by Peter Conrad

Chapter 6

-- Lia: you will sleep with alex, which one of us needs the condoms now?

Boah, such a cheeky girl! I should probably answer before I' d go back to the others, so I sat down for a moment and hit the virtual keys.

-- Lio: jealous? but i will sleep NEXT TO alex, not WITH alex.

It only took a moment for the answer to roll in.

-- Lia: yes, well, i believe you. not. lucky guy.

-- Lio: everyone as he deserves it. besides, elias will also sleep in the same room.

-- Lia: elias?

-- I'll tell you tomorrow. h ow was your snowmobile ride?

-- Lia: too short. but at least we got home safely, pascal just reported back too.

-- Lio: okay, then everything is well. i have to go back to the others, so have a nice evening with a untie. oh yes. and cybersex.

-- Lia: haha, i guess i deserve that. tell alex to be a good boy. oh, and check your emails, mom and dad wrote, maybe you can answer them, i'll do that now too.

Hm, I would save that for a little later, the evening would still be long. Actually, I didn't really want to know what mom and dad had to say, since I assumed that the topic of 'Lio in a skirt' would play a not so insignificant role.

-- Lio: I'll do it later. bye and out.

My sister didn't respond, so I turned off the cell phone and headed back downstairs to the others.

Back in the living room, I noticed that the crowd had thinned out considerably. The twins were now rolling around on the carpet in front of the fireplace, which was unfortunately only gas-powered, and were dividing their attention between t he two tail-waggers who seemed to enjoy this attention very much. Alex and Elias were still sitting or lying on their seats, respectively, and were looking at the screen of the amply sized tv, where apparently a special weather broadcast was on. Well, Elias of course did not look but only listen. From the adult house inhabitants none were to be seen. I settled down next to my boy friend again and snuggled up to him.

"What took you so long, I almost came up to check on you."

I set my phone down on the coffee table and pointed to it.

"When I picked it up, it showed a message from Lia, and I wanted to answer it quickly."

"Ah okay. Is everything okay with her?"

"Yes, Pascal dropped her off at Aunt Paula's in one piece and has since called back from his home."

"Good, then everyone is safe for now."

Elias had listened attentively and now wanted to know a little more.

"Who is Lia? Your sister?"

I wanted to just nod at first, but then realized that nodding wouldn't do any good in this case, so I switched to verbal answers.

"Yes, my twin sister to be exact."

"You're a twin too? Cool, then you'll fit right in with Alex and his identical shadows."

My boy friend chuckled softly to himself.

"What can I say, I just find twins kind of fascinating."

"Live long and prosper, Mister Spock."

"Hehe, my ears aren't that long!"

"Well in that case always behave properly towards your sweetheart, not that he pulls on them and turns you into a Vulcan after all."

Alexandre snorted.

"I promise, I really don't want that!"

I poked him in the ribs.

"I'll keep your promise in mind! And who knows, maybe green Vulcan blood would have the advantage that you wouldn't keel over at the sight of it."

"Menno, always making fun of the little ones!"

"Um, Alex, I think your friend is the little one here. Aside from the dwarfs. Lio is younger than you, right?"

"That's right, just under a year and a half."

"Hey, it's not that big a difference! If I've done my math right, it's only about 14 months!"

"So half an eternity."

I grabbed Alexandre's right ear and pulled on it.

"Ouch, it's okay, it's okay, I'm sorry! Don't pull it any longer! My poor ear!"

Elias choked on his own spit at the laughter he burst into.

"I... haha... cough... I... cough... I can see... haha cough... who of... cough... you... cough... wears the... cough... cough... pants... cough!"

Before I could even reach for his ear again, Alexander had already begun to enlighten Elias on the subject of 'Lio and pants'. Well, as good as he could over his own laughter.

"Haha, for the last three days Lio hasn't had any pants on at all!"

"Huh. What do you mean, Alex?"

I refrained from reaching for Alexandre's ear and put my hand over his mouth in stead.


"What was that now?"


"Talking is silver, silence is gold, Alex! I'm going to explain this now, not that Eli gets a completely wrong impression of me! Got it?"



Now my friend just nodded in surrender. Was better that way! I started to give the State of the Nation report, hopefully undisturbed. Or at least the state of the leg wear report. Once again. Sigh.

"It happened like that..."

When I got to the end of the story a few minutes later, Elias was royally amused.

"Really now? That really all happened?"

"Yeah, really."

"Hehe, well done. And at least you're wearing the tights between you guys."

Alex, however, didn't let that stand.

"Well, I have tights on too, Eli."

"What, oh, I thought I was the only boy our age who still wore them. if ind it more convenient for me to only have to put on one article of clothing instead of three. I just have to be careful not to twist the tights's legs."

Since Eli brought up the subject of age anyway, I immediately threw in the question that had been on the tip of my tongue for some time.

"How old are you, Elias?"

Elias chuckled softly, while Alexandre laughed out loud. Confused, I looked back and forth between the two until my friend took pity on me.

"Lio, Eli's parents made it easy. His birthday is January 1st, he'll be sixteen in nine days."

"Hehe, well that's really convenient! And still better than having a birthday directly at Christmas."

"Hmm, well, the few days in between don't make it any better for me. My parents always made sure I wasn't worse off than kids who have birthdays far away from Christmas, but from almost all others, especially my relatives, at Christmas I always heard 'That's for your birthday, too, Elias. It's only a few days away.' Stingy pack!"

I could really feel sorry for the poor guy, hehe. In that respect, Lia and I had been lucky with our birthday.

"Well, whatever. And Lio? Your sister was out with Pascal? Pascal Bruchmann?"

I laughed out.

"Yeah, with that Pascal guy. Do you know him too?"

"Yeah, Pascal's cool. He let me drive his snowmobile once last week. Secretly, in a clearing in the woods."

Oh, that was really nice. For someone like Elias, who couldn't see, something like that was usually impossible.

"Cool! Lia and Pascal just met this morning when Pascal and his dad delivered the Christmas tree for Auntie. The two of them looked at each other, well, more like gawked at each other, and it sparked. And then Pascal invited my sister for a snowmobile ride. Ha! I guess he's catching cute girls and boys with that thing!"

Laughing, Eli shook his head.

"Only cute girls then, as far as I know Pascal is exclusively into the female portion of the world's population, just like me. But nice that you seem to think of me as a 'cute boy', Lio."

"Well it's true. Ouch!"

Now it was me who was getting an earful, for real!

"Earlier you warned me not to stare at Elias, and now you do it!"

