The Golden Back Scratcher

Part 5 - Happy Hallowed Weenies

The scarecrow hung from its post in the pumpkin patch. Its head was a carved jack-o’-lantern, lacquered to stay fresh and firm for a long time; an evil, scary face carved into the orange gourd to frighten away would-be thieves and crop-damaging pests. It was dressed in fluttering rags that would move with the slightest breeze, and big patchwork gloves.

On the right glove was the Green Thumb, shimmering softly in the light of the full moon.

Jack stood opposite the Xiaolin monks in a pumpkin patch somewhere in Virginia. A powerful breeze blew fallen tree leaves in a rustling dance through the air and along the ground. The moonlight was so bright and strong that everyone could see as clearly as if the sun were shining.

“Walk away now and you will be spared a most shameful and humiliating defeat!” Omi warned Jack, pointing a finger at him.

“Y’know, after a couple of years of doing this, wouldn’t you have come up with a new opening line by now?” Jack pondered rhetorically, a sneer on his face.

Omi scowled. “Unlike you, Jack Spicer, I know what works and what does not!”

“Looks like the pumpkins will be extra big this year, because you’re really full of it, Omi Crud,” Jack shot back.

The little monk’s expression darkened with fury at this reminder of how he’d been so cruelly deceived into thinking he’d found his long-lost parents.

“Hey! Watch who you’re callin’ ‘crud’!” Clay shouted, his fists tightening in anger.

“Yeah – the only one around here who’s nasty is you,” agreed Kimiko.

Jack smirked. “Thank you. I try my best.”

“And it’s the one area where you actually get something right,” Raimundo laughed.

Jack sighed and lifted one hand, tapping his thumb and fingers together to simulate a mouth moving as he muttered, “Blah, blah, blah. Were we actually going to do something, here, or is this just a social visit?”

“As you wish!” Omi snapped, and he leaped towards the scarecrow.

Jack sneered and pulled out a blaster gun, taking aim at the tiny monk. He fired several times; laser shots streaking through the air towards Omi, whose eyes went extremely wide while he managed to duck out of the way of the incoming enemy fire, but just barely. Jack, it seemed, knew what he was doing with a blaster.

Jack ran towards the scarecrow, taking shots at the Xiaolin Monks as he did so. The four of them leaped out of the way and scattered, forcing Jack to concentrate on one or two at a time.

“Wudai Neptune Water!” Omi bellowed, and conjured a powerful stream of water and sent it hurtling towards Jack.

“Wudai Star Wind!” Raimundo added, tightening the focus of the water blast by wrapping a wind tunnel around the water.

Jack allowed himself to fall back into the pumpkin patch, letting the Wudai attacks pass over him. He was dampened by the spray and ruffled by the wind, but unharmed. Gritting his teeth, he began crawling along the ground; weaving his way around the pumpkins rather than wait for the attack to stop.

Omi and Raimundo quickly broke off their attack when they realized they hadn’t stopped Jack. They stepped aside and let Clay take his chance.

Rather than using his Wudai powers, which would destroy a good portion of the pumpkin patch, Clay whipped out his lasso and sent it hurtling towards the Green Thumb.

Seeing this, Jack leaped up from the ground and bolted towards the scarecrow.

His hand closed on empty air when Clay’s lasso beat him to the glove holding the Green Thumb and yanked it over to the waiting monks.

Rather than give Spicer a chance to try taking it from them, Dojo super-sized himself immediately and the Xiaolin monks hopped aboard their dragon friend and were gone in the blink of an eye, calling out laughing farewells laced with ridicule.

Jack stared into the sky and thought briefly that he should get into his air car and go after them. Then he sighed and slumped as he gave up on the idea; it seemed like too much work for very little gain, and he just wasn’t in the mood for a long, drawn out fight that he would probably lose anyway.

He turned to look at the scarecrow, admiring it for a moment. Halloween was his favorite American holiday, and his parents often indulged him by bringing him over to the States each October so he could go to parties or simply go out Trick-or-Treating. He loved the fact that he could dress in his every day standard clothing and people assumed he had dressed up in a costume. He often received compliments for how white his skin was and his creepy “Modern Goth” appearance.

