Hihi, another late chapter..pneumonia has set in and it's been difficult to get anything done..so I am sorry but I'll try to finish this sometime before next Christmas at any rate.

And this chapter even has guest stars! Yes, the wonderful afk has been so kind as to let me kidnap Jiro and Kenji from The Other Side! (Which you should read, it's good!)

So, hope you enjoy! Thanks for all the kind comments!

The Twelve Days of Christmas

Chapter 4

(8 Maids…um, oh, now you've got to be kidding me! 9 Ladies dancing and 10 Lords leaping? Right, no problem.)

They arrived back at the house and Tsin continued on home. Lin and Tear were pouring over

cook books, apparently trying to decide on desserts. Faun and Hoshi watched as they thrust books at each other at intervals and sneered at each others choices. From the safety of the next room Faun covered a smile. Hoshi seemed amused too but then he always seemed mildly amused.

"How long do you think this is going to go on? I'm surprised that Tear is so involved, or is this just another aspect of him that I didn't know about?"

"I'd think it has more to do with subtle dominance issues than food really. After all, if Lin is dealing with all the food preparation and Lin is the dominant male in the area then it follows that cooking is an important duty. So, it also follows that Tear will feel he has to challenge Lin in this area and if possible, best him."

" I'm still trying to wrap my brain around Tear's view of 'Lin the dominant male' and now you're telling me that to assert his own claims to dominance in this new set up Tear's going to turn this into some kind of dual of the saucepans? This is getting out of hand, maybe I should step in?"

Hoshi nodded vigorously.

"Oh, yes, by all means, high time you took a stand. To have the two of them all fired up and trying to out do each other in creating the best dessert is outrageous, far better to have them turn their energies to mayhem and violence. Or they might hold off and just snipe at each other verbally all through the holidays. That would be fun."

"Lin always says that a light dusting of sarcasm is far more effective than laying it on with a trowel. Just a thought."

"Well, I'm not usually sarcastic, I seem to be out of practice. The point is that if they want to make creating the best dessert their battleground it's a no lose situation for us all. Sweet and savory concoctions will start wafting from the kitchen in gratifying quantities and I can't see why you want to interfere with the flow."

"I hadn't really thought of it that way. Damn, I wonder if they'll try their hands at cookies? I could kill for some Christmas cookies."

" I'm sure they'll want to do a variety of treats by way of practice, cookies wouldn't be out of the question. I say we just back off, give them room and then enjoy the results. Although I don't think Tear has ever so much a boiled water before so his efforts may be chancy at first. He'll soon catch on though, I have faith in him."

"Lin will slaughter him."

"I'm assuming you mean that metaphorically?"

"I do, don't worry. I'm thinking that if they're going to get into this today I could sneak off and finish some shopping. Will you be okay here until I get back? I'd invite you but…."

"No problem. I'll find a book and a quiet corner. Have fun!"

"Thanks!"

He headed out with a high heart, humming a little under his breath.

XXXXXXXXXXXXXX

He surveyed the crowded sidewalks with delight, he loved shopping and shopping around the holidays was even more fun. He had never gotten over the thrill of being out and about among people, it was still amazing to him that no one treated him any differently than they treated each other. Especially if he had his contacts in or was wearing sunglasses. He was just counted as another human in the herd and he loved it.

And the streets and shops were lovely this time of year, decorations hung everywhere and there were lights strung on just about anything that didn't move. He went over the list he'd made one last time and set off into the fray.

Several hours later he'd crossed everyone off his list but Lin. He'd thought of getting him something at Tsin's, a book was always a good gift for Lin, but he had his heart set on something different. Clothes? Well he wasn't that good at picking out clothes that Lin liked. Jewelry was good but he wasn't sure what might appeal to Lin. Aside from hair ornaments and he thought that might be too predictable a choice. He wandered into a shop randomly, on the off chance that something would catch his eye.

And in seconds, something did.

Rather a lot of things, really. Leather things, lace things, things of various types of metal. Nice things, or naughtily nice things at any rate.