"Brute! And I wasn't staring at Elias, just looking at him and giving my assessment of him! He's just a cute boy! Though n ot quite as cute as you, Alex."

"You put that right at the very last moment, Lio!"

"Oh man, you two are so sweet! Almost like an old married couple!"

Alex and I turned our heads to each other and gave each other a quick kiss on the lips.

"I heard that! Was a little short for a real smooch, wasn't it? I'm sure you guys can do better than that. Don't hold back on my account."

Um... If it was just Elias in the room with us, then I wouldn't have a problem with that, but there were Noël and Joël, too. I turned my gaze to the twins and their four-legged playmates, and a smile spread across my face. Completely unimpressed byour not really whisper ing conversation, the dwarfs, snuggled up to the dogs, slept the sleep of the righteous. Or at least the sleep of the exhausted. Automatically, I spoke much more softly now.

"Look at those four, Alex. Aren't they cute as buttons?"

My boy friend also lowered his voice before answering me.

"Wow, really. Eli, the twins have snuggled up to Micco and Branko and are sleeping. I guess the trip out in the snow really knocked them out."

"Aww, that sounds cute! Too bad I won't be able to see it. Well, maybe next Christmas."

Next Christmas???

Alexandre also immediately reacted to this statement.

"Next Christmas? What do you mean, Eli?"

"Do you remember I went away for a few days in October?"

"Hmm, yes, I had noticed that Branko was constantly being taken out by your mother. Why?"

"That was when I was in America with my pops. In the USA. An ophthalmologist with more doctorates than could fit on a business card developed a new surgery for my eye disease, and I was being checked to see if I was a candidate for it."

Alexandre was completely flabbergasted, so it was a good thing I stepped into the breach.

"Are you saying you will be able to see after such a surgery? By the way, have you always been blind? Sorry if questions like that annoy you."

Elias laughed.

"Don't worry about that, Lio, if I had a problem with such questions, I shouldn't have started with the topic in the first place. Yes, I was born blind, my eyes are actually fine, but the nerve connection between my eyes and brain didn't develop properly. This American doctor has developed a kind of artificial nerve connection, if everything works out, after the surgery I will be able to actually see for the first time in my life."

"Oh wow, that sounds great! Does it really work?"

"Well, the procedure is still very new, I would be part of a study programm. So far there have been ten surgeries, seven of those operated on can now see properly, some of them need regular glasses or contact lenses. Two of the patients can at least see light and dark, for one the surgery did nothing."

"Hmm, that sounds like pretty good odds."

Elias nodded vigorously.

"Yes, Alex, definitely! I have a lot to gain there - and if it doesn't work for me, at least I haven't lost anything."

The next question was mine again!

"When is this supposed to happen?"

"We're flying across the big pond on March 10th, and the surgery is scheduled for March 15th."

"And if it works, you can see right after?"

"Yes, but I guess I would have to learn that, too. Not that I' ll keel over because of sensory overload, Lio."

That sounded logical, and now it became apparent that the twins hadn't slept quite as deeply as it seemed.

"Do you have to give Branko back then, Elias?"

"No, Branko is mine, he did his training with me, and I'm not giving him back. He's also already six years old and has become so attached to me that a new owner probably wouldn't work out anyway."

"Gooooood, Micco needs his friend!"



The four-legged brigade seemed to agree! And they promptly became the target of the twins' cuddle attacks again, which they seemed very happy to participate in.

"Well, anyway, I meant that surgery when I said that maybe next Christmas I'll be able to see the dwarfs and the dogs."

That would be really great, and I wished Eli that everything would really turn out that way.

"Gee, Eli, I'm crossing all available fingers for you! Would be awesome if that worked out!"

"I'll join you, Alex."

"And so do we!"

"Thanks, guys. I'm very optimistic, and Doctor Sheridan also thinks I'm an ideal candidate for his new method."

That really sounded very encouraging, and it was about time something positive came out of the U.S. anyway.

"Oh, by the way, Lio?"

"Yes, Eli?"

"You do realize what this means for you, right?"

Huh? What did he mean by that now?

"What it means for me?"

"Simple, if I'm able to see I want not only to see the twins cuddling with the dogs, but also you in a skirt!"

Alexandre snorted, the twins laughed, and I decided I'd better grow really fast so this stupid thing wouldn't fit me anymore by then!

"Haha, Elias, I promise that I'll make sure Lio will be available to you, and if he's outgrown the skirt in the meantime, I'll get him a new one."

Traitor! I pounced on Alexandre and immediately began to expand both of his ears to Vulcan length!

"Ouch, what are you doing, leave my poor ears alone!"

"You should have thought about that before, you naughty brat!"


And sure enough, my friend got help, the twins pounced on me and started tickling me, and then the two dogs squeezed into the human tangle as well. All of them against one!

It took a few minutes for us all to calm down, and it wasn't until the assembled two-legged and four-legged crowd let go of me that I saw Uncle François filming the whole hullabaloo with his iPhone. In the end, Joël and Noël ended up on Alex's and my laps, Micco settled down in front of our two-seater, and Branko jumped on top of his prone master, who groaned from the sudden weight.

"Branko! Hey dog, you're fucking heavy!"

Why did Elias actually complain about that, he couldn't even see his dog's weight! Alexandre's father finally put down the cell phone.

"Guys, are you hungry yet? Dinner will be in an hour and a half, if you need something before that you'll have to get cookies or something from the kitchen."

Well, I wasn't hungry yet, and I wasn't in the mood for sweets at the moment either. The others seemed to feel the same way, at least no one was dashing towards the kitchen.

"Okay, you know the drill. Alex, I brought a new cooling compress for Eli's foot, will you please take care of it? And then take the old one to the kitchen and put it back in the freezer."

"I will, Dad, no problem."

"Very well, I'll leave you to it then."

Alexandre's father disappeared from the living room after placing the cooling pa d on the table. His son pushed Noël off his lap and walked over to our wounded friend.

"How's your foot, Eli?"

"It's okay, I'm not in pain right now."

Alex sat down on the edge of the couch and unwrapped the cooling compress from Eli's foot, eyed curiously by Branko, who continued to bear down on his master's body. Before installing the new cooling pad, Alex looked at Elias.

"Eli, if you ever need to get up, to go to the bathroom or something, just say so and I'll help you."

"Thanks, right now I'm happy not having to move. I'll check in before I pee my pants though."

"Hehe, that would be very much appreciated!"

Alexandre repacked the sprained foot, then came to me and settled back down beside me. The next moment he had the lost twin on his lap again.