His gaze drifted from the scarecrow and out over the pumpkin patch. The pumpkins were at their peak now, despite his words to Omi earlier. He grinned at the sight of the large orange gourds. Carving jack-o’-lanterns had always been his most favorite part of Halloween, and he was pleased with the fact that he was considered a master carver.

After several moments, Jack walked over to one of the largest pumpkins in the patch. He figured that if he couldn’t have the Green Thumb, he would go home with something to show for his troubles. He quickly inspected the pumpkin for signs of rot and, when it proved to be a strong, healthy pumpkin, he deftly disconnected the gourd from its vine.

Hefting the pumpkin up into his arms with a grunt, Jack then staggered his way clear of the patch, got into his air car with his prize, and took off into the night sky with his stolen pumpkin sitting safely in the seat beside him.


When Jack arrived home a few hours later, the sun was setting and the full moon he’d seen over in America was beginning to shine over China. He was disappointed to find that his parents had left him a note, explaining that they would be out of the country for the week. His mother had added that she was sorry they wouldn’t be able to make the annual Halloween trip, but she’d make it up to him when they got back. He only hoped they managed to make it. Ever since the abduction thing with McLean, Jack had to fight hard to not call his parents every ten minutes or so just to check up on them.

Sighing, Jack made his way into the kitchen, opened the refrigerator and took out the lemon icebox pie the chef had prepared. He cut himself a thick slice, put the rest of it back into the refrigerator, and then gathered a boning knife from the knife block. Stopping to grab a pile of old newspapers, he then went back down into his Evil Lair to collect his pumpkin carving supplies, where he handed them over to one of his Jack-bots. Another Jack-bot held the stolen pumpkin carefully in its claws.

“Okay, boys, lets get out to the patio,” Jack ordered. Carrying the plate that held the slice of pie in one hand, he led the way up and out to the backyard patio and headed for a solitary corner where he wouldn’t be in clear view of anyone in the house and thus available for interruption.

Jack took the tarp one of his Jack-bots was carrying as he handed over the pie plate for it to keep hold of and spread it out, followed swiftly by the newspapers, and then gestured for the Jack-bot carrying the pumpkin to set it down slowly and carefully. Once that was done, Jack then knelt down on the tarp and took the pie plate from the other Jack-bot, set it nearby, and then laid out his carving tools neatly; lined up so precisely that anyone would think he was about to perform surgery. In a way, he was.

When that was done, he ordered his Jack-bots to leave him alone and they disappeared back into the house, making their way to the Evil Lair to store themselves. Jack began to disrobe. Taking off his heli-bot and long black coat, he then stripped his red sleeveless shirt from his torso. He was just about to pick up the boning knife when a voice behind him caused his skin to ripple with goose-chills.

“And what sort of pagan ritual are you performing that you’re required to remove your clothing?” Chase Young asked, amusement in his tone.

Glowering, Jack twisted to look over his shoulder. “What is it with you and your need to sneak up on people?”

“My sneaking up on people frightens them more than your flashy and loud entrances.”

Jack sighed and rolled his eyes. “Yeah, yeah – we all know you’re the King of Evil. What’re you doing here?”

“I saw your battle with the monks for the Green Thumb,” Chase said with a smirk.

“And you came to express your condolences; how thoughtful of you.”

Chase barked out a laugh. “Hardly. I wouldn’t have shown up at all until I saw you out here with the pumpkin.”

“Why are you spying on me in the first place?” Jack demanded to know.

“I’m keeping an eye on you and the monks in case Wuya or Hannibal Bean show up.”

Jack glanced away. “I’m surprised you’re even talking to me after that.”

Chase waved his hand dismissively. “You’ve never been a warrior. I can’t blame you for caving in when Wuya beat you up so handily.”

Jack scowled. “If you’re going to be like that, you can leave.”

Chase laughed. “Could you be any more of a school girl?”

Jack leaped to his feet and pointed a shaking finger in the general direction of the Land of Nowhere and yelled, “That’s it – leave!

Before Jack could do more than blink, Chase abruptly had him pressed up against a nearby brick wall. He wasn’t touching Jack, but he had the youth trapped by placing his arms on either side of Jack and standing close enough so the teen couldn’t duck out away from him.

Chase grinned wickedly, his mouth only a few inches from Jack’s, and whispered, “Make me.”

