Author's Note: I wrote this at the request of someone on AO3, where several of my survey related shorts are, but since this is an original work, related to The Alpha King, so I figured I'd post it here as well... Though I suppose it's several years late. ^^; Any way! Please enjoy. :)
The Alpha King had decided to take a holiday. I wasn't sure they were supposed to, but Yuvile decided that we'd earned it and that Neoria wouldn't 'fall apart in a few months.'
After some assurances that we would both be working at least during travel, I let him talk me into it. And where were we headed but home sweet home? Considering things had calmed down considerably since our last space flight, I wasn't too worried about it, but it did bother me a little bit. It seemed sudden and I honestly didn't know what he was thinking. But that wasn't entirely new in our relationship.
"And what about Oirle," I demanded. "You better not be thinking I'm going to be leaving her here wh—"
"Of course she's coming with us!" Yuvile assured adamantly and I relaxed slightly.
"Good. I know Neorian ages are different, but she's only a little over a year old my time."
I could practically feel the fond eye roll he gave me, a habit I'm afraid he'd definitely picked up from me. I felt his lips, warm and comforting on my neck.
"I could never leave her here… I don't want to think about her getting any older." Yuvile grumbled, and his hands unconsciously went to my stomach. "Will she be getting a sibling soon? Or would you rather wait a bit longer."
"Well…" I said, "We'll have an entire vacation to get me knocked up, so… I suppose I wouldn't mind giving Oirle a sibling to play with… Lord knows when Niran might have one, and since both Nick and Ansilu are male betas the chance of kids for them is low…"
"Even more so, since Ansilu is the only one who can have children in that pairing..." Yuvile mumbled in understanding though I could feel how excited he was. "Though I believe Avani is already pregnant, is he not?"
"What? Really? That fucker," I grumbled, "Well, I guess I'll deal with that tomorrow."
Yuvile rumbled out a quiet chuckle and then pressed his hips against me. "Let us deal with this tonight…"
And so our trip back to Earth was mostly uneventful other than Orile taking her first few steps and then proceeding to laugh in delight so hard she sent a nearby glass careening into Yuvile's face. We arrived and were welcomed by officials, but Yuvile was having none of it this time around.
We were integrating into human society now. Yuvile was tired of all this secrecy. So the first few days was spent doing boring things, after that, though, I took him sightseeing around New York City, thankful that Ezekiel and Edo were the only bodyguards we needed. Yuvile did use his magic to hide his and Oirle's ears and tails, but they otherwise walked about openly.
It was hard at first, and honestly, I was still waiting for the backlash a week after we'd settled in at the offered housing. It was then that I noticed the date.
"Halloween?" Yuvile asked as I explained it to him. He was playing with Oirle who had become quite found of some human baby toys I'd given her.
"Halloween," I confirmed. "It'll be fun. I always wanted to do some family costumes."
"Yeah," I replied, picking Oirle up and making him pout at me as I squeezed her against me. "Something simple is fine, since it's so short notice…"
Yuvile motioned for me to give her back, but she'd taken interest in hitting me with her toy and I gave him a triumphant smirk.
"What sort of costumes?"
"Hmm… Well, you have wolf ears and a tail… so you could be the big bad wolf… and Oirle could be little red."
"What about you?"
"The huntsman, of course," I replied cheekily, "Gotta protect my precious little red from the wolf."
Yuvile gave a quiet, playful growl and stood, pulling me to him and squishing Oirle comfortably between us.
"The huntsman should be more concerned about protecting himself."
I kissed his nose and finally relinquished my hold on Oirle. "We should go shopping! There's a goods store nearby. Or at least there was last time I was here."
I pulled him along.
"So we will dress up and go to get candy… from… people's houses at night." Yuvile asked one more time as he looked at the party goods store. It was chock full of all the standard Halloween flare. "You did not mention that this was a contest to see who could devise the most heinous costume."
"It's not! Though once we're done treating, I was thinking of taking you to a party. There are plenty of them around and while I'm normally not big on them since I'm ancient compared to most of them, I thought it might be fun for you to see. Get a taste of what it was like to be young and dumb on Earth."
Yuvile didn't seem to understand the appeal, but let me lead him about at any rate. We avoided most of the horror section for Oirle's sake as I searched for the appropriate apparel. Occasionally people would whisper and point at Yuvile, but we just ignored it. His white markings stood out against his dark skin and even Oirle's little red source mark seemed to be a beacon in the room full of humans.
It bothered me, but only a little, and if it bothered Yuvile, he was doing an amazing job of hiding it.
Everything about this custom was weird. I'd decided that rather early on as Derek led me through a section of badly put together 'costumes' and face paint, Oirle in his arms for the moment giggling at every other thing. He seemed excited about it though and so I went with it.
