Adrian laughed with Lindy as she pulled a towel through her cold, dripping hair. The two sat on the couch before the fireplace, trying to dry from the melting snow of their winter wonderland.
"I don't think I'll ever dry off," Lindy joked as she ruffled the towel through her hair, slightly annoyed when she felt her collar grow wet from the snow as the cloth stuck to her back.
Adrian smiled with her, a grin forming on his furry face, "Me either. Guess we'll have to stay inside tomorrow all day."
Lindy knew he was teasing; he knew how much she enjoyed being outside. Although a nice, warm day indoors sounded nice, being able to curl on the couch with a cup of warm cocoa, the temptation of going outside was too much. There were too many adventures out there, too many corners of their small patch of world that needed exploring.
"Yeah right," Lindy smiled, allowing the dampening towel to fall around her neck.
Her friend smirked warmly at her, a tense, quiet silence filling the space between them. The fire crackled, popped as embers flew up the chimney, sparks trying to add sound in the tense moment.
A mischievous look grew over Adrian's face as he violently shook out his fur, splattering cold droplets everywhere.
Lindy squealed, throwing her hands up in defense as water flickered over her. She wiped her face, smiling as she lifted shining, glistening eyes to him. She stuck her tongue at him, "Jerk," she muttered.
He took his turn to laugh, throwing his head back in guffaws of laughter.
The girl smiled gently to him, blowing a bit of hair out of her face as she locked eyes with Adrian again.
Embarrassed by her gaze, Adrian moved his eyes down, heat flushing up his face.
Feeling a little ashamed as well, Lindy found herself looking away, staring at her twisting, curling hands.
"Am I that repulsive?" she heard him murmur softly.
Instantly defensive, Lindy jerked her eyes at him swiftly, her hand moving forward to rest on his own. Underneath her touch, Adrian tensed. Would he disgust her? "No Adrian, no. It's just," she swallowed, choosing her words carefully, "I never thought I would have a friend to be with, like this."
Adrian smirked, laughing quietly, "Yeah I don't think I would have a friend like me either."
"You know what I meant," Lindy muttered, a little embarrassed by her confession. She glanced at him again, studying his dripping form. "You're still wet?" she asked. Based on how dark and cold his shirt looked, Lindy could say it was safe to assume nearly every part of him was still wet from the melting snow. A little concerned, Lindy frowned, "Adrian, you're completely soaked."
His curved ears folded back. Unable to think of a good response, he mumbled, "Yeah, well, I guess so."
Biting her lip playfully, Lindy grabbed the hem of his shirt. "Okay. Take it off."
She could almost see the blush rise on his face. "Wait, what?"
"You heard me," she laughed. "You'll get a cold at this rate. Take your shirt off."
"I'm not taking my shirt off," he nearly sneered at her, blue eyes light.
A little annoyed, Lindy frowned. "Adrian," she started, a warning.
Trying hard not to smile at her light anger, Adrian obeyed, shedding the cold, damp shirt. He immediately felt better, the heat of the nearby fire warming him up instantly. His fur bristled up slightly, as if stretching for the heat the fire gave off.
Though Lindy tried her best not to, she couldn't help but stare a little. The fur thickened in a line down his chest to his abdomen, still as smooth and soft as the rest. Every inch of him was covered, not a centimeter of bare skin showing.
She jerked when she heard him clear his throat. "Can I have a towel?"
Oh great he probably thinks I'm a jerk now, Lindy thought hurriedly, practically throwing him the soft towel. Adrian ruffled the fur around his body with the towel to dry it, mind whirring. She probably thought he was a disgusting, revolting monster now. How could she love anyone so hideous as he?
"Better?" he asked, his fur considerably drier.
Scooting a little closer, Lindy took the towel from him, placing it on his head so she could dry the fur up there. "You're getting there," she smiled, making sure to get the places behind his ears. She reveled the soft feeling of them beneath the towel, faintly wondering what it would be like to touch them without the cloth covering.
She quickly brushed the embarrassing thought aside.
As she leaned forward to keep drying him, Lindy couldn't help but lock her soulful green eyes on his deep, thoughtful blue ones. A great sadness gleamed in his orbs, hidden behind the quiet joy of her being there with him. A smirk curled on Adrian's face, a hint of one fang showing, nibbing into his lower lip, or where his lips would be.
Almost just realizing how close they were, Lindy leaned back, leaving the towel on his head. Adrian straightened his posture as well, the towel sliding to his neck, mimicking hers. His dry ears flicked this way and that, both avoiding each other's gaze.
Lindy inched away a small centimeter, her own face dusted pink as she flickered her eyes to him. "Adrian?"
"Yes?" he immediately answered, voice hopeful they would move on from this.
"Can I. . ." she started, unable to continue, her eyes giving away her question.
