Knock. Knock. Knock.
Cameron wiped his flour-covered hands on a towel and yelled out, “Coming,” as he rushed to open the door to his apartment. Kirsten stood opposite him, an expectant half grin gracing her lips.
“Stretch, what are you doing here?” Cameron asked, leaning against the door.
“You bake, right? Plus Camille and Linus kicked me out of the house,” Kirsten said. She brushed past Cameron and set her bag on his couch.
“Excuse me?” Cameron asked, confusion evident in his eyes.
“I need help baking for the party tonight. You’re the best that I know,” Kirsten said as if it should’ve been obvious.
“You’re telling me you can’t bake,” Cameron said slowly.
“Exactly,” Kirsten said, “So, what are we baking?”
“Sugar cookies. And I found this new recipe for a pie that’s like a fruitcake that I thought I’d try out,” Cameron boasted, his chest puffing out ever so slightly and eyes sparkling.
“Cameron, I am not letting you make a fruitcake pie. Those kale smoothies you made would taste better. Can we just do something simple? And chocolatey?” Kirsten insisted.
“Whatever you want, Sweets,” Cameron said, his voice dripping with sarcasm.
Kirsten dunked her spoon in the half-eaten hazelnut spread jar and lifted the spoon to her lips licking it clean and closing her eyes to fully enjoy the flavor. Cameron glanced up from where he stood carefully measuring the flour for the cookies.
“Are you going to help or what?” Cameron asked accusatorily.
“You’ve got it handled,” Kirsten answered waving her spoon at Cameron,
“You sure about that?” Cameron asked. He pinched some flour between his fingers and flicked it at Kirsten, hitting her squarely on the cheek. Kirsten’s mouth hung ajar for a moment before she grabbed a handful of flour and tossed it at Cameron. A cloud of white formed around him.
“Come here, Sparky. You’ve got something on your face,” Cameron said while quickly dipping his finger in the frosting jar. Kirsten stepped closer, and Cameron swiped his frosting-coated finger across her face.
In surprise, Kirsten took a step back and said, “You’re asking for it.”
“Maybe I am,” Cameron challenged. Kirsten walked even closer so only inches separated them. Locking eyes with Cameron, she arched an eyebrow and dunked her finger in the frosting jar and wiped it on his cheek.
“There. Now we’re even,” Kirsten said quietly, staring into Cameron’s green eyes. He returned the stare, and they stood there unmoving until the trill sound of the oven going off interrupted the moment and they stepped apart. Cameron’s heart beat rapidly, suddenly aware of how close he and Kirsten had just been. He abruptly turned to oven to pull out the tray of cupcakes, avoiding Kirsten’s lingering gaze.
“Why don’t you go ahead and get ready. I’ll watch these ‘til they’re done.” Cameron nodded back to his bedroom.
“Yeah, I probably should,” Kirsten said. She looked down at her clothes, which were now coated with a fine layer of flour. Frosting still stuck to her cheek. She wiped her frosting-covered hands on a towel and grabbed her bag off the couch, heading back to Cameron’s bedroom.
Cameron watched her walk away then turned back to the baking cookies in the oven. When the timer went off, Cameron pulled the cookies out of the oven and set them on the counter beside the cupcakes to cool. He wiped off the counter and put away all the ingredients. While still messy, the kitchen at least looked a little tidier. Cameron sighed contentedly and glanced at the clock. Seeing that it was nearly time to leave for the Christmas party, Cameron dashed over to his bedroom and knocked.
“Kirsten, can I come in?” Cameron called through the door.
Cameron slowly slid the door open and walked in only to stop short just past the doorway upon seeing Kirsten standing in front of the mirror. An elegant red dress graced her frame. Her usually straight hair fell around her shoulders in loose curls. Kirsten bent forward securing gold swirly dangle earrings in her ears. She caught him staring through the mirror.
Cameron quickly averted his gaze. He cleared his throat and said, “Sorry, Princess.”
“It’s fine. I’m ready anyway. I’ll wait out there for you,” Kirsten said, eyes watching Cameron. She checked her reflection once then turned to face Cameron and walked past him to the living room. Cameron stayed rooted in his spot. After a moment, he came to his senses and rushed into the bathroom where he hurriedly washed off the remaining flour and frosting. Cameron then changed into trousers and an ugly Christmas sweater. He sprayed a bit of cologne on and tousled his dark curls.
Cameron walked into the living room and Kirsten choke back a snort before saying, “Cameron what are you wearing?”
