Sissy and Buddy and the Whole Nine Yards
Chapter Fourteen: Blood will tell (it will tell you off)
Lars woke up to the sensation of Buddy struggling against him. As he rose to consciousness, he made out Buddy saying, "Hey, let me go, I've got to piss."
"Sorry," Lars mumbled. Apparently he had locked Buddy in an unbreakable hold. He rolled away from Buddy and watched through the blear of receding sleep as Buddy stood and walked away from the bed.
"Gorgeous," said Lars. He was not usually effusive about these things, and he couldn't really put a whole sentence together at the moment, but - he had really not been looking at men that way for a long time. And now he was really, really looking at Buddy that way.
And, unfortunately, while Buddy was in the bathroom, Lars woke up completely and started thinking again. He knew exactly what he wanted to say to Buddy. He knew what he had to ask, and what he had planned - if Buddy wanted it - but not exactly how to say it all. And it really did all have to be said now, this morning, before anything else. Some people could kiss first, fuck next, and talk later, but Lars and Buddy had such a delicate situation that it just had to be worked out beforehand.
Well, and Lars was a scientist, and he liked to have his null hypothesis in order.
Buddy stayed in the bathroom long enough for Lars to get anxious. When he emerged he looked damp again. "Didn't you take a shower last night?" Lars asked.
"What? Yeah, but right now I just washed my face. Do you have to be somewhere this morning?"
"I have to check on Sissy and Gloria eventually. But not immediately: they've got Louise and a whole pile of relatives to wait on them."
"Good," Buddy said, and there was that smirk as he approached the bed. Sinuous, Lars thought, and rejected the word, though it seemed to fit his movements. Buddy wasn't built for sinuous. But there he was, slinking or something.
Lars laughed. And - Buddy pounced. Before Lars knew what was happening, Buddy was all over him, rolling him around, tickling, nipping, kissing. It was like being leapt on by a huge puppy.
Lars grabbed Buddy's head and held it, angling himself to roll Buddy over. Once on top of him, he lay over him for a moment while Buddy caught his breath. Buddy lay still, but he was smiling broadly and his eyes were dancing, obviously thinking of how to initiate another attack. "Wait," lars said. "We have to be serious for about ten minutes. We have to talk."
"Fuck no," Buddy said. "We've been talking for months."
"We've been talking about biology, computers, math, and politics," Lars said. "We have to talk about your future."
Buddy lost his smile abruptly. "God damn it. I thought you were different from my family,"he said.
"No really, hear me out," Lars said. He bit his lip: he had to keep Buddy in the bed for this, because if he was anywhere else he'd run off before Lars got a word in edgewise. So he kissed Buddy. A proper, long, tender kiss, the kind with the roaming tongue and the gentle lips. He broke off to speak, but Buddy interrupted.
"Don 't you dare," Buddy said.
"I have to. We have to talk, I can't stand it if we get into this and you just disappear because of your dad," Lars said, but he didn't just trust to his words to keep Buddy there and listening. He crept one hand downward, caressing Buddy so lightly he was almost not there, almost tickling, almost soothing. That should do it: and it did.
"Fine," Buddy gasped. "But you better not stop."
It was hard to make his case while making out, but Lars was determined. "I'm not just like your father," he said. Then he licked Buddy's ear. While Buddy was still flinching, he went on, "I don't actually feel a need to dictate what you do." He breathed on the wet spot, carefully: he didn't want to cause an earache.
"So I was thinking. You're vulnerable to your father because you need a job to have a place to live and food to eat, right?" Buddy's nipple hardened under Lars's fingers. "So being independent financially would be a protection for you." Lars kissed Buddy's neck. "You could live here rent-free, and eat, and we'd even buy you clothes, but," Lars found the other nipple, "you really, really want to be independent." This kiss went under Buddy's chin. "You need freedom of movement and no interference."
"Yes," Buddy grunted, with obvious effort, which made Lars's lips twitch against Buddy's jaw line. "But -" Lars stopped him with a fat kiss on the lips.
