connubial

Connubial

“Today would have been our 63rd anniversary,” Tom said. He turned his gaze toward the water, and I could see the sunlight dancing in his eyes. I reached for his hand anyway and set my hand on his.

He didn’t seem to notice. I looked at his profile as he stared out into the vastness.

“That’s a long time,” I managed, my throat grasping to contain the words that fell from it. I took my hand from his hand and brought it briefly to my chest then to rest on the wooden railing that kept us from the edge of the cliff. A seagull barked overhead, and I turned to watch it glide above us then swoop onto a nearby rock.

I knew my role—the placeholder, until he could see her again. In heaven. Taking a deep breath, I gained courage to speak again.

“Do you see that sailboat way out on the horizon? I wonder where it’s headed? Maybe to Catalina. Catalina’s wonderful this time of year.”

I turned to see if his expression had changed, but he continued to stare beyond our physical world. So I checked my watch.

“It’s nearly time for bridge,” I said.

Connubial

by Stephen Dunn

Because with alarming accuracy
she’d been identifying patterns
I was unaware of — this tic, that
tendency, like the way that I’ve mastered intimacy
in order to conceal how I felt —

I knew I was in danger
of being terribly understood.

9

The Satyr’s Sermon by Andrew D. Chumbley. Xoanon Publishing, 2009.

“Concerning the sorcerous precept of Unfettered Desire, the Sermon unfolds in parable form, orated by the twin sexual hypostases of the Sabbatic Agapae – The Satyr and the Virgin. The book gives voice to a connubial dialectic patterned upon 26 aphoristic formulae or ‘Sermons’ and their accompanying calligraphic sigils.”

  • my personal collection / photos taken by myself

prompt from here: “My parents thought I was working for an insurance company in New York when really I was joining the CIA so I just sort of never mentioned when I met you on an assassination-gone-wrong and now we’ve been married for five years and they still don’t know you exist, this has gotten wildly out of hand and you won’t stop laughing about it.”

it just seemed perfect for steter.

p.s. my emerging love for this pairing is entirely the fault of cwyscross.

“It’s not funny, Peter.” Stiles glared at his husband, who was not even attempting to hide his laughter.

“Of course not, sweetheart.” Peter smirked at him before picking up his wineglass. “I would never presume to think that your inability to tell the truth to your beloved father is amusing. That would be wrong of me.”

Stiles groaned and laid his head down on the table, swatting away Peter’s condescending pat on the head. “It’s been five years! Every time I try to bring it up, he says something about how proud he is of me and I chicken out.”

“Hmm,” Peter sips his wine with casual ease. “Am I not someone to be proud of, Stiles?”

He let his head loll to the side and gave Peter a baleful stare. “I’m not falling for that one. Anyone in their right mind would run the other way.”

“And yet here we are, in connubial bliss.”

Stiles sighed heavily. “That says more about my mental state than your appropriateness, you know.”

“So you say.” Peter finished his wine and pulled Stiles to his feet. He led them over to their highly overpriced leather sofa (‘I can’t believe you bought this while I was on a mission, Peter’ - 'You would never allowed it in the house otherwise, darling’) and tucked him snugly against his side.

Stiles sighed again and relaxed his muscles consciously. He wanted to enjoy to spend time with his husband that didn’t also include some sort of weaponry or blood or bureaucrats who thought they knew what the world was really like. It was so rare for them to have a peaceful night together. Peter pet through his hair while languidly reading an art journal he propped up with his other hand. Stiles just flopped bonelessly against him and let himself be cuddled in silence.

His muzzy thoughts were interrupted by the buzzing in his pocket. His personal phone, of which only a handful of people knew the number. With dread, he pulled it out to look at the caller id and Peter snorted when he saw the name over his shoulder. “You should just tell him now.”

Stiles grumbled to himself. “Way to ruin an evening, telling my father horrible things.”

Peter sounds even more amused than he was before. “I’m hurt, Stiles, to be included in that list. Truly.”

“You’re an asshole and you don’t have feelings.” Despite his words, Stiles leaned back against Peter’s chest and swiped across the phone screen to pick up the call. “Hey, dad.”

If it isn’t my favorite son, actually answering his phone for once!

Stiles winced. “Sorry, dad. Work’s been crazy lately.” Behind him, Peter rolled his eyes.

Right. Must be tough, out there on the East Coast all by yourself. I bet they need insurance investigators out here in California too.

His father was not exactly a man who minced words, damn. Still, it was definitely an opening he could use. Stiles tried to force the words out and nearly choked on them. “I … Dad, I’m not alone?” He winced again when he came out more like a question than a statement. Peter tugged on his hair annoyingly.

You sound like maybe you’re being held hostage, Stiles. Anything you want to tell me?

Want to tell him? Need to tell him? Stiles had a hard time keeping those two things straight. “Uh, maybe? It’s just … a lot. That I haven’t been telling you.”

There was a long pause and he pulled the phone away from his face just to make sure the call hadn’t dropped. “Dad?”

Do I need to fly out there, Stiles?

“What? No! No, definitely do not fly out here.” Especially when he didn’t even have the right address for their Manhattan apartment, since insurance investigators definitely don’t make enough money to live on the Upper East Side. CIA agents who were married to a former ('For now, sweetheart’ - 'Please don’t say that where I can hear you, Peter’) assassin and jewel thief had much better sources of income.

You say that, but your tone makes me think I should be driving to the airport right now.

