Disclaimer: Real people slash - I don't know any of the people in this story, everything is made up (admittedly with some heavy inspiration from the outpourings from the entertainment industry).

Warnings: explicit language, sex between men (vanilla (I think it's vanilla (of course it's a matter of definition))), drug abuse (kind of (again this thing with the definitions)), jellybeans.

I think that was it for this one, it's pretty quiet. Apart from the screams.

But- Okay, I'll stop now. ... What? ... You think it's going for world dominance? ... Spoiling it? Look, it's just a style definition, you can see it right there in the head; don't worry, I'm not going to let it go further than that. ... Getting out of hand? Actually, I'm sure that would help matters more than- ... A warning? Okay, if you want:

Watch out! Loud dick on the rise.

.... Oh, the next chapter merely has to be html-ified. ... What? ... Just a week or five. It was one chapter, you see, and there was this break in it and then it got longer because Marthe- okay, shutting up.

Navigation: There is a resume of the previous chapters at my homepage.

Lots of thanks to Marthe for her help, suggestions and patience.

Response: Please, yes.

Morgenfryd


 

The Tail of the Tiger, Chapter 16

27

"I'm going to find Chris," I said into Lance's ear. As usual, his ears looked as if he had just scrubbed them with soap. He nodded absentmindedly, listening to the woman on the podium. She was thundering about Jesus and forgiveness - I couldn't really relate to the way she went about it. But then, the speaker before her had talked my kind of common sense. It was nice that there was somebody for everybody.

I made my way through the crowd; as I walked away from the podium the throng thinned quickly.

A girl in one of the stands smiled to me as I walked past, and I waved to her. She'd given me a crash course in charity the American way. If she'd recognized Chris and Lance she'd have wanted a photo of them in front of her stand.

I passed the small mountain of flowers.

I hope Chris got past it without losing his way. It had been a challenge getting him past it on our way in. He had hung back and wandered about while Lance found a place for the flowers.

Chris, skittish and fast talking, had reminded me of the Horse.

A couple of years before I moved in with the guys on the Farm, Palle had bought an aging horse when he was drunk at a fair. Even outside the hunting season, we had had to pet the Horse, talk softly to it, and walk it in reverse when getting it past the barn where Niller and Martin would hang up the dead prey.

Despite Chris' incessant complaints about the hay-fever inducing cloud, I was fairly sure it hadn't been the flowers that freaked his feet as much as the women who were crying. He couldn't take it when a man was crying - probably, he felt even worse when three women did it at once.

Lance and I had had walked Chris past the obstacles, one on each side and I had taken care to stay between Chris and the women. Lance had kept a hand on Chris' shoulder.

Exactly like the Horse, except we didn't have to walk Chris in reverse and he did all the talking himself.

I turned down the road that Chris had pointed out to Lance and me and shortly afterwards I saw the tables outside the small cafe that we had agreed meet at in case we got separated at the rally.

And sure enough - one of the customers had a dark potted plant on the top of his head. On a chair next to him a small lump lay wrapped in the baby carrier. Busta had probably gotten tired from rallying.

I felt his gaze on me from behind the sunglasses that he still wore. It made me suddenly self-conscious, walking those last hundred meters and knowing there would be no hug when I arrived. Chris! Chris is looking at me!

"Hi." Smiling, he pushed the sunglasses up. "What did you do to Lance?"

"Hi." I slapped his shoulder, scratched Busta hello, and sat down at the opposite side of the small round table. "Stuffed him down a garbage container just around the corner." I waved to show him which corner.

Chris nodded, satisfied with the answer. He didn't raise an eyebrow when I took the glass out of his hand and sampled the beer. It had a watery after-taste so I put it back where I had taken it from.

His eyes sparkled. "What does American beer have in common with making out in a canoe?"

"This doesn't involve venereal diseases, does it?"

He shook his head. "Come on, this one's easy. It's Canadian."

There's a connection? It's always the easy ones that are the hardest. So, I asked the waitress Chris' question when she came to our table. She didn't know either but agreed to serve us import.

"They both leak water?" I tried.

"Close. Come on." He tapped the table with his fingers. Nice, quick Chris Fingers. Drum me!

"Don't stress me, I'm trying to think." Drum me!

He snorted.

"And stop sounding like my grandmother."

He laughed - and kept drumming the table, which was very distracting.

"Tell me."

Drrrrum, drrrum.

"Chris!" Is his grin always that stupid? Drum me, drum me!

"Both are fucking close to water." He cackled.

I slapped him on the head. The pending retaliation was interrupted by the waitress bringing us proper beer. I paid her and she left again.

Chris poured and drank, then he put the glass down decisively. "I was thinking. Can I ask you something?"

Uh-oh. Chris asking permission to ask? "Sure."

"Ten years, man."

"That's the question?" If it was, then his thoughts must have been running in all directions.

"Yeah."

"Ten years - that's the maximum jail sentence for armed robbery; the statute of limitations is the same." Which was about the only question he hadn't asked with his not-question. "They needed a translator. The usual third and fourth guys couldn't come and neither Palle nor Martin spoke English or German. So - they asked me to come. I'd worked with them on break and entries before." I took a draught of beer while Chris chewed on that one.

He nodded me on.

"It was a smuggle run, we were picking drugs up in Holland, Dutch weed and speed. When we got there, the Dutch guys were in some kind of trouble, they were damned nervous and they tried to cheat us; that's when Palle pulled out the gun. Palle all doped up and running crazy mad with his head full of hallucinations and a loaded gun in his hand was fucking scary. Martin and I had to back him up; things would have gotten totally out of hand if we hadn't been where Palle counted on us to be. Anyway, we got what we had come for and left."

Chris drank and put his glass down, stroking it with a finger while fixing me with a clear gaze. "I just don't get it - I mean you're pretty smart, you know what you want, and you're a as big a wimp as I am. How did you get into it in the first place? Break and entry, man, that's fucking stupid; getting involved with international drug gangs - that's beyond fucking stupid."

"Yes. I can't explain the stupidity away. I mean, I can give you this tangle of excuses and explanations - they don't wash it away, like, it's still me that made those bad decisions."

"I'm not asking you for excuses or, I don't know, abasement or anything like that, man. I'm just trying to understand, okay?"