Jack, his eyes wide with a hint of fear, shivered from the slight chill of the brick against his back. His mouth open, he could do little more than stammer out a croak; his throat too tight with tension to be able to produce words.

Chase sighed as he recognized that Jack was too startled to play. He slowly pulled away, careful not to touch the youth, and took several steps back.

Jack swallowed roughly and crossed his arms over his chest, his hands rubbing at his own arms to stimulate warmth.

“I apologize, Spicer – I had no idea you were too nerved up for such actions,” the evil everlord murmured.

“I’m… I don’t know,” Jack said, looking down at his feet.

“Well, at least that’s honest.”

The two were silent for a long moment. Finally, Chase gestured to the pumpkin and asked, “What are you planning to do?”

Jack gave the older man an incredulous look. “You’ve been alive how long and you’ve never heard of carving a jack-o’-lantern?”

Chase grinned. “Though it pleases me that you think me omniscient, I’m actually not. I’ve never heard of this ‘jack-o’-lantern’. Is this yet another thing you’ve named after yourself?”

The youth shook his head. “No, this thing has been named jack-o’-lantern for about as long as you’ve been alive.”

“Hmm. Well, what is it?”

Jack sighed, scratched his head for a moment, then said, “Well, there’s a lot of history involved in the jack-o’-lantern. It’s the most celebrated Halloween decoration; a hollowed-out pumpkin traditionally carved to resemble a grotesque face and lit up by a candle placed inside. Although nowadays, people carve any image they want, really. If I recall right, the jack-o’-lantern gets its name from a character in British folktales. According to these tales, the soul of a dead guy named Jack O’Lantern was barred from both heaven and hell, and was condemned to wander the earth with his lantern. If you believe the legend, jack-o’-lanterns set on porches and windowsills cast a spell of protection over the household while spirits of the dead roam the Earth during the pagan holiday of All Hallow’s Eve, commonly referred to as Halloween, on the very last evening of October.”

Chase blinked. “That was concise and informative, Spicer. I had no idea you were capable of such things.”

Jack glowered crankily at the older man.

Chase ignored the glare and instead looked at Jack’s naked torso and asked, “And to perform this carving ritual, you must disrobe?”

“Well… I generally do because gutting the pumpkin can get really messy. In order to make the jack-o’-lantern, you have to scoop out the goop inside, or it’s a big ol’ fire hazard.”

“Hmm. Why are you creating the jack-o’-lantern now? It’s not yet the end of October.”

“Modern day practice is to create and start lighting the jack-o’-lanterns roughly two weeks before Halloween so we can enjoy the decorations longer. Also, on Halloween night, when the kids come out Trick-or-Treating, the sight of a lit jack-o’-lantern in a window or on a porch means that the owner of the house is willing to play along and either hand out candy to costumed children or risk getting ‘Tricked’ if they have nothing to give.”

Chase decided that that information was more than enough, and simply nodded.

Then he dropped a bombshell on Jack.

“May I join you in carving the jack-o’-lantern?”

Jack gaped at Chase, completely incredulous. “Why would you want to do this?”

“It is something new and interesting, and I currently haven’t much to do. Of course, if this is a private ritual for you, I won’t intrude.”

“You’re being awfully polite for an evil everlord,” Jack groused, giving the older man a wary look.

Chase rolled his eyes and then glared at Jack. “I’m evil, Spicer – not a rank barbarian!”

“Alright! Alright!” Jack snapped, tensing at the visible evidence of Chase’s irritation. “Fine, you can help me.”

Chase smirked, pleased. “Thank you,” he said, and then began stripping off his gloves.

Jack, assuming that the man didn’t want to get his gloves soggy, turned away to go kneel on the tarp again. He was just about to do so when he heard the clink of metal on brick and looked up, curious.

He didn’t feel the pain in his knees when he dropped unceremoniously to the ground at the sight of Chase Young, having removed his armor, beginning to open the fastenings on his black silk tunic.

“Wh-what are you doing?” Jack croaked, hardly daring to breathe.

Chase paused and raised an eyebrow. “I do not want pumpkin innards smeared all over my armor. Therefore, I’m removing my raiment to protect it.”

“J-Just the top half!” Jack blurted.

“I figured that much on my own, Spicer,” Chase commented with a sneer, and then he tugged his tunic free of his trousers and sash, pulled the garment off, and tossed it onto his neatly piled armor. He was left standing in his sash, armor skirting, trousers, leg guards, stockings and sandals. His muscular torso was very much on display, however, and he paused to allow Jack a good long look.

