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WICKED GAME -- PG

[title] Wicked Game
[author] kissontheneck [aka fieryrogue]
[pairing] Cookleta
[rating] PG (language)
[word count] 3472
[summary] Cook is invited to a masquerade Halloween party at his friend Carly’s house. Everything seems pretty boring until he runs into a mysterious masked man.
[disclaimer] Surely, I have nothing to do with either of these fine young men, no matter how much I wish I did.
[warnings] None.
[author's notes] Last minute Halloween fic came to me literally yesterday. So I apologize for any weaknesses. Happy Halloweeeeeen!




~*~
I never dreamed that I’d meet somebody like you.
~*~


Cook was in trouble the very minute he walked in the door.

First of all, when Carly had said this would be an elegant black and white party, she wasn’t kidding. Cook, being the joker that he always is, figured he’d get a laugh out of her by wearing a tuxedo t-shirt. Turns out, this really, really pissed her off, which was somehow scarier when she was wearing a floor-length steampunk-inspired jet black gown and snow white masquerade mask. Even the feathers curling up over her brow seemed to be angry with him and he genuinely stepped out of the doorway away from her.

“I knew you’d do this,” she said sharply, grabbing his elbow and pulling him into the foyer of her large Victorian house. “Which is why I asked Michael to bring an extra jacket for you.”

Cook didn’t have time to grumble about it before she was shoving said jacket into his hands.

“I need you to behave yourself,” she said seriously as he struggled to fit into the jacket of a man whose stature was almost the complete opposite of his. “I almost didn’t invite you.”

Cook stopped struggling long enough to look at her with puppy dog eyes.

“Really?”

Carly pursed her lips at him. “I mean, you’re like my best friend, but you just can’t take anything seriously, Dave.”

“I can be serious,” Cook pouted, pulling the jacket over his shoulders. It was tight in places and he couldn’t quite bring his arms together in front of him, but he supposed if he didn’t make any grand gestures he could manage for the night. At least he could button it up far enough to cover the majority of his t-shirt.

Having Carly’s full attention didn’t last long as other guests arrived in a parade of mysterious masks and hidden identities. This reminded Cook he needed to fish the mask he’d gotten at the Halloween store out of his pocket and put it on. He wasn’t really a fan of such things and felt more than a little silly strapping it over his eyes, but he also didn’t need an even more enraged Carly after him either. He’d managed to find a plain black one anyway, only slightly glittery, so at least he’d be low-key silly looking.

The Smithson home had been decorated with the classiest Halloween decorations Cook had ever seen in his life. Crisp white table cloths and glowing candles were placed on every flat surface, and even the jack-o-lanterns had a certain Victorian flair to them. He suddenly felt badly for trying to make a joke out of Carly’s attempt at a nice, grown up party.

Cook glanced around at those who had already arrived, each more glamorous than the last. The ladies really took advantage of the chance to wear elegant dresses, and many of the men played with stark contrasts between black and white jackets and accessories. The more he examined the other guests, the plainer Cook felt, and this time it was a bad thing.

More and more people arrived, crowding the house very quickly. Despite the fact that everyone wore face-obscuring masks, he could pick out a lot of people he knew anyway. It wasn’t like he suddenly didn’t recognize Syesha’s peppy stance or Jason’s cracking laughter.

Quite accidentally, Cook literally ran into one of the food tables, nearly knocking one of the silver hors d’oeuvres trays directly onto the floor. Apparently his peripheral vision wasn’t as sharp as when he wasn’t wearing a mask, but he managed to cover it up by pretending to be very interested in whatever the heck those little blobs of grey on fancy crackers were. When he still hadn’t figured it out a minute later, he decided he’d look for something to drink instead.

