Nah - I haven't forgotten you and I'm sorry to have kept you waiting. Real life intruded with intent, bearing buckets, powered tools and ladders (unpowered) and declared my place a disaster area. I really love my friends (even though they packed my computer into the furthest corner they could find). The entire apartment is renovated and, yes. Life is good. And I love my friends, did I say that? My belly flutters when I think of them.

It took a while to excavate the computer (actually, I bought a new one, it's neat and it hasn't crashed on me yet (excessive use of ctrl+S is still a spinal reflex)) but - here goes:

Disclaimer: Real people slash - I don't know any of the people in this story, everything is made up (admittedly with some heavy influence from the outpourings from the entertainment industry). Oh, and I really don't wish to encourage dark occult practices. Really, really not.

Warnings: explicit language, dark voodoo-like practices (that I earnestly discourage), nakedness (no discouragement to that) and sex (or that) between men.

Navigation: It's been months since the last installment. You might like some help in remembering what has happened so far. I've added a résumé (copied from my homepage) at the top; it is followed by an excerpt from the previous chapter. Of course you can also go straight to the new chapter.

Response: Please, yes.

Hugs and virtual gushes of love. (No! I'm not on anything! Sheesh.)



The chapters of

The Tail of the Tiger

Prologue: The Winner

In Denmark: Johanne, Mikkel's mother, convinces him that he should be the one to check up on his grandmother, "Mormor" Rose, in Florida. Rose has been hospitalized with a fractured leg.

1. The Wounded Dragon

Mikkel arrives in Orlando and meets Mormor for the first time after he's become a (sober) grownup. She is not overly joyed to see him at first. Mikkel has moved into her house and is taking care of her dogs.

2. Cousin Tom

Tom, an until then unknown cousin, drops by in the middle of the night. His parents, Jennifer and Frank, has kicked him out for being gay. The following day Mikkel picks up some of Tom's things from Jennifer's and Frank's place. Jennifer is there and perhaps she has a gun in her pocket.

3. Chris Finds His Busta

Chris comes by to look at the pups that Mormor has for sale. Mikkel discovers by accident that Chris has a sexy belly - with a lovetrail.

4. The Dragon's Oath

Chris drops by in the morning to be with the pups. Later in the day Mikkel and Tom goes to the hospital and Tom tells Rose what has happened between him and his parents. He accepts her offer to live with her.
Tom's coach turns out to be supportive of Tom.

5. The Deep End

A dangerous evening for a pup: Chris forgets to close the gate and the dogs go exploring the world. Busta nearly drowns in a swimming pool. Chris and Mikkel ward off an alien pupnapping attempt.

6. Visitors

Tom's parents come to Rose's house. There is a fight in the living room, when Frank wants to beat Paul, Tom's boyfriend. Later, Paul's father, Paul, arrives, afraid for his boy.
Chris gets a good night story.

7. Demolition Team

Mmm. Chris and power tools. Chris and Mikkel are hunted by monstrous alligators. Chris shows Mikkel what "make out" means in the tongue of the locals.

8. Homerun

When Joey and Dani pop up, it becomes apparent that Chris has some trouble getting his friends to accept that he is getting a dog.
Chris needs some time on his own; he's not entirely comfortable with his new-found sexuality.

9. Echoes

JC watches the lightning with Mikkel.
Niller, an old friend, contacts Mikkel and old wounds open - the result is that during the week, Mikkel works himself into exhaustion and a minor breakdown.
Tom has gotten Ian, a class mate of his sister Maria's, to smuggle a phone to school, so that Tom can talk with Maria. He misses her and their parents are watching her like vultures.

10. Through the Window

Tom and Mikkel talk about Mikkel's breakdown. Mikkel tells him about his friends Niller, Karlo, Palle and his first boyfriend Martin who all left him and disappeared without a trace eight years earlier.
Mormor comes home; her friends Sara, Karen and Beth are over for dinner. Mikkel has taken a dislike to Karen.
Chris shows his skills at break and entry. They have sex for the first time.

11. Picture Perfect

A sleeping cobra, a stampeding smoke alarm, stupid photographs and a sweaty Sunday. Pretty idyllic - Chris style.

12. Fred

Mormor, Chris and Mikkel take the pups to the vet. On the way Chris and Mikkel see the poodle Fred figuring out a thing or two about bitches.
Lance and Justin both have a fight with Chris in Joey's yard. For differing reasons, Justin and Lance are upset about Chris buying Busta. Justin leaves in anger. Lance and Chris work it out. Chris' hair is invaded by wriggly aliens with weird death rituals. JC is set on killing them off.

13. Fred's Dance, part 1

Lance, Chris and Mikkel put up a fence in Joey's garden. Chris is in a bad mood and the team spirit suffers somewhat. He gets better and there is pinky holding on the porch.

13. Fred's Dance, part 2

Chris' and Mikkel's romancing takes up the entire yard and ends in the pool.
Accidentally, Chris outs himself to his group mates. JC freaks out and leaves.
Chris and Mikkel go out drinking and smoking. Jealousy rears its head and Chris picks a fight with a tank. Chris and Mikkel agree to date exclusively.

13. Fred's Dance, part 3

Chris finally gets to take Busta home.
We meet Ian who's Tom human link to his sister Maria.
The result from the vet shows that one of Mormor's pups suffers from a liver shunt.
Mikkel has a family crisis back home. His parents are presently at war with one another.
Justin has miraculously thawed and talks with Mikkel. Lance is still unsettled by Chris and Mikkel being together, but he is trying to accept it. Chris works himself through some issues involving his rear end, and finds a tree to hug.
It takes a few tries but Chris and Mikkel actually work out the logistics of fucking.

14. Gating

Mormor, Mikkel, Lance, Joey and Chris go playing at a club on a lake. Mormor gets herself a date.
Mikkel is hunted by clocks until six, when he's past the last statute of limitations, a smuggle run ten years ago.
JC has disappeared; the other four members of 'NSync goes looking for him.
JC returns and finds Mikkel at Joey's house. When JC hears where Chris and Justin are at he gets upset. JC cannot get in contact with them so he and Mikkel go looking. They break into a park and manage to save Chris and Justin from Sasha's brothers, The Steroid Five.


A parallel story to the Tail. JC's point of view. Explains in part where he was when he disappeared, and why he freaked when he first saw Chris and Mikkel kissing. (Written for the Summer Cross-over Challenge.)


Excerpt from the end of chapter 14:


"I hate guns," I told Chris.

He rubbed my shoulder.

"They change people." Palle with the black pistol in his hand and a mad gleam in his eyes. Ordering people around.

"Dude. Being dead is major change."

"Oh... Nobody died. Or was wounded." And that - that was really something to be happy about. "That was luck. I was thinking - when my friend pulled out that fucking gun, it was like I didn't know him anymore. He was totally out of whack. I mean, so they were going to cheat us, but what's a few kilograms of stupid Dutch speed compared to... What do you say when friends turn into strangers, doing stupid things with guns?"

Chris had stiffened. "Scram!" he snapped.

My heart skipped beats and then took off at high speed, and everything collapsed inside me. I hadn't realized just how vulnerable I was right then and how stupid, letting my mouth run as if...

Of course Chris wouldn't hang around with drug smuggling idiots and alliances of occasionally gun-horny maniacs. He was smart like that.

"Sorry," Justin said behind me.

"And flush the can." Chris said after him.

