Still Life With House
by Lar

They didn't buy the land because the barn was on it; that was just a piece of good luck that came to them along with the gentle slope and the mostly-whole fence on the south side. Lindsey drove past it half a dozen times before he let himself stop and write down the number on the sign. It seemed both improbable and unlikely that it would still be available after all his hesitation, but the agent said it hadn't had much interest.

"Ain't had so much as a nibble, tell the truth," he said when Lindsey got him on the phone, the sound of his voice muffled now and then. Lindsey could picture him covering the receiver with his hand and spitting into a cup.

"So what's wrong with it then?" Lindsey asked, hat pushed back on his head, eyes watching the hallway in case one of Smithers' other workers came by to call their girl, their mama, their bookie.

"Not a damn thing, son, it sits on the backside of that little dirt road is all. Had an estate sale, and the son-in-law's too tight fisted to pay me to run even a bitty ad in the paper. It's gonna sit there forever if you ain't gonna bite." The agent coughed, spit again, and leaned back in his chair until it creaked loud enough for Lindsey to hear that, too. "You wanna take a look-see?"

He made the appointment to see it alone, booking it when he knew Riley would be working. Just in case. No sense in making those kinds of gestures if was all going to be for nothing. Or so Lindsey figured as he waited for the agent, sitting on the bumper of his truck and wondering if he'd lost a little bit of his mind.

Tommy Bacon was the agent's name, and he looked like he did every damn thing full throttle. His short legs supported a body that showed evidence of a lifetime of beer, barbeque and double helpings of dessert. His little green eyes were almost hidden in the wrinkles on his face when he smiled and shook Lindsey's hand. He then proceeded to walk Lindsey over all three acres, pointing out the drainage, the fields, and the place where the house burned down about thirty years back.

The barn was the thing that sold it, but Lindsey never let on. He asked about the condition, the permits he'd need if he wanted to knock it down, if he wanted to fix it up. He called it a fire hazard waiting to join the old house.

The agent just chuckled and put his card in Lindsey's hand, clapped him on the shoulder, and said to give him a call.


Four months later, the house is well on the way to being more than just studs and drywall. There's an actual roof thanks to Riley and an amount of sweat equity that he swears is equal to putting one on the Taj Mahal. Lindsey's contribution to the effort is hauling the boxes of roofing tiles off the truck and using the pulleys and ropes to get them up to Riley. Then he wanders off and has a beer until the next box is needed.

As far as systems go, it's a good one for them both. Riley gets to indulge his need to do things right by the book, and Lindsey gets a nice mild buzz as he watches Riley strip to the waist and work up a sweat.

The first night they have windows, walls and doors to go with the roof, they spend the night. The new mattress is still wrapped in plastic and it crinkles under them every time they move. There's no paint up yet and the ghosts of the spackle-trails hover in the dim light of the battery lamp.

The nights aren't cold enough yet to require more than the heat of skin to skin on the sheets that cover the plastic, and Lindsey switches pillows with Riley twice before he decides that both are the same, just like the tags say they are. Riley's patience has grown over the time they've spent together, spoiling Lindsey and letting him settle into the habit of being as demanding as he cares to be.

"Your mama called," Lindsey says lazily as he listens to the radio that's tuned down soft and low, Linda Ronstadt crooning about the Blue Bayou. "She wants to know when you're comin' home to visit."

"Serves you right for answering my cell phone without checking the ID," Riley replies, rolling over to his side and staring at Lindsey's profile. "What'd you tell her?"

"That every penny we had was goin' into the house and the mortgage, and if they wanted to come out and bring a paintbrush, we'd feed 'em all the barbeque, corn and beer they could handle in trade." He grins, his eyes closed, but he can feel the stare, can feel the air move as Riley breathes close to him. "They'll be out next month."

"Good," Riley murmurs. "Be sure to leave a couple of rooms for them so they feel all helpful and needed." He leans in closer and presses his mouth against Lindsey's ear. No words, just a breath that makes Lindsey's arms shiver with goosebumps before Riley leans back again. "You can ask my dad to help you tile the bathroom."

"I thought we decided," Lindsey says slowly as he finally moves, on his side facing Riley. "You were gonna tile the bathroom." He grins a little, crooked and charming as hell. "You're good at those straight line kinda things."

