to an anonymous prompt. It kept going, so I guess I was having fun with it 😉
The wind had been blowing hard all day, and the snow had not so much been coming down as coming sideways, stacking up against the house and making stripes of drifts along the yard.
It wasn’t a day to be outside, but Anya finished the last of her chores anyway. The ducks had to be fed, the firewood needed to be split, and the mailman got cranky if she didn’t check the mail at least once a week.
It was on the trudge back up the driveway that she noticed the strange way the snow was drifting near her front porch. It shouldn’t be lumping like that; the bushes she’d tried there hadn’t lasted through the last cold winter and there was nothing in that garden but ferns and moss now. And yet… there it was, a drift clearly pushing the snow up against something a couple feet away from her porch.
Something peachy brown. Something peachy brown with a tuft of… black? On top that could, sure, be some sort of junk or debris but could also be…
“Shit.” Anya didn’t so much live in a neighborhood as five miles outside the closest thing that could be in any way called a neighborhood, the sort of place where even the local radio DJs sometimes joked about dumping bodies. Nobody had actually done it, at least not in living memory, but there were always the stories.
First things first, check the crime scene. She’d watched enough procedurals to know that much. There was one set of footsteps, quickly being filled in. She snapped a picture with her phone, and another of the body.
The body moved. It wasn’t much, mostly a shudder. Anya jumped, yelping. The body twitched and moaned.
“You are not a body.”
A head lifted out of the snow. Blue lips croaked out the beginning of a word, lost in racking coughs.
“Right. If I don’t want you to become a body right here on my yard, I’m going to have to warm you up.” She knelt down beside him. “I’m going to pick you up. Don’t fight it, okay?”
She was answered by another hacking cough.
“I’m going to take that as a yes.”
He was heavy, but he wasn’t much heavier than a dead deer. She got him up – she was going with him, although she hadn’t gotten enough snow off of him to be sure yet – in an awkward carry, inside in a series of stumbling heaves, and dropped him as gently as she could on her love seat.
“Hypothermia, hypothermia.” She thumbed through her phone until she found what she needed. “Right. Off with your – snow, I guess. Are you wearing clothes?”
He shook his head.
“Right. Goddess, when I said I wanted a man, this is not what I meant. Towels, towels.”
The towels were easy; drying off a naked man who could barely cooperate was harder. She read over her phone again and stuck some water in the microwave to warm, talking all the while. “You’re supposed to shiver, if you can. Here, have a blanket, and here’s another.”
He was skinny, when she got the snow off of him, tattooed all over in patterns like a drunk man’s paisley, and his hair had gone shaggy. Wrapped in a plaid blanket and sipping on mint tea, he looked a bit like a hipster. “If you say you were freezing before it was cool,” she muttered, “I might just throw you out in the snow again.”
He held up his hands in surrender, and she got a glimpse of what his smile looked like. “Good, good.” The house was warm, but she put another log on the fire just in case. “Get settled in.” She talked to the ducks, she talked to the snow and the cats. Talking to another human being that didn’t seem to talk back wasn’t even close to strange. “Get yourself all warm and cozy. Once you’re up to temperature, we can worry about things like clothes… and how you ended up in my front yard.”
There were scars hidden in the tattoos, and a long mark she thought was probably a brand. She had a feeling it was going to be a long story. Anya glanced out the window; the snow had covered over the last of his tracks and the road was a foot deep in white. “We’ve got time,” she assured him (and herself). “Nobody’ll be bothering us for quite a while.”
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