The Meaning of it All
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It's a cold night in December, and a couple of werewolves huddle by the fire and try to make the best of a bad situation. this one was an entry for a contest on DA (in which it took first, I'm proud to say). Yeah, I know they don't really ACT like weres, but....well, it's complicated, I'll say that. Marcus, Wretch (c) me
The night was chilly, but that sort of completed the beautiful picture. Small, old houses lined both sides of a quiet street, covered in a light dusting of snow that glittered in the moonlight. Tiny flakes still fell, the slightest breeze sending them swirling through the air. The windows of each house were warmly lit, and some had twinkling lights behind the frosted windows.
Despite the cold, a lone figure was slowly making his way home for the night. He was tall and thin, almost sickly and gaunt in his appearance. White hair was pulled back at the nape of his neck, a braid on either side adorning the simple style with the faintest touch of care and elegance. A heavy coat much too large for him was tugged at to hold it a little tighter around his thin form as he shivered. Still, blue eyes sparkled at the magical scene that guided him home, and his lips were upturned in a smile that was nothing less than joyful.
“What a night,” he said softly in his slightly Irish lilt, breath coming out in a small puff of steam. Giggling a little at that, he shivered once more and quickened his pace, suddenly a little more eager to get home.
Trembling hands fumbled with his keys, frozen fingertips sorting through each key to kind the one that would grant him access to the warmth inside. Slipping the key in, he turned it quickly and hurried inside. It wasn’t as nice as it could have been, but it was the best they could afford. Shedding his coat, he ruffled his hair a little to rid it of clinging flakes before removing his scarf and hanging up the extra clothing.
“Marcus?” he heard his name called, turning with a smile. Stretched out by a roaring fire was Wretched Cry (or Wretch, as he few friends called him). The man was large, muscled and shaggy looking with unkempt black hair and rough yet handsome features. Most people didn’t like him, but he had been Marcus’s friend and protection for years.
“Evenin,” the slender man said with a grin, sitting down beside the other on the rug. “How was your day?”
“Cold,” the larger man said with a half growl, nuzzling against the other’s cheek and giving it a light lick. Marcus laughed, running a hand through his hair and smiling at him.
“I see you remedied that, though,” he said with a chuckle. “Glad you did…it’s cooold out there.”
“I could see that,” Wretch said, stretching and moving to lay his head in Marcus’s lap, lazily draping his arm over it.
Smiling, the white haired man tenderly stroked the black hair, looking down at his companion. There was a doleful expression in the other’s golden eyes that made the slender man’s perpetual smile falter a little. Following his gaze, the ice blue eyes fell on the cause of the other’s supposed distress.
In the corner, just to the side of the fireplace, stood a scraggly Christmas tree. Its limbs weren’t as full as healthier trees might have been, and it was barely as tall as Marcus himself (and almost dwarfed by Wretch). A few hand-me-down ornaments hung form the emaciated limbs, and a single strand of lights wound around it from top to bottom. Gold garland was wound the opposite way, dulled and tattered from years of reuse. To top it was a meager star which was missing a point.
“It’s pathetic, isn’t it?” Wretch said quietly, sounding very much like a child who had given up on some difficult task.
“What? Pathetic?” Marcus queried, trying to sound his normal upbeat self. “It’s…just different, that’s all.”
“Yeah…Pathetic,” the big man said softly, turning a little and closing his eyes.
Marcus sighed, stroking the other’s hair again before looking to the tree. Blue eyes drifted to the mantle, were a pair of ratty looking red stocking hung by thumb tacks. A few Christmas cards from their friends were the only other real decoration in the small room. By all accounts, it was very sparse. Pursing his lips a little, the slender man glanced around once more, then looked down at Wretch again.
“You know, there’s nothing wrong with having a skinny little tree,” he said with a chuckle. “I mean…Hah, its kinda like me, ya know?”
That got the shaggy head to come up, one thick brow arched in curiosity. Laughing, Marcus shrugged a little.
“I mean…its skinny, kinda sickly lookin, and no one else would have wanted it, right?”
“Your braids’re too tight,” the larger man said, sitting up and mussing the white hair a little.
“Oh they are not,” Marcus said with a soft giggle, grabbing the big hand before moving a little to lean against the other. “…It doesn’t matter what it looks like,” he said, closing his eyes. “It’s ours, right?”
“…But it doesn’t even have presents.”
Chuckling, the smaller man tilted his head back and looked up at the other.
“You’re the only present I need,” he said, reaching up to pet the scraggly hair a little.
Wretch looked down at him, and it was obvious that he was seriously pondering what the other had said. Then, two muscular arms wrapped tightly around the smaller form, clutching him close.
“Curse your bard’s tongue,” Wretch said, finally loosening his hold to lean back and gaze at him with a smile. “Always manage to sway me however you want me to go with your pretty words.”
“They’re not pretty,” Marcus said with a laugh. “They’re true. Its just that I’m a perpetual optimist, you should know that better than just about anyone.”
“I know I should,” Wretch said, nuzzling him with the faintest growl. Sighing, he glanced at the tree, then to the window just beyond. “We…got a lot more than other people do…Not as much as some, but…We ain’t out in the cold.”
“That’s the spirit!” the slender man said with a laugh, lightly thumping the other’s chest. “Tell you what. How bout I make us some cocoa, and we’ll sit by the fire and watch it snow. How does that sound?”
Wretch nodded, giving the other a tight hug before letting him go. With a dancer’s grace, Marcus got to his feet, ruffling the black hair before heading to the kitchen. He paused a moment, glancing back to watch the other as he laid down again. A smile touched his lips then, as he leaned against the doorframe, with its cracked paint and warped wood. Let everyone else have their mansions and riches. He had more than any of them ever would. He had Wretch, and that was more than enough for him.
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