A Sentimental Celebration of Capitalist Bollocks

(The following story contains adult themes and strong language, because it’s Dieter. It’s what he does)

“What are-”

“Not yet!” The door was pulled closed in Janos’s face, shutting him securely in the bedroom. “Stay put!”

Janos blinked in surprised. “Dieter?” He tapped on the door when it wouldn’t open. “I need to piss.” There was muffled scraping and thumping from the hall outside the door. He knocked again, louder, and rattled the door handle. “Dieter!”

“Two minutes!” Dieter yelled through from the other room.

Janos raised his eyes to the ceiling and sighed. It was so hard to predict what Dieter would do next. Sometimes, he was all sense and logic. Other times – like this one – Janos could see no rhyme nor reason for his actions.

The last time Dieter had insisted he wait, it was because there was a special breakfast being made.

This time, there was no smell of food cooking and the crashes and thumps didn’t sound like anything metallic.

Still, it wasn’t as if he could force the door open, so he leaned against the jamb and hummed to himself as he waited. Dieter must have been up for some time, but Janos hadn’t woken until the door buzzer had sounded seconds earlier and he’d rolled over to see the clock showing ten-twenty. It was close to four minutes before the bedroom door was unlocked and Dieter opened it, looking red-faced and flustered.

“Right. You can come through now.”

“After I piss,” Janos demurred, stepping around him and making a break for the bathroom.

To his surprise, Dieter was hanging around outside the bathroom door, waiting for him, when he came back out. He looked as nervous as a child before a teacher.

“What’s going on?” Janos asked suspiciously.

Dieter grinned at him tentatively, then tugged him by the hand towards the living room. As soon as they crossed the threshold, Janos stopped dead in his tracks, his heart drumming. There was a Christmas tree in the corner of the room, undecorated and tilting dangerously, but there.

He turned to look at Dieter, who shrugged with a shy smile. “One of your traditions, isn’t it? Decorating the tree and spending time with your family on Christmas Eve?”

Janos’s eyes felt hot and wet and he looked back at the tree. To him, it was only three years since he’d marched away from his family with the army, but the world had changed and they had all been dead for at least fifty years now. He was in a new world and a strange world, but he had Dieter and now, Dieter was saying that he was – that they were – family.

Dieter sidled closer to him and slipped an arm around his waist. “Soppy fuck,” he whispered and Janos could hear the emotion in his voice. “Christ help me when you see all the szaloncukor I ordered in for you.”

“You said-” Janos’s voice broke. “You said Christmas was ‘fucking capitalist bollocks’.”

Dieter squeezed him. “Well, yeah. It is. But I wanted to surprise you as well.” He looked up at Janos. “You deserve the best fucking Christmas money can buy, capitalist bullshit be damned.” He knocked his chin on Janos’s shoulder. “I know I missed the Saint Nicholas bit, but I wanted to make up for it.”

The Saint Nicholas bit.

Janos thought he had been discreet enough, that the pain of it hadn’t been noticed. He’d slipped away to find a Church and attended a mass a few days before and on Saint Nicholas’s day, he had drunk more than he normally would on an evening, but otherwise, he had tried not to make a big issue of it. Dieter had made his feelings known about Christmas very vocally and Janos hadn’t wanted to force an unwanted celebration on him.

“Thank you,” he managed to say.

Dieter smiled and kissed his shoulder. “Are you going stand around like a fucking fanny or are we going to dress up the fucktastically large symbol of a capitalist festival?”

Janos laughed, though he knew his cheeks were wet. “First, we make it stand upright. You know it’s not meant to be propped against the wall?”

Dieter waved his words away. “It’s a tree. It’s not even meant to be inside the house.”

With a bit of effort and a lot of pine needles – it was a real tree and the smell brought back a thousand memories – they managed to get it standing up in the pot. Dieter hurried over to the counter and carried back an oversized box full of glass baubles and strings of shimmering fuzzy string.

“I didn’t know if you’d want to put lights on it too,” he added, “but I’ve got some in a bag in the hall.”

Janos didn’t care if he was crying now. The tree, the decorations, the thought put into it all, was too much, and it was all he could do to lean over the box and kiss Dieter, hoping it expressed all the words he couldn’t say.

Dieter’s eyes were just as bright as his. “You silly fuck,” he said, his voice shaking. “We won’t get anything done if we end up sobbing like kids.” He gave the box a shake. “Go on. Pick something. You get first choice.”

