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Butch scowled as he pushed his way through the throngs of holiday shoppers. He couldn’t believe it had come to this; fighting the crowds in the Caldie malls. Normally humans, and civilians, would notice the fierce look on the former cop’s face, and almost magically the crowd would part, allowing him room to maneuver. Not at Christmas, though. It was everyone, human or vampire, for himself. He was beginning to think he should have kept searching online. But it was hard to search for something when you didn't know what you were searching for.

It was his first Christmas with the Brotherhood, and while he hadn’t celebrated the season much in recent years, once again having a family had helped Butch rediscover his lost Christmas spirit. He hadn’t been certain that the Brothers celebrated Christmas, so he’d checked with Beth since he knew she’d always celebrated Christmas before her transformation. The Queen had assured him that they would be celebrating Christmas. She’d ordered the house lavishly decorated for the season, Butch had set out to secure presents for his new family. He’d become pretty damn smug about the efficiency in which he’d blown through his shopping list online. Presents secured, shipped complete with gift-wrapping, for the Brothers, their shellans, even the doggens who served them. He’d even let go of his bitterness toward his human family and sent presents to Boston.

Just one present eluded him. Vishous.

What do you get your psychic, badass, techno-geek, whips-and-chains-wielding best friend-slash-roommate-slash-secret crush? In desperation, Butch had tried googling that exact question. He wasn’t sure there was enough Lag in the world to erase the images the search engine had displayed. They were enough to force him off the computer and into the cold New York night air, where despite the crowds, he was in search of the elusive present.

He wanted to find the perfect gift for V. One that expressed how much the other male meant to Butch. He’d dismissed a bottle of Goose as too common, and anything tech-related as too cold, not to mention completely out of his league. Gift certificates didn’t convey any message except, “I couldn’t bother thinking about what you’d really like,” and the bondage gear, well that wasn’t exactly subtle. If their favorite baseball team played night games, season tickets would have been a great gift, and a perfect excuse to spend more time alone with V, but they didn't, so he was shit out of luck.

A man in a gaudy holiday sweater passed Butch, his hands full of shopping bags. Butch had a fleeting thought of the expression on V's face at finding a cutesy Christmas sweater under the tree. It had merit as a gag gift, but only if it was followed up by something really incredible. It’d make for a helluva Kodak moment, though. Proof that shopping at malls could make you insane, he thought, deciding to call it a night and head back the Pit.

Vishous pushed back from his desk with a sigh, rolling his shoulders to loosen the tightness in his muscles. He and Butch were off patrol rotation tonight, so V was taking the opportunity to do some upgrades to the non-essential systems in the Pit, the ones devoted not to the security of the Brotherhood but used to look up game scores and porn.

There were nights when it felt like some of the Brothers were still living in the dark ages, given their lack of technological skills. His cop wasn’t one of them, though – he knew his way around a keyboard, having been being born in the twentieth century. Careful of the pronouns, he thought to himself. The cop wasn’t his and never would be, except in his dreams, or in his vivid, frequently recurring, fantasies. He didn’t need his visions to know that truth.

Finished with his own computer, he turned his attention to Butch’s laptop. He opened it, revealing a results page from a Google search, and wondered if he needed to save it for the cop. Reading the search box, his eyes widened. He closed the laptop, then opened it again and reread. Then shut it again, and put the laptop back in Butch's room, exactly where he'd found it.

Pouring a glass of Goose, Vishous sat on the couch and stared at the pile of presents accumulated on their floor. A huge evergreen was decorated in the main house; the presents would find their way under it eventually. They’d skipped decorating the Pit, and now Vishous wondered if they shouldn’t have made the effort.

Realizing that his mind was wandering off course, he forced himself to focus and began to plan.

After parking in the driveway in front of the Pit, Butch slumped wearily against the steering wheel of the Escalade. No luck in finding V a gift tonight. Now all the stores had closed but the all-night discount stores like Wal-Mart, and Butch wasn’t quite desperate enough to buy the male a Chia Pet. Yet. True, he was almost there. At this rate, Butch figured he should just tie a red bow around his neck and tell Vishous that he was the male’s present.

Yeah, that would go over well. He’d be better off sticking with the fugly sweater and the Chia Pet. He gave up the inner monologue and made his way into their apartment. Normally the place smelled like two males who spent more time fighting than cleaning. It wasn’t a sty, but they didn’t worry about things like scented candles. Tonight though, the place smelled like fresh-baked cookies. Maybe a doggen had dropped some off for them, he thought, and went looking for the source of the aroma.

Vishous had one hand in an oven mitt, and the other hand was using a spatula to remove cookies from a baking sheet. “You made cookies?” V looked almost sheepish. “I was flipping channels and landed on a Christmas Cookie special on the Food Channel.” “And we just happened to have the ingredients to make oatmeal chocolate chip cookies?”

“I was out Christmas shopping, anyway.”

“I thought you were already done with your shopping,” said Butch.

“All but one…yours.” “So you made me cookies instead? Much nicer than a Chia Pet.”

“Why would I get you a Chia Pet? …Did you get me a Chia Pet?” V was actually smiling, considering the idea.

“I sure as hell thought about it. I’m completely lost on what to get you,” admitted Butch.

“Do I need to give you a hint or two?” Vishous was smiling widely at him now, seemingly unconcerned that his best friend was a failure in the gift buying department.


“I’m sure you’ll think of something. Here, try these while they're warm.” The smile was still there. Butch didn’t think he’d ever seen Vishous look so mischievous – he had to be up to something.

Vishous held up a cookie for him to bite into. Butch knew the gesture was considered an act of mating by vampires, at least when made by a female to a male. But what about when it was your best friend?

The smile was gone now, replaced by a hungry look, eyes intensely staring at Butch’s mouth.

He could see the warm chocolate melting onto the male’s fingers. Wrapping his hand around V’s wrist, he leaned in to take a bite. Not releasing his hold, he finished the cookie, and then licked the chocolate off Vishous’ fingers. He could always make a joke about not wanting the chocolate to go to waste, if he’d read the other male wrong.

Butch met V’s eyes, lips closing around his chocolate-covered thumb. Interested in seeing how far V would let him go, Butch brushed his tongue over the pad, then sucked. Moaning, Vishous broke eye contact, his eyelids fluttered shut, lips parted.

“Look at the ceiling.”

The command startled him, but he glanced up anyway. There was a sprig of mistletoe attached to the kitchen ceiling.

With no additional warning, Butch found himself pressed back against the counter, Vishous’ mouth on his own, tasting chocolate and Grey Goose. V pulled back slightly.

“Still need a hint about my present?”

“No, I’m getting lots of ideas now,” Butch answered, pulling him back into another kiss.