Small white flakes gently descended to the Earth sluggishly from the completely pitch black sky above, settling in a thin layer over a previously light gray sidewalk, painting it a pure, untouched white. It was Christmas Eve, and not a single soul dare walk outside on such a chilly night when they could be enjoying themselves with family and friends in front of a warm fire, roasting chestnuts and opening gifts together. That is, all except a small blonde boy that was currently trudging along through the snow wearing only a pair of old, beaten blue shorts and a red and yellow striped T-shirt that was equally as old and worn. His shirt was slightly ripped in a few places where it had never been mended by his caregivers, and in addition to his already skimpy clothing, he had no shoes either! His feet were horribly painful to walk on, but onward as the only way he could go lest he stop and freeze to death for sure. This small boy, only about 14 years of age, wandered through a somewhat small town that seemed completely deserted, other than the lights that he saw shining from people's porches. How he wished he could go inside and warm himself in front of a warm fire…
It was just earlier that day that he had been kicked out of his home by his foster parent who had loathed him with a passion, though he had done nothing wrong to her himself. She hadn't been getting the money she had bargained for in taking care of him, and this greatly displeased the greedy witch despite the fact that she was actually quite wealthy and had more than enough money to take care of an entire family. At the beginning when she had taken him in, she had been promised a thousand dollars each month to take care of him, but had ended up only getting seven hundred each month. For six entire months, because she had not gotten the entire sum of money that she had expected, she abused the boy relentlessly, putting him down with insults and physically harming him to the point where he would cry and beg for mercy.
He endured every single one of these tortures as he encountered them. That is…until one day, without so much as a warning, she picked him up from behind when he was in the middle of doing his homework and quite literally tossed him outside onto the hard pavement, earning a cry of pain from the boy. She shouted profanities and something that went along the lines of, "A pathetic, worthless little boy like you doesn't deserve such a loving family! I pray a pedophile captures you and does unmentionable things to you, or that you rot in cold!" And without any other words, she slammed the door behind her, a click resonating in the air only a moment after, telling him that she had indeed locked him out and that he was no longer welcome. He had never really been welcome in the first place. All that was left was the bitter sting of those harsh words uttered to him as if he was the most rotten child in the world.
Things hadn't always been as tough for the little blonde. In fact, he used to have a wonderful life and a real family who loved him more than anything! A mother named Hinawa, a father named Flint, a twin brother named Claus and finally his pet dog, Boney! However, things took a drastic change when he turned thirteen years old…
When he was thirteen years old, a tragic car accident happened in his hometown, Threed, only a few blocks away from his house. He, his mother, father and brother were all in the car when it happened. He remembered it as if it had happened yesterday: He had lurched forward from within the back seat roughly, feeling his collarbone snap as easily as a toothpick on the seatbelt that strapped him in place and kept him from flying forward. Then, before he could even realize what was happening, the car flipped over, causing his head to slam against the headrest hard enough to make him black out. He only regained consciousness several days later in the hospital, where he was hooked up to IVs and beeping monitors he'd never seen before. When the doctor came in that day and realized that he was awake, he had been told that he had been the only one to survive and that he had gotten lucky and only suffered a few broken bones and a nasty head injury that had thrown him into a small coma. Upon them telling him of his parents' death and how he was 'lucky' he couldn't help but scream in the doctors faces of how he was anything but lucky. He had just had his parents ripped away from him! There was no way on Earth that was 'lucky'!
It was found out during the time he had been in a coma that it was a drunk driver who had hit them going a staggering 80 MPH. A drunk driver who had ripped his family apart. Someone who didn't take even a moment to consider what their actions may lead up to, or who's life it would alter forever! A thousand apologies couldn't bring back his real family or amend for the suffering he was put through! It was unforgiveable, yet... there was not a single thing to be done: the driver had also died.
The blonde felt tears sting in his eyes as he recounted all of the events that had happened within the last year or so. In a way, it helped distract him from the bitter cold and the idea that he may very well die on this freezing night, just enough to keep him going. It was well below freezing at this point and the snow had begun to fall ever faster, followed by a small, yet bone chilling breeze. Though the breeze was slight, it was more than enough to send him into a violent fit of shaking, the onsets of hypothermia accelerating greatly. With a shaky breath, and an even shakier hand, he fumbled around in one of his pockets and pulled out the one thing that might save him at this moment: A packet of matches. If he had any hope to live, he needed to warm up, and fast. There was no wood nearby, however, so he would have to simply hold the matches until they went out, and pray he was warm enough to find a warm shelter for the night.
