The Last Christmas Eve Before We Die
by Sara

Patrick had been dreaming when the phone woke him up, and the only reason he had answered it was that, in his muzzy half-asleep state, he thought, I have to get that, Santa's out of elves. It wasn't until he put his glasses on and saw the caller ID that he realized that made no sense. Santa had plenty of elves.

"Pete?" Patrick asked.

"I can't sleep," Pete said.

"I was doing an okay job of it," Patrick muttered.

There was a short silence on the other end, and Patrick was just starting to feel mean and Grinchy when Pete said, softly, "Can you sing me something? To help me fall asleep?"

Patrick closed his eyes, even though the room was too dark to see much in already. In his head, he saw Pete lying on his side, buried in blankets and an oversized Clan hoodie, his hair sticking out in all directions and curling up like he always hated. Patrick sang, very quietly, the opening lines of Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas.

He heard Pete sigh, the kind of sigh he only brought out when they'd finished something big and now he could finally rest. Patrick sang a little louder, surprised he could remember all the words, and thought about Pete burrowing down into the covers, warm and safe. He thought about lying next to him, wrapping an arm around him and pulling him close, pressing his face against the back of Pete's neck, linking their fingers and holding on. Pete's breathing had gone even, slow and deep as he trailed off with the last few lines of the song. Patrick whispered, "Goodnight," and hit the end button on his phone.

He fell back asleep clutching his cell, still wearing his glasses. When he saw Pete again, Pete didn't mention it, and Patrick wondered if it had ever really happened at all.