I nodded. "The guys. They were my family. I think - I wanted to get away from my mother and everything she stood for. As far as I could. And those guys - I met them at an outdoor concert; I needed a place to stay and they just took me in. Like that, made me welcome, and gave me space. The rest - they tried to keep me out of the crime part, like I was the little brother or something. That was mostly Niller; the others didn't really know how to, not when I wanted to."

He blinked. "Say again."

"Chris, I really, really wanted to, and I can be damned persistent and inventive. I was a horny bottom boy but I wasn't anybody's baby and I was hell-bent on proving it. I wanted in on the team."

Maybe he was trying to see the Mikkel that I had been then - he was looking around inside my head. "I get it. You wanted to be a bad boy. Can't say I haven't felt the draw myself. But, fuck, man..."

"Yes. Being smart in a smart way came years later. That drug run woke me up - but only a little. We were shot at when we left Holland; it wasn't difficult to get the other two to make a try at getting out of the big scheme drug running thing."

He closed his eyes, I think he was counting. He seemed calm enough when he looked at me again. "You got shot at?"

"Yes. We were followed by a boat full of mad Belgians. Well, Palle said they were Belgians; they could have been anything, really. I think the Dutch guys had sold the same goods twice; it would fit."

"Shot at. By Belgians." Maybe he wasn't as calm as he let on.

"I have a little scar from a plastic splint, it's almost gone now - that's all any of us got. Martin shot their search light and we got away."

"... Can I see?"

"Sure." I pulled down the front of my T-shirt and pointed it out to him. "That small white dot there. Can you see it at all?"

"Yeah." He reached across the table and touched the scar lightly; his finger was cool and moist from the beer glass. "No shit. Man, is that what it takes to make you smart - people shooting at you? It wasn't fucking enough?"

"When I want to be stupid I can be really good at it."

He nodded and put his elbows back on the table. "Okay. So, did you get out of it?"

"Yes, they wiggled their way out of it, somehow; there were no more runs like that. I can't say I wanted to stop - I just wanted all of us to stay free of the fucking organizations; which was impossible, basically - we still had to sell the things that we stole, but: stay free as well as we could. We were a team. I have a knack with alarms and back then I was pretty good at scaling walls and stuff like that. I didn't get out of it, didn't want to, until Niller figured it was enough, kidnapped Martin, and convinced the other two to disappear and stay away from me."

"Fuck... You climbed up walls - as in no safety lines?"

"I was the one putting up the lines if we did it that way. I had practiced a lot - that was part of my strategy for getting in on the team. I had only just gotten in when we went on that smuggle run."

Chris shook his head and scratched at the label on his beer. "Do you know how they are doing today?"

"Not in detail. But things aren't entirely good."

His eyes flicked up, clear and dark. "Because Niller would have told you if they were?"

I nodded.

"JC told me how you guys got into the park - you just got the tools out and "fixed" the gate like it was a natural thing to do. The way he saw it, you were too damned smooth and casual about it - he warned me about you, which was pretty funny at the time. Anyway, when Frank and Jenny came over to your granny's and things got out of control - you came flying into the middle of it, even when you expected one of them to carry a gun. Your granny got into an accident and broke her leg; you weren't satisfied with the information you could get, and you dumped everything to get here - when you hardly knew her. You taking off like that must cost your company a heck of a lot of money and opportunity. You get the picture."

He was speaking softly, gaze steady on my face; yet, I had the impression that he most of all wanted to scream. "Now, you're gonna meet those guys again. And the way you tell it - you probably figure you owe them a hell of a lot. And to top it off: your relationship with your mum is fucked up again." He took a breath. "Mikkel, what are you gonna say when any of those guys gets into a tight spot and asks you for a hand?"

My insides clenched. "You worry." Trust Chris to cut through the crap. He would know about "getting out", wouldn't he?

"Damn right, I worry. Do I have to?"

It was my turn to pick at a beer label. I really wanted to tell him no; but when it was put like that - I was worried myself.

"Tell me when you figure it out, okay? I don't care if we're not talking - this thing I wanna know."

I hadn't been aware that my lungs had shrunk. Now they grew back into their normal size with a whoosh. "Yeah."

"Good. Dude, stop being so hang-dog serious and get me another beer."

"The same kind? Or canoe beer?"

He grinned. "Since you're paying - same kind."

"And here I thought your taste buds were totally warped." I caught the eyes of the waitress through the window, held up my bottle and signaled two.

"Hey, there's nothing wrong with my taste buds! You and your snobby, frenchified-"

I tried to close my ears. When Chris found out I hadn't listened he repeated himself at me. We had a rather confusing discussion about French fries and French kisses going when Lance arrived.

Chris received him with, "Ha! I knew Mikkel would fuck up - you escaped the dead French fries!"

Lance just raised a well shaped eyebrow and pulled out a chair; he seemed totally uninterested in what Chris was talking about.

"He said he had dumped you in a trashcan." Chris was quicker to explain that he would have been if Lance had showed any interest.

"Thanks for showing me that one." I was really grateful. Not that I trusted myself to remember it when I needed it.

Lance smiled in perfect understanding.

"What?" Chris wanted to know.

"Nothing." Lance and I came close to speaking in unison.

And that - was another one, of course; almost as hard for Chris to take as waiting.

"You mind going home soon?" Lance ignored Chris' scowl. "I got a bit of laundry to do."

"You won't mind if I dump a few things of mine in with yours?" Chris asked casually when we got up to leave.

"You're talking about that overflowing ten cubic feet container in your bedroom?"

"Well, yeah."

"Forget it."

"Then I want first dibs on the washing machine."

"No way!"

And that was how the upper hand changed. Lance shouldn't have gone for a confrontational no. Chris handed Busta over to me. Two minutes of bodily arguments and Lance agreed to let Chris have first dibs; he didn't even go for having some of his stuff thrown in with Chris'.

"I don't get you," Lance said when we were nearly by the car. We had lost Chris and Busta to the windows of a used records' store a way back. "I mean, Chris is about everything I would not look for in a girl friend." He was red in the face.

I didn't understand why he should be embarrassed about asking and I tried to sound really friendly. "What do you mean?"

"Always so pushy, he never gives, his jokes are horrific, and he doesn't have one romantic bone in his body."

"The perfect business partner?"

Lance chuckled. "Yeah. And one of my best friends. Still. I mean..."

"You don't really see him, I think."

"No?"