"Thanks, Alex, that feels really good. Oh, and you shouldn't have laughed so hard at your boyfriend and his skirt earlier. Bec ause I want to see you in shorts and tights then, too! "

Ha! Exactly! At least a little bit of justice!

"Um... Only if you go along! I mean you're wearing tights anyway."

But if Alex had now hoped to be off the hook with this, he had been wrong. Elias just shrugged his shoulders.

"No problem, if I can really see, then I'm up for anything."

For anything? Really? Now I wanted to know that in more detail.

"For anything, Eli? Even for a skirt?"

The twins giggled quietly to themselves, but Elias didn't hesitate for long.

"It would be worth it to me. And Alex? How about it? Would you join us, too? "

"Join you too? You mean you want me to wear a skirt then too? I thought you want ed to see me in shorts and tights!"

"That was before your boy friend talked me into a skirt. Now what, are you going to go along with it? Come on, don't be a spoilsport!"

"Oh man, you guys are insane."

Said the one responsible for me ending in a skirt not two but three days in a row now!

"Y eah Alex, you have to put on a skirt, too!"

The twins fidgeted enthusiastically on us, and Alex looked annoyed at the sky. Then he apparently gathered all his courage.

"Okay, but only if we all do it. We'll do it when Noël and Joël are here too. And yes you dwarfs, you will also wear skirts and tights. Then we'll all go out together, have an ice cream somewhere or a kebab or whatever."

Before the dwarfs could respond, their mother spoke up, standing in the doorway of the room, struggling to get her laughter under control.

"That's... haha... that's really a great idea! Here's what we'll do, I'll get the skirts for my two, and then Dad and I will take you all to the mountain restaurant for lunch. Agreed? Or are you just chicken?"

Ha, the challenge was issued, and I knew that at least I wouldn't chicken out. The twin on my lap, however, was apparently not ready to commit himself yet.

"Not us, Maman, we are not girls!"

This didn't go over well with Joël s mother, though. Not to mention me poking him in the ribs and starting to tickle him.

"Joël, Lio isn't a girl either. And neither is Elias. And Alexandre is a boy, too. But then, if you want, I could braid you cute pigtails for the occasion, and maybe instead of denim skirts you'll get frilly dresses."

"Noooooooooooooooo! Joël, shut up! Maman, we'll take denim skirts! No pigtails! And no dresses!"

The twin who now was squirming on my lap under my tickle attacks, capitulated with a giggle.

"Okay, okay! But seriously, only if the big boys all join in!"

I stopped my tickle attack, the dwarf had just gotten his act together. Interesting that this time his brother had rebuked him. So much for 'sticking together like peas and carrots'.

"Very well, looking forward to it boys."

"Qu'attends-tu avec impatience, maman?"

Oops, who was that now? Though it could only be one person, I had already met everyone else in the house.

"En Allemand, Michelle, s'il vous plaît."

Annoyed, the older girl looked around until her eyes lingered on Elias. Promptly, she mastered the German language!

"What are you looking forward to, maman? And who are you?"

"I'm looking forward to inviting all the boys present to the mountain restaurant in the new year - and they will wear skirts on this occasion. And the boy you're looking at is Elias. He can't see you looking at him, so you'll have to address him directly if you want something from him."

I had thought she would immediately react to the 'boys and skirts' topic, but she surprisingly didn't feel like it at all at that moment.

"Hi Elias, I'm Michelle."

The person addressed waved briefly in the direction from which Michelle's voice came.

"Hello Michelle."

"I'm Michelle."

I would have been mightily surprised if that had changed within a few seconds.

"Um... Yeah... Hi Michelle, I'm Elias."

"I'm Elias... NO, I'm Michelle! Merde!"

And already the twins' big sister dashed out of the room and moments later a door could be heard slamming from afar. In the next moment, everyone present, with the exception of Elias, burst into loud laughter. Eli, on the other hand, just seemed to be bewildered.

"What just happened? Did I miss something?"

"That was my cousin, Eli. And you can get dressed again now."

"Huh? I am dressed, am I not? "

"Well, Michelle really undressed you with her eyes, I think you made a big impression on her."

"Oh, hehe. And I had wondered why it suddenly felt a bit cold."

Again everyone laughed, but Aunt Mireille quickly became serious again.

"Elias, I'm Mireille, the mother of the twins and Michelle. You can call me Aunt Mireille. A re you really cold?"

"No, I'm just kidding, Aunt Mireille, I'm pleasantly warm. Except for my foot, but that's supposed to be kept cool."

"Ah, good. But if you need anything, just tell the boys and they'll take care of it. They must be good for something."


In stereo from Joël and Noël.

"Auntie Mireille!"

In stereo from Alexandre and me.

The twin mother laughed and looked at the dogs.

"Do you have any complaints too?"

I guess the quadrupeds knew on whose good side to be and kept silence.

"Thought so, the dogs are the smartest ones in the room."

"Um... Aunt Mireille?"

"Yes, Alexandre?"

"In case you haven't noticed, YOU are here in the room too."

Aunt Mireille paused, then laughed.

"Crap, caught. I should have said 'the smartest of the males in this room'."

"Too late, you should have thought of that before."

"Yeah, yeah, all right. So, I'm off again, behave yourselves."

And away she went. Elias was probably still preoccupied with Michelle's performance.

"Say, what's Michelle like? The French accent was kind of cute."

Well, I thought it was cute with Alexandre, but from what I knew about Michelle, it would take a lot more than that accent to even begin to call her cute. Even if you were into girls.

" you really want to know, Eli?"

"Yeah sure, why not?"

"Well... Michelle is annoying, mean, and selfish. Sorry, but if you want the advice of a good friend: stay away from her."

Noël also felt he had to protect his new big friend from his big sister.

"Dad deleted her Instagram account yesterday and took her phone away because she uploaded a picture of Alex in tights and made nasty comments! She's also been banned from the internet here the whole time."

"Ouch, that really doesn't sound good, I don't really want to have anything to do with someone like that."

I could relate to that all too well! Suddenly, however, Elias laughed out loud, and we looked at him in amazement. Which he didn't see, of course, but he probably guessed that he should explain his reaction better.

"I don't think I have anything to expect from her, though, anyway."

"Why is that, Eli? I mean, you're cute and damn good looking, after all."

If I didn't agree with that, Alexandre would be on very thin ice right now.

"Yeah, but there's one fact that's guaranteed to totally disqualify me for her."

"What do you mean?"

"Well, think about it, Alex. She uploaded a picture of you in tights and made fun of you. What do you think will happen the first time she sees me in tights?"

