- "Nicely done, Mr. Montoya. Only two people got taken out of here for rowdiness and no fake IDs made it to the bar," said a raspy voice I'd come to recognize anywhere. Mother Fionne (or simply 'Mom' to the staff), a bobcut dark priest with blue hair who founded Club Afterglow couple years ago after it had closed down back in '11. I've been in her security staff for more than two years, and despite what I'd heard about priests, Fionne was much less pushy about her 'Fallen God' than I imagined. She'd called this her own little version of Pandemonium, where man and monstergirl could come to spend hours basking in the music and warmth of hundreds of bodies.
- "I can't thank you enough for coming in on Christmas Eve, darling, but we should have enough staff for you to return home to your daughter," she grinned, handing me an envelope with what I imagined to be several hundred dollars. I was one of her club's main attractions, which was funny considering I was only a bouncer. I peeked inside the envelope only to confirm my suspicions.
- "Thanks, Mom."
- "Do something nice for my granddaughter, and Merry Christmas darling." she smiled before walking back into her office. I tossed on my leather bomber before I walked out of the back door, yards from my car with not a person in sight. I'd learned better than to walk out the front with the drugged-out clubbers again.
- An uneventful late-night drive later, I turned towards my house and parked. The sound of television and a bundle of throw blankets on my couch suggested a small brunette wurm and her babysitter had fallen asleep while her father was at work. Her snoring was undoubtedly inherited from me.
- "Sabrina, I'm home. How was my daughter tonight?" I asked, rousing the teenage lich from her blanket tomb. Her cold eyes looked at the screen, infatuated with whatever cartoon was airing.
- "Hino was a good girl, Mr. Montoya. School assigned her to write a letter to Santa Claus over the holidays. She fell asleep watching Adventure Time. I made sure not to turn the channel to Skinemax again like last week." she droned on, hovering out from the blanket cocoon.
- "That's... good, I suppose."
- "Indeed. After this episode I'll be off," the lich said, her eyes still focused on the screen. To gain a bit of insight towards what to get her tomorrow morning, I headed upstairs in search for Hino's letter, which was obvious to spot in the puddle of map pencils scattered across her bedroom. I imagined they were learning to write in cursive given the legibility of her letter. Nonetheless, the mixture of red and green letters was a nice touch.
- 'Dear Santa, my name is Hino Montoya and I am 9 years old. My daddy said I have been a good girl this year. If it isn't too much, I want for a pair of wings so the other dragons at school will finally like me. Daddy says I am perfect the way I am, but the other girls are really mean, and like to call me names like fake-dragon or an earthworm. The wyvern twins like to put my backpack on the big flag pole, and I want to be able to reach it without asking Mr. Ortiz to help me every time. I know you are really busy, but if you did this I won't ask for any thing else for Christmas ever again. And if it isn't too much, could you please tell my mom that daddy misses her very much. She is a wurm like me, but I haven't seen her before. Daddy says she was the most prettyest dragon in all the world, and he loves her as much as he does me. I wish I had more to describe her by, but it would be a big help if you tell her. Also thank you for the wagon last year, but daddy says I can't tie it to the car anymore. Love, Hino.'
- There wasn't a reaction appropriate for reading this kind of Christmas letter, so I decided to set it back into the pile of pencils. I walked into my room, a picture frame staring at me as I sat on the bed to remove my shoes. It was a photo I took with my wife when we found out Hino's gender; a pregnant red wurm in a bright dress with a smile that out-shined the sun behind her. It was one of the memories I could recall before her departure.
- 'Reine, my love, we have the most gorgeous daughter in the world. I don't know what to do for her now, and you're nowhere near us anymore.' I whispered into the picture, patting my index finger against the ruby-scaled angel's onyx hair before leaving the room. Heading downstairs, I sat beside the blanket cocoon and teenage lich on the couch. The pale-skinned girl glanced at me briefly before looking back to the screen.
- "How was work, Mr. M?" she said idly as soon as the first commercial break came. She had babysat Hino for a number of months; her being undead was a godsend, given my late-night job as a bouncer. From what I knew she lived with her aunts down the street, but mostly kept to herself.