I stared at Chris. He held my gaze without disgust... I looked and looked and perhaps there wasn't going to be any disgust. He stuck his tongue out at me. "Fucker," was all I could say, embarrassed by my distrust. Chris grinned. I hid my face by his neck; the relief was so overwhelming that I couldn't keep the water works entirely under control.

"Stop that," he muttered and wrapped himself around me. I bit him and he chuckled.



The Tail of the Tiger, Chapter 15

Rites of passage

Chris and I were in Lance's room. Justin had gone downstairs - probably the speed with which he had left when Chris told him to scram should have alerted me to Chris' mood.

Chris sat across my lap, hands resting on my shoulders and forehead snuggled against my neck. The lazy-tired kissing had stopped. He appeared relaxed - but through the cosy haze in my mind I became increasingly aware of the steadily growing whir in him, a whir like that of a powerful dynamo coming to life deep underground.

I slid my hands up Chris' back; his skin didn't reach for more touches, neither was it tensing to push me away. He was deep inside himself. It would have been way more reassuring had he been pacing and thinking, or kicking the walls and thinking. Chris quiet, focused and whirring with hidden power was - ominous.

"What are you doing?" I asked when it started to really freak me out.

The seconds ticked by... "Working on a curse."

Now, that was reassuring.

Not that I was an expert on curses, my knowledge was almost entirely based on myths and fairy tales. The curse I had struggled with during the day had been a minor kind of curse and a short-lived one.

Chris was unlikely to bother with anything simple.


"... What?"

"You mean one of those big, dark ones full of pestilence and destruction?"

"Yeah. Yeah, one of those. Actually, it's more like a bunch of 'em."

"Oh." How to distract him from that particular path of peril? He was still whirring with the power of that hellish dynamo. "Did you hear that I Want You Back has entered Top 10?" I had begun checking odd kinds of places on the Internet.

"Mmm... No."

"It jumped from twelve to nine."


Help! "Ah, how about a blowjob? Or - hey, I could lick your ass, and bite it a little at that spot that makes you jump and then I could lick around a lot before I stick my tongue-"

He jabbed me. "Stop that."

Hey, that's a good idea! He's heating up, I can feel it. Take his pants off.

"My fingers wriggling inside you and your dick sliding all the way down my throat. I really like it when your thighs-"

I have an idea! I slide all the way inside- ouch. Tie him up!

Chris, after giving me another poke, had pulled back to glare at me.

"Hum. Lick your knees and tickle your big, big feet?"

Lick nice Chris-feet! Beautiful glare! Hot!

"Fucker," he growled and squirmed off off me.

No! Catch him! I'm not finished!

Chris began pacing and grumbling, sending me quick warning glares that almost set my clothes afire. I trusted it was better this way, the anger closer to the surface and not spinning faster than light in depths out of reach.

Hot! So hot!

"Who are those guys that you're cursing?" I shut Lance's computer down.

"Lou. Motherfucking bastard Lou. I want his dick to turn into a maggot, you know one of those white-"

I knew exactly what he meant. "Yes, I know."

"-slimy, soft things that stink worse than zombies made from fucking roadkill."

It seemed more plausible that the source of the smell was the environment that the maggots grew up in rather than the maggots themselves. I told Chris so but he didn't listen; he was busy expanding on the curse. Something about Lou's nose growing an obscene mouth that would speak really embarrassing truths and had black, rotten teeth.

What did Lou do to JC?

And why is Chris here and not downstairs for this?

"You know what that slimy maggot-dick did?"

"No. Are you going to tell me?"

He wasn't listening to me but he answered anyway, talking quickly, and using and re-using what walk-space he had on the floor of Lance's room. "He cut JC down until there was fucking nothing left." His hands blurred, slicing the air into ragged chunks. "And you know, all this time, we've been fucking blaming Nikki and AJ for it - and it was that maggot ass-hole Lou that did it, like, he fucking broke JC."

It wasn't like I understood much of that. AJ and JC had seen on friendly enough terms when they talked. This was not the time to ask; Chris needed space to roll. It was pretty obvious that some lid had come off. I watched his agitated movements and the swiveling turns-

The hips are talking. Look at him turn - yes! Again. Ooh - the eyes burn, burn. Chris is fire! Lick him!

"JC is fucking stupid," came out a hiss. "You know what I hate? I hate it when things happens right under my nose, important things, and I don't fucking notice!"

I nodded, afraid to interfere and upset the flow, hoping it would run dry before he did something stupid. I would like to have my hands on the neck of this Lou person.

"I told him - I told him, way back, never trust Lou, never let anyone be alone with Lou, and JC... Fuck. Did the spazz listen?"

And perhaps I had found the reason for Chris being here and not downstairs. Joey had told me that Lou was like an uncle. Chris being here probably meant that the last thing Joey and JC needed now was somebody flinging lightning bolts of anger. Are they okay? The mother hen in me was a panicking schizoid piece of poultry; the only thing she could agree with herselves on was wanting to take a rolling pin to the head of this Lou guy. Chris was hurting, he was so mad...

"No of course he didn't. We made a deal, and JC fucking didn't listen. It's - fuck!" He strode out of the room and kicked open the door to his own room. I followed and found him digging around in his over-filled drawers. "Ha! I knew I had it. Here, shape it." He thrust a handful of something at me, and turned around to do some more digging.

I unwrapped the lump. It was plasticine. There were faint traces of clear colors in the muddy dark gray. "What does he look like?"

"Big and fat. Like, sloppy fat."

There didn't seem to be plasticine enough for that.

Chris read my mind. "Just scale it down, idiot." He had found a small pack of thumbtacks and shook it by his ear. He nodded at the rattling sound and threw the pack on the bed.

"You know, I don't like curses-" Not that I didn't wish one on Lou. It was more the consequences for Chris that were worrying me. Chris didn't let me finish.

"Jesus! Do I have to do everything myself!" He reached out an irritated hand to take the plasticine back.

"No, no. I'll do it." I sat down on his bed and started squeezing the lump.

Chris' stare was full of suspicion. "Don't forget the dick. A small one."

"Sure. It's just, you should keep it simple. With all those embellishments, like the mouth and maggot-thing combined with this, the magic strands are likely to get tangled with each other. Curses work best when they are simple."


"Yes." It wasn't like I knew this - it was only my intuition yelling at me; the explanations were very much homemade. But he didn't need to know that I had no idea why it was so important to keep it simple. Basically, I didn't believe in black magic; if it was going to have an impact on anybody it was on Chris and not on Lou, and the effect would have nothing to do with outside dark powers.

So speaketh the rational mind.

"What do you know about curses, anyway?"

"They tend to backfire."

He snorted and stomped off. A couple of seconds later somebody was giving Joey's room a full body search.

The plasticine was easy to work, it wanted to be shaped. The figure was almost finished by the time Chris came back and sat down cross legged on the bed, facing me. He held a shoe box and two cards in his hand.

I held up the lump for Chris to see. "We could take a rolling pin to it, or drive it over with a car. Make it all flat like a pancake."

Suggestions were not welcome; Chris sent me a glare to shut me up and keep me going. I peeked at the card in his hand. The name of the recipient was Joseph Fatone. Chris carefully tore the sender's short but unreadable signature off and rolled it. I passed him the soft doll, and he pushed the paper roll into its belly before passing the doll back to me for the finishing touches.

The other card turned out to be a photograph of a fat man; at first sight he looked like an albino - of course it just could have been that the flash had been ungentle to him. For a moment I though of vampires; but, really, he wasn't good enough looking for that.

