Every year, I do ficlets for Advent up until and including Christmas. To me, they are a symbol of the best things and the not so great things for Christmas. Enjoy!
Disclaimer: None of the characters are mine. All of them are owned by Storm baby… Wah!
Rating: G/PG for innuendo
Timeline: HA! Who needs a timeline!
Warnings: AU, fluff, sap.
Part 1: Peppermint and Cocoa
The very soft sounds of humming floated through the halls of the Tigrons’ home as Caeru made his way towards the balcony with a cup of steaming cocoa that had an old fashioned candy cane in it. He grinned as he went out onto the balcony and tugged his cloak around him tighter against the cold wind that was blowing up with the snow that was falling softly to the ground. It wasn’t often that they’d get snow, but when it did, it was a sight to behold. The snow would glitter with the lights from the active city and would becoming almost like trimming on the bodies and hair of most of the hara that were wandering around the city, whether on errands or in search of enjoyment.
But for the Tigrina, it was a time to just watch the world change into a blank slate, wiped clean and white with each new flake that floated down from the overcast sky. In many ways, he found it heartening to know that even nature had a way of making things new. Whenever it began to snow for the first time, or actually at any time, he would wrap himself in his warmest cloaks and come out onto the balcony with a cup of traditional hot cocoa and a candy cane in it and would watch the snow fall. He was never cold for his thoughts and the cloak along with the drink would keep him toasty warm.
But this time, his ponderings were broken as his son peered out onto the balcony before coming out. “Caeru? What are you doing here?” he asked his hostling as he rubbed his hands on his arms in a weak attempt to warm up.
“Watching the snow fall. Care to join me?” Caeru answered with a grin as he patted the seat next to him on the wrought iron bench that he was lounging on. The cushion he patted was fairly hard, but it dipped a little in response to the patting.
Hustling over, Darquiel sat next to his hostling and grinned when Caeru opened the cloak he was wearing to share it with him. He leaned his head against Caeru’s shoulder as the cloak was tightened around them both and sighed happily. He felt so warm against his hostling as that hole in his heart was filled once more with the scent and feel of his hostling holding him close. “So, why are you watching the snow fall?” he whispered through his slightly chattering teeth and grinned when Caeru offered him some of his drink. “What’s this?”
“Hot cocoa with a candy cane. It’ll warm ya a bit,” Caeru explained with a chuckle before placing a kiss on his son’s head. “And I’m watching the snow fall because it’s peaceful,” he added in answer to the previous question.
“Yea I guess, but it’s cold too,” Darquiel pointed out and smiled when Caeru laughed. He didn’t hear Caeru laugh often enough he felt.
“It is, which is why I wear a cloak and bring hot cocoa,” Caeru replied as he squeezed his son’s waist.
“Which is really good…I just might like drinking this more often,” Darquiel muttered as he sipped the steaming liquid again before it was taken by his hostling. He pouted and nuzzled close again.
“Well, well…this is where you two are!”
Pell’s voice broke through their quiet reverie and they looked over to see the dark haired Tigron watching them with a grin as he pulled on his own heavy cloak. “So, you found your hostling, Darq. Are you joining him in his crazy love for snow watching?” he teased as he came over and sat down next to his son, making them squeeze together on the bench.
“Just like you are, Pell. I’m guessin’ this isn’t something unusual,” Darquiel commented as he laid his head back onto Pell’s arm as he came across the back of the bench to wind its fingers in Caeru’s hair.
“Nah, I found out about it something like three years ago. Sometimes I join him…sometimes I don’t. Depends on his disposition,” Pellaz explained with a shrug and grinned as Darq’s head rolled once more onto Caeru’s slender shoulder.
“And what’s my disposition today, Pell?” Caeru inquired teasingly as he leaned his head a bit into Pell’s touches before offering his cocoa to Pell, who sipped it and passed it to Darq. The younger har sipped it as well and handed it to Caeru with a grin.
“You are in a mellow mood and will most likely be ready for rooning later,” Pell responded with a leer at his consort and chuckled as Darq groaned.
“Oh Ag…don’t torment me with that!” Darq cried as he buried his face in Caeru’s shoulder.
