This tale begins, as most tales tend to begin, in that age old cliché manner.
Once upon a time, there lived a youth in a cottage in the middle of a great forest...
His name was Red Reaper (or Red Inlaw on his father's side or Red Muffet on his mother's--it really depends on who you ask and whether or not they were actually lucid when you did so) and he lived a fulfilling life. Although orphaned, he had a loving godmother who took care of him and loved him as her own. He was a wonderful cook who had a quaint little business where he baked delicious pastries and personally delivered them, wearing a lovely red cloak wherever he went. It was often the reason why he was called 'Little Red Riding Hood'. Or Little Red Riding Reaper, as it were, for his name was known far and wide and his pastries a demanded commodity. But all was not as it seemed with young Red. If one looked far enough, however, it became fairly clear that he was quite normal...
One day, as he was making a soufflé for the Queen of Hearts, his godmother decided to pay him a visit. After the youth had come of age, the old woman rarely called on him, but when she did it was quite...interesting, to say the least. So, just as he was taking the soufflé out of the oven, a loud banging made him jump high in the air and scream for all he was worth. Oh, and ruin his soufflé. It was one of the kinds that could be destroyed by the tiniest of noises uttered at any inopportune moment. His left eye twitching, he slowly turned his brown gaze in the direction of the door.
"WHAT THE BLOODY HELL WAS THAT FOR, YOU PILE OF BONES?! CAN'T YOU SEE I WAS IN THE MIDDLE OF A DELICATE SITUATION?!"
Death regarded her godson evenly. Not a difficult task for a living personification of a human skeleton, it must be said.
AND WHO TAUGHT YOU TO TALK TO YOUR ELDERS THAT WAY, YOUNG MAN? She asked dryly, raising an eyebrow. This was a rather impressive effect all told, given that she quite distinctly lacked what most folks would consider eyebrows.
Red, who was more than used to these sorts of things, was unimpressed. "You RUINED my SOUFFLÉ!" he informed her, as though that was reason enough for disrespect. He proffered the collapsed confection for her inspection, and she regarded it with mild disinterest.
IT'S NOT SUPPOSED TO LOOK LIKE THAT?
Red glowered, and set the failed soufflé on the stovetop. Of course his godmother would fail to understand the significance of his ruined efforts, seeing as she was the living personification of Death. It wasn't as though she had to eat on a regular basis, after all.
"Why are you here?" he asked, crossing his arms and glaring at her.
DOES A GODMOTHER NEED A REASON TO DROP IN ON HER ONLY GODSON?
Red raised an eyebrow and said nothing.
Death made a sound not unlike that of an embarrassed cough. ACTUALLY, IT'S FUNNY YOU SHOULD ASK...
Red doubled his glare and waited for what he could only guess would be bad news. "Yes?" he inquired, dragging out that one syllable with heavy emphasis to show his displeasure. He crossed his arms and began to tap his foot impatiently, knowing that it would grind on Death's nerves. Shaking her skull, she pulled out a scroll and presented it to the baker. He took the roll of parchment blindly, not moving his disdainful stare from the empty eye-sockets of his godmother. "And this is…?"
ORDERS FOR THE WEEK, AS WELL AS A FEW CHORES I WANT YOU TO DO. Death told him, crossing her own arms. She watched calmly as her godson unrolled the missive and began to read its contents. Moments passed by as Red's expression went from disinterested to passive, from passive to worried, from worried to downright twitchy and from twitchy to downright horrified--a record really. Usually Red stopped at twitchy before going off to do whatever it was he was supposed to do. The 'chores' she usually set him ranged from 'clean the garden' to 'set-up two supernatural beings for Armageddon before Saturday, would you?' Today's task seemed somewhere near 'Armageddon' if his expression was anything to tell by.
Red pinched the bridge of his nose, trying to stave off the coming headache he knew was coming. Sometimes he just hated being alive - or, more specifically, being Death's godson. Most would think it a very prestigious title, but truly...it wasn't. How many times had he wanted to bash his head against a tree? How many times had he been stuck in bed due to third degree burns from a dragon? And how many times must he be sent to the Wicked Fairy's castle?
He had first met with the Wicked Fairy when he was just a little nine-year-old, making his first delivery of asphodel and wormwood from his own private garden of deadly and useful plants. His godmother had been the one to give him the order from the fairy, saying that he and the other were going to be working closely for the next sixteen years or so amongst other things. When he got to the castle, he had been extremely intimidated, frightened of the lightning and thunder that constantly struck and sounded around the dark and gloomy fortress. He'd had the mind to turn tail and run out of there, but the Wicked Fairy had appeared before he could take even a step backward. The rest of that day had been blurred from his memory--with good reason--and the only thing he could really recall about the incident was abject fear.
