A Birthday Surprise
Willow wasn’t sure what precisely went wrong or when exactly her plans for the day had gone to complete hell, however given her track record lately, she really should have expected it.
She really did have the best of intentions, especially since it involved one of her good friends…well, her only good friend, anyway. This particular person had always been there for her, had saved her from potential death (and a potentially very expensive therapy bill) a few months ago, and was quite possibly one of the most interesting people she had the pleasure to meet.
Felix was a diamond in the rough; one of a kind. Especially when his kind was rare and sported 8 legs.
Yep. That’s right. 8 legs. Felix was what the internet christened a ‘Drider’. Half human, half arachnid. Willow had done copious amounts of research on the subject when she returned home after Felix nursed her back to health from being attacked by a possible rapist/robber/murder/all around scumbag.
It was crazy enough to know that something such a Drider actually existed, let alone the fact that she befriended one. She couldn’t deny that knowing Felix had brought a certain sort of excitement to her life, one that she didn’t even realize she was missing until she found it.
Plus she was learning all sorts of intriguing things about him. Like the fact that he didn’t know what a birthday was. This was discovered during a discussion between the two during a nightly visit to his den, when Willow found out that her dear comrade could recall when he was born.
“How do you not know when your birthday is?!” she had asked him, flabbergasted. It was practically common knowledge to know and celebrate the date of your birth in her world.
The drider merely shrugged his shoulders at her, slightly amused at the expression on her face. “I just never thought about it or kept track of it…should I have? It’s never been important before…”
And that’s what sparked the whole idea of showing Felix what it meant to have a birthday. Willow had it all meticulously planned. After work, she’d head to the bakery in town and would pick out something small, like a small cake or cupcakes (she wasn’t sure if Felix had ever tasted sweets before and wasn’t certain what his reaction would be). She’d head back home and get his present all wrapped and ready, and once it was closer to sunset, she’d make her way to his little burrow tucked away in the forest near the park, hide herself behind the closest tree and surprise him. It was foolproof.
Or so she thought.
The first part of her plan was executed perfectly. However, it wasn’t too long after getting closer to the entrance to Felix’s burrow that Willow ran into a problem. Literally. Thanks to the dimming light in the sky, she hadn’t noticed the giant spider web in front of her until it was too late.
A string of explicatives left her as she dropped the birthday gift and cake, which were quickly snared in the sticky threads. “I REALLY need to start paying more attention to my surroundings! And it probably wouldn’t hurt to start carrying a freaking flashlight with me either…” she grumbled, not thrilled with her lack of insight (or common sense).
The filaments of this web created a big blob or mass that stuck to the trunks of the nearest trees to suspend unsuspecting prey into the air. Unsuspecting prey like her.
The idea zoomed through Willow’s mind that maybe Felix was just carelessly practicing his web making skills; however this web seemed different somehow. From what she’d seen, Felix always made circular, tunneled webs to rest or conceal himself in. While this one had a tunnel-from what she could see anyway, it was growing too dark for her to notice anything-it was messier, disorganized somehow.
Either way, she was rendered immobile and didn’t dare move in fear of entrapping herself even further. She couldn’t stop herself from wondering why these things always seemed to happen to her. All she wanted was to do something nice for her friend, damn it.
“Felix! Are you there! Come get me out of this stupid web!” Willow called out in hopes that the recluse wasn’t too far away to hear her. Did he go off to hunt for dinner earlier than usual? “FELIX!”
An unexpected feminine voice purred at her from above “…Hmmm…Felix you say?”
Willow whipped her head upwards towards the treetops. It was a futile effort; her weak human eyes couldn’t see crap.
Sudden movement. Something large was descending down the web towards her. Against her better judgment, Willow began to struggle, only to further entangle her body in the thick spider’s silk.
The thing was coming closer, and then out of nowhere, a face popped up in front of hers, almost nose to nose.
She couldn’t help it; Willow screamed in surprise.
It was a pretty female with fiery auburn hair that cascaded down her bare shoulders. Her eyes, pupiless and glowing an eerie amber, stared at Willow with gleaming hunger. The poor human could barely make out the bulbous thorax that trailed behind the mystery woman.
