The 12 Days of Courtship; Inadvertent and In Reverse - carleton97

Twelve drummers drumming...

"You wanna watch a movie?"

"What?" Lucas rubbed at his eyes, then crossed his arms against the chill creeping into his apartment from the drafty hallway. "Mark, what are you doing here? It's after eleven."

"Is it too late? It's too late, isn't it? I'll just - " Mark half turned and took a step back the way he had to have come.

"No, wait." Lucas shook his head to clear it. He had spent all of that day, of Christmas Day, with Joe and Jane and had fallen asleep almost as soon as he got back to his apartment. "Let me wake up a second."

"'Kay." Mark turned back to him and was nearly vibrating with repressed energy. When Lucas took a step back and opened the door wider, he scurried through and started unwrapping his extra-long scarf. "You're sure it's not too late? Because I can go...somewhere else."

"No, it's fine." Lucas shuffled over to his scruffy couch and wrapped an afghan around himself before sitting down to watch Mark finish removing his outer layers. "So, what movie did you bring?"

Mark pulled a DVD case out of his coat pocket with a big smile. "Drumline!"

Eleven pipers piping...

"What the hell are you listening to?" Lucas knocked Mark's feet off the back room couch and winced when he took off his headphones and the tinny noise increased.

"Lucas, you have to listen to this! It's the best bagpipe music ever." Mark squirmed around on the couch until he was sitting up, then moved over until he could slide his headphones over Lucas's ears. He left his hands on the headphones even after they were settled on Lucas, his fingers tapping out the rhythm against his head.

Lucas had to grit his teeth at the sheer volume level of bagpipe that was assaulting his ears and covered Mark's hands with his own to pull them down around his neck. "Why are you even listening to bagpipe music?"

"I'm gearing up! There's a bagpipe extravaganza in the park in two weeks and I want to be ready for it." Mark laughed and wiggled a little in his seat.

Lucas felt Mark's fingers twitch under his and dropped his hands down to his lap, trying to ignore how close they were sitting. "You're going to stand outside in the middle of January to listen to pipers?"

"Yeah." Mark unwound his headphones from Lucas's neck. "You wanna come with me?"

Ten lords a-leaping...

"Does somebody want to tell me why we're watching Riverdance?" Lucas slumped back into his seat on the couch when Corey shushed him and was seconded by a smirking AJ.

Mark giggled from his seat next to Lucas and started humming along to the music as Michael Flatley made his entrance and began gesturing grandly. "Look at me shoes!"


"What?" Lucas turned to look at Mark, moved his attention back to the screen when Mark pushed his head back around.

"Look at me sleeve!" Mark's commentary was nearly unintelligible through his laughter and Corey's hissed quiet, but Lucas could understand enough of it that he started snickering himself.

By the time the scrawny redhead had joined the lord o' the prance onstage, Lucas had his face pressed into Mark's neck to stifle his laughter and Mark was holding himself upright on Lucas's shoulder. He barely had enough breath left to whisper into Lucas's ear, "Look at me wench, Jean!"

Nine ladies dancing...

Exactly how they all ended up at an amateur drag show remained a mystery to Lucas.

One minute they'd been on their way to a diner for a post-party snack and the next they'd all been paying an eight dollar cover to a six-foot tall drag queen. From the way Debra and Gina were leading a wide-eyed Mark around by the hands, he guessed they were here to show him the many wonders of a drag show.

It didn't take Mark long to get into the swing of things and he nearly shouted himself hoarse leading the cheer for his favorite competitor, Cecile. Lucas had to admit that Cecile's torch song act was pretty impressive, but his favorite out of the group was probably Keiko and her J-pop retrospective.

"This is awesome! How have I never been here before?" Mark crashed down into the seat next to Lucas and finished off the watery remains of Lucas's gin and tonic. "Ugh, how can you drink that? It tastes like kerosene."

Lucas shrugged, "I'll never get malaria."

Mark looked at him like he was crazy and reached across the table to finish off Gina's drink. "So have you been here before?"

"Not here, but I've been to drag shows before, yeah." Lucas slid down in his chair, resting his head against the back of it.

"What's wrong, man?" Mark shifted until he was facing Lucas, one knee bent up under him.

