Arkus was staring at James intently, his arms still folded and his expression somewhat blank.
"You were a kid." James said. "The last time I saw you... you were a little kid. You're the one who brought Xavier here."
Arkus said nothing.
"You weren't quite so green
at the time, though." James added.
"This happened over time." Arkus said, holding up one of his arms and examining his skin and his scars. "I'm not sure why. Its not the kind of
mutation that anyone can relate to. I'm one of a kind."
"You know... she eventually told me what happened." James said. "That night, all those years ago, when you brought her here, into my office... she
wouldn't talk for days. But she eventually spoke up... told me her family and friends were killed in some kind of raid. Her family ran a caravan
through this territory."
"Reptilians." Arkus said in a grave tone. "I tried to stop them... but I was only a little kid myself... didn't have the slightest clue what had
happened to me, or why I'd become so strong. I didn't know how to use my power back then, so I wasn't able to stop them before they killed everyone.
"You stopped them from killing her, at least." James said. "That's pretty impressive for a five year old."
"I met Xavier a little while back, on Mt. Crumpet... she was exploring. She was just a girl, at first... a fantastic
girl... but after she
invited me to this convention... I noticed..." Arkus said, his gaze shifting onto the window, into the gleaming sunlight. "I noticed her scar, and...
that's when it hit me... I realized she was the same little girl from the burned caravan. The same little girl they burned. They would have burned her
alive like everyone else if I hadn't..."
Arkus trailed off, lost in the sunlight as he began to relive one of his earliest memories... the night he'd discovered Mt. Crumpet, shortly after a
run-in with a caravan, and a group of Reptilian nationalists who intended to destroy it. He tried to help, of course... but he wasn't any match for
them. The Reptilians burned almost everyone on the caravan, except for one little girl; the little girl was hiding in the snow, hoping that the watery
ice would protect her from the fire. When the Reptilians advanced on her, Arkus remembered feeling a sudden burst of energy... he'd killed the
Reptilians... killed them all... he couldn't recall how, exactly... but afterwards, he picked up the girl with the horrible burn on her face and
carried her to the closest place around, the Black Dingo Lodge. He had marched into James's office, gently placed the burned child in front of his
desk, and walked out without a single word.
"I'm glad I had." Arkus muttered, more to himself than to James, a faint smile forming on his face as the sunlight cast a glare over his eyes, making
them even more shiny and vibrant than usual. "I saved us both the day I saved her."
Another moment of profound silence lingered in the air.
"So, er..." James said. "Nicholas didn't spare me any details. Told me everything... told me that you two have been in the same hotel room all
weekend... you and Xavier."
Arkus blinked, his eyes widening.
"Oh--no no no no no, sir, we haven't--"
"Yeah, I know." James said, laughing. "It'd be pretty easy to tell if you had, son. That's why I'm gonna let you hang around. Hell, I owe you that
for going through hell and high water keeping this place from burning to the ground. Xavier will be able to run this place better with help anyhow.
You and her both. But,
I expect no hanky-panky until about 40 years after the wedding, alright?"
The starry Mars night was entirely cloudless on the eve of the new year, and the two moons hung in the sky beautifully, surrounded by thousands of
shining stars millions of miles away. Nearly everyone from the Christmas convention had managed to stay an extra week, in order to celebrate the new
year, along with their victory over the Reptilian terrorists. The media was slightly downplaying the situation, of course, but the most pleasing thing
on the news during the week following the attack was the sight of the protesters from the larger multispecies cities; humans and Reptilians in the big
cities, protesting side-by-side, filling up the streets with their signs and bullhorns, demanding the truth from the media and the two governments. It
seemed that a revolution had been pending, and it only took a single Christmas party getting crashed to set the wheels in motion. Knowing this, Arkus
and Xavier sat on top of the lodge's roof together, staring down at the parking lot where everyone had gathered. The guests were filling the lodge
grounds, waiting for the fireworks to begin, and some of them had placed large blankets on top of the snowy pavement so they and their families would
have a comfortable place to sit and enjoy the show.
"The past week's felt like a year, hasn't it?" Arkus said, leaning back on both of his arms and gazing into the sky, grinning and anxiously awaiting
the firework show. "And its snowing
tonight! Snowy fireworks!"
Xavier watched him, wearing a soft, happy expression.
Arkus, noticing, returned the look.
"Everybody's pretty okay with you now." Xavier told him. "Nobody's called you any names all week."
"And you." Arkus added, nodding at her. "Of course, now they don't have a choice
but love us, after all the bloody crap we did for 'em."
They were both quiet for about a minute.
"Hey." Arkus said, grasping her hand softly, intertwining his fingers with hers, which made her heart leap into her throat. "Old world traditions,
101. Lesson number one, the mistletoe. If two people are caught underneath a mistletoe, they're supposed to kiss. You see? That's brilliant!
old world traditions! and here's another one..."
Arkus released a breath, met Xavier's eyes, and spoke a little more calmly.
"On New Years, just after the countdown, its said that... if two people kiss, they're going to be together forever." He told her, unable to conceal
Xavier grinned as well, and as if on que, the crowd in the parking lot began to chant.
"Five...... four...... three...."
Xavier and Arkus inched closer to one another, both filling with the same fuzzy, static-like sensation, and Arkus's scars began to glow.
They met lips, sharing a long, soft kiss, and Arkus placed both of his hands on Xavier's face, stroking her lovingly with his thumbs. The fireworks
exploded in the air over them as the crowd cheered from underneath them, though they barely heard it, as they were lost to the world now...
A wonderful, horrible Christmas had brought them together, two loving, loyal, sequestered souls longing for one another... for someone to love... and,
by some miracle, they'd found each other... now, here they were, on the eve of a new year, ready to start anew, just like the world around them, those
on Mars who no longer trusted their local news stations, those who questioned the separations between the two species or the actions done by the two
governments that blatantly disregarded the Equal Living Act... and as they remained entirely lost in one another, Arkus and Xavier had completely
forgotten to care that the year had ended.
"Happy New Year!"
edit on Xx118101031AM1210 by XxNightAngelusxX because: (no reason given)