Now, as an adult, Red wasn't nearly as frightened with Wicked Fairy as he used to be. However, that didn't mean that he did not try to stay away as much as possible. But he knew that when he had a summons sent to him through his godmother, he couldn't refuse...plus he had been avoiding the Wicked Fairy for almost sixteen years now. Karma dictated that he was overdue for a visit. So, all he could really say to his godmother as he crumpled the scroll in his hands was this:
"I hate you so much right now."
If Death could have smiled, she would have had one large toothy grin spanning from ear to ear...that is...if she had ears. She raised a bony hand and stroked Red's black hair placatingly.
I LOVE YOU, TOO, RED. She replied sincerely. She glided over to the coat rack where Red's riding hood was hanging and plucked it off. In a very motherly manner, she put it around her godson's shoulders and began to it tie it up for him. Red glowered at her disdainfully when she began to hum, and kept on it until she was done. He really had no room to complain, though, because if there was one thing she was good at besides reaping the souls of mortals, it was tying cloaks so that no matter what they would not fall off. Death flicked a bit of lint from Red's shoulder and inspected her work. She nodded. ALL RIGHT. TIME TO GO VISIT THE WICKED FAIRY.
"One thing though..." Red said, turning away from the skeleton to go over to where he had set his ruined soufflé. He picked it up and held it in front of Death. "...Can you resurrect this soufflé? I was supposed to get it ready for the Queen of Hearts. And you know how he can be when he doesn't get his food...heads falling here and there..."
Death nodded in understanding. However, she refused to resurrect the soufflé for two reasons. One, she couldn't revive a pastry. It simply wasn't done. Very rarely could she ever expand the lifespan of a living person and even then, that sort of thing very, very, very rarely ever happened with her. Never mind resurrection. And two, if she did resurrect it, she couldn't see how it would matter all that much anyway. It was food for goodness' sake. It might become sentient. And the last thing she felt like doing was reaping a sentient soufflé.
And with that, Death left just as swiftly as she had come--by banging the door very loudly and scaring the furry locals with her presence while destroying all other pastries in her wake (mainly Red's delicate strawberry tarts that suddenly went from sweet to sour). Red sighed. It was going to be one of those days.
It didn't take him long to gather the items the Wicked Fairy had requested. One or two of them were so common-place, in fact, that as he carefully packed each article in his basket, he wondered why the Wicked Fairy had even bothered to request he bring them at all. But of course, as soon as he thought that, he realized that there was no doubt a very good reason for it, and one he wouldn't like at all.
"Damn Fae," he muttered under his breath.
To distract himself, he began working out a suitable excuse to use on the Queen when the time came to explain why he had neglected to deliver the requested soufflé in a timely manner.
It is perhaps telling of the sort of person that Red is that he didn't even for a moment consider telling the truth. The simple explanation that his godmother had suddenly appeared in his home with all the subtlety of a rampaging dragon and subsequently flattened an otherwise perfectly good soufflé would no doubt have been happily accepted by the Queen, but...it was just far too easy.
No, a brilliant mind like Red's needed exercise now and again, and making up plausible fabrications about untrue events was just the sort of mental exercise he enjoyed the most.
Hypothetical cogs working away in his mind, Red settled the last of the requested items in his basked and closed the lid. Glancing up to the window out of habit, he noted that the strawberry tarts he had baked earlier that morning were cool, so he reached up to pull them down from the window sill. As he settled the last of the confections on the counter and pulled the window shut, he sniffed. Very slowly, he blinked, and looked down at the pastries he had lined up on the counter. They stared back innocently...or as much as an inanimate baked good can, in any event.
Eyes narrowed, Red pinched a tiny crumb from the corner of one of the tarts and brought it to his mouth. He was hard pressed to avoid making a face as what he tasted registered in his brain.
Catching up his basket, Red stormed angrily from his cottage. He slammed the front door behind him expertly, causing the sign hung in the window of said door to flip over so that it read "Sorry, We're Closed" to any who might bother to take a look.
The forest that Red had called his home for over twenty years was a clichéd one. And that meant lots of cute little animals, tall trees and lots of enchantment. Not that he actually stopped once in a while to notice, but he did take note of the things underfoot in case he stumbled on a stump. Or a gnome. Or an enchanted rock. Or an enchanted rock gnome who lived inside a stump. It was an enchanted forest after all. However, it boggled his mind trying to figure out who in the world decided it was funny to name it the 'Fluffy Forest of Forbidden Fruits'. Then again, perhaps the ridiculous name was the reason why so many people never entered his territory, afraid of being bored to death with all the tame little bunnies and little deers looking for their mothers.
