“Excuse me, but I insist on lunch,” Drin says.
Dance blinks up from the ragged tape-covered mess on the music rack in front of him, and looks around at Amalia, who’s lost her frown and is grinning like a Halloween pumpkin.
“You promised,” Drin says.
Somebody titters, and there’s a rude sliding squeal from somebody’s strings which they will probably claim was accidental. Right. Dance glances away distractedly at the members of his section, who are nudging each other shamelessly. He looks around in a rather hunted fashion, and returns his gaze to Drin. Something about looking up at Drin makes him twitch a bit. Hastily, he says, “So we– yes, I did. It was a very considerable favor, and… I owe… you. Is Mister Drin thinking of a place it is better to go?”
“Oh, I’ve been thinking of a couple places,” Drin says, and enjoys rolling around the syllables as he says one of them. Who needs to know that his reservation for that lunch is in another week entirely?
“Oh, that place is wonderful,” Robert squeaks, and then he has both hands cupped over his mouth, but his eyes are sparkling, the little brute. “Papi just loves it there–”
“Shura’s newest place, he just bought it and fixed it all up as a diner,” Amalia says, sliding her eyes over at Dance, and apparently enjoying the flush of embarrassment on Dance’s face.
The reason is fairly apparent to any observant gaze: he’s got a hard-on that is completely escaping those loose old boxers, and it’s not being slowed down by his usual baggy sweatpants, either. Carefully, he bends down and wipes down his violin and places it with the bow in the case, and some subtle motions of the elbows reveal he’s not just fussing with closing the case.
“It takes awhile to appreciate the borscht, they make a production out of service there,” Amalia tells him gravely. “We’ll work out the rest of this section here, now we’ve got the general idea, don’t worry. We’ll see you whenever. How about tomorrow morning?”
“Thank you, Miss Amalia,” Dance says, and when he does straighten up, the closed case is being held as a fig leaf. It doesn’t hide anything in the slightest, which is delightful.
“Enjoy your lunch,” Amalia says, smiling broadly.
“We certainly will,” Drin says, and just to be perfectly obnoxious about it, he smiles down at Dance and waves a hand to indicate his willingness to follow the Concertmaster through the building. He doesn’t bother to hide how he’s appreciating the man’s rear view.
Walking up the long aisle among the chairs, there’s plenty of time to overhear the responses to all this, too. People are laughing behind them, but it’s in a good way.
“Lucky bitch,” Robert’s voice says enviously.
“What, the afternoon delight or twenty dollar burgers?”
“Thirty,” says Amalia. “Plus drinks extra.”
“Well, I guess we write off Dance and his booty for the rest of the day.”
Robert says, “Thank God! It isn’t the guy’s steel-clad booty that worries me–”
“Stop on the TMI, it’s just gross,” says a high Brooklyn accent. “Robert, I do not want to think about you looking at booty.”
“Specially not that one.”
“I got one word for you, sweetie: kimchee. Live on cabbage, you too can have a buff karate-choppin’ butt too. ‘Nuff said.”
“You forgot the chilis.”
“I’m trying to. Somebody switched the labels on the barbecue pans last time, I about died.”
“Can you say fire in the hole?”
“Class, dignity, dressy clothes, lots and lotsa money–” Somebody starts thrumming out Pomp and Circumstance on a bass. “Naww, skip all that. What we all wanna know is, does the big guy have a dick made of asbestos?”
“And balls of stainless steel, lovies. He works for Bud Innes,” Amalia says absently. “Trust me on this.”
“–it’s that nasty pointy needly brain that–” Robert hasn’t stopped talking.
“Oh, we still got Amalia to keep us totally scared out of our tiny minds,” says a very fake Valley girl accent that is, like, totally unimpressed.
“Why thank you, somebody please remind Robert, would you?” Amalia purrs.
“Anybody else got a hot date buying their–oh, excuse me, lunch?” Robert says.
A deep voice says, “Oh and you can talk, you big-ass ho!”
“He ain’t a ho, he talks about sex alla time for free,” says another man’s voice.
“Oh, stop. Since you made up with your Papi, it only took you two days to tell us everything,” says a woman.
The deep voice advises, “Robert, honey, just shut up and play. You got nothing to complain about.”
“Well, ‘cept the size of his own butt,” says the woman, wickedly. There’s laughter.
