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As winter deepened it meant Christmas and Allen's birthday were nearing, which also meant they'd be having company. The thought of this, coupled with the fact that there was less work for him to do outside, made Kanda's grumbling increase by the day, so that by the time the holidays rolled around he'd become almost impossible to live with. Allen, of course, was long used to his partner's idiosyncrasies, and busied himself by readying their guest room and cleaning the house thoroughly, employing Kanda to help him when he finally became fed up with listening to the man's constant bitching about nothing in particular.

The day of Christmas eve, Lenalee, Lavi, their children and Komui descended on them and the chaos began. Kanda was in the kitchen, threatening to go live in the shed for the duration of their stay, while the 'brats' ran screaming around the house chasing after Sumi, who hadn't had a chance yet to form her strategies on how to handle these new humans. She decided her best bet was to warm up to their mama, so she made a beeline for Lenalee, and gave herself credit for making yet another wise decision.

The children needed another way to expend their energies now, and since their favorite target was in their favorite place, Kanda was on the receiving end of the rampaging hellions. He resorted to his usual way of dealing with this by grabbing Lavi and spewing death threats at him which was, of course, useless.

Meanwhile, Allen was in the living room helping Komui arrange the many presents they'd brought with them underneath the Christmas tree which he'd somehow managed to get decorated before anyone had arrived. When he couldn't take the noise anymore he glanced at Lenalee sitting in a chair nearby with Sumi in her lap. She rolled her eyes in sympathy and Allen stomped into the kitchen, shouting "Enough!", effectively shutting everyone up.

The silence was broken by the loud rumbling of his stomach. Lenalee and Komui, who had followed Allen, laughed along with everyone at Allen's embarrassment and they all set to making food. It was quite an accomplishment that everything went smoothly, given how many people were in the kitchen. Allen was particularly eager to sample the delicacies which Jerry had sent with Komui, and when it was ready they took their plates to the living room, because the kitchen table wasn't large enough to fit them all. Silence descended once again, punctuated by the occasional burp or sigh of contentment. Lots of good food made for a happy Allen and he went back for seconds and thirds, with Kanda nodding his approval at the sprout's improved appetite.

When they finished eating they took the kids outside to let them run, taking advantage of the light since it grew dark early these days. The little ones chased each other all around the property with Lavi joining in. As Lenalee watched her three children play she shook her head and smiled. Back in front of the house Komui was sitting on the bench with Allen and Kanda.

"Aren't they the most precious things you've even seen?" Komui said fondly, looking every inch the doting uncle he'd become. Kanda made a noise that sounded like he was choking.

Allen cleared his throat. "Well, they certainly are very lively, but I'm not surprised, given who their father is."

"I guess it worked out for the best. I've never seen Lenalee so happy, even when it was just the two of us," and Komui sighed in resignation.

Not wanting to listen to any more of Komui's sap, Kanda stood and made his way to the door. "I'm gonna get started on the clean up." Allen gave him a look that said 'You traitor', but Kanda just smirked and went in the house. Sumi was in the kitchen sprawled out on the floor taking a little nap and she looked up at him when he walked in. "You're the smart one, girl. Nice and quiet in here." He bent down and stroked her fur and she licked his hand a few times before resuming her snooze and he began washing the dishes.

When the sun sank low the temperature dropped rapidly and they all flocked inside. After a light supper they gathered in the living room. The children were allowed to open one present each, which turned out to be toys, and Komui sat in the corner playing with them. Lenalee and Lavi were curled up on the sofa, the fire crackling softly in the fireplace, and Allen and Kanda pushed their armchairs together in another corner. The hectic pace of the day had left everyone feeling tired, yet content, and the children were the first to nod off.

Allen had set out cots in the guest room for the kids and they were put to bed. Bidding Allen and Kanda goodnight, Lenalee and Lavi joined their children. Komui stretched out on the sofa and was soon fast asleep, oblivious to the furball that was making a bed out of him. Allen covered them both with a blanket, locked up for the night, and retired to their bedroom. Kanda was already in bed and Allen crawled in next to him, tucking them both in. To say that they were exhausted would've been an understatement. Seeing their friends was always nice but having them stay over could be a tiring thing. It was satisfying in another way, though, in that it helped remind them just how much they truly treasured their peace and quiet.

