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Far From Over

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Michael and his son were somewhat confused when they noticed the Queen Mary steaming past their yacht, and heard the police ordering Lucille to pull aside and "step away from the historic ship."

Hearing his mother's name, Michael realized that the S.E.C. were after her now, so they too must have found out lately that she was the real mastermind behind all the crooked company schemes and financial fraud.

As the guys watched the ship go by, Michael commented, "I think Gangie's trying to make a break for it."

George Michael reached for a control lever and said, "Well, I guess we should go back. Family sticks together, huh?"

"Yeah." Michael didn't sound eager for that reunion, and he took George Michael's hand off the lever. "On the other hand, we do have a full tank of gas, a house in Cabo, and 500 grand in cashier's checks. What say we give them no choice but to keep themselves all together for a while?"

He did not wait for George Michael to reply, simply moving him aside on the seat and taking the controls of the yacht.

George Michael frowned and asked, "Wait, what do you mean a house in Cabo? And what--?"

Michael did not hear him, nor answer, because the yacht was rocked by big waves from the Queen Mary again. He swerved away and began steering through the crowd of police boats.

George Michael decided not to distract his father just now, though he remained puzzled by what Michael had said. He did understand in general his father's sudden impulse to abandon the family; Michael had made the threat many times, and had even driven away repeatedly, only to turn around again.

Meanwhile, below the main deck of the yacht, George Sr. was hiding inside the Aztec Tomb with Gob's puppet on his hand. They were in a cramped bedroom, so the box was shoved up against the wall near the portholes. Given all the violent waves rocking the yacht, George tentatively opened the Tomb and sat up to peek through the windows with Franklin.

"Is it safe to come out yet?" George asked. He'd been hiding there since before George Michael's fight with Gob.

Franklin answered, "No, lay low! There's fuzz everywhere!"

"But they're after Lucille." He felt a twinge of concern for his wife, for whom he had taken the blame all along.

Franklin didn't care. "So what? You wanted to leave that old bitch anyway. Let her rot in jail this time!"

"That's my wife!" George Sr. protested, but he did see Franklin's point about jail. "But where are we going now? I thought Michael was going to dock the yacht and take George Michael with him."

"They probably want to get away from the cops first."

"Yeah, but they better hurry up and go home. I wanna leave for Cabo soon." He wouldn't have worried so much, if he knew Michael's intended destination.

Suddenly, another sizable wave rocked the boat, making George Sr. hit his head on the cabin wall; he got knocked out, falling back inside the Aztec Tomb with Franklin.

The police boats didn't stop the C-Word from leaving the harbor, nor did they notice Buster in water wings and a life vest, facing down the very seal that bit off his hand the year before.

Buster hurriedly tried to remember his army training to help him fight the animal off, but he still felt frightened. "No! Get away! Ugh!"

Luckily, though, Buster's flailing and screaming attracted the attention of a man in a nearby boat. He turned around and rowed closer, yelling to Buster, "Hey, hey! Calm down! That's a seal, not a shark!"

"I know that!" Buster replied. "It bit off my hand! And--and I lost my glasses."

Then the fisherman noticed Buster's hand was actually a stump, so he might be telling the truth. So the guy came closer and forced the seal away with his paddle, then he pulled Buster up into his boat. "You all right?"

"Yeah." Buster caught his breath and shivered. "Thank you so much! That was close!" He nervously watched the seal bark menacingly from the water before it disappeared again. "Wow, I can't believe it's still alive, after losing its left flipper."

"What do you mean? You know that seal?"

Buster told him the story, and how he recognized the seal by its yellow bow-tie. The guy listened to him rather skeptically, wondering if perhaps Buster was lying or babbling nonsense because of his trauma. He just rowed the boat to shore, and commented, "Well, that's almost as unbelievable as what's happening right now. All these police boats coming out of nowhere, and the Queen Mary breaking away from the dock..."

"Oh that's my mother Lucille, trying to get away from the S.E.C. I jumped off the ship when it started to move."

The fisherman looked amazed, and decided to hear out Buster's whole story while they rowed to shore.

Later, after the C-Word left Long Beach Harbor and headed southward, George Michael resumed questioning his father.

"Hey, Dad, what did you mean when you said that we have a house in Cabo? What house?"

Michael turned to him and answered, "Oh didn't I mention it to you? Your Pop-Pop told me that he built a house in Cabo, in case of an emergency. (Boy, I wish he'd gone there instead of coming back to hide in our attic!) Anyway, I figure that we can go find the house and stay there for a while. It should be easy to spot, and probably look just like our model home."

"In Cabo? But isn't that in Mexico?"

"Yeah, Cabo San Lucas. Hey, can you look and see if we've got any maps of Baja, so that we can plot our course?"

"You're serious, Dad? You mean we're leaving the country? Just--just like that?"

"Yeah. What's the matter, George Michael? Don't you wanna finally get away from the family, and get over Maeby? I mean, just this week you told me that you wanted to leave town."

"Yeah, but I meant, like, leave the state. You know, move to Arizona like you talked about before. But what are we gonna do in Mexico, Dad? What about your job? What about school? I don't speak Spanish, and I-I don't have my transcripts--"

"Hey, hey, buddy! Calm down, okay? School's out for the summer. Think of this as our summer vacation, the vacation that we should have taken a long time ago from that nuthouse. Don't worry. We can come back in a couple of months, you know, in plenty of time for your senior year."

"Oh. Oh, okay." George Michael looked relieved. "So you don't mean forever. You just mean for a while."

"Yeah, that's what I said." Michael put an arm around him. "I just want you and me to finally relax and recuperate from these past three years. Let them stay and deal with Gangie's arrest. We should just worry about ourselves for once."

"Yeah, I guess so. We could use the break, huh?"

"Exactly. This is our big break. We're gonna finally have some fun and make time for each other. I promise I won't even work in Cabo. We'll just live at Pop-Pop's house and spend these cashier's checks." He patted his coat pocket.

George Michael asked, "Wait, cashier's checks? When did you get cashier's checks, Dad? You were already planning to leave?"

Michael shook his head and handed the checks to George Michael. "No, actually, this is kind of our lucky break, pal. You see, everyone was threatening to cash out their Bluth Company stock, so Gangie said that we should bribe them into signing a paper not to sell their stock for ten years. You know how greedy the family is; they'll do anything for cold hard cash."

George Michael looked over the checks and gasped. "This is $500,000. You really meant 500 grand!"

"Yep," Michael grinned. "And we'll get to keep it all to ourselves now."

"Keep it? But--but isn't this wrong, Dad? We can't spend this money."

"Well, I'm not giving this back to the family! They'd just piss it all away."

"No, but it's the company money. It says right on the check, 'Bluth Company'."

Michael said, "No, no, that's just the remitter information. See, with a cashier's check, the bank is the issuer, because I already paid them the money upfront."

"But you paid them from the company account, right? With the corporate checkbook? I mean, it's half a million dollars!"

Sometimes Michael wished that his son didn't have to act like such a nagging conscience. "Come on, George Michael! I worked at the company for over 15 years, and we made so many sacrifices. Then we had to save the company and keep that crazy family together for the past three years. Don't you think we deserve half a million for all our trouble? It's only a quarter of what my company stock's worth."

"But you were the one telling everybody not to cash out their stock! I mean, we don't even need this much money, Dad, and besides, what will happen to the company while we're gone? Whoever takes over as president will have to deal with all the legal trouble with Gangie, and then he or she's gonna find out that half a million is missing from the accounts. Somebody will get into trouble, or get fired. Maybe they'll even shut down the whole company and put everybody out of work. I don't want the employees to lose their jobs."

Michael whined, "But there's already so much missing money, who would notice $500,000?"


Michael sighed and gave in, reluctantly agreeing that he didn't want to become an embezzler and thief like the rest of his family. "All right, fine. We won't spend these checks. But what are we gonna do with them, huh? If I mail them back, then Gob, Lindsay, and everybody will just cash the checks anyway and spend them."

"But can't you rip them up or stop payment or something?"

Michael said, "Okay. I guess I can try to get the bank to refund the money back to the Bluth Company account. But we'll have to do it secretly. We're not getting involved again, okay?"

"Okay." George Michael gave back the checks and felt a little better about leaving.

Michael reconsidered their assets. "Well I guess we're gonna need some other money in Cabo, then. Hmm, maybe we should stop at a bank here first and withdraw the money out of my account first. My personal account," he emphasized.

"Sure, and maybe we should stop at the house too, and pack some stuff for Cabo."

"Do you really want to go back to the model home? We might run into somebody there and get sucked in again."

"Come on, Dad. They wouldn't stop us." He pointed to Michael's tuxedo. "Don't you need a change of clothes, at least? And don't we need our passports, or anything? You said that we should get a map of Baja, and do you even know how to sail that far?"

Michael shrugged, thinking that he could figure it out, despite not having Buster's cartography lessons. As for clothes, well, they could buy that in Mexico surely, or borrow whatever Gob had left behind... But Michael frowned, not liking the idea of wearing Gob's clothes, especially if they included his stripper pants. So Michael said slowly, "Well, I guess if we're already making a stop at a bank... and since Newport Beach is on the way to Mexico..."

"Yeah, it wouldn't take long to run to the house and pack something."

"Right, and I guess the whole family is gonna be tied up until the police manage to pull over the Queen Mary, so we could risk it. Okay, here's the plan: we'll dock at Newport Beach, take care of business, and drop by the model home for a few minutes. But that's it. No hanging around, no answering phones, and no listening to messages. We've gotta escape them once and for all."

George Michael nodded, but asked, "Once and for all? But we're still coming back, right? In two months?"

"What? Oh, yeah. I just--I just meant that, once and for all, we've gotta teach them a lesson, and leave them on their own for longer than a day. Let them spend the whole summer wondering where we are and if we're ever gonna come back. Then they might actually grow up and learn how to fend for themselves."

"I-I guess so." George Michael felt uncertain, though, about leaving Maeby in suspense for that long. Should he leave a note for her? But would that mess up the whole teaching them a lesson? More importantly, would Maeby even care about his absence, or miss him?

Michael continued speculating about the future, "And you know, maybe when we come back, they won't even need us anymore. That would be a huge relief, wouldn't it?" Michael remembered feeling hurt and disappointed when the family seemed not to need him right after George Sr.'s first escape from prison, but that false success soon fell apart. Michael now felt that he didn't need his family's neediness anymore, and he longed for freedom.

George Michael on the other hand, longed for Maeby. Intellectually, he knew that his father was right; blood-related or not, they were still family. But emotionally, none of his love had faded yet.

Noticing his son's silence, Michael asked, "Are you okay, buddy?"

He sighed and frowned. "Yeah, it's just--just hard leaving right now."

Michael said, "I know that you might miss some of them, and it's gonna feel lonely for a while, but trust me, we're better off this way. You don't wanna keep dealing with all of them now, do you? Especially since you're mad at Gob right now."

George Michael shook his head. "No, no. I-I don't think I could hang out with Uncle Gob anymore, and trust him."

"I know, buddy. I understand." Gob had thoughtlessly betrayed Michael several times over the years. "Listen, after we get back from Cabo, if you still don't feel comfortable being around Gob or Maeby, then we don't have to stick around. We could just pack up anything that we left behind, say goodbye, and move to Arizona, like you wanted. I'd take the job with Sitwell Housing, and you could enroll in a new school. We could start all over and finally live a normal, sane life, you know?"

"Yeah, yeah I guess so." George Michael loved Maeby too much to think that he'd be over her in only a couple of months time. It would be painful to be near her, especially if she had moved on already with someone else, or with her big movie exec career. She would outgrow him too, he feared.

"Sure." Michael smiled at the thought of their vacation leading to permanent freedom. "It'll be just you and me, Bluth boys again."


"Atta boy." He squeezed George Michael's shoulder paternally, as he imagined their future together. Then he let go of the yacht's controls and asked, "Hey, buddy, you know the way back to Newport Beach, right? Can you take over steering for a while? I want to check for any supplies onboard."


Michael got up and undid his tie, tossing it and his tuxedo jacket aside on the nearby couch, to celebrate being free of the Bluth Company. He looked quickly through the nearby kitchen (or "galley" in nautical terms) to assess how much food and water they had. Not surprisingly, the fridge was mainly stocked with liquor.

After that, Michael decided to investigate downstairs. He found the steps to the lower deck of the yacht, and he walked down them, feeling curious and excited.

On the old family yacht, Mom and Dad seldom let the kids below the main deck. Bluth outings on the Lucille were usually for fishing trips, traumatizing lessons, or country club competitions. Sometimes Mom and Lindsay would go downstairs to change into a swimsuit, but Dad said the main cabin was good enough for the boys, if they closed the curtains and blinds. When Michael got seasick, he was told to vomit over the side of the yacht, or lie down on the couch inside, if he had to be a sissy.

George didn't want the kids to run around below deck and see the incriminating evidence that he kept stored in coolers there, due to Barry Zuckerkorn's advice that no laws applied at sea. Or else, the kids might stumble upon evidence of George cheating with various mistresses, then rat him out to Lucille, like Lindsay cleared her throat and pointed when George was with the au pair in the pantry. Due to his father's precautions, Michael grew up thinking that downstairs on a yacht was forbidden to him.

That was no longer the case now, and hopefully Michael would get to fully enjoy this yacht with his son. Maybe as they navigated to Mexico, Michael could teach him what he remembered about maritime law. That would be way more fun than fishing, and then they could have a great summer in Cabo together.

At the bottom of the stairs, Michael came to a cramped stateroom with a twin-size bed and tons of Gob's magic props, including the Aztec Tomb. Well, he and George Michael could take turns sleeping in this bed as they each helmed the yacht in shifts. Thankfully, there was a small bathroom with toilet nearby (also known as a "head"), so he and George Michael wouldn't be inconvenienced before they got to Cabo.

Michael tried to move aside the Aztec Tomb, so he could reach the wall cabinets behind it; he wanted to search for Gob's clothes, pack them, and get rid of them quickly once they docked in Newport Beach. But the Tomb was rather heavy for some reason, and behind a magic trunk, Michael soon found a suitcase of Egg's stuff. It had the name of her father's church on it.

He looked disgusted at the reminder, and wondered if Gob had actually slept with that underage girl yet, or if she had held firm against secular temptation. But surely moving in with him was pretty damn close to living in sin, wasn't it? Why did Gob have to continually test the limits of the statutory rape laws? Being a pimp, and seducing college girls on Spring Break wasn't enough for him?

Shaking his head, Michael closed the suitcase and placed it on the magic trunk. He regretted not figuring out the identity of Gob's girlfriend before, when he found him on the yacht earlier, but Gob had only spoken vaguely about how he really needed the yacht, because his girlfriend was going to move in soon.

"Your girlfriend is going to live with you on a boat named the C-Word?"

"Yeah, I told her that it stands for the Christ-word, or the Cross-word, or something like that."

"I think she'll have plenty of cross words for you when she figures it out." He turned and left.

In hindsight, Michael really ought to have picked up on the clues, especially given Gob's speech about third place beauty contestants, but Michael had not paid attention, being too wrapped up in his work, and his own girlfriend Rita. Also, he had wanted to believe in his heart that Gob would never hurt family like that, and that he'd grown close enough to his nephew to feel some kind of loyalty. After all, they had bonded over magic during Spring Break. But no, Gob really did sink that low.

Michael sighed and sat down on the bed. Gob always found new ways to disappoint him. Why was he even surprised anymore? Gob only really came through for Michael when they taught their father a lesson for the Boyfights, but clearly that didn't stop Gob from being selfish and horny, or wanting to sell off his company stock to Sitwell.

Well, Michael wouldn't have to deal with his needy, greedy brother anymore. He would be free at last. No more fighting over the presidency, no more CDs dedicated to him, and no more incestuous sexual harassment. (In fact, when everyone kept appearing in his bed this past week, Michael became paranoid that he might soon wake up with Gob too, so for a couple nights, he decided to work late and sleep on the couch at the office. It allowed George Michael to sleep in the master bedroom, to get away from Maeby, but Michael did not tell him yet about Lindsay being adopted.)

Hopefully, George Michael would get over his cousin soon, if not in Cabo, then in Arizona. Finally, Michael was doing the right thing for his son; they would have a great summer vacation, and leave the whole burdensome family behind. Yes, Phoenix was the perfect place for them to start fresh. They would be like phoenixes, too, rising from the ashes of their old life, and coming out stronger and better for the change.

Michael was still congratulating himself for this metaphor, when he opened up the Aztec Tomb and found a surprise inside.

"Franklin? Dad!" Damn! He jinxed it.

Chapter Text

Michael shook George Sr. awake. "Dad? Dad? No wait a minute, Dad was at the party on the Queen Mary. This must be Oscar. I wonder what Dad did to him. Uncle Oscar? Oscar?"

"I'm not Oscar! I'm George!"

"What? But Dad, you were at the party on the ship. How could you sneak aboard here so fast, and change your clothes?"

George Sr. sat up and put Franklin aside. "No that was Oscar at the party, not me! His hair hasn't grown back yet since the last time I shaved him." George Sr. smirked at his own cleverness. "I convinced Oscar that he could trust me now, since all the charges against me were dropped. He was pretty high too, and couldn't resist the offer of free shrimp. By the way, how was the party?"

Michael ignored the question and sat down again, stunned by his father pulling yet another switch. "But why, Dad? Did you know about the S.E.C. going after Mom? Did you turn her in to get the charges dropped against you?"

"No, no! I wouldn't do that to her, Michael. I took the heat for her for three years. No, this is what I told you the other day, about cashing out and getting away to Cabo. When Lucille mentioned to me that Gob had bought a new yacht, I decided to steal it and sneak off while everyone was busy at the party. I would have been gone already, except for this whole complication with George Michael taking the yacht."

"Complication?" Michael asked. "You mean you were here already when he punched Gob? Why didn't you do anything about it, then? Why didn't you say anything or stop George Michael from taking the yacht?"

"Well I figured that he was just going to see you, and that you would handle it better, Michael. Me, I never liked that girlfriend of his."

Neither did Michael, but she seemed the only viable option other than Maeby. He sighed. "I can't believe that Gob was dating her all this time."

"I didn't even recognize her at first when she moved in with her stuff today. She looked so different and kept telling Gob how brave he was to perform his Christian magic act in Iraq."

Michael scoffed, "Did she not see how he screwed it up and got arrested?"

"Yeah, but he told her that he escaped and got the charges dropped against me." George Sr. rolled his eyes and shrugged. "Anyway, when George Michael took the yacht and headed north, I figured that he was going to meet you at Long Beach, for the party. Then I'd have the yacht to myself." He climbed out of the Aztec Tomb and looked through the porthole again. "So are we heading to Newport right now? Can you take George Michael home, please, and let me leave for Cabo before it gets dark?"

"No, Dad, you can't take the yacht. We need it. We're going to Cabo."

"What?" He sat down too.

"George Michael and I were going to get some cash, pack our stuff from the model home, then go to Cabo."

"Ha, well look at that!" George Sr. grinned. "Great minds think alike I guess. It's not a bad idea. Us Bluth boys living it up down in Cabo. We could have some great parties, and even get your boy a girlfriend to pop his cherry."


"Come on, Michael. It's time. How old is he, 17?"

"Sixteen." Michael had misspoken before, having forgotten to add in George Michael's recent birthday.

"Whatever. Trust me, you don't want him to wait as long as you did, Michael. Then he'll just marry the first girl that he gets pregnant."

"That's not a bad thing, if he loves her!" Michael was annoyed that his family believed that he only married Tracey because he knocked her up. "Besides, I don't think George Michael's ready yet, and he really shouldn't rush into anything now. He's just getting over a huge... complicated mess."

"What, her? Because even with Gob's makeover, that girl's--" George Sr. shook his head and made a face, indicating that he still thought her bland.

"No, I mean Maeby."


"Yeah, his own cousin. He told me that he's made out with her. And more." Michael should have actually known this before too, because George Michael had tried to tell him about his crush repeatedly. Michael had a tendency, though, to tune out what he couldn't deal with.

"Whoa. Well, at least she's not--" George Sr. stopped when he realized what he was saying.

"Not his real cousin? Because Lindsay's adopted? Yeah I found that out, no thanks to you. Why couldn't you just tell me all this when I asked you about Nellie?"

"Because it's a secret. And if I told you, you might tell Lindsay, and break her heart. She's still my little girl."

"Well I got news for you, Dad. She already knows. She's the one that told me."

"What? Oh no! This is terrible!"

"Yeah, so that's why George Michael and I need to leave, Dad. We need to get away from the family right now. I mean, you were right about Mom being the queen; she kept manipulating me and making me compromise my principles, and I can't do that anymore, especially not with my son. I have to think about his needs and do right by him. We've gotta leave and start over. Just the two of us." He looked at George Sr. significantly and hoped that he would get the drift.

"You mean you don't want me to come along?"

"Come on, why do you have to go to Cabo? You're not a fugitive anymore, Dad. Isn't there anywhere else you could retire?"

"Well maybe, but now I'm worried that the prosecution might try to make me testify against your mother."

"I don't think they can force you to do that, Dad."

"They can't? Oh, but I still want to hide out from Kitty, in case she comes back demanding a baby or revenge."

"She doesn't know about your house in Cabo?"

"No. Never tell crazy all your secret hiding places. But listen, I could help you out in Cabo. You don't know where the house is."

"I think I could find it, Dad, if it looks just like the model home."

George Sr. continued, "Well, I've got money too. You guys don't need to stop for cash, because I've already got a bundle with me. $300,000."

Michael looked confused. "You do?"

"Yeah. I had to be sneaky about it, though, because I didn't want to tip off Lucille that I was leaving. So I couldn't sell off all my shares, just 15 percent."

Earlier in the week, George Sr. pretended to be Oscar and met with Stan Sitwell. He explained, "So my brother decided that he would give me some of his company stock, you know, to apologize for switching places with me..."

"And for letting you rot in prison for months?" Sitwell asked.

"Yeah, and then I heard that you were buying up shares, and I really need some cash."

Sitwell smiled. "I think I can help you out with that."

Michael was shocked by this news. "You sold your stock to him? I thought you hated Stan Sitwell."

"I do, but I got a great price out of him, 'cause he felt sorry for poor old Oscar." George Sr. laughed. "I really stuck it to Sitwell!"

However, George Sr. didn't fool Sitwell after all. As soon as "Oscar" took his check and left, Sitwell told his secretary, "Have that table dusted for fingerprints. We'll see if Oscar is really Oscar."

"You mean you think that was George Bluth?"

"Yeah. I noticed that his fingers didn't look like they had the prints burned off."

"But why would George sell you his stock?"

"My guess is that he wants to get some quick cash while keeping it a secret from that wife of his. That means he might be making an escape again--and Lindsay will be without a daddy soon." Then Sitwell smiled a scheming smile. "Move up Lindsay's appointment. I've got news for her."

While Michael reluctantly considered whether to let his father join in their escape, in exchange for part of his cash, George Michael sat at the helm upstairs and strained to overhear the conversation below him. Apparently, Pop-Pop had somehow got on board and wanted to go to Cabo too.

As they neared Newport Beach, George Michael missed Maeby even more and wished that he could still be with her somehow. He kept wistfully thinking about what might have been.

He and Maeby were married too. George Michael hadn't confessed that part to his father yet, but it felt like a sign that they should be together, and now after finding out that they weren't blood-related, it made the temptation all the more strong. He also recalled that his passport at home was actually the fake one that Gob had made for him, in French.

Then George Michael thought of Gob angrily and couldn't believe that his uncle would date his ex-girlfriend. This was even worse than when he thought that Gob slept with Beth Baerly, his teacher. He had wanted to get revenge on Gob then, only to learn that his father had lied and slept with her himself. It was all a misunderstanding because of what Lindsay said, but it was still painful going through it.

And now, for Gob to really be guilty, with his actual ex-girlfriend--George Michael didn't know if he could ever forgive his uncle for being so treacherous and sleazy. It was a shame, because George Michael had really liked Gob, but now all he could think about was the betrayal. So maybe Michael was right, and they couldn't go back to see the family. They had to get away for good.

On the Queen Mary, Maeby was missing George Michael too. While the ship lurched and rocked, she sat clutching her clipboard full of signatures and wondering if she would have to include this crisis in her TV series too. It would require a disaster-movie type of budget.

No one would leave her alone with her thoughts, though. Annyong aka Hel-loh was still onboard, and asking her if she'd like to kiss again, which of course reminded Maeby of kissing George Michael. "Are you kidding me? After you turned in Gangie?" Not that she really cared about Annyong being a mole; she was selling out the Bluths too. She just couldn't take another inappropriate relationship with a relative.

Annyong said, "I had to, for my grandfather's honor. But you want to divorce parents, don't you?" He remembered her attempt to emancipate herself. "You come with me. I take you away from them."

"And live in Korea? No thanks."

"But maybe we stay here. FBI pay me money--"

"Go away! I don't like you."

Annyong looked hurt, and said, "I can't go while ship moving." Then he sadly got up and walked over to eat some free shrimp.

Then Lindsay and Stan Sitwell walked by, as he explained his deal with Lucille.

"So you--you bought me from her?" Lindsay considered whether she should be offended by this.

"No, no! I bought the company from her, but the S.E.C. is probably going to freeze all deals anyway while their new investigation is on. But that doesn't matter, Lindsay. I still want to be your father, and you said you were happy not to be a Bluth."

Maeby looked up at this, whispering "Not a Bluth?" to herself.

Sitwell continued, "So would you consider being a Sitwell instead? Even if the Bluth Company goes under, I don't want you to have to worry about money. I can take care of you and your family. Wouldn't you like that?"

"I don't know. It would be weird, and I already have a father."

Sitwell pointed out, "But he's not here, is he? He sent Oscar to take his place."

Lindsay sighed and admitted sadly, "Yeah, I guess he did abandon us again. But--but seriously, aren't I too old to be adopted?"

Sitwell laughed. "It doesn't matter. We could just try it and see how you feel. You could hang out with Sally and me, and we can celebrate your birthday together."

"Oh God," Lindsay groaned, "I don't need reminders that I'm three years older than I thought I was."

"What if we pretend that you're just 37, then?"


"Deal." They shook on it, then he turned to Maeby. "Now introduce me to your daughter here."

"Oh, Maeby." Lindsay had only just noticed her. "Yeah, this is Stan Sitwell. He's, uh, he's going to be helping us out now that Gangie's going to jail."

"Pleased to meet you, Maeby. You're a lovely young woman--"

"Yeah, yeah, skip it," she answered brusquely. "What were you saying about my mom not being a Bluth?"

Sitwell looked to Lindsay for approval, and Lindsay shrugged, so he said, "Well, your mother here was actually adopted by the Bluths when she was three--" Lindsay coughed, so he corrected himself, "--when she was a baby. Her name was Nellie then, and my wife and I had wanted her too."

Maeby was stunned by his revelation, and she realized that Michael had made reference to this adoption during his speech to the investors. "My sister Lindsay--yes, she is my sister, no matter what any piece of paper says." Maeby should have paid attention, but at the time she had been distracted by wondering where George Michael was. Did he skip attending his father's big event just to avoid awkwardness with her? She wondered whether she was going to trick him into signing away the rights to his story too, but maybe that would be too callous even for her. Maybe she'd settle for getting Steve Holt's signature instead, the next time that she saw him. One cousin for another.

Sitwell tried chatting with her in a friendly way, but Maeby got up and spoke urgently, "George Michael. Where's George Michael?" He wasn't her cousin after all. She wasn't a Bluth.

"Oh, Michael went off after him. He was on Gob's yacht I think."

So Maeby then went in search of Gob to ask him what was going on. Gob told her about the confrontation on his yacht, and Maeby responded incredulously, "You mean you were dating that No-Face? Ugh!" She was half disgusted with her uncle and half glad that he took her away from George Michael, because Maeby was sick of her.

Gob said, "Hey, she won third place in the pageant!"

Maeby just walked away and called George Michael on her cell phone, hoping that she could get a signal out here. She also stepped toward the observation telescopes, so that she could look around the harbor.

George Michael heard his cell phone ringing but remembered his father insisting that they shouldn't answer any phone calls. However, curiosity got the better of him, and when he looked at the caller ID, he couldn't resist answering. He needed to hear her voice again. "Hi, Maeby. Are you all right?"

"Yeah, but I'm stuck on this stupid boat! Are you still on Gob's yacht? I can't see you in the harbor."

"Um, well, we're not there now. I'm actually on my way home with my dad." He didn't know whether he should add the part about abandoning the family.

"Oh, good." She was worried. Then she burst out with her news. "We're not related."

"Yeah, I know. My dad just told me about aunt Lindsay."

"Great. Look, I'll come home as soon as I can get off this fucking ship. Will you wait up for me?"

"But I-I can't," he replied sadly. "We're not staying, Maeby. We're just going home to pack, and then my dad's, uh, taking me to Cabo for the summer." Should he mention Arizona too?

"What? Why?"

"Well, uh, he wants to abandon the family again. You know, 'cause of Gangie's arrest, and uh, you and me. I told him about us, and he thinks it's better if we just... move on now, while we have the chance."

"Move on? You mean run away and hide, like Pop-Pop? And I thought your dad knows that we're not related?"

"Yeah, but we're still family."

