“We’re going to be late. I’m buying you a damn sat nav for Christmas.”
“I ken where I'm goin’.” Paddy growled and threw the Hilux around the next corner. “See, I ken it were ‘ere.”
Troy glanced across at his mate and rolled his eyes. They had shared the long drive down, though Paddy insisted on be the one to drive in town because Troy still drove as though the pedestrian’s use of the road was somehow optional. Paddy on the other hand had no sense of direction unless he was surrounded by the wilderness. The centre console of the cab was full of the relics of their journey, sweets and crisps, half a bag of Troy’s homemade venison jerky hanging out of the glove box. Paddy had eaten his way through most of a bag of navel oranges and there were scraps of pith and peel in the foot well.
“He’s gonna freak, you know how neat the kid is.” Troy grabbed an empty bag and began to clear up.
It had been sort of a shock to find that Paddy, who was so neat and tidy and clean in the rest of his life, didn’t care about the vehicle they used to transport themselves everywhere. Technically it was Paddy’s Toyota though Troy had paid for a big chunk of it, but the only person who ever took the time to clean it out was the lynx. Paddy continued to explain this was fair, because Troy still refused to learn how the hoover actually worked.
Paddy pulled the red pick up outside the school and glanced around as the bell sounded, a tinny noise that made his skull vibrate.
“I said we would nae be late.” Paddy folded his arms and grinned in a smug, self-satisfied sort of way. Troy went to hit him round the back of his head and ended up stroking his lover’s thick dark hair.
“You are right too often.” Troy popped open the door. “Here they come.”
Paddy came around the side of truck to stand with his mate as children came pouring out of the school. They walked in groups, ran and chased, a big pack stood exchanging final hugs and presents before the holidays. Paddy was the one who first spotted Matthew’s tousled blond hair. Six months looked good on the teen, and he was taller, growing into his frame and his figure. He was going to be the sort of young man the boys and girls would be falling over all too soon.
The scent was like an arrow right through his heart, and reflected down the bond from his lover was the same feeling as Troy caught the flavour of their quarry. Spring dew and new grass, a scent like young life on what was a chill a dark winter’s afternoon. Gregg followed his friend out of the school, and Paddy could tell the exact moment when the little hare picked up their scent, because his voice stilled, and his amber eyes snapped around suddenly to where they stood. Paddy couldn’t help the little chuckle that escaped him.
Gregg broke into a run, and it was Matthew who saw where he was going and shouted in surprise.
The big Scot opened his arms for the flying boy and was pleased he was knocked back into the Hilux rather than straight to the ground by the speed and force of Gregg’s flying leap as the little hare wrapped skinny arms around his neck and shrieked in his ear loud enough to make his head hurt, albeit momentarily. Troy stood laughing silently, shaking his head.
“Troy!” Gregg squealed and soon enough Troy too was being hugged by the skinny teenager. “What are you guys doing here? I thought you weren’t coming down until tomorrow?”
“Whoa buddy, breathe…” Troy petted Gregg’s short hair and smiled paternally. “It’s nice to see you too.”
“Aye pet. Daen’t ye worry now. We thought we’d come down early tae surprise ye, ye ken, and we stopped off a’ ye Mam’s on the way here.”
“Which would have worked better if you’d actually written down the directions.” Troy rolled his eyes again. “Hello Matthew.”
“Heya guys.” Matthew jabbed his friend in the shoulder with one fist. “I can’t believe you’re leaving me to fend for myself all holidays. Some friend you are.”
“You’ll live without me.” Gregg grinned at his friend. “You’re just jealous.”
“Well duh.” Matthew sighed. “I have to stay home with my parents. You get to go to Scotland and play in the snow.”
“Is it snowing?” Gregg’s big over excited teenage eyes were back on Paddy and the bear laughed.
“Aye laddie, same as it were when ye called yesterday. We’ll hae snow, an’ mistletoe an’ presents tae.”
Gregg giggled in delight and hugged him again.
“Can we go then? Please Paddy?”
“I daen’t ken pet, are ye sure ye d’nae want tae stay here wi’ yer friend fer Christmas?”
“Thanks for the vote of confidence.” Matthew shook his head. “You’d best get going before Ms. Spinell sees you. Dad’ll have to spend half the holidays calming her down.”