There were familiar decorations, similar but not quite the same: embroidered pieces that had been hand-stitched, decorated balls of patterned thread, shimmering glass orbs that his grandmother would have given her eyeteeth to own. These weren’t just the gaudy objects that could be bought in any shop. These were proper Hungarian decorations. Janos picked out a delicate lace-decorated bauble and carefully hung it halfway up the tree.

He wasn’t surprised when Dieter sighed, not quite relief, but contentment. “Not bad.”

“We can have the lights?”

Dieter nodded at once, smiling. “Of course.” He handed Janos the box and ran to the hall. When he returned, he was carrying two boxes. “I went with the white ones. They look less tacky than the LSD rainbow shit some people go with.”

“It sounds good,” Janos agreed, keeping his eyes on the tree as he added another bauble.

Dieter brushed his hand down Janos’s back, but he didn’t say anything more as he opened up the boxes and started unravelling the strings of lights. Occasionally, there was a muffled “fuck!” as he tried to negotiate them around the tree. Janos had learned well enough that as dextrous as he was with one hand, getting caught up in cables and wires wasn’t helpful. The best he could do was hold the tree steady and try not to laugh helplessly as Dieter kicked and swore.

When he finally stepped back and flicked them on, he huffed, “Better be worth the fucking effort.”

Janos snapped his fingers, switching the overhead lights off, and the tree twinkled like starlight in front of them. Mutely, he reached out for Dieter, drawing him closer. Dieter slipped his arm back around Janos’s waist, stroking his fingers down Janos’s side.

“Good idea?” he asked softly.

“Best idea,” Janos agreed hoarsely, tears streaking down his cheeks.

It took them another two hours to dress the tree. It was his fault, as he looked at decorations and remembered dozens of Christmases and stories and family members who had become hazy with age. There were so many names, so many faces, so many tears for the ones who were long gone. Dieter let him talk and he listened and held his hand and offered a very British cup of tea for comfort.

When they were done, they sprawled on the couch together, gazing at their handiwork and nibbling on the leftover szaloncukor.

“I don’t know about you,” Dieter said, draping one leg lazily over Janos’s, “but I’m feeling pretty fucking merry.”

“You spoil me,” Janos murmured, breaking his last candy in half and offering it to Dieter, who nibbled it right out of his hand.

“I bought you a butchered tree and some bling,” Dieter snorted, rubbing his thigh against Janos’s. “Your standards must be pretty fucking low if that’s what you call spoiling.”

Janos patted his knee. “I live with you. These are my standards.”

“Oi!” Dieter flicked a rolled up sweet wrapper at his head. “Cheeky fucker!”

Janos slid his hand down Dieter’s thigh, giving it a firm squeeze. “Your cheeky fucker,” he said, then leaned in and claimed a spice-flavoured kiss. He drew back before Dieter could wriggle against his hand and sat up. “For the tree, I will make you lunch now.”

He was halfway to the kitchen, before Dieter yelped and scrambled over the arm of couch. “No!”

Janos looked back, but kept walking. “You don’t want lunch?”

“I’ve got sweets! I’m good!” Dieter lunged in front of him, spreading his arms to block the entrance to the kitchen, but that didn’t stop Janos from looking beyond him and seeing the stacks and stacks of food boxes and baskets all over the counters.

He looked back at Dieter. “What is this?”

Dieter pulled one hand back and knuckled his brow. “Well, you’ve gone and fucked the dinner surprise in the arse, haven’t you?” He offered a sheepish smile. “Surprise!”

Janos couldn’t have stopped himself kissing his lover, even if he tried.

Lunch was forgotten and it was only luck that got them back as far as the bedroom, where Janos expressed his gratitude as enthusiastically as he could and Dieter was left splay-legged and panting on the bed, his skin shining as if he was glittering like frost.

“Fuck me sideways,” he groaned, running his hand down Janos’s back. “I’m starting to see the appeal in this Christmas thing.”

Janos nuzzled his throat happily. “I told you: you spoil me.”

“Food and a butchered tree…” Dieter stroked the nape of his neck.

Janos lifted his head and gave his lover a reproachful look. “You know it’s more than that.”

Dieter’s expression softened. He always looked gentler without his sharp make-up on and now, his eyes were warm and he was smiling. “Don’t tell anyone. I don’t want anyone to think I’m anything more than a vapid, vain little whore.” He brushed his fingers down Janos’s cheek. “There’s an early mass on down the road as well, if you want to go.”

“You say that when my cock is still halfway in your ass?”

Dieter wrinkled his nose. “There are Catholics who do worse.” He leaned up to kiss Janos again. “I checked the time, though. If you want. I know it’s not exactly like home, but it might be nice.”