"No, we're not!" Maeby was becoming angry and outraged.

Just then, Michael came upstairs to tell his son about Pop-Pop sneaking on board, and he overheard their conversation.

"But, Maeby, it's still wrong, and we--"

"George Michael! I told you not to answer any calls." He took the phone from his son, and asked, "What did you tell her?"

However, Maeby started yelling at him loudly. "You bastard! How can you do this to us? We just found out the truth--"

"Maeby, calm down. This is for the best. You're just 16--"

"I'm not a kid! I have a car and a job, and I bet I make more money than you do!"

"A car and a job?"

"Yeah, like you haven't read the papers!" Maeby's exposure at her studio job had been covered widely by entertainment news. "You can't just take him out of the country like this!" She added desperately, "He's--he's my husband!"


George Michael looked guilty and stammered, "Uh, um, there was some kind of mix up. We--we thought it was a joke." Actually, he had taken their marriage rather seriously, even knowing that as cousins, the marriage would probably be null and void. But they weren't really cousins, so maybe it was legal after all.

Michael was speechless, and George Sr. meanwhile came upstairs with Franklin.

"So am I coming along or not?"

Franklin added, "We don't got all day, whitey!"

Meanwhile, the runaway Queen Mary began running out of coal, and the Hot Sailors were running out of energy. As the ship slowed down, the police boats caught up to it and repeated their warnings that reinforcements were on the way. "Pull over, and surrender!"

As the cops began boarding the ship, Lucille abandoned the bridge, then vainly tried to hide in a lifeboat, but they found her and arrested her, while the Coast Guard took control of the ship and arranged to haul it back to the dock. In the mean time, the panicked party guests begged to be evacuated. During the commotion, Maeby said, "I'll find you!" before hanging up her phone and preparing to go home.

On the yacht, Michael told George Sr. to take over the helm controls, while he and George Michael had a serious discussion on the couch. George put Franklin down on the pilot's seat next to him.

George Michael confessed about the marriage certificate that came in the mail some weeks ago. "Maeby was kind of freaked out about it, but I-I kept it."

George Sr. commented, "See what I told you about marrying the first girl he gets pregnant?"

"She's not pregnant! I mean, she's not, is she?"

George Michael shook his head. "No, no, we uh didn't consummate it yet."

Michael sighed in relief. "This is crazy! Why would they mail you a marriage certificate, just because of some mock weddings at the hospital? You're not even old enough to get married without parental consent--Oh God. I signed a permission slip for you guys, didn't I?"

"Yeah, you did, at the hospital."

Michael groaned and remembered Wayne Jarvis telling him that testimony in mock trials could be used in real trials. Maybe the same insane loophole applied to weddings. "Damn Patriot Act!"

"I'm sorry I didn't tell you before, Dad. I just, I thought it didn't really count anyway, since we're cousins. But now..."

"Well, we've got to clean up this mess. We've got to get you an annulment. I don't think we can leave the country yet."

"Then we'll go to Cabo without you!" George Sr. said gleefully, and Franklin was about to add something about hot Mexican babes on the beach, but Michael cut him off irritably.

"Shut up!"

George Michael said, "You know, maybe it won't be so bad, staying around here, Dad. I could talk to Maeby, and--"

"George Michael, you've got to let go of her. She is still family!"

"But not--not really."

Their argument was cut short, though, because some police boats suddenly arrived and surrounded them. "Pull over, Bluth!"

George Sr. panicked. "Oh God, they want to charge me with being Lucille's accomplice! I gotta hide!!" He quickly abandoned Franklin and ran downstairs to hide in the Aztec Tomb again.

George Michael took over steering at the helm, while Michael vacillated over whether to turn in his father this time.

When the police boarded the yacht, however, they slapped the handcuffs on Michael instead. "Michael Bluth, you are under arrest for embezzlement, bribery, and conspiracy."


"And it looks like you're stealing a company yacht too," said the lead cop disdainfully. "You Bluths are all alike, fleeing the country and sticking it to your investors. But this time we caught you."

Michael gulped and realized that maybe he had been implicated as an accomplice to Lucille's crimes as well. George Michael was shocked.

Chapter Text

George Michael confessed, "No, wait! I stole the yacht! I-I had a fight with my uncle Gob, and I took it!"

But the police did not believe him, and his father warned, "No! Don't say anything, George Michael! Don't panic. Just tell our lawyer to meet me at the jail, and we'll sort this all out. Don't worry." The cops dragged Michael off to one of their boats. "Jan Eagleman, not Barry!" Michael added, just in case George Michael had forgotten the name of the family's latest lawyer.

A small crew then commandeered the yacht and steered toward the harbor, while a few officers searched downstairs. They discovered George Sr. hiding, and he reluctantly got out and raised his hands in surrender, pleading not to return to jail. "I can't go back to that hellhole!"

The cops just looked confused. "Wait, you're George Bluth? But weren't you on the other ship?"

Another guy said, "Maybe that was the twin."

George Sr. for a moment considered pretending to be Oscar, but he was afraid of Michael ratting him out. He also thought of another card to play. "I mean, you can't try me again on those same charges anyway. That--that's double jeopardy, right?"

One cop answered with a shrug, "Well, I'm no lawyer, but I think that since your case never went to trial, you could still be charged again."

"Really?" George Sr. groaned and muttered, "Oh shit."

The cops took him upstairs, and started to handcuff him. However, the guy sitting at the helm radioed to a higher authority for instructions, and he relayed, "Okay. Hey, we don't need George, just Michael. But try to find those cashier's checks for evidence."

So the police uncuffed George and resumed searching the boat, while George Michael sat down on his father's tuxedo jacket, to hide the cashier's checks in the pocket. He hoped that the police wouldn't question him, because he didn't want to lie to them, nor did he want to make his father look guilty, by mentioning Cabo or the checks.

George Sr. sat down with some relief, but he also worried that the cops were going to find his stash of money in the cabinets downstairs. In any case, he probably wouldn't be able to take the yacht and escape to Cabo. He glanced at Franklin sadly and shook his head.

George Michael called the lawyer on his phone. Justice TV's Jan Eagleman was already watching the news reports about Lucille's capture, and she was startled to hear about Michael being arrested too. "Whoa! Um, okay, I'll get down there right now." She hurried to cancel her appointments and get her legal briefcase.

Still anxious, George Michael called Maeby back and softly told her the news too. "I don't know why they're arresting him, or how they found us so fast."

Maeby guessed, "Maybe they saw the yacht leaving the harbor, and they sent somebody after you."

"But we didn't see anybody following us. I don't even know how Pop-Pop got on board without us noticing."

"Well, don't talk anymore in front of the cops. Just go home, and I'll meet you at the house soon, okay?"

"Okay." George Michael hung up and tried not to worry. He hoped that his dad would get bailed out soon, and that the charges would be dropped against him entirely.

What George Michael didn't know, of course, was that Annyong was the mole who had tipped off the police. Earlier in the week, he had given the FBI his audio tape of Michael and Lucille conspiring to embezzle $500,000 out of the company, and to bribe the family with it. When Michael got the cashier's checks at the bank, and Lucille started collecting signatures at the party, that was enough cause for a warrant, and the police boats were launched.

The S.E.C. considered Lucille's arrest to be top priority, since she was the mastermind in this and many other crimes. Michael's arrest was secondary, and the police did not even realize at first that he had left the ship before they arrived. Once they discovered Michael's absence, they began searching for him too, and some party guests had even witnessed Michael leaving the Queen Mary.

Thinking that Michael must have spotted the boats from the ship's telescopes, the police guessed that he might have fled on the newly purchased company yacht, which had been in the area. They kicked themselves for having let the yacht escape from the harbor earlier, but luckily the yacht was spotted again near Newport Beach, so more cops were dispatched to nab them.

Back in Long Beach, several news reporters were interviewing the ship's passengers about their ordeal, and the exhausted Hot Sailors insisted on their innocence. "We thought we were going to strip!"

In all the chaos, Annyong slipped away and made himself neither seen nor heard. With his vengeance accomplished, he debated whether to go back to Korea triumphantly, or else to use his influence with the FBI to bring his family to America. He only knew for certain that Maeby didn't want to be a part of his plans.

Maeby, meanwhile, was on the dock with her parents, who were trying to locate the rest of the family and figure out what to do.

"Michael, where the fuck are you? Of all the times to not answer your phone!" Lindsay spoke into his voicemail. "In case you haven't heard, your mother's just been arrested..."

"So has he," Maeby interrupted her.


"George Michael just told me." She informed them of Michael's arrest, as well as George Sr. somehow getting on the yacht.

"Oh my God!" Lindsay remained self-involved. "So they found Dad?" She still thought of George Sr. as her father, and she found some comfort in knowing where he was. "He didn't abandon us after all."

Tobias remarked, "Michael's in jail? Oh, this is not a lucky day for Bluths!"

Maeby said, "Anyway, we better find the car and go back to Newport. You guys can go to the police station, but drop me off at home, okay? I want to make sure that George Michael's all right."

"Good idea," Tobias said. "Maybe we can hitch a ride with the Hot Sailors." He began to look around for the strippers, but Stan Sitwell overheard and approached them.

"Listen, if you're in a hurry, why don't I just give you guys a ride home? That way you can sneak out of here without all the reporters hounding you, and you can leave Lucille's car here for the rest of your family to take."

"All right, thanks."

So Sitwell called for his car, while Lindsay left messages for Buster and Gob, not realizing that neither of them had their cell phones with them now.

Luckily, Buster returned to the dock after changing out of his wet clothes, and his fisherman friend helped him search for his family. They found Oscar first, who joined them in the car. Buster's uncle/father hugged him and was glad to find him safe. "I just wish that your mother was all right."

"Me too," Buster said.

Then they drove to Lucille's parked Mercedes, and found Gob sitting inside it. Gob had his keys, but was waiting in case Michael came back with his yacht.

"Hey, Busty. You haven't seen Michael, have you?"

"No, and I can't find Lindsay either. I lost my glasses and my phone when I jumped into the ocean." Buster briefly recounted his face-off with the seal.

Gob looked stunned. "What? You mean it can still swim with only one flipper? That's one tough little guy." He wondered whether there was any way of capturing the seal and giving it back to his wife, so that she wouldn't keep demanding $250,000 in their divorce. He could tell her that the seal would still make her money as part of some freak show.

Buster nodded with grudging respect for the seal. "Yeah, it's weird, especially since the seal was raised in captivity."

Gob felt somewhat uncomfortable being reminded of how he released the seal and was responsible for Buster losing his hand, so he changed the subject. "I don't have my phone either. I think I left it on my yacht when George Michael took off. Hey, maybe we should find a pay phone and call everybody. You got any money, guy?"

The fisherman replied, "Well, I've got some change, but we should make this quick, because I have to go home soon."

They located the nearest phone and called Lindsay, who soon cleared up everything. The fisherman wished them good luck and left them to drive home in the silver Mercedes.

In Newport Beach, the police docked their boats and took Michael away in a patrol car. The cops had indeed discovered the cash in the cabinets, but they still thought that $200,000 was missing, so they posted some guards on the yacht and taped it off, in preparation for a more thorough search.

An officer asked George Sr. and George Michael whether they wanted a ride to the station, but George Michael just clutched his father's jacket and said that he wanted to go home now. He glanced at his Pop-Pop suspiciously and wondered where all the money came from, but did not accuse him yet.

George Sr. agreed distractedly, "Yes, I should take the boy home now. It's been a terrible day. Terrible." Franklin added vehemently, "Fucking cops!"

George Michael led the way to the nearby staircar, which he had driven to the docks to visit Gob, hours ago. As they got in the car and put down their stuff in the middle, George Michael finally asked, "Pop-Pop, was that your money that they found? Why didn't you confess and take the heat off my dad?"

"What? No, no, that wasn't mine. That was, uh, probably Gob's money. He cashed in some stock to buy that yacht."

"But I thought that he didn't sell it yet, and he got my dad to buy the yacht for him instead."

George Sr. shrugged, "Well I don't know then. Maybe he made some cash with his magic act, or he went back to following people to their cars." He winked at Franklin.

George Michael was not amused. "You should have said something! My dad--your son--could be in real trouble here! Don't you care at all?"

"Of course I do!" George Sr. spoke more reassuringly. "Look, don't worry, George Michael. Your father's got a good lawyer, and he'll get out soon. He just has to lie about going to Cabo, and he's smart enough to do that. They can't prove where he was going to go, and this will all blow over."

George Michael sighed and just drove home in silence, still angry. He no longer trusted the family and knew exactly why Michael wanted to abandon them once again. But George Michael still wanted to see Maeby, and hopefully she could give him advice on what to do with the incriminating cashier's checks.

After talking to the police, Jan Eagleman met with Michael and privately clarified the charges against him.

"You mean this is because of those fucking cashier's checks? But it was to hold the company together." Michael explained to her about trying to keep his family from selling their stock for ten years.

"You may have meant well, but it's still illegal, Michael. I mean, I might be able to cut you a deal, since it was your mother's idea, but they insist that you knew exactly what kind of fraud you were committing."

Michael sighed and recalled pointing out the "embezzlement, bribery, and conspiracy" to his mother days ago. He shouldn't have sold out, nor let Lucille manipulate him so much. "But we never gave them out, so technically we didn't bribe anybody."

She replied, "Well, you have a point, but they still have proof of you taking the money from the bank. And with you leaving the scene the way you did, it just looks like you double-crossed the family and took the money for yourself."

Michael refrained from telling her that he did intend to keep the money at first.

Jan continued, "Also, they found $300,000 dollars hidden on the yacht, and they insist on knowing what you did with the missing 200 grand."

"Three hundred--? Wait, no, that's my father's money!" He told her about George Sr. secretly selling his stock and planning to go to Cabo. "I-I was actually going to return the cashier's checks, and I don't know why they didn't find them. I left them in my coat pocket on the couch."

She checked her notes. "They didn't find anything on the couch except the puppet Franklin, and they searched him too. Apparently while your father complained about police brutality."

Michael groaned and pictured the scene. "Well maybe my son knows what happened to them. He saw them too."

"All right, I'll ask him, and get your father to corroborate that it's his money. Now what about you stealing the yacht? Were you going to flee with your father to Cabo?"

Michael hesitated and told a half-truth. "No, uh, we were just going home. I had to stay and get my son an annulment. He accidentally got married to his cousin Maeby."

"What? Really?"

"Yeah, but she's not blood-related." He explained about the mock wedding, and his son's recent confessions. "That was, um, actually why George Michael took off in the yacht. See, I told him to go back to his ex-girlfriend, but she was living with Gob, and that was the last straw."

Jan looked shocked, and commented, "Your family's a little too close."

That was the understatement of the year. "I know. That's why I have to get out of here and handle it before it gets any worse. How soon can I make bail?"

"Actually, I think that the S.E.C. wants the judge to deny you bail, because they think you're a flight risk, but I'll try to negotiate with them after I find out what happened to the cashier's checks. You'll have to sit tight for now."

"Great," he sounded resigned and weary. "Well, I guess I better use my one phone call to check on my son."

"Sure, and if you want to ask him about those checks, please go ahead. I have to wait for your mother to get here anyway, and discuss her case with her."

"Oh right."

Then she added more thoughtfully, "You know, it might actually be better if your mother got a different lawyer to represent her. You see, any deal that I make in your favor might make her look worse, and vice versa. It's a conflict of interest."

"I hadn't realized. There's no Patriot Act loophole, is there?"

"Not in this case. Look, I probably should just get the court to appoint her a new lawyer for now, and then she can upgrade to anybody else she wants before going to trial."

Michael nodded along. He was glad to have a competent lawyer, to point out such details to him. She may be a Justice TV media whore, but she was also a professional, and she was on his side. Maybe things would be okay after all.

As they rose from the chairs, he said, "Thanks," and shook her hand.

She answered, "You're welcome. I'll see you later, and I'll try to look into that annulment for you too."

"Okay. Bye."

On the way home, Lindsay mentioned the "good news" about George Sr., and Sitwell said reluctantly, "Oh, they found him? That's... nice."

He tried to convince her, though, that she'd be better off as a Sitwell. "But you'll still come celebrate your birthday with Sally and me, won't you?"

"Oh, I don't know. It'll be awkward now, and my dad is probably already planning something. I bet that's why he came back! It's a surprise for me."

Sitwell doubted it, but didn't want to burst her giddiness. Instead, he appealed to her greed. "I'll throw you a party, with lots of presents."


"And we'll still pretend that you're 35."

Lindsay looked tempted, and Tobias joined in encouraging her, because George Sr. had never respected him, and he hoped that Sitwell would make a better father-in-law.

"Why thank you, kind sir! I admit that I have not been able to provide for my beautiful bride as well as I could lately, but she deserves the very best for her birthday."

"Indeed. Anything for my darling Nellie."

Maeby rolled her eyes at this ingratiating behavior and wished again that she could emancipate herself from her family. She was well on her way to it, with her studio exec job and her car and her marriage. She still wasn't quite sure whether the marriage was legal, or even if she really wanted to be married, but if it allowed her any leverage to keep George Michael in the country, then she would use it. They could always get an annulment later.

Maeby wished that she had taken her own car to Long Beach, and could race home now, but she couldn't risk tipping off her family before she got them to sign her release forms. She was going to pitch the TV show to Ron Howard soon, and if she succeeded, then maybe she could finally afford her own lawyer and leave her oblivious, bickering parents for good. She could move out and get a driver's license and stop pretending to go to school. She wouldn't even have to lie about her age anymore. Everything would be better.

After sunset, the Fünkes arrived at the model home. As Sitwell's car pulled up to the driveway, Maeby immediately sprang out and rushed to the front door, without even glancing back.

"Well, I guess she's really worried about George Michael," Lindsay said, forgetting all about how Michael told her that the kids had been "getting physical" lately. Even if she had remembered, Lindsay wouldn't have forbade their relationship. It wasn't any more inappropriate than her proposing to her adoptive brother, after all.

"Yes, the poor boy is probably having a hard time," Sitwell said. "Well, I'll see you two at the birthday party this weekend?"

"Yes, all right," Lindsay said with a smile.

"Bring Maeby too, and George Michael, if he needs cheering up."

"Okay." Lindsay and Tobias thanked Sitwell for the ride, then got out and waved goodbye.

"George Michael?" Maeby looked around for her cousin, but only found George Sr. watching TV in the living room with Franklin.

Pop-Pop told her, "He's in his room. Hey, is your mom--?"

Maeby didn't stay, just running upstairs to find George Michael.

Lindsay and Tobias strolled in soon afterward, so George Sr. hugged Lindsay and asked if she was all right.

"I'm fine, Dad. I just got worried that you'd disappeared, because it was Uncle Oscar on the ship. But I should have known that you wouldn't leave before my birthday!"

"Your birthday? Oh right," he bluffed it off. "Of course I wouldn't. We'll have a nice party. I mean, as nice as we can have with your mom and Michael in jail."

Lindsay only grinned. "Does this mean I get his presents too? Jackpot!"

George Sr. shrugged, then spoke tenderly, "Hey, I-I heard that you found out that you were adopted, honey. But you know, you'll always be my little girl."

"I know."

He then asked her if Sitwell had said anything to her lately, and was shocked and upset to hear how Sitwell had been wooing her. "That hairless fucking freak!"

Lindsay tried to soothe him, saying, "Oh, Dad, it's just that you were gone, and I was worried about money. Plus, he gave us the ride home, and he's being so nice."

"That's because he wants to steal you away! The bastard."

While the adults continued arguing about this, the kids reunited in their bedroom.

"George Michael."

"Maeby." He put down the tuxedo jacket and stood up nervously.

She tossed down her clipboard on the dresser and impulsively kissed him. They embraced and leaned against the ladder of the bunkbed, knocking it over. They were still kissing when they heard Tobias coming upstairs.

"Did something break?" he asked.

"No, it's fine!" Maeby said, and shut the door, locking it. Then she kissed George Michael again and sank onto the lower bed with him.

Chapter Text

George Michael enjoyed making out with Maeby, but landing on the jacket reminded him of his father, so he pulled away with guilt. "Maeby, wait! Wait."

"For what?" she asked breathlessly. "We're not cousins."

He whispered, "I know, but your dad might hear us, or go through the bathroom door. Besides, we--we need to talk about some stuff. My dad was just arrested."

"Okay." Maeby reluctantly sat up with him, and took his hand comfortingly. "Are you all right?"

He shook his head. "I mean, my dad told me not to worry, but I think he's really in trouble, and I don't know what to do. Plus, I've got these--" He reached to pull the cashier's checks out of the jacket, but before he could explain, Tobias knocked on the door, startling them.

"George Michael, I--" He tried to open the door. "Is this locked?"

"Uh, yeah. Sorry." George Michael got up, but Maeby held onto him and called out, "We're fine, Dad. I told you."

Tobias said, "Oh, I know, but I came up to have a word with your cousin. Hmm, is this a bad time?"

George Michael feared that there was suspicion in Tobias's voice, so he made Maeby let go. "No, uh, j-just a second." George Michael picked up the fallen ladder and put it back, before unlocking the door. He said, "We were just going to talk," as if that might excuse their earlier kisses.

Tobias spoke sympathetically and obliviously, though. "If by 'talk,' you mean 'cry,' there's nothing to be ashamed of, George Michael! Oh, your father may be all John Wayne about hiding his tears, but you don't have to be like him, or lock the door because you're too proud. Come here." He pulled George Michael into a hug and encouraged, "Let it out. Let it all out."

George Michael was surprised and relieved for a moment, almost wanting to cry, since he did feel scared and upset by his father's arrest. But then Tobias started singing, "Somewhere over the rainbow, there's another rainbow, where big boys cry..." and rubbing his back a little too familiarly. George Michael became uncomfortable and tried to pull away.

"Oh, but you haven't cried yet." Tobias held onto him.

"Dad, that's enough!" Maeby helped pull him off.

George Michael staggered back to the window and placed the desk chair in front of him. "No, I'll--I'll cry later. Not now."

"All right. Have it your way, John Wayne." Tobias then sat on the dresser and said, "Anyway, I came up here because I'm about to start making dinner, and I wanted to know if you'd like any special comfort foods tonight. Like say, some corn balls, or should I say, blue b--"

"No!" George Michael answered. "No. I-I'm not even hungry now."

"If you say so. But I'll whip up something anyway, and perhaps you might join us later, when you're not so shy." With a flourish, he turned and left them alone.

Maeby shut and locked the door again, before going over to George Michael. "I'm sorry about my dad. Sometimes I wish he'd just move out again."

George Michael shrugged off the awkwardness and started to speak, but then she hugged him and kissed him. He lost his train of thought and smelled her hair. They started making out again, and soon Maeby pulled him back towards the bed. As they lay down, he asked her anxiously, "Wait, what if he comes back?"

"He won't. Besides, next time, we won't unlock the door."

"But what about your mom, or--?"

She climbed onto him and shut him up with more kisses. He gave in to her recklessness, and for the moment forgot that he had anything important to discuss with her.

However, then they heard George Michael's cell phone ringing in the room.

"Don't answer that," she said.

"It's probably my dad."

"Ugh! His timing is about as bad as my dad's."

George Michael sat up and took a calming breath, before grabbing his phone. "Hello?"

"George Michael, hey, it's me."

"Hi, Dad."

"Did you get home all right?"

"Yeah, I'm fine." He glanced in the mirror with some guilt, glad that his father couldn't see his disheveled state. "Are you okay, Dad?"

"I'm great. I talked to the lawyer, and she's gonna handle everything. Don't worry."

"So you'll get out of jail soon?"

Pouting impatiently, Maeby pushed the tuxedo jacket off the bed and finally saw the checks. "Whoa." Her eyes widened as she read them.

"What was that?"

"Nothing." George Michael decided to get up and walk into Lindsay and Tobias's room. He lied, "Uh, Pop-Pop was just talking to Franklin."

"Oh. Well, yes, I will get out of jail soon, George Michael. I mean, not tonight, because they didn't ever find those cashier's checks."

"I've got the checks."

"Oh, you do?"

"Yeah, I-I had your jacket and was hiding the checks from the police. You need them?"


"Okay, I'm sorry. It's just, I thought they wouldn't believe that you were gonna give them back. They wouldn't believe me about stealing the yacht."

"That's okay, son. You were just trying to help. But don't worry. Just give the checks to Jan Eagleman tomorrow, and she'll handle everything."

"Okay, Dad." He sighed with great relief and pulled a chair over to the vanity.

Michael asked him, "So, are you there with just Pop-Pop, or did anybody else come home yet?"


Michael guessed, "Maeby's there?"

"Uh, yeah. She--she just got here with her mom and dad." He became fidgety and sweaty.

Michael sighed. "Don't tell me you kissed again?"

He admitted, "I-I just couldn't help it, Dad. And we're not really blood-related, so--"

"But you're still family," Michael insisted. Then he asked in a lower voice, "I mean, what, do you think I'd hook up with your Aunt Lindsay just because I found out that she's adopted?"

"Ew! No!" George Michael was disturbed and couldn't imagine that Michael was speaking more than hypothetically.

"So it's not about the blood, George Michael. It's about right and wrong. Do you understand?"

"Yeah, I-I do. She's still not an option." George Michael frowned and tried not to think of kissing her.

Michael continued, "Listen, I know it's hard, but you've got to be strong, buddy. Don't even let yourself be alone with her at all. I already told Lindsay and Pop-Pop about you two, so you can go to them for help."

"Oh, they--they both know?" George Michael wondered why they hadn't come upstairs yet. Perhaps they were busy talking about the arrests.

"Yeah, and we'll get you an annulment as soon as possible. For now, just sleep in the master bedroom again, or uh, maybe you should go stay with your Uncle Buster for a while. You know, keep him company while Gangie's in jail."

"I-I guess so," George Michael reluctantly agreed, but kept glancing toward the door of the other room.

"Everything's gonna be all right, and I'll come home soon," Michael said. "Good night, buddy. I love you."

"I love you too, Dad." George Michael hung up, and stared sadly at the phone.

Maeby was standing in the bathroom doorway, holding the checks. "What did he say?"

"Um," he finally faced her and saw the checks in her hands. "He--he said I should give those to his lawyer."

"Oh, this is evidence, huh?" She had suspected as much, when she realized that it came out of Michael's tuxedo jacket.

He stood up and tried to take the checks, but she held them back. "What did he say about me?"

George Michael frowned and replied awkwardly, "Well, um, he--he said that we're still family."

"Hmph." She folded her arms.

George Michael looked at his feet. "And he wants me to go stay with Uncle Buster for a while."

"So you just said yes, huh? You're just gonna let him bully you like that?"

"He's not bullying me. He's just trying to help me--"

"No, he's trying to control you. Like when he tried to put you in Milford, and Openings, when you didn't want to go. And he's tried to drag you off to Arizona and Cabo too. He's not right, just because he's your dad."

"I know he makes mistakes sometimes, but he's really trying now. And I think he's right about us, Maeby. We're just kids, and this is crazy. I mean, you wanted to shred our marriage license, remember?"

"I know, but I still thought we were cousins then, and it was freaky. Besides, I never thought I'd be married at 16." Though she'd given out many proposals.

"Right, we're too young, and it'll never last. Besides, you're making movies, so you'll be around all those cool Hollywood actors. I can't compete with that."

She looked at him tenderly and touched his sleeve. "You don't have to compete with them. You're George Michael."

He looked up and searched her face for any sarcasm, but she only smiled fondly. "You mean it?"

"Yeah." She added with a shrug, "And you know, I don't even really want an older guy anymore." In this area at least, she didn't need to rush growing up.

"But you wanted Steve Holt."

"No, I was just trying to avoid my real crush on you."


"Yeah." She pulled him closer and they kissed again. She dropped the checks on the dresser.

In his cell, Michael sat on the hard cot and unbuttoned his dress shirt. He tried to relax and not think about Cabo or Arizona anymore; once again, he and George Michael would have to defer their escape from their family. Hopefully, Jan Eagleman would get him bailed out tomorrow, and resolve his case soon. Michael certainly didn't want to end up in Orange County Prison wearing a jumpsuit like his father's.

Then he wondered whether his mother would be all right, and whom she would request for a defense lawyer. Maybe she would try to convince Wayne Jarvis to switch sides again, or woo Bob Loblaw back. The Bluths still had money from their legal defense fundraiser, especially since Jan Eagleman agreed to defend them for free.

After taking off his shoes, Michael lay down and awkwardly remembered the last time that he'd been locked up and wearing a tuxedo.

Michael and Gob had broken into the Orange County Prison to rescue their mother from the warden's machinations. But it turned out that she didn't need rescuing, and she even made up with George Sr. in the conjugal trailer.

Meanwhile, the Bluth Foundation gala turned into a riot, and after the chaos died down, a guard led Michael to a cell, to spend the night. But when he saw that his brother Gob already lay unconscious in the lower bunk bed, Michael quickly turned around.

"No, wait, this is my brother. I need to find my son, George Michael."

"Sorry, warden's orders because of the riot. First come, first served, and no switching cells. We need everybody to stay put."


"No switching!" the guard insisted, slamming the door shut as if Michael were a real prisoner, not a guest. "Lights out in three." Then he walked away.