Paddy raised an eyebrow in mock surprise. According to Gregg’s phone calls, the woman’s unnatural suspicion had held on long after they’d got back from camp, and she had been horrified when September had rolled around to find out Gregg was texting them. The poor kid had been forced to sit through some bullshit meeting about his “attachment issues” until his mother had rightly thrown a fit and shouted at any teacher who dared challenge her abilities as a mother to judge what sort of people her son could be friends with. Mrs. Uje was not a person Paddy ever wanted to have angry with him, human or not.
“Hey, I’ll be back for New Year’s.” Gregg shook his friend’s shoulder firmly. “We’ll stay up and watch films. I’ll even let you pick.”
“You mean it this time?”
“Yes, anything you like as long as it’s not ‘Mamma Mia’ again…”
“Deal.” Matthew hugged his friend quickly. “Have a fun trip guys.”
“Bye Matthew! Happy Christmas!” They all waved the blond off as he trudged up the path towards the school gates, and freedom.
“Mamma Mia?” Troy questioned. His tone was icy.
“Matthew likes Abba.” Gregg shrugged. “And I didn’t say ‘no’ to that Australian business with the pink bus either. Dammit.”
“Now tha’ I did nae see comin’.” Paddy blinked in disbelief. “Did he tell ye or did ye work it out?”
“That’s he’s gay?” Gregg climbed into the back of the truck, throwing his school bag in ahead of him. “I think we both worked it out about the moment he tried to kiss me. We both got over it though.”
“It’s so easy for some, hey babe?” He jumped into the front of the cab. “Come on, I smell the scent of bigoted teachers, let’s go.”
They stopped by the Uje household to pick up Gregg’s bags. Like every over excited teenager, he had packed well in advance, which meant he had ended up taking a bunch of stuff out of the case again when he needed it. The little hare dashed about the house, collecting books, laptop, gloves and a set of playing cards he apparently absolutely could not live without. Eventually they got him and his stuff in the truck and Paddy started the engine only have Gregg shriek that he’d left his phone charger behind and together the two older shifters watched the kid dash back madly into the house, past his mother who stood waving on the front step.
It had been Gregg’s idea to come and spend Christmas with them, and the little hare had convinced everyone else of his plan with big smiles, bright eyes and promises of excellent school grades. On these he had delivered, with A’s and B’s across the board and Paddy had spent a long half hour on the phone explaining maybe the boy’s mother wouldn’t be quite so happy at being abandoned by her only son for Christmas. It had not been the case.
“Are ye sure ye want us tae take ‘im away?” Paddy asked, one arm hanging out of the Toyota’s window.
“Please do!” Mrs. Uje laughed. “I’m looking forwards to going and staying with my sister and her husband. They don’t have kids, and neither do their friends. They’re always inviting me to come and spend Christmas just like we used to when we were all in our early twenties. Mulled wine and port at eleven o’clock, too much food and lots of silly games.” She smiled warmly. “I think you boys are very sweet to take Gregg, and lord knows he’s desperate to go with you, but you’re awfully young to be parents for him.”
“Daen’t worry lassie, I always wanted a younger bruthar.” Gregg came sprinting out of the house again as he spoke. “Come on laddie! We got a long way tae go!”
“Coming!” Gregg hugged his mother quickly. “Bye mum!”
“A proper hug please.”
“Gregg.” Troy huffed from his seat. “Keep your mother happy.”
“Alright…” For a moment he was a classic mopey teenager. Gregg hugged his mother properly and Paddy saw him inhale the scent of his parent. Whether he knew it or not, he would hold onto the note of flavour until the next time they were together, just as Paddy had done all summer with his own parents. “Love you mum.”
“I love you too sweetie. Off you go.”
“Thanks mum!” Gregg jumped up into the back of the cab and leant forwards between the seats. “Let’s go!”
“Seatbelt!” Troy and Paddy chanted in unison, and they pulled away.
Gregg was exactly as excited as a teenage shifter on a journey to spend Christmas with friends and other shifters would have been expected to be. Even with his seatbelt on he leant forwards in his seat and as Paddy drove them out of town and onto the bigger A-roads the kid kept them all entertained with stories of school, tales of teachers and verbatim re-enactments of various friendship group melodramas. Camp had been a big turning point for Gregg, and after he and Matthew had become firm friends, they had recruited other people to their little posse, including Rory and the previously pushy Conner. Tom no longer spoke to them, which Gregg said was rather nice actually. They had a tacit policy of non-confrontation after the disagreement which had happened just before the summer holidays had started properly. Tom and Matthew had come to blows over the obvious divide in their friendship. Matthew had made the curly haired former ringleader eat his words about his friend and walked away.
“So how long does it take to get there?”