Ever so shakily, he tugged one of the matches out of the matchbook, struck it on the back and watched as it went up and seemed to light the world for just a moment. Everything seemed to glow so brightly in that moment and everything felt so warm, as if he was standing in front of a blazing fire and not a tiny match. For just that moment, as the world was lit up by the match, he was absolutely sure he saw his mother standing in front of him, her beautiful pink dress flowing in the breeze gently and a smile upon her lips as she beckoned him toward her. He let out a quiet cry of disbelief and ran after his mother without a second thought on the matter, the match going out as he did, leaving him in the cold darkness once more. There had been no one there, he discovered after a few minutes of crying for his mother in the dark… It had been a trick of his imagination.
He cursed God above for playing these cruel jokes upon him, and fumbled once again for the matchbook, lighting up two instead of one this time. If one had been such an amazing comfort to him, then two would be even better, surely! The flames went up brighter than the first time, illuminating the entire world once again and giving him a wonderful warm sensation as if he were cuddled up inside a nice, warm, and very soft blanket. He nearly cried out once again as, in front of him, he saw himself playing catch with his twin, Claus. He made no motion toward the scene playing out, as he watched his brother throw the ball to a mirror image of himself with a smile on his face, and the mirror image laugh in a way that rang out as if it were really and truly unfolding then and there. His body started to quiver slightly as hot tears silently rolled down his cheeks and landed in the snow around his bare feet. Without much of a warning, however, the matches were blown out by the breeze and left him in the dark once again. The blonde couldn't suppress the sob that burst forth from what he'd seen. All of these visions were so painful, and yet he longed to see his family again… if lighting two could make him see these things, then…
With nothing left to lose, he plucked all of the matches from the matchbook and struck them all at once on the back. All of the matches lit up in a way that was so beautiful and wonderful, he was absolutely certain only heaven itself could match the glory of it all. In front of him as he held the matches, a new scene played out just as the last had, but this time he was with his parents, brother, and dog, Boney, all of them sitting around a fire, laughing and smiling as they opened gifts together. The scene made him smile a sad smile and cry at the same time… He realized then and there that all of the scenes that had been playing out in front of him were memories of his childhood. Memories of what had once been and what would never be again. The blonde took a step forward to the scene taking place, wanting more than anything to join them and to truly be with them again… As quiet sobs racked his body, he dropped to his knees in the snow and cried... he cried for all that it was worth and dropped the matches in the pure white snow, letting the bundle go out as his hopes did the same, leaving him in the darkness of the night to die a certain death.
At Ness's house, which glowed with red, green, silver and gold Christmas lights, the front door opened and a bustle of laughter and cheer came forth. His parents smiled and waved to him, saying "Be careful now, honey! It's cold outside! We'll be waiting for your return!" and a good number of other things as they bode him farewell. He was going to his friend Paula's house in the next town to deliver several gifts from himself and his parents. He had taken it upon himself to see to it that they were hand delivered. What was more special than hand-delivered gifts, right? He knew that the trip to the next town would be harsh, even though it wasn't terribly far away, so he had bundled up in a few extra layers of clothing and a heavy winter coat. As his parents proceeded back into the house and shut the door behind them, he started off on his way to Paula's house, humming a happy Christmas tune that anyone would recognize as Jingle Bells.
The trip through town moved a lot slower than he had thought it would. The snow was falling pretty heavily, leaving him with a minimal view of where he was going the entire time. The town seemed eerily empty right now, which was slightly unnerving to him in a strange way: He rarely ever saw the town so empty. There weren't even carolers out right now! The only sound around him was the sound of the howling wind, which had picked up a bit since he left his house.
In the middle of the sidewalk, he stopped for a moment to check around and make sure he was going in the right direction to Twoson. His eyes narrowed slightly when he noticed burned out matchsticks scattered about in the snow along the sidewalk. Tentatively, he took a few steps forward the matches, and then gasped in horror when he saw the body of a blonde boy slightly hidden out of view in an alley. His heart began pounding in his chest and immediately adrenalin was pumping through his veins at the sight of someone, his age at that, half-buried in the snow. He rushed to the blonde's side, pulling him out of the snow and onto his lap where he checked the boy's pulse: It was faint, but there, meaning there was still hope! He was unconscious, cold to the touch and his lips were blue, which was a terrible sign. Ness panicked; almost sure the blonde would be dead if he didn't hurry to the hospital as fast as he could. Without a second thought, he ripped off his heavy, blue winter jacket and wrapped it around the blonde, picking him up with ease and rushing off in the direct he was sure the hospital would be. He sure hoped the blonde would be alright…
Upon Ness rushing into the hospital, he startled the lady at the front desk and several nurses since it'd been such a quiet night, but upon seeing the blonde boy in his arms and the panicked expression he bore, the lady at the front desk started issuing out orders to the doctors and nurses in the nearby area, getting the blonde onto a gurney as quickly as possible. Within a few minutes, which seemed like hours to Ness, they had taken the nameless blonde off to one of the intensive care rooms, where they could hopefully revive him before it was too late, if it wasn't already. The lady who worked the front desk came up to him and rest a small hand upon his shoulder, giving him a sad smile whilst she took a seat next to him.
