Chapter Eleven: Yo, Come All Ye Gangstas.

Seth laughed, the corners of his lips quirking upwards into a delighted grin. "Well, it sounds like someone's missing all my inappropriate comments."

I tried to muster some fierceness into my glare. "No, it's all your fault for being such a bad influence!" Giving one final wistful look at the ice skaters, I straightened up from my half crouch. He gave me a strange glance before a smile resumed its place on his mouth. "What was that look for?"

"What look?" he questioned innocently, picking up a sprig of holly.

"That look you just gave me!" My stomach suddenly growled loudly and I looked down ruefully at it. Temperamental, my stomach was.

"I think it's lunchtime for someone." Seth smirked, his gaze still focused on something beside the holly. His eyes widened suddenly and I looked up in time to see him put something behind his back. "Figures why you've gotten so hormonal all of a sudden."

Ignoring his gibe, I shifted slightly, hoping to see what he had taken, but he moved along as well. I quirked an eyebrow. "What did you just take from the shelf?"

"A decoration of some sort." He said nonchalantly.

I nodded doubtfully. "Uh, huh. And is there any reason why I can't see it?"

His green eyes flickered to the side briefly before meeting mine. "Because this decoration can't be seen." He grinned and moved again when I tilted my head in an attempt to see.

"Seeing as there's only one checkout in this store, I think I'm going to see it anyway." I said triumphantly. "So you might as well show me now." I held out one hand in waiting.

He backed away slowly to the wall where more decorations hung, one hand behind him and the other at his side. I followed closer, the shopping basket swinging at my legs. Eventually, he stopped as his back hit the wall. I took a step towards him. His eyes flickered to my legs, amusement passing through them. "You know, shouldn't it be the other way round?" I gave him a strange look, not understanding what he meant. He snickered. "I thought it happened all the time in chick flicks, where the guy backs the girl to the wall and then…" he trailed off.

I blinked and realised that we were standing barely a few inches apart. Flushing slightly, I stepped back. "Well, I still get to see what you've got when you step away from that wall."

His gaze darted to his right side. "Not really," and he took a stocking with his free hand and stuck whatever he had earlier into it. "Guess you'll have to wait till we get back to your house to see."

I quirked an eyebrow. "What's the big deal? I mean, if I'm going to see it later, why can't I see it now?"

"What's the difference in waiting?" He looked up through his long lashes. Whoa. Too green.

"Cheat. You're using your masculine wiles." I murmured unguardedly and blushed as soon as I said it. "I think I'm suffering from oral diarrhoea." Oh, my gosh. That was even worse. It sounded like some sort of sexually transmitted disease. Wonderful. "Forget it." I mumbled, not wanting to meet his gaze.

"Masculine wiles, huh?" he questioned with amusement. "Interesting."

"Let's go." My stomach announced its presence once more. "And anything I said or say under the influence of my stomach shouldn't be taken seriously." I was going to cut my losses and leave before I made an even greater fool of myself.

Seth smirked, the stocking with the mystery decoration dangling from the end of one finger. "It is said that the way to a man's heart is through his stomach."

"Might be that way for you," I said defensively. "But I can tell you that the way through to my heart is through my rib cage."

"I'll remember that when I'm trying to get through to your heart." He laughed and walked past me to the counter, opposite a pseudo forest of Christmas trees.

And why exactly would he want to get through to my heart anyway? To kill me? I shook my head and followed him.

I looked interestedly at the stocking when we arrived at the empty counter. Ringing the bell, on the table, we waited for a shop attendant. Unless he was going to shoplift, there was no way that whatever he put inside could stay there. I lifted an eyebrow in triumph, waiting for him to pull it out. He shook his head wryly, understanding the look in my eyes. There was a jingle of bells from behind and we turned around to see a man dressed painfully and completely in red, with said bells hanging off his red Santa Claus hat. Ouch.

"Sorry I wasn't at the counter," he chirped cheerfully. "We had a few kids wanting to hug Santa over there, but of course, he's on sale, so that didn't quite work." Our heads swivelled over to the life sized Santa, which had three little kids attempting to clamber over it. One particular one had seated himself on the statue's lap and was asking for his present. "Santa, my big brother says I should ask for a Playmate this Christmas. He says it's fun. So can I have a Playmate?"