“Oh please, Darq. It’s how you came about…Pell being lascivious and me being a bottom!” Caeru retorted with a wide grin and laughed as Darq groaned again.
Smiling softly, Pell cupped Caeru’s face and caressed it with a soft finger. “Bottom nothing. You were a sight to behold and I love seeing it again and again,” he purred softly and smiled as Caeru’s shining eyes locked with his while a pleased smile curved the pouty lips.
Neither of them noticed Darq watching them intently as they just stared at each other for a few minutes. They both started though as Darq touched both of their hands under their cloaks. “I love you both…and I’m glad you loved each other enough to make me,” he whispered in a choked voice as he looked at them with suddenly bright eyes.
Moving as one, the Tigrina and Tigron embraced their youngest tenderly. “We are too, Darq. We are too,” Caeru whispered as he held his son and Pell close. Yes, when the snow fell, everything became a clean slate.
Part 2: Look What Whining Gets You
“Are you sure we should be here?” Pell whispered to Cal as they walked along the snow packed path leading to Forever. They were visiting the Parasilians for a Winter Solstice Festival, but Pell was, as usual, nervous about seeing Cobweb. No matter how good their relationship was now that Snake was chesna with Cobweb, he still felt uneasy around the mystic.
“You’re being paranoid again,” Cal replied in a sing song tone and grinned wickedly when Pell shot him a glare and huffed. “Seriously! Cobweb is not going to hex you! He likes you! So just, chill all right?” he added before reaching over and messing up Pell’s hair teasingly.
Growling as he tried to get his hair back under control, Pellaz frowned. “Chilling isn’t hard right now,” he grumbled while pulling his cloak tighter around his body. Cal laughed at that as he shook his head and they fell silent again. A few minutes later, Pell whined, “Why did we have to come in so far away from the house?”
Rolling his eyes, Calanthe glanced at his chesnari with a look of disgust. “Whining now? Great Ag, Pell, did you regress or something?” he demanded as he tugged his own cloak closer to his body.
“I’m not whining! The Tigron never whines!” Pell snapped before stomping ahead of his chesnari, who was laughing heartily at him.
They walked like that for a couple of minutes before called out, “Oh Peeelll!!”
“Wha-AAHH!!” Pell’s shriek echoed across the lawn as his face and neck as well as part of his chest was smacked into with a snowball. He glanced at Cal as the blond laughed hysterically while slapping his knees. The dark haired Tigron tapped his fingers on his hips before bending down and scooping up some of the snow and shaping it into a ball.
Cal’s laughter turned into spluttering as he was nailed in the face with snow. He grinned as Pell laughed and the challenge was on as snowballs flew through the air amidst laughter and cursing. They chased each other across the lawn, dignity lost as they worked to pelt the other with snow while taunting each other. By the time they were near the house, both were flushed and giggling as well as soaking wet from the melted snow.
In a last ditch effort, Cal tackled Pell and they rolled in the snow, giggling and batting at each other as they wrestled. Finally, Cal pinned his love and kissed him softly as they panted for air, grinning against each other’s mouths. Their kiss broke and they gazed down at each other before shifting closer together and sharing breath. After a minute, they pulled apart again and smiled at one another as they caught their breaths. “So, no more whining?” Cal teased as he brushed his fingers along Pell’s cheek.
“Only because I love the rough housing afterwards is why I’ll keep doing it,” Pell retorted with a chuckle as he wrapped his arms around Cal’s waist. Chuckling as well, Cal pulled them both up onto their feet and they headed towards the house, where it was seen in the porch light that two figures were watching. Pell just grinned. So what if it was seen that he was having fun in the snow. He just had to remember that whining got you into trouble.
Part 3: What A Gift Is
The wind seemed to agree with Thiede’s feelings as it gusted up around the pedestrians in the dirty city of Chicago, Illinois, icy and bitter as it made the shoppers flee towards buildings. Thiede himself was rather grumpy and irritated as he strolled down the grey sidewalk that ran through the slowly dying city he had grown up in. He hated the city, but he was there because Orien had mentioned there being stirrings of a person that would be perfect for their new race. He wasn’t sure on it, but thought that perhaps he could look into it.
