It was practically a ritual at this point. Wait — fuck practically. He didn’t even consider himself to be properly home until you harassed the hell out of him, until you threw something at the wall, until an almost literal storm passed through the household. Not that he minded; he expected it every time.
And who were you? Well, Greg Jenko was capable of reaching near-memetic levels of stupidity, but even he was allowed to have some well-kept secrets. Including a significant other that he maintained, much like a garden, almost exclusively from late April until early September. Meanwhile, it was the 29th of April, and he had forgotten to call ahead.
Not that you weren’t a master of the homestead, and you heard his car crawl into the driveway. So the sight he was welcomed with was the sight of you slamming open the front door and storming down the porch steps like some fiery-eyed demon, a demon that he was apparently chained to until death parted you, and with that look in your eyes, he guessed that it was his death on the horizon.
“There you are!” you spat, and though you tried to literally kick his ass, he had years of experience on his side and deftly moved to the side. “Jenko, you sorry excuse for a husband! I barely recognized you — the hundred photo messages Schmidt’s been sending me, I would have thought that you kept that stupid-ass haircut of yours. Or maybe it’s because I haven’t seen you in how long? I thought you were just going to live at art school. You haven’t called in weeks, and you sure as hell didn’t call today to let me know that you were coming.”
“Yeah, that was, uh…”
“Was what? Are you trying to come up with some excuse?” He was walking into the house with his things and you took one of his suitcases before following him in. “Because let me tell you, you’re going to fuck it up, just like how you fucked up every exam in high school.”
That was a new one. Jenko looked back at you, appalled. “The fuck? You were the one passing me the answers. If anything — it was your fault, you’re the idiot.”
“No, I just would have given you all the right answers, had your cunnilingus bribery game been a bit stronger than your tongue poking around like a groundhog scared of his fucking shadow. Me, the idiot! Oh, please… Without me, you would have been held back a third time… Or do they allow that? I don’t even know…”
As I’ve said: a ritual. Though he did seem to get a bit more offended at that one than usual. Not even the dogs, running up to him with dumb smiles and wagging tails, could make him forget that one. “Hey, I fucked hundreds of chicks, and I’ve never gotten a complaint…”
“Perhaps you’re misinterpreting their shocked silence? Oh, Jenko! Don’t tell me you’ve fucked a hundred more in your shitty little art school?” You put his stuff down and kept following him like a shadow, on his heels as he went up the stairs to the bedroom. “I actually thought it’d happened, you know? Didn’t seem implausible. Not that I’d mind if you finally left me, because then I could finally get a cat, with your fucking moronic allergies.”
He was unsure as to how long you’d go on for, how much you needed to vent, but when he turned to you he found you locking the door behind you. The unadulterated anger in your eyes had shifted into a different form, something much more exciting. “Tell me,” you said, “did a self-named Andromeda LoveStarr think she could fuck you better than I can? Get over there, you stupid bastard, you selfish son of a bitch, I hate you so much…”
And so the ritual moved on to its second stage: blistering rough reunion sex as he almost physically fucked the rage out of you until you were a gasping and heavy and twitchy mess on the bedspread. Jenko’s favorite part of the ordeal, naturally, especially the times when you more or less collapse in on yourself and have to regain energy before you move from the position he leaves you. But this time you’re on top, rolling and rollicking like some sort of fuck machine as you very nearly drain him of all energy.
Or maybe not very nearly. Because when you dismounted, finally finished, he was out within minutes, and a feeling of total satisfaction washed over you. You moved to take care of his belongings, unpacking and sorting clothing, cleaning his gun, seeing what he’d brought home with him.
God, he’s a shitty artist, you realized, looking through his art school work. It made the botched restoration of Ecce Homo look like it deserved commendation from the highest authorities on art. You glanced through a few basic paintings of trees and clouds before stumbling upon what was apparently his treasure: a terribly drawn watercolor of a cat, its tabby stripes leaking out of its body and all of its paws a different size. On its face was an expression like it’d just witnessed a horrible crime but realized it couldn’t tell anyone about it. On the back he’d written your name, dedicating the artistic abortion to you; your heart warmed and you made sure to tuck it away in a safe place.
