The Twelve Days of Christmas
Chapter 1: A partridge in a pear tree
"There's one! Come on, this one's perfect!"
Lin slogged through the snow to examine yet another evergreen.
"Do you want this one then?"
Faun stepped back to examine it from a different vantage point.
"What do you think? Would it look good in the living room?"
"It would look like a largish evergreen stuck in the living room."
Faun cast a disparaging glance at his lover; Lin was not getting into the spirit of things.
"You're an elf, I thought you liked plants."
"I do like them, to a point. I think I passed the point sixteen trees ago."
"I just want to pick the right one, the one that will be the most beautiful. You could at least try to help."
"I'm the one with the ax, I thought that was my contribution. You point out the one you want and I kill it."
"Cut it down, not kill it."
"Same difference, I hack it down and drag it home. Like a dead mastodon to the cave."
"I don't understand how you can be so disagreeable about this, it's a tree! You never seemed to have any problem with treating people like that."
"I didn't have to drag them home. Besides, I was getting paid."
Faun fished in his pocket and pulled out a crumpled bill.
"Will a five make you feel better? How about a five and you can sneak up on it? Come in from one side while I create a diversion and you can hack it to pieces before it even knows what hit it?"
"Be a bit hard to decorate in little pieces, wouldn't it?"
"You're getting coal in your stocking, a nasty lump of coal."
"You'll use any excuse to get into my stockings, won't you?"
Faun's eyes widened and he drew closer to Lin.
"You're wearing stockings? Let's see."
"Hey, at least let me put down this ax! Hmmph, unngh, Faun! "
"What a lovely tree! I brought decorations, I don't know that they all fit in with the Victorian motif though."
"That's okay Taz, I'm just glad you're helping. Lin is on strike or something."
"Well, Lin and jolly don't really mix well. He'll get over it when he sees how pretty this looks. Where is he anyway?"
"He went out but he really didn't say where. Maybe we can get all the decorations up before he gets back? Surprise him?"
"Good idea. But first we make the traditional eggnog, I brought the fixings."
"Great! Can I help?"
"Sure, you can separate the eggs."
"Separate them from what?"
"Whites from yolks, I'll show you. It's easy."
Lin heard the off key singing from the driveway and winced. No one could mangle a tune like Taz.
He hauled his peace offering to the front steps and juggled it up with him, trying to remember why a house so far off the ground had ever seemed like a good idea.
He managed to open the door without dropping anything and shoved everything inside and to one side of the entry. The singing sounded worse the closer he got to the source and he contemplated sneaking back out again.
No, that was the coward's way. Besides, Lightning and Thunder had trotted over to greet him and their ears were as sensitive as his, they needed his help.
He forced himself onward, ears twitching.
The overhead lights were off in the living room and the glow of many small colored bulbs radiated from every surface. The dim glow reflected from tangled clusters of tinsel that appeared to have been cast about by a tornado. The tree loomed in the center of this picture, limbs hanging precariously under the weight of baubles in a variety of bright shades.
He focused past this to the couch, where Faun and Taz were cozily sitting together, glasses in hand, lustily singing. There was tinsel in their hair and Lin had to smother a laugh at the vision as well as the song. He'd heard "Oh come all ye faithful" but he'd certainly never heard this version before. It could probably be played only on late night radio with a parental advisory.
Faun noticed him first and lurched from the couch to hug him tightly. Lin managed to rescue the glass before it tipped too far and used the other hand to steady Faun.
"Lin! How do you like it?"
"It's very. ...sparkly."
Taz stood up slowly and wavered out of the room.
"Does that mean you like or not?"
"I love it, it's wonderful."
"Really? Want some eggnog? It's traditional."
Lin took a sip.
"What's in this?"
"Eggs and milk and rum, mainly rum."
"That would have been my guess. And nutmeg?"
"Yeah. You like it?"
"It's different. Probably an acquired taste."
A loud thud from the hallway interrupted the discussion and Taz's voice drifted to them.
"Lin, there's a tree in the hall. Was there always a tree in the hall?"
"No, that's a new development. Actually, it's a present."
"Oh, how sweet of you!"
"I brought you something too, don't worry."
"I never worry."
The voice was getting louder as Taz backed slowly into the living room, dragging the tree along with him.
He stopped a few feet into the room and straightened up, eyeing the tree closely.
"What is it, exactly?"
Lin answered in a small voice.
"It's a pear tree."
"Of course it is."
Faun dragged Lin over to examine the tree.
"It's beautiful! For me? Like in the song?"
Taz had walked around behind the tree and now reappeared, carrying an ornate golden cage and handed it to Faun with a smile.
"Oh, for a partridge? But, the door's open."
Lin fingered the open latch of the cage door.
Faun gave up peering into the empty cage and turned suddenly to Lin, letting the cage drop to the floor.
"You set it free didn't you? Aww, that is the sweetest thing, I can just see you, feeling bad about having a bird captive in this little cage and letting it go. That's wonderful, this way we'll always know that our partridge is free in the woods. Maybe we'll see it sometimes from the window or find it nesting in the spring...I love you so much."
Taz was giving Lin a cynical look over Faun's shoulder and Lin closed his eyes, dropping his head to Faun's shoulder.
"I love you too."
"Let's feed the cats then cuddle by the fire."
"I'll take care of that on my way out, shall I?"
Lin raised his head and Taz smirked at him.
Taz caught the small gilt wrapped package just before it smacked him in the nose.
"Hey! Careful! What is it?"
"Open it when you get home, it's for you and Tsin."
"Is this an early present or a bribe?"
Faun looked back and forth between the two of them for a moment and then Lin pressed the drink back into his hand. He transferred his attention to it and took a deep swallow.
Taz waved and left and Lin breathed a sigh of relief.
On his way to the car he spied Thunder and Lightning settled comfortably in a drift of colorful feathers.
"Lin is going to kill you two yet."
They greeted this information with supreme indifference and Taz shrugged.
"Don't say I didn't warn you."
It took Lin a while to make it to the rug in front of the fire, Faun was becoming close to a dead weight although he still held gamely onto the empty glass. Lin settled him down, slid a pillow under his head and dropped a kiss on his forehead.
"Lin, I think I'm falling asleep."
"I think you're passing out, but that's okay, I'll be here when you wake up."
Faun gave him a bleary smile and let his eyes fall closed and Lin curled up beside him.
The phone rang way too early the next morning and Lin grabbed it before it could wake Faun.
"Lin? Do I have you to thank for this, this, this thing?"
"Tsin, good morning. I gather Taz liked the present?"
" I couldn't believe it when he opened the damn package! What were you thinking? He comes up with enough evil ideas on his own, if you're going to encourage him I'm going to have to leave town! Where did you even get this thing? What kind of Christmas present is this?"
"I found it in a rather seedy little shop but it looked interesting. And it's in the traditional Christmas mode, it has five golden rings! How much more traditional can you get?"
"I somehow doubt the five rings of song were attached by strips of leather and adorned with a chain and leash!"
"Tsin, has anyone pointed out that you totally lack the holiday spirit?"
He hung up softly while Tsin was still spluttering and turned the phone off with a smile.
(Tsins gift-The Gates of Hell -uh, yeah, it's that kind of toy.)