A tangle of long, blonde curls caught his eye across the room, which he immediately recognized as belonging to Brooke. She’d gone for a more traditional white formal dress which could’ve passed as a wedding dress if Cook hadn’t known better. Her mask matched its brilliant white, accented with a plethora of rhinestones and sequins. It sparkled as much as her laughter, which was really saying something in Cook’s opinion. She chatted with a young man who Cook didn’t know, peculiar since he knew most of Carly’s friends. The stranger stood a few inches shorter than Brooke, with jet black hair and olive skin, wearing all black. His jacket cuffs and collar were simply lined with subtle silk trim, but it was the mask he wore that Cook really noticed. A black, white, and gold-accented harlequin pattern crisscrossed his eyes, but the white sections were also decorated with tiny musical notes.

As if sensing his gaze, the man glanced up, catching Cook’s eye.

Cook was instantly rooted to the spot. He froze in the terror of being caught staring, but without the power to look away. They regarded one another for a long moment before Brooke noticed her companion wasn’t paying attention to her anymore. A quizzical look on her face, she looked to Cook as well, then grinned.

“Come here!” she mouthed, too far away to be heard. She waved her hand at him.

Cook nodded numbly, dimly aware that his heart rate had increased. Why he suddenly felt anxious, he had no idea, but he was fairly certain Mr. Harlequin Mask had something to do with it.

By now the party had really gotten under way, packing the house like a tin of sardines. By the time Cook fought his way to Brooke’s side he’d nearly lost his mask twice, and stepped on her foot in greeting.

“Oof, sorry!” he said, grabbing her elbow so she wouldn’t fall as he was involuntarily pushed against her. “Are you okay? Did I scuff your shoe?”

“I can’t really tell,” Brooke replied, “but don’t worry about it. Anyway, hi!”

Brooke turned on him, enveloping him in a tight hug. Over her shoulder Cook noted that her friend had gone.

“Hi,” he replied. “What happened to your friend?”

“Oh, I think he went to the bathroom,” Brooke replied dismissively. “Isn’t this fun? It’s like a social gathering and a game at the same time.”

“That it is,” Cook answered, slightly annoyed that Harlequin Mask had disappeared. “So did you know that guy?”

“Dave, you don’t have to look after me,” Brooke replied, poking him lightly in the shoulder. “No one’s going to hurt me.”

Although Cook was known for scaring off creepy guys for his female friends, right now he was a little annoyed that Brooke was missing the point entirely.

“I just… didn’t recognize him,” Cook said, hoping he didn’t sound too curious. A difficult thing since he was actually very curious.

“Daaave,” Brooke practically sang. “You don’t have to scare anyone off tonight,” she informed him. “Not every man is a threat, you know.”

“Hashtag not all men, right?” Cook replied, now glancing around the room hoping to see Brooke’s departed conversation partner.

An infectious giggle erupted from Brooke as she lightly pushed his shoulder. “You dork! You don’t have to be so silly all the time.”

“I really can’t help it,” Cook said distractedly. “It’s what I do.”

“Gosh, I’m so thirsty,” Brooke went on. “I’m going to go get some water. You want anything?”

“Mmm, no,” Cook replied, still searching the room. It was getting harder and harder to differentiate one person from another.

“Okay, I’ll be right back. Don’t move!” Brooke commanded before disappearing into the two-toned crowd.

“I’ll be here,” Cook mumbled, too quiet for anyone to hear. He figured if Harlequin Mask left for the restroom he’d likely come back to continue his conversation with Brooke. As if on cue, a flash of black and white diamond pattern caught Cook’s eye, and sure enough it was him.

This time Cook had a better view of him, of his angled jawline and fit body. Good God, Cook was a sucker for a good jawline, and once again his heart started creeping into his throat. Chocolate brown eyes suddenly fixed on his from the other side of the room, and for the second time Cook found himself in a stare down with the attractive young stranger.

Cook wasn’t going to let him out of his sight this time, even if it meant blindly trampling over every person in between them. Wedging between three guys huddled around a drinks table, Cook pushed past them in time to see his mystery man smile in his direction, which made him stop dead in his tracks again.

Maybe it was how the light glinted off his pearly white teeth, or how the corners of his mouth nearly reached to his ears, but Cook suddenly felt like he’d fallen in love with every bit of that smile. He couldn’t help but return the gesture, just before having the wind knocked out of him as a solid palm landed squarely between his shoulder blades.