Seth choked and started shaking with laughter. My lips trembled as I tried to hold back my amusement before giving up. Really, the poor boy looked so earnest, as if he was asking for a pet rabbit. Just like the one I got on my tenth birthday… before Seth killed it. Suddenly, an idea struck me.

Leaving my basket at Seth's foot, I walked over to the boy and knelt down in front of him. He swivelled around, his big baby blue eyes staring into my own from under a floppy fringe. I couldn't resist cooing. Just a bit. "What's your name?"

"Darryl." His bottom lip jutted out slightly. He was just so adorable. Just like Britt when she was younger. Before she turned evil. Stifling that train of thought, I turned to the task at hand.

"So I heard that you want a Playmate for Christmas?" I choked over the word 'Playmate' and then smiled warmly at him, hoping he wasn't going to run away in fright. He bobbed his head up and down. "I think I know what you're talking about."

His eyes widened in excitement. Honestly, the poor boy. "Do you know what it looks like?"

Well, it was any woman scantily dressed with botox lips, platinum blonde hair and double G cup artificial breasts, usually made from silicon.

Like Barbie.

But of course, I wasn't going to tell him that. "Well, see, a Playmate is really a rabbit, so you can ask your mom or dad for a rabbit."

"Why didn't my brother just say it was a rabbit?" He questioned, his bottom lip wobbling ever so slightly.

I looked around and then leaned in to whisper in a conspiratorial tone. "How old is your brother?"

Darryl waved his fingers about. "Fourteen."

"See, your brother doesn't want to tell everyone what he wants is a rabbit, so he used a fancy name." That should do it. And his asshole of a brother would be humiliated at the same time. My only wish was to see it happen. I straightened up and glanced around the store. "Where is your mom and dad?"

"Dad's at work and Mom left us so she could buy us our presents and my big brother said he'd look after me," he said innocently. "But he left me here so he could find his friends." His eyes opened wide. "Oh. He said I wasn't 'pposed to tell anyone." He whispered, worry filling his eyes.

Correction. That older brother of his was not only an asshole, but he was also a heartless prick.

"It's okay," I soothed, patting his back gently. "I won't tell him that you told me. But, if he's mean to you, just tell him that you know his secret."

He nodded slowly and then his gaze shifted over to the landing where the escalator at the entrance led to. "He's over there now." I glanced up to see several youths, all typically slouching and wearing oversized hoodies. I snorted. So, he was a wannabe gangster who obviously didn't know the true meaning of 'gangster'. One teenager broke away from the group and swaggered over to us, his baggy jeans falling down his legs, showing bright red boxers. Except, he was so skinny, it looked like he had gotten lost in the laundry. So really, he wasn't swaggering. It was more like tripping over his pant legs.

"Do you mind pulling up your pants?" I blurted out. Blame it on the stomach.

He looked me up and down, his brown eyes roaming. "Yo, baby gurl. You're way hot." It would have been disturbing… had he said it with a deep voice. The problem was, his voice was still clearly breaking. So it came out like a strangled chicken. I snickered.

His little brother smiled at him. "Can we go home now, big brother?"

"It's not 'big brother', remember?" His brother whispered harshly. "It's R-Unit Thugz, okay? You forget my name again, and I'll tell everyone that you wet your pants at night. You got that?" R-Unit Thugz lifted his head and called to his, uh, brothers from another mother. "Yo dawgs, I'm gonna head owt to mah crib. Peace, pimps."

Darryl's lip wobbled again before he obstinately stuck out his chin. "You're mean so I'm going to tell your secret." I grinned evilly in anticipation. R-Unit Thugz, or whatever he called himself was going down. "I know what you want for Christmas." He called out loudly. The shoppers in the store lifted their heads, naturally interested in what the fracas was all about. "You want a Playmate. But you just don't want people to know that you want a pet rabbit." The audience laughed appreciatively as Darryl stuck out his tongue for good measure.

Gangster wannabe's face turned bright red as his friends turned around with sneers on their faces. "Yo, R-Unit Thugz, we didn't know yo' were a momma's boi."