"No. He's one of the most romantic people I've met."

Lance frowned. "Uh. Chris? Chris Kirkpatrick?"

"Yes."

"I don't mean to imply that you're all cavemen, but is this measured by some Danish standard?"

I laughed. "I don't have much else to go by."

Lance smiled and shook his head. "Let's take the car and go pick him up. He can be hours in front of that window."

We got in and Lance turned the key. "How did you like the rally?" he asked and we talked about that while we drove back the way we had just walked.

"I'm not really against death penalty, not in principle," Lance surprisingly said. "Like, I really want those killers to die." He'd stopped the car. Chris had given us a small distracted wave; he had not quite finished.

"But?"

"I don't trust the system. I mean, I doubt that the guy they are going to kill tomorrow is guilty of what they are executing him for. Tomorrow they could dig something up that cast doubt on the guilt of the guy that they killed today." He paused while Chris got into the backseat and closed the door. "That's what's really scary, people getting executed for something they didn't do. The thing is - to me one mistake, one innocent life balances out all the guilty ones; we're not good enough, and I don't think we can be. But, I really wish we could be."

"Mr. Revenge talking," Chris leaned forwards.

"Yeah." Lance got the car rolling.

"Your cousin called; he wants you to call back," was one of the first things Joey said after we returned. "Wait, let me get this right." He cleared his throat before attempting an impressively precise approximation to Tom's growl. "Tell that arrogant twit of a bloody coward to fucking call me as soon as he gets his stupid ass back. Message end. Please note those were not my words."

It certainly sounded like something Tom could have said.

I had planned on going home soon and to do a little shopping on the way. Now taking my time and doing a lot of very prolonged shopping sounded like an even smarter plan. "Thanks. Did he say anything else?"

"He asked me if you'd told us that it was your birthday. I said, no you hadn't said anything, and then he said - you want this one too?"

Chris had been glowing amusement, now the amusement evaporated. At the mention of birthday his head came up fast enough to make the braids jump and the chin jutted out.

Oops. "No thank you. I can imagine."

Uncle Joey nodded pleasantly, and gave me a fatherly pat on the shoulder, but there was a somewhat wicked gleam in his eyes.

There was nothing pleasant about the hard set of Chris' beautiful mouth or the gaze that was grating against the back of my skull. He took my breath away. Beautiful! Oh, no, I hurt Chris.

I went to the kitchen to call, wanting to clear that front so that I was free to deal with Chris.

The phone was picked up at the other end.

"Hi, Tom."

"Mikkel, the man, my big cousin, I can't believe you're calling. How fucking nice to hear from you. How was the rally?"

"It was - a rally." I wanted to find words to describe it but couldn't. It only amounted to, "One of the speakers was really good. It was pretty emotional but I'm still glad I went." What else to say? Help! I need a long speech to make him fall asleep. Somebody, please, a magic speech?

"That's good... You know, you're an asshole, have I told you that?"

Here it comes. "Yes. On several occasions."

"You're a fucking stupid asshole. You could've warned me!"

"Warned you - about what? Oh." Seeing Mormor with a man could scar him for life. Perhaps they had still been in bed when Tom got home. "Yeah, I guess. Look, I'm sorry about that. Were they-"

"Don't say it! No. They were eating breakfast. Next time you fucking call me, I don't care what time it is, where I am and what I'm doing - you fucking call and give a guy a warning before he gets home. You get that?"

"Sure."

"Good." He paused. Is that a grin? "When I got home, they were eating some brunch thing. From McDonalds's. Bacon, sausages, pancakes, eggs - the whole works. There was this huge pile of bags and cartons with big stains of fat on the table and the house still stinks of it."

"No. They didn't!" McDonald's? She doesn't want weed in the house and now she lets McDonalds's products in? Where did I go wrong? If my mother hadn't already disowned me then she would certainly have done it if she heard that I had let this happen... He's pulling my leg; I'm just being stupid and easy. Right?

"Yes, they did. And they liked it. Your Mormor is hooked on fast food, big cousin. Did I tell you about your room? I put their garbage there-"

"No you didn't."

"Yes I did. Jerk. Closed the window and the door, too. Chris will love it, there's a lot of fast-food stink in there, it's getting into everything - your mattress, your clothes, everything."

I swallowed; the image of a table with the actual bags and cartons on it gave me nausea. "This is a joke, right?"

"Nope. By the way, you've had quite a few calls from people who wanted to wish you a happy birthday. Now, that is a really fucked up practical joke, don't you think?"

"Ah..." Why was it I thought I could get away with this in the first place?

"What did you say?"

"Ah. No."

"Did you just say no?"

"Yes. I mean, it's not a joke. It's my birthday today."

"Why the fuck didn't you tell me?" There was a murmur somewhere in the background. It was Mormor's voice, and she could have said, "No quarter!" After what Tom had put her through to get her to agree to celebrate her birthday, there was no way she would help me get off his hook.

"It's just - a birthday."

"Just! There is nothing like just a birthday, dude, and you know it! We've talked about this-"

I had heard him and Mormor discuss her birthday until the roof shook. Birthdays were really important to Tom. "That was you and Mormor-"

"You listened in, No brain, and you damned well know it's not just another day. Not to me, it isn't. You're a fucking moron, Mikkel." Mormor still didn't call language. "Cheating us of a chance to celebrate you - that's one thing, but not telling? What the hell were you thinking?"

"I was just being practical and-"

"Practical!"

I held the phone away from my ringing ear. "Look-"

"Practical - my ass. You still could've told me. Man, this fucking hurts, you know?"

I sighed and leaned against the counter, surprised that I still was taller than it. I certainly didn't feel that tall. He really is hurt. Oh, no. Then I saw Chris standing in the door, arms folded across his chest and head tilted forward; perhaps he was considering growing horns and ramming me. The mouth was still set, but his eyes glowed with a weird light; perhaps he was getting some satisfaction out of watching me getting reamed by Tom. "Look, I'm sorry-"

"You fucking better be a hell of a lot of sorry, twit. And you know what this got you? No presents, no homemade cake, no homemade anything. We're going out."

The determination in his voice made my blood run really cold. "... Out?"

"Yeah. McDonald's has this special birthday menu-"

"Tom, no!"

"When are you coming home?"

"Never!"

"It was a joke, you goof. Get it? A joke. Like, ha, ha, ha. So - when are you coming? We're damn tired of answering your phone calls."