“How’s the jacket working out for you?” asked an all too familiar voice from behind.

The jolt had caused Cook to instinctively close his eyes just long enough to lose Harlequin Mask in the crowd again.

“Goddamn it, Johns,” Cook grumbled, turning on his friend. “Seriously?”

“What? What’d I do?” Michael asked innocently. “It’s too tight, isn’t it? Is that why you’re cranky?”

Cook shot his friend an evil glance before reeling around again to search the crowd. All he saw was a forest of wispy feathers dotted with rhinestones.

“Look, Dave, I need your help to move a couple tables in the other room. Carly’s losing her mind because I apparently didn’t arrange them right earlier, so… help a brother out?”

Annoyed, Cook narrowed his brow at Michael, not that his friend could tell from behind his mask.

“Fine,” he conceded, starting to follow Michael out of the room.

The adjoining room proved to be nearly as crowded, and Cook realized Carly must’ve known way more people than he realized. He squeezed past a huddle of chatty ladies with matching hand fans and he secretly wished he could snag one. The tightness of bodies had overheated him and as soon as he finished helping Michael he was going to find some sort of relief.

It must’ve taken twenty minutes to rearrange the furniture what with all the people around and there being very little space for them to retreat to. Cook was growing as angry at Michael as Carly must’ve been for it because every bump against a lady’s white dress made him panic that he’d spill food and ruin it. At last, Carly swept through and gave her stern approval, still chastising Michael for having failed at the simple task in the first place. Cook took the opportunity to slip out and find something cold to drink.

After downing some ice water in record time, Cook still needed to escape the suffocating heat. Being Carly’s house, he knew it very well having visited it hundreds of times over the years and managed to slip back through the foyer and upstairs. A handful of others had had the same idea, but not enough to crowd the upper level yet. At the end of the long hall, Cook ducked into Carly’s reading room which proved to be completely empty. Letting out a sigh, Cook crossed to the opposite end, which opened out onto a small balcony.

A wall of cold air struck Cook immediately, much to his relief. He gazed out into the clear night sky studded with diamond-like stars and took several purposeful breaths. In the distance, children could be heard laughing and running up and down the streets, calling out to one another alongside choruses of “Trick or treat!” Cook leaned into the railing, happy for some momentary peace.

His thoughts drifted to his mystery person, this man to whom he was becoming strangely attracted. He couldn’t quite figure out why since he’d only seen his obscured face at a distance, and hadn’t even spoken one word to him. But something still resonated there, something in those piercing eyes and bright smile. God damn, that smile had really buried a hook in his chest, and Cook had to admit he was becoming obsessed with it. Obviously, he needed to find Carly again and ask her about this stranger.

After getting his fill of fresh air Cook straightened, turning to go back inside -- only to find himself smack in front of another person.

A person wearing a black and white harlequin mask accented with musical notes.

“Hi,” the man said nearly inaudibly. “Sorry if I scared you.”

“You didn’t scare me,” Cook breathed in reply. “How did you find me?”

“I saw you go through the foyer,” the man replied. “And upstairs. I followed you. Is that creepy?”

Cook shook his head. “No, I was hoping to find you again.”

“Well, here I am.”

“Who are you?” Cook asked, still wracking his brain. Up close Cook noticed so much more about his soft skin and full, plump lips. How his hair stuck up at a weird angle, likely due to shuffling through the same crowd as he had.

“I can’t tell you that, can I?” the man replied mysteriously, eyes twinkling. “It’ll ruin the surprise.”

Fucking hell, really? Cook had always thought of himself as the smooth one, but this guy was suddenly taking the cake. He did remember, however, the rules of masquerade, at least as Carly had described them to him. No revealing identities until midnight. Shoot, it was probably only ten o’clock at best.

“I guess so,” Cook conceded, though he couldn’t stop staring into Harlequin Mask’s eyes. The way light reflected in them was downright magical, and being framed by those long eyelashes didn’t hurt either. “It’s just Carly and I know most of the same people, so…”

He trailed as his companion licked his lips, sending a shiver down Cook’s spine.