At any rate, he had to hop, skip and jump through the forest in order to get out, lest the Demon of Not-Quite-Evil-Intentions-and-Sickeningly-Sweet-Manners decided to pay him a visit for not being sweet while inside his forest. No one knew where this demon had sprung from, but he was one no one crossed. The few times Red had crossed paths with this demon he had twenty cavities that had to be fixed by the Tooth Fairy (who was more of a fruit than most fairies were) who only took cases by appointments...which meant waiting for a month before any of his teeth could stop aching.
Once out of the forest and onto open road, he was relatively safe. Relatively.
Red sighed inwardly. The Ironic Overpower must really be out to get him today.
"Wolf," he acknowledged, glancing briefly at the tall man who fell into step beside him. The Big Bad Wolf, a rather deceptively named man in his early thirties, grinned...well, wolfishly.
"And where are you off to, my bonnie lad? Visiting dear Grandmamma?"
Red snorted. "Don't I wish. What do you want?"
"What makes you think I want anything?" Wolf asked, the very picture of astonished innocence. Or as innocently astonished as a man dressed head to toe in stylish black leather can appear, at any rate.
Red rolled his eyes and began walking slightly faster. He'd never been on very good terms with Wolf, and after that whole exploding pie fiasco a few years ago, he was fairly sure his name was at the top of the man's 'Revenge with a Flourish' list..
"Why won't you tell me where you're going? I probably know a short-cut..." Wolf continued after a few moments of silence, shoving his hands nonchalantly into the pockets of his tight leather trousers. Red sighed.
"I'm going to the Wicked Fairy's place. Have to deliver some things," he said, shifting his basket slightly in the crook of his arm as he spoke.
"Oo-er, the Wicked Fairy, eh? Funny thing about that..."
Red sighed again. A lot of people enjoyed saying that particular line to him. He looked up at the man, glaring at him with all of his might. "Let me guess," he began, "you have something of particular interest involving the Wicked Fae as well, I presume? How much should I bet that you're really only going to try to lure me into a false sense of security so that you can drag me off into some bushes and have your nasty and graphic way with me?" Red had never been very subtle (although, he had always been pretty sneaky) and he never liked to be, just as much as he disliked telling the truth. He watched Wolf's face for any signs of surprise or indignant shock, but none appeared.
In fact...Wolf seemed eerily calm. It unnerved the young man in the hood to no end. Had he been a little girl (which he wasn't, but that didn't stop many people from thinking he was), he would have given a girlish scream and then run off...or fainted, or whatever it was that damsels did these days. And then, to Red's relief, he gave the younger man a grin. A wolfish grin that could only mean 'impending doom' or 'impending molestation'.
He hoped it was impending doom.
"I do happen to have...er...a bit of business with the Wicked Fairy myself, as a matter of fact," Wolf responded, oblivious to Red's doom-ful thoughts. "So perhaps I'll just tag along, since we seem to be going in the same direction. If you don't mind, that is."
Red minded. Oh how he minded. But he knew from past experience that there was really nothing he could say to discourage Wolf from following along beside him (which was better than behind him, admittedly). Sadly, there was also nothing that he could do at this point in time to get rid of his unwanted company, so he would have to bide his time and be plotful, sneaky, and just a little bit wily if he wanted to ditch his unwelcome hanger-on. Sometimes it was a major pain in the ass being a short, girly sort of man. Especially when other men attempted to make the transition from figurative pains to literal ones.
Mostly, though, what he regretted the most was his lack of physical strength when it came to beating someone to within an inch of their lives when they got on his nerves.
Ah, well...at least there was always poison.
And explosives. Lots of explosives.
Not that Red was very good at making bombs or anything, but if his exploding pies from his youth were anything to go by, then he might possibly be able to get rid of his...Red stared. Well, not 'furry companion', that was for sure. What metaphor was he supposed to use? 'Leathered'? Was that even a word? Either way, maybe he could slip some poison into Wolf's drink or plant some sort of explosive pastry in his trousers...if he could force himself to get near enough to the perverted wanker to stick anything down there in the first place, that was.
