Part 6 in my Christmas blog story set on Christmas Eve night, around one building, twelve characters, and six relationships - some lovers, some friends, and some family.
Thank you to everyone who read the first five parts Santa Baby, Red, Time, I'd Say Yes, and Big Brother.
Read the second part of Mark and Evan's story.
"I don't know," Mark said. Should he accept his brother's offer? He'd been living rent free and had offered nothing toward bills or anything else in over three months. He had figured if he could just get a steady job then he would pay Evan back—eventually. Maybe his mom was right and he was nothing more than a waste of space and soul-sucking leach.
"What's there to think about? Christmas on a couch surrounded by someone else's family, or being here with me?" Evan had a point, but then he always did. Older, wiser, more successful, the man was walking perfection.
He looked up at Evan and shook his head. "But I wouldn't be here with you, would I? You'll be round Mom and Dad's pulling crackers and carving the turkey."
Evan smiled warmly. "I will, will I?"
Mark narrowed his eyes as he met his brothers deep green eyes. "You mean you're not?" Evan's hand tightened on his shoulder.
"You really weren't listening, were you?" He sighed as he got to his feet and then held out his hand. "They've made other plans this year because I kind of cancelled on them. They're heading over to Auntie Kate's."
Their parents had said that? Mark had been so furious over the accusations of taking advantage of Evan's good nature. In an attempt to keep his emotions in check, he had blanked the second half of the evening.
"Why do you think they were even here on Christmas Eve? You know they prefer drinking wine and eating those little crab cakes with the neighbours." Evan set his mouth in a peculiar pout. "So, Mom being all pissy and loud wasn't entirely because of you."
Wait. Evan 'do no wrong' Clarke, had annoyed their mother? He never thought he'd see the day.
"Why?" was all he could think to say. Evan always went to them for Christmas, long after Mark decided to stay away and avoid the arguments over dinner.
Evan's eyes softened as he offered his hand to Mark for a second time. "Because I wanted to spend it with you."
He didn't understand. "But…"
"I know I suck at the whole cooking thing, but I figured if it all went south, there's always pizza." Evan grinned as Mark took his hand, and he pulled his brother to stand beside him. "I just thought after everything that happened this year, Kiah and your job, losing your place, and… You and Mom are as stubborn as each other. I knew you she wouldn’t offer and you wouldn’t ask, so I decided this year, we could do Christmas."
Glancing down at his watch, Mark smiled. "It is Christmas," he said and wrapped his arm around Evan's shoulder pulling him into a brief hug. "I appreciate everything." He released Evan from the hug and looked up at his brother. He had always followed Evan around as a little kid and though five years older, Evan had always let him.
"I know," Evan said and leaned down to pick up the two lamps. He eyed the crumple shades and chipped bases. "Let's go upstairs, yeah?"
Mark looked back up at his abandoned suitcase and then at the box and bag containing the rest of his belongings. Eventually, he nodded and picked up his bag. "I'll text Clara and cancel the couch," he said.
"Good," Evan said and started back upstairs. He glanced back over his shoulder and seemed pleased to see Mark following him. "And for the record, this was stupid, not you."
Mark didn't say anything as they made their way to their floor and simply smiled. He knew what Evan had really meant. He followed his brother through the door and back into the corridor. He glanced at the woman waiting by the elevators. She wore a large smile as she spoke to someone on her phone.
"Did you say you were gonna call the desk about the broken glass?" he asked as he lessened the gap between him and Evan.
"Yeah," Evan said as he awkwardly fished his keys out of his jeans, before turning a corner and stopping outside the apartment.
"Okay. Maybe tell them about the elevators too?"