“I don’t often go to parties or anything,” the man explained. “I’m usually very shy.”

One of those words in particular caught Cook’s ear.

“Usually?”

“Usually,” the man repeated breathily.

Cook stared, wondering what the hell that was supposed to mean. If it meant he didn’t usually flirt across crowded rooms with his stunning eyes, Cook was sure glad he’d suddenly obtained the bravery to do it now.

“Are you a musician?” Cook asked. “I mean, because of the notes on your mask.”

The stranger beamed then -- Cook had clearly hit on a positive subject.

“Yes, I play the piano,” he replied. “It’s how I know Carly. I was hired to play in studio with her once and then we got to know one another.”

“Ah ha,” Cook said, finally understanding at least a portion of the mystery. “That makes sense then. I’m a musician too. I play the guitar and write. I’ve kind of started learning the piano, but it’s slow going.”

“Maybe I could teach you,” the man suggested quietly. Cook paused, unsure of what he’d heard.

“Yeah, maybe,” he replied dumbly. “That’d be cool.”

They stood there a long time in the crisp fall air, staring at one another. They’d gotten pretty good at it, apparently, so it seemed like a natural default. Despite not being able to see his expressions very well, Cook suspected his mystery man’s mind was racing with thoughts. He was proven right two seconds later.

“Can I ask you something?” the man asked timidly.

You just did was the reply joking Cook would’ve usually given, but instead he just nodded mutely.

“Can I kiss you?”

Cook’s eyes went wide, his heart stopping in his chest. This was a new thing for him -- usually he was the one making moves on other people, not the other way around.

He must’ve nodded again, though he didn’t remember doing it. All he remembered was the cold air disappearing between them, replaced by the aura of a warm body. The stranger had to push up on his toes a little to reach Cook.

The moment their lips touched the world seemed to completely melt away.

Chaste and warm, the kiss only lasted a moment, and Cook regretted the retreat of Harlequin Mask’s presence. When he opened his eyes, he found his companion’s face frozen in shock.

“Oh my gosh,” the latter breathed, clasping his hand over his mouth. “Oh my… wow.”

Cook had no idea how to interpret this, except that his new friend seemed to have used up all his bravery in that kiss and now seemed to shake with fear. The “usually” of his usually shy had returned.

“I… I’m sorry,” the man stuttered, slowly backing away. “I shouldn’t have… oh gosh.”

He darted back into the library, and Cook nearly tripped over himself trying to follow.

“No, don’t go!” he called after him. “Please come back!”

But Harlequin Mask was too fast for him. By the time Cook had lumbered back down the hall, the mystery man had disappeared into the crowded foyer below.

Cook searched every room of the house after that, even going so far as to ask people if they’d seen the escapee. No one had, of course, or at least couldn’t decide if he seemed different than anyone else at the party. Cook couldn’t believe it. How could anyone not notice the sparkle in his eyes and the laughter at the corners of his lips?

Finally returning to the main room, Cook checked the time. It was 11:56. His last chance would be here, when everyone took off their masks to reveal themselves. Patience was not one of Cook’s virtues, and when Carly glided in to ring a little bell signifying midnight, he could’ve sworn it was hours later. He ripped his own mask off in a hurry, tossing it onto the floor. It was amazing how much better he could see without that stupid thing.

Laughter and cheers filled the room, official introductions popping off all round. Cook tried to push himself up to see over the crowd, but all he saw were people he knew already. There was no sign of his dark-haired admirer anywhere.

Again he tried to search the nearby rooms, still turning up nothing. By 12:15 many people had dispersed, either to go home or at least to spread out into other areas. Cook found an empty chair and plopped himself into it, feeling absolutely defeated. For some reason he wanted to blame Carly for having this stupid party in the first place. If she’d had a normal Halloween party, his mystery man never would’ve come due to shyness and he’d have never gotten his hopes up in the first place.

As if on cue, a wave of crinkly black fabric entered his peripheral vision and he looked up to find Carly’s freshly revealed face staring down at him.

“You bitch,” he grumbled at her.