- "Not bad. Mind if I ask you something, Sabrina?"
- The lich turned my way, lifeless pupils staring back at me. "I'm a babysitter, Mr. Montoya. 'Extra services' will cost you, though I'm willing to consider our work history."
- "No, not- did you ever get picked on as a kid?" I asked, the same dead eyes glancing my way.
- "I'm undead, have pasty-white skin, and spend my free time babysitting a nine year-old wurm for her hot bouncer dad in hopes he uses me like a tenga one day. There isn't a teenager who hasn't gotten bullied before, Mr. Montoya." she said without the slightest emotion in her words.
- "Does it ever bother you?" I asked, ignoring her previous deadpan advances.
- "It did. Being like this helps in that there's considerably less viable ways for me to kill myself now. Other than that, no, there's little point in taking someone else's words seriously when they're going to die before I will."
- "I see. I was going to ask if Hino talked about anything from school, but... this turned very dark fast, didn't it."
- "I gave her my two cents, if that is what you're leading to. There's little else you can do to console a prepubescent dragon other than give her words of wisdom, or toys but you don't tend to spoil her." she nodded, eyes glued to the screen once again.
- Some minutes passed as I leaned into the cocoon, a wurm slithering out and coiling around my side. "Welcome home daddy," Hino yawned, coiling her arms around my neck. She was bordering seventy pounds, and her arms had a grip only rivaled by her tail. I dreaded the day she reached puberty and attained her dragon strength, but that was a concern for another day.
- "Are you ready to go to bed, sweetie? Santa won't come until you're sound asleep in your room."
- The groggy wurm nodded, dragging along the cocoon of blankets with her upstairs, leaving myself and the teenage lich alone in the living room.
- "Thanks for watching Hino, hon. Forty a night, like always." I said, handing a couple of bills to the pale babysitter.
- She bowed briefly before disappearing into a puff of smoke, before phasing back into my bathroom, a face with a slight tone of unease apparent from the usual coldness it displayed.
- "Is everything alright, Sabrina?" I asked, brushing my teeth as the teen fidgeted behind me.
- "... my aunts flew off to Vegas, and they forgot to leave me a key." she said, averting her eyes to the half-dressed man in the mirror. From what I'd heard, her aunts frequented the place more for its "magic acts" than the actual gambling.
- "Did you need a place to stay? Hino would be more than happy to have you over for Christmas." I added, a glint of relief in her eyes before returning to its usual blankness.
- "I would appreciate it, Mr. Montoya." she nodded. I set my toothbrush down and rinsed, the lich following me as I traversed the dresser in search of anything she might use as pajamas. A pair of shorts and an A-shirt later, she emerged from the bathroom and retreated to the couch downstairs where she usually stayed. I nested myself against Hino, the small wurm snuggling in as she felt her father against her.
- "Hino is beautiful, isn't she, miel?" I heard beside me, stirring me from wherever it was I drifted off to. I read 3:52am on the clock, but the source of the voice was lost to me. Behind me was but air, the front being occupied by a red wurm snoring in her sleep. It wasn't until I read into the words, did something strike me.
- The only person who had ever called me 'miel' had long since left, and had never known another to say it. Skimming across the room, my heart began to race.
- "Sabrina, this isn't something to joke about," I chastised the phantasmal voice, "I don't know how you knew that, but stop."
- It was then something warm pressed against my side, something I hadn't felt in almost a decade. The warm body of a larger wurm, tail gently coiling itself against my opposite leg as my daughter had another.
- "Reine?" I called out, a soft cooing in response was all that I heard. There was no doubting the authenticity of this presence, but every part of me begged the question of how this was possible.
- "Yes, darling?" she whispered into my ear, breath running down my chest. I didn't know how this was happening, but I wasn't so far gone to ignore a fact I'd known all this time.
- "Why did you have to die?" I murmured, the voice behind my ear falling silent for some time. Her face pressed into my neck, as warm as the day we married.
- "You ask me something I've no answer for, miel," she sighed, brushing her claw against my hip as she began to stroke the red wurmling to the right of me, "She looks just like me, doesn't she?"
