Holly & Mistletoe

"Hm...a little to the left."

There was some ruslting and muffled curses that weren't quite muffled enough. The pungent, pleasant odor of pine and sap twined through the air together, settling throughout the house like a forest-green blanket. The giant quivered once more, and the gardener peeked out from underneath the giant's pine skirt.

"How is it now, young master?"

"It's perfect, Baylief, thank you."

Baylief secured the tree stand around the trunk and slowly backed away from it. He picked up a rag lounging nearby, cleaning his hands of sap and prickly needles. Turning to face his master, Baylief inquired, "Do you need me for anything else, sir?"

"No, thank you. You may take the day off to enjoy the season, if you like."

"You're very kind, Master Li. But won't you require assistance for decoration?"

"Ah, no. Bum--er--Micah's coming over to help."

Baylief hid a smirk behind a hand. "Yes, sir." He bowed once and made his quick departure.

Passing one of the downstairs maids, a young thing with blue eyes and long hair, he stopped and murmured something in her ear. Started, she nearly dropped the tea tray, but regained her balance and smiled at the news. Emily hurriedly delivered the tray, scurrying away to spread the news. She caught the arms of her fellow maids and friends, Madeleine and Jin, whispering. Madeleine abandoned her polishing for a moment, and Jin, her dusting. The news of Micah's arrival spread faster than fire on a dust-dry prairie.

By the time Micah Cadwallder hopped up the cleared steps, the door had been pulled open, and Allsburg was already bowing and offering to take his coat. Micah grinned in response, shedding his outer skin as he entered teh mansion. As Allsburg took his coat to hang up, he was surprised to find a bundle of peppermint sticks labeled, "For the kids. Merry Christmas, Allsburg." He turned to thank the young man, but Micah had already vanished.

Roaming through the high-ceilinged palace, Micah strolled into the parlor, boots sinking into the red carpet sea. He paused, smirking at the slender figured, stretching for the very top of the giant pine, topping the ladder like a golden star clinging to the topmost branches for dear life.

Micah cleared his throat.

Fai wobbled.

"I was under the impression that the star went on last, Swifty." Micah commented, continuing his trek into the room. "Isn't it the grand, final decoration that makes you giddy with relief that you've conquered the decorating monster?"

Shakily, Fai descended. "You're early, Bumblits."

"I am not." Micah retorted. "You've just lost track of time again. What would your parents say if they saw you greeting guests in a getup like that?"

"I'm lucky it's you, aren't I? Not many others would appreciated my pine-'n'-sap style."

"They're gone, aren't they?"

"Until late tonight, yes." Fai replied, smirking at Micah as he rolled down his sleeves.

Micah grinned. "How convinient."

"Want to help decorate the rest of the house? The whole staff will be off in an hour." Fai told him, checking his pocket watch. "I still have to string up lights, put up the holly and mistletoe, and decorate the tree."

"And the boys at the Lodging House?"

"Already taken care of. I dropped by with extra clothes and food for Cowboy and Kloppman to pass out earlier this afternoon."

"Hm," Micah gave a quirky grin. "What a good samaritan you are."

"Don't give me that look."

"What look?"

"That look."

"This look?"


"What's wrong with it?"

"I feel like a turkey dinner set in front of starving orphans."

"...what's your point?"

"My point is," Fai hissed. "Is that the staff may see it and inform my parents."

"The only ones still in the house is that trio of maids."

"What? What trio?"

"You know...the Chinese one, the Italian one, and the French one."

Fai laughed. "You mean Jin, Emily, and Madeleine?"

"Yeah. Besides, if the whole household isn't aware of your painfully obvious sexual preferences, then they must have stones for eyes."

"I'm not obvious!"

Micah seized him by the wrists and pulled him closer. "Of course not." He replied, nibbling on his ear.

"Micah--Micah, stop it! What if some...one...sees..." Fai stumbled, eyes glazing.

Pale hands slipped under starched cloth, sliding along a tanned back. Pink lips met throat, hands fumbled and tangled through dark hair. Shoes were shed, buttons were lost, and suspenders flung aside like a piece of garbage. Fai tugged, with his hands, and with his teeth, pulling Micah with him as he stumbled backwards. The stairs presented difficulty, but after a few falls and laughing at their own stupidity, Fai and Micah made it privacy.

Emily scurried out through the servants passage, blushing furiously. She nearly knocked Jin down as she passed, and the other seized her arm.

"What has you so worked up?"

Her mouth twitched, amused. "It seems that Master Micah has once again gotten the better of Master Fai."

Jin grinned. "Let's go find Maddy."


"Bum--maybe we should--hey!"

"Stop fussing, Swift!"

"But...but...ohhh--NO. NO, WAIT."

"For crying out loud, what?"

"Lock the door."

Micah blinked, then hoisted himself off of Fai's sprawled form. He crossed the room and twisted the key in the lock.


He turned, and went in for the kill.



Micah jumped as Fai swarmed around the room, throwing his shirt and pants on in a half-hazarded manner. He yanked the door open and skidded down the stairs. Micah sighed and made himself decent for public. As he buttoned his shirt, he noted that it was suspiciously quiet downstairs. Micah trotted out into the hallway.

...And his chin hit the floor.

The whole house was decorated, top to bottom, beautifully done with everything Fair's family possessed. There were candles lit in the windows, mistletoe and holly hung from the chandelier, and a yule log in the fireplace, waiting to be lit. He hopped down the stairs, marveling at the green and red velvet twisted around the polished banister.

"Swifty...who did this?"

Fai looked up from the plain white piece of paper, face redder than the holly berries. "Read this."

Micah took it, read it, and started to laugh.

Young masters,

We hope you won't think up presumptious, but it was our assumption that you would not be getting around to decorations. We have done it for you, as we are well-aware that the Mistress would not be happy to find it left undone.

Merry Christmas.

"The trio."