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500 Ways to Date in the West(eros)

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There is no reason to be nervous, Davos tells himself. No reason whatsoever. I am a grown man, this is all perfectly legal and consensual. Still, while he is most certainly a grown man, he's also moseying ever closer to the far end of the spectrum that will eventually label him as an old man. That knowledge in and of itself is enough to give him pause with his thumb hovering over the Grindr app on his phone. Add to it the facts of daily doses of Metamucil, aches in his joints and lower back, the silver hair on his temples that has completely overrun the brown, and he has half a mind to not only delete the app but maybe douse his phone in bleach. 

"Don't be foolish," he mutters to himself. " Bleach can't even reach the cloud."

Whatever the hell the cloud is.

His gaze flicks from his phone screen to a re-corked bottle of red wine sitting on the kitchen counter next to a beautifully arranged bowl of fruit. Wine, of course. That will help mellow him out and give him a little liquid courage for his first foray into the world of sexting. 

A few moments later, he's got a large glass of old vine zinfandel in one hand and his phone in the other as he makes his way out of the kitchen, through the French doors that lead to the backyard, and then finally out into the evening. While he is the only one out here, it is far from quiet. Nightingales, thrushes, and one sleepy-sounding owl do their best to fill the late summer evening air, while the swimming pool's vacuum, ever on the move, provides a low steady hum to compete with crickets. 

The light from the pool glows in the otherwise dark yard, a wavy ripple of lemon yellow and, off in the deep end, a darker, calmer aquamarine. It's very peaceful, and very beautiful, and, he is somewhat pleased to notice, very romantic as well. As good a backdrop as any for some early evening online flirting. Online dalliances? A hookup? Whatever it is the crazy kids call it these days. 

He allows himself a few sips of wine while walking back and forth on the top stair of the pool steps, his pants cuffed and rolled to his calves, all while staring at his phone screen, the Grindr icon staring right back at him with its weird little yellow and black face.

"Well, here goes nothing," he says, his voice a low echoing bounce in his wine glass before he takes another long swallow.

He taps into the app, goes to his mutual swipes, of which there is only the one. Despite his nerves, Davos can’t help but grin, and he sets down his glass of wine first to wipe his mouth, and then to tap out a message.

StepdaddySailor: Why, hello there, handsome. Fancy a talk?

He knows he shouldn’t be nervous. There’s nothing wrong with this, right? He was told to put a little spice in his love life, and he thinks out of all his options, that this is the most convenient, the easiest, the most comfortable.

Especially most comfortable. If Davos were ever crazy enough to even attempt to put on a latex bodysuit like one of the guys at his firm suggested, he knows full well he’d never get out of one. And if he did, it would probably take forever, just like it’s taking for him to get a reply.

He frowns, staring at his screen, and he’s about to type out another message when the French doors behind him suddenly bang open. Despite knowing full well who it’s going to be, he lets out a girlish shriek of surprise and claps the screen of his phone against his chest.

“You cannot possibly be serious, right now,” a voice barks from the top patio step.

Davos exchanges his prepubescent squeal of surprise for a groan of anticipated frustration, and not the good kind of frustration this exercise was supposed to inspire. He twists around to look over his shoulder at his husband of 25 years. Stannis stands there with his own phone in hand, though the screen is aimed at Davos, a glowing white rectangle of light, a glowing white rectangle of incredulity, apparently.

“What? You agreed to this,” Davos calls out defensively, his phone still pressed conspiratorially against his chest. “And, might I add, you agreed to stay in the bedroom.”

“Stepdaddy Sailor? What’s next? A tawdry suggestion of matching whipped cream Speedos?”

“Well, I am a stepfather, and a sailor, and, well,” Davos finishes with a lame grumble. “It’s supposed to be, you know, seductive.”

Stannis snorts, audible even with half the backyard between them.

“There is seduction in propriety as well.”

Davos rolls his eyes.

“Oh, and I suppose you’re going to tell me next that the Victorians had it right the whole while? Flash a sliver of ankle? Send a sexual innuendo through the magic of floral arrangements?”

Stannis shifts his weight from one foot to another, looks down at the ground a moment before clearing his throat.

