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Taking Turns Dancing With Maria

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Saturday morning coffee alternated between their houses when they were both home. This week was Mikey's to host; accordingly Gerard pulled into the driveway at 9:30 and let himself in.

The dogs met him at the door with polite wagging and snuffles, then led him back to the living room, where Mikey was sitting cross-legged on the couch with the XBox controller in his hands and his eyes fixed on the screen. Gerard shuffled past him to the kitchen and poured them each a cup of coffee. On his return to the living room, he passed Alicia in the hallway and exchanged a vague nod before picking his way back to the couch and sitting down beside his brother.

They sat in silence for another ten minutes except for the soft liquid sounds of coffee being drunk and the accompaniment of Mikey's video game.

"Tomorrow afternoon," Gerard said, coming in mid-thought. That wasn't unusual. "Because Bandit has a playdate."

Mikey looked sideways at him and took another sip of his coffee.

"You think she's hot, right?"

Mikey hit pause.

"Lindsey, I mean."

"Go back to the beginning," Mikey said.

"We're all family. Families share things. It's cool."

"That's not the beginning, Gee."

"Oh." Gerard frowned and took another drink, then shifted to face Mikey more squarely. "So I've been thinking about you having sex with my wife, and I'm pretty sure I'm cool with it. Because we're all family. So we should do that tomorrow afternoon, while Bandit's at her playdate. You and Lindsey can whatever, and me and Alicia can whatever, and it'll be, you know, a thing that we did."

Mikey squinted at him.

"As a family."

Mikey sighed and set his coffee mug on the table. "Licia?" he called. "Help, please?"

**

Alicia was fairly experienced at assisting as referee and moderator in Way conversations. "Have you talked to Lindsey about this?" she asked, tucking her feet up under herself in the armchair. "Or is this one of those things that you've got really planned out in your head but haven't introduced to the real world yet?"

"We haven't talked about this specifically," Gerard said, frowning at her and trying to contort himself in a way that would keep Bunny from climbing into his lap. "But we've talked about how great Mikey is and I know she thinks he's attractive."

Alicia nodded and snapped her fingers, coaxing Bunny to abandon Gerard for her. "She and I have talked about that, too."

"Wow, there are a lot of conversations going on about how great and attractive I am." Mikey slouched low in his seat. "How come they're all behind my back?"

"We don't want you to get full of yourself." Alicia hugged Bunny against her chest. "Well, I really think you need to check with her first, Gerard. Mikey and I have done the permission-to-hook-up thing before. We have a system."

"There are flashcards," Mikey said. "It's awesome."

"But it's the kind of thing you really need to talk about first," Alicia concluded. "And probably more than 24 hours in advance."

"But this isn't just a hookup with anybody," Gerard said. "It's in the family."

Alicia waved one of Bunny's paws at him. "The more you repeat that, the weirder it sounds, you know."

"I don't see why." Gerard looked extremely put out. "It's true."

Mikey nodded in agreement, and Alicia had to concede the point.

**

The next afternoon, all three of them were on the couch in Gerard and Lindsey's living room when Lindsey got back from taking Bandit to her playdate.

"Hi," she said, eyeing them as she took her jacket off. "I didn't know you guys were coming over."

"Hey, hon," Alicia said, then punched Gerard in the arm as hard as she could.

"Ow!"

"You didn't talk to her? You unbelievable dumbass."

"I thought we agreed--"

"You are hopeless."

"Time-out, you guys," Mikey said, getting to his feet and crossing over to Lindsey. "Hi."

"Hi," she said warily. "What's going on?"

"Gerard had an idea." He took the jacket from her and dropped it on the floor. "For, like...family playtime."

"Playtime," she repeated. "Okay. Whatever. Please don't throw my stuff on the floor."

"Grown-up playtime."

"That's nice? Pick my goddamn jacket up."

"I mean sex."

She looked at him for a minute, then over his shoulder at Gerard and Alicia. Gerard gave her a double thumbs-up. Alicia covered her face with her hands.

"Honey?" Lindsey said carefully. "The stuff you dirty talk about is actually a real thing?" Gerard nodded. "Just the Mikey stuff, though, right?"

Gerard's brow furrowed a little, then his eyes got wide. "Oh. Yes. Definitely just the Mikey stuff. Not the other stuff. That's just...wow. No."

"There's stuff?" Mikey turned around and frowned at Gerard. "There's specific Mikey stuff?"

"Yeah. Don't worry about it."

"What if I don't live up to the stuff? Jesus, Gee, you're putting me in competition with some kind of fantasy me. That's a lot of pressure."

"I have confidence in you, baby," Alicia said.

"Thanks." Mikey turned back to Lindsey. "So."

She looked him up and down slowly, then looked at Gerard again. "Are you sure, babe?"

"Yes." He smiled and held his hand out to her. "I love you. Have fun."

She took his hand and squeezed it tight, looking into his eyes, then slapped Mikey on the ass. "Upstairs, cowboy. It's on."

**

Gerard and Alicia sat in silence for a while after their spouses vanished upstairs.

"Let me get this straight," Alicia said finally. "Your thought process was basically 'I love Lindsey. I love Mikey. They're both really hot. Mikey and I have a weird mindmeld and marrying one of us is kind of like marrying both of us anyway. They should fuck. I will arrange this.'"

Gerard thought about it for a minute. "More or less."

"And I never entered into this equation in any significant way at all."

"Well, I mean. I knew you and Mikey had an arrangement."

"Right, but the idea of me in a sexual way, that wasn't really in your whole master plan."

"Well." Gerard's mouth hung open for a minute. "No."

"Nice. You are a galactic-level douchebag."

"It's not that you're not pretty--"

"Oh, wow, thanks so much."

"It's just that I'm not really very interested in sex with chicks who aren't Lindsey. Right now. And I've known you for such a long time, you're like--"

"A sister to you?" she finished dryly.

His mouth shut with an audible click. "Oh."

She rolled her eyes and punched him in the arm again. "I don't want to have sex with you either, dumbass."

"Oh thank God."

"They're going to be up there for at least an hour."

"An hour?" Gerard's forehead furrowed. "Mikey doesn't take an hour."

Alicia raised an eyebrow. "Maybe not when he was seventeen. I've had a few years to train him up right."

"Do I want to know the details of that?"

"No." She stood up and grabbed her purse. "Come on, let's go get coffee. You can tell me all this shit that you talk about but don't want to try."

"That's personal."

She threw her arm around his shoulders and steered him to the door. "All in the family, buddy."

"I'm buying the coffee, aren't I?"

"Of course you are."