A Winter’s Day Off
By Jana Denardo
Author’s Note – This was written for the 12 days of ficmas challenge and for the word of the month challenge (the word being hat and the supernatural beings being a werewolf, a vampire and a druid-magic user).
“I’m going to say it again, it’s our day off. We never get days off. We should be home, in front of the fire doing stuff to make Aphrodite happy,” Jason grumbled, stomping along the snow-covered ‘Granny’ pathway winding along Ash Cave’s lower rim. Faolan preferred actual woodland paths but at this time of year, he couldn’t quibble about taking the paved path. The fact he had actually cajoled Jason out into the woods for a late afternoon hike was a miracle in and of itself, and he’d probably have to do a lot of things to ‘make Aphrodite happy’ to make it up to the vampire.
“It’s a beautiful day out,” Faolan said, even though it was a lie. It was so grey and sunless Jason didn’t even need sunblock and an umbrella to be outside without a problem.
“You lie worth shit,” Jason replied, rubbing his arms. Faolan doubted he could possibly be that cold. He had on his ‘big coat,’ snow boots, snowmobiling, negative degrees rated gloves that he’d gotten Goddess knew where, a Steelers hat pulled down to his sunglasses – not that he needed them- and the Doctor Who scarf Faolan had given him wrapped all the way up to his nose.
“Vampires, do they ever stop bitching?” Derrek asked, happily striding along next to them. Faolan wasn’t sure the werewolf was any happier being out in the cold park until he saw how miserable it was making the hot-blooded Jason. Faolan swore they lived to torment each other. He also swore he was the only sane one in this threesome.
“Shut up, furball.”
“Bite me, if you can get your fangs past all those layers of scarf,” Derrek replied, putting a hand out to against a hemlock’s trunk for balance as his boot skidded.
Faolan tugged down his tousle cap in Star Trek blue, complete with Spock ears, that his grandmother had crocheted for him. Maybe if he got it down over his ears far enough, it would muffle their bickering. Doubtful. He’d probably hear them even if someone cast a deafness spell on him. He fingered his ever-present magic wand riding in his coat pocket. Maybe he should cast one on himself. No, then he’d miss the subtle sounds of winter birds and animals as they strolled on toward Ash Cave. Maybe he could cast a mute spell on them.
“Besides, you know how druids are better than me,” Derrek continued. “You’ve been with him way longer. You knew Faolan was coming out here with or without us.”
Jason huffed, saying nothing because he knew it was true. Faolan was glad they came for all their bickering. He wanted to share this part of his life with them. He loved nature. What Druid didn’t? He knew they might never see the cycle of the seasons in the way he did, but of the two, Derrek would come closer. Werewolves were all about their senses. Derrek was more aware of the squirrels, chipmunks and foxes that might be scampering about than Faolan was. Jason was more the ‘this winter shit needs a glass of wine while I read by the fire’ type, when he wasn’t doing Aphrodite things by said fire.
“I did want to see the frozen waterfall. You have to admit, that’s going to be something to behold,” Faolan said.
“Want to know what else is frozen? Jason jabbed a finger toward his belt line. “I’m expected it to be warmed up properly.”
“Don’t worry, we’ll cant a heating vent that,” Faolan replied, smirking. Derrek brayed with laughter, startling something that crashed through the underbrush.
“No respect, that’s all I get.” Jason seemed to sink even deeper into his coat as they rounded the bend, and the horseshoe shaped shell of the recess cave came into view.
Faolan paused for a moment, taking in the distant view. Snow clung to the sandstone hollow and dusted the staircase leading up to the higher rim. Normally, he’d take that path back but it probably wasn’t safe. It did have something of a drop down halfway back to the parking lot. He could hear the trickle of water from the creek above.
Even Jason and Derrek stopped their bickering when they spotted the vista. Faolan snapped several photos of the cave and creek from this distance and one of his lovers framed by the snowy cliff-side. Together they walked down to the small beach that thrust its way into Ash Cave. From the lip of the cliff, long daggers of ice dangled like the sword of Damocles. One was more pillar than dagger. Another pillar thrust up from the ground like some giant candle complete with melted wax appearance. Between the two pillars some of the water fell, still liquid.
“Okay, so it is worth seeing,” Jason said, slipping an arm around Faolan’s waist.
“It’s gorgeous, isn’t it?” Faolan murmured, entranced as he always was when he visited here in winter.
“Yeah,” Derrek said, edging closer to the ice stalagmite.
Faolan peeled off his gloves and touched the pillar of ice then cupped them upwards, letting the frigid water trickle through his fingers as he said a little prayer. He dried his hands on his wool pea coat, pulled the gloves back on before wielding his camera again. He knew he couldn’t capture the true beauty of it but he’d try. After capturing the panoramic views, he went to macro views and slowly realized he was working in silence.
Glancing around he spotted Jason and Derrek deeper into the cave recess kissing against the stone wall. That was about the only time they were ever quiet. He caught several photos of that before they realized what he was up to and drew him into their embrace and their fiery kisses. All were in agreement it was too damn cold for more than kisses. Faolan reluctantly said goodbye to Ash Cave and her wintery veil of ice and snow.
Derrek suddenly sat on a large flat rock, kicking off his boots. Jason eyed him then snorted. “Wolves, none of them are right.”
“Shut up.” Derrek hurriedly stripped, his jewels acting like any human’s – retreating up for warmth. “Carry my stuff!”
With that he began to shift. Faolan distributed the discarded clothing between him and Jason. He had to say Derrek’s fur looked too luxurious to not stroke so he gave his lover a pet. Derrek barked then raced for the creek. He skidded out onto the frozen section, ran around like he was on the dog track then started loping down the path. Dropping Derrek’s clothing, Jason stooped and made a half-hearted snowball before whipping it at Derrek. The werewolf leaped up, catching it in his mouth, making happy dog sounds.
Jason snorted and scooped up the clothing again, wagging his head. “Wolves, they just are so weird.”
“You’re just jealous you don’t have a nice warm coat of fur.” Faolan grinned, a little jealous himself.
“Keep telling yourself that.” Jason reached out and took Faolan’s hand. He tugged Faolan in for a kiss, and then walked back toward the car, still holding hands.
Derrek trotted along with them with occasional forays into the underbrush after gods knew what. Faolan didn’t mind. He knew Derrek wouldn’t bring them back a squirrel as a ‘gift.’ He couldn’t deny Derrek time to play as a wolf. Werewolves needed their fur time.
“So, I have ideas for how you can thank me for freezing my balls to death out here.” Jason grinned, giving Faolan’s hand a squeeze.
“Tell me all about them.”
Faolan couldn’t wait to hear them. When it came to bedroom games, Jason always had the best ideas. It was hardly a punishment for making Jason freeze. Time to commune with nature and time to be loved on by Jason and Derrek, what better way could there be to spend a day off?