I could list two, maybe three people who would call. He must have other and more devious reasons for wanting me home. "Soon." I could run faster than Tom. Right? McDonalds's? Help!

"Good. Is Chris there?"

"Yes."

"I wanna talk with him. And Mikkel?"

"Yes?"

"Happy birthday. Jerk."

"Thanks. See you."

"Yeah. You twit."

I held the phone out to Chris. "Tom wants a word with you."

Chris came over and took the phone from me. "Hi, Tom. ... No, dude, the shithead didn't tell me either."

He was probably talking about me.

I was trying to sneak out when a hard hand grabbed my horsetail and yanked. Chris didn't let go; kept up his phone talk with Tom while holding on to me, yanking every time I moved. I couldn't really make out what they were talking about, but Chris was mostly saying yes and no.

When he had disconnected, he pulled me close, bending me over backwards; his breath was searing hot in my ear. I couldn't see it, but I was sure there were little flames coming out of his mouth and nostrils when he spoke. "You feeling bad, eh, birthday boy?"

"Uh, yes." I hurt Chris! Ooh. Dragon breath! I'm bad too! Tell Chris, I'm so bad.

"Really, really bad?"

"Yes." Breathe on me! Burn me! Slap me!

"Good. You know - that was a frigging shitty thing to do. It's the only birthday you're ever gonna have with me around, and, yeah. Hey. You feeling even worse now?"

"Yes." I was about as tall as the doorstep. I'm big and bad! Slap me! "I'm sorry." I hurt Chris! Kiss Chris-feet! I had twisted enough for our eyes to meet. Sorry, so sorry. Chris!

Chris' eyes widened, and he let go of me as if he had burned his hands. "Now, what do you usually do for your birthday?" he asked in a normal voice, while looking at his feet.

Kiss nice feet, lick and kiss!

"Leave town and hide."

"Yeah?" He was apparently satisfied with the situation at his feet - he looked at me, and was his usual curious self. "Where?"

"The other end of the country, fixing summerhouses so they are ready for the summer season. Please don't tell Tom, he'll tell Kurt; those two are way too comfortable with each other."

"Really? You run away from your own birthday?" Chris' eyebrow was raised; he was obviously questioning my sanity, and, perhaps less obviously, his gaze was treading a track deeper and deeper into me.

I nodded, hoping he didn't lose his way looking for an explanation. There wasn't any. It was just the way things were.

"I don't think Tom is letting you get away with that."

"He has a thing about birthdays - he threatened me with McDonalds's. My cousin's evil!"

"Hey! That's not a threat - that's a treat. Get my language right, dude. When are we going?"

"We are not going. It was a joke."

"Oh." He actually sounded disappointed. Then his face cleared. "Hey - tell you what, we can go to Taco Bell; I've got coupons! The staff there will sing you a birthday song and you get a little flag on the table. For free. Like, they'll all stand around the table and sing." He sang the last word and waved his arms for emphasis. "It sounds awful and it's great. Sometimes they even have instruments, and the cooks will bang kitchen utensils together. All the other customers will sing, too, and everybody will wave little flags, cheer and applaud, and they won't stop until the center of all the attention, that's you, gets up on the table and waves and then everybody yells hurray three times three times and throws food at you. Man, the whole place just rocks!" His smile was so wide that the sides of his mouth disappeared into his ears. It was the wicked glitter in his eyes that was real.

I was not going to McDonalds's or Taco Bell - not with that man. "Right - you and Tom can go, I'll pay, and I stay at home and-"

"Hide in a closet?"

"Yes, and masturbate. Whatever."

He frowned.

Maybe he didn't know what I was talking about. "You know that thing with you can do with you hand and your dick?" Yes! Firm and fine Chris-Hand around Partner, rub, rub, rub. Make Partner sizzle and sprout. "Oh, shut up."

Chris hunched down to get a closer look at my crotch. "Did you ever consider having vocal cords installed in your dick?"

"Don't you give it any ideas, you." I could talk to Partner! "Now, hear what you did."

"Yeah." He patted me like he would Busta.

Come in, open up, I want out! Chris, Chris! Let me out!

Chris straightened up, wide-eyed and sparkling with visions. "You'd need hearing protection or, man, I know it: sound-proof pants! Like, special made sound-killing diapers. And - hey, singing lessons! The possibilities in this are astounding! The Man With the Singing- dmph." His eyes flashed laugher and he blew against my hand. I pressed harder, closing off the stream of air, and his cheeks swelled out.

I can sing! Everybody watch me! Warm spotlights - I'd look good!

I groaned. Chris squirmed in my grasp, rubbing against my front and-

Nice Chris, wriggle and rub, rub me in nice Chris Bum!

"Okay - my dick can get vocal cords and the two of you can sing duets onstage. I'll wear a mask, like, put a full face helmet on backwards or something." Me and Partner! On a stage! "Or you can get your own extra set of vocal cords and do three-ets with Partner or whatever."

He grinned behind my hand and pushed his tongue between my fingers.

That tickles! Want Chris naked!

Chris pulled my hand away. "So your dick likes the lime-light."

Crowds, yes, yes, yes! Watch me! Slap me! "Can we talk about something else before my inner ear goes deaf?" No! "Like, what did Tom say to you?"

"What did it say?"

I want Chris! Chris! Chris! Nice Chris!

I spoke right into his ear. "Me and Partner on stage! Watch me! Slap me!" Yes! Now! "I want Chris! Chris! Chris! Nice Chris!" Yes, yes! And vocal cords!

He shivered and leaned against me, arranging my arms around him. "Slap me?" He unfolded my arms and refolded them again. I nibbled at his ear; he grunted and tilted his head, giving me more room.

"Dick-slapping sounds a lot better in theory than it works in reality - I tried. Now, what did Tom say?"

Squeeze me, slap me. Nice ouches. And dragon breath - with flames!

"Watch me?"

"That one got me arrested, man. Now-"

"I wanna hear about that!"

"I want to stop Tom." I nipped his neck. "What did he say?"

Nice neck! Bite it!

"I wanna- Hngh! I want you to fuck me and bite me."

!!!!!!

My expelled breath must have sounded like a storm in his ear, but his shiver did not feel like a complaint. I had to swallow several times before I could find voice. "We can try..."