Oh great. This was another drider. There were more out there?!
Even better, this wasn’t a familiar drider- meaning she may not be as nice or pleasant as Felix, and would probably gobble Willow up without a second thought.
Maybe she’d listen to reason. “P-Please…” Willow began shakily. “You don’t wanna eat me.”
The female drider blinked in mild astonishment, then laughed heartily. “Oh? And why not?” She leaned in closer, her face brushing past Willow’s shoulder, and inhaled deeply. “Mmmm, you smell absolutely delicious, and you did wander directly into my web.”
Not exactly the compliment Willow wanted at the moment. “B-Because…I k-know another one of your kind; I-I’m actually h-ere to visit him, and I’m sure he wouldn’t appreciate you eating a f-friend of his!”
For the second time that night, the female drider sniggered at her. A flicker of irritation flowed through Willow. She may be like a fly caught in the spider’s web but come on now! Cut her some slack!
If she was at all daunted, the female certainly didn’t show it. Her head stayed close, her lips brushing against Willow’s ear as she whispered into it, causing an unwanted shiver to crawl down her spine. “Really…you did mention a name…Felix, wasn’t it? Am I to presume that he’s the one you are referring to?”
Willow gulped audibly. “Y-Yes.”
“Hmm, I see. Well then, we share a common interest, now don’t we? I’m also a companion of sorts to dear Felix. But I do not recall where he ever mentioned befriending a human. You could just be telling a lie to get out of your predicament. And I abhor liars.” To drive her point home, the female drider grinned, exposing long, sharpened teeth.
Willow’s eyes widened in desperation. This was looking bad for her. “N-No! It’s true! Look below-I was on my way over to surprise him! Y-You see, I brought him gifts. Why would I lie about that?! Y-you can even ask him-my name’s Willow!”
“Willow is it? Well then Willow, since you so kindly shared your name, I’ll share mine with you. After all, it may be the last thing you ever hear…I am rather famished.” Her nose grazed Willow’s cheek as she moved forwards to purr in her ear again. “It’s Maxine.”
“W-Well Maxine, now that we’re…acquainted, you can’t eat me! It wouldn’t be morally right!” Grasping at straws seemed to be the only thing Willow could do to try to keep from becoming this thing’s dinner. Damn it all, this wasn’t fair! Why did the universe conspire against her?! She didn’t want to die!
Maxine chuckled throatily. “I don’t think you understood me before. I’m hungry, and you my dear foolishly walked right into my trap. I’m sure Felix wouldn’t mind one less human in the world, especially one that knows of his existence and is a threat to him.” With a grin, the drider reared her head back to glare into her prey’s eyes. “Goodbye Willow, it was nice knowing you.”
Heart pounding painfully against her ribs, Willow whimpered and tightly shut her eyes as Maxine moved forwards. She could feel the monster’s breath on her neck; feel the trace of wet fangs against her skin as she poised to strike. This was it. Her luck had finally run out.
A masculine voice, loud and extremely angry, rang out into the clearing. “MAXINE!!! NO!”
The female drider jerked away from her prey like she’d been slapped with a frustrated growl. “Oh come on Felix, I was just having a little fun!” she pouted.
‘What?! A little fun?!’ Trembling, Willow hesitantly opened her eyes to find her savior darting up the webbing towards them. Felix was there! And he was pissed!
“F-Felix! Oh Thank GOD you’re here!” Willow exclaimed with a sob. It was difficult to hold back any emotions; she was mere seconds away from becoming Drider chow!
Upon reaching Willow, Felix gently braced her with one arm while using the other to help free her from her sticky bonds. Maxine hopped away towards an adjacent tree branch to allow him room to move; the web was big, but not roomy enough for two fully matured spider hybrids. The entire time Felix worked to release her from the web, he was yelling.
“I don’t care Maxine, you went too far! I only told you about Willow in the hopes that you’d meet her and befriend her; not scare her away! I’ll be lucky if she EVER decides to come around to visit after this!” He snarled, his fangs flashing at Maxine. Willow had never seen him this irate before and was glad that his wrath wasn’t aimed towards her. She almost-ALMOST- felt bad for the female drider.