Chris was looking around, frowning and muttering under his breath. Then his face cleared, and he lifted the lid of the box, and brought out a little knife, a felt pen and a small padded box that had JLB embroidered on the lid. It was the knife that he had been looking for.

"I still think mixing black curses is a very stupid idea." Almost as bad an idea as using your thigh for a worktable when cutting thin card board with a sharp knife with a handle too small for proper control over the tool.

Chris snorted and looked up. "You finished?"

"With the doll, yes. With my protests - definitely not."

He put the knife and photograph away; my heart fell back into a more comfortable rhythm. "Well, give it to me."

The doll lost quite a lot of its shape once Chris began decorating it with thumbtacks and needles. The needles came from the little sewing kit in the padded box.

"You do this to all the business associates that you get angry with?"

Chris had the tip of his tongue pressed flat between his lips. He pulled it in for long enough to say, "No." He got another needle from Lance's sewing box before putting the lid back on it.

Somewhat nauseated I watched him carefully insert the last needle. "Gonorrhea?"

"Yep. Get your bag."

I got my bag and passed it to him. He pulled everything out and dumped it unceremoniously on the floor; then he took a pinch of the sand left in the bottom of the bag, pushing it between the buttocks of the doll. The gonorrhea needle pricked him and he swore.

"Told you-"

"Open the shoe box, man." He put the doll in the box, taking good care that none of the limbs fell off... entirely.

I put the box on the floor once the doll was nested in it. "Wait here."


"I said wait." I found the first aide kit in the cupboard in the bathroom. Chris shut up mid-protest when I said, "Dude! Black magic and wounds. Be a little smart, okay?"

He let me disinfect the prick in his finger. "I want a band-aide too." So perhaps he had finally moved back into his head.

"Where are you going to put it? Under your bed?"

"Are you crazy? It's high power black magic, man. It would totally fuck up the sex vibes if it was under the bed." He leaned in and watched me apply the band-aide. "There's a perfect spot in the basement."

"Okay." Perfectly unaware of what kind of place he was going to take me to, I kissed him on the mouth.

Joey's basement was not a nice place. The first part was all right - the area with the AC-unit, washing machine and dryer was relatively neat, clean and very well lit. But once we went past the next door - no. The weak yellow light came from naked bulbs hung from the ceiling, and the shadows danced on the walls and in the cobwebs.

"What is all this junk?" I asked Chris when I full of misgivings followed him into a room full of sheet covered piles. The piles had the shapes of furniture and boxes. A large, rolled up carpet had no cover; it smelled of dust, feet and age old incense. The piles were jumbled as if it all had been thrown in by some careless giant.

"Joey rented the house from some friends of his parents who went to Africa on a two year contract. This is their stuff."

I lifted a sheet and looked right into a cupboard. Little devils danced around behind the glass. The black things were moving and twittering so I let the sheet fall back in place in a hurry.

Chris hadn't seen me checking out the cupboard but the huge mask on the wall probably had. It stared at me like a gargoyle about to come alive. I shivered, keeping my feet in check; they really wanted to run, and I was sure that if I tried to lift any of them off the floor then they would run. "Ah. You sure this is a good place?" The chatter from the cupboard did evil things to my ears and gnawed at my spine. I had begun to sweat.

"Come on." An impatient hand grasped mine, its rough grip shattered the hold of both fear and dark magic. I followed the pull and nearly stumbled over a box. There was very little room; a fall off the track was likely to cause chaos to run off in all directions.

Chris stopped on front of a sheet clad, large, square shape. He thrust the shoe box at me to hold, and pushed the sheet away. It was another cupboard with windows. He opened it and turned to take the box back. He moved and his shadow moved with him; a ray of weak yellow light shot past him, revealing a small stuffed alligator inside the cupboard. There were more shapes that might have been of the same kind of atrocities.

My blood froze.


"It's like... playmates. You cannot put it in there - not with a murdered alligator baby mummy."

"... Ah." Chris stilled. "Right." He shoved the box back at me and closed the cupboard, turning the little key and moved a chair in front of the cupboard for good measure.

He hunkered on the floor, lifting up the sheets and looking for a suitable place. "I can't see a thing. You don't happen to have a flashlight?"

"In my jacket. There's a bigger one in the car. Want me to get it?"

"Never mind. I think there's a good spot here."

I tried to open my senses to vibes from the area that had his attention. Nothing. He gently placed the shoe box under a comforter and pulled the sheet back in place.



I grasped his hand and pulled him with me.

"Hey - what's up?"

"Bad luck to stay on a crime scene. Walk!"

"I'm trying. Stop-" He barely avoided stumbling over the smelly carpet. "Shit. Ow."

Tottering on the verge of panic, I wasn't gentle when both of us were squeezing through the door opening. I pulled Chris along, and once again upset his balance. Flailing, he still managed to turn of lights and shut doors behind us. He was laughing when we got to the stairs and I had no problem winning the race.

There was no spare moment to appreciate the the sanity of the brightly lit hallway; we ran right into Justin and ended up in a tangle on the floor. I escaped the tickle fight and sought refugee in the living room.

The TV was turned on low, Lance was sitting sideways in an armchair, pointing the remote control at the TV, finger inactive but ready on the button. The room fell silent when I entered. Busta shot past my feet, yapping and heading for the commotion in the hallway.

JC was snuggled up against Joey. His eyes were red and swollen.

"Sit down, man." Joey had a sad, sad look like that of a kicked puppy. The air in the room was heavy from words spoken.

Joey was not beyond inviting me to sit just to be polite; it felt very much like a private funeral party. "No, I'm heading off to bed. I just wanted to say congratulations with entering top ten."

JC blinked. "We did? Cool. We're number ten?"

"Nine." Joey gave him a squeeze. "Jumped three places, man."

"Cool." JC's smile grew slowly wider. "Yes!" his fist shot into the air.

Lance smiled at the TV.

"Look, if you need somebody to drive the get-away-car or something-"

JC's face fell and he choked. I felt stupid for mentioning the funeral subject. "Please! No! I mean, we can all drive. Hum, as long as it's. Not a stick. You know. Like, we can use our own cars." He looked like somebody trying to make a save and I wondered what he was trying to save.

Joey frowned at JC. "It's not like it's going to be necessary. We don't do things like that. But thanks, man."

I thought of the monstrosity that Chris had hidden away in the basement, perhaps it wasn't a "thing like that". And perhaps it was. The damming of questions was still going on in the hallway and the way Chris squealed reeked of secret. I was about to say good night when a body slammed into me from behind and fell with me on top of the other two on the couch.

"Chris!" JC protested. Another body landed on top of the pile of us. "Justin! No!"

Chris squealed mightily, the entire room disrupted and things went very downhill from there. Downhill for the funeral party, anyway; it dissolved right into a tickle-feast.

A while and some very sore ribs later, I was resting on the floor and leaning against the end of the sofa. Joey was on his back and half on top of me; I had stopped trying to hold him for Justin to tickle, and wrapped my arms loosely around him instead. Justin leaned against Joey's thighs. JC lay on his back, legs bent and his head on Justin's belly, he was stroking Busta, and occasionally he giggled and shivered. All of us, Busta included, were panting from the exertion.

Chris was growling at Lance as they circled JC's very pink and flowered piano, moving slowly, both of them waiting for the other to make a move. Lance, red-faced and severely winded from the hunt, had gulped air enough to talk. "A treaty, I propose a treaty."

"A treaty?" Chris had none too much air either. "This better be good, kid, 'cause your ass is severely on the line."

