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Snow rained down in heaps from the cloudy sky above. It covered the ground in a blanket of white that made everything seem heavenly. The air was freezing to the touch, and every time Artie breathed out a huff, a small puff of cold came out with it. He pulled tightly at the blanket draped over his shivering shoulders.
The short boy loved the winter, he really did, but sometimes the cold would eat away at him. He didn't like having to wrap layers upon layers of cloth around his chubby frame. It was generally uncomfortable, but his love for winter never died away with all of the plants. It stayed alive along with the life of...something else. Something much more precious.
The sound of oncoming footsteps made Artie snap out of his thoughts. He peeked up through the haze of flurries ahead of him only to spot a head of long, blond hair. Little flutters came alive in his chest, but as the figure grew closer he cleared his throat and put on the best neutral face he could muster.
"I've been standing in the cold for at least ten minutes now," the short boy said with a hint of annoyance. "It's freezing. What took you so long, Michael?" Michael looked on with a smile touching his cheeks.
"I was getting you a present!" he said with excitement. His blue eyes filled with happiness, seemingly disregarding the frozen water falling from the sky. He wore no jacket, nor did he seem to be bothered by the cold in the slightest. Artie cocked an eyebrow.
"Present?" he asked. Michael nodded and stepped closer so he was only a couple of feet in front of the smaller boy. He reached back and pulled a small box from his back pocket. It was wrapped in a sparkly red paper with a golden ribbon tied around its body to hold the top down. Artie hesitantly peeked his hand out of the blanket to grasp the gift in his own hands, all the while Michael continued to smile down at him. "But Christmas isn't for a few weeks."
"I know, but I still like to give you stuff," Michael stated blatantly, causing the flutters in Artie's chest to grow. Artie looked up at the blond through his bangs, but quickly averted his eyes and snatched the present. He turned his body to the side as he studied the box, rolling it over in his hands to trace the designs with cold fingertips. "Go ahead. Open it!" Michael said with obvious impatience, yet his voice never left the cheerful attitude behind. Artie sighed, and began untying the ribbon with care.
The ribbon slid out of its knot with ease, and it slipped from Artie's fingers to gently float down to the snow. Artie grazed his hands over the lid's edges before finally taking it and pulling it off. Artie's eyes grew wide as the interior revealed itself. He stood silent for a moment, before turning back to Michael with confusion.
"It's empty-" he began, only to be interrupted by the blond smashing his lips into his and almost knocking him down. Artie stumbled ungracefully, but before he could allow gravity to pull him to the snow below, an arm snaked around his back to hold him in place. His eyes grew even wider than before, and an urge to push the other boy away out of shock bubbled in his chest. However, it dwindled when Michael's arm tightened around him. His body began to relax at the feeling. His eyes slowly narrowed to their normal size only for them to close further until they were shut completely. He allowed himself to melt into Michael's touch, and before he knew it they were pulling apart for air. The taller's grin grew twice its size at the sight of Artie's flushed cheeks.
"What was that for?" Artie mumbled. His shoulders shivered at the cold, as his blanket had fallen to the ground. Michael rested his forehead against Artie's.
"'Cuz I'm your present, silly." he replied, and Artie's breath caught in his throat.
"You're an idiot," Artie said, but the smile forming on his lips betrayed his unkind words. Michael chuckled, and reached down to pick up the discarded cloth in the snow. He wrapped it around Artie's shoulders, and the smaller boy gripped it tightly in his hands once it found its way around his body. "Let's go inside. It's still freezing out here." Michael nodded in agreement. Artie's feet pivoted in the snow as he began to trek to his front door, only to be swept off of his feet and thrown into Michael's arms with a yelp.
"Don't worry, I'll keep you warm!" Michael yelled as he began to run. Artie protested and struggled in his arms, but the blond continued on anyway. No matter how much Artie said he was cold, Michael always knew that there was a warmth growing in his heart.