Now we were all laughing with him.

"That's right. She probably only didn't make fun of you because you're the only boy around here who doesn't walk around, sit around, or lie around in tights."

"Yeah, and that's just because of my accident. If she had known that, I'm sure she wouldn't have stammered around like that."

"Hehe, that would have been a shame. It was cool to see her like that, the bitch. Unfortunately, none of us recorded it, or I would have uploaded it to the internet!"

That would have been a well-deserved revenge, hehe! But well, you can't have everything. With that, however, the topic of the twins' big sister was settled - which I wouldn't complain about.

We spent the next hour with shallow conversations and with getting to know each other a little better. My respect for Elias grew more and more, I couldn't imagine what it must be like not to be able to see anything. Probably he was in luck that he had never known it any other way. Hopefully the experimental surgery would really work!

Around 7pm, Aunt/Grandma Ilona joined us in the living room.

"Okay, boys, I need your help now. Normally we would have dinner in the kitchen, but that would require Elias to get up and walk over, we don't want him to do that. We're going to eat here. At least you will eat here, we adults will eat in the kitchen. Joël and Noël, please come with me to the kitchen and help me to bring everything here. Alex and Lio, please move the chairs so that everyone is within reach of the table. Elias, you stay down and boss the others around. Oh yes, and the dogs have to come with us to the kitchen, we have prepared food bowls for them there."

It was clear who was in charge in this house, Alexandre jumped up immediately.

"At once, Mrs. Sergeant Major!"

His grandmother tousled his curly hair, then grabbed a hand from each of the twins, who also got up quite quickly, and pulled them out of the living room with her, the quadrupeds following behind.

"Come on, Lio, help me. If Grandma comes back and things aren ' t prepared according to her wishes, we won't get dessert."

Okay, that was out of the question, so I rose too and helped my boy friend to push the chairs into place. Soon they were positioned in a way that their occupants would have easy access to the table, but it didn't change the fact that the chairs and coffee table weren't really suitable for having meals.

"I hate to say it, Alex, but eating at that table? How is that going to work?"

But before Alexandre could even answer my question, the lady of the house was already coming back, a big bowl in her hand. She was followed by the twins with plates and cutlery.

"Don't worry about that, Lio, I've already taken that into account. There are sausages and rolls, so everyone can put something on their plate and then comfortably lean back in the chair to eat. I hope everyone is okay with that, we didn't ask before, but I think all teenagers eat sausages."

Elias chuckled softly.

"I think that's true. And teenager's dogs love sausages too! At least Branko does."

"Hehe, and he won't get any! We have proper canine food for the dogs, so don't worry, your Branko doesn't have to starve either, but human food isn't really good for dogs, even if they like it."

Probably Micco sometimes cursed living in the home of a veterinarian.

A little later, we were free of adult supervision again. Alexandre provided Elias with plates complete with buns, two bockwurst sausages, and a portion of mustard, then we all attacked the food. The evening could go on like that, if I was asked!

It didn't take long until the sausage bowl was empty, and also from the rolls only scattered crumbs remained. However, there was one more thing, one thing I hadn't forgotten.

"Say, Alex, didn't you mention dessert earlier?"

My friend laughed out.

"Yes, I'm sure that Grandma has prepared something delicious."

And soon I would get so heavy that my skirt wouldn't fit me anymore. Yes!

"Come on, let's go check out the kitchen. Twins, you can go ahead and take out the empty plates."

Shortly after, Elias was the only one in the room who wasn't busy. When Alex and I popped into the kitchen, his grandmother was staring at us with wide eyes.

"Now don't tell me you guys are already done eating."

My boy friend shook his head.

"No, Grandma, why would you think that! Of course, we're not done eating yet. After all, dessert is still missing."

"Oh God, we won't last more than a week with our supplies if these gluttons move in here permanently!"

"Don't worry, mother-in-law, there's still space behind the house to add a storage shed."

"Don't paint the devil on the wall, François. All right, so you still want dessert. Luckily I am used to such grief and have something prepared. Alexander, bring me that tray over there from the corner."

Alex dashed to the pointed out corner, found the tray and brought it to his grandma, who had already opened the fridge. A little later, there were five large dessert bowls on the tray, filled with chocolate pudding, with vanilla sauce on top. Correction. I would not get heavy. I would get fat!

"Okay, boys, run off, that's all! "

"What, Grandma, no more tv snacks? No late night snack?"

"Wife, I think we should send the kids to bed right after dinner. Would be better for our grocery bill."

"Good idea, Rolf. When you're done with dessert, you'll go to bed."

"Menno! It's still way too early for that! Well, for Lio, Eli and me anyway!"

"Well, let's see, maybe you'll be allowed to stay up for another half hour."

Alex stared indignantly at his father, fortunately refraining from propping his hands on his hips accordingly, that certainly wouldn't have done the tray with the dessert on it any good. A moment later he shook his head.

"Come on, Lio, let's go back to the others and leave the adults to their weird ideas."

That would probably be better, who knew what else they'd come up with.

Alex dragged the tray into the living room, where shortly thereafter the five gluttons were feasting on the dessert. Which, of course, again did not take long. We spent a few minutes contentedly digesting, then my friend shooed the dwarfs up.

"Twins, put everything on the tray, then take it out to the kitchen."

"But why us, we are the smallest!"

"That's just it, dwarfs have to be good for something. Now come on, don't pretend to be tired. And when you're in the kitchen, make sure you don't yawn, Grandma had the crazy idea to send us to bed already."

"No way!"

"Well then, show the adults that you're still really chipper. Now, off you go!"

Noël and Joël grabbed the tray full of dishes, then disappeared with it toward the kitchen.

"Are you all filled up?"

I nodded, and I guess Elias was satisfied for the moment, too.

"Well, I can't get anything more down. For at least... thirteen minutes or so!"

Well... Thirteen minutes... That was a bit optimistic thinking in my eyes, but we would see.

At that moment, Uncle François came into the room and went to his patient.

"Elias, how is your foot?"

"Nothing at all right now, no pain or anything. Do you want us to keep cooling it?"

"That's why I came, I think we can stop doing that now. I'd like to put a tight bandage on your foot, it would support it while limiting the swelling. And before that, I will apply an analgesic ointment."

"Sounds good."

"Okay. It would be best if you didn't move much afterward, though, so if you want to take a shower before you go to bed, you should do that now."

Elias thought about it for a moment, then nodded.

"Showering sounds good, but I'll need some help with that. I'm not familiar with the bathroom here, after all."

