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What the Snow Gave Us


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What the Snow Gave Us


“Yeah, we’ll be there at seven,” Henry said into his cell phone as he walked into the kitchen when the oven timer dinged. He grabbed two oven mitts from the drawer, slipped them on, then took out the baking dish. “We can’t wait and see the new place. Mhm. Okay, talk to you later.” 


Henry sat the dish on the stove then put his cell phone on the counter once the call ended. His mouth watered as he smelled the various cheeses and tomato sauce. Now, he just needed to put together a quick salad and he’d be golden. The month of December always brought out the homebody in Henry. He loved to spend his evenings cooking big dinners for himself and Alexander, especially when it snowed and he could start up the fireplace in the living room. Of course, with the heavy snowfall and a week before Christmas, the night called for it.


He took off the oven mitts and almost turned to the refrigerator to grab ingredients for a salad until he heard scratching on the patio door. He walked to the door with furrowed brows until he saw a large dog through the glass. 

Immediately, he took in the snow on its fur and his big eyes. According to the weather report for the evening, it had to be at least twenty-five degrees out. The dog must have been freezing. 


Henry frowned and quickly tried to remember the various dogs he’d seen in the neighborhood. It didn’t seem to be any of them. Besides, he didn’t think any of his neighbors would let their dogs out in this kind of weather. Finally, he opened the patio door and squatted to get a better look at it. 


After a quick glance, he saw that it was a golden retriever. The dog whined as he tried to find a collar or a dog tag. When he couldn’t find either and felt a sudden cold wind, he decided to let the dog come inside. 

Henry closed the door and kept his eyes on the dog as it sniffed around the kitchen. He leaned on the kitchen counter and watched it shake its fur then walk up to him with its tail wagging.


At least the dog seemed friendly. 


“Where do you live, buddy?” Henry asked as he extended his hands for the dog to smell. He began to pet him a moment later. “You must have been freezing out there. I hope you weren't out there long. Are you hungry? Do you want food?” 


When the dog’s ears perked up, he smiled and walked to the refrigerator to find something. He grabbed leftover turkey from two days prior and the jar of peanut butter from the pantry. Since he and Alexander didn’t own pets, he had to work with what he had. 


Henry sat the bowl of food on the hardwood floor and watched as the dog smelled it before it began eating. Obviously, this wasn’t how he thought tonight would pan out. Now, he needed to figure out what to do with a stray dog at seven-thirty at night during a particularly bad snowfall. 

It didn’t help matters knowing that Alexander was terribly allergic, too. 


“Fuck,” Henry said and ran a hand through his hair. “This was so stupid.”


Henry grabbed his cell phone off the counter and googled the nearest shelters, frowning when he saw they were all closed for the evening. He didn’t know their neighbors well enough to ask if they would be willing to look after it for the night and the roads probably weren’t clear enough to drive to Walgreens to buy allergy medication. Before he had time to overthink the situation and increase his anxiety, he heard the garage door open and close then Alexander’s footsteps a moment later. The dog’s ears perked up again and Henry didn’t have time to grab him before he headed over to the door. 


“Hey, it smells─” Alexander began as he walked into the kitchen. His eyes widened as he stopped in the entryway once he saw the dog. “Who’s this?” 


“I don’t know,” Henry said and he grabbed the bowl on the floor, shaking it to get the dog’s attention. He sat it down once the dog walked to it again. “I found him outside while I was cooking dinner. He doesn’t have a collar or a dog tag and it’s freezing and snowing out so I just let him in. God, I’m so sorry.” 


“Oh,” Alexander said, glancing at the dog then to Henry. “What’s for dinner?” 


“I made zucchini and mushroom lasagna. I was about to fix a salad but I heard the dog and… Are you sure you’re okay with this?” 


“I never said I was okay with it but what else are we supposed to do? It’s too cold outside.” Alexander frowned until his expression softened. “It’s fine. I’ll be okay for the night.” he closed the gap between them and wrapped his arms around Henry’s waist. “Of course you let him in. You’re a big softie. It’s one of the things I love about you.” Alexander turned away and sneezed into the crook off his elbow.  “hehhIhh… ihh’tCHsssh!


Henry frowned. “You’re already sneezing.” 


“It was just a stray sneeze.” Alexander pressed a quick kiss to Henry’s lips then pulled away. “I’m gonna go to the bathroom before dinner, alright? Everything’s gonna be fine.” 


Alexander was allergic to a handful of things. Henry, of course, knew this, especially after years of being together. He had seen the other man in the throes of an allergy fit in the middle of spring, after cleaning their dusty attic with a sniffly nose and watery eyes, and with congested sinuses after spending a few hours at their friend’s homes with cats.


None of it compared to his allergy to dogs. 


While allergy medication and decongestants all but cleared up his other allergies, they rarely made a dent when he suffering because of a dog. Henry didn’t know what it was that aggravated his partner so much but it always concerned him. He hated seeing Alexander in so much misery. 