Understanding, Adrian extended his arm.
With great trepidation, almost reverence, Lindy took his large hand (paw) and began to examine it. She silently measured the length of her own hand compared to his, marveled at the steely claws that emerged from his finger tips.
Adrian kept himself stiff during this examination. His heart throbbed with longing for her yet it also beat with the motivation to pull his hand away. The less she looked at him, the more she wouldn't be convinced he was a total monster.
Yet at the same time, the more she saw how beastly he was, the more momentous it would be if she could overlook his obvious flaws. If she was going to fall in love with him, she needed to know just how monstrous he was so she could accept him for who he was. A small, candlelight of hope flickered mutely in his chest, giving him the strength to keep going.
This is what kept him from whipping his arm back.
Lindy moved from his paw to his forearm, her fingers moving through the quilted fur, faintly smiling when she felt how downy-soft it felt. She could feel the strong muscles beneath the fur though, how strong the beast was, no matter how kind he would be to her. It reminded her how he could easily have forced her to do anything, and she couldn't do a single thing about it. However he acted as a gentleman would, not pushing or forcing her to do anything as long as she complied to live here.
Then, unbelievably, she began to fall in love with him.
The first time the thought entered her mind, she was repulsed, not by the fact of who or what he was, but because she didn't want to destroy their careful, close friendship they already kept. She didn't want to ruin it.
It wouldn't work out anyway, a girl falling in love with a beast (though she hated to call him such a word, nothing else came to mind to describe his certain physique). If she ever proposed it to Adrian, she knew he'd be insulted, thinking she was trying to make fun of him.
But she wouldn't do that; they were friends. She liked him, loved him even, so would he refuse if she brought it up?
Lindy did consider Stockholm Syndrome when she continued to play with this thought, then decided against it when she knew she didn't feel only pity for him. She spent time with Adrian. They knew each other, did their homework together. They both didn't have the greatest relationship with their parents. Honestly, Adrian was the only person her age Lindy ever really connected with on a personal level. It's not like she started to like him because of his looks or shining personality, but because he felt like a kindred spirit. Both of them loved books, flowers, cold winter nights . . . She couldn't have fallen for him just on pity, right?
Far too shy though, Lindy never brought the subject of their relationship into the open.
Her hands were making their way up his bicep, curling on his shoulder when she stopped, moving her eyes to his, asking for permission.
Maybe it was the glint when they locked gazes, or the certain way he shifted under her touch, but Lindy felt she could continue. Simultaneously, her hands slid to the side of his face, rubbing slowly along his cheekbones, going over every part of his face. Her small fingers slid through the smooth fur which covered his face, dusted fingertips over his eyelids. She moved to his curved ears, smirking to herself when she felt their velvety softness.
Adrian's warm breath awakened her, gently curling around her face as she drifted her hands down to his lips, touching the very tips of his fangs, sliding along the curve of one lip. Her face warmed when she felt Adrian's breath slip out, warming her palms. Her friend kept his eyes close, trying to keep back what felt like a purr in the back of his throat. A year passed since he last felt human contact, the last being the Halloween party last year with that girl. To have someone not care about how he looked and actually want to touch him, felt amazing.
Her entire body boiling in embarrassment, Lindy pulled her arms back, the spell broken. Adrian lifted his eyelids. Lindy apologized hastily, "I'm, I'm sorry I just got carried away. It's just-"
"No, It's okay," Adrian interrupted her, his own eyes confused almost as much as hers. "There's nothing to apologize for. I, I've never felt such a kind touch before." How can she even stand to look at me let alone touch me willingly? I'm a monster!" Adrian thought desperately to himself as his heart jumped in his chest. He felt certain she could hear it pounding.
Lindy recognized a wash of sympathy grow in her as she tucked a strand of hair behind her ear. "I shouldn't have gone so far though."
"It's nothing; forget it," Adrian brushed her apology off, his own face inflamed.
At the same time, they both reached for a book, cracking the spine as they took off into an adventure that didn't belong to them. Right now they would do anything to run from the awkward moment which filled the air. Adrian tried to control his breathing, still able to feel her warm touch lingering on his fur. Lindy's fingers continued to burn from where she touched him.
What's happening to me? Their thoughts echoed.
Neither spoke to each other, too shy to think of anything to say; everything they thought of sounded stupid.
Hours passed with the occasional murmur about their book. The quiet bubble filled the living room for hours until midnight passed. By then, Adrian had fallen asleep, his head lolling on the back of the couch, his book lying page-down in his lap. Lindy drifted off next to him, her body curled up alongside Adrian with his long animal arm relaxed across her shoulders, keeping her warm.
Fighting to keep herself awake, Lindy caught one more glimpse of Adrian's sleeping face before cuddling into his chest, the arm around her only holding her closer.