She'll Be On Me
By: 1000th Ghost
"And she'll see me...a winner... She'll be on me like fleegle flies on a flat-faced floogle horse!"
-Grinch (How the Grinch Stole Christmas)
He wasn't sure when she had gotten up off the steps. He had left her, to the best of his knowledge, panting and dazed. Good. She should have stayed there forever, remembering that it was him who knocked her down, remembering the feel of his mouth between her breasts.
Because he had no idea if she still wanted him, truthfully. The thought that she might was enough to bring him into town, enough to make him participate in this ridiculous celebration. But forty-five years was an eternity of time, it seemed. An eternity that for him was filled largely with thoughts of her because what else should he possibly think of? But for her, that eternity could have been filled with any number of things - of men. Why would she remember the little green boy who clung to her love with everything he had, letting go of malice and fear and stubborn pride?
No, she most likely did not want him nor even remember that she once did. But seeing him with an award - seeing him as a winner - would convince her that he was worthy of her affections.
"I believe I'm here to accept..." He licked his lips and waved his hands in a way that he hoped suggested that he couldn't care less. "...an 'award' of some kind?" Though everything depended on it.
"I love you!"
"What?" Not the most eloquent reply in the world but, in his defense, what?
"I love you!" Martha May repeated, eyes glowing, mouth agape and breathing heavily, this time launching herself at him in addition to the words.
"What?" he heard the mayor say, but there were much more pressing matters, for instance the fact that she was pressing herself against his side.
Her arms were around his neck - somewhat difficult considering his height, but she seemed determined to manage - and he could feel every curve of her against his...shoulder and arm. Not the most intimate locations in the world, but certainly there would be time to remedy that. Because she loved him...wha-
At the danger of the word "what" being out in the air again, he chose to be silent and instead tilt his head towards hers slightly, an expression of incredulity cautiously on his face.
"I love you, Grinch, I always have, I never stopped! Oh..."
Now her lips were on his cheek, and he was not entirely sure what to do about it.
"Um..." He glanced to the left and then to the right. The crowd looked as shocked as he must have. "I love you too." Feast on that, Whos.
"Well, now, this is, um, very...joyous...if somewhat repulsive," the mayor mumbled half into the microphone, "...but as Holiday Cheermeister, there are certain duties that must be performed...presents to be received..."
The Grinch didn't know what tricks the pompous Augustus had in store, and he had no intention of finding out.
"Sorry, there, mayor, buddy, but I'm afraid I'll have to take a rain check on that. Say, oh, NEVER!" And he cackled gleefully, sauntering off the stage, dragging a practically hyperventilating Martha, whose goal seemed to be to become surgically grafted to his side, along with him. "THANKS, CINDY LOU!" he called over his Martha-less shoulder, and the sweet, little tot raised her eyebrows and then just giggled.
He headed in the direction of her house. He knew where she lived, of course. The same grand house she had lived in as a child, inherited along with all the Whovier family riches when her parents died. His incognito trips to town were very infrequent and usually just to cause mayhem, but he would be lying if he said he had never walked past the house, hoping to catch a glimpse of her in the window.
He was a markedly good liar. But there was no point lying about that.
She did not indicate any alarm at the fact that he knew exactly where she lived, and her lack-of-alarm was magnified tenfold when he found her front door unlocked.
"That's dangerous, Martha," he told her. "Someone could break in."
"Someone like you."
He looked at her with cautious incredulity again.
"I never locked it in case you ever decided to come and see me."
She said it rather matter-of-factly, but her constant honest statements were going to give him a heart attack soon. Which, considering how small his heart was, would most likely prove fatal.
"I'm the most dangerous man there is," he said and swung the door open wide.
Now the dangerous man had broken into the pretty woman's house. Somehow, he seemed much more scared than she did.
Her house was cold, which was quite a claim coming from someone who lived on Mt. Crumpit.
Oh, it was an impressive house, naturally. Full of undoubtedly expensive, rare baubles and tchotchkes. It was very impersonal and dark and empty. And cold.
