Gabriel stepped back from the tree, hand on his chin in a stance reminiscent of The Thinker. His eyes narrowed as he evaluated the tree, scrunching his nose.
“Do you think it’s good?” he asked Charlie worriedly. The redhead laughed, clapping Gabriel on the shoulder.
“Gabriel, it’s beautiful,” she said warmly.
And it really was. The snow had fallen just right overnight, giving the tree a surreal image. The pictures strung along the bottom were positioned just right, so that Sam wouldn’t have to look too far down to see them. There were pictures of him and Gabriel all throughout their three years of dating. The one of them screaming on the coaster at Coney Island was in the middle, with ones from holidays and dates stretching out next to it. A large “WILL YOU MARRY ME?” was draped over the tree; Gabriel had needed a ladder for that one.
Charlie had helped with the extra decorations - she’d shown up with red and silver snowflakes aplenty, hanging the ornaments from the tree around the proposal. The tree glistened, and from the amount of people stopping to grab pictures it had to look great.
But something was still missing. Gabriel couldn’t put his finger on it. “Maybe I should have bought the heart tinsel,” he said, fretting. Charlie rolled her eyes next to him, but she didn’t really understand. She wasn’t proposing, she didn’t get how much Gabriel needed it to be absolutely perfect.
“No, that would be tacky.” She looped her arm through Gabriel’s and leaned her head on his shoulder. “He’s gonna love it, you know that.”
Gabriel took a deep breath and counted to ten, before letting it out in a slow sigh. “I know, I think. I’m just nervous.”
“Well, do you have the ring?”
Gabriel’s face paled as he patted at his coat, shoving his hands into his pockets. He spun around, searching the snow, before almost falling to his knees. Charlie’s voice interrupted his panic, and he whirled back to face her.
“You gave it to me for safekeeping, remember?” She sighed, pulling the velvet box out of her pocket. Gabriel almost fainted with relief, grabbing the box from Charlie and carefully putting in a zipped-up pocket.
“You’re a horrid person,” he informed her, but she just shrugged.
“I couldn’t resist.” She glanced down at her watch, eyes widening. “You’ve got ten minutes to meet Sam at the front.”
Gabriel froze. He knew he should be moving, should be thanking the staff for letting him do this, should be doing some thing, but he was still.
“Shit. Shit. It’s really happening, oh my god,” he felt his breathing stop before turning on Charlie, eyes panicked. “Oh my god oh my god, oh my-” He was cut off when Charlie shoved a paper bag in front of his mouth, obviously having come more prepared than he thought. He took in deep breaths, letting his eyes fall shut. After a few moments he felt calmer, and cautiously pulled the bag away from his mouth.
“Thanks,” he said gruffly, handing the bag back. She shook her head, pushing it back toward him.
“You might need it again.” She winked, before pulling out a camera and heading to the next few rows over. “Beside, I’ve got a different job to do. One that doesn’t involve babysitting you.” Gabriel glared at her half-heartedly, still aware that he was very much in her debt. Although the idea had basically been all his, she’d helped put it together.
Shaking his head, he glanced at the screen of his phone, feeling himself start to panic when it said that Sam would be getting there in 5 minutes. Swearing, he hopped onto the nearest cart, thanking God that it was there, before it pulled away and headed back to the main area. The second it parked he leapt off, running like a madman to the coffee shop and ordering two hot chocolates, one with whipped cream and one without. He sent a text to Sam, telling him where he was, and tried to calm his racing heart.
The plan was all in motion, now Sam just had to find the tree. That’s where Gabriel came in. Charlie had planned for him and Sam to travel around the farm the long way before getting off at the right stop, and there was no way Sam would miss the tree, not with Gabriel leading him.
He fingered the box in his pocket, feeling a rush of warmth that had nothing to do with the hot chocolate move through him. The only part he couldn’t plan out was Sam’s response, and a small part of him was terrified that Sam would say no. But only a small part. Another part was ecstatic, a bird fluttering around a cage too small to contain it. He wanted to burst out into song and dance, hug random strangers and scream how in love he was.