Michael held onto the bars and looked out anxiously. Where was his son? Where was the rest of the family? What sane people would ever agree to be locked into a prison after a fundraiser, new wing or not?

Finally, Michael turned around and looked at his older brother with resignation. He cautiously came nearer and knelt in front of him. Gob had a bruise on his head, as if he'd been hit during the rioting. Michael wondered if perhaps it was serious enough that he could request that the guards transfer Gob to the infirmary at least.

Gob stirred as Michael touched him, and he murmured, "Mikey."

Michael jumped back with a gasp, afraid that Gob had woken up. But Gob just sighed and stretched out, still asleep. Michael caught his breath and decided not to risk examining his brother any further. He really didn't want to know that Gob dreamed about him. He didn't want to be here at all.

Michael wished that he had never read the warden's screenplay, and had never gone to the prison. He should have stayed home, where at least he could lock himself in his bedroom, but instead he was trapped here, with Gob.

Suddenly, the prison lights went out, leaving only moonlight streaming through the barred windows.

"Oh shit." Michael got up slowly and moved toward the ladder at the end of the bunk bed. He found a chair nearby, so he began undressing and laying his clothes on it. But he kept glancing toward Gob's silhouette, paranoid that his brother might really be awake and watching him in the darkness.

So Michael climbed into the top bunk and undressed there, before tossing his clothes down to the chair. Then he pulled the blanket over him and lay down, trying to be calm. But he stared at the moving shadows and couldn't sleep. He could hear Gob breathing below him, and his whole body tensed.

For a long time, Michael had tried to ignore his brother's inappropriate behavior. He dismissed Gob acting clingy as mere neediness and loneliness; Gob was just starved for love, attention, and respect. And like Tobias, Gob was often oblivious to how his words and actions came across. Michael convinced himself that Gob was only harassing him accidentally, like he had with Gary in the office. So Michael humored Gob's strangeness and tried to steer their relationship in healthier, non-sexual directions.

But he could no longer ignore Gob's incestuous conduct. His embraces had become too intense, too lingering, and he had even sneaked up on Michael's back once, pinning him in the corner of the kitchen. Gob also tried to make Michael taste his tears, and he claimed that there was only one sleeping bag, so that they would have to share when they went camping. When Michael asked Gob to serve as a witness at his and Rita's wedding, Gob creepily offered to get him a hooker and watch them. He even spanked Michael, just like Tobias and their perverted ex-lawyer Barry had done before. Gob was shameless.

Today, Gob hugged him too long after the jetpack flew away from them, and then they got into a compromising position to read the map on Gob's tummy. The guard who found them said, "Hey, guys. If you're gonna party, you want to bring it inside?"

What would Michael do, if Gob woke up and tried something tonight? What if he wanted more than a naughty hug or kiss? What if he wanted a real 69? What if he had his forget-me-now pills with him?

Michael broke into a sweat and recalled the words from the warden's screenplay, "Anything can happen when two people share a cell, cuz." Gob hadn't read it, of course, but Michael remained sleepless and afraid. Afraid of his own brother.

Michael was not sure what time he finally managed to fall asleep, but the prison lights were back on when Gob woke him up the next morning. Gob was standing on the bunk bed below, and his hand rested on Michael's chest, playing with the wrinkles of his t-shirt.

Gob whispered, "Hey, Mikey. Do you know what happened last night?"

Michael gulped and pulled the blanket over him again. "No." He didn't feel as if he had been molested, and yet Gob's question seemed to suggest otherwise.

Gob frowned. "Fuck. I don't know either. I remember the riot breaking out, and I went to meet you guys at the conjugal trailer, but that's it. Did Mom get out okay?"

Michael realized what Gob meant now, and he sat up wearily. "Uh, yeah, Mom's fine. I was wrong, actually. The warden wasn't plotting any revenge."

"Really? So you screwed up!" Gob grinned in a pleased, superior way, but he also leaned nearer and put a hand on Michael's knee.

Maybe he wasn't so paranoid about Gob after all. Michael said, "Yeah, and then Dad showed up instead of escaping. The warden let him stay and nail Mom in the trailer."

"God!" Gob reacted with disgust and jumped away, onto the floor. With a shudder, he paced around the cell and complained of Michael's filthiness. "I have a sense of propriety!"

Michael let him rant, using the opportunity to climb down and get his clothes. But he didn't dress quickly enough, because Gob suddenly grabbed him and pulled him to the lower bed.

"Hey!" He tried to get up, but was hampered by his pants not being on all the way.

"Oh God, I remember now!" Gob broke down and cried against his brother's cheek, confessing that he had been detained against the trailer before getting knocked out. He clung to Michael hysterically and wouldn't let go.

Michael reluctantly patted Gob's back and tried to calm him. Gob meanwhile tried to make Michael taste his tears again, and he kept leaning Michael backward, pinning him against the ladder. "No! Gob, don't--"

Suddenly, the cell door opened, and a prison guard stood staring at them. "You're... free to go."

Michael finally slipped out of Gob's grasp and scurried back to the chair. He cleared his throat and said with embarrassment, "Uh, thanks."

The guard still frowned at them, and checked his list of overnight guests again. "You're brothers?"

Michael blushed and made an excuse, "He--he got scared, about being in prison. He's been shanked before and, uh, traumatized."

The guard shrugged and continued on, to wake up the rest of the incarcerated guests.

Gob's sobs finally subsided, and he just lay in bed, watching Michael dress. Michael wouldn't look at him, just hurrying to go find his son.

Since that night in the prison, Gob had continued to blatantly harass Michael. He even had an erection during one of their intimate hugs, and Michael uncomfortably ignored it. He encouraged Gob to stick with his Christian girlfriend and to be a father to Steve Holt. Michael hoped that having a girlfriend would keep Gob occupied, even if he did not totally reform.

But of course, Michael had expected too much of Gob, and the girlfriend turned out to be George Michael's ex-girlfriend. So if anything, Gob had become more, not less, depraved.

Michael sighed and shook his head sadly. Maybe there really was no way to have a normal, brotherly relationship with Gob. Maybe it would always be warped. Given their childhood, how could it not be?

Michael resolved to do everything he could to spare George Michael and Maeby from having such an inappropriate relationship. He hoped that Lindsay and Dad were watching over them carefully now.

Chapter Text

While Tobias prepared dinner, George Sr. and Lindsay continued arguing about Stan Sitwell.

"I'm serious! I don't want you to go to that party, Lindsay, and I don't want you to even talk to him again."

"But Daddy, I need this! He promised me a lot of presents, to make up for me being older than I thought I was. Besides, with Michael holding the purse-strings for the last three years, I've had to beg, borrow, and steal to get anything new. I'm sick of it."

He replied, "Well the past three years have been tough on me too, Lindsay! Do you think I was having the time of my life in prison? It was a hellhole." A hellhole with ice cream sandwiches and softball games.

"But what about when you escaped to Mexico for a while? Then Vegas and Reno?"

George Sr. shrugged dismissively. "Yeah, but I also had to hide in the attic for months, and then I was under house arrest with your mother."

Lindsay nodded and sighed sympathetically, "Yeah, I just did time with her at a spa. It was like being in rehab. But, listen, I could return Sitwell's presents for money, Daddy. We're probably going to need some cash, you know, because all our stock will get frozen again."

George Sr. considered her argument. "So we'd be screwing Sitwell out of some more money?"

"Yeah. And with Michael in jail, I don't know where else we're going to get money from. Are you gonna be company president again?"

"No, no, I'm definitely retired." George Sr. did not want to put himself at risk of getting arrested. "We'll probably have to figure out what's going on at the shareholders' meeting tomorrow. They'll be desperate and want to appoint someone to temporarily take over."

"Right, and who knows what they'll do?"

"All right, I guess you can go to that party and stick it to Sitwell for me. But you gotta promise me, honey, that you'll stay a Bluth."

"Fünke," Tobias tried to correct.

"Of course, Daddy." She hugged him. With Lucille gone, Lindsay didn't resent being a Bluth so much. "And I promise that I'll only keep your birthday presents. I'll exchange all of Sitwell's gifts for money."

"Oh." George Sr. realized that he had to buy her some birthday presents. "Well, good."

"By the way, where are we gonna have our own party, Dad? Are we gonna have it here, or at the penthouse?"

"Um, I can't tell you now, honey. It's going to be a surprise."

She grinned. "I can't wait."

Tobias grew worried by Lindsay's continued attachment to George Sr., but he decided that he would speak to Sitwell privately later. In the meantime, he finished setting the table and called out, "Kids! Time for dinner!"

After a moment, Maeby called back, "We're not hungry!"

Tobias answered, "Oh, you kids! George Michael, come on down here. Don't be ashamed to cry!"

George Sr. sat down and asked, "Cry?"

"Yes, he was so upset about his father's arrest that he locked the bedroom door."

Lindsay rolled her eyes and said, "Maybe he locked it to keep you out."

George Sr. started to laugh in agreement, but then finally remembered Michael telling him that the cousins had been making out lately. "Locked the door? Was he with Maeby? Oh-oh!" So George Sr. got up and hurried upstairs.

At that moment, the cousins had stopped kissing, and were sitting together on one of the twin beds.

Maeby asked George Michael, "So what are we gonna do about your dad?"

"What do you mean?"

"I mean, what happens when your dad gets out of jail? Is he gonna steal the yacht again and drag you to Cabo?"

"No, no, he said that we need to stay, to get an annulment."

"Then what happens after that?"

"I don't know. I guess it depends on how soon Jan Eagleman can get the charges dropped."

"Yeah, we should look into that. Maybe we shouldn't give her those cashier's checks. We could hide them, or shred them."

"No, no!" George Michael protested. "I don't want him to stay in jail."

Maeby shrugged. "All right, but we've got to stall him on the annulment, then. Like hide our marriage license from him. Where'd you put it?"

"You wanna stay married?"

"Yeah, to keep you from disappearing on me! Your dad's always bolting and running, George Michael. You can't just give in to him again. You gotta start standing up for yourself. I mean, that's what husbands do, right?"

"Well, I--"

Following their voices, George Sr. rushed down the hallway and into the room. "Hey-ey there! What's going on?" He wondered why they weren't in their own room, but perhaps they wanted a roomier bed.

"Nothing," Maeby answered coolly. "We're not hungry, Pop-Pop. Just have dinner without us."

George Michael, however, remembered that Pop-Pop knew about them, although he wasn't sure if he approved. So George Michael moved away from her slightly, looking nervous and guilty. He knew they were going to get caught, sooner or later.

George Sr. said, "Oh, I bet I know what you're hungry for! Come on, let's go." He grabbed them and made them get up.

"Hey! What did we do?" Maeby protested.

"You made out and got married, that's what. Downstairs, both of you."

He herded the kids out of the room, while George Michael mumbled to her, "He heard us talking about the marriage on the yacht."

"Oh fuck," she said. "Then we should have locked the door!"

"Go on, now!"

When they all arrived downstairs, Lindsay and Tobias misunderstood the expressions on their faces.

"Oh, George Michael, are you worried about your dad?"

"Hardly," George Sr. said. "These two lovebirds were on your bed!"


George Michael protested, "I am worried about my dad!"

"And we weren't doing anything," Maeby said. "Not that it's any of your business."

Lindsay asked, "George Michael and Maeby?" Then she remembered. "Oh, so Michael was serious about that?"

"About what?" Tobias looked surprised and confused.

"They're kissing cousins, you dope," George Sr. answered. He made the kids sit down at opposite corners of the table and said, "Now we better have a serious discussion."

Lindsay smiled at them. "How sweet! How long have you guys been dating?"

"Lindsay!" George Sr. said disapprovingly. "They're cousins."

"So what?" She didn't see what the big deal was. "They're not blood-related."

"I know that, but they're just kids. And they're not just dating; they're married."

"Married?" Lindsay glanced at George Michael. "You didn't even ask me for your mom's engagement ring."

George Michael answered, "Well, it-it was kind of an accident."

George Sr. nodded, as if that proved his point. "And what if they have an accident and she gets pregnant, huh? Who's gonna take care of that mess? Besides, if they consummate it, then they can't get an annulment."

Maeby spoke defiantly, "You can't tell us what to do!"

"Oh really?" George Sr. said skeptically. "You want to stay married? You want to drop out of school and have kids? And raise them on what? Your banana stand money?"

Maeby was going to protest that she had already dropped out of school, and that she did have her own money, but Tobias interrupted.

"Wait, wait! I think you're overreacting here. They won't consummate it, because George Michael here is afraid of sex."

"Wait, what?" George Michael looked embarrassed and confused.

Tobias continued in his psychiatrist voice, "I saw how he was afraid of intimacy with his last girlfriend, and now he's gotten married to Maeby, but he hasn't consummated that either. So obviously, he has some deep-seated issues--"

"No, no!" George Michael stopped him. "No, there's nothing wrong with me!"

"Yeah," Maeby agreed. "We didn't even know we were married at first, and we still thought we were cousins for a while. But we're not."

George Sr. added with a shrug, "Yeah, I think the boy's all right. It was just that Bland girl with her nutty religious stuff, you know. But with Maeby here--well that's what we're trying to prevent."

"I don't see why," Lindsay said. "I mean, if they're married, and we teach them about birth control, why shouldn't they be together?"

"But they shouldn't be married!" George Sr. insisted, then he turned to the kids earnestly. "Don't you know that you're both too young? You've got your whole lives ahead of you. Sweet freedom! Why would you want to throw it all away?" Besides never liking Michael's wife Tracey, George Sr. had always resented Lucille tricking him into getting her pregnant and having to marry her.

Maeby asked, "So wait, you'd be all right with us together, just as long as we weren't married?"

"Sure!" Lindsay said. "Keep your options open, honey." She glanced at Tobias with regret about rushing into marriage, but he remained oblivious.

George Sr. frowned and thought things over. "You mean you'd get an annulment?"

"Yeah," Maeby said, without consulting George Michael. "If you let us date."

George Sr. shrugged. "Hmm, okay. But, listen, no hanky-panky until the annulment's official, and then you two have to be careful about not getting pregnant."

"All right!" Maeby said with a grin, and took George Michael's hand happily. "Isn't this great?" She hadn't expected this to be so easy.

George Michael blinked and stammered, "But--but what about my dad?"

"Oh yeah." She turned to the adults again. "Hey, can you guys help us convince Uncle Mike to lay off us? He keeps saying that we're still family, and he was going to take George Michael off to Cabo."

"He was?" Lindsay asked. "He was gonna abandon us again in the middle of Lucille's arrest?"

George Sr. recalled his talk with Michael on the yacht, but did not admit his own guilt. "Yeah, he wanted to cash out and leave."

Tobias shook his head with an analytical air again. "Ah, Michael. Always running away, then coming back with his tail between his legs. One of these days, we'll have to stop taking his sweet little tail back."

Everyone glanced at him, then George Sr. cleared his throat. "Anyway, I guess I'll have a talk with Michael myself. You know, tell him not to overreact and get uptight. After all, he should be more focused on his trial, and his mother's right now. We should all visit them, first thing tomorrow."


"Okay, thanks, Pop-Pop." Maeby got up and kissed his cheek, before returning to George Michael.

"Oh, here." Lindsay switched seats so that the kids could sit together, and the family began enjoying their meal.

George Michael softly asked Maeby for reassurance, "So now--now you don't want to be married?"

She answered with a shrug, "Well, you said it yourself. We're too young. As long as your dad doesn't keep us apart, we can date, and that's all that matters."

"Right. I guess so." George Michael started to relax and believe that their problems were solved. "So you're my girlfriend now?"

"Yeah." She smiled and kissed him.

"Hey, hey!" George Sr. wagged a finger at them. "No hanky-panky until the annulment."

Maeby answered sarcastically, "Oh, like we're gonna make out in front of you."

"I know, but we're not gonna leave you kids alone anymore, no matter what you promise. I don't trust teenagers and their raging hormones. You guys probably shouldn't share a room until the annulment's official."

Tobias asked, "Oh, should we switch rooms again?"

George Michael really didn't want to share the bunk beds with Tobias again, and Maeby said with a pout, "What? I don't want to move."

George Sr. suggested, "Why don't you sleep downstairs on the couch, George Michael? I'll take your father's room for tonight, and we'll work something out once your father comes home."

"Oh, okay," George Michael said, and Maeby shrugged.

"Well, that's better than Cabo."

But then George Michael asked worriedly, "Hey, um, is Uncle Gob going to come over tonight?" Gob frequently sneaked into the model home to crash on the study couch, whenever he didn't have a yacht, or a girlfriend to stay with. George Michael didn't want to see his uncle now, nor did he like the thought of Gob staying at the Veals' house either.

Lindsay answered, "No, Gob is staying with Uncle Oscar and Buster. They called us from the dock, and they're driving the Mercedes back."

George Sr. asked, "Oscar is staying at the penthouse again? Ugh, he'll be wearing my clothes again."

"Well, he was already wearing your clothes at the boat party, Daddy. Don't tell me that that tux was his."

"No, I lent it to him. But I was just using him, so that nobody would know I was gone."

"Why? Why didn't you come to the party?"

George Sr. realized that he couldn't confess his plans to Lindsay. "Well, I, uh, was planning a surprise for the party."

George Michael looked up and almost wanted to say that George Sr. also intended to go to Cabo, but he saw a warning look on Pop-Pop's face and decided that he shouldn't piss off Pop-Pop, if he hoped to be with Maeby.

"What surprise?" Lindsay pressed with excitement.

George Sr. lied, "Oh, I was... getting ready for your birthday party on Saturday. Yeah, I was gonna invite all the investors to toast you and Michael on your 37th." To lower her expectations, he added, "But, now with your mother and Michael in jail, I think we'll have to have a much smaller party, honey. We can't afford a big blowout, with the company in trouble again."

"Oh, that's all right. At least I'll have Sitwell's party." Then she grinned and told George Michael and Maeby that they were invited. "He said he was gonna send a limo to pick us up! It can be your first date!"

George Sr. frowned and grumbled with jealousy. "Fucking hairless freak."

Meanwhile, Uncle Oscar, Buster, and Gob arrived at Balboa Towers and parked the Mercedes.

Lupe had already gone home, and only the roomba was on duty. The guys helplessly rummaged through the kitchen for dinner, but there were no more leftovers from the breakfast catered by Skip Church's bistro.

Oscar said, "I wish I'd had more free shrimp."

Then there was a knock on the door, and Buster answered it, to find Lucille Austero standing outside.

"Lucille 2." Buster was surprised, since she had spent a lot of her time with Sitwell lately.

"Uh, hello, Buster," she spoke nervously and couldn't help glancing at his hook, but she realized that this was rude, and cleared her throat. "I-I heard you coming home, and I wanted to check that you were okay, what with your mother and brother--"

"Who's that?" Gob asked, as he came to the door. "Oh."

Lucille 2 looked awkwardly between the brothers, both of whom she had dated once. "Oh, um, I didn't know that you'd both be here. Maybe--maybe I should go."

"No, no, stay," Buster said, feeling in need of a substitute for his incarcerated mother. He'd always had a problem separating his mother from her neighbor and social rival. "Come in."

"Really?" She looked at both of them, and also wondered why Gob had a bruise.

Gob shrugged and said, "Why not? Maybe you can help us out with dinner. We don't know how to cook."

"Oh, you boys haven't had dinner yet? I can have my cook make something right now."

Oscar popped out of the kitchen and asked, "Do you have any shrimp?"

"Oh!" Lucille 2 jumped slightly and felt a little vertigo, before catching hold of the sofa for support. Then she said, "Oh, George. It's nice to see you."

"No, I'm Oscar. George--George cut my hair, and sent me this tux for the party."

"Oh I see. Well, um, let's go across the hall and see about dinner, shall we?"

"All right." They followed her out, and Oscar asked, "Do you have any weed too?"

They had drinks while waiting for dinner, and Lucille 2 asked Buster about losing his hand. "I mean, I heard about it, but I-I couldn't ask Lucille for details."

Buster told her what happened, and Gob looked uncomfortable, leaving the room when they came to the part about him releasing the seal into the ocean. He hid in the kitchen and tried to flirt with the cook, but she was all business.

So Gob sipped his drink and wished that Michael was around, instead of in jail. At the very least, he wished he still had the yacht, and Franklin.

When everyone sat down to dinner, Buster treated Gob normally, without any lingering resentment, but Lucille 2 glanced at him rather reproachfully, especially when Buster told her about his encounter with the seal today.

Gob realized that he had no shot with Lucille Austero anymore. Well, that didn't matter, because Gob had a girlfriend now. If only she'd let him fuck her, though. He was beginning to learn what it was like to be Michael, deprived of sex for months. Sooner or later, he might have to break down and cheat with one of his escorts again. Or maybe, if Michael got out of jail soon, and he could be persuaded to give in to brotherly love... "Mikey."

"What?" Lucille 2 asked.

"What?" Gob hadn't realized that he'd spoken out loud.

Buster told him, "You said 'Mikey.' You're worried about his arrest too? Yeah, I hope he's not in a lot of trouble, and I hope Mom's okay."

"I hope so too." Lucille 2 patted his hand soothingly. "If there's anything you need at all, Buster, you just let me know."


Gob returned to silently nursing his drink.

Oscar babbled about missing Lucille, and also longed for some pot.

After dinner, the Bluths thanked Lucille 2 and said goodnight. Buster retired to his room, while Oscar took the master bedroom that he had shared with Lucille, leaving only the couch for Gob.

Gob tried to switch with someone, or persuade them to share one of the rooms, but they said no.

"Don't you always sleep on the couch at Michael's anyway?"

Gob pouted, but grabbed some blankets and began to undress. He wished that he had his silk robe and boxers, but he had stashed those with his Segway, after going to pick up his tux for the party.

Then he lay down and turned off the lights, while for some reason, Buster took the roomba into his bedroom. Gob sighed and thought of Michael again, wondering how he was doing in jail.

Gob remembered their recent night in prison and wished that he hadn't been knocked out for most of the night. He could have tried something while they were locked up together. After all, Michael had seemed rather suggestible, even straddling Gob, when he could just as easily have read the map by sitting on the ground next to him.

Gob was growing impatient waiting for Michael to give in to him. He was pretty sure that Michael understood what he wanted, and yet Michael wouldn't give in, no matter how many months at a time he went without a girlfriend. No matter how many times he made up with Gob and wanted their fights to end. Michael was always afraid, and always running away.

If Gob had to wait any longer, then he'd have to try sleeping with his hooker Nellie again, and hope that it went better this time. When he first confessed to her about his guilty love for Michael, she was shocked. But ever since Franklin became her pimp, Gob had confessed to her many fucked up things about his family,and so did George during his own crying sessions. So Nellie realized that Gob's forbidden feelings weren't so bad compared to other secrets she had heard over the years. She even felt sorry for Gob and offered to have sex with him to make him feel better, but he couldn't do it, just like on the first night they met. Nellie looked like Michael, but not enough that Gob could pretend she was his brother. So she just listened to his confessions over the years and tried to be comforting.

Once Nellie met Michael, she agreed with Gob that he was hot, and she said that she would invite him up to her hotel room, where Gob could watch in the darkness. Gob had hoped that maybe he could do more than watch, if Michael were so inclined. Unfortunately, Michael wouldn't give in to Nellie either, and he soon discovered Gob and Franklin there. Michael claimed that the arrangement was even more twisted, because Nellie was supposedly their sister too, which upset them all. But by the next morning, Michael had turned out to be quite wrong about Nellie.

Gob believed now that maybe Michael had just been afraid that night, and making excuses to run away again. After all, why would he jump to such conclusions, without knowing Nellie's last name, or testing her DNA? Why wouldn't he have hired a private detective to find this so-called sister?

Gob still longed for his brother, and he had tried to tell Michael, to show him, several times, but Michael remained stubborn and moral and afraid. Gob sadly wondered how his wife Krindy had ever convinced her brother in the army to give in. He'd ask her for advice, but she was still mad at him about setting free her seals.

Chapter Text

After dinner at the model home, Tobias cleared the table and began washing the dishes, while everyone else decided to go to bed. As soon as they were out of earshot, Tobias stopped to pick up the phone on the counter.

He called and got Sitwell's voicemail. "This is Dr. Tobias Fünke. I thought you should know that George Bluth has been convincing Lindsay to stay his daughter. She even promised that she'd return all your birthday presents for money. Just FYI."

Upstairs, the kids' bedroom door was still locked, so they had to go through Lindsay and Tobias's room.

"Oh, I better not forget these." George Michael picked up the cashier's checks from the dresser.

George Sr. warned them, "Hey, no more locking doors and making out, okay? Annulment first."

"Okay, Pop-Pop." George Michael went through the adjoining bathroom and unlocked the door.

"Good boy. Now get your stuff and go downstairs. I left Franklin there, if you want company." Then George Sr. retired to the master bedroom.

George Michael didn't appreciate the reminder of Gob, but he didn't say anything. He put the cashier's checks on his desk and hung up his father's jacket, then pulled out his pajamas and robe.

Maeby was going to change too, but Lindsay drew her back to the pink room and sat her on the bed by the window. "Honey, while he's busy, let's have a girl talk."

"Girl talk?"

"Yeah, you know. About birth control."

"Oh Mom! Not the sex talk!" Maeby groaned. "I already know about--"

"I know, I know," Lindsay said, "but tell me about you and George Michael. How long have you been making out? Do you love him?"

"Mom!" Maeby shushed her, and she still wished that she were emancipated, so that she could get away from her parents.

"Come on, Maeby, this is new and exciting! I mean, I didn't even know that you broke up with Steve Holt."

"That was months ago!" Maeby had drugged Steve Holt with a forget-me-now, to make him think that they had sex, when they really didn't. Afterward, Steve was quite upset, believing that they were cousins, and she was relieved to stop dating him.

Lindsay said, "Well I'm sorry. I guess I was confused, because he kept coming around to see Gob too."

"Yeah, because Gob's his dad, and that makes us cousins. But wait, I guess technically we aren't blood-related either."

"Oh, and here I thought that Steve just liked doing magic with him!" Lindsay laughed. "Hey, isn't that funny, you dating both of your not-cousins?"

"No, it's not."

Lindsay shrugged. "Anyway, if you don't wanna talk about George Michael, fine, but we still need to discuss condoms, and maybe get you a prescription for birth control pills too." This was a rare attempt on her part to be a good mother.

Maeby still looked uncomfortable. The only thing that could have made it worse, would be Tobias joining in and trying to demonstrate with a banana.

Lindsay sighed with regret about her mostly sexless marriage. "Now, your daddy and I haven't had any... accidents ourselves, but I did date a lot of other guys before I met him, so I know how easy it is to get pregnant." Dozens of times.

While Maeby reluctantly listened to her mother, George Michael finished changing clothes and brushed his teeth. Then he grabbed a pillow and blanket to take downstairs, but first he looked in and said good night to them.

"Good night," Lindsay answered.

Maeby on the other hand jumped up and rushed over to him, kissing him passionately. George Michael nearly dropped the bedding.

But George Sr. came out to the hall and cleared his throat sternly.

So Maeby let go and murmured, "Good night."

"Yeah." George Michael nodded and smiled goofily. "G-Good night." Then he backed away clumsily and hurried around the corner toward the stairs.

Maeby watched him go and wished that she could escape, but Lindsay wanted to finish their 'girl talk.'

Tobias went upstairs as George Michael went down. After putting Franklin aside on the ottoman, George Michael made his bed on the living room couch. Then he turned off the lights and lay down, thinking about Maeby. He couldn't wait for his dad to get home, and for him and Maeby to get an annulment. Then everything would be perfect.

Over breakfast, George Sr. said that there wasn't enough room in the staircar to take everybody to the station, so they should probably call and ask somebody to bring over the Mercedes. "Buster and them might wanna come too."

George Michael said, "Just--just as long as I don't have to ride with Uncle Gob. Um, I also have to give these checks to Dad's lawyer."

"Oh, well we'd better call her too, and see what time she can meet us there."

Maeby had to go to Tantamount Studios, though, and she decided to keep it a secret, in case she did want to emancipate herself after all. "Actually, I can't go today. I have school."

George Sr. asked, "I thought school was out already?"

"Right, but I'm in summer school, 'cause I missed so many classes at Openings, remember?"

"Oh, not that New Age feel-goodery!" George Sr. shook his head disapprovingly.

Lindsay and Tobias pretended that they knew all along about summer school. "Oh, yes! That was in that letter, right?"

"Yes, you should get back to school, young lady."

"Study hard, because you don't want to repeat the 9th grade again." Age-wise, Maeby should have just finished 11th grade with George Michael.

"Do you need a ride, Maeby?"

"No, I'll take the bus." To the place where she parked her red car.

So George Sr. called the penthouse, while Tobias cleared the dishes, and the others went upstairs to dress.

George Michael asked Maeby, "Are you really going back to school?"

She replied, "No, I'm just going to my job. I think I should keep working at the studio, so I'll have money to keep my car and my phone."

"Oh, okay. Well, I'll see you when you get home." He gave her a soft kiss, before going to change out of his pajamas in the bathroom.

Maeby glanced down at her clipboard of signatures and wondered if she should back out of pitching the TV series. The Bluths might become very upset with her if they found out about the show, and they might not let her see George Michael anymore. But on the other hand, no one had kicked Tobias out of the family for his involvement in Scandalmakers. Well, maybe she better go get Steve Holt's signature, just in case.

