Here is what you asked Santa for: upthedownslide & thallium81's entry to wtvoc & jandco's A Very Cullen Christmas Collaboration Challenge. Twilight isn't ours.

Tis Better to Receive

Pop songs about Santa Claus tinkled from the radio with aggressive cheer and an abundance of tambourines. I remember when Christmas music was sacred. Hymns in praise of Jesus and the Holy Virgin, back when there was a message and a purpose. Now wealthy long-haired children, who dress like street urchins in the name of fashion, assault my ears with generic, psychedelic tunes made to sell for ninety-nine cents on seven inches of vinyl in a garishly-colored paper wrapper.

I knew for a fact that Emmett had purchased one for each of us. Oh, the creativity. It burns.

The fire crackled invitingly, lulling me to a dulled state as I systematically shut off all the nonessential functions of my brain, focusing only on the slow rising and falling of my chest. It was as close to sleep as I could come in this immortal shell. The scent of the wood flavored the air and diffused the scent of the humans in the cabin five hundred yards away. Small miracles.

Unfortunately, it couldn't muffle their voices.

Or the never ending barrage of shallow, sex-driven thoughts strewn shamelessly about.

The family of five bickered over whether to watch a rerun of last year's The Monkees Christmas Show or a ten month old episode of Batman. I wanted to run over there and kick their television until their beloved characters could no longer sing and dance and biff and pow. I'd then follow the whole celebration with a good old-fashioned massacre. Snap their necks just for having such ridiculously bad taste. Not only would I feel better, but I'd be helping the gene pool.

What a saint I am.

The mother kept yelling that they were supposed to be enjoying Christmas together like a real family, screaming because she felt angry at herself for trying to fit into this ideal that women didn't have to believe in anymore. The father was grumbling to himself about how much he had shelled out for the cabin, and all the while he longed for another stolen grope with his secretary back home. The oldest boy sat in front of the fire, burning the sticky remnant of a marshmallow off the poker and daydreaming about the pouting mouths, ample cleavage and peeks of pink shimmering sex that awaited him in the magazines stashed under his mattress. Nothing was sacred anymore; the entire point of the holiday was completely lost on these people. After all, the mother only wanted a brightly smiling Christmas photo, complete with exotic mountainous backdrop, to show up her bitch of a sister-in-law.

Just as I was imagining the taste of the twelve year old's blood rolling down my throat, Jasper interrupted my gruesome fantasy. Man, will you git in the fuckin' spirit already.

Carlisle had taken the holidays off for once because it was his fiftieth Christmas with me, excluding my spell of independence, and he wanted to celebrate banishing his loneliness. Also, Esme had been wheedling for a getaway. And Rose had been hinting at her craving for caribou. And Emmett had been asking for a grizzly for Christmas. And Alice had been fretting over Jasper and the crowds of frantic shoppers on the sidewalks that kept bumping into him with sweat dripping down their backs after standing in overheated shops with their coats on. And Jasper had been... cranky.

Apparently Canada was supposed to be stimulating for all of us, but what part of better-than-average cuisine and sensational shopping was worth living for? They all yearned for food; I yearned for anything else.

Yes, Carlisle had gotten me to tag along by saying the trip was for me, but everyone in the family was too high-spirited to remember to lie. I had managed to avoid family holidays ever since the Thanksgiving in Denali when Tanya thought a flock of noisy, foul-smelling turkeys would be a fun appetizer before heading out to hunt. During that momentous trip she also climbed into the shower with me, tried to fellate me, and Kennedy was shot. Lucky Jack.

I sighed and closed Le Lys dans la Vallée on my finger to keep my place and let my eyes wander through the room. Alice and Esme were putting the finishing touches on the tree that Emmett had dragged me out to uproot earlier. Alice had her dark Mia Farrow look with Caesar curls around her face and eight pounds of eyeliner. Her skirt was so short that when she reached up to hang ornaments, I could see her pink bloomers. Jasper didn't notice me looking because he was too busy thinking about her thighs. I admit that sometimes I let myself listen to Jasper while he thought about Alice. He was less crude than Emmett, and God knows I didn't invite that kind of insight about Esme. I followed his fantasy for a while with my eyes watching the same peeking flesh that he was watching. It was relatively tame, mostly about the way her skin feels under his fingers.

