"What do you think, Alex? How does this look?" Walter asked as he moved a small wood house a few inches to the left.
"It looks fine, Walt," Alex said from the couch, where he was lounging, his sock clad feet propped up on the coffee table. Truth to tell, Alex was paying more attention to the hot cocoa he was sipping than to Walter's arrangement of their Christmas Village. Walter's enthrallment with the miniature village had puzzled Alex when he'd begun collecting the pieces several years ago. Although it was clear a great deal of effort had gone into the creation of the tiny replicas of local buildings and landmarks, Alex's innate pragmatism made him question the effort, wondering whether the artist's time and energy would have been better spent elsewhere.
With a shifting of his shoulders, Alex set the question aside. Walter was obviously enjoying himself as he set up the village, and as far as Alex was concerned, Walter was owed every iota of pleasure he could experience after the hardship and heartache he'd endured after bringing down the Consortium.
After the dust had settled, Walter informed Alex that he was done with lies and deceit. He'd openly moved Alex into his condo, and made no secret of the fact they were together in every sense of the word. The reactions of his colleagues and few friends were a disappointment to Walter; he'd thought better of them. Alex, having overheard one too many slur, suggested they part ways. Walter countered that he strongly preferred leaving DC over leaving Alex and that in his opinion it was time to start using his retirement benefits.
So it was just a few months later that Alex and Walter found themselves living in the small Canadian town of Windermere. Having left their troubles behind them in the States, they found a cottage on a quiet street and settled down.
The first thing Walter had done after they moved in was ask Alex for a date.
Having lived a life filled with too much excitement, Alex would've been happy to stay home and never go out again -- "Just eat, sleep and fuck" were the words he'd used -- he gave Walter a look that suggested he wanted to check the color of his blood. "We've been fucking for over a year, Walt. Why bother?"
Walter responded, saying, "You deserve -- we *both* deserve -- to do the things we weren't able to do in Washington."
So Alex had humored Walter, agreeing to dress up and go out to a nice restaurant. To his surprise, he'd gotten caught up in the spirit of the thing, admitting to Walter as they lingered over coffee that it was his first real date since high school.
Upon return from their successful first date, Walter reminded Alex that he was tired of hiding and that he wanted to live openly. Alex took the words to heart, and the two men began to go out frequently and to get to know their neighbors.
As they were as unfamiliar to their neighbors as their neighbors were to them, their reputations did not proceed them and they were treated with the same courtesy any other new residents would have received. To Alex's surprise, the homosexual nature of their relationship appeared to be completely inconsequential to their neighbors, rather, it was Walter's talents with woodworking and Alex's computer skills that piqued interest. Even when they ventured into the town hall to obtain an Ontario Marriage License, the clerk gave them the paperwork with a smile and without any hint of disapproval.
Both men had put away money over the years, and Walter had his retirement and investments, neither man felt the need to get a regular job. Walter, however, found himself working with a local carpenter, building furniture. Several of his pieces had found their way to their den. Alex, meanwhile, was content to pick up odd jobs as they came about, usually solving his neighbors' computer problems, or occasionally filling in for the regular bartender at their local bar.
As their first Christmas in Windermere neared, they had discussed decorating for the holiday. Alex hadn't had a real Christmas since he'd been a small child, and Walter hadn't since he and Sharon divorced. They decided on a tree -- "a real one" just as Alex insisted. They found lights and tinsel at a store in town, and went to a craft fair held in downtown Windermere where they found a treasure trove of ornaments -- radiant painted ceramic angels, wood toys of all kinds, and beautiful stuffed fabric poinsettia.
One of the booths had a Christmas village on display. Walter was enthralled, telling Alex how his grandmother had one she would put out every year. Alex nodded, enjoying Walter's recollection of his childhood, but not understanding the attraction of the artificial village. They continued shopping, looking at the various booths and tables until the woodworking booth caught Walter's attention. A local craft shop had a display that included models of the town hall, in honor of the town's anniversary. The cost was reasonable, and the money earned was being used to help pay for the restoration of the town clock. Walter not only bought one of the models, but agreed to do some work for the owner of the craft shop.
Now the tiny town hall was set on the table in their foyer, and Walter had made a couple of houses to go with it. Tiny people had appeared after a shopping trip, along with cotton batting for snow.
Alex found he was reluctant to pack it away after the holiday, and by the next Christmas, it had grown to include a post office, a model of their local coffee house, and a miniature Christmas tree in the center of their little town.
During their second year in Windermere, Alex developed an interest in toy trains, so the following year, their village gained a railroad, complete with a tiny depot, and had moved to a bigger table in the living room.
This year, it was in the den, in front of the huge bay window, and included an exact replica of their own house. Walter had devoted many hours to making the house perfect, and under Alex's direction had placed it in their ever-growing village. Satisfied with its placement, he added Alex's contribution for this year -- a beautiful piece with cardinals nesting in winter trees -- and went to join Alex on the couch, taking his husband's feet in his lap.
Alex passed him a cup of cocoa. "I never thought it would happen."
"What's that, Alex?" Walter asked as he started to massage Alex's right foot.
"We've -- ah, right there -- become a boring old married couple. Next thing you know, we'll be wearing cardigans and arguing about the volume on the TV."
Walter thumped the side of Alex's foot with the back of his hand. "Speak for yourself, boy," he growled. "There's nothing wrong with a little peace and quiet. We deserve it after all we've been through."
"I know, Walt," Alex said, rubbing his sock-clad foot over Walter's jean-clad cock. "I just wanted to make you growl."
"I'm sure you can find a better way to make me growl, can't you, Alex?" Walter asked.
"Bet on it," Alex said, grinning. Then he leaned in for a kiss and neither man had anything to say for a good long while.