When he was sure Buddy had subsided, Lars said, "Just listen a bit longer." He rubbed his leg against Buddy's groin, watching his eyes go wide. "So what you need is a no-strings guarantee that you'll have your own money no matter what." He hesitated a fraction of a second - what next? - and bore down enough that Buddy's erection pressed firmly into his own. "For example, a trust that nobody but you can access."
"You can't just -" Buddy hissed. Swallowing, he started again, though Lars was moving his hands lower. "You can't just give me a bunch of money like a house - like a houseboy or something."
"I could, but I won't." Lars, abruptly stopping the makeout session. "It's not my money, it's yours. Sissy understands it better than me . . ."
"Fuck, why did you stop? And I won't let Sissy sign her trust over to me. She's got Gloria to worry about."
"I didn't stop, I paused," Lars said, proving it by twisting in a way that caused their groins to slide against each other again while allowing him to reach over and grab Buddy's palm so he could start kissing his way up the arm . . . Buddy gasped and Lars couldn't help laughing. "God, you're easy."
"Only - only once I'm actually in bed - I don't -"
"Yeah, I get it, you're pure," nuzzling the wrist and up the inside of the forearm, "as the driven," a sharp little nip just below the elbow, "snow,"a .little lick over the spot where he had bit, "practically," a fat kiss on the inside of the elbow that Buddy tried to pull away from, "a virgin."
He put his hands on the mattress beside Buddy and pushed himself up a bit so he could pin Buddy's gaze. He spoke rather more quickly now because he wanted to get this over with and get down to the first sex for its own sake he would have engaged in for well over a year. "Don't be stupid. Gloria's never going to have to worry about money. Her parents are really quite well paid and frugal, even if we ignore the obscene wealth of the families in question. Anyway, she swears that the trust comes from a legacy that was originally intended to go equally to the descendants of some person or other and the strings attached to the trust were some kind of maliciousness on the part of some relative or other. So she says that the money is half yours by rights."
"That's nitpicking -"
"No, that's fairness, and I must say I'm not that surprised you don't recognize it right off seeing how little of it you've experienced. Anyway, it's already done. It's yours to spend or not spend, nobody else can touch it, and you can use it however you want to. I suggest taking some time to decide what you really want to do. But just don't think you have to run from your father anymore. Okay?"
"I'll think about it. Is that good enough?"
Buddy's eyes took on a gleam. "So we're done talking for now?"
"For now," Lars said.
"Good," Buddy said, and rose without warning, taking Lars with him, and neatly flipping them over. Except that they were too close to the edge of the bed, and they ended up on the floor.
"That's all right," Buddy gasped, laughing, "The carpets in this house are fucking soft enough to fuck on."
"I know," Lars said, having proved it himself in the past.
Lars went in to check on Sissy and the baby. As he thought, he was almost redundant with Louise on hand, but it was his daughter and he wanted his share of the baby care.
"You're just in time," Louise said, with a smile that no longer seemed at all malicious now that he knew her, "she needs a diaper."
"Okay," Lars said, and took her to the window seat - all the rooms on this side had them - where a towel had been laid out for the purpose.
Sissy giggled. "You were supposed to say ecch or something," she said.
"Not for newborn baby poop," Lars said. "It's just like yogurt."
"Now I'm going to say ecch," Louise said.
She was so solemn, Gloria was, her eyes focused on something unseeable (literally, he thought: he knew that even that took practice). Her cord stump was still purplish, with a withered tail and a swollen bit next to the belly. "Is this normal?" he asked. "Not infected or anything?"
"Let me see," said Louise, coming over. "No, that's fine," she said, drawing on her extensive experience as the big sister and aunt to many. "It just looks gross for a few days before it falls off. Then you put it into a little toy turtle."
