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The Inevitable

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"What are you doing, buddy?" Dennis asks. He's standing in Mac's doorway with a bleary, dazed look on his face, having just woken up. His sweatpants hang low on his hips and Mac avoids looking in that direction.

"I'm done with this shit," Mac says with a huff as he takes down the crosses perched above his bed and throws them into a cardboard box. "I'm fucking done, man. I'm done."

"What do you mean?" Dennis crosses his arms, tired and irritated. "Done with what?"

"This," Mac says, gesturing at the box. It's almost filled now, and he walks toward the door with it. "Excuse me."

Dennis does not move aside. "Religion, you mean?"

Mac gazes into the box to avoid looking at Dennis. "All of it," he says. "You know."

"Know what?"

Mac glares at him, pushes the box into Dennis to shove him aside, and goes to collect all religious paraphernalia from the living room, starting with the worn bible on the coffee table.

"Is there a conversation I missed?"

Mac drops the box onto the coffee table with a thunk and swings around to face his roommate. "I think I should move out."

"Whoa, whoa, what?" Dennis is approaching him now, entering his space.

 Mac flinches away. "I need to be done with this, all of this. You know what. All of you goddamn know."

"Well, goddamn clarify it for me anyway."

"I'm in love with you." There, it's out there, and he can't take it back. "And you know that. You feed off of it like some sort of sick ego trip. But you're an asshole, and you don't have feelings, and I'll always be your bro, dude, but I can't keep doing this to myself." He picks up the box again and hurries into the kitchen, even though he knows there's nothing in there to put in it.

Dennis is still standing in the living room, dumbstruck. "How would you even afford to live anywhere else?"

Mac stops what he's doing to gape at Dennis. "You are such a fucking asshole. Forget this, I'm going to get drunk with Dee. Don't try to come, or do anything, just..." He sets the box down again and goes to grab his coat. "Bye."

Dennis doesn't follow him.


"This is early drinking even for me," Dee comments, throwing back the last of her first beer. It's just past 10 a.m., they're at a bar across town, the only one open this early. Mac had not wanted to drink at Paddy's to avoid running into anybody else they knew.

"I just want to get hammered," Mac says, already pounding beer number three.

"What happened, exactly?"

It's uncharacteristic of Dee to care. She probably doesn't, but he must look like a pathetic mess, and she might be curious why it's her here instead of Charlie or Dennis.

"I had an interesting conversation with Charlie," he starts, "last night. He was pretty wasted and he really went in. Accusing me of using religion to hide from myself or whatever and deluding myself about... lots of things. Dude was pretty, like, spot on, so I'm almost positive he was saying shit he heard from you, Dennis or Frank." He looks to Dee for confirmation.

"Shit, dude, it is really early for this conversation. Hey, waitress?" She snaps her fingers to get her attention. "Hey. Can I get some more beers, please? Wait, scratch that, can we get some shots of..." She looks to Mac.

"Tequila," he says, waving his hand and then burying his face in it.

"Tequila. Well's fine. Let's do three each."

The waitress narrows her eyes, but plasters on a falsely cheerful smile and says, "No problem."

"Okay," Dee says, steeling herself for this conversation, "so yeah, we've all known for a really long time that you're gay. Is that what you're talking about?"

Mac hates that word, he almost starts yelling that she's wrong, wrong, wrong, but he fights it. "Yeah, I guess."

"Huh."

"Anyway..." Does he really want to tell this to Dee? He thought he wanted to talk this out, but not with anybody he actually cared about, so Dee was perfect since she already knew the gist of the situation. He should just tell her. "I... I kind of... I think I told Dennis that I loved him?"

"Holy shit." Dee lets out an unattractive snort. "Sorry, it's not funny." She takes a breath. "It's not funny." A laugh slips out. "Holy shit."

"Yeah, well. I also told him I wanted to move out. Because he's..."

"A psychopath?"

"Yeah. It... I don't think we should keep living together."

"You are not moving in with me."

"Ew, Dee, I don't want to move in with you." The mere thought makes him queasy.

"Well, where else are you gonna live? With Frank and Charlie? Your mom and Charlie's mom?"

Mac pulls a face. He hadn't really thought through where he'd move to. Dennis pays the rent, which doesn't really make sense because shouldn't they be making the same amount of money? Mac certainly never seems to have money. Shit, what did in an apartment in Philly even run these days?

"I hadn't thought that far ahead," he admits.

"No kidding. I don't know what to tell you."

The waitress arrives with their shots. "Six shots of tequila," she says, placing them in front of them. "At 10:30 in the morning. Enjoy!"

"Judgmental bitch," Dee mutters under the breath, slamming her first shot. "Ugh, no lime? Guess I'll have to chase it with the rest of these." She downs the other shots. "Woo!" She slaps her hands on the table. "Catch up, Mac."

Mac does the three shots in succession, flinching as he does. "Yikes," he says as he finishes. "That's not good tequila."

"No, it's not."

"Anyway, I'm feeling just, like, done, you know?"

"Done with pretending you don't want to bang dudes?" Dee says, winking and waving her shot glass at him.

"Yeah. I am. In fact, all I want to do is get completely plastered and bang the first beefcake I see."

"So gay," Dee snickers.

"I still like banging chicks!" Mac stands up, his stool screeching beneath him, and puffs his chest. "Banging chicks is awesome. I just wanna bang some dudes right now."

"You mean you wanna bang Dennis."

"No!" Mac insists, sitting back down. "I do not want that. That would be such a bad, bad idea."

"Are you telling me you never have?"

"No!"

"You and Dennis don't give each other drunken handies on the reg?" She mimes jacking off.

"Well..."

Dee snorts again. "I knew it. I knew it!" She slaps the table. "Look, man, Dennis will never love anybody other than himself. That's the truth. But you know what, if he could love anybody else, it would be you. He is a helpless, pathetic baby without you, even more so than he is usually. Remember when you two broke up for like two hours and drove us all nuts? I couldn't handle that in a permanent type of situation. You cannot do that to me. I would probably murder both of you."

"I'm sorry, I forgot this was all about you."

"Shut up. This obviously affects the whole gang. What are you suggesting, that you leave us completely? Leave Paddy's and get another job? What do you even want? You might want to get away from Dennis to deal with your dumb feelings or whatever, but come on, you're so wrapped up in each other, could you ever really get away from him?"

Dee's phone rings. She looks at the screen. "It's Dennis."

"Please don't--"

"Sup, bro," she answers, her tone smarmy.

Mac doesn't pay attention to the conversation that follows, he doesn't even want to think about Dennis's reaction to his outburst this morning, and instead fiddles with the empty shot glasses in front of him. The tequila sits heavy in his empty stomach and he can feel the alcohol pulsing through his extremities. He should really order some food.

"Whatever, bye," he hears Dee say. She puts the phone in her purse. "Dennis says he doesn't want you to 'do anything rash,' I don't know what that means. Since when is Dennis in a position to tell anybody not to do something rash?" She shakes her head. "Asshole."

"I think he wants you to keep me from sleeping with someone," Mac admits, drawing a circle on the table with one of the shot glasses.

"Ooh." Dee nods her head. "Yes, that makes sense. Do you want me to? Or do you want me to help you find a hot dude to bang? If that's the case I'm not letting you completely black out."