"I'm not a momma's boy." R-Unit Thugz's voice cracked a high as he yelled at his friends. "And I don't want a rabbit!"

One of them did some random hand sign. "We ain't no momma boys, ah-aight? If you're one, yo' can't pimp wiv us in da hood, no more." He glanced at his friends and crashed his knuckles with another. "Fo' sure. We're getting some bling bling. Peace." They turned and left.

R-Unit Thugz tugged the hood off his head viciously and glared at his brother. "You're so going to get it when we get back home."

I coughed suddenly. "Do you mind?" I said, looking at him distastefully.

His head snapped up and he glared at me. "What's it to you, huh? Darryl's just an annoying squirt."

I glanced down at Darryl, whose bottom lip was jutting out. "I think it's my business if a five year old has been left in a shop by himself." I said coldly, my arms crossing over my chest. "And by the way, you make a useless gangster. R-Unit Thugz? Where on earth do you get that name from?"

"Reginald?" A high pitched voice called. I quirked an eyebrow at Gangster Wannabe as his face turned bright red again.

"Wait, your name is Reginald?" I choked back a snicker.

He moodily pulled on his hood again. "Shut up, bitchface." He muttered sullenly.

"Reginald Hartington Fitzgerald-Danford the Third?" The voice called again, the high pitch carrying through the store easily.

He threw me an baleful look and sighed loudly. "I'm over here, Mom."

I burst out laughing as a tall lady clacked her way over, dressed impeccably in a business suit, carrying a bag from Toys 'R' Us. She stopped as she stood imposingly in front of me and glanced at me cursorily. "I'm Mrs. Susan Hartingon Fitzgerald-Danford, married to Mr. Reginald Hartington Fitzgerald-Danford the Second. Why are you with Darryl Hartington Fitzgerald-Danford, my son?"

"I found Darryl wandering by himself in the store, so naturally I had to see if he was alright." I answered back, rather defensively as Mrs. Susan Hartington Fitzgerald-Danford surveyed me with beady black eyes.

"That can't be true, because my son Reginald Hartington Fitzgerald-Danford the Third said he would look after my younger son Darryl Hartington Fitzgerald-Danford." This lady obviously liked to hear the sound of her own name. Repeated several times.

Resisting the urge to laugh, I tried to look as genuine as possible. Perhaps saying the full name would do the trick. "I found Darryl Hartington Fitzgerald-Danford sitting on the lap of the Santa statue over there." I gestured over to the offending statue, which still had the two other kids clambering over it.

"She's right." Darryl piped in helpfully. "Reggie left me by myself." I snickered. Reggie? No wonder the boy wanted to be R-Unit Thugz so desperately.

Mrs. Susan Hartington Fitzgerald-Danford looked over to where I was gesturing before looking back at me. "Then, where was my other son, Reginald Hartington Fitzgerald-Danford the Third?"

"A question I think he can answer." I pointed at the slouching youth, whose hood was back up again. His mom looked over at him, obviously realising for the first time that the person with the hood over his face was her son.

"Reginald Hartington Fitzgerald-Danford the Third!" She exclaimed, appalled. "What would Grandmother Hartington Fitzgerald-Danford say?"

"I don't give a flying eff about what that sodding hag says." He muttered resentfully, his voice breaking on the word 'eff'.

Mrs. Susan Hartington Fitzgerald-Danford reached out and grabbed onto the ear lobe of her renegade son. "Listen to me, Reginald Hartington Fitzgerald-Danford the Third. You will pull up your pants now and take off that ridiculously oversized hood this instant. Or otherwise, I will feed Wiggles to the cat."

"Not Wiggles." R-Unit Thugz gasped with an ashen face. "Anything, but Wiggles."

"Who's Wiggles?" I whispered aside to Darryl, who watched with rapt interest.

"Reggie's pet hamster." He whispered back. "Mom's got Cordelia Hartington Fitzgerald-Danford, who's always trying to eat Wiggles."

"Your brother. The wannabe gangster. Has a pet hamster. Named Wiggles." I repeated, shocked. "Okay, I so didn't see that coming." Maybe the whole secretly wanting a pet rabbit wasn't so off after all.

