Title: The Best Christmas is Family
Fandom: SEAL Team
Characters: Clay Spencer, Jason Hayes, Mentions of Various Bravo Members
Relationship: Clay Spencer & Jason Hayes
Tags: Light Angst, Bravo Team is a Family, Ash Spencer’s A+ Parenting,
Author’s Note: This was inspired by the SEAL Team cast Christmas traditions video. This is a stand alone story and not related to any of my other SEAL Team stories.
Summary: When Bravo gets deployed over Christmas, Clay wants to do something for his brothers. He’s used to not having anyone but himself at Christmas but hates that his brothers aren’t with their other families for the holidays. A favorite Christmas confession leads to a chance for an overdue conversation with Bravo One and maybe the end to both of their loneliness.
The Best Christmas is Family
Clay sat in the back of the team rec room and quietly watched his brothers laugh and joke, taking in the scene and the atmosphere. The room was completely decorated with Christmas decorations everywhere. It had been long tiring night but worth all the yelling he’d had to suffer though to sell “getting in trouble with Eric” to get time overnight to put it together. He didn’t do it alone though. While it may have been his idea, he wouldn’t have been able to pull it off without Eric helping him smuggle in decorations and the wives and girlfriends sending over goodies and other things to make it a good day.
It had been a rough year all around and he knew that at times he’d made it harder not better. He also knew that Christmas was a big deal amongst most of the team, but especially with Jason. Ray, and Sonny. So, knowing this year would be harder on his brothers than normal, he’d come up with an idea to try and make it a little better. There was a tree, stockings hung from a construction paper fireplace, and more tinsel and garland and glitter than he’d ever seen in his life.
He’d had to raise another fuss just after breakfast to get everyone there instead of to the workout room as Jason had planned to keep everyone’s minds off missing their families, but the look on their faces when they’d made it into the rec room was well worth the ass chewing, he’d had to endure on the way over. Currently they seemed to be sharing favorite Christmas memories. He was hoping they’d forgotten him and would move on when he heard Jason call his name.
“OK, Clay, you’re last. Tell us about your best or Christmas or Winter Holiday year.” When the team turned and looked at him expectantly.
He could make something up. He had a good imagination. He’d grown up entertaining himself by cre4ating stories in his head so, he was a pretty good storyteller. The thing was though that it was Christmas, and while he wasn’t a man of religious faith, he was a man who believed in the sanctity of his brothers. Making up an answer just seemed wrong. So, despite how pathetic he knew that it would make him sound, he didn’t see any option but to tell the truth.
“I mean, this year Boss,” Clay answered carefully looking down immediately after answering and he saw the look of disbelief cross Jason’s face.
“How the hell can this be your favorite Christmas?” Sonny spat a tad harshly then yelped. When Clay looked up his friend was rubbing the back of his head and Davis was glaring at him.
“How can it not, be?” Clay returned quietly with a shrug and debated for a moment on whether he should elaborate, and again decided in the spirit of brotherhood that he once again owed it to them.
“I don’t remember much about Christmas before I went to Liberia to live with my grandparents. I don’t even have any pictures. It isn’t like Ash and I are on good enough terms where he’d give me albums or would even think of someone other than himself and keep such a thing. Christmas in Liberia certainly wasn’t very festive. Not like we celebrate in America. So, it mostly was a simple affair, that while I have fond memories of, none of them would be my favorite.
“Once I left Liberia Christmas pretty much went one of two ways from there on out until this year. Its either me myself and I and a cheap dinner and a bottle of something. Or, worse yet, Ash tries to do a pop in to try and prove something and completely ruin the day when we get into a fight after he reminds me how worthless he thinks I am. I don’t have any other blood relatives. I don’t have a girlfriend, and I’d rather not think of last year with Stella thank you very much. This year though…”
Clay stopped and took a deep breath forcing his emotions to calm before he could go on without making a bigger ass of himself. “I mean, for the first time in my life I am spending Christmas with the only family I have. You guys are it. You’re my brothers, and sister… and slightly grumpy bearded Uncle.”
Clay paused as the guys laughed and threw barbs in Blackburn’s direction. “I have family around me. People who actually give a fuck if I am sick or hurt or upset. People who notice when I’m off and try to help even when I’m an ass and won’t tell them why. I’ll never have a stronger family connection than this. Maybe someday I’ll be married and have kids and whatever Christmas traditions my significant other brings in, but how can it be better than this? I got to make my family happy even if I had to get my ass reamed a shit ton of times to do it. What could be better than today?”
Fortunately, before anyone could comment, someone came in and announced that the celebratory Christmas meal weas served. When Sonny threw an arm around his shoulders, Clay flashed him a grin and offered a quiet, “it’s all good,” understanding the unspoken apology for what it was. He loved Sonny to death. After Brian died Clay had no confidence, he’d ever have a friend like that again, and then the fates brought Sonny Quinn into his life.
It was late in the evening, when Clay quietly opened the rec room door and snuck in, turning on the Christmas lights and the tree, and then settled on the couch to watch it. The tree itself wasn’t very big. Just a little three- or four-footer but it was one of those fiber optic things that changed colors, and Clay found himself fascinated by the colors. He hadn’t been sitting there long when he heard the door open.
Quickly he turned his head that direction and was surprised to see it was Jason coming in and not Sonny, Brock or Trent having heard him leaving their bunk room and coming to investigate. “Was coming back from taking a piss and someone said that they saw you coming this direction. You ok? That was a pretty big load you unleashed today.”
