Gladys

Anthony Higgins leaned back in his chair behind the cluttered table, reflecting on how this was quite possibly the worst day of his life. Holiday cheer, his ass. He had needed to volunteer to do something to get his community service hours for that parking ticket that he didn't want to pay; he had decided to help out the school fundraiser by selling candy canes to be delivered on the last day of school before break. It might have been interesting, if people had actually bothered to buy the candies. But how many people had actually considered that option?

Well, by Tony's count, four. Apparently people didn't feel the need to send their friends candy canes in order to make them feel appreciated. He had briefly debated whether or not to take the initiative to make people want to buy them, to save himself from boredom. Maybe if he offered a striptease for every two bought, people would buy them. Of course, he doubted that the school would let him make good on that promise during school hours, but he could at least offer it.

"You know, whenever you get that look on your face, I'm pretty sure you're thinking about sex."

Snapped out of his thoughts, Tony looked up and put on a face of utter confusion. "Sex? Me, an adolescent teen?"

Christopher Skittery- known by his last name to everybody with enough sense not to call him Christopher- plopped down in the open seat next to him. He grabbed a candy cane off the table and broke it in the middle. Sticking one end in his mouth, he gave Tony a lopsided look. "Aren't teenaged boys supposed to think about sex every six seconds or so?"

"Says the horny teen who called last night and asked if I had ever made out in the snow?" Tony retorted, opening the cash box he'd been given. "And that's a buck you're eating. Pay up."

"I was playing truth or dare, dumbass. I had to." Skittery laughed as Tony pulled a face. Digging around in his pockets exaggeratedly, he shrugged. "I'm broke. Sorry."

Tony groaned and put his face in his hands. "I was supposed to sell a minimum of two hundred of these things and sales end today. I'm screwed."

"Huh," Skittery replied, looking thoughtful. "I figured that by now you already had been."

Tony peeked out from behind his hands, glaring. "Not funny! You don't seem to realize how drastic this problem is."

"You haven't been able to hold up your end of financing the school's next random project, which won't actually help anybody going to school here? The only way I'd support that cause was if they were finally putting real mirrors in the bathrooms." Skittery shoved a dollar bill from his backpack in the cash box. Tony grinned broadly. With a mild shrug, Skittery said, "I don't want you depressed going into the holiday season."

"Works for me," Tony replied. "Now all you really have to do is send them to all your friends."

"Lucky for you," Skittery muttered, digging around is his backpack again, "I just got paid. Give me ten."

He slid a new bill into the cash box, and took some of the candy canes. As he began to write messages and names on the attached cards, Tony tried to peek at the names. Catching on immediately, Skittery moved them out of his line of vision.

"No peeking, idiot. They're to my girlfriend. Duh."

"You have a girlfriend?" Tony asked, taken aback. That was the last thing that he had been expecting. Skittery sent out the most obvious gay-playing-straight vibe that he had ever been aware of. Since when had he had a girlfriend?

"Is her name Gladys, and does she wear hoop skirts with poodles on them?" he asked after a pause.

"Ha, you're funny." Looking thoughtful, he crossed out some lines of text and wrote something else in their place. Skittery stuck the candy canes into the bag that Tony had been put in charge of filling with sold candies. "If you look at those, you will regret it."

Wagging a finger in playful reminder, Skittery shouldered his backpack and walked back down the hall. Tony glared at his retreating back until he had turned a corner, and then looked back at the bag. With a sigh, he tied it shut to resist the temptation to look at who the candy canes were addressed to.

Fridays before breaks were the worst days; everybody knew that. Tony hadn't bothered to bring any of his textbooks. It was the last day before the break, so nobody was going to assign any homework or do anything of that sort. The only entertaining thing left was the candy cane distribution and then they could all go home.

Tony felt sorry for that poor sap who had to dress up in the Santa Claus outfit to deliver the stupid things. As he came into the room, Tony had to stifle a laugh- it was obvious that they were one of the last classes for the candy to be delivered to, as the fake beard was off-center and the hat seemed likely to fall off the boy's head any moment. He watched as one girl sitting at the back of the room was given at least thirty candy canes (What the hell would somebody do with that many candy canes?) and several other people were given a handful of the candies.

"Is there a…Anthony Higgins in this class?" the kid asked, pulling a bunch of candy canes out of the bag.

