Thanks to: Sandd, 2whitie, Crazy Female LEPrecon, Shadow Huntress, Fowl Star 57, Crimson Dawnbreak (x4), 44lefty and the two Guests

for the reviews.

You guys are the reason we bother posting more up :)

WARNINGS: Quite a lot of swearing. Particularly 'effing off our favourite Cookie. Although I'm sure you'll forgive him once you find out why...

Innuendos-galore as per usual.

{Other soft drinks and biscuits are available}


The One With All The Splinters

Profile Extracts;

Jake - Jake's actually from Chicago, which he uses all the time to make Wilhelm, who has always wanted to go there, jealous. He's black and gay, which didn't matter at Madam Ko's and in the real world people definitely think twice about giving him crap about either of these things. He may not be the sharpest tool in the box, but he makes up for it with his eagerness to help. He's also very adept at hand-to-hand combat and can be rather over-protective of his friends.

Jean - The only 'girl' of the group. One of the only 5 females to ever pass the physical entry exam, let alone gain her Blue Diamond tattoo. Born in Switzerland, she enrolled in the Academy whilst it was in her home country. She's rather short, which she uses as an advantage when people underestimate her. Most likely to switch the nickname 'Cookie' for 'Guetzli (the Swiss word for 'sweets') she also has a severe phobia of goldfish, which her friends enjoy using to get her back for things.

To ask why Domovoi Butler was running through a cactus field at twenty past midnight on a stormy autumn evening, would be entirely pointless.

Firstly, he wouldn't tell you, of course.

Even when his friends asked later, he would only mutter something about taking a shortcut. He'd omit the part about being pursued by a couple of guard dogs after leaping over a fence he really probably shouldn't have, but that was short-cuts for you. Or his shortcuts, at any rate.

Secondly, no-one in their right mind would dare to question him on his actions. Ever.

Particularly considering how he looked now…

Which was, Jake thought as he peered blearily through the peep-hole of the flat's door. Pretty damn hilarious.

Not that he said that out loud.

No, instead he just took the door off the chain some idiot (most probably Brian) had left on, locking Cookie (and anyone else who wasn't currently snoring away in their beds) out for the night and opened the door.

"Alright, alright! I'm coming already, hold your horses you impatient…" Jake hauled open the door and a soaked and incredibly pissed off Butler crashed through. "Jesus Christ, man. You didn't have to break the door down - I said I was c… Whoa shit! What the hell did you do to your face?"

"Oh cheers a lot, Jake," Dom grumbled, rubbing at his face furiously.

"No, I mean seriously, man. What the hell?" Jake yelped, realising that his friend was not only soaked (which was funny) but was also sporting half as many spines as a porcupine (which was not).

"Just... stop staring and help me out here!"

Jake recoiled in horror and Dom took one look at him, saw it was futile asking again and shoved passed him in the direction of the sofa, crashing down onto it to being the long and arduous job of plucking cacti spines out of most of the square inches of skin of his face and hands. Unfortunately, he crashed down a little too forcibly, forgetting that the spines weren't only embedded in visible places.

He yelled some variation of cursing in various languages and rolled over, burying his face in the sofa, again a little too forcefully and almost whimpering with the pain. Almost. He was a Butler. They don't 'whimper'. Ever.

Jake crept closer, even going so far as daring to pat his friend on the back gently.

"Um… are you OK, mate?"

"It's not just my face…" the Butler mumbled into a cushion. "It's my entire fecking body."

"Oh. Right," Jake said, stepping from foot-to-foot nervously. "Anything I can do?"

"Just… just go get me something to drink. And Chicago. And some tweezers or something…"

"R...right. Drink. Right..." Jake stammered, diving into the kitchen and pouring the nearest bottle into a suspiciously murky-looking glass and heaping sugar from the pot on the shelf above the kettle. A couple of tea-crystals ended up in the cola, but Dom would have to deal with that. The liquid reacted violently to the sugar, foaming over the top of the glass and all over the side, floor and Jake himself.

