Thanks to my followers for prodding me into writing this short!
Only days before Christmas, he'd discovered his fate.
A Trusted Bond bound them, despite Santa's black hate.
Snuggled cozy and warm, and protected from harm,
He lost himself to dreams in the circle of his lover's arms.
Visions of shiny new Ipads danced in his head,
as his sugarplum cuddled him tight in their bed.
Oh how he would wow him and show him his love,
With piles of gifts that would tower from above!
Though The Darkness Is Coming, Black Wings hold him close.
For his sugarplum fights fire with a blazing bright red nose!
Santa can't hurt them now that the deed is done.
They've mated and finally demon and deer have become one!
(What you thought Rudolph was a reindeer? No way.
He's a bisexual shifter demon with allergy issues.)
Malachai trudged through the freshly fallen snow with a grumble in his heart and a bag in his fist. Why did he have to spend his hard earned money on stupid trinkets for family members that only saw him once a year? A waste of time and money. But it loosened up the smile on his mom's face, so he did it. Begrudgingly.
A truck sped by too fast for the slushy road conditions and managed to splash dirty salt water onto his already snowy jeans. With a growl, he swiped at the mess only to jerk his head up at the unmistakable sound of slipping rubber. The bright red pickup was trying to make the turn but instead was skidding sideways towards a massive mountain of snow. In the amount of time it took him to turn all the way around, the truck had plowed into the pile and appeared to be very very stuck.
Unsuccessfully suppressing his smirk, he scanned the area for possible good Samaritans. Dammit! Looked like he was it. He double checked the street for any more possible high speed vehicular sledders and then crossed over to the now silent truck. The driver's side was firmly embedded into the packed snow and a peak through the passenger's window showed a dark head bashing repeatedly against the steering wheel. His smile broke free of his mild restraint and he knocked his knuckles on the glass.
Red eyes wiped the smirk off his mouth as that dark head turned to glare at him. Automatically putting his hands up in the universal "No Harm" gesture, he backed a few steps away from the door with his packages dangling from his fingers in the air. The angry occupant seemed to rethink his initial response and took a deep breath before climbing over the stick shift to exit through the passenger door and stand at Malachai's side.
"You need a cell phone or something?" Malachai asked. The guy just stared at him with those creepy red eyes. He was glad he had taken those couple of steps back. This dude was emanating serious Grinch! Apparently, turning your truck into an igloo didn't do much for holiday cheer.
"Hey, man. Do you need help with your ride or was this your final destination?" Not willing to waste kindness on an unappreciative dick, he waited another breath or two before turning to head across the street and back towards his apartment. Anyway, He had less than an hour to change his wet clothes and drive over to his mom's house for dinner. The Red Eyed Grinch didn't say a thing as he walked away.
Well, he attempted to walk away.
This time he didn't look both ways and a black sedan came speeding around the corner on an almost identical path to the little red pickup truck. Malachai only had enough time to turn his head toward that awful skidding rubber and studs sound and think that he was going down. It was going to hurt too, no matter that the car's speed was probably only around 30 miles an hour. The shiny hard blackness zoomed towards him, reflecting the horror in his face and... a pair of red eyes.
Grabbed from behind, he was rolled over the roof of the car and tumbled in a heap on the unshoveled sidewalk. Snow burned his face and nose, bringing tears to his eyes and blurring his vision and he looked back to the street. As he watched, the black sedan crashed into the immobilized red truck and turned it into a perfect sandwich.
Wiping the excess moisture from his face, he rubbed the exposed skin to bring back a little warmth. His mind was racing as he searched for the guy from the truck. That red eyed guy must have pushed him... over... the car and out of the way?
The passenger door of the black sedan opened and a very large, very angry, very hairy man struggled out. Cursing, he slammed the door shut and stalked around to the driver's side to the flattened red pickup truck. Staring through the smashed windshield he started a new round of cursing and an all out temper tantrum on the already demolished pickup's front end.
Malachai was impressed. The old man packed a mean punch if those dents he was leaving in the hood were any indication. Certainly the snow white beard and hair suggested a softness that was not currently evident. Thick suspenders held up black pants that seemed to shine in the twilight. As the man stomped away from the wreck, Malachai decided the pants must be leather. A good choice for this weather. Very warm. But the lack of a coat would negate that.
