Just something nice
For all my friends and readers.
By Inyx, who waited till the last minute again (but finished on time).

Note: My Valentine's special, written and sent to all my lovely friends on Valentine

"Roses are red, violets are blue," he began, reading the card to himself. It was a pretty card, a red heart with a white frilled edge of flower patterns. He'd made it himself, cutting at paper and using glitter until it was well past midnight. He'd made little glittery stars and spiders all around the edges of the red. His fingers hurt in the effort. Madame Octa had almost bitten him when he'd fed her because of the cramps in his joints. Evra hadn't helped at all, of course. He'd spent all night snoring, safe and knowing that he had plans on Valentines Day. Well, if you could call washing your snake 'plans'.


Darren crossed it out and tried again. "Your- your eyes are like beautiful gems, that glitter in the moon-" The giggling cut him off. He threw a glare over his shoulder. Evra sat in his hammock, gently swinging it back and forth. His snake was draped over his shoulders and he stroked her gently.

"You don't have to rhyme," the snakeboy said helpfully. "You can just say something nice." He leaned back, plucking at some loose scales. Evra had been a bit shocked when he'd found out who Darren's card was for, but had accepted it. After all, when you live at the Cirque du Freak, there are stranger things than having a crush on Larten Crepsley. Even though the man was moody, old and could be a tad frightening.

Darren sighed. "Like what? 'Oh, Mister Crepsley, I don't hate you too much' or 'your scar looks very handsome'." He sighed and played with a piece of scrap paper. "It's no use, Evra. I can't do this mushy stuff. I should just forget about it."

But Evra, who wasn't about to let Darren miss his chance and share a tent with a boy moaning 'if only' for the next three weeks, jumped up and stood in front of Darren, hands on his hips and snake around his shoulders. He'd seen the women who helped with the driving and chores take this stance when they were about to tell someone off for doing something stupid.

"Now you listen to me," he began, trying to take on that stern tone he'd hear them use, "you are going to go over there and tell him how you feel, or- or-" Evra frowned, trying to think up something particularly horrible. "Or I'll tell everyone about that time I caught you practicing kissing with your pillow." He grinned at the dark shade of red his friend turned and went to put his snake away.

Darren flushed and stared at his card. He knew Evra was probably joking, but he didn't ever want to be reminded of that incident again. He smirked as Evra turned around, pulling the pillow he was sitting on away from under him. "Hey Evra?" The snakeboy looked back. He grinned hurled the pillow at his friends head, careful not to use too much strength. "Here's what I think of your pillow-story!"

Evra gasped as the pillow bounced off his chest and onto the floor. "You didn't!" Darren just grinned at him. The snakeboy tackled him to the ground, laughing at the undignified yelp. They wrestled a bit, poking and prodding and trying to roll each other over. Darren got the upper hand with ease, his vampire strength giving him a hand. He rolled on his back, sprawled out on the floor next to Evra. The snakeboy gasped for breathes, giggling. He used his webbed toe to poke at Darren's leg. " I know what you could write on your card," he said, a wicked grin on his face.

Darren looked up. "What?"

"You look very good in red, but you'd look better without anything at all," Evra sang out and rolled out of the way as Darren tried to smack him. He giggled at the flush on his friend's cheeks. "Well, it's what you want to say, isn't it? You're a teenager." As Darren turned a deeper shade of red Evra rolled to his stomach and played with a string of paper hearts. He smiled as his snake lazily slithered down one of the poles his hammock was tied to and crawled over to him. "We'll get you some nice warm water soon, hmm?" he muttered and kissed her on top of the head. The snake's tongue flicked through the air. "Soft sponges, too."

Darren sighed and stared at his friend. Evra didn't celebrate Valentines Day at all. He was just going to wash his snake and do chores. What made him think this was a good idea, anyway? He was pretty sure Mister Crepsley didn't celebrate Valentines Day. He probably thought it was nonsense. Just stupid people giving away stupid cards to other stupid people. Darren huffed. Well, he had his stupid card, and he was going to give it to his stupid person even if it killed him.