"Hmm, yeah. You have a choice, I could help you, or Alexandre. Or Grandma Ilona."

The wounded teen raised his hands in horror.

"Not grandma! Alex, would you help me? if that's okay with you?"

"I don't have a problem with that, Eli. As long as you don't have a problem with me helping you."

"Huh? What... Oh, I get it. No, I don't have a problem with that, it's not like you're going to jump my bones. If you need a chaperone, your boyfriend can be with us and keep you under control!"

I laughed out.

"Well, I trust Alex, he won't do anything naughty. Besides, you've made it clear that you only like girls. Which, thinking about Michelle, I can't really relate to."

My boy friend laughed out.

"Haha, yeah, but you better not let Lia hear that! Eli, Lio's sister is really alright. While she's not into tights herself, she has no problem with guys wearing them. Unfortunately for you, she's probably already taken."

"Crap, I'm always late. And I'm not messing with Pascal, his dad is a ranger and has a gun license and owns several rifles!"

The things you had to watch out for out here in the sticks, armed fathers! Fortunately, that didn't seem to apply to Alexandre's father, but I would make sure to be extra nice to him anyway. After all, he was a doctor and had access to needles!

"Very well, then I will see to it that we get Elias upstairs as gently as possible. Alex, please take the cooling stuff off him and put the second sock on him. But be very careful!"

"All right, Dad. Oh, and ask Grandpa, he has several of those rolling tables for his patients, maybe Eli could sit on one of those, then we could roll him around in the house."

"Good thinking, Alex! I'll be right back."

Uncle François left the living room, and Alexandre tended to the patient.

"Scream if it hurts."

"You better hope it does NOT hurt, because I'm not going to scream, I'm going to kick."

"Oh man, now the wounded are getting violent. Eli, you are expected to endure your suffering and pain proudly and without whining, while the medical staff takes care of you!"

"Sure, the medical staff. You're an auxiliary nurse at best, though."

Sighing, Alex looked toward the ceiling.

"Yeah, yeah, I get it. Auxiliary nurse. And c ompletely underpaid at that."

A little while later the work was done, and Alex had skillfully avoided catching a black eye from a kicking Eliash oof. Eli hadn't even groaned in pain; the underpaid auxiliary nurse seemed to have a gentle touch.

"Ah, very nice, our patient is already taken care of. And Alexandre, that was brilliant about the rolling table, grandpa will be bringing one over in a minute."

Moments later said grandpa was already pushing such a table into the room.

"Here we go. François, please help Elias onto the table."

Alexandre's father went to Elias and bent down to him.

"Elias, I'm going to lift you off the couch, set you down on the table, and then push you to the elevator."

"Um... Okay... But please don't drop me, Uncle François."

"Don't worry, I've already helped Alexandre's grandpa lift a St. Bernard onto a table like this - and you don't seem that heavy to me."


Laughing, the family doctor put his plan into action, and a moment later Elias was sitting on the rolling table, his legs dangling down.

"Are you sitting okay?"

"Yes, thank you. Let the horses run, let's go!"

And so the human doctor pushed his human patient on the table provided by the vet to the elevator, where the next problem presented itself.

"Crap, the table is too big. Table and Elias fit in the elevator, but no one else. How do we do this now?"

I didn't quite see the problem.

"Simple, we push Elias into the elevator, then someone pushes the button for upstairs. Someone else waits for him there and pulls him out of the elevator. He'll make it through the short ride on his own, won't he, or does he need constant intensive care?"

"Ha, of course not, that's how we' ll do it. Alex, run up quickly, when you get to the top call down and I'll send Elias up."

"On my way!"

Gone he was, and Uncle François pushed the rolling table with Eli on top into the elevator. That just barely fit, if Elias had bigger feet the door would not close.

"I'm ready, send Eli on his way."

"Okay. Elias, keep your feet still, don't get them caught in the door, it's going to be a little tight."

The patient pulled his feet close to the table, then Alexandre's father pressed the button for the top floor and retreated from the elevator. The door closed smoothly, and Elias made his way up.

"Come on, Lio, let's go upstairs too and see if these two need help."

Uncle François attacked the stairs, and I followed behind him. When we reached the top, Elias had already been released from the elevator, but was still squatting on the rolling table.

"Alex, Elias, do you need anything else from me?"

Mr. LaGrange Jr. shook his head.

"No, I don't think so, I'll take care of everything. But maybe you could keep the twins away, we really don't need them here right now."

"That's no problem, I'll grab them and shoo them through the downstairs bathroom, they can get ready for bed there. That doesn't mean they have to go to sleep right then, though. In any case, Grandma will keep them busy for now."

"Sounds good, thanks, Dad. Oh, what about the dogs, they have to go out again too."

Oh, yes, dogs had to go out, no matter if it was fog gy, rain ing, blizzarding or if you actually wanted to do something else. But Alexandre's father had a solution for that, too.

"Don't worry about the walking flea hotels, Grandpa and I will take them for a little spin, and if that's not possible because of too much snow, we'll at least send them out back to the field."

"Flea hotels, now really! Micco doesn't have fleas! And if he did, it would be Grandpa's fault, he's his vet after all!"

"Exactly, and neither does Branko. What a nasty slander!"

Uncle François laughed softly to himself.

"Well, I hope so. Elias, will your dog obey us? If we want to put him on a leash and all."

"That's no problem, he knows that you 're part of the team until further notice. And when you send the dogs out into the field, you can let him off the leash too, he'll definitely come back when you call him."

"Good to know that. Well, see you later, and please try not to flood the bathroom completely."

"Haha, Dad, you'll have to be more careful with Joël and Noël, as far as I know them they don't want to take a shower, they want to take a bath. And what happens then... well, let's say we should think about building an ark."

Now we were all laughing, and Uncle François hurried to get to the potential flood triggers. My boy friend thought for a moment, then turned to Elias.

"You didn't bring any clothes, do you want me to pick out some pajamas of mine? Washed, of course!"

Ha, I would need something like that, too. I wondered if the morning shopping trip had been successful?

"Hehe, I certainly hope so! And yes, that's a good idea."

"Okay, then I'll do that. Also you don't have to go to bed right after the shower, I have to prepare the couch for you anyway. But I won't do that until we don't need it for anything else anymore."

"You are the host and know your way around here."

"Well, I'll push you into the bathroom for now, and then you'll have to tell me how to help you."

"Well first you'd have to show me the bathroom, I'm really starting to need it."

Alex looked over at me.