He turned the corner into an alleyway and stopped as he was assailed from memories of living in such grunge and squalor. There were broken boxes along the narrow passage way, dirty and listing on their mangled sides from being soaked by the filthy sewage water that had come from the sewers with all the snow recently. He put a hand in front of his face as he saw rats eating on a couple of bodies, children it looked like to his disgusted gaze. It would seem that humans still didn’t care for their kind, especially if they were different.
Stopping as he heard a soft whimper, Thiede looked over at one of the damaged conglomerations of cardboard and saw a little boy peering out at him. The child’s face was dirty and scratched and the hand that balanced him against the unstable box was nearly black with grime and blood. The pale skin under the dirt was covered in goose bumps and had a bluish tinge to it and the eyes that watched Thiede from the sunken features were wide with lack of nutrition, wariness, and a hungry desperation. Finding himself attracted to that, Thiede moved closer and squatted near the watching boy. He held his hand out patiently, tilting an eyebrow in inquiry. “Do you seek more?” he asked quietly, neither cajolingly nor scathing, merely encouraging.
A frown came to the thin lips as the boy looked at the offered hand before coming out very slowly from the dilapidated shelter and standing. Thiede could then see the true potential of the child as he stood defiantly on his thin legs dressed in a torn pair of shorts and a too small ragged shirt. The grungy hair was dark, possibly black if it was cleaned up, and braided messily. Even though he was shaking with the cold and weakness from malnutrition, the boy glared at him boldly.
Liking the fire he saw, Thiede stood and nearly towered over the youth. He offered his hand again. “Come with me and find a new place. Think of it as a gift of life,” he offered softly as he watched the child.
Looking up at Thiede, the boy’s defiance softened and he smiled suddenly and the true beauty was shone as his features were lit up and gentled and the fire that was keeping him alive showed through. He took the offered hand with his small hand and nodded up at Thiede. Feeling proud of the acceptance, Thiede loosened his cloak, picked up the child, and wrapped him in it against his warm body. With a soft sigh, the boy snuggled close and held onto his rescuer. They walked along for a few minutes until they came to a deserted section of the city and one of the sedu that he had encouraged to aid him in his creation of the perfect race by carrying him around the world.
With a smooth move, he mounted his friend and held the boy close to him. “To Immanion, my friend,” he requested softly and smiled when the child looked up at him. They moved forward and then shifted onto the Other lanes in a heartbeat. He could feel the child shaking against him and comforted him, somewhat put off with his own parental feelings towards the child. They emerged not two minutes later in the land that he was creating for his new race and the warm sea air instantly made the youth relax. They trotted towards the nayati that they had created already and he smiled as he saw Orien standing at the entrance, waiting for them patiently.
When they arrived at the nayati, Thiede stopped the sedu and dismounted, unwinding his cloak from the skeletal frame of the child. He looked up at the boy and smiled. “What is your name?” he asked tenderly as he held a hand out again, silently asking for the child to accept once again.
“Hein Colurastes,” was whispered faintly as the smaller hand rested into Thiede’s.
“Welcome to Wraeththu, Hein Colurastes. I am Thiede. I give you the gift of new life,” Thiede stated quietly before lifting the boy. He was surprised then when he was hugged tightly, the slim arms shaking as they held onto him.
“Thank you…thank you,” Hein whimpered as tears rolled down his cheeks and onto Thiede’s shoulder. Smiling Thiede closed his eyes and held the child close to him, comforting him. Even if humans forgot their own, Wraeththu would show compassion. That was what his gift was.
Part 4: Deck the Halls
“No…hmmm over there I think…yes perfect!”
Velaxis rolled his eyes as he hooked the silvery garland he had been getting directions for draping it on the large pine tree in the middle of Caeru’s den onto the branch and stood up, wincing as his back protested at the movement. “Are you sure it’s ok now?” he asked in exasperation as he glanced at his best friend with a tilted eyebrow.
“Positive! Oh look at how it glints with the lights!” Caeru exclaimed as he clapped his hands and swayed happily.
