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Justin looked at the sheet of instructions in front of them…and then the sheet behind it…and then the sheet behind that…and the one behind that one…and the one behind that one…and the one behind that one…

 

Then he put the papers down and took a gulp of his beer.

 

He was terrified.

 

It was the first time he was cooking Christmas dinner, and he literally had no idea what he was doing. Nor had he decided to make it easy on himself; Justin didn’t do things by halves, but now he was kind of regretting his offer to host the band’s early Christmas dinner at his place. Holly and Faith had been very helpful - even if some of Holly’s tips were weird and…well…British - but Justin still couldn’t help but feel like he was beyond fucked.

 

He wanted to get this right so badly, but it was looking like he was going to fuck it up entirely, and then…

 

Justin cut himself off before it could continue, forcing himself to take a deep breath and relax.

 

Once he’d managed to relax a bit, he put the beer down and picked up the instructions, determined to actually read them through before panicking.

 

Everything would be fine - all he had to do was follow the instructions, and how difficult could that be?

 

 

 

…Impossibly difficult, as it turned out.

 

 

 

Even after he’d read through the instructions twice, he still had no idea what he was doing.

 

He groaned aloud…and happily threw the papers down onto the counter when he heard someone knocking on the front door to his house, thrilled to have any excuse to abandon any thought of Christmas dinner, even if it was only for a few minutes, or however long it took to accept what he was guessing was a delivery for some item he couldn’t remembering ordering.

 

It was a complete shock when he opened the door to see Ryan and Faith standing outside.

 

 

 

“I’m sorry, I know we’re early.” Faith said be way of greeting, looking truly apologetic: “But somebody is driving me crazy bitching about the fact it’s all Christmas stuff on the tv, and I thought I’d leave him to bitch at your tv while I help out in the kitchen.”

 

Ryan rolled his eyes: “Just because I like the tree now does not mean I want to see the same three films over and fucking over.”

 

“Please.” Faith asked Justin pleadingly: “Please give me something to do, before a strangle him with some tinsel.”

 

 

 

Well…it wasn’t as if Justin knew what he was doing…and Faith had been really helpful when suggesting dishes to cook.

 

Justin would be an idiot to turn her down when she wanted to help.

 

He stood back to let them both on - but before he could shut the door, he caught sight of an embarrassed looking Vinny coming up the drive.

 

 

 

“Hey man, I was wondering if I could just come and hang out a bit early? My heating’s out.”

 

“Of course, come in. Ryan and Faith are already here.”

 

 

 

It was a bit of a change to Justin’s plans…but since his plan had been ‘just go with it and try not to fuck anything up’, that was exactly what he did.

 

 

 

“Thanks for helping out with this. I was panicking a little bit before you and Ryan showed up.” Justin admitted when she started filling a pot with water for the potatoes he’d managed to peel this morning.

 

Faith, sweetheart that she was - because she had to be for putting up with Ryan’s miserable ass - just smiled: “Honestly, I’m happy to be here. It’s the first year since I was old enough to stand up on my own that I haven’t helped out in some way with Christmas dinner - it felt weird.”

 

Justin laughed: “Your parents had you standing on a chair peeling vegetables when you were five?”

 

“It was four.” Faith grinned: “And it was stirring gravy. I didn’t graduate into peeling until I was six when my younger brother was old enough to take over stirring duties.”

 

 

 

Justin was about to tease his friend - only for the doorbell to go again before he could. Vinny shouted that he’d get it…and a second later, Chris appeared in the kitchen with a smile.

 

This, Justin had been expecting - just as he’d been expecting Chris’s completely unrepentant attitude. It was the same to all things Christmas: the only surprising thing here was the fact Holly had allowed him to barge in before midday.

 

 

 

“Holly lost an argument, didn’t she?”

 

“He tricked me by telling me you needed us to grab something from the shops!” came the shouted response from the hallway, Chris’s girlfriend ducking into the kitchen to roll her eyes playfully: “Sorry, Justin.”

 

 

 

Justin just carried on laughing.

 

Honestly, at this point, Justin was actually happy to see everyone. It wasn’t what he’d had planned, no, but honestly? It was better.

 

At first he’d agreed to be the one making the band’s traditional Christmas dinner because he was the newest member of the band, and sometimes that came with the feeling of being…something of an outsider. It was nothing that the guys did, it was just the result of being the most recent one to join: he hadn’t spent as much time as them as they had spent with each other, didn’t have all the same history, or all the inside jokes. He was getting there, but sometimes he still felt the need to prove himself as one of the guys.

 

He had been freaking out, thinking that he had to get this done to be really be a part of the band - and that he’d have to get everything done well - but now he realised what he’d already known since before the guys worked: that wasn’t how it worked with the guys.

 

If something was worth doing as a group, then it was worth doing as a group from start to finish. It didn’t matter if it was an album, or a new music video, or Christmas dinner, they worked together.

 

 

 

And things were better for it.

 

 

 

With Faith and Chris helping him, and Holly ducking in and out to take things out to the table for Vinny and Ryan to amongst the decorations Justin had no doubt her Chris had brought over. He was sure it would look great - especially after Ricky arrived, without even bothering to make an excuse for why he was early, and decided to help.

 

By the time the food was done, and they were all sat around the table in the dining room, with Justin at the head of the table, he couldn’t stop smiling.

 

 

 

“This looks amazing.” Vinny looked in awe at the spread of food in front of him: “You did good, Justin.”

 

“I couldn’t have done it on my own.” Justin replied truthfully: “Seriously…thank you all coming over early, guys.”

 

 “It was nothing.” Ryan waved him off.

 

“It was on your part.” Faith rolled her eyes: “All you did was tell Vinny to move things an inch to the right.”

 

Ryan just grinned: “I wanted to see if he would move it enough to let it fall off the table.”

 

“He did, didn’t he?” Ricky asked, smirking.

 

“He absolutely did.” Ryan nodded - even as Vinny flipped both of them off:

 

“Fuck you guys.”

 

Chris turned to Justin, laughing: “Christmas is fun, isn’t it?”

 

 

 

Vinny turned his middle fingers on Chris, Faith scolded Ryan for being mean to Vinny, and Holly rolled her eyes as she handed over five bucks - presumably the result of her betting on Vinny not being dumb enough to put things in places where they’d fall of the table just because Ryan told him to. Justin sympathised; he’d made that bet at one point…but, like him, Holly would learn not to bet against Vinny doing dumb shit. Like leaning that no-one had to deal with things on their own if they didn’t want to, it was just a part of being part of Motionless In White and their extended family.

 

It was all part of the fun.