“I’m good, Jase,” Clay said quietly as he turned his eyes back to the tree but was unsurprised when instead of taking his word for it, Jason came over and sat down next to him on the couch.
“You know, during Green Team Adam told me that the team would be all the family I needed, and I didn’t really believe him,” Clay started with a shrug and a sad sigh remembering his mentor. “Should have known better though. Adam never steered me wrong. I meant what I said today. This team is all the family I have. Since you’re here, I want you to know I see you, Jase.”
When his Team Leader just arched an eyebrow at him, Clay huffed and went on. “I’m not the only one who’s had a rough year or two. Yours has been equally as bad or maybe worse, and I want you to know I see you, Jason. You’re…”
Clay sighed and rubbed a hand over his face before continuing. “I know you never asked to be, and maybe don’t wanna be but you’re part big brother and everything I wish Ash was as a father in my head. You’re not just my boss, Jason, and I worry because I see you struggling. You put on a good façade, but I see the cracks and I worry because I don’t know how to help you. When I ask the guys, they just…” Clay trailed off in a huff and shook his head.
It wasn’t that he didn’t think they didn’t care or were even blind to Jason’s struggling. Each of his Bravo brothers had known Jason twice as long as Clay had, So, he knew they understood him better. Sometimes though he wondered if familiarity didn’t breed a false sense of security. Each one had assured him that Jason would be ok in time and to just let him be, but that didn’t set too well with Clay.
“Maybe its just me being a know-it-all asshole again but I’m not good with just sitting back and assuming that you’ll find your way through the quagmire that you’re trudging through. You guys keep telling me to reach out when I need, but yet it seems like none of you do it yourselves. So, I guess this is me telling you that I see you boss. I see you as my big brother and my I wish I had a dad like him not a father like Ash. I see that you aren’t ok, and even though you know literally every other person on the team a million times better than you know me that I am here if you need me.”
When he stopped talking, the room fell silent, and it stayed that way long enough that Clay was worried he’d overstepped his boundaries. Eventually though Jason started talking. “You’re right. I’m not ok. As long as I’m here with you guys it’s fine. I can focus on what I know how to do. When we’re home though and I have to separate from you guys when we leave base though everything falls to shit. I hate being alone. I fucking hate it more than anything. I’ve never handled it well, and I still don’t handle it well. Things get too quiet and all the demons and regrets and all the names on my list come out to haunt me. I know how to be Master Chief Jason Hayes, but I’m pretty crap at knowing how to just be Jason.
“That apartment of mine is torture, and its so far away from the house that I hate going to it. I miss the home that Alana and I built for the kids, but at the same time all I saw there were ghosts. I keep telling myself that if I keep going forward, it has to get better, but it just keeps feeling like it’s getting worse instead. It seems no matter how hard I try I can’t figure out how to find my way to the other side. For the record, also, I am honored to be your big brother and would be proud as shit to have you as my son, Clay. You’re an amazing man who just keeps finding a way to rebound no matter how much shit life throws at him. I admire your ability to just survive on your own.”
“Maybe we should do more than survive, Jason,” Clay suggested softly and turned his attention away from the tree to his Boss to find the older man looking at him. “If you hate your apartment then maybe you shouldn’t live there. If you hate being alone, maybe you shouldn’t be.”
“I don’t have much choice, Clay,” Jason grumbled frustrated. “I have one kid to get through college and another in a private Hockey academy. As for not living alone, I’m not even dating someone let alone have a woman I wanna live with or marry. Hell, I honestly don’t see myself being ready for anything like marriage ever again.”
“Who said marriage, Boss? Geez,” Clay huffed before continuing. “I’m not exactly tied to my apartment. I have my own ghosts you know. Stella and Swanny are everywhere I look. I’m only still there because moving is a pain, and it helps knowing Derek is right across the hall. Maybe though if we pooled our funds, we could afford a halfway decent house. I’m pretty sure Derek is only still there because I am. There’s nothing that says we couldn’t be housemates, right?”
“You’d wanna live with your Team Leader?” Jason asked surprised and Clay wrinkled his nose.
“Team Leader? No. My big brother, friend, and Guide to what a Dad should be? Yes. I mean, we’d have to establish some ground rules. When we’re at home you aren’t Bravo One and I’m not Bravo Six. You don’t get to just bark orders and expect me to follow, but… Yeah, actually. I would enjoy sharing a house with someone I consider family. There’s a fine line between alone and lonely, Boss.”
When Jason wrapped an arm around his shoulders, Clay just accepted it and let himself be pulled into a pseudo hug. “You’re a good kid, Clay. Ash is a fucking moron. I fucking hate that he keeps messing with my head. I wish I could just order you to stay away from him but having had not the best relationship with my old man, I get it. If you’re serious though, I say we do it. I’m in.”
Clay nodded and relaxed leaning against, not his Team Leader, but against his big brother, and nodded as he watched the tree colors shift from red to blue to purple and back to red. “Best Christmas ever,” Clay said softly letting silence fall between them as he enjoyed rare sensation of safety and comfort wrap around him.
End Note: I write fanfiction for fun. It’s a hobby and a stress relief. I refuse to angst over my writing. What you see is what you get. Errors, plot holes, and all. Thank you for reading my story!