"Jake? Alcohol doesn't fizz." Dom growled. "And where the hell is Chicago?"

Jake decided not to point out that champagne and sparkling wine, amongst other alcohol-based beverages did indeed fizz. That probably wasn't what his rather spiky friend wanted to hear right now.

"Out. He's still out with Banana, I think."

"Well that's just great... Bloody marvellous."

"Here. Drink this," Jake flustered, shoving the glass at him. Dom downed a gulp, swallowing it and choking back the froth.

"What the chuffing hell is that?" he choked, spitting onto the rug.

"Coke. With sugar in it. For the shock."

"I'm not in shock, Jacob! I'm in fucking pain, here," Dom snarled. "And that is not coke. It tastes like shit."

"Err... I suppose it might be Pepsi. Oh wait... It's Dr Pepper. Which is kinda funny when you think about it. Doctor, gettit? Too make you better?"

"Jake?" Dom exhaled heavily through his nose in forced calm, clearing the fizzy residue.


"Any chance you could shut the hell up, go get some tweezers and help me start pulling the bastards out. Or a knife. Yeah, actually - get me knife!"

"Cookie, I really don't think..." Jake began apprehensively, trying to mentally locate the majority of the knives in the flat so that he could start hiding them before Dom got hold of one and started digging holes in himself.

"And put some alcohol in this shit," he ordered, practically throwing the glass back.

"We've only got Jack Daniels left..."

"Good. JD and Coke. Excellent," he growled, tugging spines out of the back of his hand with his teeth.

"It's Dr Pepper, remember? And the JD is Pan's and you know how he gets when..."

"Jake? How else can I express the fact that I don't give a flying fuck. Now pour it."

Jake snapped into action, deciding that there would be no point in Panther not killing him later if Cookie killed him now and, with a bit of a wince, he glugged a hefty slug of the golden liquid into the glass before handing it back.

The Butler downed it in three chugs and made the universal hand gesture for 'refill'. Jake inched forwards and gave him a higher ratio of the alcohol. For medicinal purposes, of course.

"Good. Right. Now. Knife or something," Jake's 'patient' grunted, sweeping a hand across the suspiciously sticky underside of the couch.

"Cookie, I think Jean might've have tweezers you could bor... put that down!"

Dom grunted in response, scraping the knife he'd found under the sofa along his skin in the method more commonly used to remove insect stings without expelling the poison.

"Put what down?" a voice asked blearily. "And no, Jean does not have tweezers. What do you think I am? A girl?"

"Jean!" Jake breathed, relieved. "Talk to him will you? I haven't a clue what he's done, but he's covered in these spiky things and now... and now he's bleeding on the sofa! Goddamit Cookie! Soak it up with your shirt or something! You know bloodstains are a nightmare to get out!"

Jean pinched the bridge of her nose and closed her eyes, as she often did when utterly exasperated with he all-male flatmates.

"Right. Jake, I'm sure Ro' has some tweezers. He's all metro-sexual like that. Go look in the bathroom cabinet. Next to the anti-septic wipes. Actually, bring those too."

Jake nodded, leaving quickly. Glad of an excuse to get away from the blood. For a trained killer, he never had been a fan of the red stuff.

"And Cookie, put that knife down or so help me I will slap you."

"Oh fuck off," he growled.

"Fine. Poke holes in yourself. See if I care."

Dom opened his mouth to speak then closed it again, stubbornly silent. Jean reached over and turned on the lamp next to him.



"I found them!" Jake called from the bathroom and leapt into the hallway, offering the tweezers to Jean.

"Oh no, no, no. Not to me. Macho over there doesn't need any help," Jean said sarcastically. "Give them to him."

Jake took them back and tentatively handed them over to Dom, who quickly realised that his hands, even without the swelling caused by the spines, were too large to achieve the acute manipulation required to grab the spines and pull them out. He struggled on stubbornly for a few minutes in silence until Jean finally spoke up.

"You want a hand with that?"


A few more minutes silence.

"How about now?"

"No, Jean."

"Aww come on you know I love shit like this."

