Mel and Ringo's Clark/Addison Remix by
"Twelve drummers drumming, eleven ladies piping, ten — wait — dammit!"
It's right around Christmas every year that I wonder why my big brother ever got paid to sing. Yeah, I know, when he actually pays attention or gives it any effort he's amazing at it. I'm definitely his biggest and loudest fan, no matter what Mom wants to think. I was 8 by the time he started this stupid band, I was big enough to have been around for all the good stuff.
And by the good stuff, I mean the money and Justin. Not that I don't love all those guys; they call Chris their brother, they damn well get the rest of us along with him. But… Justin's done him good. Amazingly, really. They tried so hard to keep it from all of us, and then even once everyone knew, they all tried to keep it from me. Granted, I was like ten, it made sense, but once they saw Matt Fisher call someone "gay" on the playground and me nearly knock his teeth out, I think they realized that I had the right idea on boys who are in love with other boys and need to be left alone about it.
So I know a thing or two about my brother being able to sing, and singing with Justin, and I know that come Christmas he just quits giving a crap. It's not just that it isn't professional — he'll sing in the car all year and sound great. But I think he sucks at Christmas music on purpose.
And then, of course, I get snatched by the back of my pants. Not on, Christopher. "Here, take this to Katie," he barked, switching the Christmas cheer on and off like a light bulb. Being the token small one in this group, I get to carry cords back and forth and check bulbs when the lights don't work.
"Thanks, hon… well, shit!" That would be Kate plugging in the lights to absolutely no reaction. I don't even bother asking before getting on the ground and looking for the loose one. And I still jump when Kate finds it first and they come on when I'm not expecting it. One of these years, I swear, I will find the loose bulb myself. But it's that familiarity that's the best thing about Christmas, you know?
"Nyeeegk!—" Is there anything worse than everyone in the room bursting into laughter at something you didn't see?! I turn around in a rush — Chris looks like he wants to die, the girls are all cracking up, and Justin's grinning like the cat that ate the canary. Apparently, my darling brother, in his infinite bullshit, has gotten his nipples tweaked while he wasn't looking.
"Oh, look, Mom, I found Justin." Sarcastic jerk to the end. In a good way, of course. He wanders off after ornaments, and Justin bursts into song. Round-robin, of course… don't let him fool you, he hates singing by himself if he can avoid it. It's passed to Mom, to Molly, to Kate, to Emily — and then I get jumped in.
"If you haven't got a penny, then a ha'-penny will do; and if you haven't got a ha'-penny, then God bless you!" Chris is still singing a good thirty seconds after the song is done. He doesn't care if we laugh with him or at him — he just wants us laughing. I oblige.
And then a few minutes later it's more bustling around with decorations and soon enough Mom is bustling us out the door. I miss most of the conversation (I hate being the short one) but it sounds like more of the usual ribbing back and forth, all the way out to the van. Mom hums a bit as she cranks the car. "Good to see all of them getting together again. When are the other three getting in?"
"Mm, later on tonight, he said. He and Justin wanted more time to set stuff up."
I snorted at that. "Yeah, Chris still has one more stocking to stuff."
Half a second of silence, and then they all lose it. He's trained me well.
"So how'd your little boyband shindig go off?" I love it when he calls. Mainly cause I can act all moon-eyed and excited, and get to talk to him instead of doing whatever it is I need to be doing. This time it's sorting laundry; I'm sprawled on my bed with the phone jammed between my head and the pillow.
"Aw, man, that was a blast." He chuckled under his breath. "You guys did a bang-up job on the decoration. The place looked awesome."
"Damn straight we did. Anything happen interesting?"
"Oh — man, poor C —" He cackled. "Okay, so… me and J were making the food, right? And it was awesome, we had fruit trays and shit. But when we were working on it, we were messing around and got flour and ketchup and stuff everywhere. So we were upstairs — playing video games —" I managed to keep my mouth shut. He's still not over me not being six anymore. "— when the guys all got there. And all of a sudden there's all this shrieking downstairs. So we run down there and we're on the stairs and we hear — JOSHUA. It's KETCHUP."
I can't help cracking up there. As great as Chris is at impressions, his Lance always comes off as the unholy offspring of Darth Vader and Godzilla.
"So we get down there — and C had gone in the kitchen looking for us —"
"And he finds ketchup everywhere —"
"And he flips out thinking someone's broken in and murdered us —" Chris is laughing so hard he can barely breathe. "And Lance has him by the shoulders trying to shut him up and Joey's just cracking up, an' me and J come stumbling downstairs half-dressed —" He stops abruptly.
He would be on the other end of a phone line when I want most to hug him. "Food fights as foreplay. Sounds like you guys."
He laughs it off, but he sounds relieved. "Who told you you could grow up, squirt?"
"Well, one of us had to. So you come downstairs all freshly fucked —"
"TAYLOR!!" I can't tell if that's another laughing fit or him choking on something.
"And everyone's going even more insane than usual, and then what?"
"And then we all laughed at JC for like ten minutes and he threw a cupcake at me and we got dressed. It was all the usual bullshit after that."
"Sounds like fun."
"It was." He sounds nostalgic now. "It always is. Does us all good to get together, I think."
"I think so too. I think it does you good."
"Well, that goes without saying. It doesn't take much."
"I think Justin does especially."
There's a long silence, but when he breaks it, I can hear his smile. "Yeah. I think you're right."
"I'm glad. But you better tell him I'll come kick his ass if he messes with you."
"I will make sure he knows," he replies solemnly. "But right now I gotta go clean up that murder scene."
"Yeah, I got laundry."
"You have fun with that. Night, kid. Love you."
"Love you too. Night, Chris."