"Does he really believed he can talk himself out of it?" muttered Justin.

Joey relaxed against me. "He will."

Lance coughed. "Ah, you stop and I stop."

"That's all?" Chris flexed his fingers. "That's no treaty - it's just stupid."

Look at him move! Nice Chris growl. Beautiful Chris!

Justin sent Joey a quick sparkly glance before returning his attention to Chris and Lance. "Five?"

Lance took an extra step sideways to keep the maximum distance, he held up a hand. "No, no, no. I have another..."

"Deal," mumbled Joey.

I really hoped he understood why my dick was stirring. Chris had his ass our way now.

The hips! Ooh, the buttocks - rub, dive and slide! The heavenly buttocks! Hold the hips - want buttocks!

"I'm listening. Last chance." Chris was moving like a cat on the hunt, keeping Lance flustered and me and my dick happy.

"I go with Justin," muttered JC.

That was when I finally understood that they were setting up bets. "I go with Joey." It was mostly for the symmetry.

Lance swallowed. "I tickle myself and then we stop."

"You tickle yourself?" Maybe there was something wrong with Chris' ears. Maybe he had Squealed in them. My own head was still ringing from the Mighty Squeal of the Evil Overlord.

Lance nodded, walking sideways, afraid to let go of the piano.


"Yes!" hissed Joey.

Justin pushed at him. "Shut up."

"I tell you when to stop." Chris leaned against piano, his side towards us.

The little bulge. Lick, lick and make happy!

"He's gonna tickle himself? That's not getting off easy." Was JC trying to wiggle himself out of a lost bet?

Joey slapped JC's thigh; JC sighed and petted Busta who was finally settling down.

"Hum." Perhaps Lance hadn't realized what he just set himself up for.

We watched and waited.

"Well?" Chris cracked his fingers.

Lance tickled his left side with the fingertips of his left hand and giggled.

"More," Chris demanded. "The other side too. And the neck."

And Lance did it, shying away from the tickling fingers and laughing so convincingly that his hands looked like they were no longer bodyparts under Lance's own control. It looked ridiculous and set off the rest of us.

Lance stopped when Chris was laughing so hard that he needed to piano to keep standing, and raised a fist in victory. We cheered and Lances cheeks reddened..

"Man, you're good," said Joey as Lance flumped to the floor next to us.

"You're only saying that because he just won you five bucks," Justin growled and kicked viciously at Chris who was about to sit down on Justin's legs. JC slapped Justin's belly to make him lay still, or maybe it was because he didn't think the outcome of the bet was a given yet.

Chris rubbed his sore behind-

Yes, yes, yes. Chris is touching Chris! Ooh, good, so good. I want!

Joey heard or perhaps he felt the flash of heat - he twisted to look at my face; if I looked down I would see his grin. I waited until Chris had sat down next to Lance, wiggling and pushing at JC's legs until he had room enough to sit comfortably between Lance and me.

The Wiggle!

I stuck my tongue out at Joey. He just grinned at me and wriggled his ass.

Hey, this is nice too...

JC fluttered the hand that wasn't busy with Busta. "I still say it wasn't getting off easy; actually-"

"JC. You lost." Justin and Joey sang it, they had both known the other would join in. "You lost the bet."

JC grimaced; it wasn't clear whether it was because of Joey's and Justin's jingle or because Busta left him to climb onto Chris' lap. "You give in too easily," he said to Justin.

"Hey, it was a bet, man," Justin bickered back. "You don't haggle when it's a bet, JC."

Joey was heavy and solid, and Chris was warm and smiling at Busta - I caught myself before I nuzzled Joey's wild hair out of sheer contentment.

Lance flung an arm around Chris' shoulder and leaned in to pet Busta. Perhaps it had been more than mere curiosity that had made Chris back off and accept Lance's treaty proposal. They had hardly touched since Lance learned that Chris was bisexual - and now Chris was glowing and leaning in.

I gave in to the moment and nuzzled Joey; he didn't appear to mind.

Chris pulled a cell phone out of his pocket.

"Hey! That's AJ's," JC raised his head and reflexively felt his pockets. "Where did you get that from?"

"Somebody left it on the couch. What's the pincode?"

"Not telling you." JC smiled beatifically and rested his head on Justin again.

"Fucker." Chris punched a series of numbers. It was the wrong code.

"That was one," smiled Lance. "Nine thousand, nine hundred and ninety-nine possibilities left. If it's a four digit pincode. Are you going by a system?"

"Dude! Systems are for nerds. I'm trusting my lucky numbers."

"You only get three tries." JC was suddenly being helpful.

I was pretty sure AJ hadn't said anything about there only being three tries. Still, JC could be right.

I changed position enough to get a hand under Chris' T-shirt. His warmth rushed through me. Chris-skin! I want! Joey was laughing at me again. I made faces and sounds at him, and he returned the favor. All the while Joey and I made spittle-filled sounds at one another, I traced the pincode with a finger on the shivering skin of Chris' back.

"Ah, Mr. Richardson?" said Chris the Efficient Secretary shortly after.

Joey and I stopped to listen. JC rolled his eyes, secure in the knowledge that Chris was just pulling his leg. Justin had been looking at me, he grinned when our eyes met, and swung his expectant gaze to Chris. Lance bent his head; the visible side of his mouth was quivering.

"Hello? This is Pat Rattle from Pigs and Ponds Incorporated. ... Mr. Richardson, you asked to be informed about the delivery the second we knew anything. You can expect them to arrive at eight o'clock a.m. tomorrow. ... Pigs and Ponds, that's right, sir. Out of Vancouver. ... This is about the hundred-and-thirty-seven spotted pigs that you ordered delivered to your address in- ... Excuse me? ... I'm not sure what you mean by that, sir. This is Pigs and Ponds. We have no- ... Oh, isn't this Mr. Kevin Richardson in- ... I'm afraid I cannot do that, sir. ... Ah, I cannot do that either, I'm sorry sir, it's not one of the services we offer. ... Mr. Richardson, there is a contract with your name on it, and the pigs are already paid for. Dancing, spotted pigs out of Honduras, the price- ... Ah, just a moment, ah, yes, here it is. The name on the transfer is Nick Carter. The order was-" Chris frowned and pulled the phone away from his ear. "Touchy fucker."

"Hey!" JC stared at the lit display of the cell phone, it had blinked when Chris pressed a button. "You-"

Chris dumped Busta in Lance's lap; then he was up and running with JC right at his heels.

The Chris Thunder and Lightning maneuver!

Chris barged into the bathroom in the hallway, and slammed the door shut just before JC reached him; JC collided noisily with the closed door. The door held.

"Chris, stop it! Shit! I'm gonna wring your stupid neck!"

"Who's he calling now?" asked Justin and got to his feet.

JC stopped pounding, rolled his eyes and put his ear to the door.

Joey rolled up to sit, he was laughing too much to do it comfortably lying down. My belly was aching from laughing with Joey resting on it.

"Fucking Carter, man." JC gave the door a kick. "Chris, stop it!"

"Ssh." Justin was next to JC, listening.

Lance slipped Busta unto my lap and went to glue his ear to bathroom door.

"Justin, we gotta stop him."

"Ssh. We can't. I wanna hear this."

"Chris!" JC hammered on the door with a fist. "Stop that! AJ trusted me with that blasted thing."

Lance grimaced and rubbed his ear.

"Did AJ say you couldn't let Chris use it?" Justin asked JC.