“It’s tradition. Every year the guys have an ugly sweater contest. Tim’s won for the past two years, but not this time,” Cameron boasted.
“I can see that.” Kirsten quirked an eyebrow and grinned at Cameron. He felt his heart flutter at her smile.
“You look nice, by the way.” Cameron shifted his weight and grew sheepish.
“Yeah, something like that,” Cameron said. He outstretched his arm and continued, “Come on, Stretch, we have a party to go to.”
Kirsten linked her arm in his and said, “Let’s go, Girlfriend.”
By the time Cameron and Kirsten arrived at the Stitch Lab, the Christmas party was in full swing. The normally cold environment of the lab had been completely transformed for the occasion. Fairy lights wrapped around the railings. Festive tinsel and fabrics covered the corpse cassette and fish tank. And hung in the doorway just past the elevator: mistletoe.
As Cameron and Kirsten emerged form the elevator, they were ambushed by Linus and Camille, who promptly freed their hands of the baked goods. Camille nudged them towards the doorway.
Eyebrows waggling, Camille said in a singsong voice, “You two kids have fun tonight!”
Cameron and Kirsten both looked up at the mistletoe hanging above them, then to each other, and then out to the party where most everyone was watching them, waiting for a kiss.
Cameron felt his cheeks flushing at all the attention and pressure. Kirsten looked back to him.
“Well it wouldn’t be the first time,” she said before pulling Cameron in and kissing squarely on the lips. Though the kiss was brief, it was gentle and sweet. Kirsten pulled away and walked off towards Camille leaving a dumbfounded Cameron under the mistletoe.
Cameron slowly walked over to get a drink. Tim walked up beside him.
“Don’t worry. I’m not going to kiss you,” Tim said dryly, “But the ugly sweater contest is about to begin.”
“Great thanks.” Cameron let out a shaky breath and glanced around the room, but couldn’t see Kirsten anywhere so he followed Tim to the platform surrounding the main center of the lab. As they made their way to the platform the elevator doors chimed revealing Quincy Fisher.
“I heard there was cake,” Fisher announced.
“You would be correct,” Maggie said, emerging from the shadows and linking her arm through his. She lead him over to the dessert table, which was stacked with cakes, cookies, and pies.
Tim, Alex, Linus, and Cameron lined up beside each other. Maggie, dressed elegantly in black, stepped up beside them.
“If I can have everyone’s attention please. We will vote on ugliest sweater by whoever gets the loudest cheer. First up, Tim,” Maggie said. Several cheered. Less cheered for Alex (it was mostly just Chelsea). Camille cheered for Linus along with a few others, but Cameron by far had the loudest cheers.
Cameron scanned the faces in the lab. In the far back, he saw her. Kirsten cheered and clapped louder than anyone else. At least, that’s what Cameron chose to believe. After being crowned with a Santa hat, Cameron made his way over to Kirsten who now stood by the dessert table.
“So…” Cameron trailed off.
“So congratulations,” Kirsten told Cameron. “I knew you’d win.” When Cameron didn’t say anything, Kirsten looked up from the cookies and cakes and did a double take when she saw his expression. Kirsten set down her plate of food and turned to fully face Cameron.
“Cameron, what’s going on?” She asked him seriously, concern clouding her eyes. Cameron glanced around then tugged on her hand, leading her into the empty break room. Cameron turned to face Kirsten and took her other hand in his.
Glancing down at their intertwined hands, Cameron quietly said, “You kissed me.”
“Yeah. I did,” Kirsten said, confusion still evident on her face. “It’s not like it’s the first time.”
“But you don’t remember the first time.”
“So? You do.”
“Yeah and you called me Julie. So for all intents and purposes, we just had our first kiss.”
“Oh-kay,” Kirsten said slowly, not following Cameron’s train of thought.
Cameron sighed and asked, “Doesn’t it mean anything to you?”
“Of course. I would never have kissed Linus. Or Tim,” Kirsten said matter-of-factly.
“Then what makes me different?” Cameron asked, voice barely above a whisper.
“Well you’re you, Cameron. You’re the one who’s always by my side and-
Cameron cut her off with a passionate kiss- a kiss much more private than before. He quickly pulled back eyes wide.
“I’m sorry, I just-“
Kirsten stepped closer, their faces mere inches apart and whispered, “I know,” before kissing him again.
When they pulled apart, Cameron said, “Come on, Girlfriend. Let’s go enjoy the rest of the Christmas party.”
“Lead the way, Boyfriend.” Kirsten said, entwining her hand in his.