I heard Rose and Emmett pull up in the Coupe De Ville. First, the sound of chained tires crunched through packed snow on the driveway, and then the determined clack of wood sounded as Rosalie's boot heels met the shoveled stretch of asphalt. I braced myself for her entrance as she stormed up the porch.

"Carlisle! I take it back. I don't want him!" Her blond hair was piled up in gravity-defying waves. I heard the cans of Aqua-Net clanging together in the paper sack she carried. God forbid she let herself go in the wilderness. Her white patent boots hugged her calves and she shed her silver fox to reveal a blinding black and white check patterned dress. When the coat dropped to the floor, her chunky ebony and ivory bangles clanked together, and I grinded my teeth at her never-ending extravagance. She heard my masticulation and glared at me, the mile-long false eyelashes and white lip-gloss making her face truly frightening. I wondered for the millionth time how Emmett could stand kissing her. Et cetera.

Carlisle descended the stairs slowly, book in hand. His thoughts told me he was wary of the way Rose had beckoned him. All eyes were on her, framed in the blackness of the open door, a brown paper bag and stunning fur at her feet, when Emmett bounded in behind her and squeezed her like a python. Her feet kicked up into the air, flashing the entire room a glimpse of her glistening vagina. Lovely. In the glare of the antler-chandelier above the door, trace lines of venom shimmered in streaks down the inside of her thighs. Emmett laughed. Rose raged and kicked. Esme looked away. The rest of us stared.

I quickly pieced together the events of the past hour that had set Rose into her mood. Apparently, on their trip to buy replacement bulbs for the burnt out lights on the tree, Emmett had tackled Rose and stolen her underwear. A barter of cunnilingus for fellatio followed in the back of the Cadillac, and then Emmett failed to restore the pilfered article of clothing to its owner. He amused himself by tossing the undergarment out the window when she kept grabbing for it while he was driving. She was thoroughly put-out because she had purchased the silk drawers in Paris on their most recent honeymoon, and she quite liked them.

They scuffled in the doorway for half a minute before Carlisle sensed Esme's distress and broke his gaze away from Rose's overly landscaped bush. He cleared his throat in his best authoritative manner, and Emmett snapped to his senses and placed his wife on her feet.

"I think we had better get those lights on the tree, Emmett. It's getting late."

Jasper snickered at Emmett's chagrin, and Alice smacked his shoulder as she draped herself across his lap.

Carlisle held his hand out to Emmett, who reached into his pocket and produced a package of small green and red colored bulbs. Rose stampeded up the stairs.

Half an hour later, Carlisle had finished removing each bulb from the string of lights and replacing it with a new one until he found the burnt-out culprit that caused the whole tree to stay dark. He screwed the last light back into its little socket, and Esme gasped in delight when the tree cast a soft glow over the room. Alice hit the main light switch in a flash, and the tree alone shone brilliantly, sending garish red and green patterns across our inhuman white faces.

I sighed into my Balzac and searched for Rose in my head. Carlisle had taken as long as possible on the lights to give her time to change, knowing full well that a change of coulotte would mean a full change of ensemble. Rose executed an extravagant costume change at least three times a day. I saw her in the mirror that she faced and knew better than to be relieved that she looked ready, having learned long ago that I am no judge of that. Alice looked to the staircase then, and I caught the movement and felt relief wash over me. Thank God. Rose would descend and we could get on with this nightmare.

Alice bounced to the tree like a little pink elf and began digging through the piles of brightly wrapped boxes. She and I already knew what everyone was getting, so she got her kicks by conducting the proceedings on Christmas Eve.

"Hey Edward, put your ball sack down and get over here."

I looked up at my brother. "Balzac. It's Balzac, Emmett."

"Yeah. I know." He smiled at Rosalie who entered clad in a low-cut red velvet dress trimmed in white fur at the hem just below her ass. Her white boots had been traded for red heels that buckled over her ankles. White snowflakes climbed up the back seams of her silk stockings. Her hair was piled impossibly higher than before with a white fur bandeau draped thickly just above her brow. The eyelashes were still in place, but her lips had changed from afternoon pale to evening dark in a red that matched her dress and reminded me of antelope's blood. How I longed for Africa.

Esme turned up the volume on the Hi-Fi. It was nearing midnight, so the music had shifted from poppy and enthusiastic to somber and reverent. Dean Martin's rendition of Silent Night eased into Bing Crosby's Adeste Fideles. I willed myself to relax and focus on my family. Christmas meant so much to all of them.

Alice handed me a shirt box wrapped in a matte green paper with a red bow.