“Its six hundred miles pet.” Paddy replied with a smile. “We will nae be thar until tomorrow.” He glanced across at his mate. “You want tae take the graveyard shift again babe?”
“I don’t mind.” Troy rubbed his shoulder before snuggling back into his seat. “Stop at the services in a couple of hours and we’ll swap. I’m gonna get some sleep.”
Troy could sleep anywhere. Paddy had always assumed the relaxation of his mate and his ability to sleep on the ground in the woods was a direct result of having vigorous and excellent sex, but it was not so. At pretty much any time of day, and basically anywhere, Troy could put his head down and sleep, even if only for a few minutes. It was no wonder he liked to get up early, because the young man could basically sleep standing upright, leaning against a wall while he was waiting for Paddy to come out of the bathroom. He got all the sleep he needed. Now Troy tucked himself into the corner of his seat, folded his legs up against his chest and slept soundly.
“Are we driving all the way up tonight?” Gregg sat on the edge of his seat and hung onto the back of Paddy’s chair.
“Aye pet. We’ll drive all nicht an’ ye’ll wake up t’morrow in Scotland.”
“I’m gonna stay up!” Gregg bounced in his seat, bright eyes full of energy and excitement. “This is way too cool to sleep through!”
Troy turned to look in the back of the cab.
“Aye.” Paddy’s voice was soft and quiet. “He went out liek a light about an hour ago.” The big Scot checked the rear view mirror which he had tiled in order to see the backseat better. Gregg was curled up into the duvet which Paddy had put into the back of the truck, lying in a way which looked like it would be uncomfortable when he woke later. It was midnight and they had passed Glasgow a little while back, but now Paddy was pulling over to the service station for another fuel, food and bathroom stop.
“Ye want tae wake him?” Paddy took his mate’s hand, brushing his fingers over Troy’s palm. Even though he could call to his mate across dozens of miles, stroke his mind and heart and pull them both into the forest half way between their hearts, there was still something lovely about touching his mate.
“You think we should? He looks peaceful.”
“We hae another three hours tae go babe, an we hae nae stopped since we were at Tebay services back in Cumbria.” Paddy stroked Troy’s hair. “Wake ‘im up nice an’ gentle liek pet.”
One of the first things Troy had done when they’d reached the first service station on the way up North to Cumbria at the end of the summer was buy a pair of ordinary scissors, walk into the bathroom and reappear two minutes later with his hair cut to the nape of his neck. Paddy missed combing the long strands through his fingers, but he hadn’t been able to resist the soft skin at the back of Troy’s neck, and it had quickly become his favourite place to nibble and kiss. Troy had worn love bites on his nape for weeks.
Troy had driven most of the way to his house, and Paddy had never felt more nervous in his life when he met the surprisingly diminutive woman who was Troy’s mother. Inga Pilkvist was short, slight and wiry with blond hair and skin which was lined and tanned with many hours of outdoor life. She had greeted them both with open arms and strong hugs.
“So this is your mate?” Inga had put her hands on Paddy’s biceps and taken a good long look at him. Her son had her eyes. “Oh yes, he’ll do great.” And that had been her last word on the subject. There had been no discussion about the fact her son was suddenly gay, and Inga beat them to the idea Troy would be moving north.
“You’ll be moving to Scotland then?”
“Um…” Paddy had only seen Troy unsure before very rarely, and it was still something of a wonder his mate could ever be anything other than completely confident.
“It only makes sense. He has a big family I expect? Yes?”
Troy had nodded.
“Well then, that’s settled.”
“But Mum…” Troy had looked rather panicked. “I’ll miss you.”
“Well I wasn’t planning on staying here by myself Troy. I’ll give my notice, train a replacement and find a nice little stone cottage somewhere closer to you boys.”
“Really?” Paddy had been shocked. “You would do that for us?”
“Of course.” Inga had smiled at them. “Now, get your stuff from the truck and come in and wash up before dinner. I’ll make your favourite.”
“Mum!” Troy wrapped an arm around Paddy’s waist tightly. “We can’t. I mean… Paddy doesn’t eat meat.”
“Do you mean you have actually persuaded my carnivorous feline of a son to eat vegetables?” Inga’s expression was unreadable and Paddy was unsure about his answer.
Inga wrapped her arms around the bear and squeezed.
“Oh Patrick! You’ve arrived just in time! He’s been driving me mad for years!” She grinned hugely and glanced upwards. “Thank you Emil! You finally found someone right for our son!”