Oscar was still too afraid to be near cops or jails, so Gob and Buster left without him. Lucille 2 promised to pick up new glasses and a new prosthetic hand for Buster. At the model home, Gob immediately went inside to look for Franklin, whom George Sr. had mentioned on the phone.

"Franklin, where are you?" Then he spotted the puppet in the living room and rushed to hug him. "Oh, I thought I'd lost you and the yacht!"

"Come on, let's go," George Sr. said shortly. "We need to straighten out this mess with your mother." He was angry because Jan Eagleman had told him on the phone that she wasn't going to represent Lucille.

Gob said, "Wait, I gotta change out of this tux, Dad. And you said that you had my phone too."

"Oh yeah. Here." George Sr. handed over the cell phone. "The police wanted to confiscate it at first, but I claimed that it was mine. Apparently they only wanted evidence against Michael."

"Thanks, Dad. But why are they after Michael?"

"I don't know. Maybe because he's been running things for three years and hasn't learned how to cover up for Lucille yet. I gotta talk to the lawyer about the whole thing."

"Oh, okay. So I'll go get changed." He headed for the stairs.

"Wait, Gob. George Michael's up there. Make sure you don't bother him, because he's still pretty mad at you."

"He is?"


"Mad enough to hit me again?"

George Sr. shrugged. "I don't know. He said he didn't want to ride in the car with you. Hey, why don't you just take your Segway there?"

"I left it at Steve Holt's."

After George Michael took the yacht, Gob had to ride the Segway to his son's house, because he had no money and was only wearing his robe and boxers. Steve Holt agreed to pick up Gob's tuxedo for him, but looked disappointed that he wasn't invited to the boat party. "Can't I come with you, Dad? I didn't get to go to the gala either."

"No, it won't be any fun, and you don't even have a tux. I've gotta get revenge on Michael anyway. You stay here with your mom."

"Okay." Steve Holt turned away and did the sad Charlie Brown walk.

George Sr. told Gob, "Fine, then go with Buster in the staircar." As he exited, he called out, "George Michael, we're going!"

"I'm coming!" George Michael hurried downstairs with the checks and the marriage license, which Jan Eagleman had said he should bring. Then he spotted Gob in the living room and paused, glaring at his uncle silently.

Gob didn't dare to speak, so after George Michael left the house, Gob went up to the attic for some extra clothes. As he changed out of his tuxedo, he asked, "Hey, Franklin, you wanna come visit Michael?"

"No! Keep my black ass away from those motherfucking cops!"

"Oh, right. I forgot what dad said." Franklin had also been tackled once as a suspected kidnapper. So Gob said, "Well, you'll be safe here, and I'll come pick you up after I get the yacht back."

At the police station, George Michael met with Jan Eagleman first, to give her the checks and to discuss his annulment. She had also requested an interview with George Sr. afterward, which made him suspicious.

So Lindsay and Tobias visited Lucille in one room, while George Sr. met with Michael in another.

"Good morning, Lucille." Lindsay took pleasure in not calling her "Mom" anymore.

"How are you?" Tobias asked as they sat down.

"How the fuck do you think I am?" Lucille answered indignantly. "I've been handcuffed, fingerprinted, photographed, and locked up in here all night. It's been over twelve hours since I've even had a drink!"

Lindsay gasped, because Lucille was always meaner when she was sober. "So it's like being in rehab?"

"Worse! And then I find out that I've been appointed some shitty lawyer, who says that I can't make bail, and that I'm getting transferred soon to some other prison to await my trial. If I could just transfer to Orange County Prison, the warden there would treat me well."

Tobias said, "Well, maybe the women's prison will be like Martha Stewart's prison? They might even make a movie about you. I wonder if I could play George again."

Lucille glared at him, then sighed. "Good grief, this family is just falling apart. Annyong turned out to be a mole, Michael took off with the checks, and I suppose you've already become a Sitwell?"

Lindsay answered, "Oh I'm not a Sitwell, even though you tried to sell me to him. I'm just using him for birthday presents and money. Dad said it was okay."

"Speaking of George, do you know why he switched with Oscar again? He wasn't bolting with Kitty the whore, was he?"

"No, he was planning a surprise for my birthday party this weekend."

"Really? He never mentioned that to me."

Lindsay gloated, "Dad wanted to make it extra special for me, because Michael was getting all that attention becoming CEO. But now I'll get his presents too."

Lucille rolled her eyes. "That's all very well for you, Lindsay, but I'm fighting for my freedom right now. I need to know that I can trust your father and depend on him to get me a better lawyer." She lowered her voice, "Apparently, Annyong gave the FBI some tapes full of evidence."

Tobias mused, "Hmm, I wonder how that kid got so much information without us knowing."

They all shrugged and murmured, "You can always tell a Milford man."

Meanwhile, George Sr. informed Michael that his son was with Jan Eagleman, and he asked, "Now what's this crap about her not representing Lucille?"

"It's a conflict of interest, Dad. Didn't she explain that to you?"

George Sr. scoffed dismissively. "I think you're trying to betray the family, Michael. Are you going to testify against your mother so that you can get immunity? That is not how I raised you, Michael!"

"Dad, I'm not betraying anybody. Mom can get another lawyer--"

"This family is supposed to stick together, or didn't you learn that from the mock trial?"

"Oh, like you were gonna stick together by taking Gob's yacht to Cabo? You planned to abandon the family even before the arrests, Dad."

George Sr. hushed him and glanced around, making sure that they weren't overheard.

Michael continued, "Besides, what I learned is that our family shouldn't stick too close together, or else we'll end up with problems like George Michael and Maeby getting married! By the way, tell me how he handled last night. Did you take him over to stay with Buster?"

"What? No, Gob and Oscar stayed with Buster. George Michael stayed on the couch downstairs."

"Oh." Michael frowned and worried. "But you made sure that he didn't sneak back up to Maeby, right?"

"Of course I did, Michael! You think I don't know all the ways to sneak around that house, after living in the attic last year?"

"Oh right. Well, thanks, Dad."

"Yeah, don't worry about the kids." George Sr. then recalled Maeby's request, so he began carefully, "Uh, look, don't get uptight, Michael, but we had a family meeting about this whole marriage thing, and we made a deal."

"Deal?" Michael blinked.

"Yeah. We're gonna let the kids date, as long as they get the annulment and George Michael doesn't knock her up."

"What? Knock her--? Dad!" Michael sputtered in horror. "How could you?"

George Sr. told him, "Easy, easy! There's no reason to get upset."

"Yes there is! They're cousins!"

"But they're not blood-related."

"But they're still family." Michael stared at his father incredulously. "Come on, I told you on the yacht that we needed to leave and get him over Maeby. I thought we were on the same page about this."

"Well, sure, I don't want them to stay married or get pregnant. They're too young for that. But there's no harm in dating, if they don't take it too seriously. Besides, I told you that your boy shouldn't wait any longer to have sex. It's time he became a man."

"With his own cousin?!" Michael groaned and asked, "Wait, what did Lindsay say about this deal, huh? She doesn't care that her daughter and my--" Then Michael frowned and recalled Lindsay pouncing on him in bed and asking him to marry her. He should have known better than to expect normal morality from her. But still, wasn't the mere idea of marrying her adoptive brother, while their kids dated, at all icky to her?

George Sr. answered, "Hey, Lindsay was even excited about the kids being married, but I talked some sense into her and them. Anyway, it's no big deal, Michael. I don't see you getting this upset about the charges against you, or your mother." He accused, "You don't care because you already made your own deal, didn't you?"

"I didn't--! Don't change the subject, Dad! This is a disaster. I've gotta talk to my son. I've gotta get out of here and fix this myself."

George Sr. shook his head. "Michael, you know as well as I do that you can't control who your son dates. If you interfere, it will only drive them closer together, to spite you. But if you back off and let them do their thing, then they'll get sick of each other after a while and they'll move on."

"They should move on right now!" Michael insisted. "They're making a huge mistake. It's wrong and--"

"Michael!" George Sr. gave up the argument out of frustration. "You know, I don't have time for this! I've gotta see that lawyer, I've gotta make sure that Lucille's okay, and then I've gotta make it to that emergency shareholders' meeting. Someone has to do right by this family, even if you won't, Mike." He got up and left the room.

Michael began to follow his father, but he ran into Lindsay and Tobias coming to the door. He asked them, "Is it true? You made a deal with the kids?"

"Yeah," Lindsay answered brightly. "They're so adorable together, Michael."

"Great." Michael shook his head and muttered, "So we can all be one big incestuous family!"

Lindsay said, "They're not blood-related."

Before he could retort, Michael spotted his son coming down the hallway. "George Michael!"

"Hey, Dad!" George Michael rushed to him and hugged him. "You're all right?"

"I'm fine. Come here." He pulled George Michael inside the room and shut the door on Lindsay and Tobias.

George Michael told him, "Jan Eagleman said that you'll probably be released later today. Isn't that great?"

"Yeah." Michael sat him down and spoke seriously, "Listen, buddy, I need to talk to you about Maeby again."

"Yeah, did Pop-Pop tell you--?"

"Oh, he told me, all right! God, I never should have trusted him and Lindsay to help you. What was I thinking?"

The smile faded from George Michael's face. "Wh-what do you mean?"

"I mean this stupid deal that they made with you and Maeby. You cannot date your cousin!"

"But she's not--"

"I know! But it's not about the blood! You told me last night that you understood that."

"Well, um, yeah... But they don't mind--"

Michael grabbed him by the shoulders. "Well they're wrong, George Michael! They're wrong. This is exactly why we should get away from this insane family. Look, buddy, I know that you're all mixed up now because of what they said, but you cannot act on your feelings for Maeby! You can't be with her."

George Michael looked upset and asked, "Why not?"

"Because she's family!"

"But I--" He loved her.

"No, no!" Michael tried to shake some sense into him, then hugged him tightly. "They are not getting you, son! They're not going to corrupt you and make you just like them. I won't let that happen. First thing after I get out here, we're gonna pack our bags and get out of that model home, okay?"

George Michael blinked, looking shell-shocked. "We are?"

"Yeah. Don't worry. I'll throw Gob out of the penthouse so that we can stay there for right now. Then after the annulment, I'm gonna quit the Bluth Company, and we're getting the hell out of here. We're never coming back."

"N-never?" George Michael recalled Maeby urging him to stand up for himself, but he still couldn't form any words now. He felt so torn between her and his father, and he realized miserably that things weren't going to be perfect after all. George Michael started to cry.

Michael held onto him and shushed him, whispering, "Everything's gonna be all right, pal. I love you."

George Michael pulled away, but would not meet his father's eyes as he sniffled, "I-I have to go."

Michael assumed that his son was just embarrassed about crying, so he patted his back. "Sure, buddy. Just go home and wait for me to pick you up."

Getting up, George Michael said nothing and left unhappily.

Because the staircar was so slow, Buster and Gob arrived later than the rest of the family. Gob immediately went off to inquire about his yacht, while Buster ran into Lindsay and Tobias comforting George Michael in the hallway.

Lindsay said, "He's being so unreasonable! Don't worry, honey, we'll talk some sense into him. You're not going anywhere. We'll hide you with Stan Sitwell if we have to."

Buster approached and asked them, "Is Mom here?"

Tobias pointed to a door. "Oh, yes. She's right in there."

Lindsay said, "Hey, Buster, I'm taking George Michael home in the staircar. You and Gob can go home with Dad."


So Lindsay left the police station with George Michael, while Tobias went in and talked to Michael.

"Michael, why do you believe it's inappropriate for the kids to date? They're not really cousins."

Michael was growing tired of this conversation. "They're still family, and it's wrong. It's sick and wrong!"

"Why?" Tobias resumed his psychiatrist mode. "You know, Michael, I can't help but think that this might be related to the fact that you're attracted to me."

"I'm what?"

"You know--when I was interested in that girl Michael from the gym, and you thought I meant you. Methinks that you're projecting your own fear about getting involved with family onto--" He never finished the thought, because Michael angrily chased him from the room and slammed the door.

Then he sat down again, groaning and waiting for Jan Eagleman to come meet him. He even considered betraying the family after all, if only to break off all ties with them, once and for all.

Then Gob entered the room, and Michael was again disappointed that it wasn't his lawyer. Gob looked disappointed too, but he quickly cheered up and went to hug Michael intensely.

"No!" Michael grunted and pushed him off. "Stop it, Gob! I'm having a horrible day."

"Well, I'm having a horrible day, too," Gob answered. "I just tried to get my yacht back, but the police impounded it, and they say that I'm not the registered owner, 'cause it's under the Bluth Company name. So I told them that I'm the company president, but they didn't believe me."

Michael couldn't believe Gob's continued confusion. "That's because you're not the president. I am."

"But you just got arrested, guy," Gob pointed out. "So that means I'm president again."

"No you're not! And I'll be out of here soon, anyway. It's my job, not yours."

"Hey, what do you care about who's in charge, Michael? You just tried to skip off to Cabo with my yacht." Typical Michael, fleeing down South America way.

Michael shushed him and denied, "I wasn't skipping off. I was just taking my son home, okay? He was very upset, as you should know."

Gob countered, "Well, he wouldn't have been upset, if you hadn't sent him over to my yacht in the first place."

"I didn't send him. I didn't even know about your... girlfriend." Michael spoke the last word with contempt, and he sighed. "Gob, how could you not tell me all these months who your Christian girlfriend was?"

"You never asked me, guy, and I had to keep it a secret from George Michael anyway."

"Yeah, because it was wrong, Gob! I mean, you should be ashamed of yourself. She's not even 18."

"No, she is. She told me herself."

"Gob, she's in the same grade as George Michael! And do you seriously think that if there was an age difference, that I wouldn't have tried to break them up because of that?" He'd certainly tried everything else.

"Why would she lie?"

Michael shrugged. "I don't know. Maybe she's going by some crazy, old-fashioned Biblical calendar. Maybe she's adding nine months in the womb."

Gob considered that. "Huh. So that's why we always had chaperones on our dates?" While chaperoning, her various Christian friends also tried to help reform him. "But hey, the Veals didn't mind me dating her, and they didn't care about her moving in with me on the yacht."

"Well, something's screwed up with that family anyway. Mrs. Veal can't be her mother. She doesn't even know what making love is."

Gob frowned and nodded. "That is weird. Well maybe I should break up with her, if she's not 18." He certainly wasn't going to wait two years for her to be legal.

"Of course you should break up. You never should have been dating her in the first place, Gob. I mean, even if you didn't know her real age, you should have known how George Michael would feel."

"But Michael, she dumped him! And she came in third place in the pageant, so she wanted a man."

Michael scoffed and rolled his eyes.

"Besides, you didn't want George Michael to date her anyway."

Michael blinked. "And you thought that you dating her would fix that?"

"Yeah!" Gob felt that Michael never appreciated all the things that he did for him. "Plus, I helped you get out of those chains and save him from the army, even after you stole my son. Anyway, so if I dump her now, will you help me get my yacht back?"

"Is that all you care about, Gob? Your yacht?"

"Come on, Michael! The cops won't let me get any of my stuff back, either, because they're still searching it. I left all my props there, and now I can't do my magic. I've only got Franklin now, 'cause Dad saved him. Are you gonna help me or not?"

"Fine!" Michael gave in. The police would probably stop searching and release the yacht once they got the cashier's checks, anyway. "But you gotta help me with something too, Gob. You stayed with Buster last night, right?"

"Yeah, and I guess I'll have to stay there until I get my yacht back."

"No you can't stay at the penthouse, Gob. I need you to leave, because George Michael and I are going there as soon as I get out of jail."

"You are? Why?"

"Because I need to get him away from Maeby and those idiots who made that deal."

"What deal?" Gob asked. "Why's George Michael mad at Maeby?"

"He's not mad at her. What, nobody told you yet?"

Gob shook his head. In a hurry, George Sr. had not explained about the kissing cousins over the phone.

So Michael explained with a sigh, "Well, he's got some big crush on Maeby, and they accidentally got married. Then Dad, Lindsay, and Tobias made a deal with the kids that they could date if they get an annulment. Can you believe that?"

Gob shrugged and only wondered, "But Lindsay's adopted, right?"

"They're still family!" Michael insisted stubbornly. "Promise me that you're not gonna take their side, Gob. We cannot let those kids be together."

Gob didn't care either way, only looking out for his self-interest. "And if I do, then you'll help me get my yacht back?"

"I'm serious," Michael pressed. "Don't let Dad talk you into agreeing with him." Feeling outnumbered, he really wanted Gob to be loyal to him again. But maybe he was expecting too much, especially given Gob's own incestuous harassment of Michael. "Please."

Gob answered, "Okay. I'll move out, but where should I go, then?"

Michael shrugged. "I guess you can go stay at the model home until the yacht's released. But listen, Gob, you can't be around when George Michael and I are packing up and moving. I don't want you to upset him again."

"All right, I'll hide or go to Steve Holt's to get my Segway. Then you'll get my yacht back, right?"


"Great!" So Gob hugged Michael excessively again, even pushing onto the same chair with him.

"Hey!" Michael turned away from his kiss and groaned. "Okay. That's enough. Stop."

Chapter Text

Maeby drove to Steve Holt's house, and found him sitting sadly on his front steps. She parked close by and called to him, "Hi!"

"Hi, Maeby!" He stood up and came to the curb. "Cool car. Is that your birthday present?"

She got out and smiled. "Sort of."

"Sweet. I got a Camaro that's the same color. My dad said that it looked just like one that he used to have. Cool, huh?"

"Sure." She grabbed her clipboard and pen. "Um, I was wondering if you could sign this for me. It's--"

"Okay." Steve was so popular in school that he was constantly asked for his yearbook autograph at the end of the year. He didn't even wonder why Maeby wasn't giving him an actual book. It could just be a quirk of that New Age school she transferred to. After he signed the paper, Steve raised his arms and cheered, "Steve Holt!"

Maeby laughed and echoed, "Steve Holt!" Then she put the clipboard away and said, "Thanks. I'll see you around."

But he stopped her and became more serious. "Hey, Maeby, wait--um, is everything okay? I saw on the news all the stuff that happened at the boat party."

"Yeah, that was crazy."

"And I think that the police got my dad's yacht too. They didn't arrest him, did they?" Steve had been worried, and he would have tried to call Gob last night, if not for his mother's objections. Eve Holt had warned him that it was better not to hang around the Bluths anymore, because they were always getting into so much trouble.

Maeby answered, "No, he's fine. He's staying over at Gangie's place."

"Oh, good! That's at Balboa Towers, right?"

"Yeah. The penthouse."

"Cool. Well I guess I'll go see him."

Maeby said, "But right now he's probably visiting Uncle Mike and Gangie in jail."

"Okay, thanks."

"You're welcome. Bye." Maeby waved, then got back into the car.

Steve Holt watched her drive away and cheered, "Not arrested!" before he happily ran off to his Camaro.

Back at the police station, Michael was finally meeting with his lawyer Jan Eagleman.

"I just turned over the cashier's checks to the police, and to keep them from charging your son with obstruction of justice, I convinced them that he took the checks accidentally, while he was distracted and upset by your arrest. However, my meeting with your father didn't go quite as well."

Michael was not surprised. "Did he rant about how I'm betraying the family?"

She nodded. "He said that if there's a conflict of interest, then I should represent Lucille instead and stick you with the flunkie. Or even let you defend yourself, since you like playing a lawyer so much."

"Well, I did all right at the mock trial."

"Yes, but you were defending your father, not yourself, and I don't think that the prosecution is going to risk any more improper behavior now. They have incriminating tapes from the FBI, and they don't want this case thrown out."

"I see. So, do you have any idea what's on these tapes?"

"Not yet. They're making copies and transcripts now. Anyway, when I tried to discuss your case with your father, he was completely uncooperative. He even refused to admit that the $300,000 on the yacht was his money."

Michael was shocked. "Really? He lied about that?"

"Yes. He said you were lying, and claimed that he never intended to go to Cabo. He had no reason to flee, with all the charges against him dropped."

Michael frowned with worry. "He's not going to say that in court, is he?"

"Not if I can help it. But if the prosecution calls on him, then we'll treat him as a hostile witness. We still have the fact that he switched places with Oscar to discredit him, and the police are going to check the cash for fingerprints, too. Since your father's prints are already on record, it should be an easy match, assuming that he didn't wear gloves. We might also be able to find the bank where he cashed the check from Sitwell."

"Oh good." Michael tried to be optimistic. "But if worse comes to worst, then maybe I could testify against Mom in exchange for immunity."

She blinked. "You'd do that to your own mother?"

"Well, she was ready to let my dad rot in prison for her, and Dad's already selling me out."

"You're right." Jan sighed and spoke with regret, "You know, I would have preferred your family to stick together instead of fighting like this, but I guess we have no other choice now."

"Yeah. Just get me bailed out as soon as you can. I need to get home to my son."

"I will, and I'll try to set up an annulment hearing with a judge soon. You and the kids should probably be there to testify that you didn't intend the mock wedding to be real and binding."

In the other room, Buster was still visiting his mother, when George Sr. came in. "Hey, father/uncle Dad."

"Hello, George." Lucille was cold and wary of trusting her runaway husband.

He sat down and lied, "Honey, I wasn't trying to escape again. I had my whole retirement to look forward to. I mean, sure, I wasn't crazy about still having Buster around, but I could've just kicked him out."

Buster reacted anxiously to this.

George Sr. continued, "It's Michael that you shouldn't trust. He's betrayed the family, and he's going to testify against you."

"Oh no. You've got to get me a better lawyer!"

"Of course, and I'll find out what prison they're sending you to. Maybe we can get you under house arrest instead. Or at least find a nice place with ice cream sandwiches."

Lucille fixed him with a scornful look, and said, "I need a drink."

Soon George Sr. had to leave for the shareholders' meeting, so he gathered up Buster, Gob, and Tobias, who told him that Lindsay and George Michael had left earlier.

George started the car, and asked, "So Michael's still overreacting about the kids, huh?"

Tobias nodded from the backseat. "Yes. Apparently he plans to move out of the model home as soon as he's released today; then he and George Michael are going to go stay at Lucille's."

"What?" Buster pointed out that the apartment was already crowded.

Tobias answered, "Oh, he mentioned something about getting rid of Gob. But Michael only wants to stay long enough to get the annulment. He's making the same old threats about leaving town and abandoning the family for good."

"Oh, not that again!"

Buster said, "He's the boy who cried Phoenix!"

Gob was particularly surprised and upset. "What, he's still leaving town?" He became worried that Michael had lied to him.

Tobias said, "Oh, Michael's not really going anywhere. He's just running away from his feelings again. Poor little John Wayne."

George Sr. rolled his eyes and felt annoyed, even if Tobias was probably correct about Michael. Tobias just had a way of ticking off his father-in-law, even to the point of trying to shove him out of a moving car. But Tobias was in the backseat this time, and George Sr. had no time for delays now.

Gob tried to believe Tobias's assessment, but he couldn't help taking Michael's threat seriously this time. Maybe Michael had agreed to get the yacht back, only so that he could steal it again, and go to Cabo? Maybe he asked Gob not to be at the house so that he wouldn't be able to stop them? Gob growled, "Michael!"

George Sr. said dismissively, "Well, let's not worry about him now. We just gotta get through this shareholders' meeting, then get a better lawyer for Lucille."

Wondering if Michael had lied about this too, Gob asked, "Dad, am I the company president again?"

"What? No, that's what this meeting is for. They're trying to decide who's in charge now that Lucille and Michael are under arrest."

"Oh. So does that mean I have to impress the board again? But I don't have any of my magic stuff with me."

"No, Gob, I don't need any of your dumb tricks."


George Sr. talked over him, "Look, if I need to nominate you to be interim president, then I will, Gob. But that's it. You just stay out of the way, and let me handle it." It was not a bad idea, actually; he could make Gob his puppet president, as long as Gob didn't screw it up somehow.

"Okay, Dad." Gob realized that if he were president, then he wouldn't need Michael's help to get his yacht back. So maybe he could get a different favor from him instead. But first he'd have to get revenge for being lied to and manipulated.

When they arrived at the Bluth Company, George Sr. ushered Buster, Tobias, and Gob into Michael's office. "You guys wait in here while I'm in the meeting."

Gob sat down on Michael's chair and played with his computer. He liked leaving naughty notes and pictures for Michael. Michael had never responded, though, merely deleting every inappropriate message on his screen.

Buster sat on the couch while Tobias paced around and expounded on his theory about Michael being attracted to him. "But he feels guilty because I'm married to Lindsay, who it turns out is not blood-related to him either. However, he still equates his attraction to incest--thus his revealing statement that it's sick and wrong."

Gob frowned with annoyance, and then his cell phone rang, so he answered it. "Hello? Oh, Steve Holt."

"Hi, Dad! I was gonna pick you up in my Camaro, but I went to Orange County Prison by mistake. Are you still at the police station, or did you go home already?"

"Uh, well I'm kind of busy right now..." Gob didn't intend to hide at Steve's, like Michael wanted him to, anymore.

"But don't you still need your clothes and your Segway?"

"Oh right. Yeah, I need my stuff back. Maybe you could bring it by the office?"

"Sure, Dad. I'll drive over there right now."

"Okay. I'll meet you in the parking lot." So Gob got up and headed for the elevator, glad to get away from his blowhard brother-in-law.

In the conference room, George was stunned to see Stan Sitwell and Lucille Austero at head of the table. "What the fuck are you doing here?"

"We're shareholders, George. And I'll ask you to please not speak that way in front of the lady." Sitwell smiled and took Lucille 2's hand affectionately.

She asked George, "Oh is Buster here with you? I have some things for him." She reached for a bag containing Buster's new glasses and prosthetic hand.

George told her, "He's in Michael's office," but still glared at Sitwell.

"Thank you. I'll go see him now." She excused herself from the group, and gave Sitwell a kiss before she left the room.

While George took a seat in disgust, Sitwell cleared his throat and began his speech, "Well, then we'll get started without my lovely partner. In light of the recent arrests, I propose that we appoint an interim president and CEO, for the duration of these S.E.C. trials, however long they may be."

"Wait, wait!" George protested. "Who says that you get to run the meeting?"

"My majority shareholder position. Or rather mine and Lucille Austero's. Sitwell and Standpoor now hold the largest combined share of stock in the company. Not counting the Bluths, of course, but with Lucille and Michael Bluth in jail, who would count them?" He chuckled.

"You horse's ass. You're trying to take over the company."

"Yes, and I've made no secret of that, George." He addressed the group again, "With these arrests, the company stock has begun falling dramatically, and we'll be back to a Triple Sell rating in no time. It's likely that the FBI will freeze the corporate assets just as they did when George was charged. I don't think that the Bluth Company can stay afloat on its own much longer, and Sitwell Housing is willing to take on the burden. I urge you to act quickly before you won't be able to cash out all."

Nearly everyone clapped and reacted positively to this speech.

George told them, "Oh come on! This offer is too good to be true, and you know it. He's a vulture feeding off our carcass. Yeah, one of those big bald buzzards."

Sitwell could not be fazed, and he only raised one fake eyebrow as he glanced at George Sr.'s bald head. "No, I'm trying to save the company and revitalize it. I want to bring in some new blood that could turn it around."

George scoffed. "What new blood? You and the widow Austero? You couldn't handle this company on its best day, and you only want to buy this company for revenge, so that you can shut it down and stick it to me."

"Not at all. I want this company to thrive for Lindsay's sake."


Sitwell announced to the board, "Yes, Lindsay Bluth Fünke, the one Bluth who's never been in charge before, and who more importantly isn't in jail now. She has been passed over for too long, and it's time that she had the chance to prove herself."

"Are you crazy? She doesn't know how to run the company."

"Only because you were too chauvinistic to teach her, George. I propose that we appoint her the interim company president, while I become CEO and take her under my wing. I'll leave Sitwell Housing in my daughter Sally's capable hands, while I teach Lindsay everything that she needs to know about running a successful housing company. We'll have a fresh start with a fresh face, and it will be great PR to get everybody's minds off the old CEO and president."

The shareholders cheered him enthusiastically.

George only muttered to himself, "Oh, good God. It's not the company he's after; it's Nellie. He just wants to steal her and brainwash her into becoming a Sitwell."

While everyone else took a vote on Sitwell's proposal, George left the conference room and called Lindsay. "Honey, Sitwell's trying to take over the business, but I've got a plan. I need you to come meet me at the office."

"But I'm taking care of George Michael now."

"He's a big boy. He'll be all right."

"No, he's still upset about Michael going off the deep end about him and Maeby."

"I know, but this is more important, honey. I can send Buster and Tobias over if you want. Just come here now."

She sighed and said, "All right." When she hung up, she told George Michael, "It's an emergency at the office. Dad's sending over Buster and Tobias to stay with you. While I'm gone, maybe I can talk to Sitwell too about hiding you from Michael for a while. I think he has a guest house where you can stay, and Michael would never suspect it."

George Michael sighed, "But I wish my dad would change his mind."

"I know. We'll still work on that. Don't you worry." She gave him a hug and kiss before going. "Bye."

"Bye." After his Aunt Lindsay drove away, George Michael decided to call Maeby.