 

Come Christmas morning Kanda was the first to wake. Allen was nestled up so close to him that even with the slightest of movements he woke. Looking a little disoriented at first, because it was dark in their room, Allen asked, "Is it morning?"

"Yeah, but it's still early. I don't think anyone else is up yet." Kanda adjusted himself to get a better look at his partner.

Allen stirred a little more at the movement, smiling at the man and said, "Merry Christmas, Kanda."

"Happy Birthday, Allen." Kanda kissed him gently on the forehead, on the tip of his nose and then closed his mouth over Allen's in a full-bodied kiss.

Allen slid his tongue against Kanda's lips, lapping at them while wrapping one leg over his hip, digging his heel into his lover's lower back, coaxing his body closer. Kanda laced fingers through Allen's hair while other fingers went searching under the covers, running down Allen's chest, over his taut stomach muscles, until they reached their goal of a slowly hardening cock. He was rewarded with a low moan of pleasure from Allen and his tongue delved deep into Allen's mouth as Allen grasped the back of Kanda's head, encouraging more of this.

When he reluctantly broke away gasping for air Allen murmured, "Maybe we shouldn't while the others are here."

"Only if you can't keep your voice down," and Kanda tugged teasingly on Allen's cock.

"Ah…fuck. Damn you," Allen barely hissing this in Kanda's ear as his hand roamed for retribution. When he found the solid warmth of Kanda's cock he began stroking lightly and Kanda thrust into his hand, unable to stop a guttural moan issuing from his mouth.

"Now who's the noisy one." Allen's voice had a delicious deviousness.

A loud crash jolted them out of their play.

"Well, shit." Kanda untangled himself from Allen and sat up, pushing his hair back off his face. "What the fuck are they up to now?"

"This early and they're already wrecking the house," Allen groaned. They got up and grabbed the nearest thing to dress quickly. They saw the kids run out of the kitchen and into the living room, stopping to look in at their guilty faces a moment before walking into the mess of broken dishes on the floor with Lavi at work trying to clean up the pieces mixed in with what probably had been breakfast.

"Oh, hey guys, mornin'." Lavi grinned sheepishly at the two men standing in the doorway, daggers in their eyes as they stared at him.

Sumi came around the corner, awakened by the noise, but was quickly scooped up by Allen before she could go any further. He didn't want her to accidentally step on something until they could get it all cleared away.

"Lavi…" Kanda growled.

"Ah, this, well, the kids woke up early. You know how kids are." 'Apparently not', he thought from the looks on their faces. "Just wanted to make them a little something to tide them over 'til everyone else got up and they were foolin' around and then this…happened…heh. Won't take me a minute to clean up here."

"Tch. Baka Usagi. No sense going back to bed now. Sun'll be up soon." Kanda went to the broom closet and got out the mop, a broom and the dustpan. Allen fished out some old rags from a bottom drawer, wet them in the sink and handed them to Lavi. By this time Lenalee and Komui had finally roused and were in the kitchen, too, helping with the clean up. When everything was back in order the kids were allowed back in and making breakfast was begun in earnest. The sky had been gradually lightening this whole time and sunlight was beaming in through the kitchen window by the time they finally got to enjoy their meal.

After breakfast they opened presents and everyone took turns using the one bathroom to wash up. It was almost noon when they were all ready and they bundled up for the walk to town to wish all their friends there a Merry Christmas. Sumi had been disappearing sporadically since the invasion of her home, and there was no use trying to find her if she wanted to remain hidden, so they left without her. The air was cold, yet fresh, and it invigorated their spirits, making the bad start to the day melt away in the sunshine.