"There. AJ knows Chris well enough to know this is a risk. Now shut up and listen."


"You heard him." Lance leaned in again and was not all that willing to move so that Joey could have room too, not that Joey cared - he merely took the room he needed. Busta ran over and sniffed at the door.

"What has that to do with anything?" JC frowned. His eyes fell on me.

Uh oh.

"You told him the code. You told him." JC advanced on me.

I held up my hands in immediate surrender. "He didn't ask and I haven't said anything." I'm innocent, I'm innocent, I don't know what he's talking about...

JC squinted at me, his lip pressed together in a thin line. His spidery fingers curled and wriggled; the skin on my ribs tightened.

I shrugged. Mystified, I'm really mystified, this is a great mystery. Phew. He's buying it. Oops, don't show relief. Just be stupid. Any of my friends at home would have known that I wasn't being truthful. I hoped that JC didn't know me that well yet. His long fingers were really wicked when in tickle mode.

Lance and Justin giggled. Joey suppressed one of his booming laughs. Busta barked. JC turned his head. "What?"

"He's telling Carter where he must have picked up the wrong phone-"

Joey poked Lance to make him shut up. Lance would probably have fallen silent without any prodding - his eyes widened to show white all around, his face flushed to a deep crimson, and his upper front teeth settled firmly in his lower lip.

"Man, dungeons, antique ice machines and chains - are there clubs like that?" asked Justin.

"Yeah." Joey gave Justin a poke. "Now shut up and listen. You too, Busta."

The pup gave a final yap. Surprisingly, she did not lean in and put her ear to the door

"Chains?" In a wink, JC was by them; he scaled Joey's back and pressed an ear to the door.

"Man, if Carter is buying that-"

"Ssh," JC hissed and slapped Justin on the head.


"Ssh," Lance poked Justin.

I got to my feet and waved my good nights as I passed them, heading upstairs.

I was about half way up when, "Hey, Mikkel." Justin was smiling at me. "Night."

"Night." I wondered at the sparkle in his eyes. Perhaps Chris' phone talk had entered really juicy grounds - no, that didn't fit Lance's mid-level crimson face color. Justin gave me a little wave, and I waved back and was on my puzzled way up the stairs. Of course he could just be grateful for me having helped saving him and Chris from Sasha's brothers. That kind of made sense.

Shortly after, I was getting comfortable with pillows between my back and the headboard of Chris' bed, sorting through a pile of comic books. I found one that didn't look like one I had read before, and put the pile on the night table.

I was so deep into what I was reading that I didn't notice that the door had opened. A puggish snort alerted me, and I looked up to find Chris watching me. He carried Busta and several rubber chew-toys in the crook and in the squeeze of his arm; Busta's cushion and Magnus dangled from the other hand.

Chris! Chris!

"What are'ya readin'?" The Voice was curious and soft, as if what I was reading was actually important.

I held up the tattered comic book. "Spiderman."

Chris smiled one of the small smiles that made warmth spread from my belly and all the way out to my fingers and toes. He went over to Busta's corner, kicked a T-shirt out of the way and arranged cushion, teddy-cat, chew toys and puppy carefully. Moving lightly, he hunched down on his heels; the profile of his back was an achingly fine arc, the muscles in his thighs curved just so, and his ass rounded just like that. The shapes of Chris were made for touches.

Chris stroked Busta who seemed almost willing to do as the hands suggested - lay down and sleep.

The magic hands. On me!

"Chris!" Joey yelled from his own room, his voice reaching my ears both through the wall behind me and through the door. "What the fuck have you been doing? Shit!"

Chris sighed and rose. He had turned before finishing his rise, a move at once economic and graceful. There was a dancer inside him all right. He met Joey in the door. "Will you be quiet, man. Busta-"

"What did you do to my room?" Joey spoke a low voice shaped by very clenched teeth.

"I'll fix it, okay? Go brush your teeth or something and I'll fix it." Chris took a little step forward.

Joey didn't get out of his way. "Fuck, Chris. What the hell were you doing?"

"Nothing, man. I'll fix it if you'll let me come out." Joey had perhaps a second to react before Chris would take back his offer, and apparently he knew; he moved out of the way to let Chris pass.

I returned all my attention to Spiderman before Joey could catch my eyes. The sewing box, the photograph and the rest of the evidence were under the pile of comic books, hopefully it all was covered properly. I had a feeling that evading the truth with Joey was more difficult than with JC.

"You two - hey, you didn't, man, tell me you didn't! Not in my room, you didn't!" Joey's voice followed Chris. So did the quick clicks of puppy claws on wooden floors.

"Now, look - you woke him up," Chris complained.


"Where the fuck do you hide the lube, anyway?"

I really liked Spiderman.

My reading was interrupted by Joey's, "You didn't." He sounded very convinced.

I couldn't lie to the quiet guy in boxers and T-shirt who was leaning against the door jamb and looking at me with soft brown eyes while nuzzling the top of Busta's head. "No, we didn't."

He nodded. "The lube is right next to the bed, in the drawer. Not that I mean to encourage you guys, not in my room at least - but you would have found the lube if you were looking. And there was no sex smell. And you didn't look fucked or sucked or anything like that when you came down."

"Hello, Sherlock." I put Spiderman on the top of the pile. The evidence was covered all right.

"Chris must think I'm stupid."

"You really think he's that stupid?"

"So what was it all about?"

I shook my head. "You think I'm that stupid?"

Joey smiled. "Had to try."

"Yes. It's - well, just Chris, nothing you should worry about, really." I hope.

"Hmm. You know if that one came from Chris... Then I would worry."

"Joey - you okay? Like, do you want to sleep with us?" There was no better place than close to Chris when one needed comfort.

Joey blinked. "Man, thanks, but no. I'm... fine." He came in and knelt to transfer Busta to her cushion.

"Well, if you change your mind it's okay."

"I'm not so sure about that." He petted Busta for a moment; as he got to his feet, Busta patted out of the room. "Chris is in the shower."

"Oh." Wet Chris! With soap!

He grinned when he saw the look on my face.

"Well, you can come in after we have sex, if..."

"Thanks." He chuckled. "I've slept with him twice. Like, sleep-slept, and both times I ended up on the floor."

"He did that to me, too. But I figured it out." From downstairs came the sound of a door opening and closing again. Lance had finished in the bathroom.


"Yes. He just wants to get layered."

"Thanks for the tip, man. But if I need a living teddy bear I'll go sleep with Lance."

"You're welcome." Lance was coming up the stairs. He was dressed in a blue pajamas and his hair was damp.

"Finally. Man, I so need to pee." Joey hurried out and down the stairs. "Damned shower."

Lance looked after Joey; fondness still softening his eyes, he turned to me. "Chris is showering again?"

"Yes. Lance..." Maybe it was none of my business. Still. "Are you okay? I mean, Joey thought Lou was somebody that he wasn't."

"What? Yeah, I guess." His pale eyes caught the light and for a moment he looked blind. Then he bent his face a little, the reflection disappeared and I could meet his gaze. "Lou never was my "uncle", if that is what you're thinking of. I'm just mad as hell."

I nodded, relieved.

Lance said good night to me and to Busta who was waiting by the bathroom door.

Chris in the shower. Go! Which was no good idea; spinal reflexes would likely take over - and the bathroom was sharing wall with Lance's bedroom.

Go, go! Nice, wet Chris - with soap! Nifty nipples in soap rivers-

That continued until Chris and Busta returned.