He stared a bit more. Good gravy. Was he happy to see him? Becoming the colour of his namesake, he adamantly averted his eyes before he got a terrible nosebleed. He mumbled something about indecent people and their trousers and several anatomically impossible suggestions for things said people could do to their trousers. Which was just cruel to the poor things. They, after all, could not choose their masters like magic wands could...unless they were an enchanted pair of pants, but who in their right mind would want enchanted pants? Or wear them?
But Red had to admit that his mind was digressing too much from the matter at hand. He just had to admit that Wolf's pants were just too tight to be decent. And that it truly sucked to be a girly little man at times. And he needed to plan.
On the journey to the Wicked Fairy's home they would pass by Wonderland and the Sleeping Forest before reaching the base of the Wicked Fairy's home. From between his current position and the Fortress of Half-Evil (often mistaken for the Fortress of Half-Elven which is actually all the way in the opposite direction some miles south of Toy Land, and ruled by the Good Elf), he had to find a means of ridding himself of Wolf before he caused any trouble for him. Even if he disliked the nightmare-inducing fairy very much, the meddling interloper in black leather was, in Red's estimation, far worse.
As Red plotted the end of the Big Bad Wolf, cackling like an old witch, Wolf's thoughts were elsewhere, though his amber eyes were set on a very predictable place next to him. He carefully studied the young man he accompanied; watched as the red cloak flowed easily behind his small body, his left arm holding the basket of only goodness knew what in the crook of his elbow, and his right foot--
"Waaaaaaah!" Red yelped, caught off guard, and fell flat on his face.
--catching on a rock. He did not bother to hide his grin as he beheld the sight before him.
Unfortunately for Red, his long, red cloak had flipped up as he fell to cover his head and shoulders as he lay, spread-eagle, on the ground. Wolf smirked with barely contained glee as he looked down at the delectable morsel spread out for him, no doubt by the kind act of some benevolent deity who had Wolf's best interest firmly in the forefront of his or her heart. Red had such a cute, trim little waist, covered as it was in the most delightful little black shirt. And right below the snug little waist was the most adorable little tush covered in a very nice pair of clingy black pants...oh, the things he'd like to do to that tush...
Wolf pouted briefly as Red sprang to his feet, knocking his cloak back into place and dusting himself off with great dignity. The pout changed to a smirk, however, when the smaller man sent a withering glare in his direction.
"Shut. Up." Red growled.
"I didn't say anything!" Wolf once again adopted an expression of injured innocence. Red merely glowered a moment more before catching up his basket, turning on his heel and stalking off down the road. Wolf grinned and trotted to catch up. He may have a personal vendetta against Red for the whole pie incident a few years back, but that wouldn't stop him in the least from enjoying the view on his way to sweet, sweet revenge.
Of course, he'd be enjoying the view as he extracted his sweet, sweet revenge as well, but that, he thought smugly, ought to go without saying.
Red was quite aware of the direction of Wolf's thoughts, though he shuddered to guess at the specifics. In an effort to turn his mind to other things, he began working out a plan to get the leather-clad voyeur off of his back so that he could complete his delivery in relative peace. His best bet, he figured, was to get rid of the man somewhere in Wonderland.
Continuing with that train of thought, he realized that he now had the perfect excuse to give the Queen of Hearts when he explained about the unfortunate soufflé – he would blame it on Wolf! And, since he had the perpetrator with him, of course the benevolent queen would insist upon having the man's head.
They traveled together from then on with a relatively small amount of hijinks. Although Red was very sure that the older man had been staring at his posterior more than he should be. He was sickened and appalled. Honestly, even if he was twenty-five years old, he could still pass for a teen or even younger for that matter. He was sure that everyone around him was a closet pedophile, especially that Wicked Fairy. How he was going to dread meeting the fairy once he was rid of the wolfish man.
"So, this is Wonderland." Wolf said, rather unnecessarily, staring at the large, red, heart-shaped gates before them.
It was more than he expected.
From behind the gates that separated Wonderland from the rest of the world he could see the large, chessboard-like land complete with sixty-four squares. Each square was filled with different types of terrain, none of which logically belonged together. Bits of forest bordered deserts, while swampy bogs might reside happily alongside prairie-like meadows. He could see the two large castles, home to the Red and White Queens, as well as the card palace in the center of it all that belonged to Wonderland's one and only ruler, the Queen of Hearts.