They had eaten cod with green vegetables and chips and spent the night on Troy’s narrow single bed. Or rather, they had spent about an hour on Troy’s single bed before both young men had shifted into their fur and slept on the knotted woollen rug instead. Troy had begrudgingly eaten cereal for breakfast and they had spent an hour packing the rest of his possessions into the back of the truck. There wasn’t much. A blanket made of rabbit furs and a little two foot high work stool which Troy had made when he was twelve with his father. His name and Emil’s were carved into the rim along with two little carvings of lynx’s chasing each other. Troy had a vast collection of hunting, skinning and gutting knives, some with antler handles, and apart from an armful of woollen jumpers, everything they packed was handmade and rustic. Troy had stood in the centre of the little room and sighed.
“I’m sorry. Are ye goin’ tae miss it?”
“Yes. No. Don’t be sorry.” Troy had hugged him hard enough to make his ribs creak. “How could I miss a building now that I have you?”
Paddy kissed him.
Inga had waved them off, and Paddy had driven the whole five hours home himself until they were in sight of the mountains and trees he called his own.
Gregg whimpered as he came out from under layers of unconsciousness, and grumbled as he stepped down from the cab of the truck and into the bitingly cold night air.
“Oh fuck a duck!”
“Language!” Paddy cuffed him gently round the head and pulled the boy into his side. Gregg clung there, shivering. “I ken pet. Come on intae tha warm an’ hae a cuppa.”
Despite it being the very, very small hours of the morning, the three shifters sat in the little café and had a cup of tea each. Gregg and Paddy both loaded theirs with sugar and milk while Troy rolled his eyes and drank his black with nothing in it.
“I missed Scotland.” Gregg spoke through a yawn. He had not yet been able to keep his eyes open while he talked.
“Ye hae nae missed it laddie. We’re in it.”
“But I missed the sign.” Gregg shook himself slightly. “I wanted to see…” He yawned hugely, belatedly putting his hand over his mouth. “…the ‘Welcome to Scotland’ sign.”
“Oh dear.” Troy stroked the back of the boy’s short hair gently. “I think someone needs another few hours kip.”
“I’m not tired…” Gregg complained in the manner of all teenagers everywhere, even as his head fell onto his arms.
The hare had not grown enough that Paddy couldn’t scoop him up easily in both arms. Troy tided their drinks away before they carried the boy out of the nearly deserted service station. A couple with their own two small, similarly sleepy children, smiled at them on their way past, and the father nodded to Troy knowingly.
“They keep saying it gets easier…”
“And it never does. Have a safe trip.” Troy gave the couple a little half wave and slipped his hand around Paddy’s waist. With their sensitive hearing they both heard the woman say:
“Oh, isn’t that sweet...” In a kind voice before the electric doors swished closed behind them.
Paddy tucked the kid into the cab of the truck, but as soon as he let go, the hare began to shiver. Even though paddy knew a combination of the duvet and the heating would make Gregg warm in a few moments, he climbed into the back of the cab without hesitation.
“You alrigh’ tae drive home babe?”
“Sure.” Troy started the engine, and turned to lean back over the seats, kissing his mate hard. “But he is not sleeping with us when we get there.”
“Ye ken how much trouble I had getting’ ‘im a room o’ his own?” Paddy toed off his boots as the kid burrowed against his side, the natural pack animal instinct to be warm, safe and protected by those you loved. “O’ course he aten’t sleeping wi’ us.”
His mother, true to form, had done exactly the thing he had specifically asked her not to do. They had arrived in the summer, exhausted from the long drive and four months spent on duty looking after small children, their rented truck smelling faintly of musk and sweat, to find the entire clan waiting for them. Paddy loved his family, and he had missed them terribly, but the sight of his parents, grandparents, both uncles, both aunts and all five of his cousins had made him want to run for the hills taking his new mate with him. Troy had stepped out of the truck with a grin which vanished as he was practically assaulted by Paddy’s maternal family. Every single one of them had questions and queries, and Paddy had found himself standing with his father in bewilderment. The two men of the McZhang family regarded each other like long lost friends.
“My boy.” Paddy’s father hugged him tight. “It’s good to have you home.”
“An’ Mam tricked me intae thinkin’ she missed me.” Paddy felt Troy pull on his heart string, slightly panicked. “They jus’ wanted tae meet Troy.”
“Well of course they do lad.” Paddy’s father snuffed his shoulder with a sigh. “After all, according to you, he is the perfect man.”
“Aye. That he is.” Paddy sent a wave of love down the line to his mate. “I missed ye tae.”