And the woman beside him seemed to be about a thousand degrees.
He lead them to the sofa in her living room. Which he also knew the location of. Maybe he might have actually looked through the windows occasionally. She didn't seem to be judging him.
"Let me...slip into something more comfortable," she said with a wink, and his eyebrows raised, and he decided rather conclusively that this all had to be an elaborately wonderful, cruel dream.
The sofa was obnoxiously pink with satin pillows, and it suited her perfectly. It was so slick, he wondered if he was going to slide off of it.
She returned in a diaphanous, light-blue...thing, that might have been an appropriate length if she was the eight-year-old, pigtailed girl he had left behind.
"You love me?" she asked, her hand cupping his cheek and turning him towards her.
And suddenly, he too was eight years old again, and the beauty was touching the cheek of the beast, and he knew he didn't deserve it, he knew it, but when it was here, right in front of him, whether he deserved it or not did nothing towards resistance.
"Yes," he breathed. There was no cynicism in his voice, nothing mocking or vindictive, and he wondered what had happened to him.
He thought to his phonebook, his battered phonebook with rifled pages, crumpled and torn from years of hatred. Up to the "M"s, that is. It was easy to hate letters A through L, and an Augustus May Who got a special declaration of "loathe entirely".
He screamed his hatred of Louise Lee Who towards the town as if she could hear it personally. But then his finger would drop to "Martha May Whovier", and he would caress the black letters on the yellow paper a few times as if she could feel it personally.
Then he would whisper, "I love you, Martha," know she couldn't hear it at all, and shut the book.
The Grinch did not cry, not since he had first climbed up Mt. Crumpit that fateful, long-ago day. But if the ability ever came close to coming back, those probably would have been the moments.
"Yes," he said again because it was the single realist statement he had ever known, undermining all previous iniquities.
"Then why didn't you ever come see me?"
"I-" He couldn't stand what she had done to him, rendering his quick wit and proclivity towards harsh comebacks useless.
"You could have walked through my door any time you wanted and had your way with me."
Someone less accustomed to pure anger than he might not have noticed that the tinge in her voice was not anger at all but desire, made savage and desperate after years of neglect.
"I waited for you for so long. Do you know how hard it was, just after you left, assuming that you would change your mind and come right back to me? As a teenager, saving my first kiss for someone who wasn't even there? Watching all of our classmates pair up and get married and have families, knowing that I would rot in this house by myself until you came back?"
"I-I...I didn't know-"
"Why?" she interrupted. "Why did you wait this long to see me?"
"Because I'm not good enough for you," the words spilled, sounding obvious to him, though her face was puzzled. "You're Martha May Whovier. You should have...well, you should have someone like-" He cursed himself for uttering this blasphemous statement! "-like the mayor. Someone rich and sophisticated and...clean-shaven." He scoffed. "Not a crass monster who lives next to a dump and has nothing to offer you except-"
"Except?" she echoed, hanging on his every word.
"-except probably more love than all the Who men put together could drum up," he said dismissively with a wave of his hand. "But you deserve more than that." After a pause in which she continued to look puzzled, he attempted to explain, "That's why I waited till now."
She tilted her head.
"Well, I'm important now!" he exclaimed, sitting up straight and tall and towering even more dramatically over her. "I've won an award! I'm a winner! Such a winner that there was a whole town full of losers! I figured if there was ever a time you would want me, it was now."
Oops, "want" was the word he used to himself, he hadn't exactly meant to say it to her. "Want" conveyed more than "accept" or even "love". "Want" had a darker side, a carnal side, and he didn't want to frighten her away when he had just got her back.
"I've always wanted you," and the shadowed room and his fur saved him from her eyes registering the blush that spread across his cheeks.
He couldn't remember the last time he had blushed.
"And, if anything, I'm not worthy of you," she continued, the heated moment temporarily broken. "But if I had known that was what it would take, I would have nominated you for Holiday Cheermeister decades ago."