Jack’s eyes roamed helplessly over the strongly developed pectoral muscles and the taut, washboard abdomen. Chase’s broad shoulders looked smoothly inviting and his arms looked as though they were sculpted from solid marble; silky smooth flesh covered hard, nicely defined muscle. A small part of Jack wanted to feel inferior at the sight of the alpha male standing before him. A larger part of Jack desperately wanted to offer himself up to said alpha male, and he fiercely resisted the urge to pant for air.

Chase smirked as Jack’s eyes ravished him. It was easy to see that the younger man most definitely found the sight of him pleasing, and it gave Chase a powerful feeling. However, the night was not growing any younger, and he wanted to carve a jack-o’-lantern.

Sauntering forward, he dropped gracefully onto his knees on the other side of the pumpkin while Jack turned to face him. They stared at each other for a long moment and then Chase, giving in to his urge to stir the younger man up even more, said, “Your skin is almost glowing in the moonlight, Jack; very pretty.”

Jack glanced down at his albino-white skin and saw that Chase was right – his skin was reflecting the moonlight almost as brightly as a mirror. Then the rest of Chase’s words impacted and he blushed scarlet in embarrassed pleasure.

Chase laughed quietly and ignored the scowl he received from the younger man.

“What do we do now?” he asked instead.

Jack picked up the boning knife and said, “First, we cut the top off of the pumpkin; then we scoop out the innards. You can do that by hand or with a spoon.”

Chase shrugged. “I might as well do it by hand; otherwise I’ll have gotten half-naked for nothing.”

Jack shivered at the word “naked” falling from Chase’s lips, but decided to ignore it. “Yeah, good idea; that’s what I usually do, anyway.”

Jack carefully cut the top of the pumpkin, forming a pentagon shape around the stem at an angle; then he lifted the top away and set it aside. “We’ll need it later,” he informed Chase. “Time to scoop.”

Chase peered into the inside of the pumpkin and found it full of ropy strings of orange flesh and big white seeds. Shrugging, he put his right hand into the pumpkin and paused, a grimace etching its way onto his face.

Jack couldn’t help it – he started giggling at the grossed-out look on Chase’s face. “Oh, yeah, by the way: the inside is gonna be squishy.”

Chase looked at the laughing youth opposite him for a long moment. Then he tightened his fist around a mass of the goo inside, pulled his fist out, and flung the mess at Jack.

Jack gasped, his laugh stuttering away, as the slimy mess splattered over his chest and throat. He looked down to see orange goop and white seeds decorating his skin and then made an “Ewww!” face as it began sliding wetly down his front. He scooped it up and cocked his arm back, ready to throw it, but the look on Chase’s face made him think twice. Finally, he simply let the mess drop to the newspaper and reached forward to begin his own share of the scooping.

“Wise,” Chase commented with a smile that was all teeth, and resumed scooping out pumpkin innards.

The two of them worked in tandem quite efficiently for several minutes, creating a pile of orange goop and seeds until, finally, there was only moist flesh left on the inner walls of the pumpkin.

Chase regarded his slightly sticky, orange-stained hands for a moment, sighed and asked, “Alright, what next?”

“Now, we decide on the image we want carved into the pumpkin. It can be a scary face, or a scene, or just about anything. We draw it onto the pumpkin, then use the carving tools to cut away the walls following the drawn lines,” Jack explained, reaching for a grease pencil. “The goal is to create something really scary looking or at least awesome to look at.”

“What would you suggest?”

“Well, a lot of people are terrified of spiders. I was thinking of doing a scene with the Giant Spiders that we fought down in the center of the earth.”

“You mean the Giant Spiders you screamed at and ran away from?” Chase teased.

Jack gave him a peevish look. “If you’re trying to get me to waste my last favor by ordering you to stop saying things like that, it’s a wasted effort.”

“No, actually, that wasn’t my goal,” replied Chase with a wicked grin. “I simply like to tease you. You’re ridiculously easy to provoke, Jack.”

Jack sighed. “Any interaction is better than none at all.”

Chase’s eyebrows went up high. “You’re that desperate for my company?”