A snarl and a shout attracted their attention back to where Troy stood over Steafan, who was now flat on his back.
“Babe!” Paddy sprang to his mate’s side and rounded on his cousin. “Wha’ did ye dae?”
“He called me a ‘Southern Softie’.” Troy shook out his fist and wrapped his hand around the back of Paddy’s neck. “And he thinks I’m short.”
“It wer’ a jest!” Steafan got up by degrees, wary of the powerful but slender young man his cousin had brought home. “Jees Paddy, he hits liek a fuckin’ ‘ammer.”
“Mind ye gob.” Their grandmam had clipped Steafan around the back of the head. “Tha’s nae way tae be talkin’ in front o’ our guests nae is’t?” She turned to Troy. “It’s nice tae meet ye love. Nae come inside wi’ me and we’ll let tha bears git thamselves reacquainted.”
Troy had shot him a look of panic as he was led away by the woman of the clan.
“He’s a tough little kitty aten’t he?” Uncle Hamish had reflected.
“Aye, an’ I reckon if ‘e hears ye call ‘im ‘kitty’ ye might end up wishin’ ye hadnae done.”
“Noted.” Angus had thumped his brother on the shoulder. “Liek Mam says then, shut ye gob lads.”
“Ye couldnae chosen someone less sensitive?” Ewan had said, right before Paddy had thumped him.
“Well tha’ was nae an especially clever thing to say.” Boyd said as he picked up his brother from the floor. “C’mon, let’s go eat dinner an’ save Paddy’s man from all the gals.”
Usually when the whole family was over, they shared the two houses between them and Paddy usually ended up with Boyd and Aiden sharing his room. Now he had a mate, which meant the idea of sharing his bedroom with anyone, least of all two of his very straight cousins, was a totally unattractive idea. But it was the summer, and while Paddy and Troy were looking forwards to what would be only their second night ever under a proper roof in an actual building and their first with a real bed, the rest of the cousins were preparing to sleep under the stars in their fur, resorting to a collection of tents for when it got too cold. The bear men of the clan had fished the lake and the dinner was huge and good and full of colour. Troy still looked at most of the vegetables as though they might be secretly poisonous, but only because he didn’t recognise them.
“Jus’ wait until ye see tha garden pet.” Paddy had whispered in his ear, sending an image of the two of them screwing on the green grass to his mate.
“Can’t wait.” Troy replied, but the mental picture he sent back made Paddy freeze, rooted to his seat by lust. Fucking decadently, in bed, uninterrupted by anyone. It was a good image.
Eventually he had gotten Troy away from his family, though they had far from run out of questions for the Norwegian lynx, and Paddy had dragged them both off for a shower and bed. The best thing about his room, suddenly, became the fact he had a miniature en-suite bathroom, and they kissed for what felt like hours under the spray of hot water until dripping and exhausted and finally clean from the sandstone dust of Six Trees, they had fallen into Paddy’s big king sized bed.
“Oh god…” Troy became instantly boneless and floppy. “I had almost forgotten what it was like to be comfortable.”
“An’ yet ye can sleep anywhere?” Paddy sat on the bed then lay back. “Ughhh… OK, I see what you mean. Fuck that’s good.”
“You know what else is good?” Troy rolled over and snuggled into Paddy’s side, head in the crook of his shoulder. “No kids, no teachers. No Nic, no stupid Alexia. No other guys trying to flirt with you.”
“No humans. I mean, not really. We can go out tomorrow in our fur and not bother with anyone else if we don’t want too.”
“And before that,” Troy knelt over him, his glacier blue eyes shining, “I can fuck you until you can barely even remember your own name.”
So they did, and then the two shifters slept the deep slumber of those who had spent the last four months on a makeshift bed made of foam exercise mats. Unbeknownst to them, the lights of the Great Spirits shone and flickered up above them, dancing in the sky. In the morning, Paddy’s cousins would tell him how they blazed with colours that had never been seen in that part of the world, and even though it had been something he’d always wanted, the spectacled bear would not be able to bring himself to anything as petty as jealousy. He had the man he loved, and it was all he needed.
“We’re here babe.” Troy brought the truck to a gentle stop and the engine died.
He had parked, as he always did, in front of the site that would be their house. The only man-made part of the building, the lime-crete foundation, had already been laid, but progress was slow. Every part of the building required Troy to go out into the forest and find exactly the right sort of tree to make the next bit of the house. He was using whole trees and the insulation was apparently going to be made of hay bales. The whole house was laid out in hay bale measurements. It confused and fascinated Paddy, but Troy’s incredibly naturalistic approach to building had been the only reason they had received the planning permission to build the house in the first place. But building a house part time was exhausting and slow, and while both their parents had offered them money, they had both refused to take it.