"I don't care if you like pulling spines out of people, you sadistic shite. You're not pulling them out of me."




A few more failed attempts to grab a splinter.

Swearing under his breath.

The tweezers clattered to the floor.



"Oh for the love of… Fine. Right. Yes, help me."

"Alright then, come here helpless," Jean chuckled, pinching the tweezers easily off the floor. "Budge up. Honestly, what would you boys do without me, eh?"

"Eat eachother probably," Jake said mildly, leaning over the back of the sofa for a closer look.

Jean shoved her giant friend so that he only took up half of the three-seater and, grabbing one of her friend's bear-like hands and resting it on her knee, she set to work.

"Probably. Hopeless tossers, the lot of you."

"Shut it," Dom muttered, but he didn't flinch as she began to remove the inch-long spines out of his skin, gritting her teeth with glee.

"Jean that is disgusting!" Jake wrinkled his nose as she began laying the bloodied splinters out in a line on the surface of the grubby coffee table.

"Go to bed then, you big puff."

"Hey," Jake sulked. "I could find that offensive you know..."

"Ah shaddup," she laughed, flicking a bloodied wipe at him.

"OK, OK I'm going!" he yelped, backing off quickly. "Wake me up if he starts dying or summit."

"Because that will help how, exactly?" Dom asked moodily.

"I'm so unappreciated round here! You'd still be hammering down the door if it wasn't for me," Jake pouted and slouched off back to the room he shared with Chicago muttering about the general ungratefulness of his 'so called friends'.

"So…" Jean asked after a few minutes of careful extraction. "You piss off a porcupine or something?"

"Short-cut," he muttered, pulling a spine out of his lip sullenly.

"What through? A cactus field?"


Jean decided it was easier not to ask and carried on plucking gently but firmly until eventually nothing but damaged skin remained on his arms, face and neck.

"Right, where else?"

"Nowhere. My jacket and jeans stopped the rest."


"No, seriously I'm fine."

"Oh, so you won't mind if I do this then?" Jean asked, bouncing two hands firmly on his knees, forcing him down onto the sofa.

Being a Butler, he didn't even squeak at the pain, but the tightening of his neck muscles was obvious to his long-time friend and she poked him accusingly.

"Liar," she repeated. "Now are you going to let me get them out or what?"

"Or what," Dom said stubbornly.

"Come on, Cookie. You want to end up in hospital or something? They'll go septic."

"I'll wait for Chicago."

"Why? Because he's seen your backside before?"


Jean raised an eyebrow. "Did you mean to say that out loud, because I know all you lads are pretty close but…"

"Shut it, Jean. You are not pulling spines out of my arse."

"Whatever you say, Guetzli," Jean rolled her eyes. "Just give me five minutes to convince you to change your mind before you slink off and cry into your pillow all night..."

He glared at her, but she vanished into her room and returned moments later with her 'bargaining chips'.

And although any Butler can be more stubborn than a donkey faced with a cattle-grid, Jean knew exactly which buttons to press to get her friend to do exactly what she wanted, which was why, a few minutes later, Dom was chewing his way methodically through a family-sized pack of Oreos.

"Right, take them off then."

Dom paused his chewing. "You're serious?"

"Yes Dom, I am. And as you are eating my food, you better take your pants off right now, before I kill you with these tweezers."

"Well that's the most aggressively anyone's ever asked me to do that before…" he muttered, loosening his belt and eyeing the tweezers critically before deciding that yes, she probably could murder him with the safety-blunted point of the implement.

"Ah don't complain, I know you love it really."

Dom looked at her incredulously, but since the spines actually did sting a bit and the likelihood of his friend impaling him with the tweezers was high, he dropped his trousers to his knees and lay on the sofa face down, stuffing another Oreo in his mouth as Jean knelt beside him on the floor and got to work.

"You done yet?"

"Nearly. And stop flinching or so help me I will sit on you."

"I'm not flinching. And you sit on me? Because, yeah, that will keep me down," Dom snorted.