Still dizzy from the near miss with broken bones, Malachai was slow to realize the enraged man was approaching him. Though now the anger only showed his stiff walk. His eyes were neutral as he asked if Malachai had seen the other driver? For some reason Malachai was hesitant to divulge that information. Call it gut instinct, even though he had never had it before. Something didn't add up here. He gave the large man a watery smile and gave a short hard shake of his head. "No."
The fat man stared long and hard at him and made a huffing sound, not unlike a bull before the charge. "Don't lie to me, young man." Malachai just shook his head again, still sitting in the middle of the snow and feeling very much like a little kid. "Fine." Fatty turned on his black booted heel and strode away muttering something about "...already on the naughty list anyway."
Dazed, Malachai watched as the man got back into the black sedan and DROVE IT AWAY. No way! Not possible. He must have been nicked by the car and hallucinating. He shook his head to try and clear away any mental cobwebs and then tensed to wait for the inevitable pain an idiotic move like that should cause. Nothing. Wow. Umm... ok. Time to focus on something else. Something that made sense. Where was the other guy? The one that supposedly saved him from numerous broken bones?
Slowly standing up, Malachai glanced around. Icy road, snow, pretty houses, snow, random reindeer. Weird. He had never seen deer this far into town before. And then, between blinks, the reindeer turned into a glaring man. Dammit.
Deciding to take the offensive on this round of events, he started towards the freak. A bag bounced against his thigh, stopping him mid stride. Looking down, he realized he still clutched the bag of stupid trinkets for his family. And judging by the tinkling sound they made as the bag swayed, they were smashed to pieces.
Irrational anger surged through him and he ran the last few steps to the reindeer man, swinging the bag around like a mace and hoping that some of the broken bits cut through. He got three good bashes in before the man tackled him to the ground and he was once again eating snow.
Gasping, he pushed up against the weight on his back and fought the burning ice in his nose and tears in his eyes. Dammit! He couldn't buy new shit and now his mom was going to have that same old tight smile for him instead of the warm glow he saw once a year when he played Santa to the cousins.
Defeated he slumped back down onto the ground. Surprisingly, the brute on top of him rode his back down using his full weight to cover him. "Dammit, man! I surrender. White flag. Uncle. Whatever the fuck you want to hear. Just get off of me!"
He could feel the heat of the man on top of him seeping into his clothes and melting the slush from his roll on the sidewalk. He could also feel that this man sure did get off on winning a fight. His hard cock was unmistakable pressed against the cold snowy crease of his ass. Dammit.
Malachai bucked and must have caught the guy off guard because the weight rolled off his back and Malachai rolled up into a kneeling position before regaining his feet. A dark hand reached down to him. A peace offering.
He looked up at those still angry red eyes and clasped the hand. With a swift jerk he was on his feet and pulled into an embrace so strong he momentarily lost his breath, only to regain it through his nose as his mouth was assaulted by harsh chapped lips and smooth moist tongue.
The flavor was heady and rich, like hot chocolate spiced with pepper. He indulged in more, searching for whipped cream to top it off. Ah, but that would be found lower and certainly not to be discovered in the snow. His reindeer man broke the kiss to glare into his eyes. Those arms never loosened as he dazedly tilted his head to the side and asked, "Why are you so pissy? It certainly isn't me. You don't kiss a complete stranger if you don't like them."
Those blazing red eyes look to the side, taking in the now very little red pickup truck, and then shifted back to Malachai. His first words, "Why did you lie for me?"
Malachai struggled to compose an intelligent answer but had nothing more than a gut feeling, an instinct. So he improvised, "I'm a compulsive liar."
The man's hands convulsed on his back and Malachai began to question his sanity at being so close to someone with such obvious rage issues.
The stranger shook his long dark hair and countered, "You don't lie for a complete stranger if you don't like them."
That startled a laugh out of Malachai. The conversation was getting extremely murky and he wasn't sure if that qualified as an answer to his question. Determined to get to the bottom of this freak, he extended an invitation.
"Do you want to warm up? My house is just a block from here and you obviously aren't driving anywhere." And her wanted to spend more time with him. It was a long shot, but that hot chocolate kiss just might promise whipped cream in his future.