“Well, who else am I going to learn True Evil from?” Jack shot back, exasperated.

“There’s always Hannibal Bean.”

“Yeah, except for the fact that I can smell crazy on him like whoa,” Jack muttered. “I admire his results and all, but I’d never be able to relax around him like I’m doing with you.”

“You’re relaxed with me?” Chase asked, his tone clearly disbelieving. “Why, then, were you so tense when I had you up against the wall?”

“You moved so fast,” Jack argued. “One moment I’m yelling at you, the next you have me pinned to a wall. I know what you’re capable of; I was certain that if I said or did the wrong thing, you’d be disemboweling me the way you just did that pumpkin – or worse, Lennon!”

Chase scowled at the mention of the obsessed man that had stalked Jack, but didn’t pursue that avenue. “You’re suggesting that if I’d moved slower, you wouldn’t have been so nervous?” Chase queried. “Fine, let’s test that theory.”

Jack stared, wide-eyed, as Chase deftly rolled the pumpkin out of the way and then began crawling over to him, his skin rippling with the fluid movement of his muscles. The grease pencil dropped from Jack’s nerveless fingers and, wide-eyed, he fell over onto his back as Chase crawled atop him, eventually seating himself over Jack’s hips with his hands braced to either side of Jack’s head as he leaned over the youth, grinning wickedly.

Jack squirmed, one knee rising instinctively as his hands came up to curl around Chase’s biceps – not pushing the older man away, but merely holding on as a way of anchoring himself in the reality that this was actually happening.

Both men were intensely aware of their skin touching as they looked into each other’s eyes for several moments.

Finally, Chase’s grin softened and he murmured, “Excellent, Jack – I sense no fear from you.”

Jack could do nothing more than blink up at the older man. He knew Chase had to be feeling his physical reaction from where Young was sitting.

Extraordinarily pleased with the young man, Chase slowly leaned down; keeping himself seated firmly atop Jack, and lightly touched his lips to Jack’s.

Jack gasped, his lips parting, and Chase took full advantage and swept his tongue inside gently; teasing Jack’s tongue with his own as he kissed Spicer with gradually increasing hunger.

Jack whimpered as he was kissed, his hands sliding up Chase’s arms to close around the older man’s back, clutching there desperately, his fingers digging into the smooth skin. He met Chase’s kisses with his own, trying to give back as good as he was being given, and figured he’d succeeded when Chase growled into his mouth and kissed him harder. He trembled beneath the older man’s body, his hips instinctively attempting to arch upwards for more friction, but Chase’s position allowed him control of Jack’s movements, and he pressed down harder with his own hips to keep Jack still.

Chase, thrilled to hear Jack’s frustrated whimpers, pulled his mouth from Spicer’s to begin nipping and licking his way along the youth’s jaw to his left ear, which he spent a few moments nuzzling, causing Jack to shiver and gasp beneath him. Then he turned his attention to the pale column of Jack’s throat; teasing the soft white skin with the barest touch of his lips and a few deft flicks of his tongue while Jack squirmed and clutched at him harder, his breath panting swiftly. Smiling, Chase gently pressed his open mouth to the point where Jack’s neck met his shoulder and began to suck, gradually increasing the pressure while the youth trembled wildly beneath him.

Then, he let go with his lips to bare his teeth, setting them into that delicious curve, and bit down – hard enough for Jack to feel the sharp sting of pressure, but not hard enough to break the skin.

With a shriek of Chase’s name, Jack bucked sharply beneath the older man and came in his pants; his clenching hands leaving scratch marks from his fingernails on Chase’s skin.

Chase hissed softly at the pleasurable sting on his back and easily rode out the motions of Jack’s orgasm, letting go with his teeth and lightly kissing the bruise he’d left in the snow white skin. When Jack had finally calmed, Chase lifted himself up so that he was braced on one hand while he brought the other to Jack’s neck.

“So responsive,” he said softly, gently petting the hickey on Jack’s neck with one finger.

Jack blearily opened his eyes and looked groggily up at the man perched atop him; his red eyes soft and hazy as they stared, unfocused, at Chase.

Chase grinned, completely thrilled with the results of his actions. Shifting carefully, he levered himself up off of Jack and settled down beside the youth, stretched out on his back, his arms stacked behind his head, and smirked up at the star-filled sky.


