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A Bedtime Story

Wolfy yawned deeply, letting out a quiet growl as he exhaled. "Oh dear," he muttered quietly under his breath, "it's 9 o'clock. I hope Josh's asleep." Walking towards his son's bedroom, he glanced into the mirror and adjusted one of the earrings in his left ear. He looked like a regular wolf; walking on two hindpaws and standing upright like any normal wolf. His headfur was a mess from sitting crooked in his favorite chair, and he gave himself a crooked smile before heading to the end of the hall. He quietly poked his head into the room and let out a disappointed sigh. Sprawled on his bed in just his undies, the lamp on, and a comic book in paw, he found his son.
"Joshua!" The puppy's ears dropped. "It's past 9, why am I finding you NOT asleep?"
"But Dad," the puppy cowered slightly and let out a whine, "I'm 7 years old. That's... that's like 49 in fox years!" The wolf let out a quiet chuckle and played with his son's headfur. "Maybe when you're 63, we'll talk."
He picked up his son's comic book and scowled at the cover. "Superskunk? Why do you read this garbage?" The pup pulled the covers up to his eyes and let out another quiet whimper. "I can't sleep."
Setting the comic down next to the lamp on the bedside table and pulling the covers off his son's shaking muzzle, he smiled and spoke softly. "Your mother and I used to write stories together before she died..."
Josh looked up in surprised, completely forgetting about his fear of his father's wrath. "You did?"
The wolf nodded at his son with a broad smile. "For little pups, " he touched his nose, "like you."
Sitting up quickly, he looked at his father. "Tell me one, please?"
He couldn't help but smile at his eagerness, swelling slightly with pride. "Well, you lay down and get all comfortable there, and I'll tell you one of your mother's favorites." As he turns away and grabs a chair from the corner, he wiped his eyes, out of sight of his son's view. Meanwhile, his son get all tucked into his bed, the tip of his tail pushing the covers up and down slightly as it wagged in anticipation. He quietly sat down and cleared his throat, getting situated in his new seat.
"Once upon a time there was this little wolf-cub..." Noticing his son's complete focus on him, he closed his eyes and imagined it as he told the tale he so missed hearing himself.

The wolf left his house and followed his normal path, which was rather tread by now. David, that was his name, loved wandering the forests all alone every night, exploring the wilderness, learning about all living things. This day however, he decided he would leave his well-used path and find somewhere new. Pushing through thick brush, he found himself at a clearing that ended on a cliff. He walked quietly and laid onto his stomach glancing over the edge at the massive river below. He was so entranced by the beauty of the river, that he didn't hear the kitty creep up behind him.
He was watching the water slosh over the rocks and wondering if he could find the courage to jump in when the kitty pounced him. The cat held him down with all four paws, snarling loudly, teeth bared. The wolf yelped and whimpered and quickly explained that he was just a pup that only wanted to go for a walk. Luckily, the kitty climbed off of him and looked at him curiously, sniffing at him. David forced himself to turn and look at his attacker, realizing that the kitten was about his age, and he couldn't help but whine when he saw the scars all over his face.
The kitten immediately noticed the staring and turned away ashamed. "My brother..." After turning a few circles he flopped down next to the new male, looking down over the cliff with a sigh. Arching his brow, the wolf found himself staring intently at the kitten's face, unsure of what to think about the stranger that not-so-long ago made him want to wet himself.
"It was about a year ago... He was always jealous. Always hated me for being Mom's favorite." There was a slight pause and the sad kitten sniffled. "She never loved me the same way after my face was ruined, so I left." Once again there was silence, and just as quickly as he appeared, the kitty stood up and began walking away quickly. "Sorry I ruined your scenery."
"Wait!" David jumped up and quickly ran towards his new companion. "Please don't leave." He blushes slightly in embarrassment and looks down at the ground. "I don't want you to leave... This place is scary."

Hearing his son whimper, the wolf looked down at him son with a worried expression. "What's wrong?"
"Daddy, that kitty sounds really scary. He's not going to hurt the puppy is he?"
The wolf noticed the pup trembling and leaned down, rubbing cheeks, hoping to calm him down. "No worries hon, all will be well. Why don't we skip ahead a little bit? Is that okay?" The son nodded slowly, his body still shaking slightly.