Now, the Queen of Hearts had quite the reputation that preceded himself. Yes, himself. The reason that he was called the Queen of Hearts was not so much for the fact that he dressed in flowing gowns and jewels like a woman did (though it did contribute), but because he actually insisted upon it, unable to decide on being a King or a Queen. The Queen--also, sometimes known as the King--liked the benefits of both gender roles. Unfortunately, however, his indecisive nature often made him quite confused. One day he could be the tyrannical Queen, the next day, the indecisive, yet docile King. One could guess which most folks preferred. As the feared tyrant of Wonderland, it was very well known that he had a very nasty temper that usually ended with heads rolling. Literally.
This duel temperament of the Queen's was a very well known fact amongst the travelers who passed the Wonderland gates. However, they say that sweets make a sweet man, and Red had been making regular deliveries of soufflés, tarts, pies and cakes in order to keep him that way. If not for the kingdom, then for his own head. Even though he was Death's godson and, therefore, quite used to seeing people die, he was still very insistent that he live long enough to see his own grandchildren.
Wolf, who was aware of the Queen's schizophrenic tendencies but not sure what kept them at bay, was very apprehensive and hesitant to enter Wonderland as freely as Red did. But he did so anyway, emboldened by the smaller man's confident strides, though not exactly possessed of that same self-assured confidence himself.
"Are you sure you wouldn't rather go around? I was serious about that short-cut, y'know," Wolf said, trying not to sound too nervous.
"Quite sure. I have a delivery for the Queen, and it's quite high priority," Red lied smoothly, unable to prevent the barest hint of a satisfied smirk from creeping along his features. "You're welcome to take off on your own, of course. I won't stop you."
To his credit, Wolf did seriously consider splitting off with Red--maybe catch up with him on the other side of Wonderland so as to continue to annoy him--but he figured that that was probably exactly what Red wanted. Besides, who knew how long the small man would decide to dilly-dally within the Queen of Hearts' domain? Granted, he did have a delivery to make to the Wicked Fairy, so he certainly wouldn't take too incredibly long, but... In the end, Wolf decided that it would probably be more fun for him if he remained with Red, despite his misgivings about the kingdom they were traveling through.
Besides, it had been far too long since he'd had such a good opportunity to properly ogle the man, and he was damned if he was going to pass this one up.
Red strode confidently through the chessboard-kingdom, secure in his knowledge of impending assistance from the Queen. Wolf walked quietly beside him, feeling rather vulnerable but not minding too much because of the sweet bit of eye-candy whom he accompanied.
The walk to the card castle was made reasonably swiftly – the roads in Wonderland were in fairly good condition, and Red was a fast walker. He had to be, if he wanted to deliver fresh pastries to his customers while they were still, well...fresh. Wolf, having the advantage of over a foot of height on Red, had no problem keeping up with his long, lean, leather-clad legs.
Damn, but he looked good in these pants. He wondered if Red had noticed. Probably. Wolf smirked. The little vixen tried to play innocent, but Wolf knew that underneath that carefully cultivated layer of naïveté lurked the mind of an adult man – an adult man with needs and desires, no matter how vehemently he tried to deny them. It would just take a bit of work (preferably involving a whip, handcuffs, and an unspecified amount of chocolate syrup) to get the young man to give in to his baser needs. Oh, what fun he would have then!
Red sneezed once, and rubbed his nose in irritation. He hoped he wasn't coming down with something. Illness in his profession was not exactly conducive to business, after all.
The card castle loomed ever closer as Red and Wolf walked in relative silence, each lost in his own thoughts.
Traversing Wonderland was a very sticky business, as the land had a mind of its own. Jumping and dancing was sometimes required. If one were to try and run quickly, one would get nowhere; however, if one walked too slowly one would still get nowhere and everywhere at the same time. And, if one paid too close attention to where one was going, one was more than likely to wind up in the Jabberwocky's cave than anywhere else.
Both Wolf and Red went through the peculiar land together at a brisk pace, and avoiding the hidden dangers of the deceptively silly place. Once or twice they accidentally brushed up against one another whilst fleeing some particular danger that loomed out of the incongruous scenery. Wolf grinned in a pleased manner each time, while Red frowned in irritation, but otherwise indicated only necessity in his actions. Quite soon, the gates of the card castle stood before them and opened readily the moment Red stepped forward.
The red cloaked man's mind was a titter with excitement at the prospect of finally losing his old antagonist. But before they actually entered the Queen's Court, there was something he had to say first. Putting his basket down in a calm manner next to the door he stood in front of Wolf and grabbed him by the collar, dragging him down so that they could see eye to eye. Wolf had almost stumbled onto him (not that it wouldn't have been nice), surprised by the sudden contact and the proximity of their faces. They were almost nose to nose, and could see the colors of each other's eyes. They were so close, in fact, that if he bent down just a tad further he could have kissed...