The door creaked open and Gabriel swiveled, face melting into a smile at the sight of Sam coming through. Their eyes met and Sam returned the smile, pulling his hood down to run a hand through his hair. He headed over to the table, pressing a kiss to Gabriel’s cheek before sitting opposite him. Gabriel slid the hot chocolate over to him and Sam made a positively sinful noise, taking a long sip.
“Have I mentioned you are the best boyfriend ever?” Sam nearly moaned in between sips, reaching over to entwine his fingers with Gabriel’s. “Because you are.”
“Oh, stop, I’m gonna blush,” Gabriel said, pretending to flip his hair around. Sam chuckled, finishing off the hot chocolate and pulling Gabriel up with him as he stood. He tossed it into the trash can and reached for Gabriel’s, who in turn curled around it protectively.
“Not done. Mine,” he said, and Sam laughed again.
“Whatever, brat,” Sam teased, holding onto Gabriel’s hand as they walked out the door and into the cool winter air. Almost immediately Gabriel was leaning into Sam’s side to try and escape the cold. It proved futile, seeing as the wind was coming from in front of them. He grit his teeth and held up an arm, turning his face into Sam’s coat.
“Cold,” he said quietly, not even bothering to hold back a triumphant smile when Sam turned to pull him into a tight hug. He was so huge and warm and huge… Gabriel could stay in the circle of his arms forever. He stuck his hands into Sam’s pockets to try and warm them up, not noticing Sam roll his eyes in fond exasperation.
“So, what kind of Christmas tree are we getting?” Sam asked, face pressed into the top of Gabriel’s head. “Blue spruce, Douglas, Conrad, what?”
Gabriel shrugged. “Douglas’ are pretty popular. Figured we’d check that out first.” The sound of the tractor-trailer came closer, and Gabriel felt his heart start speeding up again. It was now or never.
“You got it.” Sam’s hands pulled back, leaving his and Gabriel’s hand together. He tugged Gabriel after him, sitting on one of the bales of hay in the corner. The tractor stalled for a minute while families piled on, and Gabriel leaned into Sam’s side. Sam wrapped an arm around his shoulders and dragged him closer, blocking his face from any of the dust coming off the wheels of the pickup.
“Wanna go over to my parents’ after this? They’re making Christmas cookies and I thought we could help,” Sam said halfway through the ride. Gabriel, who’d been lulled into a half-asleep state from Sam’s hand rubbing gently along his back, jerked up, blinking.
“Uh. Yeah?” he tried, not really sure what he was agreeing to. Sam gave him a half-hearted glare, so he knew he wasn’t in trouble.
“Parents. Christmas cookies. Listen, you love sugar, just say yes.”
“Sure, Sammykins,” he said, nodding. “Love to.”
Sam’s grin brightened the entire cart. Gabriel couldn’t help but smile back, feeling warmth spread through him.
It felt like forever before they got to the stop and Gabriel bounded down the steps, tugging Sam excitedly after him. Sam only paused to grab a saw, following Gabriel off the cart.
“Where d’you wanna start?” Sam asked, letting their hands swing between them as they walked. Gabriel made a show of looking around, trying to find the tree with the yellow tape on top. It was sitting off to the right, tape blowing in the breeze. He pointed over there, careful not to let his nerves show.
“How about there?” he said, letting Sam lead the way. A flash of red came from behind a tree and Gabriel recognized Charlie getting into position. They got closer to the tree and Gabriel fell back a half step, letting his hand slip out of Sam’s. He turned back with a frown, but Gabriel waved it away.
“If we split up we’ll get more ground covered,” he said. Sam looked confused but nodded, heading right in the direction of the tree. Gabriel followed a few feet behind, thanking the gods that the path he’d chosen had no snow on it. He followed Sam silently, heart beating faster and faster as the tree came closer. The breeze almost completely stopped and at the same moment, Sam reached the tree.