The town was bustling with Christmas cheer, people strolling along, warmly greeting them and wishing them happy holidays everywhere they went. Since it was afternoon they had missed the church service. No one was disappointed, however, having had quite enough to do with the Church for this lifetime, thank you very much. There was still a play and choral performance at the schoolhouse and thinking that the kids might enjoy this they took seats in the back of one of the larger classrooms. After the play began Kanda ditched, heading for the pub. What he really wanted was a drink.

When the performance was almost finished Allen slipped out to go find Kanda. Knowing full well where he'd gone, he entered the pub and spotted the man in the corner with his beer. His cheeks had a slight reddish tint and he was looking quite content with all the world.

Sitting down next to him, Allen said, "You're drunk."

"Nope. Just needed something to take the edge off. You know, we've got one smart cat."

"By that, you mean the fact that she's been hiding God-knows-where or sleeping almost the whole time since our company arrived?"

"Yep. When we get home I'm gonna go lock myself in the bedroom 'til they leave."

"You will do no such thing. You're going to be joining us for Christmas dinner, like a good little Baka."

"And what if I don't want to?"

"Then I will deny you," Allen said with a devilish grin.

Kanda glared at him. "You wouldn't."

"Oh, but I would."

"You're evil."

Allen scooted a little closer to Kanda and whispered mischievously, "I love you."

"Tch…evil." Scowling, Kanda turned his head away.

They met up with the others outside the pub. Lenalee walked quickly towards Kanda, almost getting inside his personal space as he instinctively took a step back.

"I don't believe this! Leaving us to go off and get drunk!"

"I'm not drunk!" The pleasant buzz he had going disappeared in the face of this onslaught, along with the laughter and squealing of the brats as they ran around the town square with some new friends they'd made. "And there's something I've been meaning to say to you about those brats."

"Oh? And just what would you have to say to me about my children, hmm?" Hands on her hips, her icy stare enough to freeze over all the fires of hell.

Kanda glared right back at her for just an instant, but then sighed. "It can wait. Some other time."

"Wimp," the whispered dig coming from Allen as he chuckled.

"Spawn of satan," remembering Allen's earlier threat.

"Shut it."

"Make me."

"Really. The two of you haven't changed at all. You're both still so immature."

"We are not!"
"We are not!"

Glaring at Lenalee, then each other, before looking away in opposite directions.

"Ah, how I've missed this. I'm feeling so nostalgic!"

"Brother! Don't encourage them!"

Lavi rounded up the kids and they all headed home, the tension in the air too thick for Lavi's liking, but he just sighed inwardly, knowing that if he tried to break it they'd all turn on him. It would blow over soon enough.

When they got home Kanda made for the bathroom, shutting the door quietly before splashing cold water on his face. He leaned on the sink, staring at his reflection and shook his head. He'd need to smooth this over with Allen. Opening the door he caught sight of him standing in the hallway as he looked into the kitchen. He walked up behind him, wrapping him in a hug. Allen tried to shrug him off but Kanda just tightened the hug, resting his head against Allen's.

"Don't try to sweet talk me." Allen was still tense in his arms so Kanda loosened the hug, turning him around and gently pushed him up against the wall. Kanda touched their foreheads together before he quietly said, "That was dumb of me. Sorry."

This time it was Allen who reached around Kanda and pulled him into a hug. "It's okay. We were so used to being surrounded by constant chaos, but it's different now. It gets to me, too."

"Looks like the lovebirds have made up," Lavi said with a chuckle, as he peeked around the corner.

"Shut up, Usagi." Kanda gave him a withering glare.

"Don't start again." Allen pulled him close and cut off any retort by clamping his mouth over Kanda's.

Lavi wolf-whistled, but Lenalee pulled him away before he could say anything else. "C'mon, you. I need some help in the kitchen if we're going to eat anytime soon," leaving Allen and Kanda alone, for which they were very grateful.