Chase opened his eyes from a brief meditation when Jack reappeared, dressed in clean boxer shorts and black leather trousers. He watched as Jack marched resolutely over to where he’d left his red sleeveless T-shirt and picked it up, ready to put the shirt back on.

“Why are you pouting?” Chase teased. “Didn’t you enjoy it?”

“Oh, sure – but why is that whenever you’re involved, I always seem to come in my pants?” Jack groused, ignoring his shirt for the moment. “Do you have any idea how gross that feels?”

“I thought it was – what’s the term used nowadays? Ah, yes: hot.”

“That’s because you didn’t have to deal with the mess,” Jack sniped.

“Oh, dramatize,” Chase retorted. “You could be happy that I deigned to touch you at all.”

“Which you wouldn’t have if you weren’t so hard up now that Wuya’s running around with Hannibal Bean.”

There was a glacial silence for several long moments, followed by Chase – his tone absolutely frigid with displeasure – asking, “What do you mean by that?”

Jack shook his head. “You made it plain enough months ago that you consider me a child and didn’t want to touch me! I’m not stupid. I can tell when nobody wants me!”

“Apparently, you are stupid, Spicer! Nothing except a Shen-Gong-Wu induced favor would get me to touch you if I had absolutely no desire to do so on my own. Since you did not invoke a favor, then clearly, I wanted to touch you!”

That gave Jack pause. Confused, he gave Chase a plaintive look and asked, “Then why did you?”

“Because I can,” Chase replied tersely. Then, upon seeing Jack’s consternation, he smirked and dropped his voice to a rough, rolling purr. “Do you not realize I have noticed how you behave in my presence? I am the flame to your moth, and your fragile wings beat fierce and fast for me; for one glance, one smile, one nod of approval. Whether you know it or not – admit it or not – I own you, Jack.”

Jack gulped audibly, but he couldn’t find his voice to refute that statement.

Chase’s smirk widened into a wild, wicked grin. Spicer was very, very good for his ego.

“Now, your robots cleaned up the mess we scooped from the pumpkin. Drop the shirt, get over to the pumpkin, and draw your spider design so that we may carve the jack-o’-lantern,” he coaxed softly.

Jack shook himself lightly and then let the shirt drop from his fingers, noting that Chase’s torso and arms were still bare as well. Then Jack knelt down by the hollowed out pumpkin once again. He took up the grease pencil, but paused to look up at Chase.

Chase raised an eyebrow back at him.

“Actually… I want to do a design no one else is likely to think of,” Jack admitted with a smirk. “I want to use your lizard form.”

Both of Chase’s eyebrows went up at that. “Why would you want that?”

“Oh, come on,” scoffed Jack. “You have to realize that a gigantic humanoid lizard that can walk, talk, and destroy anything he wants to is extremely scary. And, y’know, being honest… your lizard form is scary enough in and of itself just because of those big teeth of yours.”

“True,” Chase replied. “I take it you would like for me to transform so you have a live model to take an image from?”

“Uh… yeah. If you don’t mind?” Jack asked, grinning sheepishly.

Chase sighed. “Oh, very well.”

One bright flash of light later, a large humanoid lizard was standing on the patio floor, tail lashing slightly as gold reptilian eyes studied Jack intently.

Jack shivered and forced himself to concentrate on his task.

“I don’t need to assume some ridiculous pose, do I?” Chase asked, his voice amplified and layered by his mutated voice box.

“No; I can draw that on my own. I just need to be able to see you like this so I can fine-tune the details,” Jack replied, and after a quick glance at Chase, began sketching out a menacing looking pose on the pumpkin.

Every few seconds or so, Jack would look up, glance at Chase, then sketch a bit more of a frightening outline. It wasn’t until he started on Chase’s legs and tail that he paused and looked wide-eyed at Chase.

“What?” Chase asked, curious.

“I just realized – you’re naked,” Jack blurted out.

The crest of Chase’s fringe rose slightly and the gold eyes narrowed into slits.

“I mean… when you’re in human form, you have clothing and armor on. Like this… it’s just scales and skin. You’re essentially naked,” Jack said quickly.

Chase tilted his head and looked down, although he had no need to do so. He knew what his body looked like at the moment. Straightening his head, he nodded and said, “Correct. Why does this seem to matter to you?”