For her part, Maxine winced, realizing that for the first time in a long while, her dear Felix was highly agitated at her and that picking on his little human probably wasn’t as great an idea as she originally thought. “I’m sorry! I was only teasing! I wasn’t going to eat her, promise! I’m sure that this won’t frighten her away, right?” She glanced over at the fragile human with pleading eyes. “You’re not going to stop being Felix’s friend over this, over me, right? I really didn’t mean any harm!”
Willow ignored Maxine’s panicked rambling as she exhaled in an effort to calm her nerves. Felix finally tore away the last of the strands holding her in place. With a sigh of relief, she practically leapt into his arms, burying her face into his bare chest as he caught her. “Thank you…” she murmured, her voice muffled. She could feel his sturdy arms as they wrapped around her, holding her close to him.
“I-I’m sorry I didn’t mention it the last time you came by…Maxine’s an old friend of mine…she’s from Australia and decided to stop by here for a few days. I guess I should have warned you about her…and warned you about how much of a trickster she can be.” Willow could feel Felix shift on his many legs in his discomfiture. “Are you ok?”
Was she ok? Willow nodded her answer then lifted her head up to gaze at his face. “Yeah…I am, now that I know she really wasn’t going to eat me…” Shifting her eyes towards the other drider, Willow smiled shakily. While she wasn’t completely in a forgiving mood, she could at least play nice with Felix’s other friend for his sake. “You were pretty convincing there, Maxine.”
Maxine smirked pridefully at the human female, only for her face to fall at the scowl that Felix was still shooting her way. “Y-yeah, well…er…I guess I did get a little carried away there. Anywho, it really is a pleasure to meet you Willow; Felix filled me in on how you two met, and I gotta tell ya, you’re extremely lucky that he was there to rescue you. He’s a good friend to have.”
Well that was something they both could agree on. Willow returned her attention to the recluse, who was still holding her and desperately trying to hide the blush threatening to form on his cheeks. “Yes, he really is.” She said with a slight smile. Felix returned the favor and smiled back at her.
With an uncomfortable cough, Maxine focused her attention elsewhere, picking up the objects Willow had dropped in her web earlier. The cake itself was a little banged up inside the box, but at least the goodie was still intact. “Anywho, Willow…didn’t you say you came here with a surprise for Felix?”
Oh yeah. The reason for her visit came rushing back to her. “Yes, I did actually! Remember when we were talking about what a birthday was? Well, in my…culture-I guess we can call it that-we celebrate the day a person is born every year on that date. Since you’ve never really celebrated your birthday, I figured we could have a small party here tonight, so I could show you what you’re missing out on.”
Willow pointed to the items Maxine was holding. “I brought you a birthday cake; it’s something we humans eat on birthdays, and I brought you a small gift. We wrap gifts in decorative paper and bows as a surprise, and give it to the birthday girl or boy to show our lo-to show our affection and gratitude that they were born and exist in the world.”
Felix was truly touched by the gesture. No one had ever really thought of doing anything like this for him before. “So…y-you wanted to show appreciation…for me being born? T-thank you.” He stammered shyly, not really knowing how to react.
“Alright then, how about we all go to your den Felix and enjoy some cake? Plus I want to see your face when you open your gift! You still have the lanterns and flashlights that I left there so I can actually see you, right?” Sometimes being merely human was such a drag when you friend was a supernatural predator with heightened senses.
The recluse chuckled at Willow’s enthusiasm. “Of course. Shall we then?”
Maxine grinned at Felix as the trio began to head towards the underground burrow’s entrance. “Yes, I’d like to try some of this…cake. And get to know Willow better.” She flashed the human a genuine smile. “I promise to try and behave myself, but I can’t make any guarantees that I won’t embarrass our dear Felix here!”
The birthday drider groaned as he walked ahead to open the ‘door’ to his home for the two ladies while Willow giggled at the poor recluse’s reaction. “Sounds great to me!”
Things may not have gone as she planned, but as she observed the two driders reminiscing over bites of dessert, Willow figured that all was well with how everything turned out. Besides, the most important thing was that Felix was having fun celebrating his first birthday with two friends. Now that’s what she’d call a success!