"You know I don't like fabric on my throat."

"Edward!" Esme scolded. I had already broken her caveat. She insisted I open the boxes before commenting on the contents. "We want to see it." I tore the paper carelessly and thumbed the flimsy lid off of the box. A vibrant marigold cashmere momentarily blinded me. I pulled the turtleneck up by its shoulder seams to display to the room.

"Oh, it's lovely," she gushed. "It will match your eyes." I frowned at her incredulously.

Jasper laughed. Alice clapped her hands together and continued piling gifts at everyone's feet.

I sighed and dropped it back into the box.

"You're going to wear it." Rose insisted. It was from her.

"I'm definitely not."

"You've been dressing like James Dean for a decade. Let it go. He's dead."

Alice paused in handing me another box. "You need to find a new icon of brooding masculinity already. Like Steve McQueen, maybe."

Esme murmured her agreement, "Steve McQueen is lovely." She missed Carlisle's furrowed brow, but I did not.

"Ooh and he wears turtlenecks!" Alice agreed.

Jasper was in full-blown hysterics by this point, and I lashed out at him. "At least I haven't been dressing like an extra from Gunsmoke for the last five years."

"Boys!" Carlisle's voice cut through before Jasper could retort. "Be civil. Edward, stop being ungrateful."

I dropped my eyes to my lap and mumbled an apology to Jasper and Rose for my rudeness, and I gave weak smiles as each of my family unwrapped a box. Midnight chimed, and I allowed myself to be swept up into the haunting melody of Ave Maria coming over the radio. I hummed along lightly, and the music warmed me. Jasper looked over when he felt my mood shift, and I nodded a real apology to him. He mimed shooting me with an imaginary pistol, and Esme smiled at our brotherly exchange.

Alice bounced in front of me with her gift. I took the box from her excited fingers and saw the contents in her mind's eye.

"I don't need shoes, Alice."

She glared at me for not bothering to open the box. "Yes, you do. You've been wearing the same pair everyday for almost three years." She took the box back from me and peeled it open to reveal a pair of faun-colored suede winklepickers with Cuban heels. Had she even met me?

I looked down at my feet and shrugged. "I like mine. They go with everything."

"They won't go with your new sweater." Emmett's contribution, and resulting smirk, earned him a nudge from Rosalie's elbow.

Before the conversation could escalate into a full-blown fight over the garishly mod new wardrobe my siblings were trying to push onto me, Carlisle interrupted. "You know, Edward, you're really lucky a pair of shoes will last you that long." I stared at him, trying to piece the point of his interruption together before he started lecturing. It turned out to be more of a story than a lecture, so I settled back and silently listened.

"When I was younger and starting to mingle with humans, one of the biggest obstacles I faced was that the livestock all panicked in my presence. For the sake of discretion, horses would have been my mode of transportation, but they reared and whinnied and shied from me."

He must have sensed Rosalie's internal eye-roll as she bit her tongue, protesting story time. Ever since Alice and Jasper joined our family, Carlisle had been prone to pontification. He sought to help with Jasper's constant struggle by spinning stories with a moral edge. Lately he had even been drawing Jasper into the stories, creating a dialectic that enthralled Alice, amused Emmett, and tried Rosalie's patience.

"Jasper, you must have had quite a problem with livestock as well."

Jasper nodded, "Sure did." Alice took his hand and squeezed it. She grew excited every time he opened up about his long and illustrious past. A rarity no more. "Cattle'ld stampede if I passed by without taking care to walk downwind from 'em."

"Ah yes. I do remember that." Carlisle agreed, each of them lost to his own memories. "And hogs were loosed on the streets before dawn each morning to gobble up the previous day's refuse." Carlisle smiled fondly to himself. "Well, at least under the cover of darkness, I could make a snack of one or two of them without the butcher realizing they'd been lost. I left the carcasses at the almshouses for their stews, since there was no way to dispose of them in the city."

"Sounds tasty, but..." I smirked when I read the question formulating in Emmett's mind. "What does that have to do with shoes?" Rose elbowed him again, and he added sincerely, holding his chin in his hand, "Not that it isn't a fascinating story."

Carlisle smiled patiently. "The point is, I had to walk everywhere. You all have the luxury of automobiles. I wore out a pair of shoes once a month or more."