He grunted, and reached up, cupping the back of my head, he impatiently directed my mouth to his neck.

Fuck and bite. Fuck and bite, bite, bite nice Chris. Yes! Squeeze the nipples! Make Chris squirm and shiver! Ooh, the Grunts!

It was easy to forget about house-rules and phone calls; it was easy to forget about everything else when Chris purposefully spread his naked self out on the bed, looking expectantly and a little shy at me over his shoulder. Beautiful. So beautiful.

Last time had been the previous night - and he had been tense about it then, first time and all. I tried to be gentle both then and now; but there's a severe limit to the gentleness when invading a recently abused rear end, first with fingers and then with the Baseball-bat. Chris hissed, and swore, and insisted; Partner wasn't all that happy about what was going on.

"Chris..."

"Do it!"

"Are you sure-"

"Come on." He tried to spear himself but I wouldn't let him. "Mikkel! Now!"

I tightened my grip on his hips and pushed an unusually subdued dick the rest of the way in.

He groaned and lay still, breathing quickly. "Fucking baseball-bat."

Yes? Yes! That's me!

Not subdued for much longer. "Chris?"

"I'm okay, just give me a sec... Roll over, I wanna - on the side..."

We did, and I held him; even though I held myself still and didn't pull, he kept getting closer and closer until he was deep inside my heart and took it over.

Warm! And tight! Chris Bum burns so good! Push! More Chris Bum burn, rub me in it!

He wriggled a little, then he wriggled some more. "Heh. Bite me."

Bite, bite, bite!

"Mmm." I wanted a kiss; Chris read my mind, twisted agilely, and we made a long kiss out of snaky tongues, sharp teeth and wet lips amidst warm, moist breaths. It felt like he was all right.

Fuck him, bite him!

"Fuck me, bite me." He was very all right.

I nibbled at his earlobe and he shivered. "With you around, my dick will not need vocal cords."

Chris laughed breathlessly, and the Chris-shaped lump that was my heart quivered and sparkled, and when I held him tight they melted into one.

"I want-" I shifted about to get an arm all the way under him - leaving it immobile and trapped under him had seemed such a waste of opportunity when there were expanses of skin and exciting places to be touched. The nice, furry balls were so vulnerable and warm when they snuggled into my hand.

Partner touched my wrist, silken and throbbing, hard again, unhappiness forgotten; and it was clearly not enough - Chris grasped my arm and tried to wrestle my hand to a grip on Partner.

An eager nipple slipped itself in between my fingers when I stroked him with the other hand, pulling Chris with it, his back arching, when I tweaked lightly. And suddenly Chris' hand was on Partner and he found-

The Chris Rhythm! Go, go, go! Nice Bum Wiggle!

Impatient punk!

I let go of his balls, and gripped his wrist to keep him from finishing himself off in a heart-beat. He groaned and swore as if in pain. Hold him! Bite him!

I bit down on the junction of his neck and shoulder, and dug my nails into the trusting little nipple. Yes! Pinch the nipple! Fuck, fuck, fuck. Move! He arched and writhed against me, he was hot, hot - hot enough to sear my front, and his skin broke out into sweat and the taste of him got even better.

"More!" He tried to throw himself at me - the Chris Rhythm! "Move, man. Come on!"

Demanding bugger.

"Faster."

Yes!

"No." Love you.

"Harder."

Yes!

"No." Deeper. Closer. All around...

"... Mikkel."

"Good?"

"Yeah... Bite me - like that... Rough... Jesus. Yesss!"

The world, Chris!, was sweat-slicked skin, straining muscles, free fall and earthen solidity. And sounds from deep in throats.

It was amazing how all our parts could find their old places once we came out on the other side of the madness. Unbelievable that we got out of it in two separate pieces.

Chris slipped into the doze that he usually took after coming hard. When I was back in my head and I could move again, which was quite a while, I made sure that everything had found the right place: I had not, unfortunately for me, gotten Chris' nose, and he still, fortunately for both of us, had his own small feet. Mixed pairs of feet would really look silly. It would probably mess with the balance, too. Now, shopping for shoes - that would be interesting.

"Ngh?"

"Just checking we didn't switch feet. We didn't and, as far as I can see, neither left and right nor front and back have flipped."

He chuckled sleepily and gave me a lick. I covered us and put my arms around him. And now: the buttocks.

"Ngh?"

"They are yours."

"Gd. Dks?"

Chris?

"You heard that?"

"N-n."

"They didn't switch either, then. Spread? I'd like to check your balls..."

Mmm. Furry and fine Chris-balls.

"Ngh?"

"Furry and fine Chris-balls. I think we're good."

"Gd. Kssm."

"Sorry. What body-part?"

"Kiss me."

He was pliant and solid in my embrace. Things would have been perfect if not for the interruption by a knock on the door. We tried to ignore it but it didn't go away.

"Are you guys awake in there?" The door muffled Joey's voice.

"Yes."

"Fuck," muttered Chris.

I hugged him. "I don't think I can yet."

"Neither can I. Ouch, man, my poor asshole."

"Our assholes didn't switch either."

"I wish, man, I wish." He was smiling, so I didn't think it was a serious wish.

Joey opened the door and poked his head in. "Tom called. I got a message for Mikkel."

"Is it long?" I asked.

"As long as the first one. Grammar and poetic style are about the same."

"I know what it is. You don't have to say it."

"Thank you. And - happy birthday."

"Thank you."

Joey took a long look at Chris and smirked. "Oh, man, they're gonna charge you extra for the paint tomorrow. They're gonna use masking tape for foundation or something."

Chris touched his bruised neck. "Dude, that's not gonna be the worst part."

"Well, you asked for it; the whole house heard you, "Bite me, fuck me, oh yeah!" Justin is in still in shock, and Lance went outside with Busta to protect him from sounds and words no little pup should hear."

"Joey - Busta sleeps in my bedroom."

"I can't wait hearing you explain that to Lance. He's really worried about the dog." He settled against the door jamb as if making ready for a long talk. "Now, JC-"

"Joey." Chris' voice was dire warning with a very thin finish of sound.

"Yeah?" Joey could not be as stupid as he looked; he would have lost his way on the climb up the stairs.

"Get out."

"Can I tell Lance it's safe for the pup to come back into the house?"

"Yeah. Out!"

Joey left, closing the door after him.

