Nothing is True. Everything is Connected.
Sylum Advent 2020: December 24th

Sylum Advent 2020: December 24th


This Advent there is a series of Snippets or Timestamps from a variety of stories & characters. Some of these will become larger stories, some will be as is.

Title: Wrapping
Author: Gil Grissom
Summary: Brian may have gotten a little overzealous for his first Christmas with the Clan and has to recruit some help.
Timeline: December 1999

Brian pulled out the last of the bags holding everything he’d bought for his first Christmas with the Clan and made a face. He turned when he heard Han laughing at him from the doorway.  “What?”

“The bitchface you have going there is pretty epic. What’s up?” Han asked as he sat on the one chair in the room not covered with bags.

“I kept buying things I thought someone would like and my list of people to buy for has grown exponentially since last Christmas, and honestly it wasn’t all that small then. I guess I got a little carried away which wouldn’t be a problem except now I have to wrap it all.” He sighed.  “Not exactly my favorite activity and it wouldn’t be so bad if I’d done it as I’d bought this shit. But I didn’t so here I am.”

Han hummed. “I suck at it so I usually pay someone to do it.  Unfortunately, Selena already left for her family’s home across the country.  She’ll be there for a few months.” Then he tilted his head.  “If you ask, Daniel might help you out.  He likes you and you haven’t been around long enough for him to make you suffer for it.”

“Daniel? Boone?”

“Yeah. He’s like a wrapping savant or something.  It’s kind of ridiculous how good he is at it. He makes most of the rest of us look like the amateurs we are. And he’s one of the ones who has less to do leading up to Christmas than the others who are as good at it as him. Just don’t let David help even if he offers and looks at you all earnest-like. I love the guy but that doesn’t change the fact that his attempts always look like he wrapped them with his feet after he drank himself under the table.”

Brian laughed. “Okay, that’s bad. Reminds me of Rome. He always made me wrap his. I take it Daniel does all his wrapping to save on tears of both laughter and despair come Christmas morning.”

Han nodded.  “Yep. Alma wraps his gifts for Daniel because she refuses to inflict that travesty on Daniel.”

“Then I suppose I’ll ask Daniel for help. But first I need to sort through all this shit first and organize it according to recipient, so get out. You don’t get to peek at what I got you.”

“Right,” Han said, laughing. “I’ll keep Dom occupied in the garage so he doesn’t come up here.”

“Thanks,” Brian said, giving Han a quick kiss before half-shoving him out the door.  Then he turned to stare at his mess and sighed. “I regret everything.”

~*~

“Hey, Daniel, I need a favor if you have some time,” Brian said a few hours later, after he did a deep dive into everything he’d bought, sorted it all out by person, and actually wrapped Daniel’s first, so he wouldn’t have to worry about them being seen accidentally.

“What’s up, noob?” Daniel asked, distracted with whatever it was he was working on. 

“What are you doing?” Brian asked him as he walked closer, ignoring the ‘noob’ comment.

“Deissy wanted this robot put together for one of her boys for Christmas. He wants a robot, but apparently doesn’t have the patience or the dexterity to actually put one together, what with being five and all. And he wanted one that actually looked like a robot, not one of those cheap plastic looking ones that just had the generic look of one on the outside. So, mini robot. Now what’s got you all in a dither?”‘

Brian rolled his eyes. “I’m not in a dither, but I am a little irritated with myself,” he said and then proceeded to lay out his issues. He was supremely unimpressed that Daniel was laughing at him by the time he was done.

“And so Han sent you my direction. He did warn you about David, right?”

“Yes, yes he did,” Brian said. “His warning was duly noted and appreciated. Do you think you can help me out? I don’t wanna take away from your robot project or anything else you got going on.”

“Nah, I’ve still got some time before this needs to be finished, and I’m done with the most fiddly parts of it. It’s just putting the outer pieces on now.”

“Does it work?” Brian asked, peering closer as Daniel tightened a tiny screw with a tiny screwdriver. “I mean, is it a working robot?” He would hope so, what with all the trouble Daniel was going through.

“Yeah, there’s a remote and everything for it, or you can set it so it’ll move on its own,” Daniel told him. “I checked that it was working once I got all the innards attached in all the right places. Just cosmetics now, so hopefully it’ll be fine once I finish up. They don’t have shit like this here in town, so Deissy’s brother sent it from Texas. Not exactly what she was looking for, since she hadn’t wanted something that needed to be put together, but I guess things got misunderstood or he just was a dumbass who didn’t listen. Having met him, either is possible.”

“It’s good of you to help her out,” Brian said. He hadn’t known Daniel all that long, so it was nice to know he helped out for such mundane things when needed. He didn’t know a lot of people like that. He’d grown up with good parents and a good friend in Rome and his family, but for the most part, people in his neighborhood tended to look out for themselves and paid little attention to the small things like this.

Daniel shrugged. “She needed the help and I wasn’t doing much of anything. Unlike some people, I actually don’t wait until my pile of gifts is threatening to kill me under an avalanche before deciding that they might need to be wrapped up.”

“Asshole,” Brian said cheerfully.