The leather clad man yelped in pain as the younger man's hands let go of his jacket collar to take hold of both of his cheeks in what felt like a vice-grip. Fingers pinched hard and stretched his face so that any thought of kissing the other flew from his mind. "Whass are whoo doin'?" he demanded, his words slurred and distorted.
Red gave him a look. "Listen up, you pervert. I have a reputation to uphold here..." He pinched Wolf's cheeks harder at this. "...So either you pretend that I am just a sweet little girl heading to Grandma's house with a basket of goodies, or I will do so much worse than the exploding pies."
Wolf briefly entertained the hope that Red's 'worse than exploding pies' threat might somehow involve handcuffs and whipping cream, but one look into the younger man's angrily glaring brown eyes forced him to concede that that was probably not the case.
After all, he might be an over-sexed, slightly psychotic gentleman's man, but he wasn't stupid.
"Fine, fine," he mumbled. Red narrowed his eyes speculatively for a moment, then released Wolf's cheeks. Wolf rubbed his face and sulked momentarily, but brightened as he watched Red bend over to pick up his basket. His expression had returned to his usual self-satisfied smirk when one of the Queen's pages approached and informed them that the Queen was waiting for them.
Red trotted after the page with one last warning glare at Wolf, who returned the glower with a look of injured innocence. After waiting for a few moments to give Red a proper head-start, Wolf followed after, smirking once again as he made the most of this latest advantageous turn of events. Red really did have the most delectable little rear-end--it was a shame he insisted on hiding it behind that cute little cape.
The doors to the throne room where the Queen received his guests were already open, as it was the middle of the day and the Queen always had plenty of guests, despite his unfortunate schizophrenic tendencies.
The throne room itself was a grand (if slightly tacky) sight to behold – the Queen of Hearts was very fond of the heart motif, and it showed in the way he decorated. Tapestries, pottery, carpets, wall-hangings – every available surface sported at least one highly stylized heart, and most had more. Red, who was used to the throne room by now, took no notice. Wolf, on the other hand, was hard pressed to keep from gagging at the inherent girly-ness of it all.
"Little Red Riding Reaper and The Big Bad Wolf to see the Queen of Hearts," some random dignitary whose job was to announce things announced.
The Queen, resplendent in a red velvet gown which was tastefully embroidered with gold hearts about the edges and trim, stood with a flourish to welcome his favorite baker.
"Red, my dear!" he gushed. "It's been far too long! Did you bring the soufflé I asked for?"
"Actually, about that...."
Red stepped forward and threw himself down before the Queen's feet, grasping onto the hem of his skirts, and began to sob wretchedly. It took everyone by surprise, including Wolf, who watched the scene unfold with suspicious familiarity. He had witnessed something almost exactly like this once upon a time and he was getting the feeling that he knew exactly how 'this' was going to turn out. He gulped. He was in trouble.
"Your Majesty! Please accept my most sincerest apologies!" Red wailed, trembling with sobs and tears. It was an absolutely pitiful sight. The Queen, worried about his favorite baker, knelt and held the red hooded young man in a maternal embrace--which, admittedly, worried the entire court. That sort of behavior usually meant that he was slowly switching back to being the most horrendous and awe inspiring tyrant Queen. The lack of sugar was already beginning to take its toll. Inside, Red smirked, for he had counted on the lack of sugar to help his current cause of being rid of Wolf once and for all. "Please, please don't be upset!" he begged.
The Queen cooed at him, taking out a handkerchief--motifed with hearts, naturally--and began to tenderly wipe away Red's crocodile tears. "There, there sweet child. Whatever is the matter?"
"I...I...should have told you...e...earlier, but I didn't want to have to involve anyone, bu, but..." Red let out a well-practiced wail, covering his face with his hands and beginning to weep like a wilting flower. Sometimes, it paid off to be girlish and small. It made his acts so much more convincing. "Oh, it was so brutal! That fiend--" He pointed an accusing finger at Wolf (who innocently pointed at himself and asked, "Me?"). "--violates me every day."
Everyone in the court gasped.
"Repeatedly and constantly!"
They gasped some more.
"The screaming, the sweating! The agony of losing one's innocence!"
All right, he was laying it on a bit thick, but he was very satisfied when a few people fainted dead away in their seats.
"I tell him to st-stop! I had deliveries to make...things to bake...but every day he comes back and he touches me in places...makes me call him 'father' and 'eat bananas' and spanks me horribly if I don't do as he says! I can barely sit down for all the pain!"
