Maybe Just Half a Drink More

by Tenshi

Author's note: Title from Baby It's Cold Outside, which ironically is a Christmas song that I find really annoying. Serves me right.

At ten-fifteen in the evening Vayne lifted bleary eyes from his textbook page and found that the workshop was deserted. Nearly everyone else had gone back to the dorms hours before; even Anna had swept the hearth, tidied the synthesis ingredients, and retired. Sulpher was sound asleep in a warm cushion by the fire. At first, Vayne thought they were utterly alone, but the faint scratching of a quill was audible above him. Roxis remained, sequestered on the loft-couch near the windows, the snowy light through the window reflecting on his glasses and on the display case. A ream of zettel was piled around him like the snowdrifts outside, the papers crammed with a treatise on white steel and why it was preferable over its lesser cousins, all in Roxis' claustrophobic handwriting.

"It's gotten late," Vayne said, his voice startling Roxis so badly that his quill skated across the paper, leaving a long tail of ink. "Sorry," Vayne said, wincing.

"Thanks for stating the obvious," Roxis said, pulling out one of his Solingen cards and scraping the razor edge over the parchment to erase the mark. "Go home if you want. I'll lock up."

"That's not due until next week, right?" Vayne tucked a stray spinacherb leaf into his book and closed it. "Professor Zeppel said he wanted to give us a little midwinter break."

"And I, for one, would like to spend it catching up." Roxis inked a precise little period at the end of his paragraph. "I have quite a bit of independent research to do."

Vayne climbed up the ladder but did not go all the way up, resting his folded arms on the floor of the loft. "You work too hard, Roxis." As if to prove Vayne's point, Roxis did not answer, but kept writing. "Hey, listen," Vayne said, though Roxis, captive audience that he was, could hardly do anything but. "There's a synthesis I've been wanting to try for a while, but I didn't want to do it while Jess was around. I was worried she might want to help."

"So try it," Roxis said, without looking up. "What do you need to ask me for?"

"I was hoping you'd help me with it."

Roxis tugged at his blond ponytail in frustration. "Why? You're quite capable of--"

"I don't need your help making it," Vayne said, poking at a splintering corner of the loft floorboards, where Nikki had sharpened her fingernails. "I wanted your help to try it."

Roxis bit back on what was going to be a dismissal, Vayne was sure. But something flickered behind his glasses, and Vayne suspected that Roxis' mana was reminding him about the terms of their contract. "...What are you making?" he asked, at last.

"Buttered rum punch," Vayne answered, propping up on his elbows. "It's kind of bending the rules, and I was hoping you'd be able to tell me if I make it right. I've never had it."

"I haven't had that in... years," Roxis said, thoughtful and startled.

I know, Vayne thought, trying not to be smug. I heard you telling Flay about it yesterday. "Want me to make you a cup?"

"Sure, why not?" Roxis' response was too rapid for it to be a prompting from his mana, and Vayne hopped down off the ladder, shivery in a way that had nothing to do with the winter chill.

He had researched the recipe carefully, and made sure the rare ingredients were all on hand: vanilla syrup, youthful apples, tercia pollen, monster cookies, and canone crystal for the heat. Sulpher opened one lazy eye at the clinking of bottles, then closed it again when he realized there were no tiger blowfish involved.

The cauldron smoke went from black to grey to an alarming shade of magenta before settling down to a white steam, and the workshop was filled with the warm aromas of cinnamon and sugar. Vayne carefully decanted the contents into an empty bottle, pulled two cleanish mugs from the shelf, and carried it all up to the loft along with the leftover monster cookies.

"Well, it smells all right," Roxis said, scooting his books aside so Vayne would have a place to sit. "Did you align the monster cookies with fire to bring out the spice?"

"I did, and earth with the pollen for the fermentation." Vayne poured the punch into the two mugs, and corked the bottle. "Here you go. Cheers."