Daniel snorted. “So, brain trust, we should probably do anything you need to send off first. It’s going to have to be flown to the US first before we can send them out. We could send them through the mail from here, but they don’t always get there on time or at all. I know that the plane is heading that way in three days, so we need to make sure it’s all wrapped and labeled for shipping.”

“Oddly enough there’s not a lot, really. At least, not going out. There’s the stuff to the Pearce family, and then I’ll send a box to a friend at the precinct. He’ll get them to who they belong to, but those are mostly gift cards and shit I bought when we were last in L.A. There’s not that many, just for the ones who aren’t still frothing at the mouth about the whole undercover and exposé thing.”

“Logic would dictate that they’d be grateful you exposed what was going on, rather than them getting nailed for getting it all wrong and getting hosed by the assholes in the PD and the FBI in public.”

“You would think, but that’s not how they roll,” Brian said, shrugging. It’s what I would have preferred in their shoes, but some have the mentality that they’re the shit and don’t like it when it’s pointed out they’re fallible and sometimes you can get snowed by one of your own.”

“Well, not much we can do about that.” Daniel finished with the arm casing he was working on and set everything carefully in a box before setting it up on a high shelf in the craft room. “What about your parents?”

Brian grinned. “You haven’t heard? After meeting Dom for Thanksgiving, they decided they needed to meet the whole damn Clan. They’ll be arriving on Sunday. They’re the reason the plane is going up in a few days. That, and the mail that needs to be sent, apparently.”

Daniel’s answering grin was sharp. “I can’t wait to hear all the baby Brian stories they have to tell us.”

“They can tell you whatever they want. I’m pretty sure Mom’ll be bringing all the childhood pictures too. At this point, there is little shame to be had by me. Rome and I have never had much in the way of shame when it came to our shenanigans, as Mom calls them, and I can’t really be bothered to care about them now.”

Daniel nodded. “A good way to live, actually. Unless, of course, it is something terrible that you should be ashamed about.”

“Yeah, but then my momma’d kick my ass, and then Rome’s momma’d be right behind her, and nobody wants that. They’re both formidable women when pissed off.”

Daniel laughed. “Sound like my kind of people. Alright, lead on and let’s see what kind of mess you got yourself into.”

He and Daniel chatted as they headed up to Brian’s suite, and Brian rolled his eyes when Daniel started laughing at him again. “Shut up.”

“Christ, kid, did you buy out the entire damn mall?”

“I’ll have you know I put actual thought and effort into what I picked out,” Brian said. “That’s your pile over there, by the way.” He pointed to the small hill over in the corner. 

“Nice wrapping job. Better than a lot around here can do,” Daniel said. Then he walked over to assess the tables Brian had set up and the supplies he had. “Not adequate for this store’s worth of goods. I’ll be back. Gonna go raid Alma’s stash. Might want to do Dom and Han’s and get them out of the way so they can come in and out as needed. And David’s, because ol’ Davy’ll poke his head in looking for me and trying to peek. He’s like a damn toddler who knows presents are being wrapped.”

Brian laughed and nodded. “Alright, and I’ll keep to myself that you called him Davy.”

Daniel snorted. “He went by the damn name for years. You’d think he’d be used to it, but then that stupid ass song came out, and it wasn’t like he could complain to the world about it.”

“Not without having to explain a lot of shit,” Brian said as he sat down, snickering to himself as Daniel walked out of the room muttering about his weird Mate. Realizing that Daniel was right, he got back up and searched for Dom, Han, and David’s bags, settling them between the two tables and he pulled out the signed first edition of Stephen King’s ‘The Stand’ he’d bought for David. It was in pristine condition, the sleeve not having so much as a tear on it. He was pretty sure that the only time it had been opened was when King himself had done so to sign it. His mother had done the hard work of finding it for him, though Brian had paid for it. 

It was already boxed up so all he had to do was wrap it, and he was just fixing the bow on it when he heard the commotion at the door and burst out laughing when he saw Daniel struggling to come in with his spoils. “Dude, if I’d known you were going to bring that much, it may have been easier to just take everything else there.”

“Funny. Help me, you asshole.”

Shaking his head, he got up and helped Daniel haul everything in. “I know I asked for help, but I don’t think we need that much ribbon. What are we going to do with actual cloth ribbon?”

“Watch and learn, youngling,” Daniel said as he got himself organized. “My way of thinking is if you’re gonna bother to learn how to do something, you learn to do it right and to the best of your ability. Otherwise, what’s the fucking point?”

“Touché,” Brian said as he sat back down and left Daniel to whatever it was he was going to do, getting back to the other gifts he’d bought for David. Several minutes later as he got up to put the finished ones in the corner pile, he gaped at the bow that Daniel was fluffing up after he’d tied it to the gift. “Holy shit! How the hell did you do that?”

“A hell of a lot of practice and patience,” Daniel replied as he handed over the gift, already tagged, along with two others, though they were without the extremely elaborate bows as they were smaller. 

“And you wrote in calligraphy?!” Brian said as he peered at the tag. “Mine looks like I was stoned out of my mind compared.”