Chris dumped his clothes on a chair, and bent down to pet Busta good night. Drops of water glittered on his back; a wet trail on his spine disappeared into his boxers. The cloth stuck to patches of not quite dry skin.

The yummy bottom - nice, so nice! Rub me in it! The yummy bottom!

He straightened, and threw me an amused glance over his shoulder. The ass-show could have been on purpose - the tips of his ears were red.

I wasn't sure that I read him right. He was like shifting mirrors - Cocky Chris, Shy Chris and another... Changing with every little move he made, and between them.

"Do I have to come and get you?" The yummy Chris! Strip him! "I'm going deaf here."

Chris grinned, and pulled his boxers off-

Partner! Partnerpartnerpartner! Nice Partner, nice and heavy, look he's growing - biiig! We want sex!

He began folding his boxers; usually he would just let them fall to the floor. He reached for his shirt, and began folding that.

Want him! Take him!

How slow can I be? I jumped out of the bed and grabbed him by the wrist, pulling him through the air and onto the mattress.

The laughing imp tried to scamper off; he didn't get far, not with my entire weight coming down on him.

Yes. Like this. In, in, in. He wants me! "You stay right here."

He laughed and tried to wiggle out from under me, distracting me with a hand that unerringly precise found my side and tickled. "Let go off me, you barbarian son of a-"

I grabbed his wrists and bit his neck, growling and pinning him down; when he still struggled I stopped trying to be gentle about it.

He went pliant under me, panting and radiating magic heat that sent my insides into repetitive meltdown; and it almost didn't hurt. Chris.

I want in now!

His face was flushed, and his one visible eye was an open gate into glittering darkness, framed by the shiny braids, no, not braids but snakes brought to life by the stream of his breath.

He almost broke his spine twisting so that we could kiss. Or, as it was, try to lick and nib each other to jelly before swallowing one another up.

Chris had some trouble with air, I let go of his mouth, kissed along his jaw, licked, couldn't get enough of the taste of him... Nipping, sucking - the skin of his neck hummed sensuous requests, and my mouth and teeth did what they were asked to do; Chris shivered, and his curses came to nothing but little soft noises in his throat.

I thought I had him right where I wanted him, and reveled in him as I made my way down his back. So much Chris.

Look out!

He almost got away from me, laughing when I pulled him back. I kept a grip on his hips after that. He would have bruises in the morning, fingerprints on the inner side of his hips. His groans didn't at all sound like complaints, and my dick sung along, harmonizing and urging me on - and warning me again when his body tensed, and he tried to get away from having his legs spread.

By then I was very much intent on getting my tongue inside him. So, more bruises on a Chris who finally lay still, shivering, and blazing heat in waves. Perhaps his spine had melted, and he was going through continuous meltdown same as me; free fall certainly kept happening while I was caressing that yummy bottom and he-

The grunts - and squirms - and swearwords! And-

Yes. He spread his legs even wider-

The little pucker!

A treasured prize indeed, more than worth a fight...

Later, when Chris was on his back, legs spread like wings, he punched my shoulder with much less than the usual power but with the usual amount of intent when "Are you sure?" was just about to roll off my tongue. He kicked me with a heel just to make certain that I got the message, and the subject was closed.

Push! Now! I'm ready! Push, push, push! Come on, Chris wants me!

I checked, making sure that my lube dripping, condom-clad dick was right on target, and that said target still was glistening wet with lube.

Another kick. "Come on, slowpoke."

Smart Chris! Slowpoke Mikkel! I'm a good poke - now use me. Push! Yes! Ooh, hot, nice, more, in, in! Smart Mikkel. Nice Chris. So nice, warm - push! Oops - good!

Chris tensed, and I stopped pushing just as his ass closed like a vice around my dick. "What the fuck are you doing?" He glared at me.

The Eyes! Beautiful Chris! "Stuffing my dick into your ass."

He wriggled. "It's a frigging baseball bat."

He knows me, he wants me! Me, me - I'm such a good poke! Nice and tight Chris. Push me in! "Ah. It isn't. It's just - a dick." Just?? "Push, like-"

"I know; you already explained it to me. At length. I'm trying, okay? Fuck..." He took a couple of deep breaths. The grip on the head of my dick loosened a little. "I want visuals, man. Move back..." He hooked a sweaty arm around my neck and pulled himself up, straining. "Shit. That's your dick in my ass."

Me, me, me! Hi, Chris! And Partner! Beautiful Chris! Watch me! See how big I am! Beautiful me in beautiful Chris bottom! So nice, so hot, such nice grip. Push! More!

His ear was right there; I kissed it, and nibbled the earlobe, playing with the earring. He shivered. "Beautiful me in beautiful Chris bottom. So nice, so hot, such nice grip." His neck still tasted deliciously.

"Your dick's crazy, man. A frigging baseball bat..." He fell back on the pillows and closed his eyes, panting. The tip of his tongue poked out, pink and glistening; the tongue poking was more due to concentration than to a feeling of sexiness; the effect on me was the same. The Tongue! Chris found control and the grip loosened.

Yes! He's ready. Go, go go! Here I come. Enter me, the magnificent poke, like a baseball bat. Push! So nice! Ooh. Tightwarmhotslick, so ni-

Nononono! Don't stop! Stupid Mikkel. Want in!

His eyes flew open. "Man, I'm gonna crap."

I love you.


Push! Such a fierce grip, warm, nice. Push me in! Move, fool! "Ah, didn't I tell you about that particular risk?"

He squinted suspiciously at me. "You - hey!" Realization dawned on him. "No, you didn't tell me. When it was my dick in you - you could've shat all over the place. Fucker."

I grinned. "Your bed, your problem."

He growled, "Dude! You risked your neck for a fuck."

"My ass made me do it."

A grin flickered over his face. "Fuck... How much more to go?"

"Almost there. I can feel your heat on my balls."


The grunt! Push me in!

Yes, yes, yes.


Chris' eyes opened wide in surprise. "Oh, man..." He grimaced, shifting and testing what it felt like... The sudden, perky little grin wrecked my heart. Beautiful.

"Come on." He wiggled, and pulled at me with his heels, demanding go.

I began thrusting shallowly, growing blessedly deaf to the chatter of the magnificent poke - because I was right where I should be, between Chris' thighs, tightly secured and soaring on the updraft of his heat; what was happening to him was happening to me too, and what was happening was very good, good enough to make Chris groan deep in his throat and in mine.

Raising through hot clouds - in the haze he was visible in flashes: the braids slithering on the pillows, a bared throat and arched body, the dark mystery spilling from his eyes when his face came close to mine, a pair of flushed lips opening...

My orgasm overtook me in the sudden way of emergency vehicles; flashing lights filled my vision as they went past, a whole horde of them on both sides of me.

One of the first things I noticed when I was back in my head, was Chris swearing and tugging at my arm, doing his damnest to get my hand wrapped around his dick, and - oh, yes! Partner was still hard, and the entire Chris was sleek with sweat. Partner jumped up and down with its own pulse, and swelled eagerly in my grip. Chris held on to my wrist, not about to let me forget about Partner again, and offered a wicked, wild tongue in a soft, warm mouth - and some very lively hips.

He let go of my arm and grasped my shoulder, arching when the mewl fought its way out. He shivered, and muttered "fuck" - then he slumped and lay still.

Chris was a puddle of warm, used human, diamonds glittered on his skin. He looked very out. So beautiful that it hurts... Love...

I got rid of the condom, throwing it into the wastebasket.

