It’s Christmas day.
Yakusoku tore up the stairs like a kid on a caffeine kick. How could everyone else be asleep?! This is the happiest day in the world, and the Lands are out cold! Unbelievable! The young boy’s socked feet thump noisily up the stairs, down the hall, coming to a silence when they reach their destination. A moment like this called for tact.
Ai hadn’t kept them up all night rushing back and forth and wanting to stay up all night as if he were missing some great party while he slept. This is his first Christmas in the Land home, and he doesn’t wanna blow it. But dammit, he’s excited!
Turning the knob, he bounces into the room and over to his parent’s bed. They’re asleep. Peering over the edge of the bed, Yakusoku pokes the mattress. “Dad?” It was such an easy thing to call the man who’d saved him from the orphanage. “Mmmom.” He dragged that out as if the mmm would make her think she’d left the vacuum on. “Are you guys awake?”
It’s the thing everyone asks. They never bother to realize that if the person were awake they would have said something by now. Not to mention, there’s the fact that every time someone plans to wake someone up they whisper! Do they want them awake or don’t they? This realization sat in the back of his mind, as he climbed his parents’ bed from the bottom and planted himself in between them.
Sucking in a breath, he readies himself to call out “It’s Christmas!” When the blanket folded in on him, wrapping him up like a burrito.
“Gotcha!” His parents called out while tickling the child to the point of tears forming at the corners of his eyes.
They all hurried downstair in an excited rush with a drowsy four-year-old Ai in tow. Poor kid probably wondered what all the hubbub was about. The family ended up in the kitchen making cinnamon rolls and jokes about only sweet being eaten on such a sweet day. A tradition in his family, Reeve said as he rolled dough and cut it, is that the rolls were always flavored for the holiday with peppermint and chocolate and gingerbread.
His grandmother and mother have done it, and so shall he. Broken candy cane bits get sprinkled on top over the mint and chocolate flavored glaze. They’re an odd combo for a cinnamon roll, but so delicious in the end. And they drank hot cocoa with breakfast, and talked about what they planned to do out in the snow, and who would be on whose team during the snowball fight.
Ai, the poor kid, always ended up with Quinn because she was a better shield with her semi-plump figure than his pencil thin father. But really, Ai was sort of an advantage because who would assault a four-year-old? Not to mention, you feel so bad for the kid chasing after you that you let him hit you. It wasn’t your usual snowball fight with “if you’re hit, you’re out”. This one counted how many times you were hit, and the highest score wins.
Once they’ve undressed from their wet clothes and warmed up while showering, they’d all gather to watch the 24-hour marathon of aChristmas Story on television. Quinn liked it when it was on commercial free, made it seem more authentic. In the afternoon they had soup and sandwiches along with the numerous cookies that have been sent to them by family and friends. And as they picked through them they would pronounce whom they thought had baked them and who’d bought them, like a winner-less game.
Quinn and Reeve will never forget their first Christmas with Yakusoku. He was so excited he held his gift on his lap during breakfast and kicked his feet while humming around a mouthful Here Comes Santa Clause. It gave the couple so much joy in their hearts, and love in their souls that they’d adopted the boy they rescued from the streets. They never questioned his origins, just considered him a gift from God.
At 10 years old Yakusoku got instruments for Christmas, a couple toys: drums, and a trumpet, but a real flute. Quinn thought that if he showed an interest in music, he should pick one with a lovely sound... well, she picked one really. She’d always liked the flute. A girl from school played Green Sleeves on her flute for a Christmas show they had in the auditorium and Quinn was just in love with the sound. It was mesmerizing. To have her son play as that girl from school had, that would just be amazing.
And it stopped Quinn’s heart when she realized... she has kids, and she has dreams for them. The couple was never able to have their own children. But unlike some families, they didn’t mind giving their love to someone who really needed it as if they were their very own. And they really got lucky with their children. Yakusoku and Ai are perfect: they play well together, they don’t argue as most kids with their age difference would, they eat whatever is put before them, and they give and take a lot of love. Who could ask for more?
It was funny watching Yakusoku and Ai playing together like they were in a band. A... very musically challenged band, but a band all the same. It was that same Christmas that got Yakusoku into detectives. Aunt C.C. gave him a children’s book titled: The Great Cumberbatch and The Missing Necklace. He was completely gone on the books and got one every birthday and Christmas until he’d upgraded when he’d gotten older and received his first Sherlock Holmes book. He was Mr. Holmes for months, solving this case and that with Ai as his Watson.