“Well, not that I was ever much partial to women’s ankles, but the idea of showing just a little in order to convey the—”

“And that sort of attitude is exactly why Shi-Shawn from accounting suggested a little mild role play. You need to shake the cobwebs out of the idea you have about passion, and I- well, frankly, I need to feel a little wanted every now and then.”

Stannis opens his mouth to speak, and then takes a step down the patio stairs. It is Davos’s turn to snort now, and he turns around to show his husband his back.

“Davos, you are my husband,” Stannis says slowly, his voice gaining in volume as he presumably walks closer. “Of course you’re wanted. I want to spend my life with you, just as I stated in my wedding vows.”

“It’s not vows I’m wanting, and you know it,” Davos huffs. “I want passion, the way we used to have. And you can’t even do that over the phone. And you love talking through computers. It’s your preferred method of communication in practically every avenue of life.”

Stannis’s only reply is by way of the scrape of a heavy chair against the brick patio floor they laid together when they bought the house all those years ago. Davos sighs, shaking his head, and he’s about to reach for his glass of wine when his phone buzzes against his chest. Frowning, he lowers it to look down at the screen.

SB1967: It is not my preferred way of communication with the man whom I love, but I will do anything for that man.

Davos smiles.

StepdaddySailor: That’s the main way we’ve been talking for years now

SB1967: After tonight, I will make the most ferocious of amends for it.

StepdaddySailor: Is that a promise?

SB1967: Yes, of course. If you’re willing to go to these lengths, then clearly I have been remiss.

Davos glares over his shoulder at his husband, who is sitting in one of their wrought iron patio chairs, his long legs cocked out at the knees, phone in both hands held halfway between his navel and his nose, his entire body angled towards Davos. He is this close to complaining about Stannis’s previously assured compliance in all of this, but then his phone buzzes again.

SB1967: You look extremely handsome tonight.

Another glance over his shoulder, and Davos can see the smallest of smirk-smiles playing in the corner of his husband’s mouth. Davos can’t help his own smile from forming, nearly identical to his mate’s. He turns his back on his husband in order to flirt with him.

StepdaddySailor: It’s supposed to be role play

SB1967: Fair enough. What are you wearing right now?

Originally he’d asked Stannis that they stay in separate parts of the house while they try out this role playing gig, but he has to admit, he finds immense comfort knowing his husband is just behind him, and he can’t help but think that Stannis perhaps is a little more courageous for that fact as well. So just as any well-seasoned spouse of over 20 years would do, Davos tests his theory.

StepdaddySailor: Chanel No 5 and a smile

SB1967: Intriguing. I can tell from your profile that you are a captivating man. That is why I could not help but swipe left.

StepdaddySailor: Right

SB1967: Ah, I admire your self-confidence.

StepdaddySailor: I meant that you swiped right, not left

There are a few moments’ pause, long enough for Davos to take another sip of wine and to hike his trouser cuffs up even higher so he can let his feet leave the first step and dangle over the second. Finally, another buzz of text.

SB1967: All I know is that you’re the only man I swiped any which way on. You are my only match.

StepdaddySailor: So I’m the only thing you crave?

SB1967: Tax breaks from a conventional heterosexual marriage didn’t keep me away from you before. Pardon me, I broke character. What I mean is, yes. You are all that I crave. Sailor.

Emboldened by that, by the wine, by the cool swish of poolwater around his calves, Davos grins and types out something salacious. There is a slow inhale of breath from behind him, through the gritted teeth of the man he knows so well.

Or at least, the man he thought he knew. The next flurry of texts out of Stannis are damn near enough to make Davos blush. Whatever Stannis said before about disliking online communication between husbands, there is evidently some comfort the straitlaced man gets from the relative safety of talking through screens. While the 25 long and sometimes trying years of their marriage – legal only these past handful – are thiiiiis close to driving Davos to point out that small hypocrisy, there is still the young romantic in him who is still so very much in love, still so very willing to gloss it over that he does just that. To his surprise and his joy, the texts continue to get raunchier, in their own individual ways, to the point where Davos has to wonder if this swimming pool suddenly turned into a spa, he’s feeling that warm.  