Her face immediately soured. “What? What’d I do?”

“Nothing,” Cook mumbled. “Never mind. What d’you want?”

“I have something for you,” she said, a sly smile returning to her face. She grabbed his hand and shoved a folded napkin into it.

“Oh geez, thanks,” Cook replied grumpily. “Is this your way of saying I’m on clean up crew now?”

“You’d better not throw it away,” she answered, straightening up again. “There’s a message for you.”

Curiously, Cook unfolded the napkin to find slanted, smeared writing, like that of someone who was left-handed. For the third time that night his heart stopped upon reading the note.

It’s strange what desire will make foolish people do.

“Holy shit, Carly, you have to tell me who--”

But when he looked up, Carly was gone. Why the hell did everyone keep disappearing on him, anyway?

Jumping up out of his chair, Cook rushed to the foyer, half looking for Carly and half hoping mystery man would still be lingering. But by now most of the guests were departing, and a quick scan of the surrounding area turned up fruitless. He rushed out into the front yard, now squinting into the dimly-lit street in vain.

The wind picked up, rustling Cook’s hair as he looked at the note again, studying every word.

It’s strange what desire will make foolish people do.

What was he supposed to do with that? It was unsigned, so it almost seemed like an anonymous apology. But the stranger had given the note to Carly, a person who definitely knew him and could tell Cook all about him. In that case it seemed anonymity wasn’t the goal. So what the fuck was he supposed to do now?

“You are a tough nut to crack, mystery man,” Cook mumbled out loud to himself. “And slightly evil.”

He laughed at the thought of that gentle smile being any amount of evil.

“I like it.”

~*~
What a wicked thing to do... to make me dream of you.
~*~

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Comments

( 6 Kisses On The Neck — Win Me Over )
rajkumari905
Oct. 31st, 2015 10:35 pm (UTC)
Ahhhhhhhh I LOVE THIS

The sexy masquerade and the mask with musical notes and the NOTE! And kissing! Followed by cinderella style escapes! <3

AND I HOPE YOU REALIZE IT DEMANDS A SEQUEL

HEHE MORE THINGS TO PESTER YOU ABOUT :D
kissontheneck
Nov. 2nd, 2015 03:34 am (UTC)
Oooh, I never thought about a literal Cinderella ending, like if Cook had found Archie's mask somewhere. But then again, I got fixated on Archie using song lyrics bc as we all know his brain is a juke box.

ANYWAY GREAT NOW YOU CAN HARASS ME ABOUT YET ANOTHER THING. WHEEEE.
asweetdownfall
Oct. 31st, 2015 11:01 pm (UTC)
Okay, first of all, the song choice? *_____________________________* BRILLIANT. aldsflaldasfjljgld

And I love Archie in this soooo much ahhh! And Cook's #notallmen reference lol

SEQUEL POR FAVOR. :D?

ETA: And Carly is awesome, the end <333

Edited at 2015-11-01 12:32 am (UTC)
kissontheneck
Nov. 2nd, 2015 03:36 am (UTC)
Aww, thank you! Also, I kept listening to Wicked Game and it's so mysterious sexy that like, idk, it seemed to go sooo well. So yay! Others agree!

Oh man, I knew if I ended it that way people would demand a sequel/conclusion. What have I done? ;)

ALSO THANK YOU OF COURSE. :D :D :D
abovetheruins
Nov. 1st, 2015 08:21 pm (UTC)
Masquerades! Flirty Archie! Totally smitten Cook!

All of my favorites (and then some!) wrapped into one amazing fic. I'm so happyyyy *____*

(Also I agree with everyone else that a sequel would be much appreciated :P)

(Damn but I really want to draw Archie in his masquerade mask)
kissontheneck
Nov. 2nd, 2015 03:40 am (UTC)
Yay, thank you! I'm happy that you're happy, omg! :D

(Well, I knew this would happen if I left the end open like that. What have I done? LOL)

(OMG, I encourage all art to be made since I lack the appropriate skills and also because art is awesome. DO IT.)
( 6 Kisses On The Neck — Win Me Over )