Hello lovely people! I should have posted this on Christmas Eve - but that's ages away! So here's the worlds earliest Christmas present! To those of you who don't read book descriptions, beware: this is mpreg.
Story fact: I'm Scandinavian and we celebrate Christmas on Christmas Eve (dec. 24th) and not on Christmas Day (dec. 25th). And that's why Simon's family is celebrating on Christmas Eve ^^
To any fellow Scandinavians out there: this world is inspired by a mix of different cultures, so their Christmas isn't traditionally Scandinavian.
"Hi, honey! Are you bringing Nanna or should I order...what?"
Simon and his sister, Bianca, had been lounging on the couch watching tv - but they looked up at their mother's outburst.
"On Christmas Eve? What could they be doing that's so important? Cloning Elvis?!" Carina pressed a hand to her brow and then gestured apologetically to the wall. "I'm sorry, honey. I do take it seriously. But we've hardly seen you all year."
Carina was speaking to her eldest son, Noah, who was studying to become a physicist. A year ago he'd gotten a scholarship at one of the most prestigious research facilities in Europe and, even though it was only an hours car ride away, Noah hadn't been home for any family events.
"Alright. I love you, honey." She lowered the phone with a dejected sigh.
Simon's family always prepared the majority of their Christmas dinner ahead of time and on the day of Christmas Eve - when Simon's father had driven out to fetch their grandparents from the train-station - Carina impulsively packed a large portion and asked Simon if he would deliver it to Noah.
"I just can't bear the thought of him sitting in a stuffy lab, on Christmas Eve, with a takeaway box."
"Sure, mom!" Simon was eager to greet Noah after so long and he didn't mind a peaceful bus journey with podcasts.
He bundled up in his winter coat, scarf and boots, and headed down to the bus stop. It was a five minute walk and the air felt sharp and clean with frost. The sky was a soft grey, like a cool blanket covering the sun, and the first fall of snow drifted down as he entered the bus.
With each stop passengers dragged slush inside and the cramped space quickly grew damp and the windows fogged.
Simon hopped off gratefully at his stop and took a moment to admire the grand but slightly austere building. Noah had told him the facility had been designed by a German architect who was inspired by glaciers. And it certainly had an icy feel to it; if the glacier consisted of dark glass and sharp asymmetrical lines.
He entered the sliding doors and left wet footprints on the glossy stone floor. The reception area was a large hall with glass walls showcasing the numerous floors, and the workers inside, like an anthill. The lobby itself was deserted and there wasn't a Christmas decoration in sight.
"I have a delivery for Noah Bremen." Simon announced and the sour faced receptionist looked up from her screen. Her blonde hair was tied neatly in a bun and her black dress looked starched, but there was a handprint on her cheek from where she'd been resting her fist against it.
"Delivery? She repeated coldly and eyed his soaked civilian clothing over the top of her spectacles.
"Yeah. It's Christmas dinner, from our mom." Simon grinned and swiped a drop of melting snow from his nose.
"Oh." The woman's expression darkened further. Simon didn't take it personally, he'd be grumpy too if he was manning a desk on a public holiday. "I.D."
Simon blanched and fumbled through his pockets. He hadn't thought to bring a wallet, but luckily he'd been on a class trip a few months back and he'd forgotten to put his passport back in its drawer.
He handed it to the woman and she gave it a cursory glance, then passed it back and spoke into a mike on her desk.
"Noah Bremen to the fourth floor waiting room." She lifted her finger off the speaker and went back to watching her computer screen.
"Do I just...uh..." Simon looked uncertainly between her and the elevator.
"Fourth floor waiting room." She arched a condescending brow and Simon hurriedly left.
The elevator was also made of glass and the floor quickly disappeared beneath Simon's feet. His stomach turned and he carefully looked straight ahead; watching the dark blue and umber colored floors slide by.
A feminine voice announced the fourth floor and he stepped right into the waiting area. It consisted of padded steel chairs and a high-tech vending machine providing an assortment of hot and cold drinks. There were no magazines, but there was a virtual wall featuring an aquarium.
