Roy heard Rian Martin yelp from the bedroom. It was muted, somewhat, coming from outside; but it was loud enough to be heard in their second floor apartment. Roy walked across the room to the patio doors. They were still open, Edward had not closed the sliding glass door before bounding outside like a five year old. Roy shivered, surveying the scene outside.
It had been snowing all day. Most of the city had ground to a halt and was just now, slowly, coming back online. Not that Edward or Roy had noticed any of this, curled together in their bed and sleeping through the worst of the blizzard. The downpour of snow had finally slackened to a soft, floating white - big, fat flakes that caught the light when they drifted through it.
The cold bothered Roy, he could not believe that Edward had not closed the door behind him. He stepped out onto the balcony, where Edward's bare footprints ended and the paw prints started. He must have taken the balcony railing at a jump, because half of the snow piled on the railing had been knocked completely off - and there was a canine-sized hole in the snowbank that had grown around the bushes.
Edward loved to run in the snow. He rolled around in it, jumping in snow drifts and barking enthusiastically. Roy rarely ever heard him bark - Edward did it when gleeful, and he rarely was that hyped up while in his wolf form.
Speaking of, he could see Edward from here. The werewolf was currently sitting in a snowbank, his tail wagging so hard that it was going in circles instead of just back and forth; his tawny fur almost white with all the snow he had been in. Roy could not quite figure out what he was doing until he saw a gloved hand shoving at Edward's chest and he realized that Edward was sitting on Rian in the snowbank. Roy laughed to himself, and then shivered again at the frigid air before retreating back into the warmth of the apartment.
It had only been a few weeks since Edward had "employed" Rian Martin. Roy had been suspect of Edward at first - what was he up to, picking up strays off of the street - but then he realized that Edward had been scouting for quite a while. They did need someone to run errands during the day when they slept. Rian was skilled enough to lift Edward's wallet without Edward realizing it, that meant the kid had almost a preternatural talent … and that meant that he was very, very useful.
He was definitely human, even if his fingers were very fast (and quite sticky). Having him around to do random chores and run errands and generally kept an eye on things freed them both up a lot more. Roy worked odd jobs at a few bars to bring in cash, and Edward did … whatever it was Edward did to bring in money. Underground poker tournaments, the occasional stint panhandling, requests for random ingredients (both natural and supernatural) by the witch who ran the new age antique shop … and of course his actual "job," which regularly put them all out and barely ever brought any money in. The one where he helped people who needed help against their own kind - vampires, werewolves, spirits and the like.
Roy still was not sure why Edward did it. He got that Edward seemed to find some kind of redemption in it - but he did not quite understand the why. Roy had his own sins to atone for, after all … but as far as he knew Edward did not have all the innocent civilian deaths on his conscience that Roy did. It was likely that Edward just genuinely liked helping people … and he hated the way that the other night breeds treated regular human beings.
Rian, however, was pretty smart. It did not take much to put two and two together when he was picking up coolers from the hospital for Roy. He had actually suspected them of illegally selling organs on the black market, which Roy found rather cute when Rian confronted them on it. Instead, Roy had showed Rian the real contents of the locked coolers - the blood bags that nourished him. Edward made it clear that he never intended to lie to Rian about their true natures - he just never bothered to explain them in the first place. To his credit, Rian did not freak out about finding that one of his employers was a vampire - he just said "cool" and asked if Edward was a vampire too.
Once he had an idea of what was going on, very little seemed to faze Rian. He would turn up in the evening, get a list of things to do from Edward, and then return at some point in the next day with the items needed or the errands list complete. Edward had started out paying him in cash, but then Roy noticed that Rian was always wearing the same clothes so, after much badgering, he got Edward to tail Rian for a day.
That was when they realized that Rian just slept wherever he would not freeze to death for the night. Roy and Edward both agreed that they had a couch and if he wanted it Rian was welcome to it. It was fair enough exchange for keeping their secret, and doing all this work for them.
Rian was proud, for a kid. He had been reluctant to take them up on the offer - but he had, especially during these extraordinarily cold nights when he likely would have frozen to death sleeping outside. Rian would not accept this as charity, and besides the errands he ran for them he had started helping Edward out on his jobs; recently assisting in putting a vengeful spirit to rest. Edward had a very good eye - Rian was cut out for this line of work.
Watching through the now-closed balcony doors, Roy witnessed Rian finally shoving Edward off of him. He staggered up out of the snowbank and started to pelt the werewolf with snowballs angrily. The boxes he had been carrying - one the soft cooler that carried Roy's lunch - scattered about the snowdrift. Roy sighed in amusement as Rian swore loudly at Edward, kicking snow at him and then chasing him halfway down the street. They were going to get the cops called at this rate, based on the sheer amount of noise the two of them were making. He should probably go fetch his blood bags before that happened.
But then, Rian skulked back up the street, collecting the scattered boxes and the soft cooler, still yelling over his shoulder occasionally. Edward, no longer chased, was rolling in the snow up the street. Roy sighed and rolled his eyes; and then went to let the now snow-covered Rian in.