“They ain’t gonna care, and they’ll know I did the wrapping anyway,” Daniel said, waving a hand. “Han’s gonna love the…” He motioned to his neck and Brian knew he was talking about the necklace he’d bought him. “He’s been wanting one.”

“Mom is a shopping fiend and she found it for me, along with several other things I thought of but had no idea how to find,” Brian admitted. “I got them an Alaskan cruise she’s always wanted to go on but they’ve never bothered to book for themselves, from myself and Dom. All the best that could be bought for them. Mom’s awesome and they deserve the time away.”

“I’m sure they’ll enjoy it,” Daniel said. “Back to work!”

Brian flipped him off but sat down and they dove back in, Daniel giving him a few pointers every now and then, and showing off his ribbon-curling skills more than a few times. Brian was also pretty sure his bitchface made an epic return when someone downstairs flipped on the Christmas mixes that resided in the multi-changer CD player and would do so until after Christmas, and Daniel started singing. The asshole could sing. Who gave him the right to be so damn talented?

“You know, David gives me the same face when I sing,” Daniel said a few moments later, clearly amused by him.

“It’s because you’re so damn good, and I sound like a terminally-ill bullfrog when I sing,” Brian said, picking up the pile of finished gifts and putting them in the ever-growing corner. The ones to be sent out were already separated. 

“That does not stop anyone from singing in this Clan if they decide they want to, and let me tell you, there are some who make ears bleed when they belt it out.”

“Never ask Han to sing,” David said from the doorway, looking around curiously. “He sounds like he gargled with glass.”

Brian laughed. “Yours are wrapped, so quit trying to peek.”

“I see someone’s been telling tales.” David motioned to the packages. “Those going downstairs?”

“Yep,” Daniel said as he finished signing the tag with a flourish. “Take this one too.”

“Fine, I can play the part of a courier. I know better than to offer help, especially with you in the room,” David said, sniffing lightly. “Think you bought enough?”

“I may have gotten carried away,” Brian said. “I’m the excitable sort.”

“Yes, we know. We’ve all heard,” David said as he grabbed a pile and headed toward the door.

“Fuck you very much!” 

“I’d totally let you, but Dom is still in his stingy phase!” David called back. 

Daniel snorted. “You sure you want your parents exposed to the Clan. We’re a handful at best, and the brain to mouth filters only work intermittently and seem to fail completely at the worst possible moment.”

“They’ll be fine. They’re aware of how big the Clan is and how many people will be here. I didn’t want them to be overwhelmed without knowing what they were getting into, but honestly, Mom’s really excited. Dad’s more of the go-with-the-flow type. Dom said he and Josiah’d rein in anyone who gets too wild.” 

“Everyone’ll be on their best behavior. Usually are for the holidays, and with new people, they like to keep their crazy under their hats until the noobs like you are fully entrenched before they cut loose. By then it’s usually way too late for the unsuspecting.” He grinned when Brian laughed. “Of course, that doesn’t work with you, because you were fully embedded in the crazy before you ever heard the V-word.”

“Right. Explaining all that to my parents was an event. The combination of pride, exasperation, and confusion on Dad’s face was pretty amazing.” 

They continued on through the day, David and others intermittently coming in to take gifts down. Not all the gifts were for the actual Clan members, thankfully. Some were for the Chosen and their families that Brian had met and started to get to know over his short time there, and for some of the shop keepers, and of course the biggest batches of the lot were for the underprivileged kids in the area. 

“Next time, do your wrapping in batches,” Daniel said once they were done. “My fucking hands are cramping.”

Brian laughed. “Yeah, I definitely will. Thanks for helping out, though. I really appreciate it.” 

“No problem. Now I’m gonna go bang my guy and then crash. Sitting on my ass all afternoon shouldn’t make me tired. I’m a damned Vampire. I thought we were supposed to be immune to that kind of shit.”

Brian laughed and picked up the last of the gifts to go to the room for the children in town and then headed into the living room, where he found Dom and Han vegging out in front of the television, watching Rudolph. He draped himself over the two of them and pressed his face into the pillow. 

“Finally done?” Dom asked, smacking his ass lightly.

“Yeah,” Brian said once he turned his face toward the television and watched a deer and elf sing about being misfits. “I’ll do better next year, both about reining myself in and working on it as I go. I bought a lot for the kids.”

“Always worth it to see how excited they get,” Han said. “And don’t worry about it. Anyone who tells you they didn’t do something with a great deal of over-exuberance when they first came to the Clan is a lying liar who lies.”

“True. Might not be quite as obvious as a million gifts for Christmas, but there’s always something.”

Brian didn’t bother shifting to glare at them and just flipped them off. “Shut up and watch TV.”

One comment

  1. najean1

    This was a lot of fun to read! I truly enjoyed it. I used to do adecent present wrap, but the ny kids grew up and I lost the ability. Grandkids don’t count because sll they want are gift cards. **sigh**
    Poor Brian, I’m glad Daniel could and would help him. After all, each of them was a “noob” at one time.
    Very cute story! (Don’t tell Brian or Daniel I said they were cute…)
    —-Naj 😀 ❤❤

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