He'd just tapped the hot chocolate option, when Noah stepped into the room. He was wearing the facilities fitted grey uniform and his brown hair needed a haircut. He was only twenty-three, but his handsome face was lined with strain in a way Simon hadn't seen before.
"Noah!" Simon rushed forward and wrapped his brother in a hug.
Noah smelled of disinfectant and vinegary chemicals, but it felt good to hold him after such a long time.
"Merry Christmas, Sy." Noah ruffled Simon's hair and pressed gently on his shoulder to make him step back. "Did mom send you?" He eyed Simon's bag hopefully.
"Sure did!" Simon presented the heavy bag. "It's an entire Christmas dinner. She even packed brussels sprouts."
Noah winced exaggeratedly and accepted it. "Wouldn't be Christmas without them."
"Are you alright? They're not working you too hard?" Simon let the concern show in his eyes.
Noah smiled wearily and rubbed his neck. "They're definitely overworking me. And everyone else here. But it's worth it." His eyes took on a sharp gleam. "It's incredible what we're doing. The technology is unbelievable..."
He went on to describe the latest gadgets that measured cosmic rays, while Simon listened politely. He didn't share his brother's interests, and he didn't understand a word of it, but he enjoyed watching Noah's face light up when he talked about his work.
"...we're making groundbreaking discoveries. It could change the way..." Noah caught himself, trance ending, and smiled wryly. "Sorry, Sy. I'm tired and my mouth is running away with me."
Simon smiled and breathed an internal sigh of relief. "Are you coming home for New Years?"
"I hope so," Noah scrubbed a hand over his face, "I already arranged..." An alarm rang out and all the color drained from his face.
"What's that?" Simon hastily stepped back as grey suited personnel rushed past them.
"A glitch. Nothing serious, but I've gotta go." Noah disappeared down the hallway.
Simon stared for a few beats, heart racing - he couldn't decide if he should pursue Noah, and ensure he was safe, or if he'd only get in the way. A couple of security guards appeared and made the decision for him; ordering him to leave the premises.
Simon hurried into the elevator. What could a glitch in a lab mean? An explosion? A chemical gas? His only references were movies, and tv shows, and his imagination didn't stretch further than that.
He stepped into the lobby where everything was blissfully quiet - the alarm had only been active on the fourth floor - so it wasn't a fire.
"There's an alarm on the fourth floor." He informed the receptionist.
"Yes. Security is on their way." She didn't look up from her screen.
"Is it dangerous?" Simon's brow was tight with worry. "Are they okay up there? Noah..."
"It's just a security drill." She finally looked up at him. "They're perfectly safe."
That didn't match Noah's explanation and Simon hesitated. But the receptionist's face was now cool and closed off - and he knew he wasn't getting anymore answers.
The snow was falling heavier when he exited the building and a harsh wind was blowing.
Simon tucked his scarf over his nose and hurried to the bus stop. It was completely deserted and the electronic panel flashed that the bus arrived in ten minutes.
He sat beneath the shelter on a plastic bench and his phone promptly died in the cold. He heaved a sigh and lifted his hood against the wind.
The bus eventually arrived and Simon was the only person onboard. He sat in the back and rubbed his phone in an effort to warm it. It was still dead and he had an hours silence to look forward to. At least the view was pretty.
He stared out the window, watching his breath fog up the glass, and a few stops in he saw a slight figure stagger and fall by the edge of the road.
Simon gasped, pressed the stop button and ran up to the bus driver. It was a young man, wearing a red Santa hat, and he looked every bit as miserable as the receptionist had. "Someone just collapsed on the road!"
"Probably a drunk." The driver pulled in by a bus sign and opened the doors.
"Could you wait for me? I'm going to see if he's okay."
"Kid, I'm already behind schedule. Stay on or get off." The driver switched on the radio to play generic Christmas music.
Simon rushed outside and the bus drove off. He checked the deserted street for cars and ran across.
"Oh my god!" It was a boy, stark naked and struggling to stand. His skin was covered in large blotches of purple and pink - and dried blood was staining his arms and spine. Simon tore off his coat and wrapped it around the boy.