Riley snorts, then reaches over and puts his hand on the back of Lindsey's neck. The gesture is familiar to them both, precursor to kisses that will lead to things that will make the plastic on the mattress make a hell of a lot more noise than it is right now. His thumb strokes over the vulnerably soft skin along Lindsey's hairline, ruffling the too-long dark waves as he smiles. "No, that's not how we decided it was going to be. We decided that we were going to both tile the bathroom. You decided that I was going to do it. There's no boxes to haul up to the roof on this one, you're going to have to get in there and do some work this time." He leans closer still, his nose rubbing against Lindsey's, Riley's mouth pressing in softly and far too quickly.

Lindsey's hand slides to Riley's hip, the soft jut of bone cupped in his palm as he shifts his body closer. "You know as well as I do that you're gonna pick at every damn tile I lay and turn it around and say it ain't laid straight enough and then I'll get pissed off and then you'll get pissed off, and we'll end up fightin' over it." He sighs and pulls on Riley's hip, bumping it against his own until they're belly to belly and there's no space between them. The hard length of Riley's cock nudges against Lindsey's own and they both rock towards the friction with the ease of lovers who know how this dance begins and ends.

"Are you actually trying to get me to give in to you based on the threat of you sulking?" Riley asks, the amusement in his voice obvious as he presses in again, close and warm. "Come on, how easy do you think I am?"

Lindsey's chuckle sends shivers down Riley's back, just like it always does. Something about the richness of it, the way it rumbles in his chest, that just gets right under Riley's skin and makes him want to do. things that he's just about ready to do anyway. In fact it seems the perfect time to press himself over, knee sliding between Lindsey's thighs as he pins him to the mattress. The plastic crackles louder than the static on the radio.

"Are you tryin' to answer your own question here, Slick?" Lindsey murmurs, hand on the small of Riley's back now, knee raised alongside his hip, back arched just enough to telegraph the answer he wants to hear.

"Yeah, how's that working out?" Riley's mouth lingers this time, preventing Lindsey from answering right away. Slippery tongue pressed between open lips, the answering lick of another, and they lose track of the question in that kiss.

The sheet slips against the plastic as they move together, nothing hurried and all the time in the world for kisses to be drawn out one after another. The lamp flickers as the battery slowly drains and the shadows they cast on the bare walls turn from sharp silhouettes to faint smudges of grey on black. The sounds of crackles and sighs compete with the radio to fill the room, crickets chirping in the empty spaces when the station drops out or someone holds their breath.

Skin slick with sweat glides easily together and apart, Lindsey's hand grasping tighter to Riley's hip to hold them together, as if the weight of Riley's body is not enough. Lindsey's hips lift from the mattress, pressing up whenever Riley rocks away, unable to stand even a moment without the friction. There shouldn't be any grace to this, a tangle of heavy limbs striving to find the right rhythm, knees spread and fingers clenching at an arm, a hand, the sheet beneath them both. And yet there is something entirely sleek in their movements, in the way their bodies fit together even when it's nothing more than shift, push, rub; tongues and lips sucking; cocks sliding and pressed against each other as tight as they can manage. Over and over in the growing darkness until there's a groan, one gasp and then another echoing from Riley's mouth to Lindsey's, and they're both slicker and sticky and still pressed together.

Riley's forehead rests against Lindsey's briefly, and he tries to catch his breath before he speaks. Doesn't help matters when Lindsey pulls him back down, head turned to steal more kisses before he lets go, and by the time Riley slips to the mattress again, he's still out of breath and grinning. He lies on his belly, feels Lindsey grab for someone's shirt to swipe at the wetness before he rolls over, and sure enough in a moment, he feels the weight of Lindsey's arm over his back.

"I suck at laying tile," Lindsey says against Riley's ear as he stretches out alongside him and finds the place where his body fits against Riley's, belly to hip, chest to shoulder. "But you make a helluva argument."

Riley laughs at that, turning his head towards Lindsey and lifting it from the cushion of his own arm. "First threats and now flattery? That's really pathetic, Lin. I expected more from you.

"Hey, I was a lawyer, remember? You have no idea the kinda depths I'm willin' to sink to." He props his head in his hand and studies Riley for a moment. "What did you have in mind?"

"Bribery. Serious amounts of bribery."

"Are we talkin' cookin' you a steak dinner bribery, or were you thinkin' more along the lines of things that'll scare the wildlife for the next month?

"Six weeks at least. And you cut the damn tiles."



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