Perhaps there was more to the holiday than Derek had been able to explain? Dressing up and going 'trick or treating' seemed… strange. For one, dressing up as a monster seemed weird enough. What did it accomplish, after all? But just because I couldn't get it, didn't mean I had to. If it was for Derek, I was plenty willing to do it. As for going door to door to get candy from random people… that I was a little more hesitant about.
Perhaps it was because as the king of Neoria, that sort of thing was more or less impossible, and more than that, unnecessary. I honestly was more interested in just spending time with my mate and our daughter than anything so it was fine for now.
"Oh! Here we go," Derek announced and I followed his line of sight to a set of clothes hung haphazardly. They didn't seem to be much different from the racks of other ones, but something about these ones had grabbed Derek's attention.
"Here hold her while I dig through these." He told me, handing Oirle to me. She pouted at him for a moment, but he just touched her nose with his finger and she accepted it. She turned to me and made some cute little noises. A warm feeling bubbled up in me as she pulled at my hair and talked, occasionally saying a word or two that I could recognize. Mostly just 'papa' and 'dada,' in English of course, because Derek was determined she know both languages from birth. She would usually follow it up with a couple of unrelated Neorian words, but it always impressed me how fast her vocabulary was growing.
I looked up at Derek who was concentrating pretty hard on two costumes that appeared to be the exact same and smiled. It was probably because he made it a point of speaking with her so much. Neorian children generally learned from each other after mimicking the adults around them. But Oirle was a single child and the only one thus far. So perhaps, Derek had taken it upon himself to make up for her lack of sibling interaction.
I nuzzled her cheek and she giggled, slapping my cheeks with vigor.
"This one will probably fit you," Derek announced, holding up one of the two costumes, "Probably."
I raised an eyebrow at him and he shrugged before hooking the little looped part of the hanger over the wrist of my free hand.
"It'll drag like this," I informed him.
"So?" he asked. "It'll give it a more rugged feel or whatever. Now… onto the next costume… should be right around here…" he fell silent as he searched through the mess and then made a sound of victory. "Found it… now to just…"
He was looking through the outfits that looked slightly different in color to the one that I was holding but otherwise the same.
"Human clothes are all very similar to one another," I said told Oirle. "I'm still not sure how your papa manages to sift through the mess…"
Oirle made some sounds in reply.
"Is that so?" I hummed out thoughtfully. She nodded, eyes full of serious determination. I smiled at her and kissed her forehead. "You wanna try helping him out?"
"Yes," she practically screamed.
"You heard her Derek. Isn't there anything we can do?"
Derek was watching with a fond expression that he quickly schooled into a more neutral expression. "Well, you could go find her costume… It looks like this."
He held up his holocomm, something I'd found was honestly pretty indispensable among humans, with an image on it.
"I see… and after you'll explain to me the story behind our costumes?"
"Of course," Derek replied. "Though I'd be best letting you read it, since Oirle likes your reading best."
I chuckled. "It's because you don't make the voices!"
"I try," Derek's cheeks flushed slightly and I leaned over and kissed him gently. He looked like he wanted to say something for a second but then shrugged it away. "Go on. The sooner we find these things the sooner we can put Oirle down for a N-A-P."
Oirle gave Derek a suspicious look, but quickly gave up and continued playing with my hair. She was surprisingly gentle about it.
"We'll return shortly," I told him and then we were off into the maze of similar looking clothes in a search for the 'infants' section. We passed through an area full of children and parents, half covered in pink sparkling fabrics and half in blues and reds, with a few other sections of other colors thrown into both, perhaps to keep customers from going blind at the sight of such bright colors, before we reached the section of baby costumes.
The colors were probably a bit too much for Oirle as well as the sheer increase in the number of people close by and I could already see she was getting a bit upset. I weaved a bit of magic around us to help lessen the stimuli and she slowly calmed down enough to become curious of the other kids.
"Down," she said, and when I didn't immediately put her down, repeated more firmly. "Down, please."
I smiled and set her down. She started tottering off towards some of the other babies, occasionally pausing in order to keep her balance or latch onto something close by to keep from falling. I kept an eye on her as she started talking to one baby animatedly. The baby gooed back and that delighted her.
I sifted through the outfits for the one Derek wanted. The selection for babies was… strange. Most of them appeared to be food.
"Oirle," I said, without turning, "Come back over here."
I glanced over at her more completely and motioned for her to come over here. She'd been trying to follow the baby and the baby's mother, who looked vexed. I couldn't exactly tell because of the mishmash of scents in the area, but the look she shot me told me all that I needed to know to guess.