"I don't know."

"Hmm. Want to get some more beers?" Mac nods. "Waitress!"


Mac is blacked out by 3 p.m. with Dee right behind him, and he wakes up nestled in her bed at just past midnight. His clothes are still on, and Dee is beside him, contorted in a position that cannot possibly be comfortable. She snores like she's wheezing, it's disgusting. The blankets and pillows are strewn about in a haphazard pile, in which the two of them are semi-buried. Mac rubs his forehead with the back of his hand tries to remember what happened. Based on the scene in front of him, he can conclude that he definitely hasn't banged anyone. He gets up to piss.

"Mac?" Dee asks from her bed as he emerges from the bathroom. "How did we get home?"

"I don't know," he says, wincing from the bathroom light. "Do you mind if I take my pants off? They're uncomfortable as shit."

"Yeah, whatever," she mumbles, rolling over in her bed. "Ugh, I gotta piss."

"You should. Do you piss the bed like Charlie does? Dude has pissed on me and my furniture more times than I could count."

"Easier to just piss the bed," she mumbles into a pillow.

"Come on," Mac says, pulling her up and grimacing the second the light hits her face. "Christ, Dee, is that what you always look like in the middle of the night? No wonder dudes only want to bang you once."

"Screw you, piece of shit," she groans as she staggers into the bathroom.

Mac considers going to sleep on the couch, but Dee's bed is awfully comfortable. Plus, he'd really like to fall asleep as quickly as possible, he doesn't want to give himself long enough to actually think about the implications of what happened yesterday. God, no, don't think about it. He's out before Dee makes it back from the bathroom.

When they wake up, to their horror, Dennis is standing in the doorway staring at them.

"So, you decided to live out your fantasy of sleeping with me by banging my sister? I can't say I'm surprised."

"How the hell did you get into my apartment?" Dee asks, rubbing her eyes.

"We didn't bang." Mac winces into the light. "How long have you been standing there?"

"Mac, listen to me, you're overreacting," Dennis says calmly. "There's no need for you to move out of our apartment. That's crazy."

"Dude, I am hungover as shit," Mac groans. "Can we not do this right now?"

"Look, Mac, if you need us to bang regularly, I'm happy to accommodate--" Dennis starts.

"Oh goddammit," Dee interrupts, waving her gangly arms in the air. "I don't want to listen to this. Can't you two just go back to your apartment and have gross sex and not involve me?"

"Don't make me leave this bed, yet, Dee," Mac begs, burrowing himself deeper into it.

"Okay," Dee agrees, snuggling up next to him. "Dennis, could you bring us some water and ibuprofen or something? Make yourself useful if you're going to be here yelling and stuff?"

Dennis mumbles something but leaves the room.

"Did Dennis just say he wanted to bang me?" Mac whispers to Dee as soon as Dennis is gone.

"Ugh," Dee groans. "Yeah."

"Huh."

"Huh?" Dee mocks. "You two are idiots. You're already basically in a long-term committed relationship. I know Dennis is an asshole and I'm sorry that's what you're stuck with, but it is what it is. At least he's hot." Mac squints at her. "Just go home and talk about your feelings if you must, see if Dennis has managed to have any, and then just have lots of sex. Nothing will really change, you'll just be happier to be getting laid more often. Dennis obviously wants to."

"I don't know, dude."

Dennis reappears with two glasses of water. "You're welcome," he says with a flourish, handing them each one and leaving a bottle of ibuprofen between them. "Mac, let's go home."

"Nah, I'm tired." He gulps down the water and throws back two of the pills.

"Do you want to take the bus?"

"No."

"Then come on."

"He's got a boner," Dee snickers, jetting out her thumb toward Mac.

"Shut up, it's morning."

"I don't care about your boner, dude, just get up." Dennis grabs Mac's jeans off the floor and hurls them at him.

"Why did you even come here?" Dee asks.

"Because Mac freaked out telling me that he loved me and then ran away to get plastered with you and didn't answer any of his texts, I wanted to make sure he hadn't died."

"Aw, so sweet," Dee coos.

"Shut up, do you want to deal with him? I'm happy to leave him here with you, is that what you want?"

"No, no, take him."

"I'm right here," Mac grumbles, pulling on his pants, but his stupid boner gets in the way. He thinks of Dee's gross, smudged raccoon makeup and tries to calm himself down. "Alright, fine, let's go."

The ride back to their apartment is awkward as hell. Mac's at a loss, and he's too hungover to fully comprehend what exactly is happening. Had he and Dennis agreed to have sex? Or what? He can't completely remember and he mostly feels like hurling.

"Pull over, dude, I'm gonna puke."

"No," Dennis answers. "You're a big boy, you can make it home."

"You're such a goddamn asshole."

"You love it."

"I do not!" Mac yells. "I can't help my stupid feelings, bro, but I honestly wish you weren't such a dick."

Mac's phone rings and he glances at the screen. "Hey, Charlie," he answers.

"What happened to you yesterday, man, you didn't return any of my calls. You didn't actually confront Dennis, did you?"

"Afraid so, buddy."

"That's not what I told you to do!"

"Well, it's what happened."

"It's your life to ruin, I guess. Are you with Dennis right now?"

"Yeah, we're in the car going back to the apartment, and I'm hungover as shit. Are you at Paddy's? Somebody should probably be there to open up in a little bit." It's already afternoon, shit, he and Dee must have slept for like twenty hours.

"Yeah, I'm at Paddy's, and I'm the only one here. At least get Dee to come in."

"She's hungover, too, I don't think she's going to come in."

"Well I don't--"

Mac hangs up the phone. For a few minutes, he and Dennis sit in silence.

"You really think I'm a dick?" Dennis asks, an uncharacteristic waver in his voice.

Mac glares at him. "Are we going to do this? Bro, you know I respect and admire the D.E.N.N.I.S. system, but do you ever think of how those girls feel about it? Well, I do, because they tell me. They all think you're a dick. How can I..." He stops himself. "I'll get over it. Or not. Whatever, it doesn't matter. Nothing has to change. Just because I can admit I wanna bang some dudes every now and then doesn't mean it's a good idea for us to bang. I don't want that."

"Yeah, you do."

"No, I don't!" Mac hears his voice rising. He sighs. "You and Dee were right, I can't move out. I don't want that, either. I want to keep doing what we're doing, with Paddy's and the gang and everything. I was us to still be bros, dude. I want to keep doing our monthly dinners and movie nights and all of it. But I don't want to keep lying to myself about everything in my life."

"That's surprisingly insightful for you."

Mac narrows his eyes and shakes his head. "How can you possibly be surprised that I think you're a dick? Jesus Christ."

"It's just you've been lying to yourself for a long time. About a lot of things, about everything."

"I know, okay, shut up. Jesus."

They pull up to their apartment complex. Mac still feels like puking and tries to hold it in as they make their way upstairs.

"Can we just move past it?" Mac asks, slumping against the wall next to the door of their apartment. "I don't want to pretend that this never happened, but I don't think we should do anything about it, either."

"You sure? I said I'd sleep with you, that offer still stands."

"Shut up, dude."

Mac tries to fish his keys out to open the door, but struggles and Dennis ends up beating him to it.

"I'm gonna go puke and shower," he announces once inside. "Can you go to Paddy's? Charlie was bitching about having nobody else there working."