Larten Crepsley pushed open his coffin, just like every other night. The sun had set and it was time to get up and tutor his assistant again. He rehearsed the subjects he wanted to cover in his mind as he dressed. A scratch at he scar on his face, a hand through the tuff of hair and he pushed open the door of his van-

-To find one Darren Shan standing in front of it, looking particularly nervous and twitchy. He frowned. "What did you break?" The boy shook his head, glaring.

"That's the first thing you think of?" he asked, offended. The vampire gave an annoyed growl and pushed past his assistant. First food and drink, then he'd deal with another round of accusing words, trembling lips and hateful eyes full of tears. Darren hurried after him, trying to get his attention. At the tug at his cape he swirled around.

"Here!" a flash of red and white, and something sparkly. Darren didn't wait for him to look at whatever it was and stomped off. He looked down, surprised to see a heart shaped card in his hands.

The card had little glittery stars and spiders dancing around the edges, and something written in the middle. He frowned and stared at the words, wondering what they could possibly say. Was it some kind of joke, the words saying something hateful, or mean? Once again the boy had found a way to completely throw him off.

He growled and stuffed the card into his pocket, using his mental connection to find Hibernius.

Evra smiled and pressed his cheek against his clean and springtime fresh snake. She had adored the attention he had so enjoyed giving her. His snake looked up at him, coiling once more around his arm. He was just about to tell her how nice she looked when Darren burst back into the tent, crying. He quickly stood up, untangling himself from his snake with a whispered apology and hurrying over to the boy. "Darren!"

The boy had buried himself in his hammock, arms wrapped around his head. He was crying, his body shaking with sobs he tried to keep quiet. Evra pulled his friend up, awkwardly sitting next to him. Darren stared at him a moment, in which he gave a reassuring smile before the half-vampire broke down in sobs again. He patted Darren's back, not knowing what else to do. When the boy had calmed down to some extend, he leaned back, a questioning look on his face. Darren shrugged and turned away.

"I don't want to talk about it now."

Evra frowned, pulling his friend back. "He didn't hurt you, did he?" Darren shook his head to say 'no' and sniffed.

"Can we just go to sleep?" Darren croaked. At Evra's worried look he added: "We'll talk in the morning." The snakeboy nodded and went back to his bed, casting a worried glance at Darren every once in a while.

A hand shook him awake, a voice whispered his name.


He batted at the hand, hiding his face beneath the blanket. It was much too early to get up, Evra must be confused. He remembered staring at the tent pole long after the snakeboy had gone to sleep. He felt as though he'd only been asleep for a few minutes; surely it wasn't time to get up yet. "Go 'way, 'vra."

The voice called again and it was clearer now. It wasn't Evra's voice. It belonged to someone else, someone he knew. Darren rubbed his eyes and sat up, blinking away the last mist of sleep clouding his mind. He stared at the figure in front of him, standing over him. Mister Crepsley.

"What do you want?" he hissed, remembering the growl and the accusing words and the cold voice. Mister Crepsley looked like he was sorry, though. He wanted to say something else, perhaps apologise, but he didn't get the chance. Lips pressed against his. Darren started but closed his eyes, wrapping his arms around the vampire's neck. He silently thanked his pillow for the practice and opened his mouth a bit. Mister Crepsley pulled him close, stroking his back.

"I'm sorry," the man whispered, placing his forehead against Darren's. "The card is beautiful." He embraced the boy, holding on to him as he stood up, letting Darren wrap his legs around his waist. He walked away, not noticing the card in question drifting to the floor. Darren sighed and pushed his face into the vampire's neck, trying not to cry again.

Evra blinked and buried his face closer against his snake. He smiled at the smacking sound of another kiss and the rustling of the tent flaps. His eyes caught a bit of glitter shining in the dim light and he picked up the card. He smiled at Darren's handwriting. "It doesn't have to rhyme," he grinned, repeating his words from that afternoon. "Just something nice."

'Like you.