But the uproar hadn't finished yet. Darryl decided he hadn't finished yet. "Mom, Reggie says he wants a Playmate for Christmas."

Everything went still. Just like the calm before the storm.

I moved back slightly as Mrs. Susan Hartington Fitzgerald-Danford's eyes bulged with fury. "Reginald!" She yelled, finally giving up on calling him by his full name. "How disgusting! You are going home now and Wiggles is about to become lunch for Cordelia!" She turned to Darryl, whose big blue eyes were taking in the havoc he had caused. "Come along." She glanced at me. "Thank you, whoever you are, for keeping an eye on my son." She said imperiously and walked out of the store, still pulling R-Unit Thugz by his earlobe behind her.

Darryl turned around just before he reached the escalator. "Thanks for telling me that." He grinned and waved jauntily before stepping onto the descending escalator. I waved back and wandered back over to the counter, feeling immensely satisfied.

Seth was doubled over, clutching at the counter for support. "Shit, Farrelly," he gasped out. "That was so flipping funny. Those – those gangster wannabes – R-Unit Thugz – I don't want a rabbit." He choked, his face turning crimson.

"Straighten up, Shizzle Bling Bling, my stomach wants to go fo' some lunch, ah-aight?" I mimicked, completely deadpan.

He made a gurgling noise and chortled, his hands holding up his stomach. I shook my head and looked at the store assistant, who was obviously trying not to laugh. "Here, I'll pay now." I pulled up the shopping basket from the floor and my gaze flickered to the stocking which Seth had dropped in his mirth… ooh.

Perfect opportunity.

As I grabbed at the stocking, a hand whipped down and pulled it out of my reach. I straightened up and looked straight into green eyes. Too green. After blinking several times, I held out my hand.


Seth shook his head smugly. "Patience, young one. Soon see it you will."

I cocked an eyebrow as I pulled out my wallet to pay for the decorations. "Yoda? Since when were you a Star Wars buff?"

"Natalie Portman, duh." He rolled his eyes good humouredly. "And let me guess, Hayden Christensen?"

I handed over my cash before looking back at Seth. "Well, of course. What else do you expect?" I took the shopping bag from the sales assistant with a smile and stood aside, waiting to see if Seth would take out whatever he had stashed inside the stocking.

Seth looked sideways at me and smirked before turning back to the store assistant, holding aloft the stocking. He semi turned so I couldn't see what he was saying and handed the stocking over to the man, who then opened it slightly to see what was inside.

"Very nice." The sales assistant simply said and grinned conspiratorially. Seth pulled a ten dollar note from his pocket and gave it to the man, who then handed over an opaque black bag. Honestly, if they were looking seedy, it would have looked like they had exchanged drugs or something.

My stomach growled loudly again.

"Nice doing business with you." Seth grinned as he joined me, the stocking now securely hidden away. "Lunch?"

"Yes, please." I managed, pangs of pain now shooting through my abdomen. "Sore."

He wrapped an arm around my waist and led me down the escalator, my head leaning on his shoulder. I could see why my friends wanted boyfriends so badly.


Fine, guyfriends. But I had them. And none of them were into the whole touchy feely thing. Unlike Seth. Maybe he was just a touchy feely guy… just where was the question. I choked suddenly. Why was I thinking of all the entendres now?

Seth looked down at me with concern. "You okay, Farrelly?"

I flushed uncomfortably. Thank goodness he couldn't read my mind. "Uh, yeah." I managed weakly, trying not to meet his eyes. Those green eyes were pure evil. They managed to purloin all sorts of information from my mind.

At the bottom, my mom and Aunty Marion were there to greet us, a somewhat sheepish look on their faces. But Seth seemed preoccupied and didn't notice. Just as I opened my mouth to ask, my mom hurriedly interrupted. "Did you have fun looking around?" Then she took a step back. "Reese honey, is something wrong?"

I opened my mouth to answer, but Seth jumped in first. "Stomach cramps. She's hungry." Seth answered for me. I shut my mouth.

Aunty Marion raised her brows faintly, her sharp gaze diving immediately to Seth's arm which was still around my waist.