Somebody tripped the wastebasket.

Chris didn't react.

"Hey." I poked Chris. "It's your dog." He was still out. "Busta," I groaned and rolled my protesting and very lethargic body out of bed.

I fixed the wastebasket and said good night to Busta. Chris didn't stir when I cleaned him with a warm washcloth. I got back to bed and took one last look at his peaceful face before I turned out the light; his eyelashes had fluttered. "You punk," I muttered as I wrapped myself around him. "You tricked me."

"Mmm." He sighed; his smile was pretty obvious in the sound. He pushed at me until we were both arranged to his - and mine, satisfaction; then he settled half on top of me with a wiggle and a little grunt. "I still feel like I'm gonna crap."

He certainly felt sex-sated. His skin was soft, soft, soft with it. "Tomorrow we'll know if you crapped in your sleep."


His breath evened out. I didn't think he was asleep yet. I was tired but also felt like talking a bit. "Who is Sasha?"

His teeth scraped my skin. "Don't ask."


He nibbled and licked some more, lazily. "We used to go out. Then I did something stupid. And... yeah. She got angry with me, and I did some more stupid, and then her brothers got really mad."


"Like - she had invited me home and it, her brothers were coming too, so I knew, I mean, that was what she told me, it was gonna be sorta..."


"I was gonna say boring. Anyway, I figured I'd liven things up a little and then I showed up late, high as a kite and in drag."

"Drag - you wore a dress?"

"Yeah. A really tight, black dress. A short, sexy one with cleavage."

"And a bra?"

"Yeah, of course, and matching panties. Man, there was a lot of cleavage. I didn't wanna look like a total slut."

My fantasy was working just fine, but I needed a bit of help with the bra. I ran my hand over his chest, and he rolled over enough to give me easier access. Nice, warm and hairy, soft shapes. A nipple! Nice- "What color?"

"Mm. Purple?"

"Was this when you had waxed your chest?"

"I'm gonna kill Justin, he's a fucking motor-mouth." He fell forwards to lay flush against me again. "No. After. Long after."

"Bare legs?"

"No, man. I had these black stockings, kind of like a fishing net. And no, my legs weren't waxed either."

I closed my mouth around the question that he had just answered, and slid my hand along the smooth length of his thigh, having no problem seeing his well shaped, if slightly bowed, legs in stockings. "Makeup?"

He nodded. "Eye paint and a killer lipstick. And high heels."

My imagination collapsed. "Say again."

"Two colors of eye paint, purple and pink, with glitter, and eye-liner, really dark red, glossy lipstick. Do you want to know the brand?"


"Good, 'cause I can't remember. Ah, yes, and high heels." He spread his thumb and index finger, pressing the tips against my belly, to show just how high. "Really thin heels, like, you know, deadly spikes, assassin's weapons. Silver."

"Oh... You walked in those?"

"Sure. Danced in them too. On the table."

"Without holding on to anything?"

"Yeah. Hey - I'm good in high heels. I practiced; that was why I was late."

"Right... Still, I have a problem here."


"Like - I can see the paint and get you into the bra, the dress and the stockings looks really good, and your feet goes nicely into silver high heels, and I really want to eat you-"

"Yeah?" He squirmed and grinned into my chest.

"Yeah. But as soon as you stand up and move, your body detaches itself from your legs, like everything is seriously unbalanced-"

He slapped me on the head. It didn't improve my imagination even when he did it again.

"Really - you didn't fall?" Collapsing the structure was the only way I could make his body stick to the legs.

"No. Now, shut up."

"You still have the shoes?"

"No. You finished?"

"Let me see if I get this right. You showed up late, in drag and killer heels, with your head full of smoke and you didn't fall. And you danced on the table. And you still didn't fall."

"That's right. Dude, you're bright."

"And then?"

"And then I proceeded to insult everyone. I didn't mean to - it just sorta happened. You know, like they took anything that I said as an insult, like they were paranoid or something."

"Her brothers were there - anybody else?"

"Yeah. Their girlfriends. And her parents and grandparents. The cat, too."

"Man, you don't insult cats."

"Yeah, I know that, but they were all paranoid, and I was stoned, remember? Actually, I thought I was pretty smart at the time... Sasha got so fucking mad. She kicked me out. And, no, I didn't fall then either. Not much anyway."

That picture was clear enough. "You ended up in the bushes."

He poked me and didn't deny the bush part. I really hoped that the bushes hadn't had thorns. "Of course I shouldn't have topped it off with the bumper stickers."

There had been a car with traces of removed bumper stickers parked outside the house where the party was. "Lots of paint jobs, mostly red Ford?"

"Yeah. And a pickup, her Dad's."

"Those bumper stickers must have been something to make them that mad. I mean, those guys in the park were maniacs."

"Mm." He lay still.


"One of their girlfriends drove me home. Only we ended up going clubbing and bowling, so she didn't get back in time for their marriage announcement. They had planned to tell the family during the dessert. We got so trashed at the bowling alley that they threw us out..."

"... Who won?"

He bit me in answer. Chris was very bad a loosing, almost as bad as at winning.

"You didn't get dessert, and she broke up with him?"

"Damned right, we didn't get dessert." Chris yawned, infecting me. "Don't know if they broke up. I think I would have known if they got married."

I thought of Chris dancing Fred's dance, and of Chris in drag, dancing on a table, unconnected to legs that were attached to neat feet in killer heels; I was glad that one of the people there had caught on. Chris, who snuffled a little and wiggled closer, was about to crash if I read the signs right. Once he closed his eyes he would be gone until morning. "Chris?"


"You gonna freak tomorrow?"

"Prolly. Just let it be."

I kissed his forehead. He tilted his head and licked my chin. I lifted my head for a lazy, sensuous and slick game of tongues and lips. As if we had all the time in the world.

Chris pulled back and settled down with a sigh and a last wiggle; this time he really was out, and I was right behind him.



"Mikkel?" Lance's tentative voice came from behind me. He hadn't headed straight to the bathroom as I had hoped when I heard him come down the stairs.

I turned off the radio. My hands were shaking - and that was how I recognized my anger. I blinked, wishing for the wetness to evaporate from my eyes. "Yes?" My voice was thick. So much for subterfuge.

"Hey. You okay?"

I nodded. I had really wanted to be alone while listening to the news. "At least they didn't bungle it." I dried my eyes.

"Oh. Well, I guess that's good... I mean, it's good that they didn't bungle it... Here." A handkerchief. The boy had a handkerchief in his pajamas, and it looked clean.

"Thank you." I dried my face. "Man, I'm so damned angry. It's... so fucked up."

"Are you still going to that rally?"

I nodded. "Is Chris up?"

"No, not yet."

I stuffed the handkerchief in my pocket. Lance probably preferred to get it back clean. "I'm going to make breakfast. Is there anything you want?"

"Just whatever you're having. Look, Mikkel..."


"Can I come - would you mind? I mean, is this just you and Chris?"

"On an exclusive date - to an anti-deathpenalty rally? Dude. Of course you can come. We leave as soon as we can." And I'm going to stay out of Tom's reach for as long as possible. I really didn't want to think about my birthday and the risk of Tom discovering that it was today. I pushed it out of my head and went upstairs. A bark convinced me to walk back down and pick up Busta who didn't want to be left behind.

"Morning, Chris."

"Maslp." He was on his belly and had his arms around the pillows. I lay down next to him, leaving a rather frustrated Busta on the floor.

