It was late that night, Chris and Tia were already asleep when Alex ventured down into the living room. Unable to sleep after his stressful ran in –running normally relaxed him, but it did the opposite this time- Alex curled up on an overstuffed couch with a book and began reading by the light of a lamp that looked like a water lily. It was an adventure book, not one of those poorly written teen romance novels that seemed to be so popular with others his age –whether for the romance or the brief and disjointed action scenes, Alex didn’t know. The worn pages smelled of ink and coffee, no longer stiff, but leathery and soft.
Somewhere between page 138 and 139, his eyes drifted shut at last against his will. It was almost five in the morning by the time sleep claimed him completely, sending him into deep and restful world where nothing bad ever happened, no dreams or nightmares to haunt him, where ever thing was still and perfect.
Chris walked down at six am to pick his dad from the airport. Lily had send him home, because she was unable to sleep when her children weren’t supervised. After a full day at the hospital without any terrible incidents, Robert felt he could get back to his kids, but only after making Lily promise to call every day. Yawning and stretching, Chris meandered past the living room, pushing when he saw that the lamp was still on. He went over to shut it off and spotted Alex asleep on the couch. Shaking his head, he smiled slightly and pulled a royal blue blanket off of the back of an armchair and put it over the sleeping boy. He put up the fallen book from the ground and put it on the coffee table, then he turned off the light and left, grapping his keys and walking out of the predawn gloom.
Hey Sis! FYI, Alex is asleep on the couch. I’m going to pick up dad. Chris send the text to Tia and drive off.
Blearily, Tia read the message, the text sound having woken her up when it went off. She rolled over and stumbled out of the bed, walking down the stairs while rubbing the sleep out of her eyes. Just as Chris said, Tia found Alex fast asleep on the couch. She wasn’t sure why she felt like she had to be down there, she just knew that if Alex had fallen asleep on the couch he probably hadn’t been able to sleep all night and Tia wasn’t going to let him wake up by himself. She settled in on the television and falling asleep to an infomercial about a new magical workout.
It was almost ten by the time Alex opened his eyes. The room was deceptively dark with its curtains pulled over the windows to stop sunlight from entering. Tia was snoring lightly on the other couch, causing Alex laughed softly.
“Oh, hey Alex.” Chris whispered, peeking out of the doorway.
“Hey.” Alex replied, joining him into the hall, so they wouldn’t wake the sleeping girl.
“Rough night?” Chris jokingly asked, walking to the kitchen with him.
“Little bit.” Alex said as he thought over the events of last night that Chris wasn’t aware of.
It wasn’t like Alex didn’t trust Chris, it was just he didn’t want to ruin Chris’ innocence or his innocent world with his own rotten luck, which is way Alex kept parts of his life hidden from Chris as much as he can, cause telling Chris that would be like telling a child that Santa wasn’t real and while there were many things Alex would handle, that look of betrayal and hurt wasn’t one of them.
“Hello, Luna.” Alex said as his puppy greeted him enthusiastically “You’re such a good girl and so pretty. Look at you.”
He got down and cuddled the puppy, laughing as she licked his face and nipped at his hands playfully.
“So how has your morning been?” Alex asked, still playing on the ground with the Australian Sheppard puppy.
“Busy.” Chris replied “I picked dad up from the airport and we got breakfast. Then I did a bit of Christmas shopping.”
“Oh, Christmas is coming up.” Alex exclaimed
“You can’t be surprised, it’s in just over a week.”
Alex’s mind had already left the earth and gone to another one, trying to figure out what to give these people. He couldn’t remember the last time he really celebrated Christmas. Every year he’d give Scarlet a gift, but that was it, so he had no idea where to even start.
“Earth to Alex, Alex do you read me.” Chris said, while he waved one of his hands in front of Alex’s face.
“I was asking what you normally did for Christmas.”
“Oh, you know stuff.”
“Let me guess.” Tia yawned, walking in and making herself a cup of coffee “You didn’t do anything for Christmas.”
“Not really, no.” Alex admitted, as his checks started to warm up.
“Then let’s go get a Christmas tree.” Chris said, sounding very excited at the idea “Christmas is the best holiday ever!”
“Let me shower first.” Alex said
He flew up the stairs and quickly jumped in the shower, singing half remembered words to various Christmas songs. After he was clean and dressed, Alex pulled on a light blue jacket and walked through the hallway, a hand going through damp hair.
“How are you?” Tia asked, emerging from her room wearing black skinny jeans, a grey long sleeved shirt and a black leather jacket.
“I’m fine, you?” Alex asked, playing with the hem of his jacket.
“I’m good. But really about last night-”
“Can we please just pretend it never happened?” Alex asked, looking at her with large icy red puppy dog eyes.
“You can’t pretend everything in life is okay.”
“I know it’s not fine.” Alex said quietly “But I want to enjoy today. We can talk about it tonight if you want, but right now, I just want to pick out a tree and do normal holiday stuff and be slightly normal, no matter how boring it’ll be.”
“Okay.” Tia nodded “By the way I got you this.”
When she said that she handed him a small blue flip cell phone.
“Why?” Alex asked, trying to understand why he was holding a cell phone in his hands, looking from it to Tia.
“Because you shouldn’t have to call me from your attacker’s phone.” Tia said sneakily. “So just think about it as more of a present for me than anything else.”
“Thank you.” Alex simply said, putting his phone in the back pocket of his grey jeans.
“Are you two ready yet.” Chris yelled from the kitchen “Dad and I want to go before all the good trees are gone! And dad wants to mess with the sales people by only signing. Come on, it’s going to epic and awesome.”
“Coming.” Tia replied to her loud brother who has a very good set of lungs on him.
Alex gave Tia a hug that lasted for perhaps a second and a half before running down the stairs, excited about his first Christmas tree hunt in years.
Cute. Tia thought as she followed the boy out the door.