With a curt nod the stranger released him and let Malachi lead, his stare warming Malachi's ass the whole way.
Once settled at the kitchen counter with a mug of hot coffee scalding my palms, I attempted to untangle the confusion of the last hour.
Focusing across the table on my sexy guest, those blazing red eyes glared back at me. I was beginning to think angry was a permanent state for him.
"So, um, Why are you so pissed?" I fiddled with the edge of my ceramic mug, waiting to hear if he would actually answer the question this time.
His mug thudded against the table and he wrapped his hands around it. The cream ceramic pretty much disappeared under that calloused flesh.
Not willing to hold my breath waiting, I broke his silence and changed my tactic. "Ok. You're probably pissed about your truck. It looked pretty sweet before it got turned into a snow-filled pancake. How about your name? I'm Malachai. Thank you for saving me."
Extending my hand toward him, I cocked my head and watched him. "You DID save me, right?"
Red eyes shifted from my face to my hand. His knuckles whitened as he clenched the mug tighter but replied with a single word. "Dolph."
As I pulled my hand back to wrap around my own cup, he added, "If you call body slamming you into the sidewalk saving then, yes. I did move you out of the path of the..." He hesitated, as if looking for the right word, and settled for, "vehicle."
I held my tongue, hoping his words would continue to flow if I just shut up and let him go at his own pace. And it worked!
Dolph held my eyes for a second and then stared out the window and continued. "I had a little disagreement with my boss and drove away angry this afternoon. Too fast on the corner and I ended up in the snow bank. I hadn't realized he was following me until he crashed into my ride."
He looked back to me but his eyes were not shining so bright. There was a haze over them, as if he wasn't seeing anything in the kitchen, but memories. With a sharp shake of his head he continued to speak, low and hard. "Bastard probably did it on purpose."
"Does he hate you that much?" I asked, curiosity and disgust tinged my tone.
He sighed and answered in a tired voice. "Prejudice is a sinister sin. The union will not allow him to discriminate against me, including firing for no reason. I worked my way up to the top of his team the hard way, and I'm not backing down. He's trying to get me to quit."
"Man, dead or unemployed? That's a rough spot you're in. Can't you just bring in the police or something?"
The slightest shadow of a smirk tightened the crease of his lips. "Nah. I can handle him." And I noticed that his red eyes seemed to flash as he made that flippant statement. "Now that I've met you, Mister S. will just have to suck it up."
Startled, I sloshed my coffee and sputtered, "What have I got to do with it?!"
Blazing eyes bored into me as he grabbed my coffee drenched hand, leaned in and whispered. "You must have felt it. It's why you lied for me."
Flustered by the slick feel of Dolph's skin against mine, I struggled to untangle the previous events in my mind.
I had been walking. Got splashed. Watched the red truck play snowplow. Investigated the accident. Walked away from the accident. Almost was run over by another car. Pushed from behind over the car. Landed on the sidewalk. Watched the driver get out of the car, beat the truck, and walk to me. Lied to the driver. Humm.... Why?
I tried to work the tangled memories out aloud. "You were being a total ass. I shouldn't have wanted to lie for you. But that man, Mister S?" Dolph nodded his head in acknowledgement. "Mister S just rubbed me the wrong way. It didn't feel right to tell him, well, anything."
Still feeling befuddled, I allowed Dolph to mop the coffee off our hands as I thought some more. When the mopping of the napkin turned to a caress of fingers against my palm, I pulled out of the confusing haze.
Struggling against the zaps of pleasure each touch brought, I asked simply. "Why?"
His caresses turned rough, fingernails carving white paths across my knuckles that faded seconds after appearing. But the lightning zaps they shot through my body lingered much longer.
"Because you are mine. And I am yours." The truth blazed in Dolph's eyes and burned through my body. "Don't you feel it?"
There was no way I could deny it. It didn't matter that I didn't understand the mechanics of it, the strange paranormality of it. It was the truth, shining bright in this stranger's eyes.
"But how did you know?" I laid my other hand over Dolph's, capturing the distraction of his roving nails.
He answered in low tones. "When I touched you, I knew. Throwing you out of the path of that car brought me in close physical contact with your body and your scent. It triggered a change in me. Unleashed dormant powers. Even now I can feel them tingling under the surface of my skin, begging to come out and play."