Then there is another notification from his phone, though this isn’t the discreet buzz from Grindr, but the chirrup of an iMessage.

Shireen: Hey, homie! How’s it going? Is dad being more romantic than a 2x4 yet?

Davos: Shhh, he can probably hear you

Shireen: LMAO dad, come on, it’s not a walkie talkie or anything, it’s a cell phone. Are you having fun?

SB1967: Are you commiserating with another man? Should I feel jealous?

Davos raises his eyebrows, just barely manages to keep himself from shrugging once he remembers Stannis is sitting right behind him. Another sip of wine, nearly finishing the glass. Another grin. Another final sip, because the wine is almost as delicious as this newfound sexually charged Stannis. And jealous, to boot. He puts down his wine glass in order to switch apps and text, almost knocks the base off the stem when he bonks it against the edge of the pool.

StepdaddySailor: Yes, I am

Davos: Would that make you jealous? 

SB1967: You are??

Shireen: Well no, I mean, I know we were going to go see Hustlers tonight, but that’s okay

StepdaddySailor: I am totally down with hustlers, you know that, I love keeping in tune with you young bloods, hon, just not tonight

“What in the hell is going on?” Stannis nearly shouts.

Davos: Am I what? Hot for all the filthy things you just suggested? I am MORE than hot for those, you dirty CFO

Shireen: OH MY GOD

Davos frowns, switching back and forth between iMessage and Grindr, more and more confused before he finally realizes what’s happened. He sucks in a mortified gasp. Old man he must be to get his texts so jumbled up. And a tispy old man, to boot.

“Oh my god,” he whispers hoarsely.

“I haven’t heard ‘oh my god’ out of you in forever,” Stannis growls out from behind Davos, his chair a heavy scrape against brick that nearly out-grates the sound of his voice.

Shireen: Imma pray to every deity I know rn in the hopes that this wasn’t meant for me, or even worse, that this wasn’t meant for my dad. Oh god it’s totally meant for my dad, isn’t it oh god I gotta go

Davos: Honey, I am so so sorry, I got mixed up, that’s all

He is about to continue on a diatribe of apologies to his stepdaughter, the one person he truly trusted enough to share, however gingerly, his recent woes over marital bliss that has not necessarily withered on the vine, but has suffered a drought nonetheless. She may be a grownup, you dolt, but she’s not your confidant. You should have known better. He is about to text her all of this, but then he’s tapped on his shoulder.

“What is this, hm? Are you texting Shawn from accounting, with his ‘good ideas’? If your intention is to make me jealous, Davos,” Stannis starts.

“No, not at all,” Davos interjects, glancing up at his husband.

But then his phone dings again.

Shireen: I want to let you know that this warrants about a billion barf emojis, but fuck it, go get him tiger (BAAAARF)

“If your intention is to make me jealous,” Stannis begins again, voice low and rough with want, “then it’s worked. I know how wanton accountants can be, and I will be damned if I allow one to sweep my husband out of my arms. Now you get your stepdaddy sailor ass in that house so I can prove that a Chief Financial Officer is so named for a reason.

It’s all Davos can do to keep from flinging his phone in the pool as they both sprint back to the house. Or, rather, sprint as 50-year old men can do.

An hour later, they’re laid out on their backs, sweat still drying, smiles still lingering, fingers still lightly clasped though only just, due to how humidly warm they’ve just made their bedroom.

“I have to ask,” Stannis muses. “Was it actually Shawn from accounting? Or was it another man on that app named after a sandwich? Jesus, Davos, it wasn’t a lawyer, was it?”

Davos chuckles, closes his eyes, shakes his head. He knows the truth will likely mortify his husband, but it’s far better than lying and saying he was flirting with other men. As if that idea could ever cross his faithful, loyal mind, no matter how horny he’s been lately.

“No. They were from Shireen. This was all her idea. Sorry, but I didn’t feel comfortable talking with anyone else.”

The lazy breathing from Stannis stops for a beat, and there is a brief, terrifying moment of silence. And then Stannis laughs, a chuckled exhale of breath through his nostrils.

“I suppose I’ll have to send her a floral arrangement in the morning,” he says, and then he gives Davos a dry little smile. “Stepdaddy Sailor.”