"Yeah, sure."

Mac ends up crouched over the toilet for almost twenty minutes, until there's nothing left in his stomach. He's not used to getting all the way blacked out, and he's more hungover than he can remember being in quite awhile. He's getting old. God, he's almost forty and still having an identity crisis, still living with his best friend from high school. He dry heaves.

After cleaning himself up, he orders a pizza and spends the afternoon on the couch. His phone buzzes a couple of times, but he ignores it. Fuck those guys, they can manage the bar for a day without him. It wouldn't kill Dennis to actually work for once. Mac naps on the couch on and off, does a few push ups here and there, and is overall feeling better by evening. He even gets a little bored. He misses Dennis, which is a completely stupid feeling, but this is the longest they've gone without checking in for awhile. Why is he so wrapped up in Dennis? He thinks about what Dee said, how they could never really be apart. It's kind of disgusting how true that is.

Dennis gets home just past midnight, while Mac is still on the couch dicking around.

"Hey, buddy," Mac says, patting his thighs as he stands up. "Want me to get you a beer?"

"No," Dennis says, coming into the living room. He stares straight at Mac and strides up to him, his gaze never wavering.

"What are you--"

Dennis wraps one hand around Mac's back, the other around his head, and pulls their lips together before Mac can process what's happening. His body freezes, even as his mouth responds automatically, opening up willingly to the assault. Dennis's lips are rough against his, trying to do too many things at once-- bite, graze, consume-- it's wonderful and horrifying. It takes Mac a couple of seconds before he regains himself enough to push Dennis away.

"What are you doing, dude?" he asks, wiping his mouth.

"What do you think I'm doing?" There's a wild, unhinged look in Dennis's eyes, and Mac can almost feel his heart pounding in sync with his own. It's wrong, so wrong, making out with Dennis can only lead to masochism and heartbreak. Even though he can practically see the hunger radiating off of Dennis, he should really, really, absolutely, definitely not--

"Goddammit," Mac says, and lunges toward Dennis, clashing their mouths together. This time, they're both responding with full force, their teeth clacking together as they try to find a rhythm. Mac's hands are all over Dennis, grasping at fabric and searching desperately for skin. God, god, god. It's too good, too fast, Dennis's mouth is too hot as he rolls his tongue against Mac's.

Dennis pulls away just for a moment, long enough to rip Mac's sleeveless t-shirt over his head. It might be the first time Mac has ended up shirtless before Dennis, but Mac doesn't have long to dwell on this thought because Dennis's mouth is back on his, fuck, fuck. Mac is already hard, and Dennis is, too, he can feel it through their pants as he bucks against him.

"Bedroom," Dennis pants, his lips just brushing Mac's.

Mac nods, though the motor function to actually move from this spot proves incredibly difficult. "Jesus Christ," he mutters, blindly following as Dennis pulls him into his room. "Turn the camera off, dude. And take off your shirt."

"What?" Dennis asks, struggling to catch his breath, though he is already scrambling to get himself naked.

"Turn off the goddamn camera," Mac insists.

Dennis wordlessly complies, but fumbles with the camera itself, instead tossing it carelessly on the floor. "Is that good?"

"Yeah, yeah," Mac breathes as he wrestles with the rest of his clothes. Jesus fucking Christ, is he really about to do this with Dennis?

Dennis lets out breathy laugh as he helps Mac slide his pants down his hips. Mac has never seen him look so blissed out, so up close. Dennis presses him against the bed until they both fall back onto it. They're both in their briefs now, and Mac bites his lip as he tries to keep himself together. Dennis thrusts his groin against Mac's, and Mac feels like he's on fire everywhere he's being touched. The weight of Dennis's delicate thighs against his own make him dizzy, he's never been this intimate with another man before, with Dennis. Goddammit. He is ruined, nothing could make him feel like this again, so electric and dazed that he barely stand to be in his own skin.

Dennis works up a rhythm against him, but it's not enough, he needs more. Mac reaches his hand desperately between them and tries to pull off their underwear. Dennis gets the hint, thank God, and stumbles to pull off Mac's. (Dennis is not graceful like Mac had always assumed he would be from the sex tapes.) (Not that Mac had thought about this often, certainly not every day when he jacked off in shower.)

"Get them off," Mac insists, kicking his legs.

"Settle down," Dennis gasps. God, his face is so red and sweaty. It shouldn't be attractive, but it is, and Mac revels in the realization that he's the one working Dennis up like this, he's the one responsible for every sinful moan elicited. When Dennis finally works them both completely naked, he slows down, raking his eyes across Mac's body. He bends Mac's leg up so he can press up closer to him, and a ragged moan rips through Mac the second their naked cocks touch.

"Oh, fuck, bro. Oh, fuck," Mac grunts, as Dennis grinds against him, building a steady rhythm. His face is so close, the sweat from his brow dripping on Mac, their lips barely brushing. Mac thinks he could come from this, just the ragged friction of their--

"I want you to fuck me," Dennis says, slowing his hips.

"What? I--" He tries to slow his breathing and focus enough to attend to Dennis's request. It is incredibly difficult when the only thought in his brain is how badly he wants to blow his load. He thrusts up into Dennis to try to get some friction, but Dennis moves his hips to deny him. "You aren't..." He searches for the words that won't completely kill the mood. "Are you clean?"

"Dude, you know I don't get tested, I just say that--"

"No, the other kind of clean." Dennis stares at him. "I dated a woman with a dick, I know how anal sex works," he says, his voice still hoarse with arousal. "There's a certain level of preparation--"

"It's fine, I'm prepared, I did an enema at Dee's earlier."

"Oh my god, how could you even-- Oh, that is so fucking gross, dude. At Dee's?" He shudders. "This conversation is really killing my hard on."

"You should be thanking me," Dennis counters, lowering his head closer to Mac's, "for my foresight." He brushes his lips to Mac's ears. "Now fuck me."

The timbre of Dennis's voice and the warmth of his breath now ghosting down Mac's face and neck bring his dick back to full hardness. Fine, if Dennis wants to get fucked, he's going to get well and truly fucked. He leans up to properly kiss him, grabbing his body and flipping them both over so Dennis is sprawled out beneath him.

"Lube," he commands. Dennis reaches blindly beside him, grabbing it from the nightstand and thrusting it at Mac. He squirts some on his hand and then to his dick, trying to concentrate on how he is going to avoid coming the second he's inside of Dennis. "You said you were prepared?" He presses his dick lightly against Dennis's hole. Dennis bites his lip and nods. (Mac knows Dennis is no stranger to butt stuff.) He lines himself up and enters him.

For an instant, it's too much. "Holy shit, bro," he mutters, getting used to the sensation and maneuvering them both into a comfortable position. It's been awhile since he's been inside anybody's ass.

"Get going, dammit," Dennis prods, rolling his hips.

Mac begins thrusting, a slow and tortuous pace at first, until Dennis wraps his legs and around him and commands him to go deeper, harder, faster. He thinks of what Dennis had once said about 'generating all of the power from the bottom,' and decides he's not going to let him get the upper hand with a goddamn dick in his ass. He pries one of Dennis's legs up over his shoulder, eliciting a tortured gasp in response, and beings pounding into him with rigor. It's a brutal pace, one he can't possibly sustain.

