1965-01-23 - What Brothers Do
Summary: Doug plays a mean trick on Jeb and then later Jeb pays him back by laying some Real Brother Truth on him.
Related: If there are no related logs, put 'None', — please don't leave blank!
Theme Song: None
douglas jay jebediah 


It's the end of another long shift. The floors are mopped, the chairs are up on the tables, and Doug ducked out to get dinner— which he's come back with, for the staff, in bags. "Hey everybody!" He says, "Food's up." He sets the bags on the bar, and says, "I found an Indian takeaway that's still open." He gets out the containers, of rice and sauce. There's one that looks kinda like spaghetti sauce with meat in it. Doug grabs a paper plate, and loads it with rice and some orangey-looking sauce full of peas and… white cubes. Indian food is weird.

Doug was a good boss, he really was. As far as first jobs go, Jebediah is pretty sure he's got the best one. He might be biased because he likes Doug so much but he also might not be. What kind of boss brings all the employees food at the end of a long shift? Probably not many. And even though it looks crazy, Jebediah is more than excited to partake in dinner. "What is all of this?" He asks as he nudges his way closer to the buffet that Doug sets out.

"Indian food," Doug says, as he takes a mouthful of it. "I got Mater Paneer, pakoras," He gestures to the huge dumpling-looking things, "And lamb vindaloo." He points to the container of meat in red sauce. "Just… be careful — the vindaloo's *really spicy*." Yeah, Jeb. So spicy only a MAN could eat it. Are you a MAN, Jebediah Guthrie?

Jay comes out of the back room, putting away their last load of glasses to be washed and wiping his hands on a towel. "Good timin'," easy praise as the musician strolls up to the spread, peering curiously over the different, unfamiliar foods. "They would'a never had somethin' like this back home. Though, we had that one nice indian couple that moved down for a couple years, you remember them, Jeb? Mister an' Missus Patel? They moved to Georgia, didn't they?" No idea what they're in for as far as the food is concerned, Jay lifts a smile in Doug's direction. "Thanks fer dinner, Dougie."

JEBEDIAH GUTHRIE IS THE MANLIEST MAN THAT EVER MANNED IN A MANLY FASHION. "I bet it's not that spicy." Jeb says, puffing out his chest as he picks up the vindamahoositwhatsit and holds a hnd out for a fork. "Hit me, Dougie. I got this."

Doug shrugs, and slings a plate of Red Death up for Jeb. Looks innocent enough, right? "Okay…" He moves to take a bunch of pink milkshakes out of a bag. He sips his, and says, casually, "Good job cleaning up tonight, guys." Then he glances at Jay and says, "No problem. Indian food is EVERYWHERE in the UK. Everybody eats it."

"Didn't the british own India like they did the States? Kinda makes sense." Considering what little he knows about things, he lets Jeb get put his plate together and then Doug, sort of idly hovering next to the blond. Jay peers at the pink milkshakes, gesturing over to them before taking two, sliding one down to Jeb.

"Those are lassis. Indian milkshakes." Doug says. "Sort of." He went for authenticity and got the salty ones, so they're not incredibly sweet, but they are very flavorful. He sips his, and says, "They did, till about 15 years ago."

Jeb keeps his chest puffed up, the scrawny thing that it is as he slides a fork into this 'red death' that doesn't look menacing at least. He takes a GIANT bite, a MANLY BITE, a HERCULEAN BITE BECAUSE JEBEDIAH GUTHRIE IS BASICALLY A GOD. And he /instantly/…. regrets absolutely every choice he has ever made up until this point in his life but he can't let Doug see him spit it out so he holds it there for a moment, too afraid to swallow and have it burn the whole way down but too proud to spit it out.

Doug's cheeks hollow around his straw, and then he says, "…You okay, Bean? You look a little purple."

Jay boggles at the year, surprised when he sets the milkshake down in front of Jeb, but turned toward Doug. "Yer kiddin' me. Just 15? Ah had no idea that it was somethin' that recent. Huh." Definitely skipped that part in history class.