"Yup," Jasper agreed. "I didn't try so hard. Didn't hafta. If anyone saw me runnin', they usually wouldn't be around to spread the gossip about it." He cleared his throat, glossing over the nastier bits of his past. "But all that runnin' wore out a pair of boots real fast."

"So, what you're saying is that Edward should shut up and accept the pair of shoes and stop being an ungrateful brat?" Nice, Rosalie.

"Not in so many words, but yes."

Et tu, Carlisle?

I bristled at Rose, "Do you realize how ridiculous the trends are? How looking back at photos from these fads is going to make you cringe in 1980?"

"Edward, do you realize what a damn downer you are?" Emmett threw a protective arm around his wife and scowled at me.

"Maybe not, but I know you looked a hell of a lot smarter during the Depression."

"Edward..." Carlisle growled as best he could through gritted teeth.

I stood and bowed my head slightly to each member of my family in turn. "Emmett, I'm sorry; Rosalie, you look lovely; Alice, I love my new shoes; Esme, you were wonderful, thank you. Jasper...much obliged. I'm sorry, Carlisle. Good evening everyone."

"Edward, please stay. It's so rare we're all together like this," Esme pleaded, the eternal mother figure.

As opposed to every day of our lives?

I shook my hair out and kissed her forehead, the way a good son would. Ignoring their mental cheers and jeers, I crossed the room toward the carpet-lined stairs. I counted my steps to silence my head and shut my door softly behind me. I tossed a few logs into the fireplace and settled down on the hearth. I used my bare hand to poke the embers back to life. The flames licked around my arm, barely tickling the skin.

The fire and I were the same. Artificial life sustained only through the destruction of other things.

I stared into the flames until I felt my eyes glaze over, a thin coating of venom forming a barrier between the dry heat and the delicate membrane, relatively speaking.

Occasionally Emmett's boisterous laugh tried to wrench me from my empty reverie, but if I simply kept my stare steady on the flames, I could block them out. I could block out the joy and fun and love that wanted to include me but couldn't. I was the outsider. I would always be the brother to be teased and the son to be pitied while each of them was also a lover to be cherished.

The clock in the study chimed three times. Three in the morning. I'd been staring at the orange glow for over two and a half hours. Two and a half hours I'd managed to keep the voices out and all of the bile in.

What a rousing success it had been.

Heaving myself off the ground, I tossed my nylon track jacket on to keep the snow out before throwing it off again and bounding silently down the stairs. Fuck the snow, let it come in. The wet cold would feel no different than the fire I had been leaning into.

I needed to run; I needed to move and shake this coma from my limbs. I made it to the front door before the voices started in again. It was Esme, her cool musical tone stalled me in my tracks. I sank down to the floor, my wrists around my ankles and listened to the nightly ritual I'd come to rely upon.

Esme's voice was a low melody playing in the background of Carlisle's senses. He wasn't listening to her words. Instead he concentrated on her actions. Her hands slid over his neck as her fingers reached for his buttons. She deftly opened the shirt and pushed it off his shoulders before sliding to her knees at his feet.

Her advances always looked like praying.

For nearly half a century I had tried to block this out. Ignore, distract, avoid. But for nearly half a century I had peeks at her breasts through his eyes, tasted his venom on her tongue, and experienced the power of their connection through their actions. In recent years, glimpses turned into glances, accidental became intentional, shame superseded by daring. I tightened my hands even further around my ankles and dug my nails into the flesh, leaving crescent shaped indents.

When his trousers were loosed and his erection was released, Carlisle fell back onto their bed to give himself more fully to the sensation. She was still murmuring some incantation of seduction, and he was still concentrating more on the vibration of her voice than on her words. He concentrated on the buzz of his skin beneath her touch. He concentrated on the soft wetness of her tongue dragging over his frenulum, meatus, and glans. Her vocal vibrations invigorated his virility, and I realized that she was singing some old romantic tune, and when her mouth was full she simply hummed the melody against his flesh.

Her movements were languid, feline, avaricious and intoxicating. Carlisle's focus was absolute, and the emotion she coaxed from him with her presence and her touch and her song and her tongue was a high that any addict would seek the globe to find. Her lips moved up and down. Over and around. Under, across, higher, lower, faster, slower. Her tongue danced magically to the ceaseless tune, and the sensation of him against the back of her throat sent shivers through us both.

Carlisle threw his fingers to her head and threaded them through her hair and held her humming lips in place and pulled her face to match the pace of the rhythm he needed to find the release that exploded with wonderful fury.

