Christian stood at the check-in counter at the airport, and with his eyes he begged the lovely woman behind the counter to look into her computer and come up with a miracle.
Of course, the fact that the woman studied her monitor so intently meant she couldn’t see the plea in Christian’s eyes, and so Christian shouldn’t have been surprised when she looked up and said, “I’m sorry. I just can’t get you there, probably not for at least three or four days. The storm grew bigger and moved faster than anyone anticipated. We’ve had to cancel flights all across the northern half of the country. You’re not going to get into Wyoming today. There just isn’t any path.”
His heart sinking fast, Christian pleaded, “Can we go somewhere else then? Somewhere we can ski? Or where we can at least see snow?”
Empathy filled the woman’s frown. “Not unless you want to fly overseas. The few flights that were still going west are fully booked already. Even the standby lists are full. There are no other flights headed anywhere north in the United States or Canada for at least seventy-two hours. I’m sorry, sir.”
Grasping for anything, Christian started to say, Okay, let’s look at Europe
, but before he could finish, Jonah touched his arm.
“No, honey,” Jonah said, clearly uncaring, as always, of who might overhear or see him display affection for another man. “We’re not going to Italy or Switzerland or any other country for only four days. I want to go overseas with you one day”—he hoisted their shared travel backpack onto his back and then threw the bigger of their carry-on bags over his shoulder—“but when we do, I want to go for two weeks at least, or even a month, where you can enjoy it and have a good time. This isn’t it.” His smile full of sadness, Jonah brushed his thumb against Christian’s cheek. “You agree. Right?”
“No.” Christian grabbed at the T-shirt covering Jonah’s stomach and tugged him in close. “We can figure something out.”
His mouth thinning to a hard line, Jonah took Christian’s hand, but he put his silver focus on the desk attendant. “We’re going to step aside to make a decision,” he shared in a clipped tone, “and then we’ll get back with you.” He didn’t wait for the woman to agree before pulling Christian away from the line to an empty cluster of chairs near the escalators.
Christian plopped into one of the seats. “What?” He looked up at Jonah, who still stood, but it was as if all the flight schedules on the overhanging boards, many showing successful flights, mocked him with their dotted red letters, so he looked to the ground and muttered, “I don’t want to give up, Jonah. I want to try to figure something out.”
After lowering their bags to the floor, Jonah finally took a seat too. “I know what you’re doing here, Christian. I really do.” Jonah curled his hand around the side of Christian’s neck and used his thumb to lift Christian’s gaze from the patterned carpet. “I watch you, you know.” Pink stained Jonah’s cheeks, but mercury swirled with a thousand layers in his eyes. “I see you all the time. I see how you try to make everything so perfect for us—perfect for me, no matter what, about everything. And I can’t tell you how that fucks me up every day, in the most insanely good way. You’ve taught me to accept everything you give me without fear, so that’s how I know that if this weekend doesn’t happen, we’re gonna be fine.”
Jonah tugged Christian in, plastered their foreheads to each other’s, and Christian could see the truth etched into every hard line mapping Jonah’s unforgiving face. Jonah’s tone, and the gritty thickness when he spoke, conveyed nothing but soft, perfect love. “I think it’s the sweetest damn thing that you wanted to show me snow so badly, but you can’t control some crazy monster storm. It’s okay.” He pressed a kiss high on Christian’s cheek and then took his hand. “We can go home and do something quiet, and I won’t think it means you love me any less, or that you overlooked some important detail when planning this trip for us. I know you didn’t.”
Sighing, Christian looked up at the harsh beauty of the man he loved, and internally popped the last bubble of hope for their perfect trip. “I know.” He tucked Jonah’s hand against his chest, uncaring of the public display or curious looks. Jonah didn’t understand social cues enough to care about touching or holding Christian in public, and his nature had taught Christian to tune out the occasional judgmental stares too.
Still dejected, Christian admitted, “I just wanted to watch your face the first time you see all those mountains covered in such pure white it hurts your eyes to look at it. I wanted to see your smile the first time you fall into piles and piles of the stuff, and I wanted to watch you make a snowball.” His adrenaline kicking in again, Christian turned and faced Jonah fully. “I know how much you’ll love the snow, and I hyped up this trip so much that I can’t help but feel like I let you down. In my head I know that I didn’t.” With a chuckle, he added, “Hell, I know you’re not even disappointed. You’re not that guy. You don’t let shit like this swing your moods. I just feel bad for you.” Looking down again, Christian picked at motor oil wedged under Jonah’s thumb and shrugged. “That’s all.”
Jonah covered Christian’s hand with his and brought the fidgeting to an end. “Hey.” He lifted Christian’s chin again. “The only thing that swings my mood is you. I don’t want to see you sad. I don’t like it. It messes with me in a bad way.”
Christian’s heart cracked clear down the middle and leaked the most welcoming pain. “I know, and I’m okay. I promise.” This time, Christian even stood up first and slid the smaller carry-on bag over his shoulder. “Let’s get back in line and figure out what we can do with our tickets. Then we’ll go home.”
When Christian made to move, Jonah held him in place. “I’m sorry, honey.” His jaw ticked in that way Christian hated to see. “I know you’re bummed. I’m sorry this didn’t work out for us.”
His only care for Jonah now, Christian immediately wound his arms around the bigger man and looked in his eyes. “Don’t be upset for me. I promise I’m not anymore.” Lifting up on his tiptoes, Christian moved his arms around Jonah’s wide shoulders and played with the edges of his brown locks. “You know,” he began, forcing lightness into his voice, “we were going to have spaghetti carbonara for dinner tonight; I made sure the hotel I booked us in could make it. I know how much you love it.” Christian’s mental wheels spun forward to a cozy evening at home, and he finished, “I can make it for us at the house instead.”
Jonah beamed, something Christian had only ever seen the man do for him. “You’ve already made the day perfect again. Let’s go.”
As they walked to the back of the line, Christian made sure to joke with Jonah and present a happy face. He couldn’t help the pang of disappointment still ringing silently inside him though. More than anything, Christian had wanted to give Jonah something special this year, his way of saying thank you for the million ways Jonah made his life wonderful and fulfilled in every way. Whenever they watched a movie or TV show that had snow in it, Jonah would always mention that he’d never seen real snow. Christian had latched on to it and thought he’d found the perfect gift for Jonah.
Mother Nature apparently had other plans.