Stiles huffed explosively and ran his free hand through his hair, sitting up from his position against Peter. “Jesus, no. I just don’t know how to say what I want to say.”

That’s never stopped you before.

“Hah, hilarious. Play on my childhood flaws.” There was a snort on the other line that matched Peter’s bemused one behind him. “Okay, so I’m just gonna say it. You’re not going to be happy about it, but … I’m married? To a guy? And am totally not an insurance investigator.”

Huh.

“You know, that’s not exactly the response I was expecting.”

I didn’t even rate an invitation to your wedding?

Ouch. “Our wedding wasn’t exactly … planned?” Stiles turned to Peter and mouthed 'help me’, but his husband just went back to his reading, like the asshole he was. “I met Peter on a … job and the situation necessitated marriage. And then we just … kept it?” He was cringing as the words fell out of his mouth.

Looks like I do need to fly out there.

“What?”

I need to meet this man, make sure he’s good enough for my son.

Stiles was certainly not looking forward to that idea. “No! I mean, yes, of course you should meet him, but uh, Peter is also really busy a lot so we’ll have to schedule a time …”

Peter snagged the phone from his hand without even looking up from his journal and nearly purred into it. “Hello, John? This is Peter. We would be delighted for you to join us at your earliest convenience.”

Stiles was left gaping at the sheer audacity when his father replied and a smirk grew on Peter’s face. “Tomorrow morning? That sounds perfect. I’ll send a car to pick you up. I look forward to meeting you.” He handed the phone back as if he hadn’t just ruined years of carefully placed lies and evasion.

What does he mean by a car, Stiles? Please tell me you didn’t marry someone in the mafia. You know how I feel about organized crime.

He huffed. “Peter would be a terrible mafia underling.”

That doesn’t actually make me feel better.

“It’s not really supposed to.” Stiles 'accidentally’ jabbed a sharp elbow into Peter’s ribs as he moved around on the couch, earning him a heated glare and a pinch on his thigh. “He’s just disgustingly wealthy. It’s horrifying.”

His father ignored that and said, I’ll be at JFK tomorrow at 9:30. Don’t think you’ll get out of this, Przemyslaw.

Stiles grimaced, knowing his father had to be pissed to pull out that big gun. “I know.”

After an awkward, stilted goodbye, he hung up and stared at the ceiling for several long minutes. “This is going to be a disaster.” He flopped over onto Peter’s chest, looking at him with wide eyes. He ignored the noise Peter made as Stiles knocked the air out of him, knowing he was sturdy enough for his weight. “My dad is going to kill me.”

In an uncharacteristic moment of sympathy, Peter wrapped an arm around him, rubbing his back soothingly before ruining it with his words. “No one is going to kill you. You’re mine.”

Stiles laughed into Peter’s t-shirt, his nose rubbing against the bare skin peeking out of the entirely too deep v-neck ('You look ridiculous, you know. Like a twenty year old hipster.’ - 'I look amazing, certainly better than those Williamsburg fucks, Stiles. Give me some credit.’) “That’s entirely the wrong thing to take out of that statement.”

“Stiles, your father clearly loves you,” Peter did his best to keep an even tone, though the incredulity of having to explain anything still shaded his words, “And you haven’t actually done anything wrong.”

“Except lie to him for the last five years?”

“Except that.” Peter kissed his forehead in an appallingly sweet gesture that was belied by his hands creeping into the back of Stiles’ jeans. “Let me take your mind off it.”

Stiles wiggled a little and let a smirk of his own creep onto his face when Peter’s hands tightened on his ass in response. “I can't not think of it. He’ll be here tomorrow.”

“Hmm,” Peter sat up abruptly, pulling Stiles along to straddle his lap. Peter ground himself up against Stiles as he bit softly up his neck. “Are you doubting my abilities to distract you?”

When he held back his instinctual moan of pleasure, Peter pulled back to look at him questioningly. Stiles just looked at him in challenge. “Well? Do you need a written invitation?”

The near growl and sudden ripping of his shirt answered his question and Stiles laughed, tomorrow’s debacle not quite forgotten, but easily shelved in deference to more enjoyable things.

('I can’t believe you hid lube in the couch, Peter.’ - 'But my forethought certainly saved you from greeting your father with a limp tomorrow, sweetheart. Be grateful.’)

2

“When he isn’t working, Nicholson stays up late and gets up late, usually after 11 a.m. Phone calls with friends and business partners—right now he’s trying to settle the personal and financial disputes that have delayed production of Two Jakes, a sequel to Chinatown—take up part of the afternoon, and some kind of heavy exercise occupies the rest. He swims, plays tennis, works out on his Nautilus machines, runs in the canyon near his house. Jack also likes to watch sports, especially the Los Angeles Lakers—for years he’s been their No. 1 fan. "Basketball seasons are like wines,” he says, “and every wine is different.” When he’s in town, he attends all home games. When he’s not or they’re not, he picks up the game on TV. Anjelica often watches too. Not long ago, while the Lakers were playing the Celtics, they had the following connubial conversation. 

Anjelica (casually): “Jack, why is Larry Bird so pale? I wish he’d get a tan." 

Jack (indignantly): "Whaddya mean, why is Larry Bird so pale? Where does he live? Boston, right? What time of year is basketball season? Winter, right? What time of day does he do his job? At night, right? Now how in hell is he gonna get a tan? I like him just like he is, anyway." 

You can’t be any more married than that.”

From People Magazine July 8th, 1985