That morning at Tantamount Studios, Maeby turned in her clipboard to her boss Mort Meyers, and then they both pitched their show to Ron Howard, who suggested that they make a movie instead.

Mort said, "Great idea! We can capitalize on the blockbuster publicity that this Queen Mary capture brought on the family. But we gotta move fast on it."

But once Maeby returned to her office, Mort Meyers had bad news for her. "Hey I need you to get your family to sign release forms for the movie rights."

"What? Why can't we just use their signatures for the TV rights?"

"They're not the same thing, legally speaking. Talk to the studio lawyers. Besides, everything's changed now with the new arrests."

She picked up her signed releases. "So what, these were a complete waste of my time?"

"No, no, we'll keep these signatures on file, in case the movie's a huge hit and we end up making a TV show anyway. Just wait here. I'll have the new forms sent over, and then you can drive back home."

"But I just got here."

"I know, but it shouldn't be hard to get new signatures, since you already got your family to sign these. Just visit your grandmother and uncle in jail, and take the rest of them out to a nice lunch or dinner. If they're having second thoughts because of the new trials, then remind them that they can still sell their book rights and whore themselves out for interviews. The movie will be great for everybody."

Maeby rolled her eyes. "My dad's probably gonna want a part too."

"Yeah, we'll write some bit part in. Which reminds me, I better get the writers to start reworking the script into a movie." Tantamount had already started a script based on what Maeby told them the day that she came to beg for her job back.

After Mort left, Maeby sighed and wondered whether she really could get new signatures, if she schmoozed her family enough. But Michael probably wouldn't agree to sign anything for her, let alone do it without reading it. He only signed the last form because he thought it was Lucille's letter about the company stock.

Then one of the studio lawyers came into her office, regarding a work permit. "We've got to get this done quickly, before we're fined for the child labor violations. Now, what school did you go to before summer started?" Work permits required approval from the child's school. "We need to request your school records too, to show that you're getting passing grades."

Maeby pouted. "Come on! Why can't I just get emancipated?"

"Even if you got emancipated, you still would have to go to school until you're 18, or you can go to the studio tutor that we use for the child actors. And like them, you can only work a limited number of hours here anyway."

"Fuck." So that was why Mort was sending her home so soon.

The lawyer continued, "Emancipation affects things like signing contracts, getting your driver's license, getting insurance, and whether you can get a work permit without your parents' permission. Plus, you can live on your own and keep your studio income out of the control of your parents."

"Yeah, that's what I want to do," she answered. "I don't want to live with them anymore, and I want to keep my money."

"Okay. So I'll put in the paperwork on the emancipation. But we still gotta get your work permit done soon."

"Fine. How long does an emancipation take? Is it longer than an annulment?"

"Annulment? You're married, Maeby?"


The lawyer blinked. "Then I think you're already emancipated."

Her eyes lit up. "I am?"

"Yeah. I think that in California, if you get married as a minor, you're automatically emancipated. It's not my specialty, though. I'd have to check the laws, and probably get a copy of your marriage license too."

"Well, please check it for me. I'll, uh, go home and get the marriage license today."

"Good. Now about your school, and your work permit..."

She told him that she had dropped out of both Balboa High and Openings. "Actually, I guess I was expelled because I never went to class."

The lawyer did not like this, and worriedly left to see what he could do.

Meanwhile, some intern dropped off the new release forms.

"Oh thanks. Tell Mort that I'll get those signatures right away." But first Maeby reached for her old clipboard and went to make a photocopy of Michael's signature, so that she could forge it later at home. Maybe she should make copies of the other signatures too, in case any of the family turned out to be holdouts.

Then Maeby gathered her stuff and left the studio in a much brighter mood than before. As she got into her car, she wanted to call George Michael about the marriage, but decided to see him in person instead, to better read his reaction to the news. If she and George Michael were both emancipated, then nobody could tell them what to do. They wouldn't even need to live in the model home or promise not to have sex. They could decide everything for themselves, and they'd be free.

As she raced back to Newport Beach, her phone rang, and it was her husband after all. "Hi. How'd it go with your dad?"

"Horrible." He sounded very upset and depressed.

"What, he's not gonna get released?"

"No, he is. It's just--he didn't like our deal, Maeby. He was mad at Pop-Pop, and..." George Michael sniffled and couldn't go on. "C-can I come over and see you?"

"Actually I'm on my way back right now. How about I meet you at the banana stand, and we can go have lunch?"

"Okay." So he hung up, wrote a note, then rode his bike out to Balboa Island.

When they met, they kissed and hugged each other, lingering in front of the closed banana stand for a moment.

Then they went to a restaurant for lunch, and after they ordered, Maeby asked, "So what happened at the jail? Was your dad still freaked out about us?"

He nodded, then told her what Michael had said about leaving forever.

Maeby was pissed off. "See, what I'd tell you? Your dad's trying to run off again, and he doesn't care how you feel."

George Michael picked at his food sadly. "He thinks that he's doing the right thing for me, but he just wouldn't listen, and he kept saying that we're still family."

"I don't care what he says. You're not moving to Buster's, and you're sure as hell not leaving for Cabo, or wherever else he's planning to go."

"I think he might have meant Arizona or something. I don't know. He just wanted to get away from the family for good. Anyway, Aunt Lindsay said that they would all keep trying to change Dad's mind, and that until then, I should go stay at Stan Sitwell's guest house, so that Dad couldn't find me."

"You mean you just wanna hide from him?"

"I don't know what I want to do, Maeby. I hate this."

"Me too. But look, I think we could do something even better than just running away. I was talking to this lawyer at the studio today, and I found out that we're emancipated."


"Yeah, it happened automatically when we got married. So if we don't get the annulment, then we can just move out, and live on my studio money. Your dad can't do anything about it, and he can't make you move away."

"What? You mean, we should stay married?"

"Yeah, I know, it'll be weird, but we could always get a divorce later, when we're 18."

"Oh, you want a divorce?" He looked hurt that she was talking about it already.

She took his hand. "No, I just mean, since we're so young, and we'll probably have sex before we're 18, so an annulment won't work anymore."

"Oh." He blinked at the thought of having sex. "Wh-when would we...?"

"I don't know." She shrugged. "But we might have to lie at first about consummating it, to keep your dad from trying to annul our marriage, you know?"

He sat closer and asked her, "Do you really wanna be with me, Maeby? I mean, not just to be emancipated? If we weren't married--"

"Of course I wanna be with you! I only felt weird about us when I thought we were still cousins. But we're not, and I'm not gonna let your dad take you away from me now. Besides, I made that deal with Pop-Pop too, before I knew that we were emancipated already. But look, if we stay married, George Michael, then we don't have to stick by that deal, and we don't have to be afraid about your dad."

George Michael saw her point. "So I wouldn't have to go to Uncle Buster's or hide at Stan Sitwell's?" He also liked the idea that they would get to sleep in the same room again, and maybe fool around immediately, if not have sex.

"Right. Besides, I want to get away from my parents too, and make sure that they can't spend all my movie money. The only bad thing is that the lawyer says I still have to get a work permit and go back to school, but you could always do my homework for me again, right?"

"I guess so. But how do we tell my Dad?"

"I don't know. When is he getting out of jail?"

"Later today."

"Okay, well then let's go to the house and pack our stuff first. I gotta get a copy of the marriage license too, to show my lawyer."

"I already gave it to Jan Eagleman, for the annulment."

"Oh shit. Well, we gotta get it back from her now. I better check with my lawyer to make sure that nobody can make us get an annulment against our will. Maybe he can suggest something too." So she paid for their meal, and they left the restaurant.

He asked again, "What about my dad?"

She shrugged and led the way to her car. "Well, when he gets out, I think you should stand up to him and tell him that you're already emancipated. He can't control you anymore, or make decisions for you."

"But he'll be mad."

"Probably. I'll tell him off too, and then we'll leave with our bags. If he tries to come after us, then I'll tell him to talk to our lawyer. We'll take this to court if we have to."

George Michael didn't like the sound of that. "I don't want to fight with him, Maeby. He's already got problems with his arrest."

"Well that's not our fault. We have to do this, if he's gonna keep up this whole 'we're still family' nonsense."

"But maybe we should wait a little longer, Maeby. I mean, let the family try to convince him again."

"If Pop-Pop and my parents already tried, then I don't think waiting is going to help. Anyway, we have to stop your dad before he gets our marriage annulled."

"But maybe we should wait and see--"

Now Maeby was getting pissed off at him. "Why can't you stand up to him, George Michael? Why can't you stop being such a daddy's boy?"

He blinked and stammered, "I-I'm not... I just don't want to hurt him, Maeby. He's making a mistake, but--"

Maeby shook her head and felt hurt. "If you're not even gonna fight for us, George Michael, then you might as well go back to Bland!" She turned and ran to her car.

"No, Maeby! Wait!" He caught up to her and grabbed her from behind, clinging even when she tried to make him let go. "Don't go. Please. I don't want her anymore, Maeby. I just want you."

She turned around, and they kissed each other with tears in their eyes. She asked him, "And you just punched Gob out on the yacht because she was your ex? You didn't really want her back?"

He shook his head. "No, my dad told me to go back to her days ago, but I waited until the last minute to even go ask her to the boat party. I still thought about you every night that I was sleeping in the other room, and I wasn't over you at all. I-I just didn't know what else to do, Maeby, and I guess it was just like you deciding to get your job back at the studio."

She nodded and felt better. "I wasn't over you, either. I just thought it would be a good distraction, to help me stop thinking about you. But now we can stay together, George Michael. We can move out and get our own place, maybe up in L.A."

George Michael answered, "Yeah, I guess we should leave. This is just really hard for me, Maeby, because I don't hate my dad. I love him, and I don't want to lose him for good. He's all I've got left since my mom died..."

"I know." She kissed him again and spoke more sympathetically, "Look, I don't hate your dad, either. I'm just angry at him, and I hate that he's still treating you like a little kid. We need to teach him a lesson and show him that you're grown up now. He has to listen to you, not control you."

"Yeah. Maybe us moving out will teach him a lesson. Maybe he'll change his mind about us later, and he'll come make up with us in L.A."

"Sure, I guess. And heck, maybe my parents will miss me too and actually pay attention to me for once?" She highly doubted it, though. "We'll teach them all a lesson."

"All right."

"So let's go pack." They got in the car and drove back to the model home.

Chapter Text

After calling Lindsay, George Sr. went back to Michael's office. Lucille Austero was sitting with Buster and complimenting him on his new glasses and hand. "It does look very real. But why don't you take the plastic off?"

Buster said, "J. Walter Weatherman won't give refunds when you take it out of the plastic. I'll just try it out for now."

George Sr. glanced at her, then asked the others, "Where did Gob go?"

Tobias replied, "Oh he got a phone call from Steve Holt earlier. Then he left."

"Oh. Well, never mind. I don't need him to be president now. Sitwell's got those other shareholders acting like sheep. Anyway, Lindsay's on her way over here, so I need you guys to go to the model home and look after George Michael."

"Oh, okay." So they got up and left.

Lucille 2 waved goodbye to Buster, then she asked George Sr., "Lindsay's coming over now? Oh, and Stan wanted this to be a surprise."

"Surprise! You sure surprised me. So you knew that Sitwell was going to nominate her for interim president?"

"Yes I did, and I think it's a great idea."

He scoffed.

"You're so old-fashioned, George! Only rewarding your daughter's looks and not her brains. But Lindsay has spirit and she's gone into business for herself before. She might have succeeded, if you had nurtured her, like Stan has nurtured Sally."

George Sr. recalled Lindsay's failed "Mommy, What Will I Look Like?" and "Dip-a-Pet" businesses with scorn. Michael had paid for those, not him. "Those were hippie fads, and she wasn't even smart enough to show what the babies looked like in their 20s, instead of their 50s. Or better yet, substitute good-looking models for everyone."

"Well, at least she was honest, George, and she can learn from the experience. This will be good for Lindsay, and it will be good for the company too. I mean, do you really want the company you built to fall apart after all these years? I have always only wanted to support your family."

"If you really wanted to support us, then you'd sell us back your shares of the company!"

Lucille 2 shook her head. "And watch everyone cash out and leave? No. This is better, for the future of your children and your grandchildren. They're going to need all the help they can get." She then left and rejoined Sitwell in the conference room.

Now that he was alone, George Sr. closed the door and locked it. Then he sat at the desk and noticed something on the computer screen. It was a jumble of poorly spelled obscenities about wanting to fuck Michael.

"Ugh! Tobias." George Sr. deleted it with disgust, then he called Lindsay again, and told her about Sitwell's deal.

The author of those homosexual ramblings stood in the parking lot with his son.

"Thanks, Steve. Hold this for a second." Gob got onto his Segway and opened up the black pouch to put his clothes inside. Steve had also brought along Gob's robe and boxers, from yesterday.

"Oh cool. I didn't know that had a zipper."

"Yeah, it's where I put things, like--Oh." He pulled out a dead dove and discarded it. A strong odor remained inside the pouch. "Ugh. I better clean this out first."

Steve said, "Maybe we can take it to my place and wash it out."

"Nah, I gotta stay around here 'cause--" Then Gob turned and saw Buster and Tobias going toward the silver Mercedes. "Hey, Busty! Where are you going?"

"Lindsay's coming over here, so Dad told us to go to the house and look after George Michael."

"Oh." He grabbed the clothes from Steve. "Hey, do you guys mind taking my clothes to the house? Just leave them in Michael's room." It was part of his planned revenge.

"Okay." So they got into the car, with Buster holding the clothes, and Tobias driving.

Gob was glad that Buster wasn't wearing his hook, which could rip the delicate silk.

Steve Holt asked, "The house? But I thought you were staying at Balboa Towers, Dad."

"Uh, yeah, but I'm moving back today. Michael's coming home soon, and I wanna get over there."

"Oh. Then maybe I can help you move. We can load your boxes in my car."

"Nah, I don't have my stuffs yet, 'cause everything's still on my yacht. The police impounded it."

"Oh, that's too bad. But maybe I can drive you there, to get the yacht back."

Gob shrugged, getting weary of his clingy son. "I guess. But I won't be able to get it until I'm company president again. I better get back upstairs. My dad's getting me appointed right now."

"Oh. Okay, Dad."

"Bye." Gob rode his Segway back inside the building, to ask if anyone had disinfectant and deodorizer.

Steve Holt lingered by his Camaro and tried to think positively. His father was going to be the president again, so they would do more illusions together, at the company board meetings.

When Gob got upstairs, he went to the president's office and knocked.

"Lindsay?" George Sr. unlocked the door, then frowned with disappointment. "Oh. I should have known that she couldn't get here this fast in the staircar."

Gob strolled to the desk and tried to sit down in Michael's chair, but George Sr. beat him to it. So Gob walked to another chair as casually as possible. "Am I president yet, Dad? Can I go get my yacht?"

"No, you can't." George Sr. told him that Lindsay had been voted in.

"What? But I'm the oldest!"

"Technically, she is."

"Oh, right. Well, then she's not even a real Bluth."

"I know that. This is just a ploy by Sitwell to take over the company and make her a Sitwell. But don't worry, I'm going to turn the tables on that hairless freak."

"Well, what about my yacht?"

"I don't care. Get Lindsay to sign it over to you later. We've gotta worry about the company now. I need you to go get your mom a new lawyer."

"Right now?"

"Yeah, right now. You're not busy, and I've got just the guy." He wrote down the lawyer's name and address from the computer. "Go meet with him and invite him out to lunch with me. If he thinks that we don't have enough money, tell him that this is his retainer." He wrote down a big number from their legal defense fund. George Sr. also hoped that he could get his $300,000 cash back somehow, if the lawyer could get the evidence thrown out.

"All right, Dad." Gob sighed and left the office.

As he went downstairs and got his Segway, Gob thought about his plan for revenge against Michael.

He would sneak into Michael's room and hide in the closet or under the bed. Then when Michael came home and tried to pack his bags, Gob would pounce on him. He would confront Michael about lying to him, and tell him that he wasn't president anymore, and punish him for the betrayal.

Gob could hardly wait to punish Michael. He wanted to pin him to the bed and spank him and touch him everywhere... There were so many things he wanted to do. But he would have to lock the door quickly enough so that George Michael wouldn't come in, and he would have to make sure that Michael wouldn't lock himself in the bathroom again.

Gob had previously tried to take over the master bedroom when he first became company president in 2004.

Lindsay and Tobias had returned to the pink room with the twin beds without argument, but Gob decided to sneak into Michael's bed that night.

Michael woke up and said, "Hey! Gob, what are you doing?"

Gob was wearing just his boxers, and he smiled. "This is my bed now. I'm company president."

"And I have no problem with that," Michael answered, reflexively. But when Gob tried to come nearer, he added, "But I do have a problem with this. Get out!"

"No, it's my bed, Michael. I'm in charge. You're just the vice president now."

Michael couldn't believe that Gob was trying to impose his fake authority at home. "What, are you gonna make me sleep on the couch downstairs?"

"No, I've decided to be generous, since you're my brother. We can share the bed." Gob grinned wickedly, but Michael backed away.

"N-no, I'm leaving!"

Gob caught him and wouldn't let go. "No, come on, Mikey! It'll be fun."

Michael knew what kind of fun Gob meant. "No way!"

"Why not? You even let Buster share with you last year."

"That's different. He wasn't--" But then again, Buster did get too friendly in his sleep, while missing Mom.

"You didn't do stuff with him? Like..." Gob leaned close and tried to kiss him.

"No!" Michael kicked him out of the bed.

"Ow!" Gob landed on the floor.

Michael said, "Mom appointed you president. Why don't you go live with her?"

"No, Mikey, I want--"

"No! It's wrong." Michael got up, then locked himself in the bathroom.

"Mikey, don't be a chicken!"

"Stop it, Gob! Please. You'll wake everybody up."

"Fine." Gob pouted and went back to the bed, getting cold already without his robe. He got under the covers and hoped that Michael would change his mind after he got cold too.

But Michael didn't come back, only taking a brief peek to see if Gob was still there. Then he locked the door again and slept in the bathtub.

The next morning, Michael was stiff and achy when he came out of the bathroom, so Gob tried to massage him. Michael pushed him off, then locked himself in the closet and dressed for work. "Get out!"

Gob relented and let him have the master bedroom after all. Obviously, Michael wasn't ready yet, and he needed some more months without a girlfriend.

Meanwhile, Buster and Tobias arrived at the model home, and they looked around for George Michael. "Where is he?" They kept calling for him, and started to worry.

Then they found the note on the refrigerator. "Gone out to lunch. George Michael."

"Oh. Do you think we should call him and join him, or wait for him to come back?"

"Maybe he wanted to be alone. Too ashamed to cry, I'll bet. Let's go ahead and have lunch here." Tobias started to cook.

After dropping off Gob's clothes in Michael's room, Buster returned downstairs. He sat at the kitchen counter and decided to call Oscar at home. "Hey, Uncle/Father Oscar." Buster told him about the visit with Lucille, and Oscar said that Lupe had arrived and was making lunch for him. But she was asking how likely it would be that she'd get paid, with Lucille gone.

Outside, the kids arrived in Maeby's car. When they saw the silver Mercedes parked out front, Maeby asked, "Did they just get back from visiting jail?"

George Michael replied, "No, I forgot to tell you. Lindsay had to go to the office for some emergency, so Buster and Tobias came over to make me feel better."

"Oh. Well, maybe you better go in without me, so that they don't get suspicious. You can get started on packing, and I'll go get the marriage license from the lawyer."

"Okay. I'll tell them that I'm just getting ready to go to Sitwell's."

"Yeah, and then see if you can get rid of them. Call me when they're gone."

"Okay, I'll see you later, Maeby."

"Yeah. Bye." They kissed again, and then George Michael went inside the house.

Tobias greeted him first, "Oh there you are! Our little John Wayne, Jr. Did you have a good cry?"

"What? I-I just took a bike ride to the beach, and then I had some lunch."

Buster asked, "Do you feel better now?"

"Yeah, I guess so. I'm just gonna go stay with Stan Sitwell, like Aunt Lindsay said. So I'll go upstairs and pack now."

"Oh, okay. I think I'll just go home," Buster said. "Can you drive me?"

Tobias agreed, and they left together.

Pleased, George Michael went upstairs, and called Maeby. She said that she'd be back soon, so he hung up and went in search of empty bags and suitcases.

When Maeby returned from the lawyer's office, she said that she could only get a photocopy of their marriage license. "I tried to get the real thing, but Jan Eagleman kept nagging me about some hearing that we're supposed to go to, and how we have to testify before a judge."

"Yeah, she told me about that too."

"Anyway, I asked her what would happen if we didn't show up, like if I had to go to summer school classes, and she said that we all had to be there, or else we couldn't get the marriage annulled. Then she asked me what days and times were convenient for my schedule, so I lied to her. I didn't want her to get suspicious and tip off Uncle Mike about us leaving today."

"Right. I want to tell him ourselves."

"Yeah, and the important thing is that we can't get annulled against our will. All we have to do is leave, and we'll stay emancipated."

"Okay. So we're really moving to L.A., huh?"

"Yeah. It'll totally freak out your Dad and teach him a lesson."

George Michael nodded and hoped that the lesson wouldn't be too harsh. "Yeah."

Maeby joined him in packing.

Lindsay met up with George Sr. in the Bluth Company parking lot. "They really voted me the president, Dad?" She was still in shock.

"Yes, and Sitwell's the interim CEO. He had them eating out of his hands. Now, you remember the plan that I told you on the phone?"

She nodded. "Uh, yeah. I should accept the job and pretend to bond with him."

"Yes, and then you're going to be my mole at the company, and tell me everything he plans to do. After you've got his trust, you'll convince Sitwell to sell you back some stock in the company, since you're president after all."

"How much?"

"About 4,000 shares. Enough so that the Bluths are majority shareholders again, even without Michael and Lucille's frozen stock."

"Oh, okay. But how long should I wait? Until after my birthday party?"

"Yeah, we'll need that money. You just keep spying for me, and I'll tell you when to make the move. Then we can call a new shareholders' meeting, get a new vote, and kick him out on his hairless ass."

"But who will be the CEO then?"

"I don't know. Maybe I'll put Gob in charge, and get another patsy to be president."

"Oh, so I'm not keeping my job?"

"No, honey. You don't want the job. It's too stressful. That's why I retired. Maybe we can get your mother out of prison by then, and she can take over again."

"You really think she can beat these charges, Daddy?" Lindsay did not look forward to having Lucille back.

"Well I'm meeting with the new lawyer for lunch, so we'll see. In fact, I better get going now, since I'm taking the staircar." He got the keys from her and got in.

"So I should go to lunch without you?"

"Yeah, go with Sitwell, or maybe Lucille Austero, if you can separate them. Find out if she still likes Buster. Maybe we can convince Buster to steal her away from Sitwell too." He really wanted to stick it to Sitwell.

"Uh, all right. Bye, Dad." Lindsay nervously went up the elevator, to accept her position as company president.

Sitwell greeted her happily and said, "I heard that George spoiled my surprise. Well, what do you think, Lindsay? Do you want to be president?"

"Uh, yes. I mean, I've only been in charge once, when I was filling in for Kitty, and Michael was out of the office."

"Oh, so you do have some experience working here? I thought George only kept sending you paychecks, even when you moved to Boston."

"Yeah, he wanted to encourage me to leave Tobias and move back home." She spent the money instead, or used it as donations for her various charities. "When Michael was in charge, he wanted to make me earn my checks, or cut me off entirely."

"Well you'll be more independent now, Lindsay, with your presidential paycheck."

"Really? Is it bigger?"

He smiled and whispered a number in her ear, because he knew that he could appeal to her greed.

"Whoa, baby!" Michael had never told Lindsay his exact salary, to prevent the family from sponging off him even more than usual. It was difficult supporting all of them for three years, especially with the frequent repairs on the model home.

Sitwell said, "And we'll be launching a massive PR campaign soon, to make you the new face of the company. We'll even reveal that you're adopted and give your age as 35 in all the press releases."


"Now let me introduce you to the other shareholders." He took her into the boardroom.

After the meeting, Lindsay told Sitwell about the cousins, then Lucille 2 invited Lindsay out to lunch to celebrate her new job. Sitwell remained behind to handle some details at the business, but he encouraged them to get salon makeovers afterward. "It'll be great when we do the publicity photos. You deserve to splurge a little anyway, Lindsay, with your upcoming party."

"Thanks. Oh, and with my new salary, I could go shopping too!" She left excitedly.

Then Sitwell went into the president's office and made a discreet call to Tobias.

"Hello?" Tobias had just dropped off Buster at Balboa Towers.

"Hello, Tobias. This is Stan Sitwell."

"Oh, hello, sir."

"Please, call me Stan. I wanted to let you know that I got your voicemail message, and I really appreciate the help." Sitwell had adjusted his plans for the birthday party, and the presents.

"You're welcome, Stan. I thought you should know."

"Yes, and you should know that I've just made Lindsay the Bluth Company president."

"You did? How?"

"Well why don't we meet in person, and I'll tell you all about it? I'd like to offer you a position at the company too, if you'd like. Can you come over soon?"

"Oh, actually, I'm on my way back to spend time with George Michael. He's very upset because his father forbid him to date Maeby."

"Oh, yes! Lindsay asked me to let the boy stay at my guest house for a while. Well, why don't you just pack him up and take him over to my place right now? Get the boy settled in, and then my daughter Sally can cheer him up while you and I talk business. I'll meet you there this afternoon."

"Good idea. I'll see you soon, Stan!"

George Michael and Maeby were still packing and discussing what exactly they would say to Michael when he arrived.

Then they heard a car drive up to the house, and Maeby went to her parents' room to look out the big window. She could see Tobias parking the silver Mercedes out front.

"What's my dad doing back here?"

"I don't know. Maybe he still thinks I'm depressed, and wants me to cry."

"Uh-oh. He keeps looking at my car. I better handle this." She hurried downstairs and met her father on the porch.

"Maeby, what are you doing home? Shouldn't you be at school?"

"Uh, yeah, but I'm in driver's ed class now, and this is my practice car."

"But shouldn't your instructor be with you?"

"There weren't enough instructors for the students, so they sent me home, since there's a big empty lot here that I can practice in."

"Oh, and you want me to teach you? Well, I'm sorry, Maeby, but Daddy will have to take a raincheck. Right now I'm taking George Michael to Stan Sitwell's house."


"Well, because this morning at the jail, Michael--"

"Yes, I know! But why are you taking George Michael there now?"

"Well, Stan wants to meet with me today about a new job. He told me to bring George Michael along too."

Maeby groaned and suspected that Tobias had a crush on "Stan" now. "But maybe George Michael can drive there later... after he gives me a lesson."

"No, no, honey. Go on back to school and study for your next class. George Michael, are you packed yet?"

Tobias hurried upstairs, while Maeby followed him. "Dad, no!"

"Don't worry, Maeby. You'll get to see him again at the birthday party on Saturday. And you can keep secretly visiting Sitwell's until we get Michael all straightened out."

Hearing them coming, George Michael left the bedroom and closed the door, so that Tobias couldn't see the extra packed bags. "What's going on?"

Tobias explained, "George Michael, good news. You don't have to cry anymore. I'm taking you over to Sitwell's guest house right now."

"What? No. Um, I'm not packed yet." He glanced anxiously at Maeby.

"That's right. So you should leave first, Dad, and he'll catch up with you later."

"No, I can just help you finish packing." He tried to enter the kids' room, but George Michael blocked the door.

"No, I have to do it. I have to pack myself."

Tobias stared at him and asked, "Are you coming down with the O.C. disorder again?"

"Uh... yeah."

Tobias said, "Well this sounds serious. Maybe you shouldn't go to Sitwell's after all."

Maeby agreed, "Yeah, he should stay here. You can go meet with Sitwell alone."

"No, no, I think I should call him to cancel, then stay here and have an analrapy session with George Michael."

Despite the strange pronunciation, George Michael got really scared then.

Maeby remembered her father's disastrous business cards, and she understood George Michael's fear. "No, no, Dad! He, uh, he can just go back to Openings and express himself there. Yeah, I can take him to school with me."

Tobias shook his head and said, "No, no, we don't want George Michael scared of being alone with you."

"But he's not--"

"Go back to school, young lady." He turned her around and made her go downstairs.

George Michael protested, "No, I really want to go to school with Maeby."

"Don't pretend, George Michael. I know you're scared." He forced Maeby out of the house and to her car.

She told George Michael reassuringly, "He means analysis and therapy--analrapy."

"Oh." That helped him calm down, although George Michael still feared that Tobias would try another crying session and inappropriately hug him.

Tobias nodded proudly. "Yes, I still have my business cards somewhere. A couple of sessions with me, and we'll have all your issues hammered out, George Michael."

Maeby reluctantly got in the car and said, "Okay, I'll go back to school, Dad, but I really think you should go meet with Sitwell. He's offering you a job."

"No, no, I should be a good uncle, Maeby. Besides, Sitwell's in housing, and that's not really what I want. I'm an actor."

Maeby rolled her eyes and mouthed to George Michael, "I'll be back." Then she drove away from the house. She picked up her cell phone and called some casting agents she knew, to beg for one of them to give Tobias an audition today.

Back at the house, George Michael just tried to tell Tobias that he didn't want any therapy. "I'm fine. I already cried."