"Lio, will you go to my room? I hope you don't get bored while I'm helping Eli."

"Don't worry, I'll keep myself busy somehow. I have to read and answer an email from my parents anyway."

"Oh, okay. If your provider has a web interface, you're welcome to use my computer for that. Writing long emails isn't that much fun on smartphones."

"That would be cool, I'm afraid it will be a long email. My parents expect a response from me today, including some explanations. You know, about the skirt and the tights and Alexandre."

"About me? Then I hope you will write them only good things about me!"

Cheekily, I grinned at my friend.

"We'll see..."

"Hmph. You go on over there, I'll join you in a minute and unlock the computer."

Alexandre's computer was locked? Well, maybe it was better that way, with the twins and their bitch sister in the house. I went over to my boyfriend's bedroom and made myself comfortable at the desk. There was a big iMac on it, I wouldn't have any trouble with that since we used the same system at home. I tapped the keyboard and the screen came to life - prompting me to log in.

"Okay, here I am already. Ah, you've already woken up the computer. Let me have the keyboard for a moment, please."

I did as Alex asked, and shortly thereafter the computer was ready to be maltreated by me.

"Have fun, I just hope your parents won't cause you any problems."

I didn't really assume that they would, our old folks were actually very open and liberal-minded.

"I don't think so, they're just a little curious, I guess."

"Hehe, okay. I'll just get some stuff together for Eli and me, because I'm about to get ready too, then I'll leave you to your correspondence."

I just nodded, then set about logging into my email account. Sure enough, there was an email waiting for me with the headline 'What the hell!'. Giggling, I opened the parental letter.

It looked as if Aunt Paula had already done some preparatory work and softened the initial shock a bit. Mom and Dad wanted to know exactly why they had been sent photos of me in a skirt and tights, so after a moment's thought, I hit the keys. I could only hope that they wouldn't hold it against Lia and me that we had let Auntie run into a brick wall with her obsession over what kind of clothes boys and especially girls should wear.

I briefly summarized what had happened at the Christmas party, which then logically led to writing about Alexandre and how he had made me repeat wearing a skirt the next day. Of course, I didn't forget to mention how I had returned the favor to him!

Next, I described the Christmas Market visit with all its consequences, but completely omitted my stroller -versus-flowerbox rescue action. Mom and Dad didn't need to know everything, and it would have sounded like I was bragging.

I decided that this was the right time for some reproaches on my part. Like for sending the poor offspring out into the cold mountain winter, unprepared and ill-equipped! I knew that in our area no teenager would think of putting on long underwear or tights, but here? Here that was almost mandatory, if you did not want to end up deep frozen!

I thought that I should probably finish the email, before it turned into a full-sized novel (in three volumes!). That in mind I only gave a short description about what had happened today and how I ended up to spend the night in a strange house. In the room of my boy friend. In the bed of my boy friend! Hrhr! If Lia did that, I knew that our parents would hijack the next tangible supersonic jet and come flying in. Sometimes being gay did have its advantages!

Finally, I wished Mom and Dad a nice cruise and reminded them that they were due for a video call the next day. Possibly as a conference call, it was not yet clear when I would be back at Auntie 's place. I added g reetings and goodbye and 'love you', then I sent the email on its way. And even though I trusted Alexandre, I deleted all private data from the browser after logging out of my account. This had become second nature to me after hearing a story from a classmate. The poor guy had been watching certain... videos on the Internet, which his little sister had stumbled across. She had nothing better to do than to inform his parents. I really didn't need such a drama!

At that moment there was a knock at the door, and after a short wait Uncle François entered.

"Ah, have you been left all alone, Lio?"

"Yes, Alex and Eli are in the bathroom together, Alex said he was about to get ready for bed too. I used the quiet time to write an email to my parents."

"Good, I hope you wrote it in such a way that they won't be too worried about you."

"Worried about me? Not because of a little snow."

"Hehe, it's clearly more than a little snow by now, Lio. I think a good half meter has accumulated over the last few hours, and considerably more in snowdrifts."

"Cool! Finally, real winter, and at Christmas too!"

"That's one way to look at it. Well, I guess you are bound to love this when you come from an area where snow is snorted rather than turned into snowmen."

Snorted... Ah, hehe, yeah, right.

"Okay, I'll leave you alone again, I found a cane for Elias, I'll bring it over to the bathroom in a minute. He might prefer that thing to the rolling table."

That was probably a safe assumption. My boy friend's father disappeared and I was alone again. I rose from my desk chair and wandered to the window. In the light of the street lamps, I could see that it was still snowing heavily, although at the moment not quite as bad as it had been two hours ago. Still, if it continued like this, we would have to let the dogs out of the second floor windows to have their morning walk tomorrow!

After watching the snowflakes whirl around for a while, I made myself comfortable in an armchair and dozed off. I didn't have much time for that, though, because a little later the door to the room opened again and Elias came limping in with his cane. He was wearing dark blue, warm-looking pajamas and fluffy socks to go with them, so he wouldn't be cold even if he didn't crawl under the covers yet. Half beside him, half behind him, Alex entered the room, lightly guiding the blind teenager by his unaided arm, and OH MY GOD!

Alexandre was also wearing pajamas. Also in blue, although a bit brighter and shinier, royal blue I guess they called it. Alexandre's pajamas also looked decently warm. At this point, however, the similarities to the model worn by Elias ended. Where the latter was plain, my friend's had lots of wintry motifs on it, igloos, snowflakes, sleds, penguins on skis, snowmen on snowboards and so on.

But the differences didn't end there. Alex was clearly in a one-piece pajama with a long zipper down the front! And fluffy socks weren't needed by my friend either, since this onesie had foot parts, just like the sleepers of the dwarfs! Cool!

Alexandre led Elias to an armchair, but then changed his mind.

"Wait a minute, we'd better put you down on the couch, you can put your damaged foot back up there."

"That's a good idea, and there your dad can take care of it better."

"Exactly. Okay, we're standing right in front of it, turn around. Wait... Lio, can you please take his cane, it's getting in the way when he sits down."

I jumped up and freed Elias from his walking aid so Alex could continue.

"Okay, please lift your injured foot and I'll lower you down slowly and carefully."

The two older teens did just that, and a moment later Elias was lying backwards on the couch, his left foot resting on three sofa pillows stacked on top of each other.

"Ah, that feels good. Even though I pretty much didn't put weight on my wounded hoof, it now did hurt a little."

"We'll tell my dad that then, I guarantee he can give you something for the pain."