Curiosity killed the cat and all that. "What can you do?" I was afraid I might not want to know the answer but couldn't help but ask the question.
His reply was quick and consise. "Fly faster and longer. Suspend time. Shift into more complex creatures."
I gaped at him. "W-what?" I had known I was in over my head but it felt like I had just jumped in the deep end. Did he say SHIFT? Delight filled my chest and paralyzed my vocal cords.
Dolph let one corner of his mouth come up in a crocked smirk as he leaned in toward the center of the table, pulling our clasped hands closer to him. Slowly he repeated himself and I focused on his lush lips forming the words.
"Fly faster and longer. You know, increased stamina." He gave me a suggestive wink that sent my pulse racing. "Suspend time. We could spend a lifetime in bed." He squeezed our hands. "And shift. I know you saw me earlier. Remember, the deer?"
All I could do was nod. Visions of us covered in nothing but whipped cream and blankets danced like sugarplums through my head.
The ring of a cell phone broke through the silence. "Bow Chicka Wow Wow..." I blinked away the dancing wet dream and answered the phone.
My mouth thinned out into a tight line as I registered, what I thought to be, Malachai's shocked state. It had been too much at once for him to comprehend. As long as he didn't run screaming, they could work through it. They had too. He was his mate. For Infinity.
Malachai's side of the cell convo sounded frantic. "Oh shit. I mean, yeah. Sorry. I'm on my way. Um, sorry. Yeah. Wait! Mom? Can I bring... a friend? Yeah. Ok. Sure. Bye. Loveyatoo."
Snapping the cell shut, he immedietly abandoned me at the table and moved towards the door. "We gotta go. I was supposed to be at my mom's 20 minutes ago."
I wondered at this sudden change in demeanor, but followed him out of the apartment and down the slippery sidewalk. Silence weighted between us, but I gave him the time to digest this sudden turn of events. Life changing was one way to put it. Especially for a human. The concept of mates was not so permanent in the human mind. Divorce was common place and widowers existed. Those were not the norms in my existence. Divorce was unheard of and when your mate died, you did too.
Malachai lead us to a small convenience store and I noticed the tension in his shoulders had eased. With a wry smile, he requested my assistance in the selection of an odd assortment of sparkling garland, jingling bells, and feathery toys along with a gallon of milk and a box of cookies.
Within 15 minutes we had made our stops and the atmosphere between us had warmed considerably. Malachai was even walking side by side with me, allowing our hands to brush with every other step.
We arrived at an adorable split level ranch with a humongous Christmas tree lighting up the bay window. Without knocking, Malachai opened the door and ushered me inside. Removing our coats and boots, we made it 5 steps into the plush carpeted living room before shrieks of childish delight heralded our arrival.
Within seconds Malachai was enveloped in the hugs of six young children, all appearing to be around the age of 3 or 4. As he bent down to their level, they covered him with amazing efficiency. One on each arm and leg, one hanging on his back and one staring intently into his face.
The very smallest was the one speaking to him with huge ernest eyes, apparently whispering in his ear. Looking to me, Malachai's eyes glittered with mirth as he turned back to her and stag whispered, "He's my elf. Santa's got to have a helper." He threw me a wink at and just missed the frosty expression that crossed my face at the mention of Mister S.
Of course, Malachai didn't know the whole story yet. I couldn't hold him responsible for his ignorance. But that would have to be remedied ASAP. There was too much Malachai didn't know that could get him killed. And now that I had finally found my mate, I would not be giving him up. Ever.
A red and white velveteen hat appeared on Malachai's head and he disentangled himself from the chaos of children and lead the way into the kitchen. Introductions circled as I met Malachai's parents and siblings. We had missed dinner but there were plenty of leftovers to nibble on as Christmas cheer filled the home and Christmas gossip lightened the hearts.
After an hour of socialization and adult libations, the children had lost all patience and dragged both Malachai and me into the small sitting room housing a large rocking chair and a bevy of pillows strew across the floor.
Malachai settled into the chair, obviously familiar with the upcoming tradition, and motioned for me to sit on the cushion beside him while holding the bag of goodies from the convenience store. The adults and children filled the tiny room, lounging companionably amongst the plush pillows and chattering.