"More than you think," Jean grunted, leaping up and sitting on the small of his back, leaning forwards and digging her thumbs into the tendons on the back of his knees to help prevent him from bucking her off. "See?"

"I could still get up if I wanted to," he muttered sourly.

"Go on then... Oh wait, actually, don't move. I've spotted another one."

This would have been just fine - Jean sat on Dom, casually hauling the small spines out of the back of his legs - had Banana not arrived home to see what he thought was a rather interesting manoeuvre.

"I'm ho-oome… " he began with a yodel but finished with a yelp as he span around, slamming the door without an ounce of thought to any of his sleeping teammates.

"Ah shit," Dom mumbled into the cushion.

"My eyes!" Banana cried. "My poor innocent eyes have been tarnished! Christ guys, couldn't you get a room or something?"

"Chill, Banana. It's not what it looks like," Jean sighed, rolling off Dom with a thud. "And I'm not sure your eyes were even born innocent."

"Really? Because I'm sure that position has an actual name," Banana said, hands still clamped over his face.

"Oh shut up," Dom grumbled, standing and hoisting up his jeans. "I was on my face."

"That makes no difference. I'm fairly sure you've been shagged lying on your face before."

"If his ass wasn't so sore I'm betting he would chase you down and kill you for that," Jean commented mildly,

"And do I want to know why his arse is sore?" Banana snorted through his fingers.

"Digging a hole, Jean. Digging a hole," Cookie growled. "And I hope you got them all because I am not going through that again."

"Yup, all gone... probably. Unless you start growing lumps the size of golf balls, in which case let me know. You know I like popping abscesses and stuff like that."

"So… just out of interest, Jean," Banana asked, daring to look. "If you weren't… you know, being adventurous… what exactly were you doing sat on top of Cookie on the sofa?"

"Plucking splinters out of his ass," Jean said calmly, as though this was normal.

Banana paused for a second, then his eyes cleared slightly and he shrugged.

"Oh, OK then. Do we have any juice? Coz I really need to down summit before I go to bed or I am going to have one hell of a hangover in the morning."

"Where've you left Chic, by the way?" Jean asked, frowning.


"I swear to God if you've cuffed him to a lamppost again..."

"Chill out, Jean. He'll be fine," Dom told him, buckling his belt. "And Banana there's some cruddy-tasting pop on the side. I don't think Jake poured the JD straight into it,"

"Ah well, if he did, he did," Banana shrugged, locating and gulping directly from the plastic bottle.

"Wouldn't that sort of counteract the whole point of downing liquid to avoid a hangover?"

"Ah what do you know, prickle-butt?" Banana snorted, albeit already moving swiftly to the safety of the bedrooms. If there was anything more dangerous than poking a bear with a stick, it was poking a stung bear with a stick.

When Wilhelm arrived safely home and was finally judged sober enough to react with an intelligent medical response, rather than just suggest someone stick a smiley-face plaster on whatever was causing the pain, he had a look at the various holes and pronounced that Jean had done a good job.

"You should thank her," he told Dom. "With your healing speed some of those would've healed over by now and then I'd have had to get my scalpel out. As it is, you should be fine in a couple of days."

"You sound miffed about the whole scalpel thing," Dom said accusingly.


"Why does everyone seem to have a fetish about causing me pain?"

"It's hardly pain Cookie, come on. Man-up."

"Can it, Chicago," the Butler said glaring at him. "I'd rather have got shot. Again."

"Really?" Wilhelm continued blithely. "I mean, it was only a few splinters."

Well, this is a little crazier than the last couple of chapters, but hey, we hope you enjoyed your little sneak-peak into the complete and utter world of Madness our imaginations inhabit. Feel free to visit again some time if you think you can survive it :)

Let us know if you'd rather something a little more sensible next time or if you enjoyed this. We're not exactly writing to orders, but what you guys all think will probably help shape the direction the next one rambles off on. Honestly, it's like trying to control a rampaging elephant...

Wolfy and Steinbock

p.s no offence to any any fizzy-drinks companies intended...