A few weeks had passed and everyday David returned to the clearing in the forest to meet up with Mark, his one and only friend. Each day after the wolf finished school, he would find the kitty and they'd play all afternoon. They taught each other many games: tag, hide and go seek, wrestling... Each and everyday was an adventure for both of them.
Soon, however the puppy's mother began wondering where her son disappeared to every night, and after he showed up at home late for the third day in a row, she cornered him. "Where are you going? Are you on drugs?!" Whimpering loudly, he just stared at the floor shaking his muzzle. He quickly explained where he had been, and the fate of his poor friend. The mother was taken aback by the outpour of love and selflessness of her son and found herself weeping. "Tell your friend to come over tomorrow, I want to meet him." It was David's turn to be shocked and all he could do was nod, never having disobeyed his mother in the past.
The next day was the most stressful of his life. His teacher had to tell him twice to stop tapping his footpaw because he was disrupting the entire class. Every five seconds his eyes would dart to the clock on the wall, and then back to his desk. He skipped all of his assignments for the day and busied himself trying to figure out how he would convince his friend to leave his home to visit his. When the bell rang, David was the first out the door, sprinting down the long hallway, past his locker, and out the door at the end. Not once did he stop to take a breath, not until he was already halfway into the forest.
He found his friend where he always was, laying on his back on the edge of the clearing, staring up at the sky with a dreamy look in his eyes. He opened his muzzle to speak, but his friend interrupted him. "How was school today, Mr. Pup-pup?"
The wolf growled angrily and his tail twitched behind him. "You KNOW I hate that name, why do you insist and calling me by it?"
The kitten only grinned wider. "Oh, I thought you liked the name Pup-pup. Isn't that what Marsha called you, Pup-pup?" Lowering his ears, he only nodded, his face turning a scarlet color. His fur covered it, but not much, and his friend broke into giggle-fits as he saw it. "Awwwww... How cute! The puppy is in loooooooove." He made a point to draw out the 'o' in love for effect.
"Oh shut up!" He kicked at the ground and tried to force his blush away, only making it grow bigger. Tilting his head slightly, Mark looked up at his friend, a somewhat worried look trailing across his muzzle.
"What's eating you?" He let out a soft gasp, "You told her, didn't you?" Not responding, he simply sat down, crossing his legs and looking at the ground. Mark got up from where he was laying and walked over to his friend, nosing him gently, showing him affection and reassurance in a way that only a friend could.
"My mom wants to meet you..." His voice just trailed off, worried that his friend would say no.
"So?" The wolf jerked his head up in surprise, his muzzle smashing into his friend's. As they both laid there, whining and rubbing their sore heads, Mark managed to mutter, "So, what time?"

The puppy's soft breathing got louder, almost like a cute snore, and the wolf stopped reciting, just looking down at his son with a smile. He stood up and carefully tucked the bed sheets under the boy, taking care not to wake him. Standing over the sleeping figure, he felt a tear run slowly down his cheek. "Julia, you'd be so proud of him." He sat down once more and stared at the wall, wanting to finish the story whether his son was awake or not. It had been good to remember his wife, and he didn't want to cut his favorite story short. He was eager to see how it ended, even though he already knew.

David had been pacing ever since he had gotten home. He already had set out the dishes and cleaned his room, dinner was cooking and he couldn't find anything else to keep himself busy. His mother chuckled at him, knowing he was far more nervous than she was. She stood at the stove stirring the soup she had made and offered the job to her son, knowing he'd want it. Suddenly, there was a knock at the door and she moved to open it, her son on her heels. David grabbed the kitten's paw and yanked him into the house. "Mom, this is Mark, my bestest friend in the world!" He smiled wide; showing teeth from ear to ear.
Chuckling, she shook Mark's paw and smiled at him warmly. "Pleased to meet you, know that you're welcome here anytime." Mark smiled back, but that's all of the conversation they had, for David was roughly tugging him towards his bedroom to show off all of his stuff.
While his mom was pouring soup into each of the bowls on the table, David returned into the kitchen, shutting the door behind him. "Mom...?"
"Yes hunny?" She glanced up for a second.
"Could um... Can Mark stay here?"
"Sure hon, just as long as you get to school on time tomorrow."
"Um..." He kicked at the ground and stared at his footpaws. "Could he live here? He doesn't have anywhere else to go."
His mother saw the look in his eyes and knew that she couldn't say "no" to him...

Almost two months had passed. They had enrolled Mark into school, and he'd caught up faster than anyone had expected. He fit in perfectly and almost no one gave notice to any imperfection that he had. Mark had helped get Marsha and David talking, and it was only a matter of days before they would start dating. Mark and David were still the best of friends, and if anyone asked, they'd say they were brothers.
Every night as he laid in bed staring at the ceiling, Mark would close his eyes and smile, for he finally felt at peace, at last he had those in his life that judged him for who he was, and not how he looked.

Quietly he picked up his chair and set it back down in the corner, careful not to make any noise. He was at the door when he heard his son whisper behind him. "I love you daddy."
He turned back to look at his son and say, "I love you too son," but he was already back asleep.


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