"Plains traditions." Only in the last few months had Louise been doing this, scattering tantalizing little bits of knowledge around at unexpected times. Another expression, probably, of her growing acceptance of Lars. Though you'd think that the arrival of Gloria would have thrown her off again. That she might suspect that Lars, as Gloria's father, might revert to some atavistic possessiveness over her mother.
Which he would not do. Even if it hadn't been for Buddy. He wasn't the possessive kind, anyway, even if his very real love for Sissy had been the romantic sort. Fortunately, Louise seemed to understand this, at least.
"So did you have your little talk with Buddy?" Sissy asked as Lars wiped his hands on a clean (recycled, organic, alcohol-only, no-tricoslan) baby wipe, chuttering away at Gloria.
"The first half," Lars said.
"What talk?" Louise asked. So Sissy hadn't told her. Probably didn't want to give her ammunition before the fact. "You've got hickeys, Lars. And I thought you had no passion."
Lars shook his head indulgently. "I told Buddy he's independently modestly wealthy now. The trust thing. But he hasn't promised anything more than to think about it."
"Oh, that talk. But what does he have to promise? You just handed him a life of ease on a platter."
"A life of ease is the last thing he wants," Lars said.
"The last thing who wants?" Buddy came in rolling his shoulders as if he'd spent the rest of the morning hunched over a computer. Maybe he had. Certainly Lars had.
"You," Lars said.
"I suppose that's true," Buddy said, slipping next to Lars, wedging the sides of their bodies together, but as far as Lars could tell, it was as much to get a better angle on Gloria as it was to get more contact with Lars. He didn't mind playing second fiddle to the baby: she was more worthy of attention than anybody else, he thought.
"So that money doesn't have to give you a life of ease," Lars said, in an elaborately casual manner. "It can just sit there in the bank, protecting you from Daddy. Or it can be the seed money for a grand project. I don't care."
"Like hell you don't," Buddy said. Lars checked: he was grinning. "You care a lot. You want me to go back to school and come out a bio-informaticist so you can bring your work into the twenty-first century without doing the boring stuff yourself."
"I wouldn't mind. But you told me you didn't want to go to graduate school. Though there's a way you could do it without going to school anymore."
"No really, you could. As long as you never competed with the grad students and the postdocs for money, mainframe time, or first author, everybody would be happy to have you around and doing the boring stuff."
"I can just see how that would go over. Hey guys, this is my wife's little brother and I want you to treat him like one of the gang. No."
"Actually, I happen to know it would be okay with the current crop of people -"
"No, Jan did. Remember her? You fixed her car and her cell phone at the wedding reception? And then pumped her for everything she knew about me? And then you got sidetracked talking about bio-informatics?"
Buddy colored. He tried to suppress the tell-tale nervous smirk, but it was there anyway.
"She was pretty impressed. She asked around on your behalf. Look, that doesn't mean anybody's going to try to make you do it. It does mean you have options. You actually have a lot of options because you have a lot of skills, several certificates and diplomas and that, and you have a stash of recommendations and a pile of money and a home base. And no deadline."
"There has to be a catch," Buddy said.
"Yeah, there is. I'm the catch."
Louise snorted from the bed where she had returned to Sissy's side. "He is, you know," she said. "I didn't think so at first, but Lars grows on you."
Buddy blushed fiercely and Lars realized what he was imagining a certain part of Lars growing on (against) him, and then Lars felt himself blushing too. He felt like a kid - he wanted to grab Buddy and run back to his room. But he was an adult, he could wait. A few hours, anyway.
Louise fell against Sissy, laughing out loud, wordlessly pointing at Lars and Buddy.
"Shush," said Sissy. "They're having a moment."
What they had forgotten in all this was the presence of Sissy and Buddy's family. Apparently they had finished breakfast, because they trooped into the room without warning, looking more like a docent tour of a museum than anything else. Ostensibly they were there to check on the baby and her mother, but Lars saw Daddy's eyes home in on Buddy with the certainty of an eagle spying a rabbit. But Buddy, for once, didn't look like a rabbit at all.
