A vignette type story typed up as my daily 750words thing. Letting my characters play around in my head some more before I tackle my huge and scary novel proper again. This gently introduces a new character into the mix that I’ve had in my head for some time.
Their mornings were all a little different.
For sure, the differences in the beginning were greater as they all had to get used to and accommodate a new person into the mix, dancing around each other to avoid insults and sore points. This became especially important with yet another new member was included in the mix, especially as he was such a special person, both for his past and connection with Zouriel, but also for his present. How he had been lost, but then found again.
As time went by, the familiarity and assurance about this new group member would not cause any major changes in the dynamic that had been built up over the years and they relaxed back into their former roles, the parts they had played for time eternal it seemed and this included how they tackled the beginning of every new day.
Oy had always been the first to rise, ever since he’d been a little one, rolling out of his blankets all kitten-ish with his clear blue eyes raised to greet the first rays of the rising sun. Sometimes in the summer, he would wake even earlier to greet his beloved sunrise outside among the trees. Even when school was forced on him and he had to live in the city during the semesters, he still rose early, even if he was not as keen on venturing outside that early.
Zouriel would never have to worry about waking him up to get to school on time; no Oy took care of that on his own. Always sitting there waiting at the breakfast table when Zouriel finally awoke and wondered when and how the kid learned how to use the coffee maker, but took the offered cup with much gratitude. Oy began to make it a habit to start on breakfast on his own when it seemed appropriate, as soon as he was allowed full reign of the kitchen, both at “home” (with Cassandra) and also with Zouriel in his apartment, so no one minded his early morning activities. The kid had somehow been born with an innate ability to no disturb those that still slept.
Cassandra was the second one to wake every day, but she was very much affected by the light outside. In the fair, summery days she might begin to stir when the sun had risen high enough above the horizon to filter through her bedroom window and slowly she would wake herself up through an elaborate routine of stretches and yawns. But she would not linger in bed for too long, not on those lovely sunny days which would offer plenty of natural light to create and work on her paintings in. Sometimes this meant she rose not much longer before Oy; it would happen that she left her bedroom just in time to hear the soft thump of the door closing as Oy headed outside to do his early morning exploration of the cabin’s forest surroundings. Those days they would make their breakfast together and Oy would always tell her all that he had seen during his first exploration of the day. They were always precious to her, those mornings.
But during the colder months, she would be less active, especially during the gloomy overcast days which might set off one of her moods. Those were the mornings when Oy would force her out of bed for breakfast and she would happily comply, because his smile was not one she could resist. No now, not ever.
As the years went by and Oy left to live in the city during those cold months, she held on for some time on her own, experiencing some slow days and sluggish mornings before the cold and solitude would drive her to join Oy and Zouriel in their city apartment. Then the familiar routine of Oy waking her with smells of coffee and toast would return and she would immediately feel better. It would always make her feel even better still to find new ways to wake up Zouriel from his lazy slumber.
Yes, before the newcomer, Zouriel was always the last one to rise, always having some excuse about how his metal limbs made it unpleasant for him to leave the warmth of the covers, or saying that he was often plagued by bad dreams and needed to sleep in late to make up for that. It was true that he had had bad dreams quite often in the past and that they did wake him up in the early hours of the morning to stare through the window at the darkness outside. But this did not happen as much after he’d fully allowed Oy and Cassandra in his life. His thoughts began to lighten with that and thus his nightmares became less frequent, yet he still found his bed to be terribly comfortable in the morning when his apartment had not warmed up yet. It felt nice somehow to be awoken by someone, to truly feel that he was no longer alone, even if there were times when Cassandra was not too kind with her ways of waking him up. That pitcher of water when he’d slept in far too late had not been particularly fun, especially since he’d changed the sheets quite recently.
But he liked waking up to a laid out breakfast, to share it with someone and know that when he went to bed that night, even if it turned out to be late, he would also not be alone with his thoughts. If something did bother him and it woke him up in a cold sweat, he would have someone to talk to about it. Thus the breakfasts became one of his favorite meals of the day, for the companionship it brought. Mornings he no longer feared, but welcomed. A new day was no longer quite as daunting for him to face.
So, when Marcus made his way back into his life, impossibly, amazingly, that changed things around a little. But there was one thing that Marcus had retained from their earlier life together and that was his difficulty at getting up in the morning. It had been troublesome for him while they were still on active duty, the army demanded that they all become early risers and though back then Zouriel has allowed Marcus to help him, be a guide and companion to him (though exactly how close they were was kept a secret), there was one thing he had to help Marcus with: Making sure he woke up when he was supposed to every day.
And now, with their daily lives quite a bit different, Zouriel still found himself with the task of making sure Marcus woke up before this side of noon. His habit of sleeping in had been one of the things which had allowed Oy to get close to Marcus, to get used to his presence. The boy found such contrary habits to be fascinating and he had a short period where he tried to convince Marcus that it was “really great” to wake up early. It had not helped much, partially because at that point Marcus had still been easily spooked, skittish, one of the major differences to his character that Zouriel had picked up. This in itself was why he had to be the one to wake him up, because he was the only one who made Marcus feel safe enough that he did not lash out and bolt when approached while he slept. It had been upsetting at first, but as Marcus mellowed out slightly, became less afraid and more like how he used to be, the morning wake up calls became far more pleasant for the both of them.
Sometimes Zouriel might be as teasing as Cassandra was to him when he had to wake up, then other times when he would feel especially good and his heart especially full, he might make it a tender wakeup call and bring coffee to Marcus where he slept, nudging him slowly and lovingly out of his slumber. Only when Marcus was awake Zouriel would signal for Oy to join him and together they’d finally drag the other man, still protesting, out of bed and off to the breakfast table to join them.
Slowly Marcus would slip into a spot in their group dynamic that seemed to have been there all along, waiting for him. Zouriel knew he had been fully accepted when Cassandra would include Marcus in her kind teasing, though she might not touch him as much. Marcus did not seem to notice, or even mind that slight difference. They all had their individual place, their part to play, but together they somehow made a whole.
And part of that whole was how they treated the beginning of the day. As something they adored; as something that brought light and creativity; as something that meant companionship…And something that meant a new beginning to heal a tattered psyche.