His eyes lit up and he started roaming up and down the aisles, picking up items of interest as he went. It was the largest store of this type he'd ever seen and the choices were plentiful. He wished that they supplied carts but for some reason adult shops never seemed to do that. The store was fairly crowded and he jostled convivially with the other shoppers. Most seemed a bit shy about returning a greeting but a few smiled in return and some seemed quite friendly.

The clerk was watching the line of customers with a dazed look. Occasionally he ran one hand through his already disarranged blond hair and sighed His assistant was obviously new to retail, or this kind of retail anyway and bagged up the orders with a furious blush and averted eyes. He seemed to be having a running muttered argument with the boy at the cash register, which at least gave Faun something to listen to while he counter they were working at was long and many shoppers seized the opportunity to lay their items down while they awaited their turn. Faun availed himself of the chance as soon as he got close enough, shoving the stuff along the length of the counter in his turn while listening to the steady stream of words from the two young men behind the counter.

"Kenji, I don't care how much money we're making, I am not going to try to gift wrap that thing! You're lucky I agreed to help at all!"

"Right, just take over the register for a second then Jiro, I'll deal with it…hmm, maybe we could just stick a bow on the end of it? Tie a ribbon around it? Find an extra long box for it and wrap the box? "

Faun watched in amusement as the two bickered, the blue eyed one now manning the register seemed to type in prices in time with his words, which were rapid fire. The other, Kenji was diving under the counter for boxes and gift wrap and popping back up as fast as he could in a bid to keep up. The air of frenzy building up behind the counter was noticeable as items began to pile up awaiting wrapping.

"Could you get a move on? I can't believe I let you talk me into this, of all places to take a second job!"

"I'm working as fast as I can, Jiro, quit bugging me! And it's only a temporary job anyway, just for a little extra cash at Christmas. And you need the money as much as I do, you do want to get a nice present for someone, don't you?"

The word 'someone' was said in knowing tones and with a nudge to the cashier's ribs. Faun had to grin at the blush this drew from the darker haired boy.

"Right, rub it in. Hey, how about more wrapping and less talking? "

The blond laughed and Faun pushed his packages to the register and gave him a wide smile.

"Pretty busy time for you guys, I guess."

The blond raised his head and gave him a smile and a quick nod in reply. Several customers who were waiting for their wrapped purchases were milling about impatiently and Faun quelled his urge for further conversation, these guys were obviously too busy for chit chat.

The small mountain of items in front of Kenji was growing rapidly as he searched for more tape, more bows, dropped his scissors for the sixth time and generally got more frazzled by the second. His companion rushed through Fauns transaction, handed back his credit card and looked around with a frown for the complaining customers.

"Shove over Ken, I'll help for a few minutes so we can catch up."

His method of wrapping was the total opposite of the other boys, while Kenji was neat and careful Jiro was fast and not particularly fussy. If the paper didn't quite fit the present he made do with more tape and a generous number of bows to hide the problem. The two of them managed to get through the mounds of stuff though, reaching over each other for supplies and shoving packages into bags as fast as they could. The bags were then handed to the grumbling customers and the crowd began to thin out. By the time two large bags were shoved into Faun's hands the boys were almost caught up. They smiled at him and then each other for a second before starting another order. Faun carried the bags to the car and gratefully slid into the seat.

Now, to head home and maybe, if he was lucky, get Lin to open a few presents early?

An hour or so later a man with bags in his hands and murder in his eyes stormed up to the counter. Kenji paled as he slammed the bags down on the counter. Jiro moved over to stand nearer his friend, lending support.

"These bags aren't mine!"

Jiro opened one of the bags and saw that the items inside had been torn out of their wrapping paper. He pulled a DVD out and examined it.

"Geisha Boys?"

Kenji dipped into the other bag and pulled out a toy of sorts. He read the package while the man spoke.

"I thought I could get Sara to open one present early, you know? Just for fun, a little romantic fun. She agrees and the next thing I know she's in tears, I'm in the dog house and I'm looking at spending the rest of the holidays sleeping in the garage while trying to convince my wife that I'm not having a gay love affair on the side! Where are my purchases and what are you going to do to make this right?"

Jiro nudged Kenji who seemed enthralled with the toy he was holding.

"Hey, do we have any unclaimed bags anywhere?"