Troy had gotten a better job with the Forestry Commission than the one he’d left, who were delighted to get a Nordic native bush crafter, and his part time teaching of all the other staff in bow making paid rather well. Paddy had spent what was left of the summer working with his Uncle Angus in the outdoor adventure equipment shop he owned in the centre of their little village, before taking his father’s car, driving the twenty three miles to the secondary school he had attended not long ago and being hired on as a leader in extra-curricular activities. In the four months he’d been there, he had already starting running the archery club, taken over the orienteering and hill walking groups and begun a dozen students on the Duke of Edinburgh’s Bronze Award. They were both busy, but life was good and they’d been able to buy their own truck and stop borrowing vehicles from everyone else; an act which had prompted his Grandda to nearly forget himself and swear with relief.
“Can ye grab ‘is stuff pet?” Paddy began to extract himself by inches from the cab, because at some point in the last three hours, Gregg had yawned and stretched, and left Paddy holding an empty jumper and a little bundle of warm fur. The big Scot cradled the lagomorph in one arm, keeping Gregg shielded from the sudden cold of the air outside. They crunched their way through a fresh layer of snow towards Paddy’s parent’s house, one single light glowing from the porch over the front door.
“I swear if your cousins have tried to steal our bed, I’m going to kill one of them.” Troy muttered, using his house key to gain them entry to the building full of sleeping bears.
“I daen’t want tae start Christmas wi’ a funeral babe.” Paddy whispered as he followed his lover.
Boyd, Aiden and Ewan were all sleeping in the lounge, lit by the soft lights of the big Christmas tree. As they trod carefully through, Boyd rolled over on his sofa with a sleepy mutter.
“I wan’ tart an’ chips…” and then snored like a rusty sawmill.
Paddy’s mother had set up a bed for Gregg in the little box room, barely big enough to contain the single mattress made up on the floor. The hare snuffled as Paddy put him down, ears and whiskers twitching. Troy placed his bag and the boy’s clothes from the car at the foot of the bed, and they let themselves quietly out of the room.
“He’s goin tae wake up in a panic and rush tae find us.” Paddy said gently.
“Yup.” Troy rolled the tension of the long drive out of his shoulders. “We’d best fall asleep with actual clothes on tonight.”
“Ye mean this mornin’?” Paddy began to rub Troy’s shoulders with circular motions of his thumb, making his mate groan. “He’ll be up in three hours pet. Four if we’re lucky.”
“Oh fuck me.”
“Gladly.” Paddy scooped up his mate and Troy wrapped his legs instantly around the bear’s hips. “See, ye nae tired after all.”
“Just ‘cause you’re a horny bastard…” Troy muttered in his ear, already kissing his neck.
“Liek yer nae…” Paddy kicked the door shut behind them and lay with the man he loved on his bed. It creaked under their weight. “Ye gonna build us a new bed in this magical house o’ yers?”
“Oh yeah babe, it’s top priority. We don’t need any other furniture.”
“We managed for a whole summer without anything else.” Paddy kissed his mate, lingering over the scent of him. “I cuid give anythin’ up as long as I had ye.”
“We’re not giving up the bed.” Troy replied, too quickly. “What? Hammocks were always un-fucking-comfortable.”
“I knew it.” Paddy kissed him again, both of them wriggling out of their clothes in the dark.
But it wasn’t totally dark. With the curtains open, the dancing lights of the Great Spirits shone and reflected on the new snow, shining into the room where a bear and a lynx lay, entirely involved in each other’s happiness. Shades of blue and green fire whirled in the atmosphere, pinks and gold’s blazing in the night sky. All night, the Great Spirits shone above the land, watching over the people, of all shapes and sizes, who believed in them. The little hare hundreds of miles from home, who had nevertheless found family in this remote place, the black bear clan who slept soundly, the bear who had found his lover and the lynx who was no longer alone. The Great Spirits shone and protected all of them, sparkling like the most wonderful Christmas lights there had ever been.
The two young men didn’t notice, not really, because they were much too busy showing each other exactly how much they loved each other, and that took a great deal of concentration indeed.
Thank you, to everyone who left me reviews and who came on this journey through a month and a bit of madness with us. And Thank You to Kitt, who is always awesome and willing to learn how to spell in Scottish-Bear dialect.