Lucas shrugged, but didn't really answer because there wasn't anything wrong with him. He was tired, the holiday season sucked, and he sort of just wanted to go home to sleep until January 2nd, but that was it. He knew he was being grumpy tonight, but he couldn't seem to help it. He let his mind drift along with the thumping bass of remixed Cher and only jumped a little when tentative fingers began petting his hair.

Eight maids a-milking...

"Put them down, Mark."

The dancing bananas paused midair and did a little bow before being settled back with their less flamboyant brethren. "What are we doing here, Lucas?"

"I am buying groceries with my meager food budget." Lucas intercepted the bag of shiny, green apples headed for his cart and exchanged it for a mixed bag of apples and oranges. "I'm not quite sure what you're doing here."

Mark made a face at the pile of brussel sprouts next to him and tossed a bag of baby carrots into the cart, "It's my day off."

"I thought you had band practice on your day off?" Lucas maneuvered around a slow moving woman and headed towards the bakery section.

"We cancelled it for today since most of the guys were going home for Christmas." Mark tried to sneak a box of doughnuts into the cart while Lucas was picking out a loaf of bread, but Lucas returned it to the shelf in exchange for a bag of bagels.

"So you're just going hang around to pester me until they come back?" Lucas bumped Mark's hip with his own to let him know he was just joking.

Mark bumped him back, pushing until he could claim half of the push-bar of the cart for himself, "You know you love the pestering."

Lucas shook his head, but didn't dispute it. "Come on, I just need some milk, then we can get out of here."

Seven swans a-swimming...

"Did you know that in England all swans are considered Crown property?"

"No, I didn't."

"Did you know that male swans are called cobs and females pens?"


"Or that swans have the most neck vertebrae of any bird or mammal?"

"Again, no."

"They mate for life, too."



"Uh, Mark?"

"I just like swans, ok?"

Six geese a-laying...

Lucas didn't want to say anything since four of the six guys in the band the band were AJ's friends, but Pregnant Geese had to be the worst band ever. Lucas wasn't sure exactly what vibe they were going for, but they seemed to be stuck somewhere between Bob Marley and Slayer. He found it distinctly unsettling and wanted nothing more than to escape to the kitchen where he knew the keg was hiding.

Mark had a hold on his arm, though, and was bobbing his head along with the music. "Man, these guys suck, but they're like Shatner."

Sometimes he thought Mark spoke an entirely different language. "Shatner?"

"Yeah, man. They believe like Shatner." Mark laughed and pulled him towards the back of the house. "Come on, we need beer if this is the band that's striking in the New Year."

Lucas wasn't about to subject himself to the 'music' of Pregnant Geese any more than he had to, so once he got a beer, he jumped up on the kitchen counter right next to the keg. Mark stood next to him, as close as he could get without actually touching him, drinking his beer and trying not to dance to the music.

After watching him twitch in place for several minutes, Lucas took Mark's empty cup out of his hand and leaned over to speak directly into his ear. "Go dance. I'm going to hang out in here."



Mark smiled and danced off to the dubious strains of a reggae-styled cover of a Poison song. Lucas shook his head a little and leaned over to refill his beer from the convenient tap, content to lounge on the counter and people watch until AJ and some people he knew from high school wandered in to escape the entertainment. He finished off his beer and started in on another as he caught up with Jenny and Dan. Mark danced through at some point to grab another beer and to make sure Lucas was having fun, but the siren song of Pregnant Geese called him back to the other room.

"So, Lucas." AJ hopped up on the counter next to him.

"So. AJ."

"So, Lucas." AJ glanced off towards the living room. "Uh, I've been meaning to ask you something."

"OK." Lucas debated having another beer and decided to go for it. It was only New Year's Eve once a year, after all.

"I mean, ok, yes, it's none of my business and I don't really care, but Corey is convinced and I don't really want to argue with all her -" AJ's rambling was interrupted by Mark careening into the kitchen and skidding to a stop in front of them.

He grabbed Lucas's beer out of his hand and gulped down half of it before gasping out, "Thanks," and dashing back to the front of the house.

Lucas looked at the half empty cup in his hand for a second before shrugging and taking a drink. "You were saying?"

"They were right. I can't believe they were right." AJ looked like someone had slapped him in the face. "I can't believe you didn't tell me!"

"Tell you what?" Lucas held his beer in a protective grip as he tried to dodge AJ's accusatory finger.

"That you and Mark were dating!"