Roxis leaned in to inhale the steam off his mug, and his glasses promptly became little circles of fog. "Useless things," he muttered, tilting them down. "Good thing I don't need to see to drink."

"Be honest, okay?" Vayne asked, earnest. "I know I still can't make pumpotatokin pie to Nikki's satisfaction."

Roxis made a noise of assent as he tilted back his mug, throat working. Vayne drank his own, mostly to distract himself from Roxis, and he was pleasantly surprised. It was rich and sweet and buttery and smooth, and it lit a glowing heap of coals low in his belly, warming him right down to his toes. Both mugs were empty in very short order.

"Is there any more?" Roxis asked, holding out his mug. "That was fantastic."

"I made a whole bottle," Vayne said, pink as much from the compliment as the drink, and refilled both their mugs. "Is it as good as the kind you had as a kid?"

"You heard us talking about that?"

Vayne shrugged, laughing. He wasn't sure how that had slipped out. His tongue felt loose inside his head. "Yeah, well, small workshop, you know."

"My father was a gambler," Roxis said, with a bitterness that not all the cinnamon-sugar in the world could sweeten. "He never bothered to learn alchemy, he had no talent for it. But when I was little he used to go to the town alchemist for a few bottles of this for Yule. If he had a good take, that is." Roxis tossed back his mug as though it contained something much less sippable than buttered rum, and held it out for more. Vayne had a little more trouble getting the bottle to meet up with the cup this time. "...Yours is better."

"Is that where you learned your card tricks?" he asked, topping off his own mug. The bottle was already more than half gone. "You don't have to talk about it if you don't want--"

"Oh, why the hell not," Roxis said, reaching into his uniform jacket for his cards. The snow-light flashed on their sharpened edges. "One card," he said, holding it up in front of Vayne's unnaturally-blue eyes. "Watch." Roxis flicked his fingers and one card became two, then three, fanning out in quick succession. He stretched out his hand and they danced across his knuckles, too many to count. He closed his hand, opened it again, and there was only one card once more--but it was not the one with which he had started.

"That was amazing," Vayne said, impulsively taking Roxis' hand and looking up his sleeve for the missing cards; there were none. "How did you do that?"

"Practice," Roxis said, sounding pleased. He was flushed as well, after three cups of Vayne's punch. "But I can't tell you my tricks. I have enough trouble keeping up with you as it is."

"I don't think I'd ever be so..." Vayne trailed off, turning Roxis' hand in his own. "You're bleeding!"

"Pft," Roxis said, with a shrug at the cut, the nearly-invisible white line beading up with tiny red jewels of blood. "I must have slipped. How much rum is in this?"

Vayne did not answer. While in many ways his years of school and human companionship had eased the strangeness of a childhood spent alone with a cat, there were some things that were pure instinct. Without thinking, he put Roxis' hand to his mouth and dragged his tongue across the delicate, scratched skin between Roxis' first and second finger.

Roxis made a sound then that was utterly unlike any Vayne had ever heard from him before. His free hand dug into the sofa arm with a noise of fingernails ripping upholstery and he arched upwards hips first, like a cat startled out of a nap.

"Sorry," Vayne said, though he really wasn't, not at all. Underneath the copper tang of blood Roxis tasted of salt and lando juice. His skin was glistening and pink where Vayne had licked it, and he was gripping Vayne's hand too hard for Vayne to let him go, even if he had wanted to. "Old habits, I guess. Sulpher would always lick me if I got cut, so--"

"That is nothing at all like being licked by a cat," Roxis said, looking as windblown as if the winter storm had somehow blown into the workshop. "It's like--like--"

"Like what?" Vayne asked, genuinely curious. That, and the heavy heat of the rum punch had moved lower, settling into a throbbing ache between his legs.

Roxis struggled with words for a moment, eventually giving up, lifting Vayne's hand to his own mouth, and sucking the faint traces of sweetness and spice off of Vayne's littlest finger.