Many eyes of the court--especially the Queen's--all turned as one and bore into the Big Bad Wolf, who was doing his very best impression of horrified indignation at the accusations made against him. Sure, he fantasized every day about it, but really!
"And every day...I have to...let him do what he wants so that I can bring your order on time! But today...I was so late, I did not know what to do, and when he appeared...he ruined your most precious soufflé before my very eyes! He was so displeased he violated me worse than ever! On my table! Devouring every inch of me! Oh! I shall never be able to marry!" He gave another pathetic wailed and continued to shed tears into the Queen's bosom--er--chest. Shoulders shaking and body trembling, he mentally celebrated, for Wolf was going to be gone!
Wolf just stared. Was he really witnessing what he thought he was witnessing? He swore that he just saw the shadow of a smirk sent his way by the little Hellion. Cute tush or no cute tush--After a stunt like this, Red was going down! But how exactly? The Queen had just called for the guards to 'take care of him', which meant that he had precious few moments left to think up a cunning plan of action. It wouldn't be long before the Queen said--
"OFF WITH HIS HEAD!"
--that. Lovely. What was he going to do? He slowly began to back up as the guards came closer. He gritted his teeth. He was not going to let it end it like this! He still had to get Red back for the incident years ago (and as of mere moments ago, this one as well). Putting a confident expression on his face, he began to stall until inspiration hit him with a plan of action.
"Hey, hey...let's not be hasty." he said placatingly, holding his hands defensively in front of him. "No doubt that I did what I did, and it was very wrong of me to do so..." Many still looked at him in contempt, though Red looked at him questioningly, wondering what he was playing at. "...But I'm quite sure there's more to the story. In fact...I think our dearest Little Red has neglected to tell you something..."
Wolf was making things up as he went along and quite a few of the court officials knew it. However, the Queen was taking quite a bit of interest and called for him to continue as he held Red protectively against him. "And that would be...?" The way the royal trailed off suggested a lot of things, and most of them probably involved dismemberment. Racking his mind, Wolf tried to find something to say. He opened his mouth, but nothing came out.
"Well? I'm waiting, Wolf." The Queen was beginning to become impatient, and when that happened, it usually only took a few more moments to get him angry and when he got angry, heads would roll...literally.
Frightened, Wolf blurted out the first thing that came to mind:
"Red is pregnant with my child!"
At this random proclamation, the guards that had been advancing on Wolf stopped in their tracks and stared. Nobles, officials and other random people who were sipping their beverage of choice at that moment spat it out, spraying the floor and each other with drink. The Queen was in shock, and looked to Red to see if he supported this. And Red? He was so horrified at what Wolf had just said that the only sounds he could force past his lips were just random sputterings coupled with terrified hyperventilating.
"But he--I--and that--what...him..."
It was a situation that Red had not anticipated at all.
Wolf, having randomly blurted out the first thing that came to mind, realized after a moment of thought that it was actually a fairly valid excuse. So he decided to run with it. It wouldn't be the first time his quick wit had gotten him out of a highly distressing situation, and, gods willing, this wouldn't be the last.
"You wouldn't kill the father of an unborn child, would you?" he asked, trying to go for the right tone of genuine concern. It wasn't too terribly difficult - he was a rather accomplished actor, after all. If he could convince Red that he was the youth's own dear grandmother, he could convince the Queen of Hearts that he was the father of another man's child. Hopefully.
The Queen was eyeing him thoughtfully, momentarily taken aback by his outrageous exclamation, but also willing to listen. He wasn't entirely immune to the effect of tight black leather, after all, and really, now that he thought about it, it would be a terrible shame to remove such a handsome head from such a fine, manly body...
"I admit that my methods may have been a little...harsh," Wolf continued, falling in with the lie Red had begun. "But it's only because I love little Red so very, very much - I can't help myself, sometimes!" At this point Wolf's eyes began welling up with some crocodile tears of his own, and to the unknowing bystander, the rather disreputable-looking man with the short silver ponytail suddenly appeared to be nothing more than a distressed lover, frightened for his own welfare as well as the welfare of his unborn child.
The effect on the Queen's court was noticeable, to say the least. Many of the courtiers who had been disgusted with Wolf mere moments before suddenly found themselves sympathetic--it wasn't that poor, sweet little Red was in a loveless, terrible relationship after all. No, it appeared as though the two were merely at odds on some of the finer points of their relationship, and that, at the moment, what they were witnessing was merely a lover's tiff.
"Oh! Oh, my dear Red, is this true?" The Queen was completely taken aback by this unexpected declaration.