"Dude, are you close?" he gasps. "I'm about... to bust."

Dennis wraps his hand around his own cock, and cries out after just a few strokes. His asshole tenses around Mac, and they come together through a litany of grunts and curses.

"Goddammit," Mac breathes as he rolls off of Dennis. "God-fucking-dammit." Why was sex with Dennis so good? It isn't fair, he doesn't want this. (Who is he kidding? Yes, he does.)

"Was that good for you?" Dennis asks, still breathless. Mac, in his blissed out state, can't tell if he's being sarcastic.

"What do you think?" he retorts. He tries to steady his breath. His whole body is humming with both energy and exhaustion, he's never felt quite like this before. Even with Dennis's mom. When he looks over, Dennis is bent over the bed, soon emerging with a towel that he uses to clean them up.

"You just keep a towel under your bed?" He's met with a shrug. "Whatever." He nestles himself closer to Dennis and bites his lip when he realizes what he's done. Dennis is definitely going to kick him out, oh shit, he hates being kicked out of bed, and to be kicked out of Dennis's--

Dennis wraps his arm around Mac and pulls him in closer. "Shit, I need a cigarette. I just ran out."

Mac hides a quiet smile (thank God Dennis didn't tell him to fuck off). "There are some in kitchen," he says, slowly running his hand across his roommate's stomach.

Dennis merely hums in response, making no move to get up, and settles himself deeper into the bed. "We should keep doing this," he mumbles.

"Yeah?"

"Mmm." Dennis takes a breath. "Maybe next time you'll be able to last longer than five minutes."

"Goddammit, dude, you didn't last any longer than me!" Mac sits up on his elbows, glowering down at Dennis. "I will fucking show you stamina!"

"Alright, show me," Dennis prods, wiggling his legs apart.

"Okay, but, not right now, dude, 'cause like, give it twenty minutes."


By the time they stumble into work the next day, Dennis has made Mac come four times. Four times. It has to be some kind of magical sex record.

"Ew," Dee says as soon as she sees them. "You two are all sweaty and looking happy and it's gross, it's gross. Charlie, back me up, don't you think this is gross?" She gestures toward the two of them.

"It's pretty gross," Charlie nods.

"You wade around in the sewer--" Dennis starts, and then takes a breath. "You know what, nevermind. Yes, Mac and I had sex. Let's all move past it."

"You and Mac banged?" Frank asks, emerging from the back office. "No shit."

"Can we please not talk about it," Mac insists.

"I'm with Mac," Dee agrees, "this isn't something I ever want to think about."

"But you are thinking about it," Dennis says, sidling up to Dee and winking.

"Stop," she insists, pushing him away.

"So this isn't going to ruin our group, is it?" Charlie asks, sounding worried. "I mean, if you guys break up..." Mac and Dennis respond simultaneously that they are not dating. "Oh, so." Charlie pauses. "Well, what's different, then? You guys weren't already banging?"

"No."

"Absolutely not."

"Just giving each other handies," Dee smirks, then throws her hand up for a high five that nobody reciprocates.

"So you're not dating?" Frank clarifies. "Just living together, bangin', working together and hangin' out all the time?"

"What's confusing about that?" Mac asks.

"You two are such idiots," Dee interjects.

"Makes sense to me," Frank shrugs.


In the next few weeks, Mac and Dennis end up having a lot of sex. Like, a truly disgusting amount of sex. It proves difficult not to. Dennis is always there, taking up space and demanding attention. He is also incredibly willing, and seems obsessed with finding new ways to make Mac come apart. He loves taking Mac to his limits, bringing him teetering to the edge and making him beg, testing him until he lashes out in ways that bring them both to staggering completion. Mac is getting laid more often than he ever has in his life.

Inevitably, it starts to impact the rest of the gang.

"Okay," Charlie says, "we just need to grab the dog and then--"

"You got this, right, Charlie?" Dennis interrupts, his eyes on Mac.

"Oh goddammit," Charlie groans.

"Yeah," Mac agrees, gazing at Dennis. "How many people do we really need to kidnap a dog? You'll be fine. This is more your territory, anyway, dude."

"Unbelievable. You guys got off like two hours ago in that drugstore bathroom..."

"Don't be crass," Dennis says, already walking away.

"You got this, buddy," adds Mac, patting Charlie on the back and making his way toward Dennis. "I have total faith in you."

"God. Dammit."

Dennis and Mac are already out of sight.


"Mac, seriously, bro, this is getting way out of hand. It's interfering with our schemes!"

"I'm with Charlie on this one," Dee agrees.

"Thank you, Dee." He winces and tugs at the blood-soaked bandages on his face. "Damn, that dog really mangled me."

"Yeah, maybe you should go to the hospital," Mac suggests.

"I wouldn't need to go to the damn hospital if you and Dennis weren't so preoccupied with your dicks, shit!" Charlie yells.

"You had a totally clear opportunity to pounce on that dog, how is this my fault?!"

"You could have waited ten goddamn seconds to make sure I didn't get mutilated! You screwed up the whole plan!"

"The plan was just to pounce on the dog and throw it in the trunk, how is that a multiple person operation?!"

"You son of a bitch, that dog was like the size of a small horse!"

"Where are Frank and Dennis?" Dee interjects.

"They're looking for the dog again."

"Until Mac texts Dennis that he's dying for a dick in his mouth and he comes running--"

"That is totally unfair, Charlie, goddammit!"

"I cannot deal with a mutilated Frank, bro, I am not changing his bandages again, that dude produces a lot of blood. Like, an obscene amount of blood, I think he might be all blood in there..."

"Okay, shut up," Dee says, throwing her hands between them. "Mac, Charlie has a point. You and Dennis are banging way too much. It's gross and it's affecting all of us. Keep it to your apartment."

"Okay, but hear me out, though," Mac replies. "If Dennis and I are hanging out all the time, why wouldn't we also be getting off all the time?"

"What?" Charlie asks.

"That's not an argument," Dee says, her hands raised helplessly. "What? Any of us could be getting off at any time, but we don't, do we?"

"See, but why not?"

"Oh my god."

"Mac, do you want everybody to just be jacking off constantly in this bar, dude, is that what you want?!" Charlie yells.

"No, dude--"

"Is that what you want, bro?! I'll jack off right now if it'll make you so happy!"

Charlie goes for his fly, but Dee slaps his hand away.

"Stop it!" she says. "Nobody is going to jack off."

Mac's phone buzzes. A text from Dennis, reading, "We caught the dog, Frank is driving him by the bar. Meet @ home?"

"I think I'm gonna head out, guys," Mac says, putting his phone in his pocket.

"Was that a text from Dennis? They catch the dog?" Dee asks.

"Yeah, Frank's bringing him by the bar."

"And what's Dennis doing?"

"... Going home."

"Goddammit!" Charlie shrieks, taking a lunge at Mac, only to be stopped by Dee. "I'm fine, Dee, I'm fine, Jesus. Okay, look, Mac. This whole dog plan was Dennis's idea."

"No, it wasn't, it was Dee's idea."

"I thought it was Frank's idea?"

"It doesn't matter whose idea it was!" Charlie clutches his hands in tight fists. "The point is, we committed to a plan, and we all need to see it through."