Attacked by sudden clear-sightedness, Chris punched the mattress. "The perverted freaks were listening at my door! I'm so gonna... short-sheet their beds for the entire tour."

Short-sheet? Does it involve scissors? I could easily imagine Chris being the perverted freak listening at doors when his friends had sex. But, "Would Lance do that?"

"Justin made him do it." A moment's silence eroded his determined belief in his own explanation, and he rubbed his throat. "Did I really?"

"I think both of us made sounds. My throat is sore."

"Well, you did. I'm kinda deaf in the left side of my head."

His goofy smile made me laugh and pull him in for a kiss and a snuggle.

"So, what did Tom say?" I asked when we were pulling our clothes on.

"He ordered me over for some low-level partying tonight. You better stock up on beer. And snacks. He told me to tell you to get Doritos and belly jeans."

"Belly jeans?"

"Perhaps it was jellybeans."

Beans of jelly? It sounded like something I wouldn't want to eat, and that Tom wouldn't dream of putting on a shopping list. "Say, don't you have a thing tonight? Lance talked about an interview and something you had to prepare for tomorrow. And there's the laundry."

"We're doing the interview over the phone." He was dancing around on one leg, trying to push the other into a pair of jeans that were really twisted. He was wearing the yellow and red striped boxers that tended to creep up; they were one of his last resorts. "I've got lots of time after that. I can bring my laundry to your place, and you can fix it for me, no problem."

His easy tone and the fact that I was busy watching his fight with his pants caused his words to sink in way too slowly. With Chris one had a maximum reaction-time of one and a half seconds for a no to stand a chance, if minor, of being valid. The "Fine" that came out of me was a comment to the victory of his pushing leg. Then I realized what I had just agreed to. "Hey."

Chris swore. He had conquered the wrong leg of the pants. The puzzled look on his face alone was worth being tricked into doing his laundry for.

"I knew it had to have gone wrong. It was your legs that got switched around. Want me to switch them back?"

"You stay right where you are. I can figure this out." He pulled the jeans on, zipper in the back.

"Is that comfortable?"

"Shut up and zip me."

"Your ass is too big for this," I told him after having tried.

"Just pull the zipper, meathead."

"Chris - your ultimate buttocks take up a lot more space than your fine and furry balls. There isn't much room here, all the room is in the front where the fine and furry balls are."

"You sure?"

"That your buttocks are bigger than your balls?" I fondled the precious buttocks. "Pretty sure."

"Okay. I got a belt."

A belt - I could wake up for that.

We walked down the stairs holding hands, and kissed by the door like a pair of enamoured kids. I yelled goodbye and got answers and birthday-wishes back from the guys in the living room. Chris didn't want me around when he went in there. I hoped that the backward pants would help him accomplish whatever it was that he was aiming for.

I did stop by the supermarket on my way back and, enrolling the help of a couple of teenage-boys, found jellybeans on the sweet shelves. I had been looking in the cake section.

"I already shopped," was Tom's terse greeting when I got in with a brown bag on my arm.

"Did you get jellybeans?"

"jellybeans?"

"Yeah, Chris wants jellybeans."

"Is he pregnant?"

Now, there is a thought. "I doubt it - we're being careful." Make Chris pregnant - now! Find Chris!

"Glad to know it. The list of callers is by the phone, now, get out of the kitchen." He was cooking, there was a cake in the oven and another in the making on the counter. When he put himself in charge he usually preferred me out of there. "Stop looking over my shoulder," he had said at some point last week - when I had my back turned, reading the paper. And when I hadn't been swift enough to catch on, he had listed principles at me and threatened to make them into house-rules.

I picked up the list. Jens Peter? Who told him that it's my birthday? Are we on birthday terms now? Palle? And oh, her. "Did my mother say what she wanted?"

"No. Couldn't it be a peace offering, wishing you happy birthday?" Tom dangled hope in front of me.

Is that why he was so set on getting me home? He figured my mother may have come around? I had learned my lesson long ago. "Nah. She never remembers."

There were more people on the list. It was overwhelming. Unsettling, really. Kurt must have spread the word far and wide. I'm so going to... DOS his pet project or something equally dirty. Kurt had this thing about denial of service attacks - very much like the thing Peter, who was an incarnate fly fisher, had about using worms for bait. "The phone must have been ringing all morning."

"Quite." Mormor snapped as she came rolling in. The calls probably had interrupted her breakfast and perhaps other things with Richard; her scrawls at the top of the list, before Tom had taken it over, certainly were near illegible and obviously irritated the pen had gone through the paper in several places.

And why is Tom staring at me like that? Is it pity?

The phone rang.

"You are taking it in the library," Tom generously informed me.

I recognized the friendliness of a were-bear. "Sure."

It was Jane and Kamilla. "Did you get the package yet?" Jane, my bossy tailor, asked. When I told her I hadn't, she would only tell me about the clothes that they would be billing me for. "The postage is on us. There's a surprise, too. It's not a present, okay? It's, like, you know, net-working - you introduce our stuff to some fashion mogul or something and make us rich, you hear?" Not a present. Net-working. Right.

I did routine work-work in between talking on the phone. Mormor was working by her own computer, trying to look like she wasn't listening to my phone calls. If I hadn't already guessed where the leak was then I would have found out when I checked my email. Somebody had told several of my acquaintances from my on-line haunts that it was Foxtail's birthday and that he was in Florida. A couple of the guys wanted to meet up and talk shop face to face.

It was actually kind of nice, and I was having a pretty good time. That is - until my mother called.

"I thought you were going to stop meddling."

"Hi, mum."

"I'm not stupid. Don't think for a minute that I don't know that you're exploiting the situation - and your dad. You two have something new going and I want you to stop right now."

Well, thank you mum, thanks for calling in the middle of one of your tantrums. "What are you talking about?"

"Don't you play coy with me, kid. You know damn well what I'm talking about! I already told you and then you had the cheek to-"

Keep my head, got to keep my head. "I don't know what you mean by "exploiting". If I've "exploited" anybody then it has completely escaped my attention - and I'll do what I can to right it. So, tell me the facts."

"You dragging your dad deeper into financial mire is what I'm talking about, and you're being stupid on purpose-"

"Financial mire - look, don't give me the conclusions, give me facts. As far as I know he hasn't lost-"

"You've hog-tied him! That's what you did, and you're squeezing everything out of him. Every one of his assets - completely locked, he can't take a loan in the house because some... you, you are playing like your dad is some casino-"

"Are you interested in telling me anything at all? It doesn't sound like it. Say, are you just lining up lies so that you can put all the blame on me when your relationship with dad falls apart ?"

