A festive special for all the sweet- and weird-toothed out there. Merry Christmas and enjoy!

M/M slash, fluff and lots and lots of chocolate.

(Note: the part about the Bribe has been edited to make everything more convincing. Convinced already?)

Fondue


I have no idea how anyone can stand it. Three hours straight of rowdiness and a huge bunch of children running and screaming the house down — all for Alice and Allen's birthday? And at the expense of my eardrums and privacy?

The thought of any kid rummaging through my drawers, revealing all my hidden secrets inside there and reporting the findings to my mother is more than enough to make me scream yes to a one-way ticket to Hell.

Now that's something.

"Thank you for coming!" I hear the twins cry out happily in unison — clad in similar prince and princess costumes — presumably to the last tittering guests (and their parents) as they finally step out of our house.

I lift my head just in time to see someone's fancy cape sweep past the door, and two rather disgruntled adults close behind. When one of them turns around to scrutinise the shambolic state of the party room and catches my eye, I force a bright smile and wave.

Thank YOU for leaving. And please be quick about it.

And finally the door shuts.

"Bloody hell," I mutter lowly, yanking off the green face-mask I am wearing and striding to the basement. There I hurriedly rid myself of the ridiculous tortoise costume the twins made me wear. A black T-shirt, faded jeans, deckers — salvations I stashed there earlier. A delicious wind whistles along my skin, proclaiming my freedom from stifling agony.

If they have a party like that next year, I remind myself, I'll stay out the whole day and come back only after everything. With the door to my room securely locked, of course — not alluringly half-open like that one down there —

I pause on my way down the corridor. Something is wrong with what I'd seen earlier.

Because that's MY room!

I push the door ajar, inhaling sharply while doing so. "Kid," I try to keep my voice as calm as possible, "what are you doing here when the party's over . . ."

But as far as I can see there is no alleged 'kid' turning my drawers inside out. Not even anything close. A bunny is lying down on my beanbag, the top of his head faced towards me. The lop-earred cap lies forgotten at my feet.

I distractedly kick at the cap. It's nothing interesting when your friend is there staring at some unknown white object on a long utensil in his hand. Then it is no more as his mouth captures the blob whole.

"I thought you've gone back already?" I ask, sitting down beside him. He doesn't answer, only eying me with a smile and a half-hearted shrug. Apparently he loves being a jumping rabbit too much to change out of his costume.

As if to prove my point, he crosses his legs and idly shakes one white sneakered foot in the air. "Why don't you take them off?" I inquire, a little irritatedly. "I don't want any chips or confetti on your shoes seeking refuge in my room, you know."

"Why not just say I look ridiculous in this costume and would I please take it off?" Vince replies, pointing what I presume is a large fork into my face. I sniff in disdain.

"I'm glad you noticed. But I still don't believe you're egoistic enough to agree to help us charm the twins and those pesky little friends of theirs. Now you've snatched away half the attention I was supposed to get, thanks to you."

The fork twirls in his hand. "My pleasure."

And as it does I finally notice the new addition to my low table apart from all my lecture notes and stationery: a small red pot of dark melted chocolate, sitting atop a tiny heater.

"For the party, eh? I wonder why this shows up only after the party and all," I comment airily.

"Because I don't see how four-year old kids can learn to appreciate fondue. Not that I think you can, either." He pushes a plate towards me. "Help yourself anyway."

So that was where that white thing came from. I stare at the generous platter of multicoloured marshmallows and . . .

"Strawberries?" My eyes roll towards the ceiling. "Isn't that like . . . a girl fruit or something?"

Vince laughs, then puts the fork down. "Girl fruit?" he repeats sceptically. "You're saying it as if guys who eat them will die right there and then! Hell no, I'm still here alive and kicking if you still haven't noticed."

Literally illustrating what he meant, his legs draw cycles in the air, while his bare arm reaches out for the plate. I blink stupidly at him.

White stockings.

When his feet touch the floor once more I snap out of my trance. "Well . . ." I find myself explaining, arms thrown in gestures, "girls are always the ones who'd like those fruits. How often do you see guys even eating strawberries in the first place? Or enjoying them, for that matter?"