The heat in Vayne's groin became a consuming blaze with no warning, as uniform trousers that had fit perfectly a moment before were suddenly unbearably confining. "I think I went a little overboard on the tercia pollen," Vayne said, his own voice sounding faint to him as Roxis relinquished Vayne's hand in favor of getting their mouths together as quickly as possible. The old sofa creaked under their weight as it shifted, and Vayne made a soft mewling noise into Roxis' kiss as the blond alchemist squeezed the aching curve of his cock. He'd never even been kissed before, much less this.

"I am so drunk," Roxis admitted, fumbling Vayne's pants open and yanking up his undershirt, all in the interests of exposing as much skin as quickly as possible. Vayne was unable to get through Roxis' buttons and buckles fast enough, but his shaking fingers at last revealed the pale stripe of Roxis' bare chest between the unzipped front of his opened jacket. A few more lacings came free and Roxis' flushed cock was in Vayne's hands, jutting up from his undone pants, hot and swollen in a soft V of golden down.

"I only meant to give you something nice," Vayne said, though he was certainly giving something nice just then, stroking and petting and squeezing until Roxis' hips were rocking back and forth of their own accord. "I didn't mean-- I don't want you to think--"

"Good, because I don't want to think either," Roxis said. He brought his weight down on top of Vayne, pinning him in a way never managed in all their battles, and skin pressed to bare skin as the restless motion of their bodies stroked their cocks together. He buried his face in the opened neck of Vayne's jacket, his kisses a hot line from throat to jaw to mouth, and their hands tangled together around their shared need. The wake of their motion rattled dust down from the loft floorboards like the snow falling outside, and Vayne felt something coiling inside of him, tighter than springs in a gearbox.

"Roxis," he panted, suddenly nervous, his stomach fluttering. "Roxis, I'm gonna--"

"Not before me, you aren't," Roxis growled, breaking it off in a low moan as he came in their entwined fingers, spurting hot and eager all over Vayne's shivering belly. Vayne was following before Roxis had even finished, his thighs shaking as he lifted them both off the couch cushions. Shockwaves of pleasure sparkled right down to his fingers and toes, jolting in warm ripples from the epicenter of their joined bodies.

Roxis fell down on top of him, his arms trembling. Vayne expected any moment for him to push away, to make a noise of disgust at the mess they'd made, but Roxis stayed. His weight was warm and comfortable, his tongue tasted of buttered rum. For a long time they lay together kissing, stroking each other's cocks until they began to stir again.

"I'll do it when I'm good and ready to, so shut up," Roxis said, quite suddenly, into Vayne's ear.

"What?" Vayne said, wondering in a panic what he had done wrong.

Roxis' sigh was ticklish against Vayne's wet earlobe. "My Mana," he said, sounding deeply put upon. "It wants us to... well, you know."

"I don't know," Vayne admitted, worried. "Sulpher never asked me to do anything like this."

"That's because Sulpher is not a pervert," Roxis said. "I told it it would have to wait. It's too soon for that."

"Too soon for...?"

Roxis rolled his eyes, not at the voice of his mana, but at Vayne. "This," he said, sliding his hand between Vayne's exposed thighs, pressing one card-deft finger right up against the puckered skin of Vayne's asshole.

Vayne made a strangled sound of need, his fists clenched in the front of Roxis' tunic. "Yeah," he gasped. "Way too soon."

"Wouldn't want to rush it, you know," Roxis said, sounding equally ragged as his finger penetrated the taut ring of Vayne's opening, stroking the yielding warmth inside of him. "Wouldn't want to--to, um--to--"

Vayne moaned, shoving his hips down to get Roxis in him deeper, and Roxis swore.

"Sweet Mana of Heaven, where's the puni gel?"

"In the case," Vayne said, nodding to the display case by the end of the sofa. "Blue jar."