Lucas's automatic denial died unspoken when Mark fell through the kitchen door again, his face lighting up when he caught sight of Lucas. "Hey, Mark! Come here."

Mark made his way through the crowd and ended up leaning against Lucas's legs, facing AJ. "Yeah?"

From the other room, the crowd started counting down.


Lucas set his beer down and braced his hands on the countertop. "AJ wants to know how long we've been dating."


Mark stilled his unconscious dancing and grinned up at him, his mouth wobbling a little at the corners. "I think since you showed me your tattoo."


Lucas opened and closed his mouth a couple of times before shrugging and letting one hand rest on Mark's back, a smile starting to form in his eyes. "Has it been that long?"


Mark's shoulders relaxed a little and he started dancing to the music again. "We've been taking things slow."


"Yeah, I guess we have." Lucas had to roll his eyes at that.


"Maybe too slow?" Mark raised his eyebrows at Lucas and did a little shimmy to the music that made Lucas... think things.


Lucas nodded and leaned forward a tiny bit. "Maybe."


Mark turned to face Lucas. "So..."




"Yeah." Mark's response was a quiet breath of sound against Lucas's mouth.

happy new year!

Should auld acquaintance be forgot,
And never brought to mind?
Should auld acquaintance be forgot,
And days of auld lang syne?

Five golden rings...

From the top if its head to the beginning of its tail, there were 35 rows of bluish-green scales.

Each wing ended with 25 orange feathers.

There were five gold bands circling each leg.

Mark knew some people would consider his fascination with Lucas's tattoo unhealthy, but he couldn't help it. From the very first time he had seen the stark black line of a tattoo inked into someone's skin, he had been enthralled and Lucas's tattoo was amazing.

He sometimes thought it was a good thing he was too scared of needles to get any ink of his own.

He reached out to touch the border of skin and tattoo, to test again if he could feel a difference, but stopped just shy of contact. Lucas was sleeping; sprawled face down and taking up more than half of the bed, and Mark didn't want to wake him yet. Besides, it was still pretty early and Mark thought that curling up next to Lucas for another couple of hours of sleep was the perfect way to start out a new year.

Four calling birds...




"She's not answering."


Hi, you've reached 555-4269. Heh. Leave a message.

"Gina? Gina, answer the phone ... Gina, come on ... Giiiiiiiiiiina ... GINA! GI - "

//Jesus, Deb, what?//

"Wake up."

//I am awake, duh.//

"No, really wake up. Corey and I have news."

//Hang on a second.//

Deb could hear Gina talking to someone in the background, but couldn't tell who or what was said.

//Okay, awake.//

"God, took you long enough. Did you have to evict the latest boytoy or what?"

//Fuck off, Deb. Please tell me you woke me up for a good reason.//

"Corey's on the office phone and since it's her news to tell ...."


//Yeah, Corey. What the hell is going on?//

--Okay, so you know how AJ and Mark and Lucas were all talking about going to the same New Year's party, right?--


--Oh, AJ said the party was awesome, by the way. He said the band had really gotten better since we'd seen them and - --


--Oh, sorry. So, yeah. AJ said he was talking to Lucas in the kitchen when the countdown started and out of nowhere Mark comes running in and guess what happened!--

//Come on, Corey. I just woke up.//

--They kissed!--

//Mark and AJ? Ew.//

--No! Mark and Lucas!--

//Shut up.//

--No, for real. I thought AJ was going to die, he was so shocked.--

//Well, I guess I can't say I'm shocked about Mark, but Lucas? Well, on second thought ... Does Joe know about this?//

--About the gay or about Mark and Lucas?--

//Either. Both.//

--I don't know, but we can't really ask without telling him.--



//Get Jane on the line.//

"Okay, hang on a second."




"Jane? It's Deb, Corey, and Gina. Is Joe with you?"

#No, he's not. Is something wrong at the store?#

"No, no. We just needed to talk to you."

#Oooookay. What's going on?#

"Well, Corey said that - "

--Hey, it wasn't me, it was AJ.--

"Fine, AJ told Corey something and we wanted to verify whether Joe knew this information because it's not really any of our business, but Joe will probably need to know if its serious and even if it's not, just the theoretical - "

//Fuck. Stop stalling. Jane, does Joe know Lucas is gay and dating Mark?//


//Lucas. Gay. Dating our resident spaz.//

#Oh. Uh. I can't say that we've ever discussed it.#

--So should we tell him?--

//Are you retarded?//


//Come on, Deb. 'Should we tell him?' What kind of question is that? It's so not our place to interfere in this.//

--But - --

#I'm going to have to agree with Gina. If this is all true -#

--It is, AJ saw them!--

#If it's true, then Lucas will tell Joe in his own time. All right?#




. . .