"Sounds good. Thanks a lot for now, Alex. When I need help, I sometimes feel like a toddler, but you didn't let that feeling come up at all. You don't feel sorry for me, and you don't put every word to the test before you say it. Thank you for that as well."

"You're welcome, and I know how you feel about that topic. And if you can joke about your situation, I can, too! "

"Hehe, yes, please don't hold back."

I had sat back down and watched what was going on, but now Alexandre was able to turn back to me. And turn he did, he stood in front of me and spun around several times."

"Voilà, here I am! Well, how do I look?"

"Like the big brother of the twins."

"Hehe, yeah. What do you think of the pattern?"

"Looks good, and it's a lot more grown up than their Paw Patrol motifs. Well, as grown up as a thing like that can ever look, hehe."

My boy friend chuckled softly.

"Yeah, I was very careful to make sure this thing just looked like made for a kid and not for a toddler."

Elias had been following this conversation with growing wonder, now he wanted to know what exactly it was about.

"Uh, tell me... what kind of thing are you talking about? And why does it look like made for a kid?"

"Hehe, Alexandre is wearing a footed sleeper."

"Oh, like a baby onesie?"

That's not what my boy friend wanted to hear!

"Noooo! A footed sleeper, and they have those made for teenagers and even adults!"

Now it was Elias who giggled softly.

"Well if you say so... What kind of pattern, and what do Joël and Noël have to do with it?"

"Well, yesterday Lio and I were talking on FaceTime, and all of a sudden the dwarfs came bursting in. They were already in their pajamas, their footed sleepers to be exact. With a Paw Patrol motif, that's a cartoon series for little kids. Mine is bright blue and has all these winter motifs on it."

"Ah okay, but why are you wearing one of those now, Alex?"

"Hehe, because Lio was also already in bed and also wore a onesie himself. A simple one, though, completely without foot parts and patterns, just plain red. I was a bit surprised by it, but my sweetheart said that he likes onesies for sleeping, because they keep him nice and warm and no top can slip out of no bottom. Well, and when he saw the twins in their footies, he was so excited about it that I promised to try to get one of those for him too."

"Ah okay. I didn't know there was even such a thing. I mean for people who are older than the averagedaycare clientele."

"You can get them at the US Store in Rungstein, that's where Grandma got them for the dwarfs. She wasn't really sure if the twins would wear them, but Joël and Noël fell in love with them right away."

"Cool. Or warm, I guess. But that still doesn't explain why YOU are running around in one of these, Alex. You were going to get one for Lio, weren't you?"

"Ha, yes, and I did. But he and the twins insisted I get me one of those sleepers, too. Well, and this morning I went to the store with Grandma and made sure they got some more good business on the last day before Christmas. One for Lio, one for me and one for Lio's sister. Now I won't need to look for Christmas gifts for them anymore. "

I was starting to get worried, though. I wondered what kind of pattern Alex had picked out for me? Well, something like 'My little pony' would be appropriate for my sister, but I'd rather have something along the lines of what Alexandre was wearing. Oh, and don't tell Lia what I said about her and 'My Little Pony'!

"Really nice of you. Do you mind if I take a look at it later? I mean, pat it down?"


Alexandre was clearly surprised by this request and looked questioningly at me. That would go against the 'you can look but not touch', but I saw no problem there, after all my loverboy was textile covered from neck to toes! And besides, Elias was so not gay, nothing would happen. I nodded in agreement, and Alex answered his blind friend's question.

"Go ahead, but there's a certain body part you're leaving out please, it's just mine and Lio's."

"What... ah haha, I get it. But Lio, don't worry, I won't touch your boy friend indecently. If I wanted to, I could have done it in the shower, we even were both naked then."

Uh oh...

"You showered together?"

"Yes, Lio, we did. After all, I had to show Eli where everything was, we have a pretty exclusive shower system with lots of settings. And since I didn't want to soak my clothes during my demonstrations, I also stripped right down and jumped under the water with him. Don't worry, the shower is designed for two people or a sumo wrestler anyway, so there was pretty much no touching."

"It's okay, I trust both of you, and after all, that was really an exceptional situation."

The two older teens breathed a sigh of relief, I however now really had a burning question.

"Alex, will you please show me my sleeper? I want to have my shower now, too. And I don't want to be the only one left in his day clothes. "

"Ah, okay, you're probably already excited about what a nice sleeper I picked out for you, right?"

"Excited? More like worried!"

My boy friend laughed, then went to one of his closets and pulled out something black from it. He unfolded it and held it up to me.

"Well, how do you like it?"

Cat Noir! Cool! Okay, a little less 'grown up' than the one Alexandre was wearing, but well, he was fourteen months older than me. But now I should probably first calm him down a bit, he looked at me a little nervously, waiting for my reaction.

"Good choice, Alex."

"You like the motif?"

"Yes, I do. I just hope the dogs won't bite me when I'm running around as a two-legged cat."

Alex chuckled as he thrust ed the sleeper into my hand s.

"I'll protect you with my life if I need to, Lio. By the way, Grandma ran them through the washer and dryer right after we got back from the store, you can put this on without worrying. Did you see that yours has some extras?"

Extras? I unfolded the footie completely, then had a fit of laughter! This thing did have extras! First, there was a hood with attached cat ears. There also was a cat tail on the lower back, and the soles of the feet were shaped like cat paws.

"Wow, cool! You picked really well, Alex, thank you!"

My boy friend was now very relieved, and more importantly, very pleased with himself.

"You really mean that, Lio?"


"Great! Oh, you can take the tail off for the night, it's just attached with v elcro."

That was good to know, it might get a little uncomfortable sleeping on my back otherwise.

"Will you guys please tell me what Lio thinks is so cool? And what kind of cattail are we talking about?"

Hopefully the surgery in Americanistan would really give Elias the ability to see, he would probably spend the first few years just admiring the world around him.

"Will you explain it to him, Alex? I'd like to go through the bathroom now."

"I will, no problem. There are towels, washcloths and toothbrush stuff for you to the left of the sink. You can throw your laundry in the hamper, Eli did the same with his. Grandma will throw them in the washing machine later today, so you'll have fresh clothes to wear tomorrow."

That was a good idea, and I decided to specifically thank Alexandre's grandmother for it.

"Okay, then I'll leave you guys alone for a while. Alex, you can let Elias pat you down in the meantime."

"No, we'll wait with that until he has to get up again anyway and you're here too. Go on then, get wet."