Roxis got up to get it, and Vayne kicked off his pants, as Roxis smeared the slippery ointment all over his cock. It made his skin glisten, and Vayne felt his heartbeat thud in his ears at the sight of him standing there, half-naked by the snowy window. "Give me some too," he said. "Just in case--"

"I know what I'm doing," Roxis said, though his furious blush said that he didn't. "I don't need both of you telling me what to do."

"You've done this before?" Vayne asked.

"Well, no," Roxis confessed. "But I know how it works." And then all his slick fingers were inside of Vayne, and Vayne found he had no questions left. All he had was a raw plea for mercy, and then Roxis was against him, parting him, forcing him open as Vayne was filled with his rival's cock, stretched taut around the shape of him inside.

They were too inexperienced for it to last very long. Roxis' ramming thrusts were wild and desperate, and they set off a chain reaction in Vayne more complex than any alchemy. It was just as well the workshops were all empty, the hour well after midnight. Their cries were enough to set the glassware ringing, as Roxis ground his hips against Vayne, unable to get enough of him, and Vayne came all over the satin lining his uniform jacket.

This time Roxis only waited long enough to catch his breath, and then the sound of displeasure came at last. "God, what a mess."

"Sorry," Vayne said, scrubbing at his face.

"You keep saying that, would you stop it already?" Roxis was almost smiling. His glasses were tilted askew, his hair sliding out of his ponytail, and Vayne could only think of how pretty he looked in the snowy radiance. "I only did what I wanted to do. We should clean up."

"Yeah." Pause. "You're... still in me."

"I know." Roxis looked down at Vayne before bending down and giving him one last lingering kiss. "Just so you know," he said, "I still really can't stand you."

Vayne felt a laugh try and escape him. He stifled it, and it came out as a hiccup. He knew what Roxis was saying, but Roxis was still smiling, all the same. "Yeah. I know. I really like you, Roxis."

"Bastard," Roxis breathed, almost affectionate, and only then did he move away, leaving Vayne feeling shaky and empty. "Come on. Before the vice principal comes to see why there's still a light on in here."

The sudden fear of discovery forced them into rapid motion. They cleaned up in the icy trickle of the workshop spigot, suddenly too shy to look each other in the eye.

"Um, there's still some of this left," Vayne said, shaking the buttered rum bottle. "What should we do with it? Seems a shame to pour it out."

There was a shower of starlight in the dim workshop, and Roxis' Mana of Light materialized, its lupine form as white as the gleaming snow.

I'll take that, thank you, it said, its voice neither male nor female, but smug all the same.

Roxis flinched. "Better do as it wants," he said. "Just don't tell me what you mean to do with it."

Why, I thought I'd keep it as a memento, dear boy. The mana dissipated back into Roxis, but its chuckle lingered. I don't know when I've had such a good time.

The silence in the workshop was very strained.

"I um, I guess it sounds kind of dumb to say thank you," Vayne said, sheepish.

"Just don't ever mention this to anyone, ever," Roxis said. "Or I really will kill you."

"Fair enough." Vayne bent down to scoop up his drowsy cat, the weight of him doubled with sleepiness. "Come on, Sulpher."

I thought you'd never finish, the cat meowed, miffed.

"Don't you even start," Vayne answered, but even Sulpher's grouchiness could not make Vayne fail to notice that Roxis was holding the workshop door open for him, waiting so they could walk back to the dorms together.

A Butter Rum Punch Recipe
for those unable to reproduce alchemic versions:

1/2 cup softened butter
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 1/2 cups very hot apple cider
1 1/4 cups spiced rum

Mix first 5 ingredients in a small bowl, stirring until smooth. Chill, covered, until ready to use.

To serve, combine butter mixture, hot cider, and rum in a small punch bowl, stirring until butter mixture melts. Serve warm with cinnamon-stick stirrers, if desired. You can also do a cup at a time by adding a tablespoon of butter mixture to a mug of hot cider and rum.


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