Sollux was bored out of his mind, sitting on the floor playing cards with his dad and wondering why he agreed to this. They had been playing for the last hour. Not anything interesting either, Deuce could never remember the rules to anything too complicated, so they were playing Go Fish. It was torture, but Deuce had been really enthusiastic about it and convinced Sollux they needed to have some father-son time. The only reason Sollux hadn't left yet was because he didn't have anything better to do.
Ok, that wasn't true, he had lots of better things he could be doing, but he wasn't because he didn't need to do any of them at the moment.
Ok, maybe he did, but sometimes a kid just wants to spend time with his dad, alright? Even if it's incredibly boring and lame. Anyway, Deuce really seemed to be enjoying himself and Sollux liked to see his dad happy.
He was just deciding he couldn't take any more when the doorbell rang.
“I'll get it!” he said a little too quickly, throwing down his cards and not quite running to the door. Anything to get out of playing cards for another hour. “Oh, hello Ms...” he said when he opened the door, freezing when he spotted the... dear god, that was a bucket in her hand. The cheerful Prospitian didn't seem to notice.
“Hello Sollux! Is your dad home? I brought something for him.” Ms. Paint said, nodding towards the bucket.
“Uh. Y-yeah. I'll just. I'll just get him.” He stuttered, feeling heat rising in his face. He headed back to the living room. “Dad, it's for you.” he said before going to his room. He wasn't coming out and he sure as hell wasn't going to think about why Ms. Paint had brought a bucket. No, he definitely wasn't going to think about that, or anything they might do with the bucket or oh god why. He was going to sit in his room and talk to his friends and work on his most recent viral masterpiece.
So he did, reassuring himself that carapaces were completely different from trolls and buckets weren't involved at all and just because his dad was in a relationship with Ms. Paint didn't mean they were... Nope, not thinking about that. He could hear them talking though, and it seemed to be coming from his dad's room and yes, it was time to put his headphones on. Just in case.
A few hours later it was just about dinner time. Sollux had actually forgotten about the woman-in-his-dad's-room situation and got up to make himself something to eat. He usually ended up making food for both of them, just because his dad forgot. He got out to the kitchen and was surprised to find there was leftover takeout on the bench. Huh, maybe Ms. Paint had ordered out? Deuce didn't really know how to on his own.
Oh yeah. Ms. Paint. He grabbed some takeout and started back to his room but for some reason he paused by his dad's door. He could hear them in there and a sort of horrified fascination made him press his ear against the door and listen for a moment.
“Oh yeah, that's really good.” That was Ms. Paint.
“Should I do it again?” That was Deuce.
“Do you think you can do it faster this time?” Then all he heard was giggling. He stepped away, mortified, absconded to his room, slammed his headphones back on and refused to think about what he'd heard. This was turning out to be a horrible night.
Deuce, on the other hand, had been having a lovely night. He hadn't expected Ms. Paint to come over but she'd brought an entire bucket of paint with her and they had been painting all day. She had ordered takeout when it started getting late, although he insisted on paying for it, partly because it was his house, partly because Boxcars had told him you never let a lady pay.
They had mostly stayed in his room because that was where all his painting supplies were and they had been having a lot of fun. Deuce had been practicing on his own and he still wasn't much of a painter but Ms. Paint always said he was doing great and smiled when he showed her what he'd been doing. He always thought she had the loveliest smile.
She was a really good painter too and while he'd done lots of little paintings, she had mostly been working on one big one and it was really, really, good. He told her so but she said she could do better. They talked while they painted, about all kinds of things. That was another thing Deuce liked about Ms. Paint, how easy she was to talk to. He liked everything about her really. Sometimes he would stop painting and just watch her, admiring the way she almost glowed when she was painting, in her element. Then she would look up and catch him staring and they would both laugh.
It had been hours when Ms. Paint looked up and noticed the time.
“Oh gosh, it's getting late. I should go home.” she said, starting to pack up her brushes.
“Oh.” Deuce was disappointed. He'd wanted her to stay longer. “How did you get here?” he asked, an idea forming.
“But you can't walk home on your own! It's dark and there are bad guys out there. Maybe... you should stay here tonight?” he suggested hopefully. Ms. Paint smiled.
“I'd like that.” she planted a kiss on Deuce's forehead and he grinned.
Sollux woke the next morning to the sound of sizzling. He lay sleepily in his recuperacoon for a moment before remembering how terrible a cook his dad was and snapping awake. He was out of his room in moments, still pulling his shirt on.
“Dad? You're not cooking are you?” he yelled, hoping the house was somehow not on fire. He arrived in the kitchen to see Deuce putting a plate of pancakes on the table and Ms. Paint at the pan. Oh god she stayed the night.
“No, I know you don't like when I cook.” Deuce said.
“It's not that, it's just that you set things on fire whenever you do cook.” Sollux said, trying very hard to not think about the bucket or the giggling. And they were just being so casual about it! Like he hadn't even been there, like he hadn't been able to hear or know what was going on. “So, uh... you two... have fun last night?” OH DEAR GOD WHY DID YOU JUST SAY THAT?
“Yes we did, and it was getting late so your dad asked me to stay instead of letting me walk home in the dark.” Ms. Paint said, kissing Deuce as she sat down at the table.
“Yeah, it was great! You should join us sometime.” Deuce offered, grabbing a couple of pancakes and covering them in syrup. Sollux stared in horror. He did not just say that. This wasn't happening. What just happened. This wasn't a thing that could be true.
“Uh... I.. don't think I would... like it... very much.” he managed to force out. He thought he did a pretty good job of not sounding horrified.
“Oh, don't you like painting? That's too bad.” Ms. Paint sounded a little disappointed. Sollux just barely managed to not breathe a huge sigh of relief. Painting! Of course that's all they were doing! It was a paint bucket.
They could never know what he'd thought they were up to.
“No, I'm not the arty type.” he said, grabbing pancakes for himself.
“Maybe you could try it sometime?” she suggested.
“Yeah, maybe.” Sollux took his pancakes and left, shutting himself in his room again.
“Is he usually like that?”
“He's usually not that bad. Maybe it was the bucket. He always had a weird thing about buckets.”