"Mmm." The smell of Chris' neck dulled the sharpness of my prickly shards of anger and sorrow. It was so much easier to cope with when his smell was in my nose and his solid body curled up under my arm.

He turned his head and shot me a gaze that was both sleepy and penetrating. And hesitant.

Shy? Is he freaking? Yes. He's freaking.

"Hey. You've been..." Chris blinked, waking up fast. "Fuck, you've been checking the news, right?"


"Is he dead?"

I nodded. Chris sighed and turned around. He pulled me in for a snuggle like he needed it too. His chest smelled good, different from his neck but just as good, and it tasted even better than it smelled. I was breathing the calming smell of sex, sleep and Chris for a while, intent on taking what I could get before he got twitchy like he was bound to in the morning.

While I began to settle my peace with the ghost of a dead man that I had never known, Chris loosened my hair and played with it.

I was the one to get twitchy first. "Lance is coming with us to the rally."

He grunted and played some more before resting his hand on my back.

I plucked a kiss, a closemouthed one. Chris suddenly had a thing about morning breath; it took nipping and prodding before he would open his mouth and let go, falling with me into a slow kiss; little electric currents buzzed lazily up and down my spine.

I broke it off when Chris got distant. When I pulled back he eyed me with that unreadable gaze again.

He's looking at me so he's not seriously freaking out; that's good. I gave him a little squeeze and licked the tip of his nose. Such a neat nose. The Chris Nose!

He laughed when I tried to press my tongue into his nostril. "Dirty bastard," he muttered, and wiped his nose on my shirt. He had his tongue in my ear before I realized that he was coming in for a sneak attack. I tried to fend him off, but the Cobra got into him and insistently poked my side, undoing me.

Smirking with victory Chris rolled up to sit. He froze when his abused ass came online. It was my turn to smirk when he very carefully finished the move getting his legs out of bed. On the floor the reception committee was barking encouragement.

Bruises, blue bruises on fine Chris skin. Lick bruises!

Which I didn't think Chris would appreciate right then. I was forgotten for a moment, and got to watch the muscles in his back shift as he bent, moving slowly and swearing softly at a pain in the ass, to pick up the pup.

I ran my hand down the sleek skin. "I'm going to make breakfast. Anything you want?"

"Ice cream and French Toast."

"Sure. What is French Toast?"

"Stirfried bread and pancake." He wasn't looking at me.

"Okay." The dish had a different name where I came from and it definitely wasn't on the list of ordinary breakfast foods. I rolled out of bed, the slide of his skin still tingling on my finger tips.

"You're making French Toast." There was a smile in Lance's voice. He came into the kitchen, having finished his shower before Chris.

"Order of-" There was thunder of heavy feet down the stairs "-the Evil Overlord." He continued past the kitchen to the living room, talking to Busta as he went.

I poured the apple chunks onto the other frying pan and sprinkled them with cinnamon. I had cut the apples before I remembered that this wasn't for Mormor and I didn't have to think of ways to make the recipients eat fruit and greens.

Lance was hovering.

I took the toast of the other pan and started another batch. "If you're going to steal one, please wash your hands first."

He did, using detergent instead of soap. "I don't want to steal a whole one, just a bite."

"Some thief you are." I cut a corner of a toast and he took it.

When he had eaten the small triangle he licked his fingers. "Mikkel, can I ask you something?"

"Of course." I leaned against the counter, facing him and sipping my coffee.

"Why do you want to go to the rally?"

"Why... There are several reasons... One, I need a bit of hope and a coping strategy. Two, I know it isn't going to change the world or anything; that guy died this morning and they are going to kill the other guy tomorrow - but, a drip on the stone and all that."


"That wasn't answer to your question?"

"Yes, but - I was wondering why you feel responsible. Like, this isn't really your business, is it?"

"That's a fellow human being, it's... I think it is my busyness." I turned the toast and stirred the apples. "We're world-citizens."


"Erh. Why do you think your government was so much about China and human rights?"

"That, that's just excuses to keep them out of the American market while we get in on theirs, man." Chris came into the kitchen and went to wash his hands at the sink.

"That may be." Lance frowned. "I still don't get it. I mean, what has China got to do with why you feel responsible?"

"I wasn't thinking of the motives behind it, more like of the reason why USA could bring it up in the first place and use it as an argument. It's - if you want global markets, trade agreements, national alliances then the sovereignty has to give and you have to seek some sort of common ground - like basic values. Also, what happens here affects the place where I come from and the opposite though not as much. In that sense, what goes on here is my business."

"Don't forget global warming. Man, your guys really pissed our guys off at that conference." Chris chewed toast and watched us.

Lance still looked puzzled. "Yeah? They did?"

"Yes. In a mosquito bite sort of way." I checked the toast on the frying pan. It was finished. "The last thing I would want was for the death penalty to be reintroduced in Denmark. And as long as you have it here - well, there's an opening."

"It's like a cancer - the cancer of the Wile West." Chris' toast-free hand wiggled toxic spider legs towards me.

I rolled my eyes at him. "You want apples?"

"With cinnamon? Sure." He stuffed the last bite of toast into his mouth and poured sugar into my coffee.

"Yes, please." Lance handed Chris the milk when Chris pointed to it and snapped his fingers. "So - you wouldn't raise an eyebrow if I did something like this, joining a rally or something, where you come from?"

"If you would join, say, those speaking against the way we destroy people's minds with the use of isolation, then I would be grateful."

"But it depends on what I'm going to say, huh. Like, if I wanted to take the opposite stand then it wouldn't be okay?"

"I suppose you could take a stand encouraging torture." It came off more like a snap than I had intended.

"Whoa." Chris grinned and sipped my former coffee while he got the ice cream from the freezer and a bottle of syrup from the fridge.

Lance blinked at me, then he smirked and picked up the plates. He was almost as bad a winner as Chris.

"Why do you want to go?" I asked Lance and we continued like that, discussing politics all through breakfast and for most of the car ride - right until Lance said, "We need flowers."

"No we don't." Chris protested - but it was Lance who held the ultimate power over the wheel and gas-pedal, and before long we were parked by a flower store.

"I want flowers," said Lance; he pulled the keys out and got out of the car.

Chris snorted and sunk down in the seat, arms folded across his chest.

"What's so bad about flowers?" I quietly asked Chris when he had de-sulked enough to join Lance and me inside the flower shop. Lance was talking with the girl behind the counter, and I had been looking at the, to me, very exotic exhibition.

"This is gonna be fucking emotional," he hissed and stopped his foot short of kicking the pot of an innocent bystander.

"You just figured that out now?" If it was going to be that bad then he could have warned me.

"Flowers. Man." He warily eyed the palm-like growth in the large pot. Likely it had been an interest in self-preservation that had made his foot stop short of the immovable object.

"You backing out?"

"Fucking flowers." He flicked the price tag. The plant didn't take any notice, secure in its pot and of its worth.

"Want these?" I took my sunglasses out of their pocket and offered them to him.

He grunted denial but took the sunglasses. He dug an unevenly folded puke bag from Lufthansa out of one of his own pockets, and passed it to me.

"All set?" Lance held the bouquet of flowers in two hands in the way of a pious bridesmaid.

"Yes." For some reason I was suddenly very inclined to kiss Chris. Which just wouldn't do, not inside a flower shop. I slapped his shoulder instead, disrupting his staring contest with the botanic excellence. "Come on."

"Yeah, yeah." He jumped my back when we headed for the door. "Flowers, man."


End of Chapter

Copyright Morgenfryd 2003