A/N: yeah, it's another one.

Sissy and Buddy and the whole nine yards

1: A silver spoon, a silver lining

Lars was ordinarily anything but difficult. That's how things got difficult for him sometimes. Especially now, when choosing the simple path landed him in such a complicated tangle, with Sissy, and Buddy, and the whole nine yards.

Lars was born into the less-wealthy end of a large, and largely wealthy, family. He was well-loved: he was well-indulged: and he was well-understood. Well, we should say, he was well-understood by his immediate family, and less well-understood by a great aunt who knew his predilections and proposed to give him a tremendous motivation to reform what Lars would say was his unalterable nature.

If, at his thirty-fifth birthday, he could show evidence of a good-faith marriage with an actual woman, and a child at least three years old, genetically his own and his wife's unless excused by a fertility specialist, he would inherit the bulk of her estate, and what was more of a prod, the rest would go to members of his immediate family. If not: some to some undeserving and irritating branch, and the rest to a charity Lars didn't much approve of.

"It's not that difficult," Lars's brother Nels said. "Henry won't drop off the face of the earth."

"She should have chosen you," Lars said. But he wasn't being difficult: he was already browsing among the women available to him.

"She doesn't see the need to change my orientation," Nels said. "I'm perfect the way I am. You should meet Sissy Burton."


"You have a lot in common, and she's a good sport," Nels said.

Lars gave him a look. "A good sport? We aren't exactly going to be playing tennis."

But he added Sissy to his list. "Cecilia," he said to Nels. "That's her name."

"It is?" Nels said. "I've never heard it."

They did hit it off well. They didn't go on a regular date. Lars went in to the city one day, and after his meetings in the morning at the natural history museum, he met Cecilia Burton at the modern art museum where she worked.

"Call me Sissy," she said. "Everybody does."

Sissy had a nice square jaw and bright clear eyes and she was straightforward and companionable. She was interested in his field -- botany with an emphasis on a particular community of plants associated with vernal pools at low elevations -- though she had never bumped into it before she met him. She was passionate about her own -- she specialized in vernacular public art, especially ephemera of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries: that is, political and concert posters, mainly. That first lunchtime meeting turned into an afternoon-long conversation.

And then another, when Sissy showed Lars the back rooms in her museum, and another, when Lars took Sissy behind the scenes at the natural history museum.

It turned out Sissy could dance at a charity ball -- though she looked a bit awkward in the gown and heels, as though she couldn't wait to get back into her French terry shorts and polo shirt, she glided across the floor and carried on an interesting conversation. She could hold her own talking with the movers and shakers in the political world. She didn't mind getting her hands dirty but she was able to turn out with polished nails.

A perfect wife for a wealthy man. And fun to be around.

He was a little worried he was going to shortchange her. As they got closer, going to the movies, volunteering together at the state park, he finally decided he needed to have a word with her.

"We need to talk about sex," he said.

"Only if we're ever going to have any," she said. "I was kind of hoping we could keep it to a minimum. It's -- I like you, but I'm not that into it."

"Really?" Lars asked. "That's what I wanted to talk about. I'd rather be best friends with you, but I'm under pressure to marry. But I was thinking it might be unfair, since I'm not so much inclined towards sex with women. But if you're feeling the same way?"

"I think we'll make great partners," Sissy said. "We'll have enough sex for babies and I promise to make that as pleasant as possible, okay? Other than that, we'll be the best friends a husband and wife could want to be."

"Well, okay maybe, I have to check some things out first," Lars said, and within minutes he was walking down Caltrop Avenue with his boyfriend Henry.

Henry picked up what was in the wind right away. He wasn't a fool, and he'd been listening to the family drama for a while. "So they found you one you can live with?" he asked.

"Yes," Lars said, miserably. "I can't see a course of action here that isn't kind of reprehensible."

"Let me make things easy for you," Henry said. "We're young, we'll get over it. But I think we'll get over it better if we make a clean break this moment rather than try to make some kind of half-assed arrangement work out."

"And that's another reason why I love you," Lars said. "That's exactly what I was thinking but I was also thinking I was going to feel like a slimeball when I suggested it. I mean, you know how I feel about you, and I know how you feel about me. The family thinks we could just go on the same with me married to Sissy. But that doesn't sit quite right with me. Like it isn't fair to you or Sissy."

"Or you," Henry said. "I'd rather be friends with you down the years and always think of you as the first love who got away than to end up hating you for some selfish compromise debacle that goes on and on."

After that, Lars and Henry went for dinner and had the most marvelous good-bye sex. Henry took off on an extended vacation, sending Lars the best humorous postcards he could find with carefully-measured distantly affectionate notes on them. Lars devoted himself to getting to know Sissy. He didn't know why she was willing to marry someone who had such limitations as he offered, but he was grateful that she was.

They even made a couple of not entirely unsuccessful attempts at sex. Lars found that he could let go romantic notions of passionate lovemaking and instead concentrate on giving a good friend a thrill, and that made it all go smoother. And Sissy had a surprisingly good sense of male pleasure for someone who said she wasn't into it.

So Lars thought his life would be completely liveable. He didn't feel quite like a martyr to the family wealth. Not quite. At least: a lifetime with Sissy wasn't his martyrdom. No, Sissy was the silver lining.

Sissy was the silver lining for the wedding too.