"But why do we need five people to maneuver a dog into the basement? It makes much more sense for Frank to drop Dennis off on his way over here, so that--"

"Oh my god, so not the point, dude."

"What do you want me to do, Charlie?"

"Oh, I don't know, not have sex for five minutes so we can deal with this goddamn dog, goddammit!"

"Okay!" yells Dee. "I'm tired of interfering. Mac, we don't need you for this part of the dog plan." Mac pumps his fist. "Except for Poppins, dogs seem to hate you for some reason, anyway. But you sure as hell better be here for phase two 'cause that part is all you."

"Right, right, phase two."

"Okay, and I think you need to take me and Charlie seriously, here." She puts her hands on her hips. "You and Dennis can't just run away and bang any time you want."

"Fine, okay, we'll make sure to ask you each time we wanna have sex."

"Oh my god."

"Dude, that's not." Charlie puts his hands up in conceit. "Whatever, go have sex, I don't care."

Mac claps his hand and smiles. "Later, bitches." He leaves the bar before they can change their minds. Who are they to tell him how much sex to have? They're just jealous they aren't getting boned all the time (well, maybe not Charlie).

(The dog ends up running away before Frank can even get it to the bar. It turns out none of them care.)


"You haven't slept with any girls in awhile, huh?" Mac asks over dinner one night, about two months after he and Dennis started sleeping together.

"What do you mean?"

"Usually you're using your system on some chick at least once every few weeks." He slurps down a forkful of spaghetti.

"Why would I do that? I'm having way more sex now than I did with the D.E.N.N.I.S. system." Dennis stares at him like the question is ridiculous.

"Well," Mac replies, "don't you still want to bang chicks?"

"Do you want me to keep banging chicks?"

Mac chokes on his spaghetti. "No, not really. I just thought you would."

Dennis shrugs. "We should have started doing this a long time ago, dude, it's way easier to just have sex with you than to deal with all that bullshit."

Mac can't decide whether he should be flattered or insulted. Probably both, knowing Dennis.

"But I don't have tits."

Dennis nods, his mouth in a tight line. "That is true, that's a very good point, I did think about that. But, to be honest, all the girls were kind of starting to run together, gettin' kinda stale. Plus I've probably banged all the hot women in this area already, anyway. Now, if we're talking Jackie Denardo grade tits? Oh yeah, I'd definitely have sex with that. But otherwise, eh."

"Oh." Mac looks down at his plate, brow furrowed. "Huh. Okay, cool."

"Why, do you wanna bang other people?"

"Nah, not really."

Dennis goes back to eating his dinner, soon shifting topics. Mac has trouble attending the conversation, still wondering if Dennis had basically just agreed to be exclusive? He hadn't, really, he'd said he would still bang chicks with big enough tits, but something shifts in Mac's brain all the same. They are dating now, like, for real. No matter what they try to tell themselves. He wonders if Dennis sees it this way, but he's too afraid to ask, not wanting to upset the precarious balance their relationship had achieved. Someday soon, something will fuck it up, that seems inevitable. But Mac will enjoy it while it lasts.


On one of many movie nights, Mac finds himself sprawled out on the couch, head in Dennis's lap and a bowl of popcorn on the coffee table as they watch Pain and Gain on Netflix.

"Dwayne Johnson is so ripped, bro, I would kill to look like that," Mac says as he stuffs another handful of popcorn into his mouth.

"Really?" Dennis grimaces. "I don't know, dude, there's such a thing as too jacked. I'm not into it."

"No?" Mac asks. "What about Marky Mark?"

"Eh," he replies. "I'm more into the doughy look lately." He pokes Mac's stomach.

"Doughy?!" Mac scrambles up to sitting and rips off his shirt, flexing. "You're calling this doughy?!"

"Dude, calm down," Dennis says. "I'm messing with you. I'm into this." He skims his hands across Mac's abs and runs them up his torso, pausing at his pecs.

Mac swallows. "We're gonna miss the movie."

"Pause the damn movie," Dennis purrs, leaning in to press his mouth against Mac's neck.

A helpless moan squeaks out of Mac in response, and he presses at the remote until the TV goes silent. "You can't keep doing this, though."

"Keep doing what?" Dennis murmurs as he slowly lowers Mac onto the couch and works his way down his body.

"I actually wanted to watch-- ngh." His words devolve into a groan as Dennis mouths him through his briefs. Shit, he never expected Dennis would be so willing to give head, given his track record. (Mac has watched enough of Dennis's sex tapes to know he's much more of a taker.) Dennis frees Mac's cock, licking up the side of it as he massages his balls. It doesn't take long before he's taking Mac deeply down his throat, his head pumping in an obscene rhythm. If he doesn't actually love giving head, he sure plays the part.

"Dude, I'm gonna bust," Mac gasps as he grips Dennis's hair. How does he take him so deep? "Holy shit." He grunts a few more time, and then whines as he comes down Dennis's throat.

As soon as Mac's dick has stopped twitching, Dennis asks, "So are you going to reciprocate or what?" He wipes the cum from his lips onto the back of his hand and stands up to nudge his clothed erection toward Mac's face.

"Give me a second, bro." Honestly, he should know by now that Mac is useless for at least five minutes after jizzing. "Sit down, I promise I'll do you in a little bit," he says, and Dennis complies by sitting on the floor, his head next to Mac's. Mac plays with his hair and they watch the movie for a few minutes, until Dennis starts getting impatient.

"I'm getting blue balls, bro, come on," he whines.

Mac groans, pretending it's a chore. (A lie-- he loves giving head, too.)


"Hey, Charlie?"

"Yeah?"

The two of them are sitting alone on the roof of Paddy's, having escaped Dee, Dennis and Frank as they worked out their latest harebrained scheme to screw over Bruce. Neither of them could be fucked to bother with it.

"What do you think's gonna happen?" Mac asks, kicking the ground. "Like, with me and Dennis?"

"What do you mean? You're happy, right?"

"Yeah," Mac nods, taking a swig of beer. "It's fine. It's great. But... Dennis isn't going to want this forever, is he?"

"Ah, dude, you know I'm shit with this emotional stuff." Mac looks at him pleadingly. "Alright, you want me to be honest? I don't think you're capable of being apart. Are any of us? We'll all be together 'til we die, bro."

"You really think so?"

"For better or worse, man, yeah, I think so. Dude, I'd love to end up with the waitress, I would leave this all behind in a heartbeat, and I'm sure Dee wants to bag some rich asshole, but how long have we owned this bar and how close have any of us come to doing anything else?" He takes a sip of his beer and immediately burps. "Honestly, man, I think you and Dennis lucked out. Neither of you could do any better if I'm being totally truthful."

Mac mulls this over. "Yeah, maybe you're right."

"Why, are you getting tired of Dennis?"

"No. It's great, really. We do the same shit we've always done but we both get laid all the time. It's pretty awesome."

"I'm telling you, dude, you're lucky."

Mac nods, quietly finishes his beer, and tries to tell himself that Charlie is right.


Eventually, Dennis sleeps with someone else. Mac always knew this day was coming. No matter how many times he tried to tell himself it wasn't going to happen, he knew it, a fact as inevitable as death.

"Dude, listen to me," Dennis is saying as he chases Mac around the apartment. "I shouldn't have slept with her, I made a mistake."