As of late, he loves 3 Pines Mysteries and the works of Ashley Gardner and her Captain Lacey. He sort of keeps it to himself, his friends just don’t seem to understand when he sends them away and says he’s spending time with his family over the holiday weekend.
A tradition started that year is that they would watch a Sherlock Holmes episode after watching the Christmas Story. It was fun watching their son solving cases along with the man.
At 13 years old Yakusoku spent his Christmas running in and out of his home, and his friend Enid’s, while both families hung out and chatted and ate. The two were so cute together; Quinn and Reeve- even Ai- were taking bets on when they two would get together, but it had yet to happen.
14 years old... that was the year spent in a near silence from their son being far too distraught from the fall-out with his friends over the summer to be happy as he normally was. He ate and spoke but he lacked the feeling behind it. The family could tell that he was keeping up appearance for their sake. The poor boy was nothing short of miserable.
At 15. 15 Yakusoku was a dye-job and an emo-goth. He didn’t speak to them, he didn’t bathe regularly. His bedroom was a war zone of trash and filth, and he didn’t care about a thing. He swore, he rolled his eyes, and he just about broke the world record for disrespecting your parents any teen has ever set. And he became the right hand of his current best friend Gev, who he met one day and was never the same again.
And now... now... she’d give anything to see that emotionally emotionless boy walk through that front door right now.
This Christmas. This day. It will not be filled with the smell of cinnamon rolls coated in minty chocolate. It won’t have the wafty smell of instant cappuccino made early in the morning for her son to drink. It was his drink of choice when he’d turned 14. It was about the only thing he still responded to when he’d just quit happiness. There will be no Sherlock Holmes at the end of the day. No happy smiling faces when they receive gifts that they’ve wanted since forever. No legs kicking joyfully beneath the table while the best gift in the pile sits upon the teen’s lap.
Yakusoku is gone.
Quinn stood from her bed and walked over to the window to stare blankly into the backyard. A blanket of snow that should have been mutilated by the traditional snowball fight still sits like a crisp white sheet on a made bed. Yakusoku had gotten back to becoming himself again, his happy, loving self. A few new quirks maybe, but he would be the boy she knows and loves. Not the child she worries for and fears a little.
Reeve said to think positively. She did as well as she could, but her body and her mind kept freezing up thinking of this bad outcome and that. But the police have a lead... they have a lead thanks to Gev London. She had gotten him all wrong, it seemed. He may have a rough and almost terrible appearance, but on the inside that boy is one of the good ones- at least when it comes to caring about someone.
Her husband even said they planned on taking a road trip to hang flyers. It was the first time she’d smiled since this whole thing happened. It was just funny to think about; a pile of teenagers hitting the road and hanging flyers like some street team promoting a concert. Yakusoku’s friends haven’t given up hope; they’re not moping. She should do the same. Stiff upper lip, be all business and action.
But that’s when the call came. Reeve left the bathroom in their bedroom, smelling of toothpaste and aftershave lotion. He seemed ready to head out even before he knew he would have to. Quinn looked at her husband wondering if he would get the phone on his way to the closet for his clothes, or if she would have to.
He nodded that he would get it. Lifting the house phone from the receiver he greets the caller. Listening a moment he draws in a silent breath. Quinn can already tell it’s bad news and not good. The only problem with bad news was that it came in two: Bad and Worse. Which this call would be had yet to be determined since Reeve is still over the phone. Placing her hand on her brave husband’s shoulder, she gives it a rub.
“They want us to come down to the police station... they’ve found two bodies.”
Ai woke up that Christmas morning, not to the smell of cinnamon rolls, not to the delicious taste of hot cocoa, not to the pleasing sound of laughter from everyone who can wake up early on a non-school day. But to no one. He stood in the center of the living room, after sweeping the house for human life, and found that he was completely alone.
And for the first time since his brother’s disappearance, he dropped himself to the floor and he cried. It was the only time that he could. He has to be strong for his mother. And he has to be even stronger for his father.
Reeve is taking the worst of all of this; going out every day and having to hear about the seedy things that go on in the world of abduction. That man needs a medal because Ai was sure if he heard even one wrong thing to put an image in his head about what’s happening to his brother he would surely die right on the spot. It’s better that he keep a brave face and be strong. He can do that. But right now, he just wants to let it all out.