When Jenko awoke you were beside him again, clothed in contrast to the zero stitches on him. In the air was a familiar smell — you were cooking his favorite meal, it seemed — and when he looked over to you groggily he found you with his coupon book in your hands, flipping through the pages, seeing what he’d torn out.
“Good morning, handsome,” you greeted him, a total 180 (or as he’d say, a complete 360) from your former self as you smiled at him warmly. The third and final stage of the ritual: complete and utter adoration, not an ounce of rage left in you. Turning back to the book you said, “Now; this is curious. You used one of your heavy petting coupons and two of your kiss coupons — that, I expected. But you tell me you use your blowjob coupon first and it’s untouched. Even your sex one. Don’t tell me you went through three months of art school without having sex.”
He groaned, still not totally there after the whirlwind ritual. To ground himself he stuck his hand up your shirt, underneath your bra, reacquainting himself with what he’d sorely missed. “Yeah, didn’t miss much. Fuck art school; nobody there shaved.”
“Hey — some guys are into that, you know.”
“Really?” Jenko cracked an eyelid open, looking at you critically. “What about you? You use anything up?”
“Nah. Been quiet, you know? Except that Nico Sterling won’t leave me alone, and he knows I’m not interested.”
“You serious? Shit, man. I’ll end him.” Though your husband wasn’t the portrait of intimidation when rolling over sleepily onto his side, trying to get a better angle to feel you up. “Roll up to his house like, License to kill, motherfucker.”
You pondered that, not ruling it out. “Do those really exist?”
“Dunno.” He furrowed his brow, recalling how passionately you’d bullied him. “Bad time at work?”
“Oh, the worst… I know they’re not manly as you or anything but it’s so stressful to pretend to like everyone when you hate their guts, you know? I think I’ve actually punched a hole into the wall somewhere in the basement.”
It’d have to go on the chore list, then. A small price to pay for you to keep your sanity, in his opinion. He had to go deep undercover and infiltrate criminal rings and dive in front of bullets, but your job wasn’t a cakewalk, either. You were the one who had to work in retail, and then went from the frying pan into the fire by accidentally trapping yourself into a position where you had to rub shoulders with those who were almost professional backstabbers. If anything, he was the only one in the world who you could actually give the-reason-you-suck speeches to, even if none of the abuse was real, even if it was only to act as a healthier catharsis than punching a bean bag to death.
“What about you?” you asked, holding his wrist underneath your shirt. “How was the mission this time? I mean — I really wish you had called me ahead. I had to run out to the store to get stuff to make dinner with my legs like this… Did it go well?”
“Eh… It went okay.” He made a face. “I guess I’m not really, like, an artistic person…”
“Might have picked up on that. But your cat was cute.”
“You saw that? Ah, fuck. Supposed to be a surprise…”
“Yeah, but you’ve got a bad track record with those.” Though you supposed that wasn’t quite true; after all, you were pretty sure that his partner still didn’t know who you were in relation to Jenko, despite the fact that Christmas cards always included the both of your names. He probably wouldn’t believe it was true even with the blinding evidence. Thinking of him, you asked, “How’s Morty doing? I’m glad to see you didn’t have to take a bullet for him this time but I guess art students aren’t especially known for being 2nd Amendment enthusiasts…”
Energy had finally reunited with Jenko and he sat up with renewed spirit, though his hand was still underneath your shirt. “Yo, he hooked up with the only hot student in the whole fucking school. Do you know how… infuriating that is?”
“Hmm. Well, I love Morty, but I’ll have to disagree with her preferences in that respect…”
Jenko, recalling something you’d said earlier while in the first stage of the ritual, gave you the side-eye; suspicious. “Hey, uh… I know you said you don’t mean what you say, but… I was really good at head in high school, wasn’t I?”