Wonderful, beautiful fury.

I saw white flashes against my closed lids and swallowed thickly. My chest heaved, but it took several moments before my senses could focus and allow me to hear my own panting. I tossed my head to one side in a futile, half-hearted attempt to shake away the truth of what I had just shared with the people I called my parents. I concentrated on the sound of my breathing. Unnecessary. Pointless. Singular.

One single set of lungs was all I could hear when I kept my mind in the same room as my body. Single. Alone. Lonely. Pointless. Unnecessary.

I preferred to let my mind wander at will as I tossed my head against the back of the wall. The dull thud was amplified by the empty room. Before anyone could come to check on the noise, I got to my knees and took the stairs one by one, shame weighing me down. I found my room nestled at the crook of the hallway and turned the glass knob, pressing silently against the door as I let myself inside. I shut it behind me with a whisper and sighed to myself, shame and curiosity heavy on my conscience.

After stripping free of my denim and leather, I lay in front of the fire, with only my cotton briefs and undershirt keeping me clothed. The fleshy parts of my backside molded themselves around the jagged clay bricks.

I was as far away from the others as possible, but not nearly far enough. Not only did I have to endure the sounds and feel the faint reverberations of their motions along the wooden floorboards and through the plastered walls, I had them inside my mind; their bodies playing in front of me as if I were the one to commit the most intimate of acts. I was no longer an unwilling observer, but a silent participant.

My mind drifted downstairs to Jasper, his infatuation seamlessly filling my senses, overwhelming me with things I did not need. I lay still, watching him watch her, listening to the comfortable silence they shared. They were on the ground, their foreheads pressed together as they stared into one another's eyes, nothing but love and respect filling their thoughts. Their silence was all encompassing until his fingers twitched where they met her skin. Her thoughts became my thoughts. His movements became my movements. I was the absent player in their game for two.

My hand moved involuntarily in time with Jasper's, ghosting up Alice's leg, her cool skin taut between his fingers, her gentle curls caught between my nails. They didn't speak to each other, each one already knowing what the other would do, what the other was feeling. He shifted her on top of him until he was sitting on the floor beneath her, our hands twisting around her ankles, our nails dragging along the tops of her feet. She shook gently as she used her bare foot to push us backwards leaving him prone against the floor, his shirt pushed up his chest. I followed suit moving my hand up my chest, the tail of my shirt resting just above my breastbone.

Jasper moved our hands up her shins, twisting around her knees, creeping up the inside of her thighs. He pulled down the bit of fluorescent pink between her legs before sitting up on his knees, pulling her ankle to his neck, dragging her closer to us. We kissed every scrap of flesh until he felt her skin relax against him, felt her mentally give herself over to him, blissfully unaware that I was riding the coattails of their ecstasy. My voyeurism was disgusting, but mostly unavoidable.

Alice closed her eyes, shutting off one sense to heighten the others. She inhaled deeply, reveling in the masculine scent being thrown by our lover. We pinned him with our knees, holding his shoulders down as our hips moved back and forth over his chest. I rocked back and forth against the baked clay, craving physical friction and not just a stolen mental projection. I resigned myself to the stolen intimacy, settling in for the night before being ripped apart by a ground-shattering growl.


Emmett and his wife were in the snow, wet to their waists in frozen water as they circled the beast, her present to him, just what he'd asked for.

"All for you," she told him, crooning a purr as she backed against a tree leaving the kill to her husband. His eyes glowed dark like embers as we found Rosalie. She nodded her approval, and Emmett sprang up, his ankles digging in behind the shoulders of the grizzly as he buried his face in its fur ripping apart sinew and bone. Emmett's teeth broke through the hide, and we took greedy pulls of the bear's lifeblood as its heart pumped the salty sweetness into our mouth. Towards the end, it buckled beneath us, its knees punching into the snow as we sank, spraying the sticky blood into our mouths in a hot rhythmic flow. His face was covered in blood, dripping down his massive chest, and the warm liquid steamed when it met the cold air. We took a break from the frenzy to find our wife, his life.

Rosalie writhed against the tree behind her, sending a frenzy of another kind ripping through our body. Knowing what we wanted, she leaped from the tree and shoved Emmett back, sending him flying across the clearing, leaving her straddling the bear. Her legs, her arms, became mine. Her movements were my movements, her desires became my own. Rosalie sank our teeth deep in the bear's flesh, a near identical move to Emmett's, but with more grace and ease, a gentle air. She lapped at the red sustenance, our tongue plunging into the grated tears setting a red glow beyond the painted outline of our lips. We looked through our lashes, her eyes meeting Emmett's. She sat up, arching her back, pushing her hips against the bear's spine, sending a wave of sensation from our insides out.