Janos nodded. It would be. Even if some parts of the Church still condemned him, he knew what he had once believed and trusted in and that part of him would never go away, no matter how many years went by. He pushed himself back and knelt over Dieter on the bed. “You don’t want to come?”

Dieter shook his head. “Nah. Never really been a church kind of person.” He sat up and ran a hand down Janos’s side. “We’ll have a light lunch, then go for a wander. You can go to the Church on the way back and I’ll tidy up the mess we’ve left and make a start on dinner in time for you getting back.”

As Dieter predicted, it was nice.

There was no snow, so they wandered along the quay for old times’ sake and on the way back, Dieter arranged for the pod to deposit Janos at the Church. The building was illuminated by hundreds of candles and as he stepped across the threshold, the scent of wax and books and the building itself was so familiar it took his breath away.

He slipped into a seat close to the back and immersed himself in it. It was true that the language wasn’t the same and some of the rituals had changed with time, but it was still part of the tradition and it felt right to be there and to be part of it.

When the mass was done, he lingered, lighting candles for the family members who had passed and offering a prayer of thanks for the new family he had found in Dieter.

It was pitch-dark by the time he got home and from the street, he could see the glimmer of the Christmas tree in their window. There was still grief for those who were gone, but the well of warmth at the sight made him smile like a sentimental idiot.

When he pushed open the door, the scents made him stagger a step.

Somehow, Dieter had found somewhere that made Hungarian Christmas specialities. Maybe they weren’t quite right, but they were right enough that it made his heart skip and his stomach growl and his eyes burn all over again.

Dieter leaned out the kitchen. “Good timing,” he said happily. “Dinner is just about ready.”

“I think you are trying to ruin me today,” Janos said as he hung up his coat and removed his boots.

Dieter caught him by the shirtfront and pulled him close to kiss him. “I want you to have happier memories about Christmas,” he murmured against Janos’s lips. “And I like doing nice shit for you. You get horny as fuck when you’re happy.”

Janos swatted him on the arse. “So this is all about sex?”

Dieter widened his eyes in mock-innocence. “You didn’t think I was doing this because I gave a fuck, did you? You poor, deluded bastard.”

Janos gave his arse a squeeze. “And you are an awful liar,” he said happily. “Do you want me to do anything?” He saw he speculative gleam in Dieter’s eyes and hastily added, “For the dinner?”

Dieter made a face at him. “You spoil my fun.” He nodded towards the living room. “Go. Sit. Pour a drink or something and we’ll eat.”

As was traditional, there were many, many dishes. It was far too much for a single couple to eat on their own, but the food was too good to waste, so they made a good effort over the course of a couple of hours scattered with tales of Christmases gone by. Janos almost laughed himself sick when Dieter told him about an unfortunate encounter with a Santa Claus stripper when he was nineteen.

“The fucker’s costume was convincing! How was I meant to know he wasn’t the one my nan had ordered for her knitting club?”

“Maybe when his costume was not on?”

Dieter smirked into his drink. “He wasn’t the one they ordered, but some of those old bats were goers once he got started.”

Janos buried his face in his hand. “Oh my God.” He squinted between his fingers. “Did this poor man receive compensation for this confusion?” He wasn’t at all surprised when Dieter nibbled his lower lip and raised his eyes ceiling-wards. “I don’t think a mouth-job counts.”

Dieter deliberately dipped his finger in a smear of gravy and licked it clean, his eyes wide and innocent. “He thought it counted.” He leaned across the table and confided. “I made him put the outfit back on for it too. Spent the rest of that winter being his elf and making sure he went to the right gigs.”

Janos shook his head, chuckling. “An elf? Did you wear tights like those elves in the stores?”

Dieter hopped up from his chair. “Stay put. I think I’ve got a picture somewhere.”

While Dieter was away from the table, Janos hurried over to the cabinet by the wall. It had taken much care and discretion to make sure Dieter didn’t find the small bundle of presents he’d hidden there. He had always planned to give Dieter a gift or two, whether Dieter liked Christmas or not, but now, at least he didn’t have to worry about Dieter yelling about fucking capitalism.

By the time Dieter came back, the bundle was discreetly tucked under Janos’s chair and Janos held out his hand for the slate. The picture on it was enough to make his cheeks redden.

The modern world was liberal in many ways, but to date, he had never seen a young Dieter in a pair of tiny white hotpants, red and white striped stockings and a miniscule red waistcoat that showed off a flat belly and little gold bells on a long-gone belly-button ring. The whole outfit was topped by a bright red hat on his bright green hair.