I gave her a confused look in return and turned back to the clothes as Oirle stumbled over to another nearby toddler, this one more eloquent than the last, awing Oirle.
"Some lady is complaining that you're not keeping a close enough watch on Oirle," Derek informed me as he approached. I looked at him confused.
"What do you mean? She's right there?" I asked, confused.
"They don't know you can hear her every footstep." Derek replied, "So of course she'd freak out a little if you are just letting her seemingly run around freely."
I pouted at him slightly but he just smiled.
"Oirle, come here," Derek called.
"But baby," she told him and pointed to the toddler. "Papa! It baby!"
Derek smiled and went over to her, I smiled to myself and continued searching with a sliver of red fabric caught my attention and I made my own sound of victory as I finally managed to find the desired piece of clothing. I turned to see him chatting with the mother. I felt the familiar twinge of jealousy at Derek's perpetual ability to charm anyone he talked to, and forced it to the back corner as I strolled over.
"I found it," I told him at the first lull in the conversation.
"Thanks," Derek said, taking the article of clothing and examining it. "It should probably fit."
"Oh, um… who's your friend?" the mother asked, looking between Derek and me, a little nervous.
"He's my husband," Derek said, bluntly. I felt a swell of pride in my chest. "As I was—Oirle don't eat that!"
I glanced at what he was freaking out so intently over that he'd even used magic and saw our daughter with a small stick.
"This is a candle, we don't eat those. They make your stomach hurt."
"Stomach… hurt?" she parroted back, frowning at the stick.
"It'll make your stomach hurt and then you won't be able to get any chocolate at all."
Derek hummed in response. "We'll be getting lots tonight."
"Yup, delicious," Derek replied, "Even I'm looking forward to it."
"Even Papa!" she turned to look at me and repeated herself excitedly.
Derek smiled as Oirle came over to me and began babbling about 'chocolate' and stood to give the mother an apologetic look. "Sorry about that. She's pretty excited."
"Yes, it seems so…" the mother replied, "Well, I think we've gotten everything we need, so we'll be leaving. You three have a happy Halloween."
"You too," Derek said politely.
As soon as she was out of earshot he rolled his eyes. "She totally freaked out once she found out you were my husband."
Oirle was back in my arms, mumbling excitedly even as she seemed to fall asleep.
"That sort of thing still isn't accepted by everyone here, I suppose." He replied with a shrug. "Even though it's legal there are still some people who get uncomfortable about it."
"I see…" I replied, frowning at that a bit. Why did it matter when there was love involved? "I've said this before but it must be hard to live in a world where you don't believe in destined mates…"
"It's not that they don't believe that… I think most people do," Derek replied as we walked to the entry. "It's just hard to find that person, I suppose. They don't have the same sort of physiology as Neorians, so that automatically rules out scent as a way to locate them. So in the end it's a game of trial and error…"
I winced at the thought.
"Yeah, a lot of people give up."
We paid for our things and left arriving back at the housing complex a little while after the sun had sank below the horizon.
"Halloween is tomorrow," Derek said, smiling. "I'm more excited about it than I thought I'd be."
"Hmmm…." I replied, as I tucked Oirle into bed.
"I guess it's cuz I have you and Oirle." Derek continued as he guided me to the living room for a 'movie.' "I always wanted to do family costumes and stuff for Halloween and maybe ugly Christmas sweaters during the holidays…"
We curled together on the couch as the movie started. About a third of the way in it and everyone was being murdered.
"What are we watching?" I demanded as I hid my face for the hundredth time.
"Hmm… it's a slasher flick." Derek replied, completely unperturbed, "Halloween staple."
He raised a brow at me. "Are you… scared?"
"What? Of course not," I replied quickly. Too quickly, he saw straight through my bluff.
He pulled me towards him, adjusting our positions until I was laying mostly on top of him, head on his chest.
I felt a bit embarrassed but nodded anyway. It was nice to be this close to him sometimes. And whenever anything particularly violent and bloody happened on screen I could just burry my face in his shirt and lose myself in the scent of his clothes. By the third 'slasher flick' even his scent had been tinged slightly with fear.
We crawled into bed later and at every creak one of us jumped.
"Why in the world would humans choose to do this to themselves?"
"I'm only jumping cuz you keep freaking out!" Derek replied, embarrassed. Needless to say, we didn't sleep much that night.
The next day was quieter and as evening approached, we settled in for a short story time. Derek handed me the tablet and I laughed a little remembering our conversation yesterday.
"The Collected Tales of Little Red Riding Hood?" I asked as I looked at the image.
"Yup. Just go to the third one though, it's my favorite of the child-friendly versions." Derek answered as he pulled Oirle into his lap and waited for me to start.