She hadn't exactly been busy, so her comforting him, despite the fact that he was a stranger, was much appreciated. She didn't speak much during the time he was there, except when she asked Ness if he would like some peppermint tea, which he nodded to and thanked her for. He knew the lady couldn't comfort him much verbally: giving false hope was something the hospital around here didn't like to do, and he already knew there was a chance he was too late. Every so often, he gave a nervous glance over to the door they had taken the blond, feeling slightly sad over all of this. Even though he didn't know the blonde boy, or hadn't even seen him around before, he felt a strong need to be there to make sure he was alright. His strong sense to protect people made him like that, and there was nothing more important to him at the moment.
Hours passed, and still there was no sign to tell him the boy was alright or even still alive. Since he had come, the lady at the front desk had made him a few cups of the somewhat delicious peppermint tea, which only somewhat helped to calm his nerves. Worry still continued to gnaw at him and, after a time, he gave a frustrated sigh and pulled out his silver and blue cell phone, which he had used to replace his old receiver phone, and called his parents. The phone rang twice before his mother picked up, with a somewhat worried sounding, "Hello?" He smiled a bit sadly and whispered into the phone, "Hey mom. I don't really have time for questions: I'm at the hospital. I'm not hurt. Can you come over here so I can explain everything?" It was as if he could feel her ease up a little on the other line: She'd obviously been worrying about him since he'd been gone for so long, but there was a hint of suspicion in her voice when she responded, "Okay. We'll be there as soon as we can." He nodded, but then realized she couldn't see and said, "A'ight, see you soon." And he hung up, biting on his lower lip a bit.
Nearly as soon as Ness tucked his cell phone into his pocket, he looked up and noticed some doctors exiting the room they had taken the blonde boy. Worry and guilt crept into his stomach, thinking for a moment that perhaps something had gone wrong, but it was eased almost immediately upon seeing the doctors' smile in a triumphant sort of way. That could only mean one thing: The blonde he had rescued was still alive! His heart fluttered with joy knowing he had saved a life, and yet he wondered: why had the boy been outside in such few clothes in the first place? There had to be a reason behind that… He made it a goal to find out everything once the boy was healed.
One of the doctors approached Ness with his smile still present and, much to Ness's surprise, patted him on the head, "Tonight you saved a life!" he said proudly and then continued after a moment's pause, "The boy you brought in is resting now. It took a half an hour to warm his body and stop the effects of hypothermia. After he woke up, he explained everything that happened…" the doctor frowned slightly, but then looked up as Ness's parents strolled through the doors of the hospital, running over to hug their son. Before his mom or dad could ask what was going on, he asked the doctor, "What happened…?" The doctor looked unsure for a moment, but then said in a low voice, "I can't give you actual details, but he'll be going into foster care as soon as he's healthy enough to leave." He gave Ness another smile and turned to leave, only to be stopped by Ness once more. Ness said, just loud enough for the doctor to hear, "What's his name…?"
The doctor looked back around at him and said, "Lucas." before hurrying off down a different hallway, presumably to check up on other patients who'd been there for a while.
Lucas… What a fine name!
After the doctor had left, Ness explained the entire story to his mother and father about what had happened from the time he left the house to when he got to the hospital. Both seemed surprised, shocked, and slightly upset, yet neither of them interrupted as he told his story. When he finished, he looked down at the ground sadly, saying, "They said he'd have to go into foster care… I wonder what happened…and I wonder where he'll go…" his mother hugged him close, and, being one to absolutely understand what was going through his head at that moment, she said, "Maybe… your father and I can consider accommodating another child…~" Ness looked up at her, surprised at the idea, but realized she was absolutely serious. His mother always did come up with the most amazing ideas, even if they were quite sudden and never expected. If they took Lucas in as a foster child, that would mean Lucas would be his brother! Well… foster brother, but still! Ness's dad looked at her incredulously, but being the more submissive of the pair, he gave in without much of a fuss. They had enough money to support another child easily… so perhaps, this could really work!