He doesn't seem to immediately notice Jeb's discomfort while his younger sibling suffers in silence. But really, really manly silence. Jay turns to look at Jeb, his brows arching upward. "Oh. Wow. Ah didn't know that a man could turn that color…"

"That's what the pakoras and the lassis are for. The starch in the dumplings and the yogurt in the smoothies helps cool the burn." Doug says, helpfully, "But you should take smaller bites if you're new to indian food. I should've gotten it mild or medium. Sorry, Jeb."

Jebediah nods, slowly, to indicate that he's totally fine while his eyes well up with tears because of the burning that seems to be coating the entire inside of his mouth. His tongue, his cheeks, his lips as he chews but tries not chew too quickly and indicate that he was suffering. He swallows /hard/ and it does burn the whole way down. Jeb can practically feel the path it travels. He leans casually against the table like he wasn't sweating. "Cool the burn? What burn? You mean that /wasn't/ mild?"

Doug helpfully gets Jeb a bar napkin. "Your nose is running, Bean." He is the very definition of 'Wryly Amused' right now. But he's not gonna make fun of the kid.

Watching the transformation, Jay's brows stay up high as Jeb's whole face begins to water and contort, trying his hardest to not look suspect and instead just looking constipated. Jay very slowly opts out of heaping his plate with the Red Death stuff and instead takes from the other. Trying so hard not to laugh, himself, now, Jay's feathers prickle with it in spite of himself, sucking thoughtfully on the odd milkshake. "Take a drink, Jeb. It tastes interestin'…" And might keep him from spontaneously exploding.

Jeb takes the napkin from Doug roughly and blows his nose in it, giving him a look of distrust and disdain. Doug did this on purpose. He knows it. He walks behind the bar to wash his hands before he comes back and still ignores the milkshake he was offered as if he weren't still suffering and his belly wasn't burning. "Ah'm fine. Wasn't even that hot." He continues to insist as one hand moves to his stomach, just casually gripping the front of his shirt. He just STANDS LIKE THAT SOMETIMES.

"Jeb," Doug says, "Have a bite of the dumpling." He puts the Pakora on Jeb's plate, against some untainted rice. "And breathe." he raises his eyebrows. But then, slowly, he grins, and ruffles Jeb's face. "The exact same thing happened to me when I had it for the first time, I almost couldn't breathe. And the messed up thing is, after you've gone through it, you want more of it. The Mater Paneer's a little less spicy. That's, uh, cheese and peas in cream sauce. It's better than it sounds."

Giving Doug a suspsicious looking sidelong smile, Jay happily makes himself comfortable with a smaller taste of a dumpling. Curling his hand around the lower half of his face and mouth just afterward, trying to hide his smile and failing quite miserably at it. "Don't know what yer talkin' about Doug. Jeb just said it weren't hot at all." Openly taunting his little brother.

"Ah don't trust you." Jebediah huffs when Doug tries to offer him something else to eat and then he gives him those 'you betrayed me' puppy dog eyes, paired with the slightest pout. "All the rest of this could make me shoot flames out my nose and ears and anywhere else Ah got a hole and besides it /weren't/ hot. Ah'm fine." He insists again but inches his fingers towards that cup that might blissfully take away some of this heat. "Ah don't need no instructions on how to /breathe/, Doug."

The dumplings, being Pakoras, are harmless — potatoes and peas and onions. Doug has one himself. Then he says, "Okay, okay. I wounded your pride. I'm *sorry*, Jeb." He sits on the edge of the bar, and then proceeds to help himself to some of the vindaloo — when he eats it, he tears up a little bit and his cheeks go all rosy, and he has to go *snrrrrrrf* because his nose is running. "It's so good though!"

Jay snorts on his dumpling, trying not to laugh at Jeb's comment about shooting flames out of other holes. Trying his damnedest to be completely unoffensive while he watches Doug effectively troll his younger brother. Casually, he reaches over to grab a napkin and slide it on over to Doug. "You two look a damn mess. So what Ah'm hearin' is you don't take a first date out to indian, unless ya wanna be a cryin' mess in front of 'em."

"Well, Ah'll remember that. Never for Indian. Ah'll take her somewhere nice that won't make her cry because ah'm not /mean/." Jebediah says, finally giving in and picking up that milkshake to cool the burn in his throat and his belly. "Ah'll take her to a fancy restaurant, one she'll have to wear a pearl necklace to get into and Ah'll /buy her/ that pearl necklace. And Ah'll hold her hand and hold the door and pull out her chair and /never/ make her try anythin' that spicy ever." Jeb insists.

