‘Softer… sooofter…’

Nouăsprezece held his breath as he snuck as quietly as he could through the house. His feet, their hard soles normally giving him away against the hardwood floor of their small apartment, were cushioned by a pair of socks that… he wasn’t sure were his. If he were given a chance to guess, they were the socks that he’d gotten his wife a year or two earlier, for either Mother’s Day or her birthday. After all, he would never own a pair of thick, rubber-soled, bright pink socks.

…at least, that’s what he liked to pretend; he was well aware that even strangers knew about his acute femininity – intimately.

Nouă kept his feet pressed flat to the floor, trying to slide them smoothly across the floor. As matched his typical unluckiness, the rubber soles kept him from being able to do this. Gripping the edges of the tray he was holding a bit tighter, he softly stepped around the corner, eyes peeled for his adopted son. The boy was a sweetheart, and he always had been, but the little snow bee was a secret agent for his mother, always reporting back to the woman about anything that Nouă did, no matter how small.

Taking a deep breath, Nouă puuushed the door open slowly and quietly, bright blue eyes glancing around the room. Coriander was curled up against his mother’s chest, who was curled up fast asleep around their child. The man paused where he stood, tipping his head softly to the side and causing his antlers to click gently on the door. A sigh passed his lips as he watched the two of them, smiling faintly as he pictured every step that had gotten him to where he was today.

The man’s intention was to step forward, place the tray on the bedside table, and awaken the both of them to breakfast in bed. His luck decided otherwise. Somehow, the Nouă’s foot got caught on the back of his ankle, pulling him forward and sending him sprawling to the ground. The tray of food went everywhere, of course shattering the entire salt shaker (just his luck, right?), and sending eggs, toast, and juice in all directions, much of which ended up on his head. As the two sat up in bed, surprised by the noise, Nouă smiled awkwardly and sheepishly.

“U-uhm… Ha-ha-happy V-V-Vale-ent-tine’s D-Day…?”