"Don't think so, hey, look, this end rotates!"

"Please don't tell me, I don't want to know. Can we concentrate on the crisis at hand?"

"I don't know how, I suppose we could let him pick out some stuff he wants for free? We don't know what he originally bought so I don't know how much money to refund or anything. Is the sales slip in there? Maybe the correct slip got into the wrong bag?"

Jiro found a slip but it was the slip for the items in the bags.

"No, any other ideas?"

"It has a remote control."

Kenji's voice was a little dreamy.

"What does? No, don't tell me, just tell me what to do with this guy!"

The man leaned forward, fuming.

Jiro snatched the toy out of Kenji's hands and turned back to the irate man.

"Maybe she would like some of this stuff? I mean, never know until you try, right? Once she calms down and …"

He glanced down at the box in his hand and his eyes widened.

"Then again, maybe not. Why don't you just go and pick out the stuff you say you bought the first time around and take it as our gift? That's the only thing I can think of to do, without the sales slip I don't see how we can give your money back. Maybe the person who got your bags by mistake will return them eventually but no one has yet. "

The man agreed to this idea with ill grace and started to collect items around the store. Kenji turned to Jiro:

"Well, none of this stuff was opened , just the wrapping paper ripped off. Should be okay to just restock, don't you think?"

"I guess so."

"So, hand over that probe."

"Umm, never mind that, I'll deal with that, you just go put the rest of the stuff back."

Kenji dragged the bags down the aisle, muttering softly.

"Right, you'll deal with it. I bet you will."

"I heard that!"

"Dog."

"Hey!"

XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX

Faun walked into a house redolent with the fragrance of baking. He stashed the bags in the bedroom closet and raced back to the kitchen.

"Lin?"

The table was covered with plates of cookies of all kinds and shapes. Some were more professional looking than others but they all smelled good. He reached for a small, frosted snow man and heard Lin clear his throat.

" I wish you wouldn't sneak up a person like that! These look great, can I sample?"

"Sure, help yourself."

"Where are Tear and Hoshi?"

"They went home for the evening. How was your afternoon? Did you eat?"

"I'm eating now. I had fun and got some presents. Can I coax you into opening one?"

"It's not Christmas yet, don't you want me to wait?"

"Just one, come on, it'll be fun."

"Do you want to open one too?"

Faun shook his head.

"No, I want to wait. The waiting is fun too. But this present is something we'll both enjoy so it's really kind of like opening one for myself."

"You convinced me, I assume from that last statement that you have a particular present in mind?"

"I'll give you a choice, hold on a sec,"

He jogged back into the bedroom and eyed the bags. Now that everything was wrapped it was hard to tell just what was what. He could identify the DVD though and grabbed a few of them. That way Lin could choose, blindly but still, it would be fun to have him pick could watch something hot and probably before they got half way through it they'd be taking a lengthy pause for some action of their own. And cookies, what could be better?

XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX

"Exactly why did you get this? Just curious."

Faun stared at the cover in disbelief.

Lin pulled it back,turned it over and read aloud:

"Dominetrix Dairy Maids– hot fem/dom in a rural setting, you'll never look at a milking stool the same way again."

"Err, there seems to have been a slight mix up at the store. Here, try this one."

"Sorority Strippers, when these beauties dance they raise more than cash. See a house full of girls who ….."

"That can't be right! Give it here."

Lin passed it back to Faun and gingerly opened another.

"The Lady Lords of Sodom Manor? The debauched doings of these cross-dressing ladies is sure to have the servants begging for more, and for mercy?"

Faun groaned and grabbed the box out of Lin's hands.

"These aren't the ones I picked! Damn it, I better check the rest of the stuff, I must have gotten at least some of someone else's presents. Shit!"

He looked so downcast that Lin moved over and slipped an arm around him.

"It's okay, don't worry about it now. Just come to bed, I'll take your mind of it entirely."

Faun flung the DVDs aside and kissed him.

"I think Tear is bringing out the beast in you! I could get used to this real easy, you know."

"Good, do I have to do the whole macho carrying you to bed deal or will you walk?"

"I'll do more than walk, I'll run. You can meet me there with a plate or two of those cookies."