"But we still haven't touched on your deeper issues, George Michael, or your father's."

"My dad?"

"Yes. Well, you better sit down for this." Tobias led him into the living room and sat on the couch. "You see, I know exactly why your father is so strongly opposed to you and Maeby dating."

"You do?" George Michael finally sat down and looked interested.

Tobias then said, "It's what we in the psychiatric field call 'denial.' You see, Michael is secretly attracted to me, and he feels terribly guilty for it, since we're almost family. He considers his feelings unethical, and even incestuous. Ergo, he overreacts about you and Maeby, because you kids are almost family too. Only when he admits and resolves his forbidden desires, will he get over you two."

George Michael blinked repeatedly during this speech, but he of course believed Tobias to be delusional, so he only said, "I see."

"So as soon as your father comes home today, I'm going to have some analrapy sessions with him, to make him admit the truth."

"Um, I'm going to finish packing now." George Michael stood and returned upstairs, muttering softly, "Yikes."

Tobias then picked up his phone and called Sitwell to cancel their meeting.

Back in the kids' room, George Michael's phone was ringing, and it was Maeby. "Are you alone?"

"Yeah I just got away from him."

"I'm not far away, and I know how to get rid of my dad."

"You do? 'Cause he still won't go to Sitwell's."

"I know, but I work at a studio, remember? I've called in some favors, and a casting director is going to offer him an audition right now. You call me and let me know if he refuses that."

"Uh, wait. I-I think he might."


George Michael hesitantly told her, "Well, he says that he wants to have some analrapy sessions with my Dad, 'cause.... Well, he said some crazy stuff about my dad secretly being attracted to him."

Maeby got very quiet, remembering over a year ago when she heard Michael say, "I screwed my brother-in-law."

George Michael shrugged it off and said, "But that's just your dad, you know."

"Uh, yeah." She tried to laugh casually. "That's why we're moving out! Well, anyway, you make sure that he leaves for the audition. Tell him that you're going over to Uncle Buster's, if you have to. Then I'll drive back when he's gone."

"Okay. Bye, Maeby."

Tobias at first felt conflicted about going to the audition, but George Michael insisted that his acting career was important.

"Plus, I'm fine now, after you... explained things. And I'm sure you'll be back in plenty of time to see my dad after he gets out of jail."

"All right then." Tobias excitedly went upstairs to get dressed for his audition.

George Michael felt guilty and wanted to warn his father about Tobias, so he wrote a note to him, just in case they didn't get a chance to discuss the subject while he and Maeby told him that they were leaving. It was likely to be a painful fight. He ended the note with, "I still love you, Dad. This is not goodbye forever. It's just for now."

Then George Michael took the note into Michael's bedroom, to leave it underneath the photo on the night-stand. But he noticed Gob's clothes left on the chest at the foot of the bed and looked puzzled at first. "Oh, Gob probably changed his clothes here when he came over this morning." George Michael returned to packing, and he felt glad that he would be able to get away from his treacherous uncle too.

After Maeby returned, she greeted George Michael on the front porch with relief. She kissed him and said, "We should start loading up the car now, in case anybody else comes over. Go get your bags."

"Okay." He went back inside.

Maeby opened her car's trunk, and to make room, she threw out the fold-up scooter, deciding that she didn't need it anymore, to fake her age and pick up her mail at Balboa Towers.

But then Maeby looked up and spotted Gob riding up on his own scooter. She rushed forward and asked, "What are you doing here?"

"I'm moving in here today."

"Not now! George Michael's still in the house."

"Oh, he is?" Gob looked worried again.

"Yeah, upstairs. You better leave before he sees you."

"But maybe I can hide in the garage or something."

"No! Get out of here."

They kept arguing, and Maeby even shoved him half off his Segway. "Hey! All right." He rode away and muttered, "Damn teenagers."

Then George Michael came outside. "Maeby?"

While the kids were distracted, Gob turned around the corner of the house and hid behind the fence.

"George Michael!" She glanced back to see that Gob was gone. "Well, let's put those bags in here."

He helped her load the car and asked, "Were you talking to someone just now?"

"No, uh, I-I was talking to my lawyer on the phone. I told him that I was bringing over that copy of the marriage certificate."

"Oh. Hey, should we bring over a copy of your mom's adoption papers too, to prove that we're not blood related?"

"Oh, probably. Do you think the papers are in the secret room?"

"Yeah, we should go look." They went inside together.

By the fence, Gob murmured to himself, "Lawyer? Are they up to something?"

He rode back to the car and noticed the suitcases in the trunk. "They're running away. Without Michael." Gob considered that, then drove to the other side of the house, to the garage.

This was perfect. The kids running off would be another form of punishment for Michael, and more importantly, Gob could be alone with him. Gob carefully sneaked into the garage and got off his Segway. He sat down on the steps (leading to the kitchen door), and he waited for the kids to leave.

Suddenly, his cell phone rang, and he jumped, lest the kids be in ear shot. He quickly checked the caller ID and answered with a growl, "Michael!"

"Yeah, it's me, Gob. I'm getting bailed out now, so you should leave the penthouse, like we talked about."

"Yeah, like we talked about," he grumbled.

"And you should stay away from the model home for about an hour, so that George Michael and I can pack up and move."

"I know, Mikey." He said menacingly, "I'll see you soon."

"Soon? No, but you can't come to--"

Gob covered, "I mean when we go get the yacht from the impound."

"Oh, right. Well, we'll do that later, after I get George Michael and we move out. Bye, Gob."

"Bye." Gob then turned off his phone and listened again for the kids packing and loading the car. He hoped that they wouldn't waste too much time searching for Lindsay's adoption papers.

At the police station, Michael's lawyer had some bad news about the bail. "They still consider you a flight risk, so the prosecution won't let you leave town until your trial."

"Leave town? But last time, they just said that I couldn't leave the state."

"I know," Jan Eagleman said. "Even with the cashier's checks, and you paying bail, they still don't trust you. There's been new developments at the Bluth Company." She told him that he was voted down at the shareholders' meeting. "So with you out of a job, the prosecution believe that you have no ties to keep you in the area."

"Don't I wish! So they really voted for Lindsay and Sitwell?" Michael was stunned by this decision, even though he shouldn't care; he was going to quit the company anyway and abandon the family. "But Jan, I really want to leave town right after the annulment. My son needs to get away from here, and I have no idea how long this embezzlement trial is going to take."

"Even if there are no unexpected delays, like with your father's trial, it could still be months."

"Well I can't stay that long. Can't you get the charges dropped sooner?"

"I'm doing my best. I did get some hints that the prosecution might be interested in a plea bargain, but I'll have to check all the fine print. In the mean time, just go home and try to relax. The annulment hearing will take some time anyway. Perhaps you can make up with your father too, and convince him not to sabotage your case."

Michael sighed and shrugged. "Maybe he'll want some help getting the company back from Sitwell."

"Maybe." She called a cab for him, then sent him home.

Chapter Text

As Michael's cab pulled up the model home, he saw the red convertible parked in front, and he groaned. "Oh no, did Lindsay buy a car right after she got the job?"

After paying his driver, Michael walked over to the car and tried to look on the bright side. "Well, maybe I could ask to borrow it, for--" Then he noticed a bunch of suitcases already in the open trunk.

Meanwhile, George Michael brought his last bit of luggage downstairs, and Michael jogged up the porch steps to greet him. "Hey, George Michael!"

"Oh, hi Dad." It felt bittersweet to finally have his father safe and sound at home.

Michael obliviously hugged his son, then helped him put the bags into the car. "So, buddy, you're all set to move to the penthouse, huh? Just give me a little while to pack my stuff too, and then we'll go."

"Uh, Dad--"

"Don't worry. I already talked Gob into leaving, so we'll just have to negotiate with Buster and Oscar about where to sleep." He entered the house and turned toward the circular stairs, only to stop short. "Maeby?"

She was coming down the stairs with her own bag, and she said to Michael, "You're not taking him anywhere."

George Michael came inside, and began in a kinder tone, "Yeah, Dad, we need to talk about this."

Michael glanced between the kids suspiciously. "Talk? What is this, another family meeting where everybody tells me how to raise my son? Fine, so where are these so-called adults, huh?" He looked around and wanted to give the family a piece of his mind.

"They're not home," Maeby said, standing next to her cousin and taking his arm. "It's just us here."

"Oh, George Michael!" he scolded his son for being weak. "I told you not to be alone with her! "

"Stop bullying him!" Maeby protested.

"I'm not bullying--"

"Yes, you are, and you can't do it anymore! It's illegal now."


George Michael explained, "Yeah, we're, uh, we're emancipated now, Dad. It's because we got married."

"What the--? Oh shit!" Apparently Jan Eagleman hadn't told Michael all the legal implications about the fake marriage.

Maeby said, "Yeah, so we're adults now, and you can't tell us what to do anymore! We're moving out, whether you like it or not."

"Moving out?" Then he gasped as he realized why Maeby was bringing luggage downstairs. "What, you're--you're running away together?"

Maeby nodded and folded her arms.

George Michael looked less triumphant, and he spoke softly, "I-I'm sorry, Dad, but I don't want to move in with Uncle Buster. I want to stay with Maeby."

"You can't! You're too young to be married."

"Not according to the state of California," Maeby interjected.

"Maeby!" George Michael did not think that she was helping.

She shrugged and decided to take her bag out to the car.

George Michael said, "I'm sorry, Dad, but I just don't think this is wrong."


"No, listen! Maybe this accidental marriage happened for a reason, you know? Maybe we're really meant to be together--"

"Everyone wants to believe that when they're in love, but you're just 16. You don't know what you really want yet."

"But I do! I want Maeby. I've wanted her for three years, Dad."

"Three years? Even when you dated Egg? I mean--" He stammered and still couldn't remember her name.

George Michael talked over his father. "She liked me, and I was trying to get over Maeby. But now Maeby likes me too, and I know I'll always regret it if I don't take this chance with her now. I'll always wonder about what might have been."

"But you're still family!"

"We're not blood-related!"

"You don't understand what you're doing. When you two break up, it could completely destroy your relationship."

"I'll take that risk." George Michael was still hoping that they wouldn't break up anyway. "Besides, Maeby wants to leave her parents, and I want to get away from the family too. Like Uncle Gob and Tobias..."

"Every kid thinks about running away from home, but it won't solve anything. Do you know how many fucking times I tried to leave them?" Many times were before George Michael was even born.

"I know, Dad, and I wish you could come with us this time. But if you really can't accept us together, then we just have to go alone."

"No, you can't go! This is crazy, George Michael. You can't just live on your own now. Your savings account and banana stand money won't last for long."

"I know, but Maeby has another job. She's a movie executive."

"Movie executive?"

Maeby returned from the car and answered, "Yeah, I told you already. I have a job and a car."

"Car? You mean that's your car out there?"

"Yeah. You never listen, do you?" Really, sometimes Uncle Mike could be just as oblivious as Maeby's own parents.

"How did you get a job at a movie studio?"

She shrugged. "I conned them while my dad was auditioning there last year. You can read it all in Variety. It's been in the news since I got found out."

"Well if they found out your age, then you obviously can't keep that job."

"Yes I can! The lawyers are working it all out, and I'm already emancipated anyway."

"So that's why you want to stay married to George Michael? You're just using him to keep your illegal job."

"No I'm not! I'm keeping it so we can get away from you!" And her own parents.

George Michael hushed her and said, "Maeby's not using me, Dad. We really want to stay together."

Michael remained skeptical. "Come on, George Michael. Let's just sit down and discuss this reasonably. If Maeby wants to get emancipated, then she can get her own lawyer and do it the normal way. But no one's running away."

Maeby said, "Oh, so it's okay if you run off to Cabo or Arizona, but not us? You're such a hypocrite!"

George Michael said, "Dad, I wouldn't leave, if we could just work out a compromise. Can't you reconsider that deal?"

"No, you can't date your cousin!"

"But, Dad, you said that you'd try to respect my feelings, and listen to me more."

"And you said you understood that this is wrong!"

Maeby got pissed off, and she grabbed George Michael's arm to go. "You can argue with our lawyer later. We're leaving now!"

"No!" Michael grabbed his son's other arm. "No one's going anywhere, and you're going to unpack your bags right now!"

"You can't boss us around!" She added spitefully, "If you want to treat someone like a child, then go hook up with Rita again!" After all, she had read in Variety that Rita somehow avoided being deported, and was now working at Uniprod.

Michael gasped and let go. George Michael also thought she had crossed a line.

Michael looked at his son. "You see this? This is the girl you want to be with?"

Maeby retorted, "Yeah, I could say the same about you and Rita!"

George Michael tried to calm them both down. "Look, everyone's just a little upset now, and we're saying things that we don't really mean--"

Michael wagged a finger at them. "This is exactly why you're both too immature to be married, George Michael. She's a child, and I don't know how she's held a fake job for a year."

Maeby finally snapped. "You keep going on and on about how we're family, and how we can't be together. But all this time, you've fucked my dad!"

They were stunned again, and George Michael blinked. "What?"

Maeby sighed and realized that she'd let the secret slip. So she told George Michael quietly and uncomfortably, "Yeah, that--that stuff my dad told you today... it's all true. They've been sleeping together, right behind my mom's back! I saw my dad coming out of Uncle Mike's room just the other morning." She shuddered at the memory.

"Wait, wait!" Michael explained the misunderstanding. "You've got it all wrong, Maeby. Tobias just sneaked into my room to tell me that he was selling his Bluth Company stock, and I offered him a job so that he'd stay. Nothing happened."

"You liar! You--"

George Michael stopped Maeby, though, and asked her to go wait in the car. "Please."

"Fine!" She left in disgust.

Michael shook his head angrily. "How could she think that--?"

"D-Dad, it's my fault."


"Um, today, Uncle Tobias was saying some weird stuff about you secretly wanting him, and I mentioned it to her. I didn't know that she'd take me seriously. She must have put that together with what she saw, and... you know."

Michael groaned. "God, I'm gonna kill Tobias! This whole family is insane."

"Yeah, and that's why we want to go, Dad. It's better this way."

"It's not! I don't care about her movie job; you cannot go with her. You should stay with me, and we'll get that annulment, even if we have to subpoena her--"

"No, Dad, I don't want the annulment. I want to stay with her."


"Don't worry, I'll explain everything to her, so that she knows you weren't lying. She doesn't really hate you, you know. She's just upset, because of her dad--"

"George Michael, stop making excuses for her. Do you want to be with the kind of girl that would leap to conclusions like that?"

"Look, she just made a mistake. People make mistakes sometimes."

"A mistake! She seriously accused me of--"

"I know, but she had a reason, Dad! It's my fault, not hers. I mean, it's just like when you almost got married to Rita, and you didn't want to believe that she wasn't smart. You were in denial and said stuff like 'they don't have bananas in England.' Maeby just wants us to stay together, that's all."

"And she'll call me a liar to do it?"

"Maeby's just had bad parents, you know, but she's still a good person underneath it all. I mean, you know that, Dad. You used to hang out with her, and treat her like she was your kid too."

"Well obviously she's changed and become some crazy, gullible hothead."

"Dad, stop it! I love her, and--and she's my wife." George Michael finally put his foot down. "We're leaving now, and we won't come back unless you change your mind about us. Goodbye." He turned to go.

"No, George Michael!"

"I'm sorry, Dad." He kept going.

"You can't do this. It's wrong!" Michael followed his son outside, but tripped over the push scooter on the ground.

Maeby already had the engine running, so after George Michael got in the car, they quickly drove away.

"George Michael, no!" But he couldn't go after them, without a faster vehicle. "Damn. I should have kept that cab."

Tossing aside the scooter, Michael decided to go back inside and call for help. He looked for a notepad and tried to remember the license plate number of the car.

But just then, Gob stepped out from behind the kitchen wall, where he had been listening to the fight. "Well, how do you like that, Michael? Somebody running away from you, for once."

Michael dropped his pen. "Gob! What are you doing here?"

"You mean how come I'm not at Steve Holt's? You thought that you had me fooled, Michael, but I--"

"Wait, did you bring a car?" Michael rushed into the garage, but he found no vehicles other than the Segway and his old bike, neither of which could catch the red convertible. "Fuck." So he returned to the kitchen and asked Gob, "Do you know who's got the cars?"

Gob shrugged. "They're all out somewhere." Then he cleared his throat and started again. "Guess what, Mikey? You're not president anymore."

"I know that."

"You do? Well, do you know that Lindsay and Sitwell got voted in, and--?"

"Gob, will you shut up a minute? George Michael and Maeby just ran away from home, and I need to find them."

"Yeah, and where do you think they learned how to run away? From you, Mikey. After all the times you left for Phoenix, or South America, or Cabo--!"

Michael rolled his eyes and interrupted, "Gob, I don't have time for this. You've got to help me stop the kids." He grabbed a notepad by the phone and struggled to remember. "Did you get a look at that car before they left?"

"Yeah, I saw them loading up the trunk."

Michael looked up. "What? You were here earlier, Gob?"

"Yeah, they were packing up their stuff, so I just hid in the garage."

"Y-You what? You knew that they were gonna run away, and you just let them pack?"

"Yeah, how does that feel?" Gob asked, relishing his revenge.

"But you promised to help me keep them apart!"

"And you promised to help me get my yacht back, but you were lying to me!"

Michael still couldn't believe Gob's selfishness. "Your yacht! Who the fuck cares about your yacht?"

"I care! And Franklin cares!" Gob felt hurt and offended. "You lied to me, and told me to stay away from the house, just so that you could go steal the yacht back and leave for Cabo again."

"What? I didn't--Where does everybody get these crazy ideas from?"

"From you! You keep running away all the time, Mikey, 'cause you're a chicken." He started to do his chicken dance, but Michael talked over his clapping.

"I wasn't stealing the yacht! We were just moving to the penthouse--" He dismissed the whole subject. "Look, just get Lindsay to get your yacht back. I have a real emergency right now. Do you remember the license plate or not?"

Gob still did not trust him. "I'm not helping you, Michael!"

"Gob, come on! The kids left--"

"What's going on with you and Tobias?"

"What? Nothing's going on."

"He's been bragging all day that you have the hots for him, and that's why--"

Michael felt like throttling Tobias. "I'm not gay!" he responded defensively. "I just told the kids--"

"Of course you'd tell them that, but I know you really fucked him."

"I did not! She misunder--"

"I saw you, Michael! I caught you on your big secret date!"

Last year, Michael and Tobias had been enjoying a Romance Package at the Four Seas hotel, when Gob burst into their tent, followed by Buster. Gob took in their white bathrobes and looked shocked.

"Michael!" he gasped. "Michael?" Gob had felt quite disappointed to realize that Michael's desperation without a date had driven him to sexually experiment with Tobias instead of Gob himself.

Michael insisted, "That was not a date, Gob! I told you, I was just trying to keep Tobias from finding out about Lindsay's date, remember?"

Gob remained skeptical. "And nothing happened the whole time, even with all the horseback riding, and the hot tub, and the massages with kama sutra oil?"

"Nothing happened!" Actually, Tobias did try to grab him in the Jacuzzi, but Michael got away in time.

"Then why won't you fuck me?" Gob demanded.

Fed up, Michael turned away and ran up the stairs. "Leave me alone!"

Gob still called to him from the foyer. "And did you fuck Lindsay too? She said that you were gonna marry her!" This was back on the ship, when Gob found out that Lindsay wasn't related to them.

Michael ignored the accusation and rushed down the hall to his room. He could hear Gob following him, so he locked the door.

"Michael!" Gob wished that he still had his lock picks, or any of his other magic stuffs with him. He should have tried to sneak upstairs before Michael arrived, but the kids had continually come up and down the stairs. He asked through the door, "Mikey, why would you fuck them and not me?"

Michael went into his closet so that he wouldn't have to hear Gob. With a sigh, he ran his fingers through his hair, then began to change out of his crumpled tuxedo.

He called Lindsay on his cell phone, and explained to her that the kids had run away. "Have you ever seen that car before?"

"No, I didn't even know that she had a job."

"Well we've gotta find some way to catch them now. They said she worked in a movie studio, so maybe if you drive up the highway towards Hollywood..."

"Oh, I don't have a car," she told him. "Lucille 2 took me out for lunch, and we've been getting makeovers at the spa." At the moment, she was naked under a towel in a private massage room.

"Well, who has the cars now?"

"Dad has the staircar, and Buster and Tobias must have the other car. I wonder why they left the kids alone at the house?"

"I don't know, but I guess I'll call them."

"No wait, Michael! If you send somebody to chase the kids, then they're just going to see you as the enemy, and they'll find somewhere else to hide." In fact, Lindsay figured that she could call the kids and convince them to go stay at Sitwell's guest house instead. "You need to back off and let them go for now."

"No, I can't let them go! Lindsay, they might even consummate their marriage, if--"

"Well, good for them!" she said brightly. "I hope they find a nice hotel."


"Oh, come on, Michael! Stop overreacting! You're so uptight and unreasonable sometimes. Why can't you let them be happy? Because you can't be happy?"

"Lindsay, it's wrong! It's sick and wrong!"

"It's not wrong! It's young love, and it's sweet. Don't you remember what that was like, Michael? Oh, right, you didn't get any in high school." Then she changed her tone as she murmured, "You haven't got any lately, either. And you know I haven't, so maybe we could--"

"No, Lindsay!" He grimaced, then recalled Gob's earlier words. "Have you been telling people that we were gonna get married?" He thought that he'd refused her clearly enough.

"Yeah," she admitted, "but after your speech at the boat party, I changed my mind again. I still love Tobias, and I won't divorce him."


"But I need sex, Michael! So now that you're home from jail, maybe we could have an affair instead."

"No, Lindsay!"

"Come on! I'm not that much older than you, Mike, and we can pretend that I'm 35 now. It's going to be in all the announcements. Did you hear about my new job?"

"Lindsay, you're still my sister!"

"But you always wanted me, Michael, even when I had my old nose! And you said it was a struggle not to have sex with me."

"I didn't mean--" How could she not have picked up on his sarcasm?

"Well you don't have to struggle anymore, Mike. Let's get drunk tonight, and have fun while the kids are gone." She still felt that she needed to get drunk to go to bed with Michael. "We'll find a way to get rid of Tobias."


"Come on, who's the last girl you fucked, Sally Sitwell? And that was just because she looked like me, wasn't it?"

"No, and that's not why--Please stop this!" Besides, he also had a quickie with Maggie Lizer, over a year ago.

She offered, "I'll--I'll even do that thing you liked. You know, on page 7 of the transcript from Bob Loblaw's office?" She assumed that Michael had read the whole transcript of the phone sex because he got off on it.

Michael quickly hung up and dropped the phone with a shudder. Why was his whole family so crazy? Even people outside the family like Barry Zuckerkorn had come onto him too. Just once, he'd like a beautiful woman (who was not mentally disabled, or his sister) to want him.

Then Michael remembered that he still had to find the kids, so he picked up the phone again. He wanted to avoid calling Tobias and having a similarly uncomfortable conversation, so he called his father next, hoping that he could quickly switch cars and go after Maeby's car.

George Sr. was too busy still being angry at Michael, though.

"Dad, I'm not betraying the family. Will you please just help me find the kids? You don't want them to stay married, do you?"

"No of course not! I'll find them. But this is all your fault, Michael. Didn't I say that you'd only drive them closer together?"

"But, Dad--"

"If you had just left them alone, they would have behaved and gotten the annulment. But no, you had to interfere! Now they're off playing Romeo and Juliet!"

Michael hung up and put down the phone, sinking to the floor this time. He felt very upset and alone.

Meanwhile, Maeby and George Michael sped north on the highway together

George Michael tried to explain to Maeby the truth about Michael. "He didn't lie, and he's not gay."

Maeby insisted, "He's a hypocrite, that's what he is! God, if he had to lie, then why couldn't he have lied to me last year?"

"Last year?"

"Yeah, it wasn't just this past week that I caught them. Remember those romance packages from the bachelorette auction? Well, your dad went on one with my dad." She shuddered at the memory. "It was some gross gay cowboy thing. Like in that movie."

"No way! You must have misunderstood."

"He told me himself! He said, 'I screwed my brother-in-law,' even though I asked him to leave me out of it."

"No, no. My dad's straight, Maeby. He loved my mom, and--"

Maeby sighed and told him, "Look, I think it only happened because my dad was always coming onto him, and your dad hadn't had a date in so long." She shrugged. "Uncle Mike was desperate, I guess. Anyway, he started dating Sally Sitwell right after that, so that's why I never told you about it before. I thought it was just a one time thing, and he regretted it. I mean, it still sucked that he betrayed my mom, but as long as she didn't know... I think she finally found out, by the way."


"You know, the other morning, when my dad come out of Uncle Mike's room."

"But nothing happened, Maeby. Tobias just went in early to talk to my dad."

"No he didn't! I heard all the commotion that night."

"What commotion?"

"I guess you didn't hear because you were sleeping downstairs, right?"

George Michael nodded, recalling that awkward time when they kept avoiding each other, thinking that they were related. "After I spent the first night in my dad's room, he told me to sleep on the couch next time."

"Right. So you left, and I slept alone. Then I woke up at 3 in the morning, hearing my mom screaming at Uncle Mike in his room. She seemed drunk or something, so I tried to ignore it. Just when it got quiet again, I heard my parents fighting back in their room, and they were talking about getting a divorce again. She kicked him out, and I figured that he was going to move out again or something. But the next morning, I got up, and there was my dad, sneaking out of Uncle Mike's room!"

Tobias sneaked into Michael's room that morning and got in bed with him, giving Michael quite a shock in daylight.

When Tobias threatened to cash out his stock, Michael compromised his principles and offered him a job at the Bluth Company. Tobias spooned him for twenty minutes before saying yes, then Michael got up and rushed into his bathroom.

Tobias grinned and basked for a moment, even calling to Michael, "You have such a great bed."

In the hallway, Maeby gasped as she overheard this, and she looked for a clock, which read 8:05. She tried to convince herself that it wasn't that early, that Tobias hadn't spent the night. But if Lindsay had kicked him out, what was he doing in the house at all? And wouldn't he have run into George Michael downstairs?

Then Michael opened the bathroom door and said, "Will you get out already?"

Tobias stood up. "Very well. But, um, in light of our new business arrangement," he came to the bathroom and asked, "might I use your shower first?"

"No!" Michael slammed the door on him and locked it.

So Tobias left and ran into Maeby in the hallway. She gulped uncomfortably and noticed his wrinkled pajamas.

Tobias said, "Oh, hello Maeby. Do you know if your mother's up yet? I don't want to run into her after our big fight last night."

Maeby just stood gaping in shock.

"Never mind. I'll just do my morning exercises." He then went into the secret room.

George Michael blinked and knew that Tobias didn't really "exercise" in that room. "You mean he--? They were--? Oh God."

Maeby nodded and spoke grimly, "So how can your dad keep saying that we can't be together because we're family? That's why I want to get out of the house too."

George Michael was stunned speechless.

Seeing that her husband was upset, she touched his arm comfortingly. "I'm sorry. I really didn't want you to know."

After a while, Michael called George Michael's cell phone, in an effort to convince him to come back. George Michael just looked at the caller ID, then shut off his phone. When Michael tried Maeby's cell phone, George Michael turned that off too.

Maeby looked back at the highway and felt pleased that George Michael really was committed to her after all. They were finally free of their family.

Meanwhile, Gob got tired of knocking on Michael's bedroom door, and he went up to the attic to look for anything he could use to break in. Franklin asked him if he had the yacht back yet, and Gob answered, "No, the police wouldn't let me get the yacht. Only the president can get it, and the board voted for Lindsay, not me."

"Then get it back from Lindsay."

"She's all busy spying on Sitwell for Dad. Besides, I don't think she likes me." He touched the cheek where she'd scratched him, during their violent fight on the ship. "Lindsay's adopted, you know, and she said that she was gonna marry Michael. Can you believe that?"

"But he fucked Tobias too. Are they gonna have a threesome now?"

"I don't know." Gob sat down and looked depressed. "Why won't he fuck me? I liked him first, and I gave him that CD, with the card with his face on it..." He sighed sadly. "We should have gone camping, you know?"

"You shoulda slipped him a forget-me-now."

"I tried. He wouldn't let me." Part of Gob also wanted to believe that Michael would surrender to him willingly. That Michael would give him the love he so desperately craved; to Gob, of course, love was the same thing as sex, or at least it felt just like an erection.

After moping with Franklin for a while, Gob decided to go downstairs alone and try the door again. Maybe he could find a hair pin or something useful in one of the other bedrooms. He went into the kids' room first, but as he looked out the window toward Michael's room, he got an idea.

Gob opened the window, then climbed out, being careful not to knock over the plastic plants on the terrace. Then he crossed to the French door and peered through the semi-transparent curtain. Oddly, he couldn't see Michael inside, but perhaps Michael had gone to hide in the closet or bathroom. If Gob moved quietly enough, he could sneak in and wait for Michael to come out.

It was much easier to break into the French door than the bedroom door, and soon he was inside. Gob crept over to the corner and crouched down behind the big screen TV. He could now overhear Michael talking in the closet.

Michael was on the phone again, this time with Jan Eagleman. He wasn't sure what measures George Sr. was taking to find the kids, and anyway, George Sr. was still angry enough not to keep him informed. Michael needed to do something else to ease his anxiety.