Rian nearly dropped the boxes in his arms when the apartment door opened unexpectedly. He had balanced them against the door while fishing for the key that he had been given just a few days ago - but he also had pretty good reflexes and managed to not spill the boxes into the arms of Roy Mustang. Roy - a vampire, Rian could not get used to that thought being fact and not fiction - smiled warmly at him and Rian awkwardly shuffled inside. Roy leaned out the door behind him, looking both ways for Edward and when he did not see the werewolf Roy slammed the door behind Rian and locked it. "I see Ed got to you," Roy said dryly, as Rian but the snow-covered boxes down and attempted to brush the snow off of his jeans.
"He's psychotic," Rian said.
"I know," Roy murmured, clearly amused. He took the soft cooler from Rian, transporting its precious cargo to the refrigerator. Rian watched him go, curious - he had seen Roy drinking from the blood bags before but still, there was this disconnect. Where was the Hollywood vampire, with a cape and accent - or better, the devastatingly sexy and utterly ruthless movie vampires of recent? Roy was certainly very handsome, but he did not look a thing like the actors Rian had seen on television.
That was, if he really WAS a vampire. The only vampire-like thing he had seen Roy do was drink from the blood bags, and Rian knew that there were in fact people out there weird enough to do that without being blood-sucking creatures of the night. Of course there was Edward, who was currently four-legged and fuzzy and rolling around in the snow outside like a puppy who had never seen a snow drift before, but somehow Rian found a shape-shifter easier to swallow than a vampire.
With Roy putting away his blood bags in the kitchen, that left Rian to his own devices for a few minutes. He shed his snow-covered hat and coat; and then pulled from between the boxes a large, slightly-squished, garbage bag covered wreath. He unearthed it from the garbage bag, holding it up to judge its size, and then glanced at the bare wall opposite the television.
Roy returned to the living room with the emptied cooler, and then stopped in the doorway. "Rian … what the heck is that?"
"A wreath," Rian said, as if it was not plainly obvious.
"I can see that, it's huge." That it was, it was a good three feet in diameter. "What are you doing with it?"
"Well, you guys don't have a Christmas tree or nothin', so I figured I'd get something festive." Rian looked at Roy through the center of the wreath. "A Christmas wreath!"
Roy was clearly amused at the thought. "Where did you get that, it's enormous."
"Off a light pole," Rian said truthfully.
There was a sudden thud from the bedroom and Roy sighed. Rian looked in that direction in alarm, but Roy shook his head. "I think Edward just ran full speed into the closed balcony door," Roy muttered. "Hold that thought."
Rian shrugged to himself and plugged the wreath in, to see if the white lights tangled in its branches still worked. They did, the majority of the white lights lit and, after a moment of staying on solid they started to twinkle merrily. Rian smiled nostalgically as he looked at the wreath.
This situation was so bizarre. It seemed like a culmination of a million weird things in his life - and it might well be the next big adventure. He had never been sure why he hung around this town - the only thing that kept him here was the tourists, who were exceptionally easy targets for a sticky-fingered thief. It was certainly good fortune that he picked the right pocket, then. Edward and Roy did not give him charity, they gave him work - and work he would do, for food, for money and right now for shelter.
Maybe this was the universe's Christmas present to him, to make up for the sixteen shitty years prior to it.
It would not last. Nothing good ever did. At least he could enjoy it while it was here.
"Hey kid," Edward called. He appeared in the doorway, his long hair wet and tangled, and wearing only a pair of jeans (that Roy likely made him put on first). "What's with the wreath?"
"Though that the walls could use some holiday decor," Rian said. Edward had a mug in either hand, he had obviously stopped off in the kitchen first. He trotted over to Rian, a bounce in his step that made Rian think of the rapidly-wagging tail, and offered him a mug. After a moment's hesitation, Rian leaned the lit wreath against the wall and took the offered mug. "Coffee?" he asked hopefully.
"Hot chocolate," Edward said cheerfully. "You're too young for coffee."
"Bullshit I'm too young, I'm almost seventeen," Rian retorted.
"It'll stunt your growth," Edward advised sagely.
Before Rian could open his mouth to retort about how much coffee Edward must have drunk when younger, Roy appeared in the doorway. He had his hands on his hips and glared at Edward. "Ed, for fuck's sake go put on a shirt, you're making me cold just looking at you."
Edward jumped a little guiltily, and then grinned at Rian before padding back in the direction of the bedroom.
Roy glanced back at Rian, and shook his head sympathetically. "Welcome home," he said, before following Edward into the bedroom, presumably to berate him for acting like an overgrown puppy in public again.
Rian stood in the living room, next to the lit wreath and both hands warmed by a steaming cup of hot chocolate. He smiled, slowly, feeling warmed from the inside. For the first time in a very long time, he felt like he really was.
Promises to Keep: Prompt 4 - "Winter Wonderland"