“Ah, shit… Was that a hard line? I forget…” At any rate, possible sexual inadequacy was, for him, incomprehensible. If anything, you kept giving him cheat sheets with only half the answers right so that he would keep coming back to you. “Of course you were, baby. Not even a question. I didn’t marry you for your brains or anything.”
“Okay; that’s a freebie.”
“My bad… Hard to get out of that mindset.” You paused. “But I am the brains between the two of us, right?”
“But there’s nothing wrong with being the muscle, Greg… Look at you! You get to travel the world and go undercover to do cool shit I’ve never dreamed about being able to do.” You prodded his side. “Remember what I said, when you wanted to follow your dad? You’d have a lifetime of being a badass motherfucker. And look at you! It’s true.”
Of course: your favorite part, the part where you got to hold him. The most G-rated part of your reunion, your favorite. Of course, it would be easier if you gave up the cathartic beginning and hugged him as soon as he came in, but then you weren’t sure if there would still be blistering reunion sex.
“Now, to be incongruous — ”
“Really don’t know what that means — ”
“I got sort of bored and bought the Golden Girls collection. You game after dinner?”
His hand slithered out of your shirt as he sat up to find his clothes. “Ha! As if you even have to ask.”
Now — what do most human beings in your decision do? In a relationship like this. Most spouses get to have their husbands around all the time, a constant presence. Most spouses don’t make coupon books giving freebies to extramarital sex acts, and most spouses don’t have to lie awake wondering whether or not their husband is going to come home. But you supposed that the last one was fairly common among police couples. At least you had that going for you — that maybe your life wasn’t too strange.
But wasn’t it? A wave of melancholy washed over you. Was it a sustainable marriage? Your husband leaving you for months once or twice a year, not being able to visit or even regularly call? You were glad that he was so necessary at his job but a selfish part of you didn’t want him to be. It would be much easier if he was bad at his job, a desk jockey who they wouldn’t even trust with a gun, someone who would be home to you at 5:30 every evening.
At least he was always around in the summer; you had that much going for you. In your wild younger years you’d never had much of a summer relationship so it was strange to find your marriage turning out to be one, but instead of ending with the coming of the cooler weather you just found it to be on pause for a little while. If you were lucky he could finish his mission in a couple of months and be back early but his exchange student mission seemed to have lasted forever, and he hadn’t even been back for Christmas then. So that’s how it was! You practically had a summer husband… And if summer relationships weren’t meant to last, what about summer marriages?
“At least I have you when the weather’s nice,” you mumbled, your mood not violent but not quite as pleased as it had been mere moments before. “I’ll cause a riot if they try to take you in July. That’s right — I’ll have Dickson’s balls hanging off my rearview mirror. It’s our anniversary, after all.”
“Yeah,” Jenko agreed confidently, and then, a bit less so, “And that, uh, date is…?” Hastily: “Just, y’know, testing you…”
“Hmm. Let’s not test each other, eh?” You closed your eyes, falling back onto the bed. When your eyes were closed it seemed that it all could go on forever: it had to. “I can think of much better ways to pass the time until dinner’s ready.”
“Oh? You can?” Not quite seductive but with a genuine edge of curiosity. What could you do? For one, Jenko was actually a big fan of puzzles, especially when aimed at children ages 8-10.
But then… Oh! Sometimes you have to push those sorts of thoughts to the side, ignore them completely, tackle the situation by pretending there wasn’t a fucking situation to begin with. Even if it didn’t work out, at least it worked out for a little while. And it was a damn good little while, especially with, of course, the blistering sex, and a husband who — when you squinted at him through cracked lids — looked at you with the dumb earnestness of a Golden Retriever, you could practically see his tail wagging…
You drew him closer to you, wondering, as usual, how you could compress months of away time into a couple of hours. With the wisdom of a saint you told him, “Put your hand back up my shirt.”