Turning a faint shade of pink, I wriggled out from his grasp and nodded at him. "I'm fine now, thanks." Seth quirked an eyebrow and shrugged. Avoiding Aunty Marion's gaze, I looked at my mom. "Where are we going for lunch?" I prayed that Aunty Marion wouldn't start getting ideas about Seth and I because well, there wasn't anything going on. Really.

My stomach rumbled again. Loudly. Blushing, I folded my arms, hoping to muffle the noise.

Aunty Marion chuckled and looked at my mom. "Any ideas for lunch? Looks like Reese needs an emergency infusion of food."

"Yeah, I think so too." I muttered shamefacedly, my hand clutching at the shopping bag which held the Christmas decorations.

Seth snickered loudly. "Look, I think Farrelly needs food fast. How about McDonalds?"

It was late in the afternoon when we finally arrived home holding our bags of shopping. Correction. We were all holding our lunch down after another hectic ride in the car. When the car did one final bunny hop and came to a stand still, Aunty Marion lurched out of the car and stumbled through the snow to the front door, stopping every so often. In stark contrast, Mom stepped cheerfully out of the car, whistling as she carried the bags inside.

Complete and utter silence.

"Well." Seth managed after a moment. "I think my seasickness has been cured."

"How?" I said, my head leaning against the window while my arm clutched at my seatbelt, trying to stop it from crushing my already weak stomach.

"Nothing can be worse than your mother's driving."

"Good point." I slumped over in my seat. "It's a nice technique to get anyone to spill their guts." I exhaled loudly and coughed as my lunch attempted to force its way out. "Pun intended." I finished weakly.

Seth leaned over and unbuckled my seatbelt. "Farrelly, hasn't anyone taught you that when you're sick, you should keep quiet?" He clucked like a concerned mother hen. I must have said it aloud because he chuckled, shaking the back seat slightly. "A mother hen? Whatever next will come out of you?

"Eggs." It slipped out before I could think. I really couldn't control anything I said today.

He laughed again. "I'd love to see you drunk."

"Haven't gotten drunk and I don't plan to." I mumbled before closing my eyes. "Have you?"

"A few times." He answered, as if he was picking his words carefully. "Not so that I was absolutely smashed, but enough so that I spent the next morning with aspirin and water."

"Your mom would have kicked you out of the house if she caught you. So, how did you manage to do it?" I questioned, my curiosity piqued.

"Went over to my mate's house when he was holding a party. Had a few beers. Just what any other teenager does." He murmured uncomfortably. "Why?"

I shrugged nonchalantly and opened my eyes, my stomach settling. "Just wondering. I'm not particularly bothered, if that's what you're worried about. Just as long as you're not going out and getting plastered every so often."

"Hmm." He hemmed in an acquiescent tone. "Social drinking is probably a more correct term." He shifted slightly in his seat. "So, how about you?"

I considered his question. "Like I said earlier. I'll drink when I feel like it, but not so that I'll get beyond tipsy." I sighed ruefully. "Who knows what I'll say."

"I think what you said under the influence of hunger was a fair indication." Seth smirked, relaxing once more, his back slouching against the back of the seat.

A sharp rap from the window drew our attention. Ryan's face peered through the snow. Opening the door, he poked his head in the car.

"Do you know how long you guys have been in here? Half an hour. It's dinner now."

I blinked and then almost automatically, my gaze flickered to Seth. And he was staring right back. Quickly shifting my eyes, I glanced at Ryan, who had a smirk on his face. "Uh, thanks, Ryan. I'll come in now."

Climbing out of the car, I followed Ryan into the house while Seth trailed behind us. As he shut the door behind him, the plastic bag he was holding in one hand rustled. Stopping just before the kitchen, I turned around and folded my arms.

"So, isn't it time to reveal what exactly you bought from the Christmas Store?" I asked smugly, waiting for him to pull it out.

Seth smirked in reply, his hand digging into the black bag. "Personally, I'd prefer to wait for you to find it."

I raised an eyebrow in confusion. "What do you mean? You're not going to hide it, are you?"

"Precisely that. But, since I promised you, I'll show you now." He withdrew his hand to reveal a sprig of mistletoe.