Doug takes another sip of his milkshake. "Good lord, Jay," Doug says, "He's adorable. How did this kid not have girls just *hanging off him* in Kentucky?" He's serious!

"Give him time, Doug," Jay inclines his head toward Jeb while he outlines the perfect date. Which will of course go horribly wrong somehow because nothing ever goes according to plan. But it's still a nice thought. "He's still young an' all. Girls gotta discover how damn charmin' he is yet. They ain't gonna ever /find him/ if he's hidden away all the time, though."

"Ah am not /adorable/." He huffs at Doug as he takes a bite of the dumpling that wasn't at all as offensive as the vindywhatever. "Ah don't need a girlfriend neither. They're expensive. You gotta feed 'em and put shiny things on em and Ah wanna do that but that costs money. Ah'm just a farmer boy. Ah ain't as talented as Jay here with a beautiful voice or as handsome as Sam. Ah ain't got much to offer. A girl should be treated like she's a Queen."

Doug gives Jeb a sideways look. "I don't know, Jeb. You have your charms. More than you know you have. I think you'll be surprised, when the time comes." Then he glances at Jay, and gives him a look that says 'We need to find him a girlfriend.' Before he takes another bite of that punishing Indian food. Mmmm. Agony.

Jay suppresses a small smile back at Doug that seems to denote some wry humor, but in general seems pretty agreeable. Holding out his plastic fork, he curiously pegs a piece of red death soaked lamb off of Jeb's plate and pops it in his mouth. He lasts a few seconds before every feather starts to slowly rise up on his back and he sniffs once. "Whew!" A fist pounds on the bartop and Jay leans in to take a drink off his salty milkshake. "Y'all weren't kiddin', now. Wow. But it does got a good flavor. Ya know. Once you stop wantin' t'die." Blinking the tears back rapidly.

"Don't compare yerself t'Sam, Jeb. Sam's got his own thing goin' on and nobody's gonna be able to follow in his footsteps. Ah feel almost bad for the mess of kids he'll have one day." Jay retorts, merrily, and slides off his stool. "You've got a hell of a lot to offer, Jeb. Don't for a second think anything less of yerself. Ah don't." The sniffling birb winks at his younger brother and pats Doug once on the shoulder. "Be right back. Excusing himself upstairs.

Jebediah rubs his arms nervously when attention turns to him. Not sure what to do with all the compliments. Especially when Jay says he doesn't think any less of Jebediah. He clenches his jaw to not have a very unmanly reaction to that statement as well. As Jay passes by them up the stairs, Jebediah looks at Doug suffering through that food. "What kind of charms? Ah thought ah was just annoyin'. And Ah still don't need or want a girlfriend… maybe.. maybe Ah won't even want it to be a girl… Ah don't know."

Doug raises an eyebrow at Jeb, and then pats him on the head. "You'll figure it out, Bean. Just don't make a mess of it like I did." He says, before he goes back to eating his dinner. He chews, thoughtfully, and then says, "As for what makes you unique — what do you like to do? Do you fish? Do you draw?"

"Ah don't think 'not making a mess of things is a thing ah know how to do, Doug. That's not an ability Ah own." He teases, smiling when Doug pats his head. Not unlike an older brother. "Ah can do one really cool thing. Ah learned how to burn designs into wood with my eyes. Ah did it on Jay's guitar, Ah put the little birds on it."

Doug smirks, the corner of his mouth turning up. "Somehow I figured you were Arty Guthrie." He says. "So, I'll tell you what, kiddo." He says, "Tomorrow, we're going to go to the Metropolitan Museum and the Guggenheim, okay? I have a feeling that you're going to come out of it with a whole new perspective on things." Jebediah Guthrie, welcome to Art.