With a grin, Malachai called out the youngest child's name. "Shasha!" She scrambled into his lap and wrapped her arms around his neck. "Have you been nice this year?" Her siblings answered in a chorus of no's as she nodded her head. Laughing, he held out his open hand to me. I held up the bag and he fished inside, pulling out a long strand of sparkling green garland with tiny white snowflakes. Wrapping it around Shasha's shoulders like a shawl, he kissed her on the head and set her at his feet while she squealed with delight. As she scurried off, a stray feather tickled my nose and I suppressed a sneeze.
And so the pattern repeated for all six children. Each one strangely elated with whatever small shiny, jingly, or feathery trinket was gifted to them. Each gift causing my nose to exclaim as well.
He finally moved to sit beside me on the floor, leaving his santa hat on the seat of the rocking chair. All the gifts given, Malachai watched them with joy bright on his face. By the end of the night, my nose was bright red and my eyes were starting to tear. Taking pity on me, Malachai said our good byes and escorted me out the door into the cold winter night.
Holding hands on this return trip, Malachai eyed my red nose and asked, "Are you allergic or something?" I shrugged in response. "Sure, must have been a cat somewhere in that house."
I was dragged to a stop as I realized Malachai had ceased walking. Eyes shifting side to side, he mumbled, "There were 12 cats in the house." And then he started reciting the names, still not meeting my eyes, "... Shasha and Me."
After a moment of stunned surprise, I started laughing. Glee filled my eyes and stretched my face into a smile large enough to outshine the moon. I could feel Malachai moved closer to me, concern on his features. "Does this mean we can't be mates?"
I gasped as I struggled to rein in my laughter. "Fuck me." Gasp. "Guess that serves me right for popping the mate thing on you so suddenly." Gasp.
Malachai's still concerned eyes reminded me of his initial question. "Guess I better buy stock in Claritin, 'cause I'm not giving you up for nothing!"
Relief smoothed out the lines on Malachai's face and I suddenly found myself wrapped up tight between strong arms.
Red eyes met blue and suddenly the night didn't feel so cold. "So you're a cat shifter, huh?" Malachai nodded.
"Guess I should give up my secrets too." Dolph stated.
Tightening the hug and sustaining the eye contact to read every reaction, he slowly spoke. "My name is Rudolph Devlin Asterok. My mother was a reindeer shifter and my father a demon. I work for the Demonic Union. We supply transport and protection to a variety of natural and supernatural beings. Pretty much whoever can find us and afford us. We recently won the bid for Mister S. or Santa. He's pissed that the Union won the job but won't be able to reject our offer now that you've upped my power level. No one else is strong enough to pull off the stunt he attempts every year. The naughty list is really just people low in his priorities. They get skipped if Mister S. runs out of time or energy on Christmas eve. Mean old S.O... DOWN!"
Malachai was shoved into the snow for the second time that day as Dolph launched into the air on jet black wings. Where had those come from?!
He sat up in the snow and stared up into the sky before the scent of burnt sugar reached his nose. Looking to the sidewalk he saw a candy cane half imbedded into the concrete, the snow already beginning to melt the sugary death threat. Dammit! That was close!
Snapping his head back up to the sky he could barely make out Dolph's black wings against the night as he chased a red blur. As he watched, the black sped up and seemed to surround the red and then they both plummeted like a stone towards the earth.
Malachai's breath caught in his throat as he stared in horror, waiting for the splat that would be both lover and hater combined on the ground. But just before the pair would have hit, they seemed to freeze in place. And then they were just gone.
Shaking his head, Malachi scrambled to his feet and strained to see any evidence of Dolph. Tense seconds later red glowed in the night, zooming towards him and landing at his feet.
Dolph stood, breathless, in front of his mate. Rage no longer burned in those red eyes as a grin cracked his face.
Before Malachai could smother him with another hug, Dolph proclaimed, "And to all a good night!"
Running a shaking hand through his hair he amended, "He won't bother us anymore tonight. Let's go home."
Instant love. Insane, but there it was. Filling his heart and bursting his face with joy. Clasping hands, they walked over the river and through the woods to Malachai's house. Their home.