Emmett's resistance grew weak, and I felt his wanton desires inside of myself as we jumped the distance and tackled Rosalie to the ground and ran our tongue over her stained lips. Every attempt to fill the hunger led to a deeper, stronger ache that would not be sated. Emmett pinned her to the exsanguinated carcass, pushing her further and further into the damp fur, shoving it deeper and deeper into the snow, our knees holding her in place. She growled underneath us, fighting to sit up, to meet his lips. We held her wrists and teased our tongue against her mouth. She groaned and twirled beneath us, not quite strong enough to push us off. He dragged his teeth against her throat, nipping at her iced flesh. Rosalie whispered "Please" in our ear, her tongue tickling the ridge. He lost his mind and we bit, plunging our teeth past skin. The still blood she had just consumed pooled up at the tear, and she tasted electric as she bled for him and him alone. I was the parasite.

I picked my head up and slammed it back against the brick, and it did nothing but crack the stone. I wanted unconsciousness. I wanted to stem the voices. I wanted to give them the privacy they didn't know I invaded. They deserved so much better than me.

I threw myself off the ground and launched toward the bookshelf, seeking solace between the leather bound pages. I grabbed the thickest book off the bottom shelf and ripped the cover off, losing myself to aerobic cell cycles. The wonders of biology were enough to quell the thoughts until I realized I could no longer hear them and I instinctively started listening for them, the silence foreign to me.

I found Alice where I left her, pulsating against the cabin floor, our back arching as Jasper used his mind to intensify his touch. His fingers were strong, nimble in all the right places. We buckled and bent, an unnatural flush coming over her skin. She picked up her husband, her hands gripping below his backside as we pulled him towards us and made for the shower. She wanted to feel warm. No, not warm, she wanted to feel hot. She wanted to feel her skin boil and bake under the water. She wanted the heat because it was the closest to feeling human she imagined we could be, and I believed her.

She was graceful in using her foot to turn on the water as she slid her husband onto the sink, pressing her stomach into his, resting her forehead on his chin. He bent down and kissed our head, smoothing her curls around her cheeks. Alice had taught herself to quiet her head better than I had; she didn't look to the future, she enjoyed the surprise. I looked away before I completely robbed them both of their dignity. Alice must have known I did this, and that repulsed me beyond belief. We didn't talk about it, but I saw the pity in her eyes. I turned my attentions somewhere less conspicuous, somewhere less revolting only to find that there was none to be found.

I watched the woman I call mother give herself over to the man I call father. I watched my sister pledge eternal love to her husband, all the while kissing his chest, stroking his back. I watched my brother attack his wife and struggle to fill himself with enough of her. I watched the pushing and pulling, the back and forth, the ins and outs. They were inside each other now, not only physically. There was no reason anymore, just the need to get closer, to be closer.

The mashing of hips, the grinding of pelvises, the thrusting, the longing. It repeated over and over, a record restarting. Alice screamed, Emmett growled, Jasper whimpered, Rosalie grinned. It was rhythmic and disjointed at the same time. I felt the cold snow and the hot water at the same time, alternating waves over my flesh. Heaving my hips off the bricks, I pushed myself into my hand, stroking in time with the others. Towards the end, the movements became frantic, a fevered pumping driven by instinct instead of skill. It was unattractive and the most beautiful thing I'd ever seen. We came together, each in our own way, but only I came alone. Into my grip.

When I'd finished, I held my hand above the flames, the venom dripping off, dissolving before it hit the logs. A sickly sweet scented sizzle. I stared up at the ceiling, unable to watch my hand; the feeling alone was enough to disgust me.

I smashed my head back against the bricks, splitting the clay into smaller pieces. I realized that despite watching all of this, it did not change the fact that I was not privy to any of these things. Watching their love meant nothing to me. I longed to participate. To have someone who wanted me, who needed me for exactly what I was. Someone who would be contented enough to just have me and want nothing more.

All I wanted for Christmas was love, belonging, the thread of humanity that is sparked by the touch of a mate. Instead, the family pitched and gave me an orgasm.

Truly, tis better to give than to receive.