But as I look at him for an affirmation, all I see is what he is holding in his fingers — the reddest strawberry I've ever seen. I watch mutely as he gingerly dips the whole fruit into the chocolate fondue, raising it again as a tantalising coat of brown forms on the surface. And then he lets the strawberry hover just above his slightly open mouth, on the point of eating it.

And all the while his eyes never leave mine.

For the first time I actually feel some part of me responding to his actions. I wonder if he's reading me, as his thin lips part further to let the tip of the strawberry in. "You're looking at one," I vaguely hear him whisper, before he takes a small bite off the fruit.

Now I strongly suspect that he is. Rather successfully.

His other hand — still gloved in part of the costume — reaches out for my chin, taking it between his fingers and guiding my face closer to his. I can feel my blood practically crawling at his touch, and the fear of what I think he's going to do.

"Vince, I —" My refusal is silenced by the rest of the strawberry as he gently pushes it into my mouth, and I cannot help but close my eyes to savour — the subtly sweet taste of the chocolate, intermixed with the sourness of the fruit, and something else. Something even more delectable, something completely novel, beyond any form of description.

I open my eyes at last, only to see him still gazing at me with those penetrating slate-coloured eyes of his. "It's . . . nice," I admit, working my teeth faithfully on the bite-sized dessert, and then swallowing. Somehow I dare not raise my head and look at him again.

But actually, there is no need to.

The cotton glove finds its way to my jawline this time, and once more I find myself staring down at him full in the face, his soft fair hair splayed around his head, onto the fabric of the gritty beanbag.

And I do the one thing that seems to suggest something more than anything else. I lean down slightly and blow the stray strands of hair away from his forehead and eyes, which close, then open again.

One of the strangest things in life is to watch, in great detail, someone who has been sharing such a close relationship with you all this time — with him usually a safe physical distance from you, and with him so very wide awake, staring back at you all the same.

I feel my lips quiver slightly as his bare thumb caresses them, again and again. "You know the kids are not the only ones I'm trying to charm as an innocent little bunny," he murmurs, sliding his other hand to the back of my shoulder blades. But what totally spooks me is the fact that mine is running down the length of his white velvet vest.

His tactics are working like a charm, indeed.

And now another part of me responds, even more readily. You know you want to, his voice echoes, persuasive, inside my head. It makes me — not unwillingly — want to know more things, more details about his voice, his looks . . . him.

My best friend.

"I think I know," I finally say, leaning down to meet him softly at the lips. I don't get to see him so up close — since my eyes automatically shut just then — but I do find myself tasting him: that similar chocolatey scent, the tang of strawberry, the faint sweetness of marshmallows. My mind fills with the images of cherubs dancing in paradise.

And that something else oozes its way secretly into my mouth — the hidden taste of apple cider. I comfort myself with the fallacy that this is what is making him so . . . queer today.

Maybe I'll make him drink more.

I shift my body above his as he tightens his arms around my neck, and slide one knee in between his stockinged legs, slender and smooth. An innocent bunny indeed. Who knows what he's been thinking about the moment he agreed to help out in my siblings' party.

Who knows what of me he's savouring right now.

A cute little whimper escapes his mouth, and by instinct I pull away from him. The memory of marshmallows die away but the cider remains, if not more distinctly. I stare at him: doe-eyed, delicately flushed, a smile curling up his lips, his gloved hand at the nape of my neck.

"This is bad," I find myself saying, in what I suppose is exasperation and disbelief. "I kissed you, Vince. I just fucking kissed my best friend."

And when my voice turns out too hoarse, the impact just isn't as great as I hoped.

"I know that," he replies lightly. "And I know you don't mind another round . . ." His hand reaches out for the fondue pot again, and this time his index finger dips itself into the hot chocolate, sweeping up fluidly until it pauses just below my mouth. ". . . do you?"

Déjà-vu.

My mind goes haywire with innuendoes at that chocolate-coated digit of his. We both have been thinking a lot lately. Too much, in fact.

I close my eyes again as the chocolate melts ever so beautifully inside my mouth, along with the warmth of his finger as I run my tongue covetously all over it. This time, a scene of the two of us frolicking around in bed flashes briefly through my mind.

It seems absurd enough, but it doesn't seem too impossible, after all that's happening right now.

Suddenly the taste of the finger disappears fully, only to be replaced by a fresh surge of candied sweetness as I kiss him once again, more deeply than the first. The cider taste slips curiously away, and I try to retrieve it with my tongue, coaxing his lips further apart.