Red, who was quite flummoxed himself, not to mention humiliated that Wolf would even dare to suggest such a thing (conveniently forgetting, for the moment, that it was his own damn fault in the first place), could only stammer dumbly.
"Oh, dear little Red, this is wonderful news!" The Queen, soufflé temporarily forgotten, was now fully back to his usual benevolent self. Still clutching Red about the waist with one arm, he swept down from the dais, dragging Red behind him, and up to the very surprised Wolf, who he throttled with an enthusiastic one-armed embrace (as Red was still firmly contained with the other)
"I'm so happy for you both! How could I possibly begrudge one silly soufflé when one of my nearest and dearest is in such a happy state?"
Red tried to protest, but the Queen had somehow maneuvered him within the three-person hug so that his face was fully pressed into the soft leather of Wolf's black coat.
"I am awfully sorry about the soufflé, your Highness," Wolf apologized, appearing genuinely contrite. A few of the courtiers 'awww'ed when they saw him wrap a loving arm about Red's shoulders. The fact that this only further pinned the youth to Wolf's side and subsequently prevented any protests on Red's part went either ignored or unnoticed. "We would have had time to make another, but we've been called on to deliver some goods to the Wicked Fairy, and that one, as your Majesty surely knows, has no patience at all when it comes to waiting,"
"Oh, that is too delightful!" the Queen exclaimed, withdrawing from his embrace of Wolf and Red and clasping his hands together in girlish glee. "You even make deliveries together now!"
"Well, not normally, your Majesty - I am only accompanying my beloved Red today because, to be quite honest, the poor dear is absolutely terrified of the Wicked Fairy, and nearly begged me to come along,"
He paused in his monologue for a moment to allow the courtiers a chance to give voice to another 'Awwwww...', which they happily accepted.
"Mmmph! Mmmbbmmmmmph!" said Red, who was still being held quite firmly yet lovingly against Wolf's chest.
"What's that, my dear? Why, you are right, as always." Wolf turned to the Queen and nodded his head graciously. "As my sweet little love-muffin says, we really must be on our way - the Wicked Fairy waits for no one, or so I've been told."
"Of course, of course!" the Queen responded, bringing a hand to his bosom - er, chest - in sympathy. "Off with you, at once! And please do visit again, when you have the time. I would so love to see you both!"
At the dismissal, Wolf gallantly swept Red into his arms and strode from the great hall, pausing only long enough to retrieve Red's basket from a page, who very helpfully proffered it just as he passed through the doors. The poor beleaguered youth had no chance to protest the abrupt and humiliating turn of events, for he was far too busy trying to catch his breath after having his face pressed firmly into a leather coat for so long. Thus it was that Wolf had carried him completely out of the castle of the Queen of Hearts and quite a fair distance away from it before he had the breath to demand,
"Put me the hell down, THIS INSTANT!"
Wolf complied with a smile.
"AND GET YOUR HAND OFF MY ASS!"
Once again, Wolf complied, but not before giving a complimentary squeeze.
Red swatted at Wolf's hands, shouting angrily about indecency and pervertedness so foul that there was not a high enough rating to give to it. His words were very colorful and powerful, but due to the set rating of this story, they have been toned down somewhat so that all may be in awe of Red's insults to his leather clad antagonist.
"...I had never been so humiliated in my entire life! What possessed you to say that I was pregnant, you overly sexed, perverted, annoying, voyeuristic, pedophilic old man!"
"Hey, you're the one who cried 'rape'." Wolf pointed out, much to Red's annoyance. He dodged the smaller man as he tried to kick him in the shins. Smirking, he grabbed hold of him in mid-kick and pulled him close in a sort-of embrace. "But since you're already 'taken' by yours truly, why don't we just go ahead and make the rumors that I'm sure will be spreading around about us true?"
Red glared. "I hate you...so much right now."
"And I love you." came the sarcastic reply. "Now let's run off into the moonlight--"
"It's still afternoon, you twit."
"--and live happily ever after!"
Red, in a fit of strength very rare to his small frame, pushed Wolf away and began to stomp off into the direction of the end of Wonderland so he could finish his task already and--hopefully--get on with his life. Somehow the Wicked Fairy didn't seem so bad now that he thought about it. Meeting the fairy seemed a whole lot better than being stuck with his present company. The Big Bad Wolf wasn't so easily deterred, however, and happily went back to walking by the younger man's side.
"So, where to now, my love?" he asked pleasantly. Red growled.
"To the Sleeping Forest."