#So what did AJ see?#

Three French hens...

Lucas was bored. And tired. And hungry.

He was stuck alone here until Joe got back from lunch with Jane and he thought wistfully of the lunch of left over chicken he had left sitting on the kitchen counter. He wished he could blame Mark for his forgetting it, but really, the thing against the front door had been his idea.

He looked up automatically when the bell over the door jingled and was surprised to see the subject of his thoughts walk in. "Mark, I thought you were rehearsing today?"

"I am. I will be. I just - Here, you forgot this before." Mark pulled Lucas's forgotten lunch out of his bag and leaned over the counter, holding it out to him.

"You are a lifesaver. I'm starving." Lucas smiled and set his lunch on the counter, matching Mark's lean . "So are you - "

"Why are you harassing my hard working employee, Mark?" Joe appeared from the back, Jane trailing behind him.

"Oh!" Mark jumped a little and started to move back, but Lucas's hand on his shoulder held him in place. "Um. I was just - "

"He was just bringing me my lunch, Joe. I forgot it this morning." Lucas's voice was steady and he didn't look anywhere but at Joe.

"Well. That was very nice of Mark." Joe blinked and his eyes darted to Lucas's hand resting on Mark's shoulder. "Now get back to work."

Two turtledoves...

Mark flopped back on Lucas bed and kicked his heels against frame. Lucas had been in the shower forever and that just wasn't any fun if Mark wasn't in there too. He flopped over onto his stomach and wormed his way up to the head of the bed so he could check out what was on Lucas's nightstand.

Book. Glass of water. Alarm clock. Pen. Book. Condoms, heh. Book. Half-done crossword puzzle.

He picked up the closest book and read the back. The idea of aliens attacking during the middle of WWII struck him as particularly funny and he amused himself for several minutes picturing Hitler as an alien slave. When that image stopped being quite so entertaining, Mark tossed that book towards the foot of the bed and picked up the other, making a face when he saw it was by the same author as the other. This one, about the South winning the Civil war made him roll his eyes, but he started reading it anyway.

It was either that or start filling in Lucas's crossword with dirty words.

And a partridge in a pear tree...

"So what do you think so far?" Gina leaned around Deb to shout the question at Lucas.

"It's not the worst band I've seen in the past week." And that was the truth. Pregnant Geese was a thousand times worse than Mark's band, Vicious Areola.

Mark had lost the band naming argument, obviously.

Onstage, Vicious Areola ended their song with a slightly discordant flourish and Lucas had to laugh at Mark's rock star posing. He didn't quite have the same stage presence as the lead singer, Colin, but at least he wasn't practically hiding behind his amp like the lead guitar player.

"Okay, our bassist Mark threatened to quit the band if we didn't close the show with this song. It's a cover and it sucks, but Mark's dad lets us practice in his garage, so ... yeah." Colin nodded at the drummer, who counted down to the intro of the mystery song.

It took Lucas several bars to recognize the hard rock version of "I Think I Love You," but when he did he was glad the dim lighting in the bar hid his flushed face from Deb and Gina. The girls were oddly quiet and he didn't want to look at either one of them to check what was up because that would mean taking his eyes off Mark, who was suddenly enthralled by his bass.

Mark didn't look up when they finished the song and he didn't look up when they were taking their bow and he didn't look up when he started packing up his bass and amp to make room for the next band. He did look up, though, when he heard someone jump up onto the stage next to him.

"Mark ..." Lucas wasn't sure exactly what he wanted to say.

Me too?

Are you sure?

Could you have possibly picked a more public location?

Those thoughts and a dozen others ran through his mind but, in the end, he said nothing. Instead he took a step towards Mark and reached out a tentative hand, unsure how much Mark was willing to show in public. Mark ignored his hand and stepped directly into his arms, wrapping his own arms around Lucas's waist and raising his lips to meet Lucas's fervent kiss.

My true love gave to me

The End...

disclaimer: Empire Records isn't mine.

Created and maintained by carleton97.

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