“Where *did* you find these old lights? I’ve never seen them in the downtown stores,” Velaxis inquired as he began pulling out ornaments from the old box along with Caeru.
“Oh, well I found these in Ferelithia while I was living there with Wolf…I mean Abrimel,” Caeru explained, though he grew quiet at the mention of his son and the past.
Watching his friend, Vel reached over and placed a hand on his friend’s arm. “He’s fine, Caeru. And besides, you can talk about him that way too. I knew him as Wolf as well, remember?” he said softly with a gentle smile.
Smiling back as he nodded, Caeru’s eyes shone with gratitude before he began to place the ornaments he had in his hand onto the tree. He gasped then and snapped his fingers. “I forgot!” he cried before rushing out of the room with his friend watching him leave in disbelief.
“Forgot what?” Velaxis wondered aloud before he resumed his own decorating. He smiled as he looked at the beautifully sparkling old ornaments and the delicate blown glass ones. They were truly a gorgeous treasure and a reminder that not all of the sordid past of the human race was bad. He looked over again as Caeru ran back in with what looked to be an old fashioned cd player and a couple of cds in his hand. “Where did you get those?” he asked in shock and delight. He had an interest in old stuff like that…
“In Ferelithia. The house we were staying had an attic that was filled with such things and the cds were in one of the rooms,” Caeru answered excitedly as he plugged the player in and slipped a cd out carefully before putting it into the player. He studied the player for a bit before flipping it on and pushing ‘play’. Soon, soft music was floating out and Vel blinked as he recognized a couple of the songs.
“Christmas music? Oh you lucked out!” he declared and grinned as Caeru nodded eagerly. They resumed decorating the tree and then the room while singing to such classics as ‘The Twelve Days of Christmas’, ‘Oh Holy Night’, and ‘Jolly Old Saint Nicholas’.
Finally, when they had finished, Caeru leaned against his friend and kissed Vel’s neck in gratitude as they took in their work. “Thanks for helping me deck the halls,” he whispered tenderly.
“Anytime, old friend…anytime,” Velaxis whispered just as tenderly as he wrapped an arm around his friend’s waist. Sometimes it was just good to change a room’s look to know that things are wonderful.
Part 5: Memories
It was one of the coldest days that Cal had felt in a long time since he’d arrived at Immanion a decade earlier and he had a need for some hot mulled wine. He arrived at the kitchen and was surprised to see Vaysh seated near the fire, nursing what looked to be what Cal was looking for and looking to be lost in thought. “Vaysh? Why are you here?” he asked as he poured himself a cup of the mulled wine and sat down at the counter.
Glancing up slowly in surprise, Vaysh blinked slightly in confusion before sighing and looking away. “I was cold and didn’t want to go out,” he muttered before sipping on his wine and curling up just a bit more, looking more vulnerable than Calanthe had ever seen him.
Swallowing the lump that had unexpectedly formed in his throat, Cal quickly drank some of his mulled wine and winced as he burned his tongue a bit. He cleared his throat and looked over again. “So, what were you thinking about?” he asked conversationally as he leaned on the counter.
“None of your fucking business, Cal,” Vaysh retorted softly as he leaned his cheek on his knee and stared into the fire.
Frowning darkly, Cal observed his chesnari’s advisor and noted the minute tremors that were shaking the lithe frame. Upon further inspection, he found that the other har was almost skeletal, very pale, and looked to be near death. “I think it is,” he said quietly before standing and sitting next to the redhead on the bench next to the fireplace. Vaysh tried to scoot away, but could go no further, so he shot a glare in retaliation. Leaning an elbow onto his knee, the blond Tigron watched the shaking har and tried to figure out was haunting his lover’s dearest friend. “Want to talk about it?” he asked as he swirled his goblet leisurely.
“S’none of your business, Cal. So just go away,” Vaysh whispered hoarsely before taking another gulp of his wine.
“It is my business. You’re important to Pell, so I’m going to help you since you obviously aren’t telling-“
“Shut up! Just shut the fuck up! You and your stupid consort and perfect life! You’d never understand, so just butt out!” Vaysh snarled, cutting Cal off in shock as he turned on the blond.
