So much love to my reviewers! Thanks for all comments, criticisms and all. And thank you, strangely, to a sprained ankle which has given me the time off work to write this.

"This must be the hundredth time I've been in your room, but it feels weird now..."

Pietro reclined against Lance's knees, fighting sleep.

"'s'probably because I cleaned it for once," smiled Lance, fiddling absent-mindedly with Pietro's earlobe, rolling his fingers over the tiny crystal stud that Pietro always wore.

A quick scan of the room was enough to make Pietro snort dismissively. Lance cleaned like the average male; hoovering the one area of the floor that wasn't covered with clothes and old magazines, and briefly flashing a duster around surfaces that were strewn with papers, bowls and glasses. But Lance had, interestingly enough, removed all of his posters of women in various states of undress, the way he had always done when Kitty was coming over.

"Where's all the babes?" teased Pietro, waving a hand in the direction of the notably blank walls. "Don't tell me you're going to replace them all with pictures of oily, muscly gay dudes."

Lance bristled slightly. He had removed the posters more out of habit than anything else; he knew that on many occasions Pietro had seen the posters. In fact, they had shared many an evening lying on that very bed playing 'guess her nipple colour.'

Man, Pietro was right. It was different now – they weren't there to play pranks or smoke weed or do homework. Lance anticipated sex with equal measures of fear and excitement. This bed, or Pietro's bed, was going to become their bed, the site of awesome filth and depravity.

"Yellow," Pietro suddenly declared, making Lance draw back from him in perplexity. Pietro had a habit of being so ahead of everybody else that he began conversations halfway through without knowing it.

"Yellow? What's yellow?"

Pietro rolled his eyes as if the answer was obvious. "Mystique's nipples. Gotta be yellow."

Lance immediately settled into the familiarity of the game, not in the slightest bit alarmed by the thought of a topless Brotherhood boss. "I beg to differ. They're black or very, very dark blue."

"How big?" Pietro yawned, shifting himself in one graceful move so that he was lying next to Lance. "Dinner plates? Remember, she's had kids."

"Naw," said Lance, catching Pietro's yawn. He moved his arm so that Pietro could lay his head on his chest; with he did with surprising cuteness. "They're small and pointy and black, like blackberries."

The champagne, and the dancing, and the long walk home made longer by frequent kissing stops, added to the cuddling (lame as that sounded) overwhelmed the boys with tiredness.

"Think you might be right, Lancey," Pietro said, pressing his nose into the crook between Lance's ear and jaw that smelt musky and Lance-like. Comforting. "Tonight was pretty fucking fantastic, huh?"

Because it was flopping in Pietro's face, and certainly not through any kind of tenderness, Lance smoothed the silver-white hair off that pale forehead.

"Best night of my life," he agreed genuinely. "The food... The cigars... Your dancing..."

And Pietro's dancing was certainly noteworthy. After the restaurant, he took Lance to a small underground club where everybody seemed to know him. They were all fascinatingly beautiful, each with perfect sinewy bodies that made Lance feel horribly inadequate.

They had a few drinks, and Lance talked to an impossibly cool black boy with an afro and oversized clear wayfarers who told him that they came here to dance. No, not ordinary club dancing – serious professional stuff. Lance broke out in a sweat, hoping that nobody would ask him to dance; especially not Pietro. With chimp-like arms and the flailing legs of a baby deer, Lance just didn't know what to do with himself on the dancefloor.

It was then that he noticed that Pietro was missing; in fact, everyone was gone apart from the bartender and the way-too-fashionable guy next to him.

The lights went off. Lance could see the dark forms of dancers appearing, holding positions. And then the lights came up on Pietro, standing on the steps above the others in a notorious hat-tilting, crotch-grabbing pose that needed no 'Cha'mone!' for Lance to know what was about to happen.

In just over four minutes, Pietro and his dancer friends performed a shockingly flawless routine to Smooth Criminal that might have seemed a little dated if it wasn't for the sheer quality of the dancing. Lance watched open-mouthed, shamelessly resembling a halibut. Pietro could do everything; even dance as well as the King of Pop. It looked so effortless, so slick, whatever Pietro did just flowed. When he moon-walked, his feet really appeared not to touch the floor – Lance wondered a little jealously if Pietro's super-speed was an unfair advantage in this. That infamous lean from the video was executed without a hitch, Pietro having the nerve to brush off imaginary lapels afterwards as if it was nothing. And god, Lance was mesmerised by the typical MJ pelvic thrusts... Pietro oozed sexy, confident power and Lance couldn't quite believe that this was his best friend, maybe more than his best friend.

"That dance was pretty hardcore," mumbled Pietro, bringing Lance back into the present. "I swear Michael Jackson must've been a mutant to dance like that."

"You were hot," said Lance, still troubled by those thrusts and crotch-grabs.

Pietro brought his lips to the patch of skin where his nose has been, kissing softly, making Lance arch into the touch. "I'm always hot."

Perhaps they weren't that tired after all.