"What? I have no right to be mad. I always knew you were gonna keep banging chicks, you don't have to apologize to me."

"But I'm telling you that I regret it. Don't you care?"

"Why, was she not a good lay?"

"That's not what this--" Dennis sighs and runs his hands through his hair. "Dude, I'm sorry, okay? I am. I know it's impossible for you to accept that I might actually have feelings about something."

"Do you?" Mac prods, backing Dennis against the wall. "Do you actually have feelings?"

"Yeah," Dennis says, his voice quiet and cracking with uncertainty. "I would... not be pleased if we stopped doing this."

For a second, Mac pauses. "Am I supposed to be flattered by that? Jesus." He shoves him away and walks toward the center of the living room, hands on his hips.

"Mac, please."

"Please what?" He whirls back toward Dennis. "I told you I'm not angry."

"You don't seem not angry."

"Because you're trying to confuse me! Don't say things you don't mean, I'm fine with what we have. Being bros and banging, that's enough."

"Is it?"

Mac doesn't respond to that. "Dude, are you actually sorry, or are you just worried that I'm going to withhold sex because of this?"

"I'm actually sorry, baby. I'm sorry." Dennis invades his space, leaning into Mac and pressing his lips to his.

Mac shoves him away. "You taste like lipstick, dude," he says, wiping his mouth and grimacing. "Look. I'm fine with our situation. But don't goddamn lie to me. Don't tell me you feel guilty when you've never felt guilty in your entire fucking life."

"Okay, you know what?" Dennis backs up and throws his hands up. "You're right. I don't feel guilty, I don't regret it because I think I did something wrong. I had every right to sleep with her, and you have no right to be mad. But I'm telling you the truth when I say it wasn't worth it. I don't know how you feel, Mac, but your demeanor tells me that you're hurt."

"I'm not hurt," Mac says weakly.

"I don't give a shit if you think you're not hurt, you are hurt. So it wasn't worth it, I do actually regret it."

"Why, because now I'm a pain for you to deal with?"

Dennis shrugs helplessly. "Does it matter why? I don't want you to be hurt, isn't that enough?"

Mac feels himself deflate. "Yeah?"

"Yes, dammit."

Mac presses his lips together and allows Dennis to put his hands on his arms, rubbing gently. "You know I hate it when we fight, baby."

For a moment, Mac is calm, and then, "Goddammit." He smacks Dennis's hands away. "This is exactly what I'm talking about, dude, I don't want you to manipulate me. I've seen you pull this kind of shit on a thousand girls, I know your M-O."

Dennis takes a step back, gesticulating wildly with his hands. "I don't know what you want me to do! I've never been in a relationship where I wasn't blatantly manipulating the other person!"

"Just treat me like you did before we started banging!"

"I manipulated you all the time before we started banging!"

Mac throws his hands up in exasperation and refuses to continue the conversation. There's no point-- Dennis is a manipulative bastard, and that will never change. Dennis will never stop sleeping with other people. Mac has always known these things, and it's so goddamn pointless for him to delude himself into thinking otherwise. It will always just end up hurting him, trusting and loving people always ends in abandonment. No matter how many times this is proven to Mac, he never seems to fully absorb the lesson. At least Dennis is here for now, that should be enough.

He sleeps on the couch, his bed too cold and alien to him now. He will forgive Dennis, but for the moment, he wants to hurt him just a tiny bit.

Hours later, he is awoken by a shove to the shoulder. "Come to bed, man," Dennis says groggily. "You're going to fuck up your back, and I'm the one who's gonna have to listen to you bitch about it."

Mac is too tired to put up a fight, and his back really is bothering him. He lets Dennis lead him to the bedroom, and they position themselves as they normally do, with Dennis's breath warm against his neck. Mac doesn't ask, but he thinks that maybe Dennis couldn't sleep without him.

In the morning, Mac has trouble remembering why he was so worked up yesterday, anyway. He asks Dennis if he'll please destroy the new sex tape, and Dennis informs him that he doesn't have the camera set up anymore.

"What's the point?" he explains. "You're always around for a live demonstration. I'm not gonna sit around watching videos of us fucking when you're in the other room."

"You have any of us?"

"Yeah," Dennis yawns, rubbing his eyes. "From the early days, a couple, but I had to rehide the camera 'cause you made me take it down."

The early days. It seems so long ago, now, that it's hard to remember what it felt like to live together without banging. And they spent years like that-- so many missed opportunities. Although, if they had been fucking all that time, maybe they'd be tired of each other by now. (In this moment, with Dennis absently running his hand through Mac's hair and their bodies pressed warmly together, it's hard to imagine that happening.)

"Why did you come home and kiss me that day?" Mac asks. "Just tell the truth."

Dennis stops his hand. "Does it matter? That was ages ago, and it was all for the best, wasn't it?"

"Yeah, but," Mac turns his head to look Dennis in the eyes, "can you just tell me?"

"You'll just get pissed at me." Mac assures him that he won't. (Although when has Mac ever been able to contain his anger?) "I'd always thought about it. I thought it would be easier if we just fucked each other regularly so that I wouldn't have to do as much work all the time to get laid. The D.E.N.N.I.S. system works, don't get me wrong, but it can be an exhausting process. But you were always so adamant in your denial and homophobia, I figured it wasn't worth it to try to convince you. Plus, I knew you were obsessed with me, and I thought you'd get all clingy and weird."

"Have I?"

Dennis thinks about it shakes his head. "No, not really. Actually, nothing seems to have changed much."

This is true, which Mac doesn't like thinking about too much, partially because it proves Dee right about something. He and Dennis have been committed to each other since long before they started fucking. "So when I told you that I... had feelings for you, you... what?"

"I knew you would get awkward and irritating if we just let it hang. You would pretend you were fine, but you'd get all weird and pissy, that was inevitable. I figured if you were going to be annoying, anyway, I might as well get sex out of it. Plus, the more I thought about it, the more I wanted it. I wasn't faking, I was really desperate for you to fuck me," he laughs. "I thought if I caught you off guard, you wouldn't be able to control yourself."

This explanation doesn't make Mac angry. In fact, he's placated by Dennis's honesty.

"Would you tell me if you fucked somebody else again?" Mac is met with silence and he rephrases. "Just tell me if you do, okay? I told you I was okay with it. Or, well, I know that it's going to happen. I know what you're like. So I would rather you just tell me. Even if you think I'm better off not knowing. I won't get mad."

"You can't make a promise like that. You're complete shit at not getting angry about stuff."

Mac concedes that Dennis is right, but makes him promise anyway. It's meaningless, Dennis has never cared about keeping or breaking promises in his life. Still, it's a minor comfort.


On a humid day in July, Mac runs into Bruce on the street.

"Hey, Bruce!" Mac greets cheerfully. "Remember me?"

The other man eyes him warily, not cracking a smile. "Are you one of my asshole children's friends?"

"Yeah, I'm Mac! And you're totally right, dude, Dennis is an asshole. Sorry for, uh, whatever scam he tried to pull on you recently." His eyes go wide. "I had no part in it, I swear."

"Great, I don't care, if I could just keep..."

"Mac, dude, hurry up," says Dennis from down the block. "Who are you talking to?"

"It's your dad!" Mac smiles. "Come say hi!"