“I was a-fucking-dorable,” Dieter said proudly.

“Not the word I would use,” Janos managed. “Your grandmother didn’t mind?”

“As long as I was bringing in fifty quid a night in tips, my nan was happy to make the outfit.” Dieter laughed. “They missed the fact I was meant to be the glamorous assistant and kept sticking money down my arse crack.”

“I can see why…” Janos shook his head. “You were not shy, then, I see.”

Dieter wrinkled his nose. “I saw what I liked and I did it. No point being shy.”

Janos handed the slate back over. “I like the belly bells.” He hesitated, then asked tentatively, “You have stockings like that now?”

Dieter’s smile lit up brighter than the Christmas tree. “Not right now, but if you want, I can get some.”

Janos liked to think he could be open with Dieter, especially after all the acrobatic positions they had ended up in. This, though… this was different. He could feel how warm his cheeks were and he nodded, unable to speak the words.

Dieter beamed at him, then skirted around the table and leaned down to kiss him. “Anything you want to try, you just let me know.” He nuzzled the tip of Janos’s nose. “I’m pretty fucking kinky. I don’t think you can shock me.”

Janos shoved his chair back far enough so he could pull Dieter down into his lap, his arm around his lover’s waist. “I shocked you once,” he reminded him, his lips brushing Dieter’s.

“Mm.” Dieter kissed him lightly. “Once, less than eight hours after I found out you weren’t the blushing virgin I thought.”

Janos slid his arm down and gave Dieter’s ass a squeeze. “Mm.”

Dieter kissed him again, then got up. “Do you think you could manage dessert?”

Janos hesitated, considering how many dishes they had already managed to get through. “Maybe we keep it for tomorrow?” he suggested. “Tea is good now.”

“Getting you a bit more British every day,” Dieter said happily, snatching up some of the empty plates and heading back into the kitchen.

Janos got up from his seat and started gathering together the other dishes, stacking them up in a heap. Once there was enough space, he carefully arranged Dieter’s gifts on the table. The wrapping wasn’t perfect, but it was the best he could manage. He had even managed to make some of the ribbons curl and he adjusted them so the best ones were on top.

“I know you said no dessert,” Dieter said, as he came back through, carrying a tray, “but I figured a few more szaloncu…” He paused, staring at the table. “The fuck?”

Janos, still standing by the table, self-consciously tugged at the end of his shirt. “I knew you didn’t like Christmas, but I had to get you some things.”

Dieter carefully set down the tray and turned and walked out the room again.

Janos sank back down into his chair. Maybe it had been a bad idea after all.

“And here I thought I was being a fucking special snowflake!” Dieter declared as he stamped back into the room and thrust a small, perfectly-wrapped cube at Janos.

Janos stared at it. The last thing he’d expected after such a day of generosity was a gift. “What is this?”

Dieter shook it at him. “Open it and see.”

It was neatly-wrapped, but it wasn’t tightly-wrapped. Dieter had remembered how much trouble he had opening things and the tape peeled away easily. Janos unrolled the paper to find a small, square box and he looked across the table at Dieter, who – for once – looked tentative, almost shy.

“Open it,” he prompted.

Janos managed to find the hinge and flicked it open. The Christmas lights glittered on a band of gold tucked in a bed of velvet. A ring. A simple golden ring. Janos’s eyes were burning and when he lifted his gaze to Dieter, he could see Dieter’s were as well.

“Thought I should make an honest man of you,” Dieter said. “How about it?”

Janos looked back down at the ring and his vision was swimming. He had imagined it, of course, but in his head, he was always the one to do the asking. Dieter never spoke of it, never suggested it, and never seemed the kind to ask, but now, here he was, asking.

“Truly?” Janos’s voice broke.

“Yes, you silly fuck,” Dieter half-laughed, his voice shaking. “Marry me?”

Janos couldn’t contain the bubble of laughter, his eyes overflowing, and he held out the box to Dieter. “Dress me to your liking,” he said, holding out his hand. The ring gleamed as Dieter slid it onto his finger, then Dieter all but skipped around the table to throw himself down into Janos’s embrace, kissing him senseless.

Dieter’s fingers were in his hair and they were breathing hard when they drew apart.

“I feel bad now,” Janos admitted, stroking his hand the length of Dieter’s back. “I only got you small things.”

Dieter tugged at the front of his shirt. “No you didn’t,” he said. “You got me you.”