Dinner went well. Sumi mysteriously appeared when there was food involved and she didn't mind so much letting the children play with her now, since they were a lot less hyper than when they'd first arrived. Between the effects of the fresh air from their walk and being sufficiently stuffed to the gills, it was all anyone could do to move from their places as they lounged around the living room, and one by one they began to doze off. Parents sleepily said goodnight and carried their children off to bed and Komui took up residence on the sofa with Sumi.

Allen and Kanda welcomed the long neglected comfort of their bed and snuggled down, much too tired to continue any of the play they'd started this morning. They would save that for after their guests had departed.

 

Everyone gathered in the kitchen the next morning. Lenalee, the kids and Komui were seated at the table while the guys stood at the counter finishing their breakfast. The lure of eating in the living room was strong, but Komui had arranged for a ride to pick them up late morning and they didn't want to become too comfortable.

"I bet you guys are gonna miss us when we're gone," Lavi said brightly.

"Don't flatter yourself, Usagi." Kanda smirked at him. He was in a good mood today because this meant they'd be getting back to their calm lifestyle.

"Aww, Yuu, don't be mean," Lavi continued on, undaunted by Kanda's snide remark. "Miranda wanted to come along this time, too, but Marie convinced her that maybe sometime later would be better. He said to ask you if spring would be alright, and they could help you out with the planting."

'Thank God for Marie's insight', Kanda thought. The big man knew how much Kanda disliked his space to be crowded and was well aware of just how small their house could be when filled with visitors. "Yeah, that'll work. Allen?"

"No problem. I'll drop them an invite. They're always welcome to visit, and we haven't seen them in a while. The last time Miranda seemed to be a lot more mellow compared to how she used to be. Probably from being around Marie so much," Allen chuckled, "but she was still a little on the clumsy side."

They all laughed at that as they began clearing up after breakfast. It didn't take too long to have everything packed away again, ready for the next phase of their travels and when the ride arrived in front of the house they all helped load the luggage in.

"Thanks for having us," Lenalee said, hugging Allen and then Kanda. Sumi had followed them outside to see what all the fuss was about and Lenalee picked her up, gently stroking her fur. "I'm glad you took her in. I think she's a good influence on the two of you," handing her over to Allen.

"Where to from here?" Allen asked.

"We'll be making the rounds of our friends, and maybe some day you might consider doing the same." Komui smiled, but not really holding out any hope. He knew how reluctant Allen and Kanda were to leave what they called home now. He couldn't blame them. It really was a beautiful place and wasn't about to press the matter any further.

But Kanda surprised him when he said, "If Allen wants to go then who am I to say no," getting a few shocked expressions, "but I'd have to go with him just to make sure he doesn't get lost."

"Kanda! I've gotten better!" Allen protested with a pout, everyone laughing at Allen's expense as they climbed into the cab.

There was much waving and calling out goodbyes as the cab pulled away and drove down the lane to the main road, and after they were out of sight Kanda let out a big sigh of relief.

"Glad that's over with," he said as they walked back inside and made for the sofa, hitting it with a thump before stretching out his long legs. Allen sat at the other end with Sumi in his lap, just watching Kanda. The man did look a bit worn out, probably frazzled from all the commotion. Allen began rubbing Kanda's feet and Sumi jumped down to go amuse herself. Again. If cats could roll their eyes that's what she'd be doing as she left the room.

Kanda quirked an eyebrow at the touch and smiled at the gesture. "You know, maybe a holiday wouldn't be such a bad idea after all."

Allen looked a little stunned at the sudden suggestion. "But I thought you didn't want to go anywhere this time of year."

"But that's just it. This is the dormant season and there's not much to do right now. If we go it should be before I have to start planting again. Any ideas?"

"Well, I'm all for it. I'll see what's available and we can make arrangements with a few people in town. This could be fun." Allen smiled as he continued to rub Kanda's feet.

"Mmm…that feels nice. How about the knees next?" Kanda said suggestively.

"Sure, but don't expect me to stop at the knees." Allen grinned back at him.

"Whatever you want, Moyashi."

"Then I expect this'll take a while, Baka," and Allen slid his hands up Kanda's legs.

"I was hoping you'd say that."