She disconnected at that.

My hands shook and the head set got tangled with my hair when I pulled it off. "Fuck!"

"Language, kid." Mormor looked up from her computer.

"It's pissing me off. You know, I'm supposed to be good at communication. I research communication, I write papers on communication, I do communication every breathing moment I'm awake, I make a living from selling and fixing communication - it's at the heart of our business, and we have too much to do, so we must be doing something right. But I can't communicate with my own mum. It's so fucked up."

"Well, you can't communicate if she doesn't want to."

"It's not like I meant it, I mean, she wouldn't..."

Mormor just watched me. Waiting.

"No."

I really didn't want to know. Didn't want to recognize the patterns or to know the true reason for mum to insist that I should go to Florida instead of her. Behind the whole scheme... I didn't want to see Karla there, pulling strings made of my mother's old guilt-filled promises from when there hadn't been money enough to pay a proper wage for Karla's work at her restaurant - or mine, but I had been a kid so that didn't count. And, unlike me, Karla had been keeping tallies in notebooks, long, meticulous columns of numbers. Also, this particular pattern of keeping Mikkel out of the way and at odds with his mother lit up and ran way back in time.

Mum and dad likely won't see that she's doing the same to them - and doing it on purpose. "Fuck."

Mormor just whacked an eyebrow.

"Do you know something that I don't?" I asked her.

"Like what?"

"Like - has she told you about Karla's business plans?"

Mormor shook her head. "We haven't talked about Karla or Karla's plans at all. Why?"

"This kind of conflict - it's got Karla's fingerprints all over, nobody else has that knack of keeping my mum going full steam on a totally irrational track."

Tom was whistling in the kitchen, staying mostly on tune and grounding me. And insisting on celebrating me. How odd. I wasn't sure what to do with that. "You know, for all my mother's hidden motives for getting me over here instead of going herself, I'm really glad I came."

"What a surprising piece of news."

I threw a paper clip at her. "Tom kicked you out for meddling?"

She frowned, picked the paperclip up from her lap and threw it back at me, hitting me right on the forehead. "He's an uncouth brat."

I found an eraser and let it fall on the table to see how high it would jump. It didn't jump very high but it did jump at a crooked angle and landed on the floor. I picked it up and tried again, once again it hit the floor before I could catch it.

Mormor snorted. "Let me."

"Best out of three?"

"Right. Let's do it by threes. What do we bet?"

Of course she won the first two games; so when the phone rang, and it was Karen, I immediately took the opportunity to practice. Mormor's clipped answers distracted me from concentrating properly, but she thawed when the topic moved on to pups.

"Patricia Said has been talking with Karen?" I asked, figuring that Karen had been curious and fishing for information on whether Richard had been here, drawn by the chance of gossip about sex. Perhaps Richard is the mysterious gold-digger that Jennifer and Annie were upset about. Tom never learned his name - so, it could be him.

Mormor reached out her hand for the eraser. "My time to start." She caught the eraser neatly all three times. "That's another three dollars for me, kid."

"Hey, I haven't had my try this round yet." I caught the eraser from her. "This one will be a draw; you watch it."

She snorted. "You're lucky if you catch one."

I should have known better than to pick bets with my grandmother. It cost me twelve dollars.

I got her back, though. Later, when Chris was there and we all were playing darts out on the back porch, my misspent youth paid off.

"I still say Mikkel is cheating!" Mormor claimed when the last dart sunk in and it was unquestionable she was third.

Tom was grinning. Not two minutes ago he had been lamenting at having his granny beat him at darts and the bad things it would do to his reputation. Mormor had practiced at being a very bad winner, telling him about the terrible things it would do to her reputation having a grandson that was a fibber-gibling klutz at darts.

"Mikkel always cheats," said Chris, coming out from inside with a tray of drinks.

"I do not!"

"Did you ever play cards with yourself?" asked Tom.

"You can't cheat at darts; it's impossible." Maybe we shouldn't talk too much about this particular topic.

"Special cheat darts - like home seekers?" Chris set down the tray.

I hurried to play the host. "Drink anyone?"

"Yes!" Mormor needed one.

Chris pushed me away with one hand and used the other for passing Mormor a glass of green liquid.

"Thank you, Christopher." She eyed the crowded glass. "What's all the equipment for?"

"Well, the straws are for sucking; the little umbrella is in case it starts to rain - you don't want the drink watered, right? The ice cubes are for cooling. The antennae is for good luck, it'll double as a lightening rod in case the rain comes as a thunder storm; you can also eat the fruit off it. The fruit is color coded."

She tried it. "It's delicious. Is the fruit part of some secret health plan?"

"Oh, you don't have to eat it. There's lots of unhealthy substances in it even without the fruit."

"Thank you. I see four different color codes."

"Yeah. Each is custom made. Mikkel's is anti-cheat." Chris passed me my glass.

"Splendid! Another game, boys? Mikkel, drink your drink."

"I don't cheat at darts!"

"Sure. I'm game. And let's check the darts for electronics before we play." Tom sampled his kid's drink. His eyes widened. "Martian Yellow, right?"

"Right. The real thing."

Chris had told me about the proper edition of this drink. I took a sip and sure enough, the explosive fruit taste was followed not only by the taste of alcohol but also by the bitter green taste of hash oil. Chris' eyes reflected my own smile.

When I had finished my turn, with darts minutely checked for electronics, Chris sidled up to me. "I think the dryer is finished."

"Okay." I went to take his clothes out. It bugged him that I didn't protest; he was waiting for it.

Behind me I heard Tom. "You're gonna let him fold your shirts? He's really bad at shirts."

"Is this when he tricks me?"

Ha!

"Probably. Granny!"

"What?"

"What was that? Are you cheating?"

"Don't be silly, boy. Of course I don't cheat! What kind of idea is that?"

"I can't believe it! You pulled the dart out and put it in again!"

"I didn't pull it - it fell right out into my hand!"

I had left the doors open behind me and could hear Tom and Mormor merrily bickering on. A quiet presence sneaked along to stand in the door and spy on me.