"Once upon a time," I started, "there was a beautiful little girl who lived with her mother…"
I listened happily to Yuvile as he told the story I knew so well, even Oirle was focused on his voice. It was always amazing to me how easy it was to just listen to Yuvile. But he had that sort of charisma as a king, I supposed. Both Oirle and I were a little disappointed when he finished, but he looked pleased.
"So that is your story behind the costumes."
"Yup. I figured it would fit even if it wasn't entirely accurate."
We then set about getting ready to go out. We had no plans to keep Oirle out too late and I was planning on dragging Yuvile to a party I knew of. He was closer in age to those who'd be there than me, but I wasn't planning on doing much more than watching Yuvile have fun from the wall.
Getting Oirle to stay peacefully in the costume proved difficult as she ran around excited to receive chocolates. A good reminder that she had to be dressed up to receive the candies tonight had her calmed down quite quickly and the rest went smoothly though Yuvile complained a bit about the low quality fabric.
"It's all part of the Halloween tradition," I told him as we set off into the night. "Don't bother hiding your ears though, no one is going to question it and if they do just tell them it's part of the costume."
Yuvile squeezed my free hand and I laced my fingers with his and kept him there, feeling in a better mood than usual. We chatted quietly as we walked and occasionally let Oirle walk around and greet the other children.
The first house was decorated lightly, and I lifted Oirle so she could knock on the door 'properly' and we waited. A young man opened the door and blinked in surprise at us before cracking a little smile as Oirle spluttered out 'trick or treat.'
I thanked him as Oirle showed off her candy to Yuvile and we continued on. I could tell Yuvile was getting a little nervous the longer we walked around. I nudged him gently as Oirle wandered over to a group of kids dressed as various superheroes.
"Well, I just… Is this really safe? There are just kids wandering around unsupervised and wasn't that one lady upset because of my lack of supervision?" he asked, "I really don't understand most of these costumes… or really what the point of them is at all…"
"It's mostly just a way to have fun," I replied. "I haven't ever looked up the way it started, but I'm sure it had something to do with capitalism… but now it's just something fun for kids to do I guess. It was banned for a while when I was little because of the air toxicity, but with the steadily clearing air, it was lifted. I think this is the first time the air has been clean enough to go out without a purifier mask on."
"So it's just for fun, huh?" he asked, looking at where Oirle was running around with some kids, tripping occasionally. One kid would stop and help her up if she fell and then they'd be back to playing. It was cute.
"Yeah, it's good sometimes you know." I replied. "Thinking about it, Neoria doesn't have many holidays…"
"Ah, no, we take great pleasure in life and give adequate time free from breaks. We observe some small local festivals, I believe but not many take place in the capital aside from the Founding… which we officiated last Neso."
"Humans love to have a reason to celebrate, so everything becomes a big deal, I guess." I replied, thinking back to that festival he mentioned that celebrated the founding of the capital. "Maybe I should introduce Halloween on Neoria. I'm surprised no one else has."
Yuvile just shook his head with a smile.
"It's getting late; we should put Oirle to bed." I said, Oirle already practically asleep in my arms. She mumbled something.
"Looks like she's ready to put herself in bed," Yuvile answered, and wrapped a warm arm around me as we headed back to our housing complex. Once Oirle was in bed and Ezekiel was put on babysitting duty, Yuvile, Edo, and I headed out to the party that I'd heard of.
We somehow lost Edo rather quickly in the crowd of drunken partygoers, but we knew he could handle himself. He could use a break from us at any rate.
I was feeling a slight buzz when Yuvile pressed up against me smelling more like alcohol than his normal pleasant scent and I crinkled my nose at him.
"I didn't realize humans made an alcoholic beverage that could surpass my Neorian metabolic process…" he mumbled as he started kissing on my neck.
"Who gave you the everclear?" I asked, but I couldn't deny I was ready to blow this popsicle stand.
"Hmmm… I do not know … they had a mask on…"
I glanced behind him as I gently pried him off.
"Don't worry, I brought you a bottle too," our masked friend appeared out of nowhere, handing me the good sized bottle.
"Wait, aren't—" I started but at a small shake of his head, I fell silent. It was Edo.
"Why don't you two go have some fun? I made some preparations for you." He whispered to me as he slipped a set of keys into my hand. He pulled back with a wink. "Now, I must go, I believe I smelled someone quite interesting on the second floor."
I laughed and Yuvile nuzzled my neck. "I love the way you laugh."
"Alright, Yuvile," I whispered to him. "Why don't we go have some adult fun…just the two of us?"
All in all, it was the best Halloween I'd had in my entire life. Minus the raging hangovers we both had the next day.