"What?" asked Tony, almost positive that he had misheard the kid. "Higgins? Yeah, that's me."

"Oh. Here." He threw the pack to Tony who caught it clumsily. As the kid left the room, Tony quickly looked for a tag. Two of them were clearly marked from Sean and Ryan- at least they'd felt the need to actually buy while he was working the table. On the ribbon tying ten of the candy canes together, there was a small note. It read:

Gladys,

I'm so glad that we could have our talk! Sexy kid, you are the only thing on my letter to Santa. If you want me to have a happy Christmas, find me under the mistletoe at the Christmas Eve party at Sean's house next week.

By the way, that poodle skirt you have? So hot. Turns me on, anyways.

Your Secret Fan!

Tony laughed as he read the note. He had so been right. Skittery was so gay. He was so right. Satisfied, he was content to sit and wait for the bell to ring. The five days to Christmas Eve had never seemed so long.

Why did girls seem to vastly outnumber guys at every single Christmas party? Tony really hated that fact. It was like they all came out to torture guys into feeling the need to find a dance partner. The ones he hated most were the ones who didn't take "I can't dance" as an answer.

As it was, he was in the middle of the party dance floor, with some girl he wasn't really sure he knew wrapped around his waist- a surprising feat in itself since she was about ten feet taller than he was. Glancing around, Tony saw no sign of Skittery and instead looked at his partner. "Do you know where some mistletoe is?"

"Ooh, yes."

It took Tony a minute to realize why a sudden look of glee had passed over her face. As soon as that recognition came, he immediately backtracked. "Oh, no, I actually am meeting a—I'm looking for someone and was—Where is it?"

The girl looked scandalized, but pointed towards a room branching off the living room and departed. Not bothering to mumble a thank you, Tony hurried towards the room. Entering it, he realized that it was really a hallway, and there was a sprig of mistletoe hanging in a doorway further down the way. As he approached the plant, he heard an outbreak of snickering from a different room.

Looking into it, he saw Skittery sprawled out on a couch, watching something on the television. Without looking at Tony, he said, "I wondered when you'd come through. Pop a squat?"

"Er, what?" asked Tony, thoroughly confused.

"Well, it was hide in here or have Sean badger me to put up Christmas lights so… Wanna join me?"

"Where's your holiday spirit?" Race returned jokingly, as he moved to take a seat next to Skittery on the couch.

Skittery shrugged.

"I spent most of the day looking for mistletoe. Who would have thought that it would have been sold out around this time of year?"

"Never would have guessed," Tony replied. Sitting with close enough that he could have touched the other boy if he had wanted to had made him feel suddenly nervous. "What are you watching?"

"A Christmas Story."

"Classic." Tony suddenly wished that he hadn't had anything to drink before finding Chris. They said alcohol did funny things to you, and if one of those things managed to make him screw this up… he probably would have a hard time forgiving himself.

"Definitely," Skittery said, nodding. He was still watching the screen, but Tony thought that he was making sideways glances at him. "The best part is when Ralphie beats the shit out of that one kid."

Tony laughed, shaking his head. "That was not the best part."

"It kind of reminded me of when Sean beat you up freshman year for calling him a snarky bastard."

"Oh, thanks for bringing up those ever-so-fond memories," Tony said, frowning. He suddenly felt the other boy's eyes on him. "What?"

"I thought it was cute," Skittery replied. Tony was suddenly very, very aware of the space between them beginning to get smaller.

"You did?" he asked weakly.

"Yeah, you were such a cute, pathetic kid who didn't know what hit him."

"Well, I knew it was Sean. That kid has these killer instincts and hardcore moves—"

"I think I could match him move for move," Skittery put in. Tony judged the new distance. Maybe a foot? It was much too close for his brain to process anything. He sat still, barely managing to remind himself to nod.

"Have you seen his… um, oh, his moves?" Tony felt himself leaning in now, willing the gap between them to be closed so that he could just stop wondering what happened next.

"We taught a self-defense course together. I learned everything he did," Skittery said. Before Tony could respond, Skittery pushed his lips onto his in a surprisingly quick move. Tony was suddenly very glad that he had practice kissing while drunk.

After several long moments, they pulled apart, and Tony grinned at the other boy. "Where's the mistletoe?"

Skittery smirked, and pulled him closer, leaning in for another kiss. "I don't think I can show you quite yet."

"What if I can find it?"

"Then a very merry Christmas to all."