The reaction began in the same way as his others. Alexander started clearing his throat and rubbing his nose half an hour after dinner while they watched a movie. Henry didn’t say anything as the other man’s eyes began watering and his sniffling became more frequent. 


Henry knew how much Alexander hated being fussed over. 


“How do you think he is?” Henry asked the dog when he was finished cleaning the kitchen for the night. He hadn’t named it because he knew if he did, he’d become attached and it was the last thing either of them needed. He frowned when the dog whined and pawed at his hand for attention. Henry tried to keep his contact to a minimum with the dog for Alexander. “Maybe he fell asleep. It’s been quiet.” 


With Alexander’s allergies, sleep wasn’t an option. When the man headed into their bedroom, he’d been sneezing every few minutes with increasing desperation. Henry took a deep breath and walked out of the kitchen to their bedroom. 


Henry knocked on their bedroom door, immediately hearing Alexander’s sniffling from the other side, and walked in. He closed the door behind himself then frowned when he saw the numerous used tissues on the bed as Alexander sat with a handful of tissue to his face. 


“You look miserable.”


Alexander looked from his tissues with a soft smile. “Thaaaa… HaaaEESSHHHOO! God… heh… huh… AAH-uSSCHHhoo! Yeah.” 


Henry walked to his side of the bed and sat down, running a hand through Alexander’s dark hair and taking in his blue eyes. They were red-rimmed and irritated, the allergic tears seemed to have stayed since he began sneezing a couple hours ago, and no amount of tissues seemed helpful. 


“I can take the dog to the neighbor’s house if you want,” Henry said before Alexander bent forward with two forceful sneezes. “I’m sure they’ll understand. I hate seeing you suffer.”


Alexander rubbed his nose with urgency then sniffed. “You’re so draaaa….” his eyes closed for a moment as he wiggled his nose. “Dramatic. It’s cute. You care so much.” 


Henry smiled softly and remembered how Alexander described his allergies. According to him, the itch started at the back of his throat. Slowly. The itch moved to his eyes then to his nose where the prickling and teasing would stay until he finally sneezed. After the first sneeze, the itch traveled to his ears and everything went downhill from there. 


Now, Henry noticed Alexander’s nose was getting an increasingly inflamed shade of red as it twitched and quivered every few seconds until he bent forward with a couple desperate and wet sneezes. Alexander usually didn’t rub his eyes or nose because it made the reaction worse. It didn’t seem to matter now as he touched his face every few moments. 


Alexander laid down on his pillows and blew his nose hard. He cleared his throat then put the used tissues on his nightstand. 


“Of course, I care about you,” Henry said then laid down next to Alexander, not shying away when the other man cuddled closer to him. “You’re my man.” 


“Mhm,” Alexander grabbed another tissue and closed his eyes as his breath hitched. “Hehhh… AH-iSSCHew!-eh-heh-rAAASSSCHHHuuh!


Whenever Alexander’s allergies were particularly dreadful, he let go of his restraint and composure to finally be cared for. If Henry could possibly find something he enjoyed during times like this was when Alexander wanted to be comforted. 


Henry rubbed Alexander’s shoulder as he felt the other man’s quivering breath on his chest. “A shower would help with the congestion.” 

“I-I don’t want… Sorry, I-I have to sn-sneeze,” Alexander turned away and tried to aim into the tissues. “HaaERRSSHHHuh! h’hessshhSHHIEWW!


Alexander sat up again and grabbed a handful of tissues from the Kleenex box on his nightstand to blow his nose again. Henry tried not to pay attention to the dog’s whine from behind the door. 


“If it makes it better─” Henry was cut off as Alexander bent over with a fit of three sneezes. “We could take a shower. Get the dander off and everything.” 


Alexander rubbed his nose with his tissues and looked at Henry with hopeful eyes and a soft smile. “I’d love that.”


“Yeah, I know,” Henry said with a smile and took Alexander’s hand then stood up from the bed. “Come on, sneezy.”


Henry leaned into Alexander’s touch as they walked into the bathroom and was glad that the other man let him fuss. It helped his mind stay relatively calm until the morning when he could purchase some allergy medication. He chuckled as Alexander tried to give a witty response through the sneezes. 


Finally, once Henry pulled him into the shower, he stopped trying. 


“I love you so much,” Alexander said as he pulled Henry closer and rubbed his nose on the man’s shoulder. He looked at Henry with bleary eyes. “But n-no more dogs after tonight.” 


Henry nodded and ran his hands through Alexander’s hair, glad the man was getting his humor back. “Duly noted.” 


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Oh so nice!  From the dog breed to the banter between the characters.  Pure perfection.  It's so nice to read so many varied new stories on a cold Friday night after a long work week!  I'm loving this!!!    These characters are fantastic!

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