She told him, "Well, they've probably driven a long way by now. First we should check out this Variety article about Maeby, to find out which studio she's working at. Then I can send an investigator to go track them down in L.A."

"Isn't there anything else you can do to stop them? Can't the police put out an Amber alert or call their cell phones and trace their location?"

"But the kids aren't criminals, Michael. They apparently didn't steal that car, and even if they did, we can't prove it, since you don't remember the license plate number. It's not a kidnapping, either. Legally speaking, they're just husband and wife, voluntarily leaving together."

"But it was a mock wedding!" Michael complained, "Jan, why didn't you warn me about this emancipation thing in the first place?"

"I didn't think it mattered. You told me that it was just a mistake, and that they wanted to get an annulment. I didn't know that they were in love, or that Maeby was conning me today."

"I think she's just using him to leave her parents, and she's poisoning him against me. It's another con, and he's fallen for it."

"Well, I'll find them as soon as possible. In the mean time, just try to stay calm. You can't leave town anyway, and you've got to focus on your trial. Let me handle this." She figured that even if the teenagers consummated the marriage, she could still contest the validity of the wedding, and Michael's consent form.

"Just let me know if you hear anything. Bye." After he hung up, Michael still felt helpless. He didn't know what else to do, so he came out of the closet and began pacing in his bedroom; he was dressed more casually now, but he did not at all feel relaxed.

He kept remembering George Sr.'s claim that his interference had caused the kids to run away. Michael really didn't want to believe that this disaster was all his fault, and that he had driven away his son.

When Michael sat down on the bed and reached for George Michael's photo, he noticed the note underneath it, so he unfolded it and read it.

While Michael was distracted, Gob rushed out and pounced on him.

"Ah!" Michael fell to the floor with the letter and blinked with genuine confusion. "How did you get in here?"

Gob grinned. "A magician never reveals his secret!" He would have confessed anyway, but was more interested in pinning Michael against the bed at the moment.

"Hey! No!" Michael pushed him away and struggled to get up.

"Not so fast!" Gob tackled him again. "I'm not done getting revenge!"

"What? Gob, stop it!"

"You lied to me, Michael, and you fucked--"

"I didn't! Gob!"

They kept wrestling and rolling around the room. As always, Michael and Gob were awful fighters, doing more grunting and slapping, than actual punching or kicking. They could not do any damage to each other, beyond disheveling their clothes and hair. Unfortunately, there were no trees here for Michael to climb, and he could only desperately crawl toward the bathroom.

Soon Michael tried pulling himself up on the chest at the foot of his bed, only to find Gob's slippery robe there, which he hadn't noticed before. Instead of dragging Michael down again, Gob decided to get up and throw his brother onto the bed for an inappropriate embrace.

Suddenly finding himself in the position that he most dreaded, Michael fiercely struggled and rolled them over until he was on top. But as he did so, their crotches rubbed together, and he felt a strange stirring. A spark of electricity. Michael blinked and caught his breath.

Gob looked up at Michael, then smiled as he understood. "You getting hot?"

Michael frowned and started to push himself up. "No, I--"

Gob grabbed his arms to stop him, then thrust his groin against Michael's.

Michael gasped softly and half closed his eyes. His jeans started to feel tight.

Gob looked smug. "I knew you'd like swordfighting." It would have been fun to do it in a sleeping bag.

Michael did not understand at first, and Gob thrust again to be clear. "Sometimes I call it pigs in a blanket."

Michael grunted this time, but it was not the hostile grunt of their earlier fight. He felt weak and trembled a little.

"Mikey." Gob smiled, and he forgave Michael everything; all the lying and fucking around in the world didn't matter, if his brother loved him after all. If he was finally giving in. Gob tried to roll on top to more effectively grind his hips closer.

Michael quickly fought him for control, but reacted again to the friction and heat; he could feel that Gob was aroused too.

Gob wanted to grope him next, but Michael pushed his hand away from his jeans.

Surprised by this resistance, Gob tried to sneak a caress with his other hand, and Michael rebuffed this too. Yet Michael didn't just move away, either. Perhaps he was being a chicken, or he was getting off on being withholding, like Mom. When Gob tried pulling on his untucked shirt, Michael grabbed both his hands and firmly held them back, against the bed.

Gob opened his fingers and entwined them with Michael's tightly. He met Michael's eyes and could feel his palms getting sweaty.

Michael stared at his brother and felt lost. He should be able to just knee Gob in the groin and leave. But he didn't want to.

"Mikey, come here." Gob used his limber legs to pull Michael close again, and then he tried to kiss him.

Michael started to turn away, but he bit Gob's lips instead. Gob bit him back, and Michael released Gob's hands. Gob grabbed Michael's face and kissed him deeply.

Michael's own fingers slid underneath Gob's shirt. They groaned and resumed their "swordfighting."

As they made out, Gob kept trying to get on top again, but Michael wouldn't let him, nor would he undo more than the fly of his jeans.

Gob was puzzled, but he remembered that Michael was a control freak. Also, perhaps Michael was used to being on top with Tobias. Whatever the reason, it was kind of hot, and Gob kept naughtily testing the boundaries of what Michael would let him do.

In the throes of passion, they started rocking faster and harder. They humped like animals in heat, and their low grunts seemed to blend together.

Michael could barely think, but he enjoyed something more than just the carnal pleasure. This was also a cathartic release of all his pent-up frustration and stress. He shouldn't be doing this with Gob, but even this inappropriate lust was comforting somehow. It was raw and physical and immediate, which he needed desperately.

Michael climaxed first and cried out with an intensity that he hadn't felt in years.

Pleased, Gob grinned and slid Michael's hand into his pants, to feel him shudder too. Then they collapsed and lay covered in sweat.

After a moment, Michael opened his eyes again and withdrew his hand. He absently wiped it on the covers and rolled off Gob lazily, lost in the afterglow.

Gob sat up and took off his hot, sticky clothes. "Next time, we should get naked first," he said with a laugh, "but I guess you couldn't wait, 'cause it's been so long for you."

Michael sighed softly, "Yeah," and traced his fingers down Gob's naked back. It had been over a year since he had someone warm and naked in his bed.

Gob smiled and lay down close to him. He kissed Michael and started to undress him too, but then he frowned. "Wait, weren't you with Tobias just this week?"

Michael grimaced and answered vehemently, "No! I never had sex with Tobias! Or Lindsay. Maeby misun--" He broke off and his eyes widened. Suddenly he remembered not only Maeby's earlier accusations, but also the fact that she and George Michael had run away together. God only knew where they were now, but here he was, having sex! With Gob.

"Oh no!" Michael blinked and sat up in horror.

Gob was in the middle of pulling his jeans off, and he looked confused when Michael slapped his hands away. "What's wrong?"

"What did I do? I--We--!" he stammered in panic, "I-I'm not gay!" Recalling that they were brothers too, Michael got out of bed and ran for the bathroom.

"Mikey!" Gob followed, only to find that Michael had locked the door. "Damn it!"

Chapter Text

In turmoil, Michael splashed water on his face and tried to tell himself that he didn't actually have sex with Gob just now. Technically, they didn't undress or do anything especially gay... but who was he kidding? He got off on it, and so did Gob.

But maybe it wasn't real. Maybe this whole horrible day was just a nightmare. Any minute now, Michael would wake up and find himself in the cell at the police station, or better yet, on the yacht on the way to Cabo. Yeah, just him and George Michael escaping the family at last.

However, Michael could still hear Gob knocking on the bathroom door. "Come on, stop freaking out! We just had some brotherly love."

Michael answered, "It's sick and wrong!"

"I know!" Gob chuckled wickedly. "That makes it doubly good."

Michael groaned in disbelief and horror. "Go away!"

Gob did step away, but only to put on his robe and to rifle through various drawers for something to break down the door with. Meanwhile, he asked, "What are you all worried about being gay for? I know you're not, Mikey. You've had sex with seven women. Or is it eight now?" Gob wanted to keep an accurate tally. "You really didn't fuck Lindsay?"

Michael didn't reply, but he sat down on the bathtub and worried that Gob would break in, just as he mysteriously appeared in the locked bedroom. Michael felt trapped now, and he wished that the bathroom had a real window, but there was only frosted glass for privacy. However, given the shoddy construction of the model home, maybe he could break it easily, and climb outside.

But Gob got an idea then, and returned to the door. "Look, I'll even help you find the kids, okay? I can call Steve Holt. He's got a car."

Michael blinked and wondered why he hadn't thought of the Camaro before. If only he had a phone right now to call Steve himself. Michael asked Gob hesitantly, "R-really? You'll call him?"

"Yeah, and I'll tell him the license plate too."

So Gob did remember, all along. "You should have told me!" Michael complained.

"Well, I was mad at you before," he explained. "Hey, maybe I could even talk Steve into breaking up George Michael and Maeby for you. She was dating him before, remember?"

Michael reluctantly considered this offer. It was in many ways a deal with the devil, and Gob couldn't be trusted to keep his promises. Still, it was a pretty smart idea, for Gob. Michael hated having to compromise his principles again, but at last he agreed, ever so softly, "Okay."

"Good," Gob lowered his voice with anticipation and excitement. "Now let me in."

Michael stalled. "Not now, Gob. I-I have to, uh, clean up."

"Maybe I could join you."

"No!" Michael squeaked back. "No. Call Steve first." Then he hurriedly undressed and got into the tub, pulling the shower curtain closed. Of course, he realized that this would not be much protection, if Gob broke in. But Michael had no choice, and he wanted to wash away the filthy feeling of incest.

Trying to trust Michael, Gob grabbed his cell phone and called his son. "Hi, Steve."

"Hey, Dad. Did they make you president yet?"

"Nah, Lindsay got voted in."

"Oh, I'm sorry, Dad."

"That's okay. Listen, can you do me a favor?"

"You want to come live with me and my mom? I'd have to talk her into it."

"No, no, this is something else. See, George Michael and Maeby ran away from home, and we gotta find them."

"They ran away? Why?"

"Oh, they wanted to stay married, but Michael wouldn't let them."

"What? How could they get married? They're cousins."

"No, they're not, 'cause Lindsay's adopted."


"Yeah, I just found out yesterday."

After a moment, Steve asked, "So that means that Maeby's not my cousin either, right?"

Gob shrugged. "I guess not."

Steve was relieved. "So when we... uh, did it before, it was okay. Wow. I wish that Maeby had told me this when she came over."

"What, you saw Maeby?"

"Yeah, she showed me her car this morning."

"Oh, so you already know what it looks like. Great! That's the car they took when they left town." Gob told him the license plate number and said, "You should follow them in your Camaro."

"But how will I find them?"

"Maeby works at some movie studio, so they're probably heading up the highway to L.A. See if you can catch up with them, and try calling their cell phones too. They probably won't answer if it's me or Michael."

"Oh, okay. But I can't believe Maeby didn't tell me any of this before. I thought we were cool. She asked me to sign her yearbook."

"Well, you should ask her about that when you catch her. Ask all about her and George Michael, and try to convince her to come home, you know?"

"Sure. I guess I should leave right now, before they get too far away."

"Yeah. Call us if you find them."

"Okay, Dad. Bye."

"Bye." Gob hung up, then listened with rapt attention to the shower sounds.

In the bathroom, Michael finally turned off the water and dried himself, but he dreaded unlocking the door. He had to keep stalling Gob and get away somehow.

"Mikey? You want some help?"

"No! I mean, um, I mean can you go get my robe from the stand?" Then he modestly wrapped himself in a big towel and cautiously opened the door.

Gob stood just outside, grinning and leering. "What do you need a robe for?"

Michael blushed and tried to shut the door, but Gob wouldn't let him retreat again. "Hey, we had a deal."

"But I-I have to get dressed now." Michael sidestepped Gob and hurried toward the closet. "You should get dressed too, before Steve gets here."

"Here? But he already went after George Michael and Maeby."

"What?" Michael stopped and turned around.

"Yeah. Why would he come by here?"

"Uh, to pick you up, so you can help him find the car."

"No, he already knows it, and he's got to hurry now. Besides, if the kids saw me, they'd just speed off, but Maeby might stop for Steve."

That made a lot of sense, but unfortunately Michael had been relying on Steve Holt to give him a respite from Gob.

Gob stepped closer with a smile. "So let's seal that deal."

"No! Um, we should clean up here and get ready for when the kids come home..."

"Nah, Steve's going to call us first. We got plenty of time." Gob blocked the way to the closet and kept watching Michael, in case he made a run for another door.

Michael stammered desperately, "W-wait! H-how do I know that you're not lying to me about Steve? You promised to help me before, and--"

"But I just called him." Gob even handed Michael his cell phone. "Ask him yourself."

So Michael called Steve, who confirmed the truth. "Oh. Well, uh, thanks. I-I would've come with you, but I can't leave town because of the conditions of my bail." Then Michael tried to extend the conversation, by asking Steve for a running commentary on the progress of his search. However, Gob naughtily snatched at his towel.

"Hey!" Michael held firmly onto his towel, but dropped the phone. He glanced at Gob warily and did not want to risk picking it up.

Gob laughed, then bent down to retrieve the phone himself.

Michael nervously backed away, in case Gob was taking the opportunity to look up his towel.

Steve asked, "Uncle Mike?"

Gob answered, "Never mind. Just find them," and hung up. As he stood again, he pouted and coaxed, "Come on, Michael, I haven't seen you naked yet. I wanna see how many freckles you got."

Blushing deeply, Michael tried to get to his robe, but Gob blocked him again and pulled him close by the waist.

Michael could smell him now, and couldn't help looking into his brother's eyes. He gulped as Gob tried to loosen his grasp on the towel.


Michael whispered, "W-we can't do this."

"Nobody's home." Then Gob nuzzled his face all too familiarly.

With a sigh, Michael kissed him and closed his eyes. He let go of his towel and surrendered, even though it rendered his recent shower superfluous. He knew that this was sick and wrong, but all he could think was that it was "doubly good" like Gob said. Michael rationalized that after all, he had made a deal with Gob, and Gob had kept his word.

So they returned to the bed, and Gob quickly shrugged off his robe. They passionately made out, while Gob began searching for those freckles. Michael explored Gob too, but due to their nudity, he felt less certain of himself. He did not try to wrestle for control this time, allowing Gob to guide his hands and mouth. Gob apparently had a wealth of moves to show him, and Michael slowly realized that "following people to their cars" was not, in fact, his parents' euphemism for Gob dealing drugs.

For his part, Gob realized that Michael's awkwardness and blind inexperience must mean that he, not Tobias, must be Michael's first experimentation. He paused and smiled into Michael's eyes. "You weren't lying to me."

"What?" Michael blinked and was rather light-headed at the moment.

Gob just said, "Here, like this," as he grasped both of them with a fond squeeze.

Michael moaned, "Gob," and kissed him fiercely.

The brothers indulged their lust until the deal was thoroughly sealed. Then they breathlessly reclined under the covers.

When the afterglow wore off again, Michael became pensive. There was no denying it now. That was definitely sex. His remorse and self-loathing returned, and he started to turn away.

Gob said, "Hey," and firmly put his arms around his brother, unwilling to let Michael run off to the bathroom again.

"I-I'm not going," Michael said, but he didn't return the embrace.

Gob rested his head against Michael's shoulder for more reassurance. He really could be needy and pathetic sometimes.

Michael frowned silently, knowing that it was pointless to run away. He had to face the disturbing truth. He might be gay after all, or at least gay for Gob in particular. Not just once, but twice, with his own brother. This was especially horrible, considering how recently Gob had betrayed George Michael. The sex was doubly good, but the guilt was doubly bad.

With a half smile, Gob echoed his earlier comment, "You really didn't fuck him, or anything."

"No," Michael said flatly. He was glad that Gob finally believed him, but did it have to be this way?

"And not Lindsay, either?"

Michael shook his head.

Gob was pleased to be special, and he kissed Michael again. But he got no response, and he asked, "What? You still worried about the kids?"

"I-I just-- They--" Michael realized that he was a hypocrite, after all. George Michael and Maeby weren't doing anything near this bad. They were only cousins, and not even blood-related. Besides, in many places around the world, cousin marriage was perfectly legal and common.

Michael had overreacted about the kids for all the wrong reasons. He had opposed their relationship because he couldn't deal with his own inappropriately tangled relationship with Gob. He also futilely wanted to preserve George Michael's innocence and to keep the family from corrupting him, but Michael was the one being corrupted.

Gob said reassuringly, "Relax. Steve will find them. Even if they don't wanna come back yet, I'll still help you, Michael. Yeah, maybe we'll kidnap them, or scare them with J. Walter Weatherman." He laughed. "It'll be like when we taught Dad a lesson."

Michael shook his head wretchedly. "No! Dad was right. It's my fault." He had only driven the kids closer together, and maybe they were even consummating their marriage right now.


Michael tried to sit up, but Gob stopped him. "I need the phone."

So Gob let him sit up, but he sat close and still held onto his brother.

Turning away, Michael called George Michael's phone and got the voicemail again. All he could do was leave a message. "I-I'm sorry. Please don't delete this. I'm sorry, George Michael. I'm so sorry. I was wrong. But don't leave me like this. Come home. I--you can bring Maeby. You can see her, you can date her, whatever you want. But come home please. I-I can't go to L.A. My bail says--" He had difficulty speaking as he became more distraught, and his voice broke. "I love you."

Then he hung up and bowed his head, feeling helpless.

Surprised, Gob hugged him from behind and asked, "Huh? You changed your mind?"

Michael said with despair, "I-I don't even know if they'll listen to the message, or come back. Maybe I've lost him for good. It's my fault." Then he cried.

Gob found this quite weird, especially since the "robot" had uncharacteristically shed tears just yesterday. The sight was still not pretty, but since Michael seemed far more upset now than he had been on the ship, Gob decided not to make fun of his brother this time. So he merely turned Michael around in his arms and gently tasted his tears. "Mikey."

This time Michael returned the embrace, feeling pathetic and needy himself.

Steve Holt called his not-cousins too, but their phones were still off, so he left a message. "Maeby, where are you? I just found out that we're not cousins, and that you got married. Can we talk?" But she never returned the call.

But driving on the highway, Maeby eventually looked behind and realized that Steve was following them and honking at them from his Camaro.

George Michael turned around too and asked, "Steve Holt? What's he doing here?"

"I don't know! Oh shit. He'll tell Gob or your dad where we're going!"

Maeby took evasive maneuvers, while George Michael clutched the seat, suddenly wondering whether Maeby ever had formal driving lessons at all. Well, given her recklessness, at least he didn't have to worry about Maeby still liking Steve Holt. They might die on the way to L.A., but at least he wouldn't be insecure.

Steve Holt tried to tail them, but he eventually lost them, because Maeby knew the route so well. He felt hurt and rejected, that Maeby didn't even want to pull over and talk to him. Sadly, Steve looked for an exit so that he could turn the car around and head home. He would have to call Gob soon, but Steve hated the idea of disappointing his father.

Meanwhile, Maeby continued driving to L.A., but she became paranoid that other cars might be following them too. "I hope he didn't call Gob. Or what if he called my dad at his audition?"

"But Tobias would be coming from the other direction."

"Well maybe Uncle Mike sent a bounty hunter after us, or a private investigator."

"Maeby, you gotta calm down." His voice squeaked, "Can we just slow down a minute?"

"All right. You know what? Let's pull over for a rest stop."


She exited the highway, then took some side streets until they came to a hotel, which was decidedly classier than the kind of rest stop that Barry Zuckerkorn frequented.

As Maeby parked the car, George Michael asked, "Why are we stopping here? You think that there's a nice restaurant in the hotel?"

"No, I decided that we better check in."

"Check in? Aren't we still going to L.A.?"

"Yeah, we will. But maybe if we consummate this marriage, your dad will give up chasing us. Come on, let's get the bags."

George Michael complied, but his head swam with the thought of consummating their marriage. He had a dumb smile on his face as Maeby checked them into the hotel and asked for the honeymoon suite.

At first the clerk looked askance at their youth and their lack of wedding rings, but Maeby smoothly told him that they had just eloped, and she tipped well.

So they soon headed upstairs to a grand and beautiful suite. As the bell hop left, Maeby put a "Do Not Disturb" sign on the door.

George Michael watched her with anticipation and stammered awkwardly, "I-I feel like I should have, uh, carried you over the threshold or something."

She shrugged and said, "Ah, that's corny and old-fashioned. We've been married for about a month already anyway."

"Yeah. Yeah, let's not waste--right now." He pulled her close and kissed her, while running his hands through her hair.

Maeby was not totally in the mood for sex yet, and she was still tense about someone possibly following them, but she did want to teach Uncle Mike a lesson. Still, George Michael's kisses brought back fond memories, helping to relax her.

"I can't believe this is really happening," he sighed happily, while drawing her to the bedroom.

"Yeah, me neither." Maeby went along, but started to flush and feel nervous. She had not been ready to go all the way with Steve Holt, and she and George Michael had only previously gone to second base. Suddenly the big movie exec was just a teenager again, and she whispered, "Uh, hey, maybe we could--could just fool around now. I mean, we don't have any condoms or anything... and we--we just need to make people think that we did it."

George Michael paused and faced her. "Oh, uh yeah. Okay. Yeah. Whatever you want."

Maeby hoped that he wasn't upset about being apparently teased with sex. She softly admitted, "It--it's just my first time, you know."

"No, I know." He nodded and told her, "I haven't done it either. It's okay, Maeby. We don't have to rush, and like, we were gonna wait anyway, when we made that deal with Pop-Pop. I mean, just being here now.... I, uh, I want us to sleep together again. In the same room." He squeezed her hand and spoke with wonder, "In the same bed."

She met his eyes and remembered how they kept sleeping separately in the past several weeks. In fact, they had also avoided each other following their kiss, a few months ago, when the house fell apart. "Yeah. Yeah, I'd like that." With a smile, she squeezed back on his hand and kissed him with relief.

They entered the bedroom and sat down on the large, fancy bed. At first they made out for a while, until George Michael started to unbutton her jacket. She took it off, and they both eagerly undressed. They even kicked off their shoes, and lay down while knocking aside extraneous pillows. Maeby got excited enough to let George Michael round second base again, and he dove head first into her breasts. It was still an amazing turn on, to realize that her usually timid and awkward not-cousin could be bold in getting off her bra.

Maeby strove to be just as bold, but unfortunately, she started to remember the recent sex talk with her parents, and it made her uncomfortable. "George Michael? George Michael, wait! Stop."

"Huh? Did I hurt you?"

"No, no, I--Ugh!" She sat up and had to explain her disgust. "I'm sorry. I can't do anymore. It's just, last night, my mom and dad gave me this horrible talk about sex, and now I can't get it out of my head."

"Oh. I understand."

She doubted it, and could see that he was still aroused. "I'm sorry. Look, maybe we can try again later."

"Sure. Listen, it's all right. Really. You said you just wanted to fool around, and we did, so..." He added with a grimace, "I mean, your dad once tried to have a sex talk with me." This was when George Michael had asked Tobias for clarification about how Maeby was conceived.


He shuddered too, and tried not to think of what Tobias might have done with his dad. It was still hard to believe, and George Michael clung to the idea that his dad was just that desperately lonely. "I-I don't even know what my dad's gonna do now, if Aunt Lindsay knows, and they're all in the house together."

Maeby shrugged and looked puzzled too. "I don't know. I mean, my mom didn't try to move out or attack Uncle Mike again after that morning. Maybe after sleeping on it, she realized that Dad was bound to cheat on her with a guy someday. At least now she doesn't have to have sex with him anymore. Maybe my parents will get a divorce, or have an open marriage again."

"I guess." George Michael sighed sadly. "I wonder if that's why my dad couldn't accept us together, even though we're not blood-related." It did sound like too much intimacy in one family.

"Maybe." She felt less anger at Michael now, and more hope that Michael would just accept reality and not fight their marriage.

After pondering for a while, they started to dress and retrieve the stray pillows. Maeby asked him, "You sure this is okay?"

"Yeah." He could think more clearly now. "You know, I didn't even get you a ring yet, Maeby. We should wait and do this right."

She kissed him and laughed. "As long as it's not the same ring that you were gonna give to Bland."

"W-well it was my mom's engagement ring, and--" Seeing the look on Maeby's face, he said instead, "Anyway, your mom still has it, so..." He trailed off and laughed nervously. To change the subject, he said, "Hey, let's put the wedding ringtone back on your phone."

"Okay." So they did that, and Maeby began checking her voicemail messages too. She deleted everything from Michael, listened to Steve Holt's to learn what he knew, and then found a message from her mother.

Lindsay asked, "Kids, where are you? I think it's so romantic that you guys decided to stay married. You can still hide at Stan Sitwell's, you know, and I won't tell Michael. Call me back."

Hearing this, George Michael thought that maybe he could get the engagement ring from Lindsay again, but he did not say this out loud.

Then the kids decided to order some room service, including champagne.

"I bet it will be better than that wine we had on my birthday."

"Yeah. Let's try it."

Chapter Text

Lying in bed now, Michael still clung to his brother, and he asked softly, "Do you think George Michael will forgive me? His note said that he still loved me."

Gob shrugged and wasn't really listening anymore. He stopped tasting Michael's tears and kissed his mouth instead, while his hands started to wander under the covers.

Michael blinked and murmured, "Don't."

Gob nuzzled his ear and said, "Come on, it'll make you feel better."

Michael pulled back from the warmth and closeness of Gob's naked body, but as he pushed away Gob's hands, he felt the same thrill from when their fingers had entwined before. Michael met Gob's eyes and was tempted to have sex again, so that he could tie his record of three times in a row.

Then the phone rang, breaking the spell. Michael quickly let go and sat up, hoping that the call was from his son, but the caller ID showed Gob's son instead.

"Maybe he found them?"

"Hold on." Gob sat up and answered the call. "Hi, Steve."

Steve told him, "I'm sorry, Dad, but I lost them. Maeby was driving too fast."

"Well, that's okay," Gob answered. "Michael changed his mind, and he's gonna let them stay married, I guess."

"He is?"

Michael interrupted by grabbing the phone. "Steve, can you call them and tell George Michael that I'm really sorry? I left a message for him."

"Sure, Uncle Mike, but I don't know if they'll listen to my message either. They never answered my calls, and they drove away from me."

"They did?"

"Yeah. Hey, can I talk to my dad again?"

So Michael handed the phone back and now felt dirty about talking to Steve while he was naked in bed with Gob.

Steve told his dad, "I'm driving home now, and I thought maybe we could hang out today. Like, we could look for girls on summer break at the beach..."

Gob frowned and put him off, "No, no. I'm busy now. I gotta stay here and... comfort Michael."

That sounded filthier than necessary, and Michael tried to protest, but Gob hushed him and would not let him grab the phone.

Steve suggested, "Well, then I could come over and help you cheer up Uncle Mike. We can do some magic for him or something."

"No, no. Michael's all, you know, depressed and crying. You don't wanna come over here--"


"Hey you know what you can do? Since George Michael's out of town, why don't you take over his job at the banana stand? Yeah, see if you can run it by yourself, or you can call in those strippers we had at the Banana Shack, if you need help."

Steve felt rejected, but he thought that Gob was testing him somehow, after his failure to catch George Michael and Maeby. "Uh, okay, Dad. And maybe you'll come by the banana stand later to see how I'm doing?"

"Yeah, whatever. Bye." He abruptly hung up.

"Gob!" Michael was a bit upset with him. "Not those strippers again."

"What? He'll have a good time. You don't want him to catch us here, do you?"

"No, but--never mind." Michael grabbed the phone again.

"Enough phone calls." Gob hugged him and tried to kiss him.

"Not now." Michael pushed Gob away and dialed his lawyer's number. "Hi, Jan Eagleman, please. It's Michael Bluth."

Jan's secretary put the call through, and she said, "Michael, if this is about the kids, I told you to relax--"

"I know, Jan. But I wanted to tell you that I changed my mind about getting the annulment. I don't want you to track the kids down and drag them into court."

"Really? You'll let them stay married?"

"Yeah, if--if that's what my son wants now, then I'll support it." For George Michael's sake, Michael hoped that Maeby's feelings were genuine. "I just want him to be happy, and to come home. I've already called him to apologize, but I don't know if he'll listen to the message. But Maeby mentioned them having a lawyer earlier, so if you can get in touch with their lawyer, can you please let them know that I'm sorry?"

"Of course, Michael. We can probably still find them through Maeby's movie studio, and I'll be sure to pass on the message. I'm very happy that you've decided to reconcile with the kids. Family disputes are just heartbreaking."

"Yeah. Speaking of family, can you find out what my dad is doing to find the kids? I think he'd try something crazy like sending a bounty hunter after them, and I don't want the kids to think that I'm involved with that."

"I'll see what I can do."

"Thanks. Bye." Michael hung up and sighed, trying not to worry.

Gob of course had an idea to help Michael relax, and he tossed aside the phone. With a kiss, he pulled his brother back down to the bed.

Michael wasn't in the mood this time, for tears or sex. "No, Gob. Not again."

"Why not?"

"Because you should--should go meet Steve at the banana stand. Make sure that he's not suspicious."

"But Mikey--" Gob nuzzled his face again.