Oh, my gosh.

It sat in his hand, its white berries winking at me in the light. I looked up from the mistletoe to the smug grin on his face. "That's… that's unfair." I spluttered, my gaze flickering between the almighty grin on his face and the innocent looking sprig in his hand like a tennis match.

"How so?" The corners of his lips flickered upwards. He was quite clearly oh-so-pleased with his recent acquisition.

"Because – because it's indecent." I finished weakly. "And now you've lost the bet."

"I don't think so," he tutted, waving the mistletoe about. "All you said was that I wasn't allowed to say anything that was sexual in any manner. This," he looked at the plant. "Is tradition."

I shuddered, imagining my sister entwined with Seth. It was disturbing to say the least. "Yeah, so is sucking face with anyone who walks underneath it with you."

"That's a part of it, yes." He nodded, looking pleased with himself.

I peered up at him with a strange look. "And why are you so pleased about that?"

"Think about it." He bounded up the stairs, not sparing a look back. "I'll be down for dinner soon." He called from upstairs before disappearing around the corner.

I sighed as I continued on my way to the kitchen. Now, I had to keep a look out for mistletoe wherever I went, just in case Seth and I walked beneath it. Though thinking about it, it just – perhaps – maybe it wouldn't be that bad. I just had to be looking at those green eyes of his. And he had to be looking at mine as well. My thoughts raced to the almost kiss we shared, the gentle touch of his hand upon the nape of my neck… it was a dare. That was why.

And that was all. I wasn't attracted to him. Nope, not at all. Because, he was just a friend. Just a friend. And nothing more.

A.N I know, early update! Well, kind of. Enjoy and now for a bit of shameless canvassing, vote for 'The Nightmare Before Christmas' at SKoW under 'Best Het' and 'Quirkest Chapter Name'... Many thanks for all your lovely reviews :)

Anonymous reviewers:

LondonLi: Thanks for the wonderful review :) It made me feel all smiley. I have to agree that most of the scenes are based around dialogue, mainly because I like writing dialogue -insert sheepish grin- And also because Seth likes talking a lot, so I try to fit in most of the stuff he says when I'm writing the story.

somebody: Thanks muchly for reviewing! Man, your lovely reviews aren't good for my oversized author's ego already ;) Nah... But, it's good to know that there aren't any sort of major things I need to fix. There are always going to be a few things I'd like to go back and change, as anyone would do :)

chameleonduality: Hey! Yeap, it's definitely the cut that makes suits good looking. I swear, young high power corporate lawyers in suits are hot. Or maybe that's because I've become a little obsessed with Meg Cabot's 'Boy Meets Girl'. Ooh, school formal! Fun :) Yeah, shopping for dresses was a mega pain. My mom had to chop off a fair length of my dress and then stitch up the bust a little because my bust wasn't big enough -sigh- It's always good to get your dress specially made for you! Don't worry, I'll lend Seth to you for the night... haha. I went solo to my school formal as well, but it wasn't that bad seeing as I go to a single-sex school so all my friends didn't bring dates either.

Yep, there is going to be an ice-skating experience. There's all these little things that I've mentioned in passing that I need to go back to, such as the book that Seth ordered, what Ryan did with the camera after it recorded Seth and Reese's almost kiss... but that's going to be dealt with in the next chapter.

I think I've already said this, but I want Reese to seem as normal as possible. I think so many girls in fiction have everything going for them, the handsome Prince Charming waiting in the corner (okay, it's a romance, it's inevitable), but they seem perfect in every single way. So, I had to put in some of Reese's insecurities, just normal ones, but not so much that she's depressed and emo.

Hope your sinuses have cleared up :) and thanks for reviewing!

bobo: I love Christmas shops so much. Every year there's a store where I live and I just love visting it... even though everything is way beyond my price range. So basically, my inspiration came from that store. And yes, there was in fact, a life sized figurine of Santa too. Thanks muchy for reviewing:)

liquid-sorrow: Yes, ice skating adventure coming up soon! I'm having a lot of fun toying with the possibilities that could happen ;) Hope you liked this update! And thanks vey muchly for reviewing:)