I nodded and made my way to the bathroom. It was pleasantly warm, so I didn't hesitate for long and got rid of my day clothes, which I transferred to the aforementioned laundry basket. Afterwards I went to the shower cabin, and I understood why Alex had showered together with Elias. The thing had lots of jets spraying water at the occupant from different directions and at different heights. In addition to a hand shower, there was a rain shower head hanging from the ceiling, and shortly thereafter I actually felt like I was in a warm summer rain. Hm, fortunately, the shower head did not adhere to the local weather forecast - naked in the snowfall would not be fun!

Too late I remembered that my hair would also get wet, Alex and Elias had probably thought of it in time, because they had come back from the shower with dry heads. Ah what the heck, my hair would dry again. And now that they were already wet, I washed them thoroughly, the shower gel on the shelf was also usable as shampoo and also smelled very pleasant.

After I had washed me thoroughly I turned off the water flowing in on me from all directions and was about to open the door of the shower stall when I noticed another button. On it was a fan symbol - I had never seen anything like that in a shower before! My curiosity took over and I pushed the button. In the next moment I was blasted with warm air from all sides and above and below! A full body hair dryer! Now that was genius! I slowly spun around, and after a minute or two I was completely dry. Why hadn't Alexandre pointed this out to me, but talked about towels?

Dry and warm I left the shower cabin and went to the sink. There was not much more to do there, I brushed my teeth and that was it. That meant, however, that I was not allowed to eat anything again today - or I would have to brush my teeth again later. Oh well, at the moment I was still too full to even think about eating anything.

Now it was time to put on my new footed sleeper, and I was curious if it was really as warm as it looked and felt. I grabbed it, settled down on a stool, and pulled the zipper all the way down. The sleeper wasn't cut as close to the body as the tights, so I was able to get into the legs just like that. Rising from the stool again, I pulled it up my body and tucked my arms into the sleeves - but in doing so, I encountered a completely unexpected resistance!

Were the sleeves sewn shut? I carefully felt around the obstacle with my left hand, and suddenly it worked. I pushed my hand further and looked at the end of the sleeve, eager to see what would happen there. The next moment, I widened my eyes in amazement, only to burst into loud laughter. A glove! The sleeve ended in a glove, more precisely in a finger glove, and at the ends of the fingers were fake cat claws, made of thick fabric! I pushed my hand completely inside and then held it up to my eyes. Totally cool! However, unlike the tail, the gloves were not removable. Oh well, at least I wouldn't freeze off my fingers.

A little later, my entire body, except for my face, was encased in the special sleeper, and I discovered yet another extra. Built into the hood was an eye mask, which I pulled in front of my eyes. A look in the mirror showed me that I now really almost looked like Cat Noir! I grinned and made my way back to Alexandre's room.

Once there, I found Alex and Elias were french kissing. Of course they weren't! No, the two were no longer alone in the room, Uncle François had joined them and was busy treating Elias' foot.

"Oh God, that's cold, Uncle François."

"Colder than the cold pack? Very good! That being said, be glad I'm putting this stuff on your foot and not your hand, because then it would be much closer to your nose, and believe me, it smells awful! But it helps and should ease the pain."

"Um...okay, thanks."

"You're welcome. And now I'll put a tight bandage around it, so if you feel some pressure it's just right. Still, you should continue to put as little weight on the foot as possible. It's also good to keep it elevated. Enjoy the opportunity to let Alexandre wait on you from front to back. Unlike your everyday life, until further notice, anything you don't do yourself is good for you, got it?"

"Understood, doctor."

"You too, Alex?"

"Yes, Dad, understood."

"Good. By the way, your pajamas are cute."

"Hehe, well look at Lio to see something really cute!"

Alexandre's father turned in the direction his son had pointed and laughed.

"Now that's just adorable!"

I raised my hands and formed dangerous claws with my fingers.


My boy friend came scampering up to me and gave me a quick kiss on the mouth.

"Be a good kitty cat, Lio!"


"Much better already. Oh man, I hadn't seen those gloves. Where were they?"

"They were still hidden in the sleeves, and they don't come off either."

"Hehe, well, they probably won't bother you sleeping either. Just try to not scratch me. What about the mask?"

"It's built into the hood, but I can push it away."

"Cool. Do you still like this thing?"

"Um... Honest answer?"

"Of course."

"Okay, you ask ed for it. No, I don't like the sleeper anymore."


"Now I love it!"

Alexandre's face, which was on the verge of slipping into sadness, turned back into a radiant smile. And already his lips landed on mine again.

"Great. I was getting worried, that thing is a notch fancier than mine or the twins'."

"That's okay, I'm a notch fancier too."

"Oh, yeah? Well, you're not conceited at all."

"Not conceited, just realistic. Remember the skirt."

My boy friend laughed out loud, then put an arm around my waist and led me to an armchair.

"Right again. Come on, let's sit down while Dad finishes doctoring Elias."

Alex settled into the chair and then pulled me onto his lap.


I leaned back, sighing contentedly, and Alexandre put his arms around my stomach.

"Hmm you smell like vanilla, Lio."

"Of course, that was a vanilla scented shower gel. You smell like it too."


"Nah, I love vanilla scent, especially at Christmas. By the way, the shower is really super awesome! Especially the dry er function. Why didn't you tell me about that before I went to the bathroom, if I hadn't been so curious, I wouldn't even have discovered it."

"Oh, sorry, I hadn't thought of that at all, I guess I got too used to it. But yeah, that thing is really awesome. You should see Micco when we give him a bath and blow him dry in the shower afterwards."

I laughed out.

"I'd really like to see that sometime, it must be a picture for the gods."

Meanwhile, Uncle François had finished bandaging Elias' damaged foot and was putting the sock back on. Turning his head briefly to his son, and thus to me, he could not hold back a grin.

"It really is, Lio. Alexandre's tail-wagger then looks like a burst sofa cushion. His fur stands up in all directions, and it makes his body look twice as large as it already is."

Now I really wanted to see this!

"Okay, Elias, all done. Any pain?"

"Not at the moment, thank you, Uncle François."

"Good. Look, there's a little box on the desk with a pill, you take it half an hour before you go to bed. It's a combination of a mild painkiller and a sleeping pill, so you should be able to spend the night pain-free, and more importantly, asleep. Alex will help you to take it. And if you do have problems during the night, my son will call me, though it shouldn't come to that."

Both Elias and the aforementioned son confirmed that they had understood the doctor's instructions, then the uncle doctor left the room, but promised that the adults would all come back later.

But there was no peace, because as soon as Uncle François left the room, Joël and Noël came rushing in. After two meters they stopped, gawked, gawked again, then stared at me with wide eyes.

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