“I don’t know,” Jack admitted. “No, wait… I think I do. It’s that you can walk and talk and think just like you do when you’re human. And when you’re human, you’re clothed. Now you’re not. You being naked is kind of…”


“Interesting,” Jack finished, attempting to leer and failing.

Chase sighed and his tail lashed back and forth; a sign that he was irritated.

Jack took the hint and got back to work.

Several seconds later, he said, “Finished!” and tossed aside the grease pencil. Glancing over, he said, “You can change back if you want.”

“Thank you, I’m aware of that,” Chase sniped, and a moment later, he was human again.

Jack found himself staring at Chase’s bare, muscular chest. He blinked and forced himself to look away.

Chase sauntered over to join him and gracefully dropped to his knees. “Now what do we do?”

Jack handed over an X-Acto knife with a long, fine-toothed saw blade attached. “Now you cut along the black lines and remove the cut pieces.”

Chase set the tip of the cutting saw to one of the black lines that formed one of the fringes and pushed. The blade slid through the hard shell of the gourd as easily as a hot knife through butter. “I would have thought this would be more difficult with such a small knife.”

“It would’ve been with a regular blade, but that’s a super-sharp blade, so be careful where you put it,” Jack muttered, using his own X-Acto knife to work on the tail.

Chase refrained from making a sarcastic comment and instead set to work on cutting away pieces of pumpkin, being careful to not cut more than was marked off.

Working together, the two of them soon had the Lizard-Chase shape cut out.

“Is it done?” Chase asked, looking critically at the carved image.

“Not quite,” Jack said as he reached for a slender metal cylindrical object that was made of rough grain at one end. “Now, we smooth the edges and shape the curves.”

He worked the round file into one of the eyes and began to twist and roll the tool; the edges were filed down and began to form a more graceful curve, and Chase nodded, impressed.

“Do you have another?” he asked.

“Over there,” Jack said, pointing to the line of tools laid out.

Chase leaned around Jack, inspected the tools, and found a round file. Picking it up, he then went to work on filing a different section.

“Why do you have so many tools for one project?” he asked.

“Because I don’t want to take the time to clean the one I’m using. With you helping, it’ll get done faster,” Jack replied, not looking up from his work.

“Hmmm. And the long, thin metal sticks with the hollow ends?”

“Gouging sticks. They’ll add details if I feel they’re necessary; they’re used to scratch marks into the skin, but not cut pieces out.”

“You take this jack-o’-lantern carving seriously.”

“I’m considered a master carver in the contests I usually enter.”

“Will you enter this jack-o’-lantern in a contest?”

“Yeah, I guess.”

Chase glanced over at Jack. “You don’t seem terribly enthusiastic about it.”

Jack shook his head. “No, it’s not that; I’m just… I dunno. I feel lately like a lot of stuff I used to think was so important just isn’t.”

“That, Spicer, is called ‘apathy’ – a lack of feeling or concern. Otherwise known as ‘indifference’.”

The youth gave Chase a cranky look. “No-o-o-o-o-o… you don’t say? I know what it is, alright? I just can’t seem to care.”

“Were you apathetic earlier when I was kissing you?”

Jack shivered. “No; no, I can’t say I was.”

Chase grinned smugly. “Good.”

They worked in silence for a few more minutes and then Jack asked abruptly, “What, no words of wisdom gleaned from centuries of experience?”

Sitting back on his heels, Chase regarded the young man for a moment. Then he shook his head and said, “I could offer some, but then you would be trying to live my life because they’re all from my point of view. I think it is better if you try to live your own life – mistakes and all. I will say this: you are intelligent enough to see what needs changing. Whether or not you have the courage to make the changes remains to be seen.”

Jack grimaced. “And we all know how good I am at that.”

“I don’t know,” Chase murmured. “Lately, you’ve developed enough backbone to talk back to me like a man.”

Pleased and mildly embarrassed, Jack flashed a quick grin at Chase and focused again on the carving.

After another moment of silent regard, admiring the glow of Jack’s pale skin in the moonlight, Chase also bent back to his task.


“This is good,” Chase commented mildly, forking up the last bite of the lemon icebox pie.

Jack glanced over at the pie plate that contained only a few crumbs and snickered. “I never would have guessed, given the way you practically inhaled ninety-five percent of the pie!”