Robert begins to explain how there’s plenty to complain of, mostly with the drills that his expensive new tutor is demanding.
“Spoiled bitch, we all gonna haul off and smack you if you go on,” another one of the women says calmly.
“Now behave,” Amalia says, and there’s a loud slap of a bow hitting skin. Amalia can thwack her own hand with a report like a gun, without ever harming her very valuable bow.
Drin has learned that some groups of Metro musicians are very dignified, very quiet. A soft discussion of where to notate a change is about as controversial as they ever get. Not Amalia’s bunch, who are nearly as shrill as the girl flautists pulling each other’s hair over faithless boyfriends. Disputes over their girlfriends apparently end in black eyes dealt out behind the Flame Club two blocks down. There’s been a bit too much of that, lately.
In a month, Bannerjee’s hot new buzzcut blonde percussionist with the tats has already decimated the wind sections and moved on to the strings, to judge by the bruised sulking. Tats girl is also blunt about the lack of spark in her own section, snarking about the tired middle-aged guys whose wrists hurt all the time. It’s clear why she hasn’t stayed long elsewhere.
Dance says he wants to figure out how to get her to be more patient, because she’s very good, but she’s also hammering her body so hard she may get crippling arthritis before she’s thirty. Dance is sudden death on correct ergonomic form, and Amalia enforces it.
As they’re coming down the building’s side steps together, Drin murmurs,“Everything?”
Dance rolls his eyes. “Amalia tells us, ‘Viewing Robert’s disclosures as an educational experience may be helpful.'”
Drin laughs. “Maybe as an example of how to get Bud Innes to crack down on you like ten tons of very pissed-off flying bricks.”
Dance says, “Oh, very good example of that, yes. Mister Robert was not realizing he had so much personal importance to his Papi’s ego, he says this big caring which he never got before is finally good enough reason for weepy makings up and big promises.”
“Were there spankings involved?” Drin asks.
A passing fellow pedestrian stares up at him in surprise, clutches her purse tighter, and wanders off looking slightly addled.
Dance puts on his extra solemn face. His eyes are laughing, though. He tells Drin, “Indeed so. Mister Robert reforms his badness with much progress, and Mister Bud is placated, and it is all very gratifying.”
Drin knows, by now, he is not just imagining the dry tone of voice there. “Bud wasn’t much fun at work either.”
“We are very sorry for that,” Dance says. He gives Drin a sidelong glance, and a little smile. “We are guessing the stainless steel balls were needed?”
Drin snorts. “Some days, oh yeah, you better believe it.”
“As for the–em, comments– Amalia learned our two sections get this way when they have been watching too many ensemble cop shows. They load up on snark. They are great fans, as maybe you heard.”
Drin laughs. Dance is apparently reading his mind.
Dance says, “So we will see if Mister Robert starts practicing with better habits, as Mister Bud requires of him.” Another sidelong smile. “Or bricks will be flying.”
“Hope springs eternal,” Drin replies, just as dryly, and gets the wide grin from Dance that he was angling for.
“Oh, right now, we are hoping for a ride in our Drin’s wonderfully sexy car with awesome speakers,” Dance murmurs, with a wicked glint in his eyes. He walks surprisingly fast for a guy with a woody banging around freely like that, even though he’s trying to keep it under the cover of the violin case. And he talks with amazing intelligence for a guy who’s that preoccupied, too.
“Oh yes?” Drin grins right back at him. “You like my car?”
“Oh, we like many things, including dreaming what we–what I can be doing to you in your car,” Dance says demurely. He’s been working hard to remember to use all those rude personal pronouns, so direct, very American.
“Really?” Drin chuckles. “Now that’s very strange, because here I was having all these wild ideas about what I wanted to do to you in my car, too.”
“This may require practice,” Dance says, with the solemn face.
“It certainly might,” Drin says. “But not today.”
Dance nods. “Yes, I thought we were not going to Mr. Korachevsky’s diner today.”
“Yeah? How’d you guess that?”
“Because you got that bush-rider grin, as our Emma says.” His eyes are crinkled, smiling up at Drin. He’s so cute that Drin just has to stop and grab him and hug him and give him a kiss on the cheek, which makes him laugh and redden, and wriggle away, as if taking one more unbearable touch will set him off right there in the street. Which he probably will, given how hard his prick feels against Drin’s. Maddening.