Dennis jogs up to meet them, slinging his arm around Mac. "Oh hey, Bruce. You remember my partner Mac, right?" Partner. Dennis uses that word for Bruce's benefit, Mac knows, but that thought does nothing to quell the butterflies now swirling around in his stomach.

"What's the scam?" Bruce asks flatly.

"Scam?"

"Bro, he's totally right," Mac interjects, putting his hand on Dennis's chest. "We should totally try to exploit this whole gay thing, why didn't we think of that?" He turns to Bruce. "What did you have in mind?"

"Pardon?"

"For a scam."

"I just assumed you..."

Dennis frowns at Bruce. "You can't believe that I might actually be capable of a real relationship?"

"I barely even know you," he replies, cocking his head, "but you've never interacted me in any way that wasn't somehow a scam. Anyway, I don't care, I just want to leave." He pushes through them in order to continue making his way down the street.

"Hey, wait," Mac says. "You don't believe me and Dennis are really together?"

"No, not really."

"How's this for together?" Dennis asks, and slams his mouth against Mac's. He gets no response, and the kiss falls flat.

"Dude," Mac whispers, pushing him away, "don't make out with me to prove a point."

"Real convincing," Bruce calls, waving his hand up walking away.

"Oh, fuck that," Mac says, dragging Dennis behind him as he jogs toward Bruce to cut him off. "This convincing enough?" Mac reaches up to grab Dennis's face, gazing into his eyes before bringing their mouths together. He really puts his all into it, clutching at Dennis' ass as he probes his mouth with his tongue. Dennis is more than willing, groaning as he rolls his tongue against Mac's and pulls their groins together.

Bruce coughs. "You're blocking the whole sidewalk."

"Well, sorry," Mac says breathlessly as he pulls away from Dennis.

"Honestly, I don't give a shit what Bruce thinks, let's go home and fuck."

"Yeah, good plan," Mac agrees. "Later, asshole."

They walk about two minutes before Dennis's phone chimes.

"Ah, shit, man, we still have to pick up the liquid nitrogen."

"That was the whole reason we were out," Mac realizes, cupping his chin in his hand. "Yeah, right, okay. Well, it was kind of a stupid plan, anyway. We could just--"

"--not do it," Dennis finishes. "Yeah, I hear you, and I agree, but Charlie is going to be pretty pissed. He was really looking forward to making those little ice cream balls."

"Yeah, he gets pretty mad when we don't follow through with shit in order to bang."

"Yeah."

"Yeah."

As a compromise, they end up going back to Paddy's, but without the liquid nitrogen.

"Unbelievable," Charlie says, throwing his hands up. "Unbelievable, guys, you had one task! What the hell am I supposed to do with all of this ice cream now?! It's gonna melt."

"It was going to melt either way, dude!" Dennis gestures to the three bulk tubs of ice cream sitting in the middle of the bar, the contents already puddling on the floor.

"Nah, man, the liquid nitrogen was gonna freeze it into the little balls, you know, like at the fair." Charlie mimes holding a small sphere in his fingers. "Like Dippin' Dots or whatever, those dudes have no competition, this was a slam dunk idea!"

"Jesus Christ, it was still going to melt, we have no freezers! Ah, man, we really didn't think this one through."

"No, we did not," Mac agrees.

"This is not my fault," Charlie argues, pointing at them. "So what are we going to do with all of this ice cream now?"

Dennis looks at the tubs. "It's a gift to you, buddy. You love ice cream."

Charlie stares at the tubs. "Dude, I'll die if I eat that much ice cream."

"Tell you what," Mac suggests. "I'll give you fifty bucks if you can finish just one of those tubs before it melts."

"Fifty... fifty bucks?!" Charlie's eyes go wide.

"Fifty, Mac, that seems like a little much."

"There's no way that dude can--"

"What's up, boners," Dee announces, bursting into the bar, Frank right behind her. "Guess what, we--"

"We don't care, Dee, Charlie's about to consume an entire tub of this ice cream."

"No way," Frank says. "No way he can finish it, fifty bucks says he can't."

"Wait, I get the fifty bucks if I can?" Charlie asks.

"Sure, I don't care, as long as there's gambling." Frank smacks his hands together.

Charlie laughs maniacally. "Oh shit! That's like..." He pauses, trying to do the math.

"One hundred bucks," Dennis finishes for him. "It's a hundred bucks, Jesus Christ."

Charlie is already going in on the tub of ice cream, using his hands in the absence of a spoon. Dee throws her purse on the counter and asks them what they are doing with the three tubs of ice cream in the first place, and Mac explains the Dippin' Dots scheme.

"Why didn't you get the liquid nitrogen if you didn't realize you were missing the freezers until you got back here?" she asks.

"We ran into Bruce," Mac supplies. "He threw off our game."

"What happened?" Frank asks.

Dennis tells them about what happened on the street.

"For future reference," Dee says when he's finished, "I don't ever need you to describe Mac's boner in that much detail."

"It was a good idea that Bruce had, though, the scam thing," Mac says. "I mean, there's gotta be some way we can profit off of this, right?"

"What, like marriage?" Frank asks. "Marriage is definitely a scam."

Neither Mac nor Dennis responds to that suggestion, instead opting to stare blankly into space.

"Neither of them have health insurance, though," Dee points out. "Or any benefits, for that matter. So how would they be able to profit off of it?"

"I don't know," Frank shrugs. "It's a scam, 's all I'm saying, if they're looking for a scam."

"We're not..." Dennis starts, but he can't finish the thought. "Do you have any other ideas?"

"Guys," Charlie slurs from the floor, slouched over an empty tub of ice cream. "I think," he hiccups, "I need to go to the hospital."


The next morning, Mac is sprawled out in his boxer briefs on the sofa, since it's hot as shit and the air conditioning in their apartment is broken (has never worked).

"You need a shower, dude," Dennis complains, nudging Mac's legs aside to make room on the couch. "You smell."

"You love my musk," Mac responds, sitting up to shove his armpit in Dennis's face.

"Gross, bro, fuck off. I'm trying to eat my breakfast." He sets his bowl of Cheerios on the coffee table and searches for the remote.

"You threw it out the window last week, remember?"

"Ah, shit, man, you're right. Well, it's too goddamn hot to get up and turn it on manually."

"It's too hot to do anything, this humidity is a bitch."

"Showering will make you feel better." Dennis pats Mac's sweaty thigh and then grimaces as his hand sticks to it. "You should really shower."

"It's too hot to shower."

"That makes no sense, just take a cold one."

"Well." Mac coughs. "Whatever, I'm not getting up."

"You're gonna fuse to the couch, asshole."

"You're gonna fuse to the couch," Mac mutters. (It's a shitty comeback, he can really do better.)

Dennis goes back to finishing his cereal. They have no plans today, Paddy's doesn't open for hours, and the heat is so oppressive that Mac literally wants to do nothing. Even this couch is miserable-- Dennis was right, he is sticking to it.

"What do you think about what Frank was saying yesterday?" Mac asks, trying to keep his tone completely neutral.

"What?"

"About marriage. You know, as a scam."

"To be honest, I don't really understand how it's a scam."

Mac furrows his brows and squints at the ceiling. "Yeah, me neither."

"Is it a scam that helps us or hurts us? I don't get it. What are the benefits?"

"Yeah, man, I don't know." Mac shakes his head.