Daddy strode across the room. He inclined his head just so and said, "Buddy. I was wondering if you'd show up. Or run away again."
"Have to see my baby," Buddy said. Lars barely prevented himself choking.
"We have to talk," Daddy said.
"I'm not sure about that," Buddy said.
"You really need to come home and take your place in the company," Daddy said, bluntly.
"No, I don't."
"What else are you going to do? You can't hold a job. Nobody but your own flesh and blood will tolerate you."
Lars opened his mouth to speak, but Buddy pinched him, so he kept quiet. Yes. Let Buddy fight his own battles.
"I've never lost a job on my own merits, Daddy. Every job I've lost has been because somebody intervened. I've never asked for anything from you but to let me support myself."
"No father worth his salt would let his own flesh and blood throw his life away like you keep trying to do," Daddy said.
Lars noticed that "flesh and blood" repetition, and so did Buddy. "Lots of fathers let their flesh and blood work out their own future."
"Not when they have a legacy. We have something to hand down, and I'm damned if we'll lose it."
"Daddy, your legacy is three generations of despoiling a magnificent landscape with a hideous sprawl that condemns people to a climate-destroying and alienating way of life," Buddy blurted, and then turned bright red.
Had Buddy never said this before?
Daddy scowled. "That despoliation you're talking about created all the wealth of Southern California and gave you every advantage coming up and paid for your schooling, you ungrateful twerp."
"I'm not ungrateful. I'm very grateful that I have sufficient education to make a decent living if I am allowed to work. And I'll to pay back every penny of my upbringing if you don't interfere anymore."
"That's not what I want. I want to hand an inheritance on to my blood kin -"
"Try Coco, okay. She's vegetating in Ojai, bitter because she took exactly the right classes and did exactly the right internships to be perfect for the position and you guys have cut her out because she's a girl."
"She's also not my kid."
Buddy sighed. "She's your brother's kid. What more do you want? If I end up with anything lasting, it's all going to Sissy's kids. Don't you love Coco as much as I love Gloria?"
Daddy couldn't say anything: he'd already said too much, Lars realized, because as he belatedly recognized, Buddy's Uncle Bubba was in the tour group of relatives - most of them were clustered in a cooing knot around Mommy who had silently appropriated Gloria and drifted over to the other window, but Bubba was witnessing this interchange with an unreadable expression.
"We should talk to Coco," someone said, by appearance another blood relative of the Daddy side of the family, but Lars didn't recognize the middle-aged man in the blue polo shirt. Daddy shook himself and shot a 360 degree glare around the room before stalking out of the room.
"That went well," Lars said brightly to Buddy. "You should try being rude more often."
Buddy broke down into hysterical laughter. "I am so screwed," he said.
"No you aren't," Lars said. "Remember? You're completely independent. Nobody can push you around, not even me."
Buddy breathed into his hands like a person trying to stop hyperventilating.
"Hey," Lars said, "Let's go to your room and lock the door."
The tour group turned their heads as one and Lars realized he had spoken into a gap in the conversation. He would not know whether any of them were going to say something, though, because Gloria took this moment to start crying, and Sissy took her back, saying, "Now you all have to get out because Gloria doesn't feed well when there's distractions." She winked at Lars. "You two should probably go out the other door." Through Lars's room, which would land them in a different section of the hallway from where the relatives were going to end up.
Lars gave Sissy a grateful smile and grabbing Buddy's hand, pulled him at a faster speed than was strictly dignified, till they were running down the hall away from the relatives who were now standing in knots discussing something with great fervor. Buddy, or Gloria, or Sissy, or Lars, or maybe all of them. Or maybe the weather. Or maybe the mayor's race in Los Angeles.
Whatever they were talking about, they were absorbed enough that nobody seemed to notice Lars and Buddy making their getaway, or the fact that they were still holding hands as they ran.
I think this is the end. No, Buddy's career is not decided, but honestly, that's not the subject of the story, is it?