And all he does is mewl softly against mine.

At that rousing sound I realise what I'm doing. Swiss chocolate, English strawberries, and now French kissing? What's next?

In an attempt to discover further I run one hand through his soft hair, letting the other pull down the zipper at the top of his vest, till the velvet becomes two. In one vicious cycle he whimpers again, and I slide the vest off him, feeling whatever of him that is underneath. Smooth.

The beanbag seems to be loathing me for what I'm doing on it, and slides haphazardly under our weight. His chin tilts towards the ceiling and his face the doorway as we break off abruptly, and I run my lips along that exposed curve of his neck. Totally smooth.

Marble. My best friend is one slab of premium Italian marble.

Now I know.

"Another round, you said?" I quip, circling a thumb lazily on his chest as I breathe deliberately into his ear. Now I suppose there's some part of him responding to me too. "Would you like something more special this time . . . or do you want me to stop here?"

I can almost feel the smirk forming on his face. "You aren't giving me much of a choice, are you?" he says thickly, slight gasps punctuating every other word he speaks.

"I'm glad you realised." With the lower half of our bodies still somewhat locked together, I lean towards the platter of fruit and pick the largest strawberry off it. A generous layer of chocolate, and I let the warm brown liquid drip randomly onto his collarbone, over his light tanned chest. He emits a sound something like a cross between a squeak and a moan.

Point taken.

In huge brown script I try to write his name, curling the ends of the first letter at certain protrusions on his chest. But the fruit runs out of chocolate too soon, and I draw half a C to his navel.

As I try to figure out what exactly lies directly south of that incomplete letter, under those small white shorts he's wearing, my ears spy something other than our heavy breaths. Something from outside the room. Something from beyond the open door.

Damn.

"Alphard Blane, where the hell are you? You're supposed to help me clean up the mess those — oh my god."

I don't know what Vince and I look like in my sister's eyes — me crouched over him with — of all things — a strawberry in my hand; him with chocolate trails all over his naked chest, head flopped over the beanbag like he's overcome with throe after throe of passion, legs donned in enticing silken white and entangled with mine.

I guess her impression must be close to what we're about to do in reality.

"Hi Alex." I grin at her weakly. "Want to join us?"

Vince makes a gaping sound of some sorts.

Alex just continues staring and staring, looking like she's about to faint. Right then I hope she does, because I don't want to imagine what she's going to divulge.

"You're so gonna get killed if Mum sees this," she breathes, reading my mind. Great old sis of mine, she is.

"How about if you don't let her?" I plead, giving her my best smile. "We were just . . . experimenting . . ."

"Experimenting? Goodness, I don't want to know! But how the hell do you suppose I can keep quiet about this?" cries Alex, clutching the sides of her head and shooting dirty glances at Vince — or me. "My brother, doing — doing I don't know what to another guy! This is . . . this is totally wrong."

"Wrong? I don't see anything wrong," I hear Vince's quiet response. His fingers skitter to the back of my neck in sly demonstration, and I force back any sound that attempts to escape my throat.

Alex steps away until her back hits the wall. "And you took my strawberries," she blurts, "when I was going to make a smoothie out of them!" She shakes her head in what I hope is more disbelief than hysteria. "I'm telling. I'm telling before Allen or Alice sees anything."

"I told you it's a girl fruit," I hiss to Vince sharply.

"No you're not." He ignores me completely, and I figure he's also showing my sister his brightest smile. "I have what you want, and you'll bargain with me for it."

Alex turns positively pale. "I don't think I want whatever you have —"

"Argon and the Jasonauts are coming to town next week. One pair of front-row concert tickets in exchange for you not breathing a word about this," he says confidently. "How about that?"

Perhaps that was his last resort, but those tickets were what he won in some random magazine contest. And it so happens that my dear sister is one of the most passionate fans of the band. Ever.

Talk about coincidence.

But Alex isn't as dumb as I thought she would be — apparently she still had a few brain cells left after most of them had been fried up during puberty. "And how would I know those . . . tickets you claim to have really exist?" she asks in suspicion, eyes hatefully fixed at our half plateful of strawberries.