- "Everything down to the heart-shaped scale above her sternum," I said, the smaller wurm dozing away despite her mother's presence.
- "Our family crest," she said as her voice began to quiver, "God, she really is my daughter. My little treasure, that I never got to hold," Reine muttered, her face pressing harder into my neck. A cold feeling began to trickle down my neck, its source unmistakable as tears.
- "I miss you, Reine Montoya." I called her name, a full-forced sobbing in response.
- "I miss you as well, Hector," she recited. It was but a moment for a third voice to emerge beneath the covers.
- "Daddy, why are you crying?" Hino yawned, face planted deep into my chest.
- "He misses me, princesa." Reine answered, the younger wurm's eyes opening as she looked at the mother wurm. It was the first time Hino had ever seen her mother, and i hadn't the heart to tell her she was a phantom.
- "M-mommy?" she whispered, her claw tracing against the larger one over me. Reine brushed her hair, humming softly before she answered.
- "Hino, you know you're my little treasure, yes?" she said, pulling the younger into an embrace. A smile glowed through the darkness of the bedroom, one that Reine had never gotten to share before.
- "Santa came!" Hino cheered, her tail wagging happily under my leg, "Mommy! Did he give me wings?"
- I remembered her letter, unsure how much of this could have been a dream or simply something else. I hadn't prepared myself to explain to Hino that her mother had died years ago, much less that this couldn't have been real.
- "You don't need wings, darling," she said, stroking the child wurm's back closely, "You're an earth dragon, the strongest of them all, and you're perfect as you are."
- "No, but the other dragons won't stop teasing me. He must have..." Hino muttered.
- "It doesn't matter what they say, you will always be a little treasure for your father and I," she whispered, pulling me in to a three-way cuddle from beyond the grave.
- "I love you, mommy," Hino resigned to her mother, dozing off once again.
- "I'll always love you, my darling treasures. Merry Christmas." she said as she kissed the younger on the forehead, glancing back at me before tears fell down her face. Something within me knew, this might be the last time I'd see her again. This time, I wasn't going to miss my opportunity.
- "I love you, Reine." I said, burying my face into the bosom I'd married more than a decade ago. The heartbeat beneath them had long since stopped, but its warmth never stopped once this strange miracle night.
- "I love you too, Hector," she whispered tearfully, her eyes beginning to turn white, "Take care of our daughter, and... know that you'll always be my treasure and have my blessing." her voice faded, disappearing into a familiar billow of smoke. I walked downstairs some time later when my tears stopped, to a semi-comatose teenage lich on my sofa. She glanced my way, but her usual neutral expression was replaced with one of nervousness.
- "Mr. Montoya, please. Let me explain." she said, setting aside what looked to be an urn on the floor. A faint glow could be seen inside it, an eerie purple mist seeping from its opening. It was then Sabrina explained how she had read the letter, unaware of the fact I was a widower and still grieving a long-lost partner. She took it upon herself to draw out the presence of my wife's spirit through ritual, and for a single hour, be possessed and assume her identity. Furious would have been my reaction, had this not been something I wanted with all my being, no matter how short a time it was.
- I held the teenage lich close, her face breaking from its deadpan expression to one of shock as I hefted her off her feet. "I needed that more than you know, but for the love of all that's holy, don't do that to Reine or me again."
- "You got it." she said, moving not an inch as she hovered over the ground in my grip. I sat on the couch, only to realize I'd have to explain what happened this night with Hino.
- "Reine, your wife I mean, was finally able to pass on. Her soul's not on this world anymore." she murmured, sitting a short distance from me. She continuously glanced my way, an apologetic look about her.
- "Knowing my wife found peace is as good a present as I could ask for." I replied, falling drowsily onto her cold lap. The lich stroked my head, her eyes filled with a tenderness I'd never imagined her being capable of.
- "Merry Christmas, Mr. Montoya." Sabrina smiled, resting her hand on my head.
How to Raise Your Wurm (A Christmas Special)
AnonMD Dec 16th, 2014 (edited) 1,666 Never
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