"You ain't know that. Ah'm n-" Because Artsy is another word for /queer/ in Kentucky, men liked rugged things like sports, punching things, kissing girls, math and rocks. Girls liked to do art. and oh.. wait, that's not bad. It's not bad. It's not bad to be queer and Jebediah stops himself. It's not like Doug knows what he was thinking, but to sound insulted by the compliment probably wasn't the right way to handle it. It's not bad to be /different/. "Ah'm not really all that good at it. Ah just wanted to give Jay a gift and Ah ain't had much money but Ah wanted to make it special for him, because he's my brother. I love him. A lot."

Doug raises an eyebrow, and then says, "You know, Jeb—" He says, "There's no hard-written rule in the world that says you have to be gay to do or enjoy whatever you want." He leans back, and then hops up to sit on the edge of the bar. "And if there are people who tell you that's the way it is, maybe those people are wrong." Then he adds, "There are a lot of artists who painted women because they were in love with them. Van Gogh cut his ear off and mailed it to a woman he was in love with."

"…Bad example." Doug says, as an afterthought.

"That's gross, Doug. Ah don't want any girlfriend now if that's what love makes you do. Ah like both my ears." He insists. "Don't cut off your ear and mail it mah brother, okay? Ah'll have to beat you up." He rubs at his arms self consciously as Doug calls him out on the denial having to do with being gay. "Ah'm sorry. Ah'm still learnin' and tryin' not to be ignant. Ah think Ah might like going to a museum with you."

"…Besides. There's also people who carve wood into statues using chainsaws." Doug says. "That's art, too, isn't it?" Doug raises his eyebrows at Jeb, and says, "Jeb, you forget my power. I know almost all the things you don't say. I can't help it." He pats Jeb on the forehead. "I read the love that comes off you when you talk about your brothers. I know that you almost see *me* as another one of your brothers, which is really flattering. And I just want you to know, I think you're a good guy, and brave, and smart."

"You got one thing wrong." Jeb says and gives Doug's hand a slight squeeze. "You are my brother. So you haven't read everythin' just yet. Ah think you're a good guy, Ah know yer really smart. The smartest ever. And yer brave too. Ah don't nothin' about me bein' all those things but Ah know that you are and ah know that Jay is." He smiles apologetically. "Ah'll try to get better at feelin' that way about the word 'gay'. It shouldn't be a dirty word. They ain't nothin' but other humans."

Doug gives Jeb a cool but fond look, and then throws an arm around him in a brief hug. "I think in some ways you're the bravest of your brothers, Jebediah." There've been arguments. "You want to give that Vindaloo another try? Little bites. Get some rice in with it. Go slow."

"Why me? Jay's got those big wings and he goes out in public and he sings on stage. He's got a lot of bravery there. Ah think Sam fights crime or somethin'. What do Ah do that's brave? Ah'm just… me. That's not very brave." He's confused by the brief hug, confused by being told he's brave. "Ah'll try again, but Ah ain't gonna never trust anythin' you try an feed me again, ya big jerk." He mixes a real small bit with a bunch of rice and tries again.

"Just a little bit. Roll it around on your tongue. Taste the way the heat brings out the spices and the flavor of the tomatoes in the sauce." Doug says, "The fat and meat in the lamb. Everything works together." Then he looks at Jeb, and says, "There's a train of thought that says that being you — the real you — is the bravest thing anyone can do in the whole world, bean."

Jeb doesn't want to taste the heat, doesn't want to roll it around on his tongue but he follows Doug's advice anyway, suffering for the sake of experiencing what Doug is promising him is there and he finds it but he doesn't know if he enjoys it the way that Doug does. It's /hot/. "Well, Ah mean, Jay.. Jay can't be loudly gay.. y'know… people die that way, Doug, it ain't because he's afeared of bein' with you. Ain't 'cause he don't care about you or your relationship ain't mean the same thing to him as it does to you. Sometimes you gotta be scared to stay alive. Ah know it don't feel like livin' sometimes, but my brother likes you a lot."

"I understand." Doug says. "But I see the *shame* in his eyes," Doug says, "And it just kills me, Jeb." Doug doesn't say anything more about the food — if Jay doesn't enjoy the sweet torment of spice the way Doug does, that's just a difference between them. "I don't ever want the people I care about to be ashamed of who they are."