Staring at the heaving har in astonishment and rising concern, Cal put his wine aside. “Why wouldn’t I understand loneliness?” he asked quietly, stopping the other har tirade.
Vaysh stared at Cal, appearing almost near tears and Cal began to wonder on how much the redhead had had already to drink. “Do you know of loneliness so deep and cold that you feel like ice even on the hottest days?” the redhead inquired in a hushed voice as he gazed at Cal and Cal felt his own chest ache in sympathy as he saw the hidden pain deep within. He reached for Vaysh, but the redhead brushed him off, stood unsteadily, and finished his drink before walking to the counter and placing his goblet down. He turned to Cal and shook his head. “Just leave me alone, Cal. This time of the year is the worst because it is a time for family. I have none, so just leave me alone,” he stated before turning unsteadily and leaving the crestfallen Tigron staring after him in dismay.
“Oh Vaysh…don’t let the memories destroy your spirit…” Calanthe murmured sadly as he looked into his goblet. Some memories just could never be forgotten.
Part 6: Shoe Dehara
“All right you three…ya better head for bed or you’re gonna be shit for tomorrow,” Cal ordered as he lounged on the couch with Pell on one side and Caeru on the other. He sipped at his sheh and grinned as the three younger hara groaned in protest.
“But Cal, c’mon! It’s still early!” Darquiel protested as he let his head loll to the side to glare at his father.
“No buts. Head for bed. We got a long day tomorrow,” Cal insisted and Rue snickered as he caressed a finger along the other blond’s arm. Cal shivered and grinned at his consort. Rue was up for fun it would seem…
“Do we put our shoes out?” Loki asked, breaking through Cal’s naughty contemplations and causing his half brother and chesnari stare at him in surprise.
“Put our shoes out where? For what?” Geb asked in confusion as he scratched at his head.
“For those Shoe Dehara that leave gifts on this night,” Loki answered matter of factly and glanced over as Pell spit his sheh back into his drink as he started laughing. “What? That’s what Cal said…” he muttered.
“I did, didn’t I? And I’ve been right every year, right?” Cal replied with a wide grin as Caeru stifled his own laughter behind a slender hand. “So, do as Loki said and put your shoes out in front of your bedroom doors tonight and you’ll find some surprises in them tomorrow if you’ve been good,” he ordered as he waved his hand.
“Wait, wait, wait…” Darq brought his hand up a little wobbly from too much sheh and cocked an eyebrow at his fathers and hostling. “Shoe Dehara? There’s no such thing!”
“Yea, Loki might believe you, but we’re not falling for that shit,” Geb added with a snort before draining his cup.
“Huh? Hey, I think I was just insulted…” Loki mumbled and growled as he was lightly slapped upside the head. “Hey!”
“Loki’s not lying nor are we,” Pell said with a smile as he leaned his elbow on his knee and put his chin on his hand. “It does indeed happen, but only if harlings are good and put out their shoes.”
“Ah HA! A catch! We’re not harlings!” Darq declared loudly and weaved a bit. “Oh I think I drank too much…” he murmured before finishing his sheh (which was actually the sixth for the night).
“Ya think, Sherlock? Jeez…can’t take you anywhere…” Geb retorted with a sigh before standing and dragging the other two younger hara up. He turned towards the adults and wagged his finger as Darq leaned on him a bit and Loki wrapped his arm around his waist. “We’re going to bed. Don’t roon too late tonight.”
“And keep it down. I think I had nightmares from whoever was screaming last night,” Darq whined as they turned away and Pell started choking as Cal and Rue laughed at that.
“Just don’t forget to put your shoes out!” Cal called after them as they left the room. A chorus of ‘Yea, yea’s followed the three out and Cal grinned at his chesna. “Harlings…”
The next day, the three younger hara were shocked to find presents and candies in the shoes that they had put out obligingly. All Cal, Rue, and Pell did was grin at each other. The Shoe Dehara had struck once again.
The End… For Now*
* Story was intended to run 25 parts, obviously, but the author got preoccupied. It may be finished at a later date!