Smiling brightly, Ness hurried off to the front counter and asked the lady there, "Ma'am, can you take me and my parents to Lucas? Or, could you bring us the doctor taking care of him?" She looked unsure, but nodded anyway knowing Ness was probably anxious to see just how well Lucas was doing, and gathered up the small family, leading them into the hallway, and then directed them into the room where Lucas lay resting. Upon the three of them shuffling into the room, Ness couldn't help but cast his gaze over the sleeping boy, taking in his features now since he hadn't had the time to before. His features were that of a just-maturing boy, the same as Ness's: he didn't have the baby fat that is often retained throughout childhood, but his facial features were delicate and soft unlike an adult's. It was no doubt he was just going through puberty. His blonde hair was soft and fluffy, sticking up somewhat like a duck's tail on one side, and his cheeks had a slight reddish-pink tint to them, almost like a blush. In all honesty, he looked a bit like an angel.
Glancing up at his parents, he noted that they were studying him in the same way that he had just been. His mother in particular seemed fascinated, and he knew just from the expression she bore that she'd already fallen in love with him. For a little while, the small family just sat there watching him with smiles upon each of their faces until the doctor came in, blinking as if he were confused as to when they had gotten into the room, though he made no move to shoo them out.
Ness's mom went over to him as soon as she noticed him and the pair talked, but Ness paid no mind to it, opting to instead gently squeeze his soon-to-be brother's hand.
Lucas woke with a start from the gentle squeeze, and blinked rapidly, looking around the room while Ness gave him an apologetic look, saying he was sorry a few times until the blonde calmed down a bit. Upon calming down, Lucas looked at Ness for a few moments and then said, "W-were… you the one who saved me?" Ness smiled a bit shyly and the nodded, "Mhm!" Ness had honestly been expecting a thank-you or something… Who wouldn't, after saving someone's life? But he didn't get just a thank you: Lucas twisted himself around to the best of his abilities, what with being hooked up to an IV and some other weird machines, and hugged Ness as tightly as he could in his somewhat weakened state, thanking him repeatedly for saving his life.
Ness couldn't suppress the blush that found its way to his cheeks as he hugged Lucas back tightly. After a few moments of embracing, Ness pulled away with a smile and whispered, "The doctor said you were going into a foster home soon… My mom and dad are gonna try to get you to live with us!" Lucas flinched noticeably at the mentioning of 'Foster home', making Ness worried that something terrible had happened in his previous home. His neighbors weren't the kindest of people, beating their children near daily as far as he knew, so there were obviously incredibly bad people in the world…. Was that what had happened to Lucas? He decided to take his chances and listen to his logic, saying, "Don't worry, Luc'… .. er… Lucas… Nobody will hurt you." As soon as Ness said this, Lucas looked down as if he'd been hit by something hard, but after a moment or two he looked back at Ness with his beautiful blue eyes full of sadness and whispered, "Promise…?" whilst holding out his pinky. Ness smiled brightly and linked his pinky with Lucas's, "Cross my heart and hope to die!" Then Lucas smiled, too. It was a genuine smile that still reflected sadness, but a willingness to try again with life.
Several weeks later, after Lucas had been allowed to leave the hospital, Ness's mother filed to take him into foster care until they could legally adopt him. Upon hearing Lucas's testimony of what had happened in his last home, and with actual evidence of it being in his multitude of newer scars and the events that had happened the night Ness found him, they launched an investigation on the previous caregiver. In the meantime, upon Lucas's insistence and willingness to go into Ness's home, they granted the family custody of Lucas as his foster home. Only a matter of days later, they were in the process of adopting him as their own son: as tedious as it was, the whole family had fallen in love with him as if he were one of their own.
Some time later, months after everything had originally happened and just as long after Lucas had told Ness and his new family everything that had happened to him in his old home, both boys got word from the court that Lucas's previous caregiver was now behind bars in the huge prison located in Fourside for endangering a child, physical and mental abuse, attempted manslaughter and resisting arrest. They had sentenced her to 30 years in prison. Ness had never seen Lucas cry so many tears of joy at once: that witch who'd hurt him for six entire months, and then attempted to kill him by locking him outside when she knew it'd be snowing and deathly cold, would be behind bars for a long, long time, and unable to hurt anyone from now until then!
Even if Lucas had never gotten back his real family, and even though he'd suffered for a long time, the Christmas he nearly died was the Christmas his and Ness's lives both changed for the better.
He knew now better than he ever had before: Christmas truly is a holiday about family and happiness.