"Wanf shum chickenf?"

Mouth full, Fred thrust a breaded drumstick in Todd's face. Food always cheered Fred up when he was down, but Todd just sighed and looked out across the misty basketball courts, eyes pink and puffy.

"C'mon," cajoled Fred unconvincingly. "I can't eat all this chicken myself."

"Freddy, you could eat a fuckin' ostrich and still have room for a dodo," Todd muttered. "I told you, I'm not hungry, yo. I'm... I'm depressed, okay?"

Fred patted Todd's shoulder, near flattening the skinny teen. "Don't be sad, Todd. We got lots to think about – we got the restaurant!"

He was sure that this would get Todd excited, but the boy just sighed again. "Yeah, we got the restaurant. But I didn't get the girl."

An owl hooted in the distance. Fred wondered whether Wanda had got home alright. Todd was upset because Ray walked her home, and he was convinced that there was something going on between the pair.

"I thought you didn't like her like that anymore," offered Fred.

Todd sniffed nasally and rather disgustingly. "Maybe I do, maybe I don't, yo. It ain't about love, anyway."

It was beginning to get too cold to sit outside. Fred bit his lip and hoped that Todd would want to stop moping soon. "Well, what is it about, then?"

"She's my friend!" yelled Todd, sending a pile of leaves flying as he scuffed the ground angrily. "She was hanging out with me! And now Ray's come along, she's gonna stop hanging out with me! I mean, why would she want to?" spat Todd bitterly. "I ain't cool like Ray, or nice like Ray, or good lookin' like Ray. I'm just the underdog. Nah," he added as a bitter afterthought. "I'm an underfrog, slimy and disgusting and always second best."

"No you're not, buddy," Fred told him evenly. "You're overreacting. Did I throw a tantrum when you started hanging out with Wanda? People can have more than one friend, you know. Or a boyfriend and a friend. Whatever it is, you've gotta be prepared to share her. And you like Ray, don't you?"

"Who doesn't like Ray?" Todd asked. Fred was always good at making him see things in different ways.

"Well, if you like Ray, and you like Wanda, what's the problem? You could hang out with them both," Fred said simply. His outlook always glossed over complex emotions, making everything look a lot brighter.

Todd shrugged his bony jutting shoulders. "What if they get together, Freddy?"

Fred gave Todd a very sage look. In his suit he looked very impressive. "What if they do, Todd? Are you going to stop her from being happy?"

The moon drifted out from behind a cloud, bringing Todd the sad realisation that nothing would happen between himself and Wanda. But she could still be his friend – Fred was right, he didn't have to lose her. It would be pretty cool if she started going out with Ray – Todd had to admit, Ray would be a perfect first boyfriend for her. A boyfriend he could never be.

"You're right, Fred. Being jealous ain't gonna get me anywhere," Todd said, filled with a strange maturity. "And I've always got you, my own personal Oprah. Thanks, dude," he high-fived Fred, clasping the giant hand on contact. "I got your back."

"And I got yours," grinned Fred toothily. "Now can we go home? We have a business to run now, you know."

"Hell yeah we do!" Todd punched the air excitedly, beatboxing all the way home. He felt more like himself than he had for ages.


"So you're initiated now," Pietro murmured, lying like a Classical nude. The moonlight caught all the beautiful dips and shadows in his athletic physique. His body and the way that he used it were better than Lance had ever dreamed (and Lance had imagined this furiously every night for the past few months.)

"Initiated both ways," moaned Lance, although he didn't mind too much. In fact, he had actually asked to be taken. He blamed those Michael Jackson pelvic thrusts for arousing that particular curiosity.

Pietro stroked Lance's muscular flank from hip to elbow, cooing in mock sympathy. "Hurts, doesn't it? I'm a little sore myself – you, mister, are a stallion!"

Lance propped himself up on elbow, frowning. "I wasn't too rough, was I?"

"I like a bit of rough," Pietro winked, grabbing Lance's hair to push him back down and kissing him swiftly. Always egotistical, he couldn't resist asking how he was.

"Thankfully not too rough for a young virgin like me," simpered Lance, batting his long thick eyelashes. He wasn't sure if he'd liked it or not, but he'd probably try it again. He liked the feeling of submission. Pietro gave every inch of his body attention and made Lance feel claimed.

The boys suddenly realised how quiet and dark it was. Drowsy, post-coital, Pietro looked at an imaginary watch. Lance laughed and captured the silly wrist, holding onto that hand.

"Bedtime," Pietro said firmly, not that Lance was about to argue. They curled their bodies around each other, Lance's strong arms giving a sweet sense of security.

Just as Pietro was drifting off, he noticed that there was one thing on the wall Lance hadn't removed. It was a photo from last Hallowe'en, Lance dressed as Super Mario and Pietro as Luigi. What a dorky thing to leave on the wall, Pietro thought sleepily. But it still made him smile inside just a little.

AN – The term 'underfrog' belongs to Nemhaine42.