"I can vouch for that," I add helpfully. Anything to make her leave this room ASAP just so I can further hone my artistic talents on my personal canvas — in private.

"Of course, Alfie, of course you do," she sneers, albeit slyly. Perhaps I underestimated the number of working cells in her cranium. "Now — the tickets, if you please?"

I shut my eyes with a sigh. Just give them to her already, I think furiously. Right now I have no intention of moving another muscle, if all that's going to cause is him making any suggestive noises again — and no way do I want Alex to hear any syllable of them.

But Vince merely moves his fingers along my neck in such a dexterous way that I am the one about to dissolve in amorous moans, and I desperately struggle to keep my composure. The demented little rabbit underneath me is enjoying every single second of this, I swear.

You will pay for this, Vince, I seethe silently.

Alex opens her mouth to say something, presumably to ask for those tickets again, but Vince beats her to it. "In the party den, taped behind that stupid painting of roses," he reveals, and I finally ease my tension.

Apparently an inert gas and friends are more important than the twins and I — not that I want Alice and Allen to even know about it in the first place, that is. But still Alex seems pleased to have gotten passes for the silly concert, and prepares to leave.

"I'll make you pay for the strawberries," she snaps nonetheless, and I shrug carelessly. Who knows that she could be bribed so easily? Next time I'll probably fake an ardent interest in Argon and see what I get in return.

Maybe a Periodic Table.

"Lock the door while you're at it, will you?" Vince calls with a smile. Alex throws us another dirty look, and slams the door shut. A tiny click makes me breathe out with relief.

I bite off half the strawberry I'm holding, and nudge the other half into his mouth. "I can't believe that actually worked," I say softly, watching with a strange pleasure as he chews intently on the fruit with his eyes shut, "You didn't really put those tickets there, did you?"

He peers at me with one shining eye and a vampiric grin. "As a matter of fact I did. It was just as a precaution, but I didn't think it would come into use after all," he explains, still chewing.

"You didn't think," I retort nastily, locking my fingers in his hair. "I bet it went all according to your plan, didn't it? I bet you wanted someone to walk in upon us, didn't you? I bet all along you wanted to — to —"

"To seduce you?" he completes easily, smirking at my hesitance at saying out that word. "I didn't really intend to, but since it was getting mutual and all that . . ."

"It was?" I blink stupidly, the fact that the two of us just shared a couple of delicious kisses flying out of the window — along with perhaps what subsequent close contacts we may get involved in later. "Whatever it is, I bet Alex still thinks that we're going to —"

"Nuh, she'll suspect that you're getting yourself hooked on bestiality. Or maybe a much milder form of it." He blinks repeatedly, his dark grey eyes sending such strong vibes of piteousness that I feel myself wanting to kiss his woes away. "The way you keep molesting a poor little bunny like me . . ."

He says that when he was the one who initiated the whole thing? Now I feel like slapping him good. Or making him run down the street in what he's wearing right now and screaming. Or wearing nothing at all and screaming.

I cannot imagine.

But come to think of it, it takes two hands — a hand and a paw — to clap. This wouldn't have happened if I hadn't returned his favour.

I cup his face in my hands and lean down towards it, smirking deviously back at him. If there's no way I can clean up the mess the kids made downstairs, then the best I can do is to clean up the mess I have created here.

"And molest you I will," I declare with as much wickedness I can muster. My hands slip down towards his narrow hips, and I swear I can see something on him reacting to my advances. "Take it as a reward for kicking Alex out of the way. Either that — or as a penalty for taking such a bloody long time to do it."

"You sadist." He sniffles, in perfect portrayal of an innocent victim, before curiosity gets the better of him. "But how are you going to go about it?" he asks coyly, voice barely a whisper.

Look who's returning the favour now? I taunt him inside my mind. He doesn't seem to get the message though, and I decide to be more direct instead.

"By licking you oh so clean," I say sweetly — and immediately swoop down to take one end of the chocolate V in my mouth, and he responds with even cuter squeals of delight as his body writhes under mine.

Now I don't see anything wrong either. Or different, apart from the fact that he's now to me an after-dinner specialty — preferably in half a bunny costume — but then again, he's still my best friend.

And boy, does he taste good.

-fin-


(I mean no disrespect to Jason and the Argonauts. Really.)

Reviews and comments are gladly welcome. :D