"In case you ever doubt how much I love you," he joked dryly, "just remember that I actually came down to this pathetic Christmas celebration for you."
"You don't like Christmas celebrations?" Her eyes were wide.
"Of course, not. I hate Christmas."
"You can't hate Christmas!"
Um, yes. Yes, he could.
"Why?" she asked, and she looked so concerned that he felt somewhat scared. Hadn't she said Christmas was her "favorite time of year"? Yeah, way to go, he was an idiot.
"I-it's, that is, I sometimes think it's..." He thought about it for a moment. What was the word that described his hatred the best? Not even "noisy"...he liked noise, he made plenty of it himself. And feasts, well, he might prefer glass bottles to Who Pudding, but there was nothing inherently grating about eating. No, it was... "...it's cheap," he finally concluded. "It's all about presents. All of it. And I tried, I tried to be a part of it because I wanted you to think I was normal. So, I made you that angel. But really, all the consumerism, all the flash, it means nothing. It's an empty, meaningless holiday."
"But it's not about presents! It's about-"
She stood, walked to her tree, and removed an ornament. It didn't fit in with the others, really. In place of gold and glitz was rough wood, straw, and cloth. She placed it in his cupped hands, and he stared at the little baby face that smiled up at him.
"Oh, yeah. I didn't think about Him." He paused for a good long while. "I remember making one of these in class. I don't know what happened to mine. ...I think that was the only time anyone talked about Him. The Baby in the manger with the star and the angels."
She smiled softly.
"Don't feel bad. It's easy to forget what all the decorations and festivities are really about."
"All this fuss?" He gestured vaguely towards the window and all the Christmas-ness he knew dwelt past it. "For this little Guy?"
"Well, He's an important little Guy."
He chuckled lightly and touched the Baby's tiny face with the tip of one green finger.
"Yeah. Pretty important." Then his hand went to his chest, and he grimaced. "Ow."
"What? What is it?" she asked, concern in her eyes.
"This, uh, happens. Sometimes. But I can usually take the size off again. OW."
"Off of...what?" She placed her own hand where his had been and felt his heartbeat thundering against it. "Your heart?"
"It got broken, Martha. And everything is a lot easier if it stays that way. Sometimes I...slip up, and it grows. But this time is - OW. My gosh, Martha, you and that Baby seem determined to give me congestive heart failure." He glanced at the glittering star on the top of her tree. "I'm not even sure I mind though."
He propped the ornament on the pink coffee table in front of them.
"And what about you?" he asked. "Why did you never come to see me?"
He knew why before he asked.
Well, I'm sorry to disappoint you, Martha, baby, but the 'G' train has left the station!
Because he had left and disappointed her.
"I-I can't climb Mt. Crumpit."
"Cindy Lou Who climbed Mt. Crumpit!"
She narrowed her eyes.
"Can you honestly picture me climbing it?"
Okay, prissy, perfect, can't-break-a-nail Martha May struggling up the tallest mountain in Whoville...
"Besides, I..." She scooted closer until she was once again pressed against his side.
He put his arm around her. Suddenly, they were a little, old married couple snuggling together on the sofa. When had that happened?
"...I wasn't sure what you wanted of me. You left me."
"I didn't want to."
In the pause that followed, he swore he could actually feel the passion buzzing on her skin before she spoke.
"I should have made you stay."
But he practically jumped at the amount of passion behind her words.
"If I could go back, if I had a second chance, you never would have gotten away from me."
She kissed him before anything else could be said, a searing, dire kiss that attempted to wash away the years of abandonment and pain both had felt. When it broke, the fire in her eyes was burning bright, brighter than any of those Who men ever could have been able to handle, and he brought their lips together again, knowing that words and explanations and apologies were not his strong suit but that this might be.
When he woke the next morning, light was streaming in from the window behind him, Martha was curled against his chest, and somehow, he had managed to not fall off the slick sofa.
"Merry Christmas, Martha May."