Title: With a Little Help From My Friends (Part 4)
Pairing/s: (Pre) Gwaine/Leon
Character/s: Gwaine, Leon, Original Characters
Summary: Gwaine tags along as Leon and his daughter pick out a Christmas tree. The errand isn't anything like Gwaine imagines.
Warnings: Modern AU
Word Count: 1,323
Prompt: #384 - Get Out
Author's Notes: I've decided to just call this Part 4. Follows With a Little Help From My Friends (Part 1), (Part 2), and (Part 3). Reading the previous ones isn't necesary. Gwaine is temporarily living with Leon and his daughter.
Gwaine marched along through the soft, fresh snow, trailing a few steps behind Leon and Grace.
He could admit that the tree farm was picturesque. The world seemed to fade behind him as rolling hills of white snow unfurled before him, the land dotted by row after row of trees. Pines, firs, and... other types of trees that Gwaine didn't know of the names of stood tall and green among the untouched covering of snow. The air was quiet and still, overflowing with the woodsy scent of trees.
Gwaine might've enjoyed it more if he wasn't so damn cold.
When Leon asked if he wanted to go with them to pick out a Christmas tree, Gwaine had imagined walking down to the nearest tree lot and taking a thirty minute lap around their wares. He'd hopped into the car not knowing that what he was actually in for was a two hour drive out of the city and a thirty minute (and counting) hike through the snow. He'd worn the wrong coat, he hadn't brought a hat, and it was only by sheer luck that he was wearing boots instead of trainers.
He was cold and all he wanted was to get out of the snow.
The sooner Grace picked out a tree, the better.
He caught up to the father-daughter pair stopped in front of one of the many identical trees. Gwaine kept his hands shoved into his coat pockets as Grace circled the tree, assessing it from all sides.
"What do you think, Grace?" Leon asked.
Grace touched one of the branches and shook her head. "It's too small."
"Too small?" Gwaine questioned. Grace and Leon looked at him, the latter frowning slightly. "How can it be too small? It's the same size as the last one that you said was too big."
Grace shrugged. "It's too small," she repeated, continuing on her way up the row.
Gwaine sighed and began to follow reluctantly but was blocked by Leon standing in his path.
Leon's brow was still furrowed. "What's wrong?"
"It's freezing," Gwaine bit out.
"I told you it was going to be cold."
"You said it was going to be 'cold.' You didn't say it was going to be freezing."
Gwaine knew he sounded childish but it was too cold to care.
Leon's expression softened as he shook his head. He unzipped his coat halfway and pulled his red scarf off over his head. Wordlessly, he gathered the ends of the scarf in one hand and the midpoint in the other and wrapped the doubled up scarf around Gwaine's neck. It was warm and smelled of Leon; Gwaine instantly felt warmer but he couldn't quite say why.
"Happy?" Leon asked.
Gwaine pouted, unconsciously tucking his face into the warm red wool. "No. I'd be happy with a hot toddy." He smiled a little as Leon rolled his eyes. "But this is better," he admitted. "Thanks."
Leon smiled in return, touching Gwaine's arm with a gloved hand. "Hang in there," he said as they turned to follow Grace's footsteps in the snow. "It shouldn't be long now. Grace tends to prefer the Douglas firs. We probably should have started up here instead of in the Blue spruces."
Gwaine followed along, led by Leon's hand, his mood warming slowly as his body did.
"Daddy!" Grace's voice bounced off the hills a few trees ahead of them. She appeared in the aisle, waving them over to her. "Gwaine! Look! I found it!"
They walked up to Grace and yet another identical looking tree. Gwaine stared at it, trying to see whatever it was that Grace saw about this particular tree.
"This one's nice, Grace," Leon said with a smile.
"It's perfect," she corrected.
"Great choice, kiddo," he said, still unsure as to what made this one different from all the others.
Grace smiled at him and Gwaine thought that maybe this tree was a little greener than the others.
She grabbed Leon by the hand. "Can we get this one?"
Leon gave Grace's shoulder a quick squeeze before he looked back down the aisle they'd traversed. He waved his hand, catching the attention of the tree farm staffer who'd driven them up into the hills in a cart. The young man jumped into action, grabbing a couple of items from the cart and crunching his way through the snow to meet them.
Leon tapped Gwaine on the shoulder.
"Would you hold my coat please?" Leon asked, starting to pull his arms out of his heavy brown coat.
Gwaine frowned. "Why?"
"Because I'm going to cut down the tree."
Grace laughed at Gwaine's outburst, continuing to giggle as the short, sharp sound echoed off the hills. Leon simply looked at him, unamused, holding his coat in his hand.
"You don't have to sound so shocked."
"No," Gwaine said quickly, having nothing ready to follow it. "No, not... I mean, it's just... Why?" He pointed at the tree farm staffer standing a polite distance away. "Isn't it his job to cut down the tree?"
"Well, yes, he can," Leon agreed, "but I like to do it."
Gwaine shook his head. Leon worked in finance. "No, you can't."
"Yes, I can."
"Many people do choose to cut the tree down themselves," said the staffer - Hugh, according to his name tag.
"See?" Leon said, gesturing towards Hugh. He held his folded coat out to Gwaine. "Now, would you please hold my coat?"
Gwaine complied absently, taking Leon's coat and holding it as Hugh handed Leon an ax. It wasn't an image that seemed natural in Gwaine's head: Leon - quiet, reserved Leon - holding an ax. He approached the tree with more confidence than Gwaine expected but that still failed to settle his doubts.
"Gwaine, please stop," Leon said firmly. He held the ax with both hands at waist level. "I know what I'm doing. Ask Grace."
Gwaine looked down at Grace beside him. "Does he?"
"Daddy cuts down the tree every year."
Gwaine's question was answered by a loud cracking noise cutting through the quiet morning air.
Leon stood beside the tree with his head down and his body bent towards the impact. He pulled the ax from the tree trunk and took another swing. Then another. And another. Leon fell into a steady rhythm, one of his hands moving seamlessly up and down the handle of the ax, reaching to pull the ax from the tree, then gathering to swing the blade. Leon's rhythm never faltered and the power of his swing never eased; each crack of the blade hitting the tree was just as loud as the one before.
The tree fell in less than a minute. Grace gave a cheer as it landed in the snow.
Gwaine couldn't do anything but stare, speechless, suddenly feeling uncomfortably warm.
Leon walked up to him, ax in hand, as Hugh began to tie up the tree for transport. His face was lightly flushed from the exertion, his heavy breath making his chest rise and fall under layers of clothes. Some of his hair fell over his face as he smiled at Gwaine.
"The next time I tell you I know how to do something, I'd appreciate it if you took my word for it."
Gwaine swallowed, struggling to find words. "I, I will."
"Thank you," Leon said with a nod. "Let's go home."
He took his coat from Gwaine's loose grip and left to join Grace, following Hugh and the tree back to the cart.
Gwaine let out a harsh breath and tugged at his collar. He unwrapped Leon's scarf from around his neck, seeking but getting no relief from the sudden flush that heated his body. He eventually started off after the group, trailing a few steps behind Leon and Grace, noticing for the first time just how broad Leon's shoulders were.
It was going to be a long drive back to the city.