"Hi, Damon," Drew said. "Where's Pithius?"
"Thomwhere. We were thopping... I mean, we were shopping, and I lost him. He would insist on going to the bathroom alone. I tried to alert security, but when I was giving the description and got to the age, they sort of lost interest."
Kate, ever the consumer, eyed the bags he was carrying. "So, what didya get?"
"Security supplies for Oswald. Can't be too cautious with the Wicked Wick of the East running around." He dumped the contents on the table.
Drew and Kate started sorting through it. Drew picked up a slender book. "Self Defense: Mashing Mashers." He flipped through it. "Lewis, you got this out of the remaindered bin, didn't you?"
"How could you tell?"
"Well, it's kinda old. Some of the impromptu weapons of defense it recommends are hat pins, button hooks, and corset stays."
Kate pushed several of the items around. "Door bolt. Pepper spray. Air horn. Oh, now that's clever! A good blast of that should scare off anyone."
Lewis put it back in the sack. "Actually that's mine. There's a lab monkey at Drug Co. that's been slinging shit at me lately."
Drew picked up a pair of brown corduroy pants. "And what sort of security device are these? They're so butt ugly that Wick will run screaming when he sees them?"
"No. I couldn't afford a taser, so I figured Oswald could wear those. When Wick tries any funny stuff he just..." Lewis rubbed his palms quickly and violently against his thighs to demonstrate, then pointed, like he was touching someone, "Zap!"
Drew said, "Lewis, I'm pretty sure Wick would interpret passionate self caresses and a spark as a major come on."
Oswald hurried into the bar, with Wick in hot pursuit. The dark haired young man once again sought refuge behind his lanky friend. "Watch him, Lewis. His hands are so fast, he must be a cross between a Vegas card dealer and David Copperfield."
"Oh, I can show you magic, precious," Wick purred. "You wouldn’t believe what I can do with silk scarves."
Oswald perked up. "Really? I like tricks."
Lewis pushed him into a chair. "Not those kind of tricks, Oswald." Lewis glared at Nigel. "Go eat a scone, or something, Wick."
Nigel smiled evilly, licking his lips at Oswald. "Actually, I wouldn't mind a bit of crumpet."
"Bad choice of terms, Lewis," Drew advised. "Try again."
Lewis thought. "Crap. The only other English food analogies I can come up with are way too suggestive."
Kate looked puzzled. "What the hell is suggestive about English food?"
"Our way of naming things, Kate," Nigel explained. He gave his words a sexy tone, "We have Toad in the Hole," Oswald cringed, "Sausage... and Mash, winkles, and of course, the ever popular Spotted Dick." Lewis opened his mouth. "Don't say it. I'd have to hurt you, and it might upset Oswald."
Steve came over and put beers in front of the gang. Oswald peered at the one he'd been given. "Say, this isn't Buzz. It's some sort of fancy imported English ale. I can't afford this."
Steve looked surprised. "You're planning on paying"
"You now have a standing order for the good stuff." Steve jerked a thumb at Wick. "Compliments of the gentleman." Wick straightened his tie.
"No disrespect meant to your beer, Carey," Wick explained, "Though it is one of the most bizarre concoctions since alchemy went out of fashion. But it's well known that English beer has a much higher alcoholic content than American."
"AHA!" Lewis barked. "You intend to get him drunk and have your way with him!"
"Several ways, actually," Wick watched in approval as Oswald chugged the ale.
"Oswald! Stop that!"
Oswald looked at his friend. "But Lewis, it's free beer."
"Don't you understand? He's trying to get you drunk so he can molest you."
"But Lewis, it's free beer."
Lewis paused. He looked at Wick. "Can he get beer for friends?"
Wick pursed his lips. "If he's very nice to me." Lewis looked torn, but eventually shook his head. "Drat. Ah, well. Drink up, Oswald. Have another. Do you feel the need to visit the men's facilities yet?" Oswald turned pale.
Lewis said ominously, "Oswald, you went to the men's room at the mall. What happened?"
Wick sighed. "Not nearly enough."
Oswald blushed. "All I'm gonna say is that Mr. Wick ended up gettin' his shoes wet when he slipped off the toilet seat."
"You know," said Wick conversationally, "They really should provide handholds in those stalls."
"Back off, Wick," Lewis snarled.
"Oh? And why should I?"
Lewis drew himself up, sticking out what passed for his chest. "Because 'Lewis' means 'famous in battle'."
"Uh, Lewis, I wouldn't put too much stock in that," Drew warned. "Sometimes people's names don't really reflect their personalities."
"Well, for instance, 'Kate' means 'pure'. Ow!" Kate slapped Drew upside the head.
"Yeah, well, 'Drew' means 'manly'. You don't hear me saying that's not appropriate for you!"
Mimi passed by. "Why not? I do. I think it means 'girly man'."
"Yeah, and 'Mimi' means 'longed for child'. The gods laughed," Drew snarled.
Nigel remarked, "Oswald means 'god of the forest'. I can just picture you, Oswald, in some sylvan glen, a wreath of laurel leaves in your hair, a smile on your face... and that's all... My little wood nymph."
Oswald stared at him. "Are you crazy? With the poison ivy out there?" He shuddered expressively.
Wick reached around Lewis and ran a finger down Oswald's chest, heading for his fly. "I could always rub on some calamine lotion." Lewis shoved at him. "Dog in the manger!" Wick sneered.
"Hey!" Oswald protested. "Dog, maybe. But hes not mangey."
Kate looked at Drew, "Will you explain that to him, or shall I?"
Drew examined Lewis, then gave Kate a blank look. "What's to explain?"
Wick drew himself up and said sternly, "Sir, I want to know your intentions toward yon fair youth."
Now Lewis looked blank. "What?"
Wick rolled his eyes in exasperation. "Do you or do you not lay claim, however spurious it may be to his person?"
"Do you jump his bones?" Drew supplied.
Lewis and Oswald looked at each other. Lewis looked back at Drew. "Define that term."
"No, he doesn't!" Oswald yelped.
"Then if you two aren't involved," Wick said, "You should be a man and step aside. Don't stand in the way of his happiness, and my carnal fulfilment."
"Why do you think he'd choose you over me?" demanded Lewis. "Just because you're rich, and handsome, and charming, and amusing, and witty, and generous, and... What?" Steve had tapped him on the shoulder. He handed Lewis a butcher knife. "Here, use this, it'll be more merciful. Be sure to get the carotid."
Lewis was aghast. "Im not going to kill him!"
Steve shook his head. "No, I mean that since you seem determined to cut your own throat, this would be quicker. If you two are going to fight over Oswald, take it outside."
Oswald jumped to his feet, face flushed. "No one is going to fight over me!" He tossed his head and stormed off up the stairs to his rooms.
Lewis and Wick gazed after him, then sighed in stereo. "He's beautiful when he's angry." Nigel sighed.
"Didya see how his eyes sparkled?" said Lewis.
"The creep factor just went through the roof." Drew stated.
"He's upset," said Wick. "Perhaps I should go check on him."
Lewis blocked his way. "No, you don't! I'm his roommate." He started up the stairs, leaving a dispirited Nigel Wick at the bottom. Halfway up, he paused and turned. "Say, Wick, do you ever read slash fiction on the net?"
Nigel's eyes darted around, and he said casually, "I... may have accidentally stumbled upon a few dozen sites."
"Well, then, you're familiar with the terms used by slash writers to designate what type of story they're writing. Oswald has been hurt," Lewis grinned in evil triumph. "I'm gonna go comfort him."