I was really careful when folding the shirt, doing it like Tom had explained to me. It still seemed awfully tedious, closing all the buttons. In between I took a sip of the drink. The hash oil hadn't quite started working yet; a faint buzz far back in my head told me that it was about to.

"Man, you're really bad at that."

"You think it's wrinkled?"

"Bad as in slow." He came over and bumped me aside. "Let me. You'd spend all night on this."

"No, no. Let me-"

"You win, okay?"

"Certainly." I picked up my drink and watched him take over. The cloth flowed through his rough, small hands and folded with a will of its own, just like that, as if it was the only thing it really wanted to do. The magic extends to cloth? Amazing. When he had pushed one neatly folded shirt aside and reached for the next, I took his hand. Maybe the magic is visible... There were no little blue lights or anything else to see, just the palm of the square Chris Hand with its bitten nails and thick fingers.

"What?" He leaned in curiously.

"I just wondered where they put the module." I explored the dry, warm palm with a finger, finding no unexpected bumps. The blue veins were visible through the thin skin of his wrist. There were no module-like bumps there either.

Chris shivered. "You're not reading it, right?"

"Well, it's hard to miss the - see, here and here..." I ran a finger across the skin and he shivered some more.

"It's just my hand, dude." He closed the hand in a loose fist and tried to pull it back.

"There's a lot of sex..."

"Yeah?" He stopped pulling and opened the fist, fingers spread wide. "Where?"

"Like here." I ran a finger over the obvious pattern. "I've never seen anything like that before. That's really impressive, you know. Look."

"Look at what? Mikkel, tell me!"

"You actually have calluses from wanking-"

The Martian Yellow had started kicking in, and he was past my defenses before I saw that he had moved. Maybe it was from the practice with the darts: those magic fingers hit home at every first try, and my tickle spots blazed on-line in rapid succession. There was nothing I could do; I was as helpless as the shirts and I just folded.

It took eternities before Chris was back to folding clothes and I was sitting on the floor, gasping for air.

"How did you do that?" Tom asked Chris. I could well understand if he was impressed; Chris could fold shirts neatly without closing all the buttons.

"Want me to show you?"

"Sure."

"Okay. First, you gotta be fast-"

That was when I realized they weren't talking about clothes, and that I had become a lab animal to be used in demonstrations of tickle points and their use. The Evil Over-Tickler even had Tom holding me down for demonstrations of some of the finer points - done with surgical precision, in slow motion and with zzzound-effectzzz.

The first thing I saw when I had dried my eyes and had breath enough for my sight to work was Mormor royally throning in her wheel chair and holding out a bouquet of darts for me. "Your turn."

Whose nightmare is this?

It wasn't my turn, but nobody else protested. What can you do when the world's three worst losers gang up on you?

You know what triumph is? That's when you get dragged out and held upright and told to throw your darts, stoned on real Martian Yellow and totally dissolved from two tickle bouts - and you still beat them all.

"You bring the worst out in my family," I told Chris later, when we were alone in my room. I was sitting on the bed, counting my winnings from Mormor; she had given them to me in small change. "Look, she only gave me seven seventy-five. I won eight. Didn't I win eight?"

"Yeah." Grinning, Chris put down the cakes he had gotten from the kitchen and pulled down his boxers. "Is that my fault now?"

"So there should be eight." I dumped the change in the bedside drawer. I could re-count them later. Right now there was naked, naked Chris! in my bedroom.

"Look," Chris pointed to the clock. "Your birthday is officially over." He bent to get something from his bag.

Deciding to play along with his thin attempt at distracting me, (It's got to do with sex! Oh, yes! Play, play, play!) I checked the clock and saw that he was right - it was a couple of minutes past midnight. The bed dipped and then Chris leaned against me, kneeling on the bed behind me.

"You agree?" His soft breath warmed my ear. "It's not your birthday, anymore."

"Yes. Actually taking the time zones into-"

He made a fart sound in my ear. It probably meant that I had interrupted him.

"Here. It's not a birthday present." He handed me a small present, not much larger than a handful. He put his arms around me, hooked his chin on my shoulder and snuggled. "You're supposed to unwrap it."

"Mmm." I leaned into his warmth before focussing on the present in my hand. He had used a lot of tape on top of the comic page that he had used for wrapping.

"Come on." Partner bumped me softly when Chris jumped up and down.

"It would be a lot easier if you could sit still." Noo! Jump, make Partner rub!

It was perhaps ten seconds before he sighed exasperatedly and reached for the package. "Let me. Man, you're an amateur."

"No! I want." I held it away from him.

He put his arms around me again. "Yeah, that's it."

I had begun using my teeth. Chris pushed my hair over to the side so that he could see better. Out of the corner of my eye I could see him baring his own teeth in sympathy.

When I had a hole it was easier; I could get a couple of fingers in to tear. "This thing isn't fragile, I hope?"

"Mmm. No." Chris was running a hand up and down my arm while I worked at tearing the tough wrapping. "I mean, it couldn't stand up to a flame thrower or napalm or something like that. Because - too hot. It could probably stand up to being run over by a small truck. But not by a train, 'cause - too much-"

"Chris." I pulled the last of the wrapping off the plastic alligator. It was ultimately green, the white paint on the teeth was smeared and the eyes were crossed. The tail had a good swing to it, though, energetic; it looked like it was actually going to move.

"Yeah. You like it?"

"Oh, yes!" I turned it over in my hand. "It's even more ugly than the live one." The alligator was so ugly that it was touching, which was weird because usually my heart didn't clench at ugly plastic animals. He probably magicked it.

"It was the ugliest I could find on short notice." He was smiling against my shoulder.

I turned my head and kissed what I could get at; it happened to be his nose. "Thank you, Chris."

"'S okay. You can put it away now." His voice was low and tickled down my spine.

The Voice!

I put the magic alligator on the bedside drawer out of pure reflex. "Chris?"

"I told Tom that he probably would prefer to sleep in a room a lot less adjacent to yours." Chris nipped my neck and I shivered. "I told him that you're gonna scream tonight."

Yes! Yes! Scream, want to scream, nice ouches, dragon breath and bites! Slap me!

"Ngh! Bet... he didn't... like to hear that."

"Mmm. Do you?" His fingers ran down my spine and found the Spot. "Bottom boy."

Communication was easy. I could mewl.

nnnnnnnnnnnn

End of Chapter

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