He froze, and Gabriel wished he could see his face. No one moved for a second, and then Gabriel sank down to one knee behind Sam, holding the box up. The ring was nestled in between red and green felt, a simple silver band with a small inscription on the inside. Sam turned around at the soft thump that Gabriel’s knee made as it hit the dirt, and didn’t move.
The face was just as good as Gabriel thought, mouth open in a little ‘o’ of surprise, eyes wide, and for the first time looking completely out of words. Gabriel took a half-second to commit that face to memory in case Charlie hadn’t caught it on the camera, and started to speak.
“Sam, we met three years ago, and ever since then I knew there wouldn’t be anyone else for me. Sure, we’ve had some fights, but we’re still together and love each other. You’re my best friend, the person I trust with my entire life; and I want to dedicate the rest of it to you.” Gabriel breathed in shakily, unable to look anywhere but Sam’s eyes. They were gleaming, and he hoped that was a good sign. His heart was pitter-pattering as he neared the end of his speech. “You’re it for my, Sammy. I can’t imagine myself ever loving someone more than I love you. So, will you do me the honor of marrying me, so I can have the honor of staying with you for the rest of my life?”
Sam didn’t move for a few moments after that, hand covering his mouth. An errant tear slipped down the side of his face, and Gabriel began to fidget nervously.
What if his proposal was actually horrible? What if Sam didn’t say yes? What if he was totally off the mark and Sam just wanted to stay friends after this? He didn’t think he could do that, not after everything. What if-
He was cut off by a strong pair of arms wrapping around him and fought to hold onto the ring box. Sam’s head was buried in his shoulder, and he was laughing.
“Yes, Gabriel, of course, yes.”
Gabriel laughed weakly, hugging Sam back. They were kneeling in the dirt and hugging and laughing, and Gabriel had never felt so happy in his life.
Sam was gonna marry him.
He let go of Sam and pulled him into a bruising kiss, taking the ring out of the box and grabbing Sam’s hand. The ring fit almost perfectly on Sam’s finger, and he felt Sam smile against his lips.
Sam’s hands came up to cradle his face, and Gabriel decided that he liked the feel of the cold metal band around his finger. They kissed for a few more minutes, before Sam pulled back with reddened lips.
“God, I love you so much,” he said in a quiet voice, leaning his forehead against Gabriel’s. “So much, Gabe.”
“Feelings mutual, Sammy.” Gabriel pressed a kiss to the corner of Sam’s mouth before letting out a shrill whistle. “Hey! Charlie! You can come out now, he said yes!”
Charlie stumbled over, almost tripping over at least four tree stumps, and smiled at them. “Y’know, I could just tell by the way you were kissing. So, here’s your camera back, and I’ll make myself scarce so you two can have some couple funtimes.” She threw them a thumbs up after handing the camera to Gabriel, calling out a “Later, dorks!” over her shoulder as she left.
Sam’s head dropped to Gabriel’s shoulder, cheeks burning in embarrassment. Gabriel just laughed, running a hand through his hair, and pressed a kiss to the top of his head.
“C’mon, you great lug, I spent hours on this tree, you could at least do me the honors of showing me how much you appreciate it.” Gabriel winked at Sam, tugging on his arm to lead him back to the car.
“Oh, I’ll show you alright.” Sam’s voice lowered about half an octave, and Gabriel felt a shiver run through him at all the things that voice promised. He couldn’t get to the car quickly enough, almost breaking into a run with Sam laughing behind him.
When they finally reached it, Sam climbed in the driver’s seat, pausing for a second. “Wait, we never actually got a tree.”
“We’ll come back later,” Gabriel half-whined, linking his hand with Sam’s. The ring shone in the sunlight while Sam steered, breaking a couple laws to get them back to his apartment as soon as possible.
Gabriel just smiled, watching Sam, and let himself drift a bit. He had forever to look forward to, after all.