"Why do you ask?"

"I don't know, no reason." But he does know, kind of. He remembers when Dennis married Maureen, how he claimed he had always thought he'd be married by now. And now he practically is, to Mac. Where is he going with this, this line of thinking is so stupid, why did he even bring it up...

"Do you want to get married?" Dennis asks.

"What?" Mac feels his heart stop.

"You seem hung up on the concept."

"Nah, I'm just, like, talking. Most people are married by our age, right? Or divorced."

"I am divorced."

"Okay, yeah, but..."

"Where are you going with this?"

"Nowhere," Mac replies weakly. Why was he still talking about this? Goddammit, now he feels all weird, what is wrong with him? Dennis doesn't say anything, of course, just sits there eating his cereal like an asshole.

"It's not such a stupid idea, is it?" Dennis asks eventually.

"What?"

"Marriage. I would love to be married just to shove it in people's faces."

"What are you talking about?"

"People can't say shit if you're married, you know? Like it's some sort of life achievement, a sign of maturity. And I'm mature, right?" Mac doesn't follow. "I should be goddamn married, that would show them."

"Who is 'them?' What the hell are you talking about, are you proposing to me right now, bro?"

"I'm not proposing to anybody who smells like you do, go shower."

Mac rips himself off the couch with a wince and complies. While he showers, he doesn't allow himself to consider the possibility that Dennis might not have been joking. He comes back into the living room wearing a thin towel, and the heat is still oppressive, shit. He feels even grosser now that he's all damp in the humidity.

"We should do it," Dennis states, clapping his hands together.

Mac rubs the towel on his head to dry his hair and plops down naked on the couch. "Do what?"

"Get married."

"What?" he repeats. "You're not serious, dude."

"Yeah, I am, why not? It wouldn't change anything. Think of our next reunion, bro. You wanna go still single?"

"I'm not single."

"If you're not married, you're single."

"That's--"

"C'mon, dude."

Mac studies his face. It looks somewhat sincere, although... what the hell, how could this be a serious conversation? "What's your angle?"

"I just told you, I wanna rub being married into people's faces."

"Whose faces?"

"I dunno, Bruce, the lawyer, everyone. People who say we aren't shit."

Mac rolls his eyes. Dennis is so full of shit. "Yeah, fine," he finds himself saying.

"Wait, really?"

"I don't know, dude! It was your idea!"

"Yeah, yeah."

Neither of them speaks for a minute. "So were you serious, or... ?"

Dennis props himself up and looms over Mac. "Yeah, baby, I'm serious." He leans down to brush his lips against Mac's. "Marry me."

For a second he's paralyzed, unable to respond, but soon the weight of Dennis's body pressed against his becomes too oppressive. "Get off me, dude, it's way too fucking hot for this."

Dennis slumps back onto the opposite side of the couch. "Unbelievable. I propose to you and I don't even get laid, that's bullshit."

"Yeah, well, shoulda thought of that earlier."

(Later, when the temperature has dropped ten degrees, Mac fucks Dennis so hard he limps for two days straight.)


They don't have a ceremony, instead opting to go to city hall on a quiet Wednesday morning. Dennis suggests that Mac take his name, which is stupid as shit because 'Ronald Reynolds' is fucking terrible and his name is Mac, anyway. He finds out he can change his first name, too, and he gets briefly attached to 'Mac Reynolds' before learning that it would cost almost $300. Whatever, it doesn't matter. Overall, the process is painless, they don't get rings, and they're at Paddy's like normal by the early afternoon.

Dennis doesn't want to tell the rest of the gang for now, and Mac is happy to comply, getting a quiet thrill from the secrecy. It seems an odd request, given Dennis's motivation to rub marriage in everyone's faces, but Dennis attests he never gave a shit about impressing Frank, Charlie or Dee. When they go to dinner, though, or anywhere else without the others, Dennis always makes a big show of announcing that he is there with his husband, and does things like placing his hand in the small of Mac's back, murmuring into his ear and giving him private smiles. He does it to prove he's mature, to show everyone that he's progressive and stable and functional, Mac knows that. It's not for his benefit, but that doesn't mean he can't love it all the same.


 Just before Christmas, Paddy's receives a package.

"Why is this addressed to 'Dennis & Mac Reynolds?'" Charlie asks, carrying the box to the bar and sliding it toward Mac and Dennis.

"It's from Luther," Dennis says. "How does Luther know we--" He stops himself.

"Know you what?" Frank asks.

"I sent him a Christmas card," Mac says, addressing Dennis. "He contacted my mom a couple of months ago, so she had his address. He's still in Tijuana. I know he said I shouldn't contact him again, but I don't know, he's my dad. I thought he'd want to know--" He pauses. "What was up with me," he finishes flatly. "But I thought I put our apartment as the return address."

"Does he think you're married?" Frank asks, pointing at the names on the package.

"They are married," Dee states.

Mac, Charlie and Frank all simultenously ask her what the hell she's talking about.

"Yeah, they got married like months ago, how ignorant are you assholes?" She pulls the box toward her and goes to open it. Everyone else is frozen in shock so nobody tries to stop her. "He sent you pears," she says, taking one out and frowning at it. "That's boring as shit. There's a letter, though." She passes it to Mac, who steps aside to read it. It's not a long letter, just a quick update of what he's been up to. He says that he's glad Mac told him the news of his marriage, that it's good to know his only son is happy. Mac smiles to himself, folds the letter into his pocket, and turns back to the rest of the gang.

"--possibly keep something like that from us, you son of a bitch?!" Charlie is yelling. "I'll stuff this pear down your goddamn throat!"

"Jesus," Dennis says, shielding himself behind Dee.

"Charlie," Mac intervenes, grabbing his arm with the pear to stall him. "Dude, we only kept it from you because we didn't want you to think that we weren't as tight with you anymore. You know, because maybe if me and Dennis got married, you'd think we didn't care about you as much. But that's not true, man, we're all still equal bros."

"Really?"

"Yeah, man, really." He takes the pear out of Charlie's hand. "We kept it from you to protect you."

"You are so full of shit," Dee laughs, biting into a pear, and Charlie loses it, pushing Mac aside to run at Dennis and tackle him to the ground.

It takes a full hour before they're able to calm Charlie down and convince him that keeping him in the dark was not intended as a slight. It's still a blow to their friendship, but they'll move past it. (They always do, more quickly than is probably healthy.) Frank doesn't seem so surprised by the news, and Dee refuses to admit how she knew they were married before everybody else. Dennis explains to everyone his motivations for getting married, and when they ask what's in it for Mac, he mumbles something about benefits.

"And it makes sense, right?" Mac adds emphatically. "We live and work together already, it's not like marriage changes anything. It's changed nothing so far."

"You were in the exact same situation when you claimed you weren't dating!" Dee retorts. They all ignore her. "You bitches."

"So what, exactly, are these benefits you're talking about?" Frank asks. "Neither of you have any assets or health insurance or anything."

"Well..." Mac starts.

"You see..." Dennis begins.


Three years later, when Dennis gets arrested for plotting to murder a shop clerk, Mac is not required to testify against him thanks to something called 'spousal privilege.' It ultimately lands Dennis a significantly lighter sentence, and he's granted parole after just six months in prison.

It turns out that marriage has its benefits, after all.