“Stop your whining – you got a slice of it.”

“Wouldn’t have if I hadn’t cut it before you showed up.”

“What can I say?” smirked Chase. “I’m a growing evil everlord.”

“You’re growing alright – sideways!”

Chase raised an eyebrow. “I am not fat – I’m big-boned.”

Jack snorted. “Oh, sure, you’re big-boned alright; when you’re like that.”

He pointed at the glowing jack-o’-lantern that was perched in the shadowy corner of the patio, lit from within by a simple white votive candle. The cut-out shape of a rather scary looking anthropoid Lizard glowed menacingly in the dark, surrounded by ominous pale orange “clouds” of doom; as crafted by Jack who had used the gouging tool to scrape most of the pumpkin’s outer skin away until only a thin layer of wall was left – enough for the light of the candle to dimly glimmer through while not obscuring the Lizard cut-out.

Chase smiled, pleased with the result of the jack-o’-lantern.

Jack and Chase, once they’d finished cleaning up and re-dressing themselves, had retired to a nearby porch swing. Jack had made a minor detour to get the lemon icebox pie when he’d caught Chase eyeing the untouched slice Jack had carried with him, and the two had ensconced themselves at either end of the swing.

“Is it tough?” Jack asked suddenly, and Chase looked over at him questioningly. “I mean… having the increased metabolism, so you have to eat so much?”

Chase shook his head. “When I’m hungry, I eat, or meditate, or battle. I am not enslaved to my stomach.”

“Oh. But… who cooks for you? I know you make your dragon soup, but I really can’t see you slaving over a hot stove for hours on end.”

Chase smirked. “My warriors transform to their human selves to cook my meals and their own – unless they simply want the raw meat diet of a jungle cat.”

Jack grimaced at that.

“What I eat – besides the Lao Mang Lone soup – largely depends on who is doing the cooking at any particular time. Although, there are a few recipes in Evil Housekeeping I find interesting from time to time, and request they be prepared.”

Jack smirked. “Yeah, Martha does come up with a few good ones occasionally.”

Chase laughed outright, amused.

A Jack-bot came to collect the empty plates and zoomed wordlessly back into the house, leaving the two men alone together again.

Chase noticed that Jack seemed fidgety; his fingers twitched nervously as though trying to find something, anything, to do. “What’s on your mind, Spicer?”

Jack blinked, startled. Then he realized he should’ve known Chase would notice. Grinning wanly, he shrugged and said, “Nothing… just… I can’t believe how much fun I had tonight. With you, I mean. Y’know… the whole carving thing, and joking around and… and stuff.”

“Yes, well, don’t get used to it. I was bored and feeling strangely benevolent.”

“Yeah, I know. That’s why I’m thanking you now, before we’re at each other’s throats again.”

Chase smirked and reached out to deftly flick his finger over the hickey that so vibrantly darkened a bit of Jack’s neck.

Jack gulped, shivered, and looked away to the jack-o’-lantern.

“I must be going,” Chase said, standing up from the swing. “I have things to do and dawn will be here in a few hours.”

The younger man grinned as he stood up, too. “Sunrise – nature’s way of telling you it’s time to go to bed.”

Chase huffed out a laugh. “I suppose you have earned a good day’s rest this time, Spicer.”

“I always do,” Jack shot back.

“Rebellious twit,” Chase observed dryly.

“Arrogant everlord!”

“Of course I’m arrogant – the best usually are.”

They were both silent for a moment, smirking at each other. Then, almost hesitantly, Jack held out his hand and held in his breath, waiting.

A second or two later, Chase’s hand took his own in a firm grip, and they shook hands respectfully.

“May the best Evil win,” Jack said, for lack of anything better to say that wouldn’t sound too sappy.

Chase’s grin was wide and wicked. “I fully intend to.”

“Gah,” Jack muttered as he let go of Chase’s hand.

“Goodnight, Spicer. Get some rest – you’re going to need it,” the older man advised, and in the next moment, he vanished into nothingness.

“There is nothing more annoying than a cryptic ominous statement,” Jack crabbed.

However, he knew good advice when he heard it, so he gathered up the jack-o’-lantern to put it away for the evening. Once the candle was out and the house locked down, Jack changed into his “jammies” of a ripped T-shirt and boxers and dropped into sleep immediately.




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