An Indirect Kiss

Fuse stared at the calendar that hung precariously on the small refrigerator in the lounge. After almost twelve full months of abuse, it looked like it was about to topple onto the crumb-filled carpet. The place really was a mess. This was mostly Fuse's own fault, but like hell he'd admit it. As he took note of the date, he reached into his faux leather jacket and pulled out a carton of cigarettes. Damn IRPO was too cheap to issue a uniform made out of the real thing, but Fuse had lived with it long enough to get used to it.

After holding a lighter to the cigarette and taking a long drag, he looked further down on the calendar. It was only ten days until Christmas. Fuse rolled his eyes and put his concentration back on his cigarette. To him, Christmas meant cheap plastic trees lined through the halls (for him to trip over) and enough of a bonus to afford maybe a cup of coffee at Roufas' little joint in Koorong (there was no way he could afford a burger at his favorite restaurant with it!). Muttering a 'bah humbug' to himself, Fuse leaned back in his chair and inhaled the sweet aroma of the smoke. Now THAT was a good Christmas present: Doll had given them to him earlier in the day, though why she gave her Christmas presents out so early was anyone's guess. As he inhaled another breath, he closed his eyes and let his senses linger on the flavor of the tobacco. Clove wasn't usually his cigarette of choice; he preferred something harder and bitterer. However, Fuse could practically smell the gold that went into buying them, and there was another reason.

Doll tasted like this: sweet, toxic, and addictive. It drove him crazy—she drove him crazy. In fact, she was driving him crazy right then. He opened his eyes and glanced at the lilac-haired woman glowering at him. He exhaled the smoke before holding one of his hands up in some form of greeting. Doll reached forward and yanked the cigarette out of his mouth before grinding it in-between her two gloved fingers. Fuse winced.

"You know you're going to set off the fire alarm one of these days if you keep on smoking in here. Or one of the higher-ups will find you, and then I'll have to bail you out… again," Doll let the remnants of the flavorful cigarette fall to the carpet. Fuse shrugged, staring at the burn marks on her glove. She was intense, as usual.

"I'd take the blame for it, you know that," said Fuse as he reached into the carton and pulled out another one. Doll snatched it from him and slowly spoke, "You know I didn't give these to you to get you in trouble."

"Since when did you become such a stickler for the rules?" pouted Fuse as he looked longingly at the cigarette that Doll was still holding. She smirked back at him as she sat down on the table in front of him, lazily rotating the cigarette between her fingers.

"Since I became an enabler, apparently," she lifted the cigarette to him in a toast of sorts before putting it in-between her lips. She still got a bit of the flavor even though it was unlit, and shook her head. She pulled it out and handed it back to Fuse, shaking her head, "I don't get how you can be addicted to these cancer sticks." Fuse looked back at the stick and let his breath hiss out. There was a trace of her pink lipstick on the edge. It was little things like that that drove him crazy, and with a sudden lurch in his chest he realized what a short leash this woman had him on. With his eyes still on her, he put the cigarette in his mouth and said, "Dunno, but it isn't the worst addiction I have." Doll raised an eyebrow at this, and Fuse winked. In response, Doll shook her head and turned to walk out of the lounge, muttering, "If you get caught with those things, don't come calling to me." Fuse grunted his assent, but at the moment it wasn't the flavor of the cigarette he was savoring, but the flavor of the lipstick.

"Hey, Doll." Doll turned her head back to look at him, one of her hands resting on her hips.

"You know, we just kissed," Fuse pulled the unlit cigarette out of his mouth and lifted it up. Doll stifled a laugh and managed to merely smile.

"An indirect kiss, huh?" she said, "Lucky you. There isn't even any mistletoe around."

As Doll closed the lounge door, Fuse kicked his feet up on the table and put the cigarette back in his mouth. As he looked at the calendar once again, he made a mental note to buy some mistletoe.