When the SWAT team leader says no to Christmas, you have to wonder why.
It's Christmas time and Ben Sullivan is having problems getting his boyfriend, Tyler Czuba, to commit to a holiday schedule. Tyler has finally come out to his SWAT team and his relationship with Ben is now out in the open. Tyler has always worked on Christmas and doesn't seem willing to compromise this year either. When Tyler ends up on desk duty, Ben thinks that maybe that family Christmas will work out after all. But Tyler explodes over the issue. Suddenly, Ben has to wonder if their relationship will even survive the holidays at all.
"What day do you want to leave to drive to see my parents?" Ben Sullivan asked. He leaned around Tyler Czuba and grabbed the toothpaste tube off the counter top. They had only moved in together a few months ago, and despite having spent five years in a very closeted relationship, they were still working on the details of living together, and being out. Ben was aware the out part was specifically awkward and uncomfortable for Tyler, in his position as captain of the city's SWAT team.
"I usually pull duty on Christmas day. You know that." Tyler was halfway through shaving.
"We have three weeks 'til Christmas. Tell them you want the day off for a change, and see what happens," Ben suggested.
From behind, Ben slid an arm around Tyler's waist and nipped at the nape of Tyler's neck. "Your team's now aware that you have a significant other, even if you barely mention it. Let them adjust to the fact you have occasional family commitments, too."
Tyler made a non-committal noise, and Ben decided that was as far as he was going to get with the discussion this morning. He put toothpaste on his toothbrush and began brushing, stepping around Tyler to spit in the sink. Tyler chose that moment to reach for the faucet and got a mouthful of foamy toothpaste spit all over his hand.
"Sorry," said Ben. He gave Tyler a rueful grin.
"We need a bathroom with two sinks." Tyler rinsed off the mess.
"That would require that we move someplace different. Are you up for that?"
"I'm not sure. Maybe."
Ben raised an eyebrow. He had been the one to give up his previous apartment and move in with Tyler. For a guy who made split-second, life-threatening decisions on the job, the SWAT team leader was very stuck in his ways off the job. "Should I look around and see what might be available?"
"Then I'll hit a couple of local websites and see if I can grab one of those apartment hunting guides."
Tyler gave him a curt nod and pulled off the towel that was wrapped around his waist, hanging it up on the towel bar.
Ben was treated to the sight of his partner's well-muscled ass as the man walked out of the bathroom. Mmm, very fine, and he had no time to do anything about it. Olive skin tone and raven dark hair, he always thought Ty had drawn the best parts of the genetic lottery from his Slavic heritage. Ben finished brushing his teeth then went to get dressed. Tyler was already mostly dressed and putting on his boots. After yanking on his slacks, Ben turned to hunt in the closet for a clean dress shirt when Tyler put an arm around him and leaned in for a kiss.
"Love you," Ty whispered.
Ben smiled. It had taken so long for Ty to say those words the first time. "I love you, too."
* * *
There was always paperwork, and there were days when Tyler was tempted to drop it all in the nearest trash can.
Whitson leaned into Tyler's office.
"Hey Zub', are you coming to the Christmas party on Thursday night, and are you bringing Ben? I'm trying to get a head count," asked Whitson.
"Uh, I'm coming and... I'm not sure if Ben's interested or not," said Tyler. Truthfully, he hadn't even so much as mentioned the SWAT Christmas party to Ben. There was one every year, but this year was different. This was the first year his team knew he was involved with another man. Since he had inadvertently outed himself when Ben had been held hostage during a bank robbery, Tyler was still trying to cope with the fact his secret was no longer one. There had been a couple of barbed comments from teammates but a whole lot fewer than he expected. More than half of the team didn't seem to care much at all, and the other half made little commentary.
"Well figure it out, because we need to have a pretty good idea on how many people to tell the restaurant are coming. Oh, and the whole thing is casual. Would you believe my girlfriend asked me if I was going to rent a tux? Geez, I told her she'd be lucky if I remembered to wear a clean pair of jeans." Whitson rolled his eyes.
"Sounds like she doesn't quite have you wrapped around her finger yet. Tell Vodder we got a replacement for the camera tip that was broken. He needs to get it installed before we get a call out."
Tyler pulled his phone out of his pocket. He really should call Ben and ask him about the party. Instead he stared at the phone for a good five minutes then put it back in his pocket. Maybe he'd call at lunch time. He didn't want to interrupt Ben on the job for a trivial request.