“...That's your name, isn't it.” He cradled the small body in his arms as he made his way across the rocky field. “Your name is Christofori.” The boy started glowing again, and cringed in pain. “I didn't mean anything, don't try!” he said quickly. The glow faded as quickly as it came. “And that's why you did... all that, because you have to grant a wish when someone says your name. You don't have a choice, do you?”
The boy shook his head, the movement barely visible in his exhaustion. Marcus bit his lip, then stumbled, barely catching himself in time to avoid dropping his young friend.
“I'm sorry.” He made his way carefully down the rocky slope. “I... I'm so sorry.”
Christofori didn't respond, shivering in his arms.
“I shouldn't have... I shouldn't have come here. My research—I'm so sorry.” Marcus fought against his own exhaustion as he struggled to get them both back to the cabin. “I didn't realize it would...” He fell silent, contemplating the full meaning of what he'd learned, as he trudged over the barren landscape.
Chris began coughing, prompting Marcus to speed up. A few of the little glowing stars shot up the slope to meet them, circling around Christofori in a panic. Marcus didn't say anything, just kept moving. Not much further to go.
The cabin finally came into sight, and Marcus almost smiled. “Hang on, Chris, we're almost there.” The stars shot to the door, whirling around the knob as they waited for him to arrive and let them in. He very slowly put Christofori down on a patch of clear ground by the cabin wall. The freezing metal of the doorknob stung his hands, and he bit his lip again as he fiddled with the key. The door finally swung open, and he picked the boy up again and brought him inside.
The cabin was warm, luckily. Close to thirty Wishes rushed around him as he carried Chris across to the small bed and wrapped the boy in the thick blankets. Some of them circled around his hands, unsure, and he spoke very quietly, trying not to disturb his young patient.
“He granted too many wishes.” Half true. For all he knew, the Wishes knew the entire story already. “He is exhausted, but I think he will be fine.”
This seemed to comfort the little stars, and they flew back up to near the cabin roof, watching from the ceiling beams as Marcus cared for their young prince. The boy's heartbeat was still strong, and his breathing was fine, though he wasn't responding. Marcus smiled, halfway. At least the kid was finally getting some sleep.
He moved off, leaving the boy exhausted in the too-big bed. Marcus shifted through the cabinets as quietly as he could, looking for something to eat. A can of soup came to hand, and he examined it, checking the expiration date. Close enough. He grabbed the can opener out of the drawer, and as he prepared the soup he watched the little stars circling the boy, unafraid to get too close now that Marcus was out of the way. They darted quickly through his hair, across every inch of exposed skin, trying to see if he was alright. Marcus would have smiled at their concern had it been unwarranted.
After about an hour, the soup was finally ready. He poured a bowl for himself, and one for Chris. What remained he poured into a wider bowl that he set on the small wooden table, waving some of the wishes over with a small motion. Only a few came, as the rest remained around the white-haired boy.
They cleared out quickly enough as he approached, and he shook the boy's shoulder gently. “Wake up, Chris. You need to eat something.”
The boy made a soft, protesting noise, but obeyed, sitting up in the cocoon of blankets. He looked up at Marcus with tired eyes,
“Here.” He handed Chris the soup, along with a spoon. “Eat that.”
Chris obeyed, though Marcus saw a tired tremor in his hands as he held the spoon. “You can go back to sleep once you're done.”
The boy nodded, and continued eating. Marcus looked up to the wishes that resided once more in the rafters. “There's some for you lot on the table.”
The little swarm descended on the bowl, trying the salty broth experimentally. They seemed to like it, and within a few moments the bowl was empty. A few began circling around what remained of his bowl, and with a sigh he surrendered it, watching the tiny stars as they ate.
Chris ate maybe half his bowl before he was too tired to hold the spoon anymore. Marcus took the bowl, rubbing an affectionate hand through the boy's hair. “Go back to sleep. You had a long day, you know.”
Chris nodded wearily, then collapsed again on the bed. The wishes once again conducted their examination of his hair and skin, then, satisfied, they attacked the remains of his food.
“Heh.” Marcus watched them tiredly. “Have to make another pot...” He trailed off, nodding off to sleep in the chair by the little heater. A few of the wishes examined him, though not with the same intimate care that they had their prince, then shot back up to the rafters.
Wrote this in December, and just now got around to posting it. I don't know if I've posted much of this story before, but it's been around for a while. It's not the sort of thing I normally post, mainly because it doesn't have the same sort of emotional power as most of my stuff. Also, the title is lame, I know. Anyway, let me know what you think!