"Doug. It's how we were raised. Ah'm afraid of you callin' me artistic and having someone hear it and come out and beat me senseless. If someone calls ya gay in Kentucky, they might lynch you tomorrow. Might burn down your house. Might hurt your three thousand little brothers and sisters. Might hurt your mama. He's not.. ashamed of who he /is/. He's just learning how to be it without bein' scared of it. Ya gotta be patient with him." How did Jebediah become the reasonable Guthrie? Terrifying. He takes Doug's hand forcefully with his, squeezing it and not letting go this time. "You can't expect him to get over all that overnight."

Doug looks down, and then away. "No." Doug says, "But it makes it hard for me to get over it if there's nobody there to back me up, kiddo." he pats Jeb's hand. "I guess I just don't have all the ties you guys do."

"If my daddy were alive and he found out that Jay was kissin' a boy, he might have whipped Jay. Might have disowned him. He might be thinkin' right now that he's disappointin' him. He's scared. If you're scared too, then it might be good for you to be scared together." Jeb says, Doug's hand still fiercely caught in his own. "What do you mean no one is here to back you up, Doug? Ah'm right here."

Doug raises his eyebrows at Jeb, and says, "I never met your father, but I have met your mother, and I don't think she would've married a man who would've done those things, Jebediah." Doug shakes his head. "Not for one second do I believe that." Still, he crosses his arms. Something about the thought displeases him. "I've gone round and round with your brother about this. If — *us* is going to make things hard for your family, maybe there shouldn't be an us, Jeb. He talked me down, but I still feel that way. I wish I could make you guys understand."

"You don't know the parts we were raised in. How my mama always tells me that swearin' and fightin' and everythin' Ah do wrong is against God's plan for me. It says right there in the bible we shouldn't be lovin' on anyone with the same parts as us. It ain't gonna ruin his relationship with his family if you aren't pushin' him to kiss you in front of our mama or in front of a crowd. That ain't fair of you, Doug. He lives out here, doesn't he? Mama don't know who he kisses out here, who he loves out here. Ah clearly don't give a good goddamn about it. Why does anyone else's opinion matter but yours, mine and Jay's?" Jeb asks, wincing when Doug pulls his hand from Jeb's own. Not because he'd physically hurt Jeb but emotionally… Doug pulled away from him when Jebediah was tryin' hard. "Jay adores you. Jay likes being with you. Jay's happy when he's with you. Jay's happy when he kisses you. Happy when you hold him. Happy, Ah'm sure, when you do the other stuff too. Jay's happy when he's with /you/. That's all that should matter right now. Worry about the rest later. Be /happy/ with Jay."

"Yeah well it also says you shouldn't eat fish that doesn't have scales," Doug says, "And I remember your mother's catfish fritters pretty well." Doug gives Jeb a flat look. "And all that means that I should be okay with the chance that just being around me might hurt his relationship with something that matters even more, Jeb? How is that *fair*? Why should I put myself through that? I'm not asking him to out himself to the whole world. I'm not asking him to do anything. But I can't *ignore* what's not said the way other people can." He taps his temple. "I see it all, Jeb. I see how withdrawing my hand from yours hurt your feelings, just now. Sorry—" He sighs. "It *hurts* me to tear people in two that way."

"Because touchin' is how I make someone hear me. So when you pull away you don't want to listen anymore. I hold Jay's hand when I want him to listen to me and he doesn't yank away because he wants to hear me. When you pulled away you didn't want to listen anymore so my words fall on deaf ears." Jebediah explains, biting his lower lip. "Ah did it with the little ones too. It's how Ah get someone's attention but it's also how Ah let them know Ah'm here. You're not tearin' him in two because he can't be out. Ah don't think you're tearin' him at all. Maybe stressin' him because you can't just live in the now. Cross that bridge when you get to it, Doug. Be happy now. Don't question it. Don't ask the things of him that he can't give you just yet. Be patient with him and his shame. He'll figure it out. He always figures everythin' out. Ah've been his brother for eighteen years, he figured out how to live with me and Ah'm pretty shameful. He just needs patience."

