smiling, Lazarus made his way back to the car and left the insanity of the Christmas frenzy behind him.
Making sure that Melissa was still asleep when he got back, he pulled the violin out of the wardrobe, quietly pulling the box out of its plastic bag. It took most of the wrapping paper, several attempts and a lot of tape before the box was fully obscured, but finally Lazarus sat back from the messy wrapping with a frustrated expression on his face, a curse ready behind his lips as he realised he had made a complete mess of it. He sighed. He should have bought another roll of paper, but instead of going and wasting more money on wrapping paper, he shoved the box back in the bag and began to clear up.
Melissa stirred as he put the box back in the wardrobe and he straightened up, smiling down at her as she opened her eyes.
‘Evening, sleepyhead.’ He chuckled, swooping down, pecking her on the cheek. She grimaced as his new stubble scratched against her face and he blushed a little. ‘Sorry.’
‘It’s okay.’ She laughed, touching her cheek. ‘I'm just not used to it. That’s all.’ Lazarus smiled, the smile holding the same hidden quality as before. She sighed and shook her head, wondering what it could be.
Days were passing quickly now that Melissa was in his life and the week leading up to Christmas seemed to slip through their fingers like melting snowflakes. Lazarus was eager to give Melissa her present, but he made himself wait until Christmas Eve, impatiently tapping his foot into the night. He watched the clock, sitting on the sofa, curled up with Melissa, wrapped in each other’s arms. When the hands reached the 12, he turned to Melissa and kissed her, moulding his soft warm lips against her cold ones.
‘Merry Christmas,’ he murmured contentedly.
‘Merry Christmas,’ she replied with a smile, kissing him back. He pulled away, putting a finger to her lips and told her to wait there. He got up and went to the bedroom, pulling the terribly wrapped present from the wardrobe.
‘I should have just left it in the bag... it’s so badly wrapped,’ he muttered, embarrassed by his efforts as he handed her the box.
She shrugged, taking the box off him. She unwrapped it, a smile coming to her lips as she opened the box. She looked at it in awe for a while, its perfect body glimmering in the thin strips of moonlight filtering through the window and the soft light of the lamp in the corner of the room. She placed it upon the floor and wrapped her arms around Lazarus, falling into him.
‘It's wonderful!’ She exclaimed, her voice full of joy and love. Lazarus laughed and wrapped his arms around her. He was certain the joy radiating from her made her nearly warm to the touch, but he supposed she had spent so long pressed against his body in their tight embraces now, that it would be hard to have not taken any heat from him.
‘I'm glad you like it. We can change it if it’s not right, though. I was about two hours away from transforming when I got it.’
‘I love it! It's perfect and because it's from you it just makes it better!’ she cut herself short, stopping herself from rambling. ‘But... I haven't got you anything.’ Her face fell a little, but Lazarus’ smile was immovable.
'It doesn't matter. I told you already, you don't need to get me anything.' Lazarus said, his words sincere, but Melissa shook her head, sending her curly hair into a frenzy around her face.
‘But I don't feel right’ she said, looking away, trying to hide her upset.
‘No, no! Don't be upset! It’s fine!’ Lazarus cried, worried he had somehow unknowingly offended her in some way.
‘But... I could never get you anything... with the blasted sun... and...’ She trailed off. She forced herself not to cry. She couldn’t. Not on Christmas. Not now. Instead she drew herself closer to him, allowing his arms to twine around her body comfortingly cosy and safe.
'Melissa, please, stop beating yourself up! I'd have given this to you any old day if it weren't for the fact Christmas was only a week away when I got it.' Lazarus protested as he let her bury herself in his arms.
‘I knew you were hiding something from me.’ Her voice was muffled against his chest. She was listening to his heartbeat, steady and secure, rhythmically pumping and she felt almost as though she was sharing the sensation.
'Nothing bad though' he smiled.
She smiled too, though he couldn’t see from the angle she was sitting. She leant into him so he fell back among the cushions. She wrapped her arms around him, lying on top of him.
‘I love you and I suppose this will have to be my present.’ She murmured as she pressed her lips onto his, placing all her passion and love into it. She could feel her cold lips run warm as they crushed Lazarus'. She pulled away, her red lips splitting into a tender smile.
'I’m sure I’ve already said this; you were an early Christmas present the day you told me you love me. Before, even.' Lazarus said.
‘I know.’ She smiled. ‘You...’ She stopped, embarrassed. ‘I was never good with words.’
‘You're my gift too. I always used to hop around from city to city, you saved me. Gave me a reason to finally stay.’
'Saved you from what?’ Lazarus frowned slightly, a little bemused.
‘From Logan... from... everything. I no longer lay awake thinking of the past. Not when I have you here. Now.’ She shook her head, and then rested it on his chest, his heart beating softly next to her ear. ‘That sounds stupid. I know.’
‘It's not stupid at all.’ Lazarus disagreed. He knew he felt the same way, except instead of being saved from a psycho vampire, he was being saved from himself.
‘It is. I was never good at explaining myself.’ She mumbled, annoyed at herself.
‘Well. I don't believe you.’ She huffed.
'You don't have to' He smiled and let a laugh shiver over his lips.
‘Thank you.’ She whispered, intently listening to his chest still. The sound was as enthralling as his music.
'Thank you too,' he smiled, putting a hand on her back, holding her close.
'Everything. You know what for,' the small frown creased his brow again, but was quickly lifted by her words.
‘I know I don't have to say this but. I love you; you make me feel as though my heart is beating again.’