Doug sighs, and puts his hand on Jeb's shoulder. "Do you understand that this is hard for me to live with, Jeb?" He asks. "That I hear everything he doesn't say? That it's *hard*?" He frowns. "Because no matter how often I say it, I don't think that people really get it. It's damn near impossible to lie to me, even by ommission. So all that shame? I pick up on it, loud and clear… and I can't help BUT feel responsible."

"Ah do understand that. But if you care for him, then you'll work through it with him. Ah know he can't talk about it yet, Ah know he can't say out loud to you what he's scared of. Ah know that makes you crazy but you got an unfair advantage with your power and that ain't his fault. Do you understand that you gotta work with him through this? Ah still don't think he believes me when Ah tell him Ah don't care who he loves or kisses so long as it makes him happy. It's gonna be hard, Doug, but easy and worthwhile ain't got the same definition."

"I don't know if I can, Jeb." Doug says. "I'll try, but I just don't know if I have it in me." He looks down, more than a little ashamed. "It's like torturing myself, you know?"

"Then do you care about him?" Jebediah asks a hard question. "Because that's what love is, Ah'm pretty sure. It's workin' through the hard stuff."

Doug sighs, and nods. "I do. He's a beautiful person, Jeb. Then again, all three of you are. Paige is nice, but she's a little bit too much of a hardass for me." He gives a sheepish smile.

Jebediah reaches over and slips a hand beneath Doug's chin. "Then, you work through it with him. You take a breath. You call him on his shit. You care for him /hard/ just like Ah do and he'll come around." He insists. "Love is work. My mama had ten of us and she never wore out all her love, not even on me and Ah ruined so very much of her world. She loved me through it all. Jay still does when Ah ruined his world too. You gotta love him hard. Loud. Pierce through that armor, shake down his walls. My brother is a good man. My brother is a better man than Ah think any of us is. And he deserves to be happy and you give him that."

Doug is silent. He gives the barest nod, and then a slow sigh.

"Easy and worthwhile are not the same thing." He repeats again, gentler. He scoots closer to Doug and tentatively wraps Doug up in a hug.

Doug sighs, and wraps his arms around Jeb in a hug. "I know, bean." He says. "I know." He puts his chin on Jeb's head. "Thanks for understanding."

The creeking of the floorboards upstairs are easier to hear when there isn't a juke box going or a dozen conversations. Jay walks back down out of the apartment above and back down the stairs, oblivious to the heavy conversation. With a small smile and pop of his eyebrows. "You two gettin' comfy?" Teasing gently.

"That's what brothers do, Doug. They listen and they understand and they give really good hugs. Ah've been practicing for a long time." Jeb promises. When he hears Jay come back down the stairs, he releases Doug from the hug. "Sometimes you just need a hug, Jay." He explains, there's no lie to that.

Doug sighs, and he walks up to Jay. He looks him in the eye, and says, "Hey." Then he takes him by the arms, and pushes himself up to kiss Jay on the forehead, over one eye. He leans in, and whispers in his ear, before he pulls back, and goes back to the bar to finish his milkshake. His dinner's gone cold, and for now, he ignores it. Since microwaves aren't really a thing yet.

"Ain't that the truth?" Jay agrees with the fluid ease of truth as he gets off the stairs, but something feels odd and heavy in the room that he might've missed out on. A curious look at Doug while the two meet halfway across the floor, question marks floating around his head when Doug grabs him. Oh! Surprised, he smiles a little bit, quick flicking a glance in Jeb's direction, but very quickly his attention falls back on Doug. One hand touches the blond's ribs, the other floating in nowhere land as he bows his head for that little kiss and whisper. Modest, Jay's eyes flick down and he whispers something back, swishing his fingers back and forth against Doug's ribs. Parted from just as quick, Jay's wings fwip a couple times, looking a little embarrassed as he follows back to the bar. Embarrassed, but warmed.

Jeb looks away, so that maybe any embarassment Jay does feel is lessened a little. He hopes that Doug heard him. He really did try. He wants more than anything in the world for Jay to be happy.

Douglas adds a little more to his plate to warm it up, and eats quietly. He seems subdued. But content.

Jay settles in with his brother and Doug at the bar after hours, taking a little bit more of the red death to try it out himself. There's a flick of a glance between the two, but he quickly changes the subject of conversation to something lighter and easier before they all crash. A natural end to the night.

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