However, Lindsay suddenly arrived downstairs with her shopping bags, and she called out excitedly, "Michael!"

"Oh no!" So the brothers got dressed and started cleaning up. Michael locked the door, so that she couldn't walk in on them.

Meanwhile, downstairs, Lucille Austero entered the house too, slowed down a little by the porch steps outside. As Lindsay put down some of her many bags in the foyer, Lucille 2 pleaded with her, "You can't do this!"

"Yes I can. Tobias is going to be in L.A. all day." Lindsay had called him earlier to tell him about the kids running away, and he told her about his audition. Since he was there already, Tobias agreed to go looking for the kids around the various movie studios. He did not intend to scold the kids, of course, but to selfishly ask Maeby to help him get cast in big films.

Lindsay asked Lucille 2, "Hey, do you think you can go make sure that my dad doesn't come home for a while?" She didn't want her liaison to be interrupted.

But the widow Austero was still horrified by Lindsay's adulterous, incestuous plan. She had been trying to talk her out of it ever since Lindsay shopped for sexy lingerie at the department store. "No, Lindsay! In fact, I should call your father right now to come over here and stop you!"

"No, don't!" Lindsay grabbed the cell phone from her and looked mad. "I thought you were gonna support me!" Hanging out with Lucille 2 today had been refreshing, since Lindsay was so used to her own mother's scathing criticisms.

"I am," Lucille 2 said. "I'll support you in your new job, sweetie, but not in sleeping with Michael!" She felt that someone should give Lindsay some maternal advice.

"But it wouldn't really be cheating," Lindsay insisted. "I told you, Tobias and I haven't had sex in years."

Lucille Austero sympathized with that, but still spoke with concern, "I can understand you wanting to have an affair, but not with your own brother!"

"But he's not my real brother. I'm adopted. So it's okay, just like with the kids."

"No, it isn't. Cousins are different than siblings, and besides, you grew up with Michael. After all these years of thinking he was your brother, could you really sleep with him?"

Lindsay did look uncertain for a moment, but she rushed to the wet bar and declared, "That's what this is for!" She opened a bottle of Cloud Mir vodka and poured a drink, to steel her nerves.

Lucille 2 carefully stepped down from the foyer and joined Lindsay in the living room. "It's still wrong," she said, then offered, "I mean, couldn't you let me set you up with someone else?"

Lindsay shook her head. "I'm horny now, and I didn't get anywhere dating other men. I couldn't give this away!" She gestured to her general gorgeousness in frustration. "Besides, Michael wants to! He's been flirting with me forever, even when he thought that I was his sister!" With that conviction, she grabbed the bottle and rushed upstairs with a bag containing romantic paraphernalia.

"Lindsay!" Lucille tried to follow her, but could not manage the circular stairs without triggering her vertigo. So she sat down on the steps and tried to call for help from her chauffeur outside.

Upstairs, Lindsay knocked at the bedroom door and inquired sexily, "Michael, are you there? I've got a surprise for you." She heard some commotion from inside the room, but no one answered her yet. "Michael? Tobias is gonna be gone for the whole day, so we can have sex now."

"No!" Michael blushed deeply and found himself looking at Gob with... guilt? Concern? Fear that he would be jealous? No, those all sounded wrong.

Gob wasn't angry, though, because he did still trust Michael. He thought that Lindsay was just trying to seduce Michael because she was so desperate to get away from Tobias, and because she was adopted. Lindsay had also claimed on the ship that she was going to marry Michael, so she might still be pursuing that. In any case, Gob didn't blame anyone for wanting Michael.

Lindsay said, "Come on, Michael! I'm not that much older than you, and we both really need the sex."

"No, I told you! I don't want to have an affair."

"What, you want me to divorce Tobias for you? Okay let's talk about it, but just let me in." She was afraid that Lucille 2 would still try to get upstairs and stop them.

"No, no! I don't want to have sex with you."

Gob finished dressing, and he whispered in Michael's ear, "I'll take care of this."

"What? How?"

Lindsay thought that Michael was talking to her, and she was pleased by his apparent change of mind. "How? Oh, we'll do anything you want, Mike. You want me to talk dirty to you first?" He must really have gotten off on that phone sex transcript. "Well, we could rip off each other's clothes and then fu--"

"Lindsay!" Michael covered his ears in horror.

Meanwhile, Gob sneaked out through the terrace and into the kids' window. Soon he came out of the kids' bedroom and startled Lindsay in the hallway.

She jumped, dropping her bag and bottle. "What are you doing here?" Lindsay hoped that Gob hadn't overheard; she was also angry that the vodka had spilled, because she was going to need all the alcohol she could get.

Gob said, "Stop bothering Michael. He doesn't want to have sex. He's, uh, he's all upset about the kids running away."

"I know that." Lindsay picked up her stuff and said, half to Michael, "But some sex will cheer him up and help him relax."

"Nah, he's been, like, crying all day. It's not pretty." He hoped that this would discourage Lindsay, and he tried to pull her by the arm away from the door.

"Let go!" Lindsay said. "Lucille 2 is downstairs. Why don't you go off with her and check on Buster or something?"

"No, Lindsay, why don't you go with her? Dad wanted you to spy--"

"Get out, Gob!" She made a threatening move, and he jumped back fearfully. He well remembered their fight on the ship, and if she attacked him now, Mom wouldn't be there to rescue him.

Lindsay stepped toward him again, and Gob ran off like a coward, around the corner and down the stairs. He soon ran into Lucille 2, who asked, "Did you stop her?"

"No, uh, I couldn't. She wouldn't listen to me."

"Oh dear. Well do you have a phone, so that we can call your father?"

"Okay." For now, he had to hope that Michael's locked door would be a good enough defense, and that Lindsay wouldn't figure out how to go through the terrace.

Alone now at Michael's door, Lindsay spoke seductively again. "Michael, I can cheer you up. I went shopping today, and I got a really hot negligee."

"You're my sister!" But did that even mean anything anymore, after what happened with Gob?

"No, I'm not. It's just like with the kids. You know, if we do it, then I might even tell you where they are."

"What? You--you know?"

"Um, I could find out. Tobias is looking for them now."

"Oh, good." Michael felt better. "He should, should tell them that I'm sorry. They can be together, and I won't fight them anymore."

"Oh, that's so great, Michael. I knew you'd change your mind eventually. Now they can be happy, and so can we."

"No, no, we can't--"

"Come on, Michael, you want me. Fuck me."

"Linds--" But then Michael blinked and wondered why he was refusing. At least Lindsay wasn't blood-related to him, and she was a beautiful woman. Maybe he had only given in to Gob because he was feeling low and lonely at the time. If Lindsay had been home and had tackled him like the other night in bed, then he might well have slept with her instead. And maybe if he slept with her now, it would at least reassure him that he was straight after all.

"Michael," she begged, feeling almost painfully horny. "Let's celebrate--my new job, my being adopted--anything you want."

Michael swallowed and whispered, "Can we go in your room?" He didn't want her to come into his bedroom until he had a chance to change the sheets.

"My room? But you have the big bed."

"I know." He fumbled for some excuse. "But your room... has twin beds. And we used to be twins." Boy, that was a stretch.

She said a little hesitantly, "Um, okay." Apparently Michael got off on really weird stuff. "But we'll have to clean up before Tobias gets home."

"Okay. So--so you go change into your sexy outfit, and I'll be right there."

"Okay!" So she hurried down the hall with her stuff, and went into the connecting bathroom.

After a moment, Michael came out and entered the pink room, locking the door behind him. Then he sat down on one of the beds and took a breath, inwardly repeating to himself that Lindsay wasn't really his sister. She was adopted. As he waited for her to change clothes, he nervously asked, "So we'll really do this?"

"Yeah. I brought some vodka too. We can get drunk like that one time at Christmas."

"Oh right." Michael recalled the day that they got soused and lay on the floor in the living room, while discussing their romantic problems. He grabbed the bottle from the vanity and poured a drink to steady himself. "But this time we'll, um, we'll kiss and--and touch..."

"Uh yeah..." Lindsay gulped a little uncertainly as she imagined it.

"And you'll wear that sexy negligee." He drank down the vodka.

Lindsay suddenly said with panic, "I can't do this!"

"What?" Michael blinked.

She shuddered in disgust and rushed out of the bathroom. Lindsay covered herself, even though at the moment she wanted to yank the sexy lingerie right off her body. "I'm sorry, Michael!" she said, "I can't have sex with you. You're my brother!"

Michael just sat staring at her, stunned and confused by her change of heart.

Then she grabbed her street clothes and ran to the door, getting flustered when she found it locked. As she unlocked it, she said, "I'm sorry. Look, I-I'll make it up to you, Mike. I'll set up you with Sally Sitwell again. Or, um, get you a hooker. I'm sorry!" She then escaped the room.

Michael kept blinking and heard her run off downstairs. He wasn't sure whether he felt more rejected or relieved by her chickening out.

However, Gob soon came back upstairs and found him in the room. He said with a smile, "You sure scared her off! Smart. Lindsay only wants what she can't have."

Of course. Michael finished his vodka and wished that such absurd logic worked with other family members.

Gob sat down beside him and said, "Lindsay's changing her clothes in the downstairs bathroom now, and Lucille 2 is going to help her return the sexy stuff to the store, so they'll be gone soon. I wish we hadn't called Dad, though."

"You called Dad?"

"Yeah, Lucille 2 thought he could come over and stop Lindsay, but Dad got all mad at you and started yelling. He called you a traitor, and said he was gonna kick you out of the house."

"Oh great." Dad still thought he was betraying the family to get out of jail. Michael poured himself another drink.

Gob said, "Don't worry, Mikey. You can stay with me."

"Where? At the penthouse with Buster and Uncle Oscar?"

Gob nodded. "But we'll still try to get the yacht back, right?" With a smile, he suggested, "Hey, we could even skip town and take the yacht down South America way." He liked the idea of Michael running away with him, instead of from him.

"I can't skip town, Gob. I'm out on bail, and the police would come after me."

"But I could hide you in my magic cage, and smuggle you to Mexico. Yeah, I'll pretend I'm touring with my magic show again, and then we can disappear. You don't know how your trial's gonna go, Michael, and they might make you wait at Orange County Prison like they did with Dad. You're too hot for prison."

Michael rolled his eyes and sighed. He did long to escape this mess, but with his son, not with Gob. Even if they hid at the house in Cabo, Gob would get them into trouble with his chicken dance, like he always did. Michael didn't want to be a fugitive either. "No, I should stick around, in case George Michael comes back."

Gob shrugged and put an arm around Michael; he was still contemplating a way to help his brother escape from prison, if and when he ended up there. But his phone rang again, and he said, "Oh, that must be Dad. I hung up on him when Lindsay came downstairs."

However, it was Lindsay calling from the back of Lucille 2's limo.

"What, Lindsay? You want me to hire Nellie for Michael? And have her wear a blonde wig? Well, that's gonna cost extra--"

"Gob!" Michael grabbed the phone from him. "Lindsay."

"M-Michael." She was quite upset and nervous to hear his voice. "I'm sorry! I-I thought I could, but--"

"I know, I know. It's okay. But I don't want a hooker, Lindsay. Look, can you just--just tell Dad that nothing happened, and that I'm not betraying the family?"

"Okay. But don't you still need... um, you know?" She found herself unable to use the word "sex" with Michael just now. "What about Sally? I could talk to--"

"No, no. Don't do that, Lindsay." Sally Sitwell had dumped him after all, and he didn't think he could look at her the same way, ever since Lindsay had suggested that Sally was a stand-in for her.

"But I feel so bad, Michael. You wanted me for so long, and I wanna make it up to you. Maybe I can help you get in touch with the kids..."

"Yeah, if you can..." Michael felt distracted, because Gob began kissing his neck and trying to coax him to get off the phone.

Michael said, "Lindsay, can you do something else for me? Can you get Gob's yacht back?"


Gob also was surprised by this request.

Michael continued, "The police impounded the C-word, and he's been nagging me to help him get it back. You can do it because you're president of the company now. Just sign it over to him."

"Well, I--if that's what you really want..."

"Yeah, please, just take care of that, Lindsay."

"All right, Michael. I'm so sorry." She hung up, but still felt puzzled.

Gob grinned and kissed Michael happily.

Michael pulled away. "Uh, Gob, you better leave now. Go work the banana stand with Steve Holt and get rid of those strippers. I should clean up around here, in case Dad comes over."

"Oh, you think he'll still be mad after Lindsay calls him? Maybe I should be here too."

"No, no. I'll be okay. You should just go and wait for Lindsay to call you. Then Steve can drive you to the impound and help you haul the yacht back to the dock."

"Oh, right. And you can pack your stuff too."

"Yeah." Michael had intended to leave the house anyway, and it would be even more awkward to stay here when Lindsay came back.

"Okay, I'll see you later." Gob gave him another lingering hug and kiss before he left the room.

Michael soon heard Gob stop at the attic, though, and go upstairs. "Hey, Franklin. Guess what? I fucked Michael."

Michael protested, "Gob!" He wasn't surprised that Gob was boasting about what he hadn't technically done, but he was disturbed that Gob was still talking to Franklin like a real person. Gob was really crazy, but of course he had to be, to seduce his own brother. Michael was probably crazy too, from living with his family.

Gob replied, "What? Franklin won't tell anybody." He rushed down with the puppet, then put away the stairs. "I'll call you when we get the yacht." He clearly assumed that Michael would come live with him.

Michael didn't say anything, just finishing the last of his drink and staring into the vanity mirror.

Gob left, telling Franklin about how they would soon get the yacht back.

Alone, Michael went back to the master bedroom and changed the sheets. When he came back with fresh sheets, he passed the door to the secret room and frowned.

For years, Michael had always mistaken that door for a fake linen closet. The doors didn't open by pulling out, so he assumed that it was just a model home sample. He'd never tried pushing in the door before he saw the blueprints of the house. If only he'd known about that secret room before, he could have solved a lot of family mysteries much earlier. Maybe it still contained secrets.

So after putting the new sheets on the bed, Michael went back and searched the secret room for some evidence that either he or Gob might be adopted. It might make him feel better, and it could explain why their parents always treated Gob badly.

Michael found his Nichael birth certificate again, but the only things that were obviously wrong were his name and the listed gender of "female." A couple of pages later in the album, he found Lindsay's birth certificate, but to his surprise, it did not have her real name of Nellie, and all the information about birthplace and birthparents were exactly like on the Nichael birth certificate. (This had puzzled Maeby and George Michael too, so they left it behind, thinking that it was just a fake.)

Michael called Jan Eagleman and told her of his discovery. "How easy is it to fake something like a birth certificate?"

Jan answered, "Well, it doesn't necessarily have to be fake, Michael. With adoptions, the government used to always issue a new birth certificate, listing the adoptive parents as the birth parents. This prevented the child from knowing that he or she was adopted, unless the parents wanted to tell him or her. With your parents claiming that Lindsay was your twin, they would have to have the details match exactly, or the truth would have come out years ago."

"You mean, it's actually okay to lie on an official document?"

"Well, in this case, yes. That's how it was with closed adoptions. But now, with open adoptions, the laws are different, and you don't necessarily have to hide the birth parents from the child."

Michael felt hope now. Maybe his Nichael birth certificate was just as worthless as Lindsay's. Maybe he wasn't even a Bluth at all, and he wasn't doomed to be a part of this insane family. "Wow! Well maybe I-I should do some investigating and find out the truth."

"Sure, if you want to, but I don't understand why you're so curious about your family ties right now?"

"Uh, you know, just with Lindsay's adoption coming out now, and knowing that Mom always lied about Buster's father, I'd like to know what other secrets they've been hiding from us."

"Okay. If this will help distract you from worrying about the kids, that's fine with me."

"Yeah, thanks Jan." So he called the family detective and asked him how good he was at looking into birth and adoption records. "And how about doing a DNA test?"

Gene Parmesan said he could outsource that part, so Michael hired him and said he would give him the birth certificates, so he could investigate.

Just when Michael was feeling happier, he ran across some old home movies, labeled "lessons" and "boyfights." Years before the home video market prompted George Sr. to to videotape the boys for profit, he still provoked them as pre-teens and filmed them for his own non-commercial amusement.

Michael stared at the faded film and recalled his horrible childhood. In hindsight, there were many clues that Lindsay was adopted and older than him; he had been rather stupidly blind. Michael also realized why Lindsay thought he was attracted to her, but there were seeds for his twisted relationship with Gob too.

Gob of course had always been jealous of his younger siblings, for getting the love and attention that he never got in the first place. Lindsay was too big and strong for him to hurt, so Gob took out his frustrations by beating up Michael twice as hard, at least until Buster was born, and he had another target.

George Sr. encouraged Gob's wrathful envy as well, believing that the competition would do them good. In 1976, after yet another staged tussle, young Michael ran off and cried in a corner.

"Hey, hey!" George Sr. turned off the camera and told him that big boys don't cry.

"Gob's bigger than me, and he always wins. Why don't you stop him?"

"I can't fight your battles for you, Michael. How would you learn to be a man, then? I mean, come on, do you want to end up like your pansy-ass baby brother? Or your sissy cousin Larry?"

"Leave me alone!"

"Mike, Mike!" George Sr. finally turned apologetic and sighed. "Look, would it help if I took you fishing?"

"I hate fishing!"

"No, no, you just got seasick because we went out on the ocean."

"And Gob pushed me off the boat!"

"Well, you learned how to swim, didn't you? But look, this time I'll take you up to my new cabin near Lake Tahoe. The water will be calmer there, and we'll have some real guy fun, huh? You'll love it, Mike. Look, I won't even take Gob along. It'll be just our secret." He could always manipulate his sons with secrets and privileges.

"Really?" Michael felt somewhat better and finally stopped crying.

"Yeah, and listen, we won't even tell your mom about this cabin either, okay?"


Of course, George Sr. never took him to the cabin, no matter how many times he promised that he would. Michael was always disappointed, but he learned not to cry, and he rationalized that he hated fishing anyway.

Michael also finally told his mother about the cabin, and she put a stop to George Sr.'s secret trips to Lake Tahoe. He soon came to regret that, though. Whenever their father was out of town, the brothers' rivalry eased somewhat. When Gob wasn't hostile, he was nicer and fun to be around. At those times, Michael realized that he did not hate Gob after all; he actually kind of liked him. But with Dad at home, the antagonism returned, and of course Dad also wanted to punish Michael for betraying his secret.

During the summers, Michael didn't like working at the banana stand with no air conditioning, but George Sr. insisted that this was a family tradition and that he was learning responsibility. "That's the sweet sting of sweat in your eye from a hard day's work. You should be grateful."

It was hard for Michael to be grateful, when he was covered in sweat and chocolate, instead of having fun on the beach like his siblings.

George Sr. added that if Michael proved himself at the banana stand, then he could take over the housing business someday, passing over his older brother.

At the beach, Gob didn't enjoy himself even when he crushed Buster's sand castle. He kept grumbling about how "Dad only lets Michael work at the banana stand." The grass was always greener on Michael's side.

To avoid further fights, Michael often tried to spend more time with Lindsay at home, but sometimes she acted strangely when they were alone together. She entered puberty earlier than all her friends and became very moody, especially at times when she was on a diet because of their mother's criticisms.

When the twins were both supposedly 10, Lindsay even got upset when Michael sneaked into her room one night after another fight with Gob.

She hugged Michael comfortingly at first, but when he asked to spend the night with her, she refused and pushed him away.

"Please, Lindsay. You don't have to share the bed. I'll just get my sleeping bag and sleep on the floor."

She considered that briefly, but shook her head and felt self-conscious of her boobs again. "No. Get out before Mom and Dad catch you here."

"It's not weird, Lindsay. Come on, we're twins." He was trying his best to cultivate that special bond that he always read about twins having.

"No. You can't stay here. Go stay in Buster's room."

"But he's a baby." Buster was 6, still clinging to Mommy in a way that none of the other Bluths did.

"Then go make up with Gob." Lindsay forcibly kicked Michael out of the room, and locked the door.

Michael did want to make up with Gob, but it was impossible. Gob would not listen to reason and was not smart enough to figure out that their father, not Michael, was the real cause of their problems.

So Michael miserably slept on the couch in the living room. In the morning, he again begged to have his own room, but their father still refused, even though they had plenty of room in the old house. At such times, Michael hated their father.

Michael and Gob's rivalry worsened as they both became teenagers. Once Gob started seducing girls with his "car trouble?" routine, he often teased Michael for being a virgin, and for liking Sally "Stickwell." So Michael avoided telling Gob anything about his new crush on Tracey at school.

Gob humiliated Michael anyway by winning the election for class president, but Michael knew that this was partly because of George Sr.'s dirty campaign tricks. Gob always strove to please their father, and maybe that would be his only great achievement; after high school it would all be downhill for Gob, especially since he wanted to pursue a career as a magician.

Michael consoled himself with the thought that he would go away to college soon and escape the fights at last. Then he could take over the Bluth Company in a few more years, and hopefully pursue and marry Tracey.

Little did Michael know that George Sr. would always keep him under his thumb and never fully trust him with the company. Little did he know that trying to make friends with Gob would only create a different, passionate tension between them. A bond deeper than friendship, and stranger than love. Gob didn't even seem disturbed by how sick and wrong this was. Apparently to him the only thing better than having more victories than Michael was having Michael himself.

Chapter Text

George Sr. was driving the staircar as fast as he could, when Lindsay called him. "Lindsay, you get away from Michael right now!"

"I already did! I-I just left the house with Lucille 2."

"Thank God." He was relieved, but asked with concern, "Lindsay, honey, tell me that he didn't touch you!"

"No, no! Nothing happened. We--we didn't even kiss." But she still felt creeped out about it. "I-I just couldn't go through with it."

"Of course not! You shouldn't have tried to in the first place."

"I know, Daddy." She gulped with regret. "But it's just that I never have sex with Tobias, or anybody else. So I thought, if I'm adopted, and Michael wants me, then maybe I should let him..."

"No, Lindsay! You can do better than him. I mean, has Michael really been coming onto you? For years?"

Lindsay answered, "Yeah, but--but not all the time. Most of the time, he acts super strict and moral because he's struggling not to have sex with me."

"That sick bastard!"

"Daddy, don't be mad! He can't help it. He's lonely, and you know how he's afraid of girls."

"I don't care! I'm going to kick Michael out of the house, and then I never want you to see or talk to him again."

"No, Daddy, please! It's my fault for being so gorgeous, and for wearing slutty outfits sometimes for Tobias or other guys. I should be more careful around Michael, and I shouldn't have toyed with his feelings today."

"It's not your fault, honey. He should know better. Besides, Michael sold out your mother to the prosecutor. He's a traitor."

Lindsay was actually kind of pleased to hear that. "Well, Daddy... she is guilty. She let you stay in prison for her, and she's not my mother, anyway."

"Lindsay!" But George Sr. didn't want to get into his ambivalence about his wife just now. He sighed and said, "Look, honey, if you just wanted to leave Tobias, then you should have told me. I'll track down Barry in Reno." George Sr. had pre-paid Barry Zuckerkorn to handle Lindsay's divorce, so unless he got a refund of that money, he would have to pay again for a new lawyer to take the case.

"No, no, I don't want a divorce, Daddy. I still love Tobias."

George Sr. rolled his eyes. "That useless Nellie?"

"He's not useless. He's helping us find the kids in L.A. right now."

"I already got a bounty hunter on that."

Lindsay perked up. "You mean Ice?" She remembered that muscular and attractive black man.

"Yeah, he offered a special deal to find the kids and cater your birthday party." George Sr. was also eager to taste the smoothies and chicken wings that had been served at his wake, but which he had not been able to sample, since he was hiding in the attic.

"I can't wait!"

George Sr. was glad that Lindsay sounded excited about his party instead of Sitwell's for once. Given his earlier lies, he made the excuse, "I just hired him today, because we had to scale down your party, after the arrests."

"Thank you, Daddy!"

"You're welcome, honey. But like I said, we don't need Tobias. His pansy ass wouldn't be able to drag the kids back here for an annulment anyway."

"Oh, not an annulment! No, let them stay together."

"Lindsay, we already talked about this. They're too young."

"Well, the kids can always get a divorce later. Barry can do that instead."

"No! If Maeby gets pregnant--"

"Then we'll just send her to a clinic and get rid of it." That was how George Sr. handled Lindsay's dozens of pregnancies before Maeby. "Come on, Daddy, have a heart. Even Michael changed his mind about the kids."

"He what?"

"Yeah, he's okay with them now. It's great, 'cause the kids can be happy, and we just can talk them into coming home."


"Oh I gotta go now." She hung up as the limo arrived at the department store.

Meanwhile, George Sr. parked the staircar in front of the model home and rushed inside. Lindsay had left her other shopping bags in the foyer, full of new clothes, cosmetics, shampoos, and conditioners. George Sr. wondered whether he could sneak away a few items and wrap them up as birthday presents for Lindsay. Nah, she would probably notice.

Just then, Michael came down the stairs. He had packed as many personal belongings as he could fit in the only remaining overnight bags in the house.

George Sr. turned to him accusingly. "You sick bastard!"

Ignoring his father, Michael dropped his bags by the door and walked past him to the study. He grabbed his laptop from the desk, then stuffed it into its leather case.

"Michael, what the hell has gotten into you?! First you screw your mother--"

"Ughh, Dad! God!" He grimaced and shuddered at the mental image.

"How do you think I feel when I screw her?" Then George continued his previous sentence, "And now you're trying to screw your sister too!"

"Nothing happened, Dad. Didn't she tell you yet?"

"Yes, and she says that you've been lusting after her, even before you knew she was adopted."

Michael sighed and rolled his eyes.

"How could you, Mike? Coming onto your own sister. Was it some kind of twisted revenge on me for the boyfights and everything?"

"Dad, I don't want Lindsay! I never did. But whenever Mom called her fat or said that her old nose was huge, I would tell her she was beautiful. That's all. She must have misunderstood me."

"Oh really?"

"Yes, really. I was just being nice. And to think that all along, you guys knew Lindsay was three years older. How could you let Mom destroy her self-esteem like that?"

George Sr. said, "You know your mother. You can't argue with her. I couldn't control how she coddled Buster either." He still wished that he could throw Buster out of the penthouse and force him to get a job. "If you don't want Lindsay, then why did you try to have sex with her just now?"

Michael knew that he could not explain his true reasons, so he settled on a convenient lie. "I wasn't... I-I was just trying to scare her off, Dad. She only wants what she can't have. I didn't want to hurt her feelings."

George Sr. scoffed. "So you were just humoring her? Why should I believe you?"

Michael shrugged. "Believe whatever you want to, Dad. I don't care anymore. I haven't betrayed Mom either, but you just can't believe that because this whole family is built on lies and secrets and manipulation. Well I'm sick of it. You know, those kids had the right idea by eloping to L.A."

"The kids! Why would you let them stay married? Are you crazy?"

"Yeah I guess I am, Dad. But why shouldn't they be happy? They're the only sane ones in this family now. If I can just get my charges dropped, then I'll join them in L.A."

"Yeah, by turning in your mom! You bastard!"

"Goodbye, Dad." Michael took his bags and headed outside to put them into the staircar. He only had a slight vodka buzz because it took a lot to get him drunk. Anyway, the staircar was big enough and slow enough that other cars would get out of its way.

George Sr. followed and protested from the porch, "Hey, where do you think you're going in that staircar? It doesn't belong to you, Mike. It belongs to the company, and you're not the president anymore!"

Michael just sat down in the driver's seat and shut the door. After fastening his seat belt, he started the engine and began to drive away.

"Fine, go ahead! You think you can get away with this, just because Lindsay feels sorry for you? Well as far as I'm concerned, you're out of the family."

As Michael ignored him, George Sr. shouted, "You're not my son!"

Michael really hoped that was true.

At the hotel, the kids sat on the bed, snacking and drinking from their room service cart. Unaware that they had never tasted real alcohol before, Maeby said, "Whoa. I don't know if it's the bubbles, but this champagne is really going to my head fast. I might not be able to drive soon."

George Michael smiled and said, "Then let's not go to L.A. yet, Maeby. I mean, what's the rush? We could just stay here for a couple of weeks and have our honeymoon."

She smiled but shook her head. "No, I can't stay here that long. I was already supposed to bring the lawyer the copy of our marriage certificate today. Besides, I gotta get back to work on my new movie."

"Oh. Your new movie--is it that Gangie sequel?" He had thought that the horror movie monster looked familiar, but he hadn't said anything before. Maybe all women who had facelifts looked like Gangie did, so there were plenty of people in Hollywood who could have inspired that film.

"Uh, yeah." Maeby shrugged, wary of letting him know about the Bluth movie. She still hadn't forged her family's signatures yet.

"Wow. Hey, can I come to the studio and see how they do the makeup and special effects?"

"No, uh, I'm sorry, George Michael. They don't like me to have guests on the lot, and I gotta handle all this stuff about my work permit and getting a tutor. I'm really too swamped to take you around."

"Oh. I understand." He was disappointed that they wouldn't get to spend time together, on what could have been their honeymoon.

Maeby told him, "But you'll be busy too. You can be in charge of moving us into an apartment in L.A., and maybe we'll go sightseeing in Hollywood later."

"Okay. Oh, speaking of movies..." George Michael unpacked his laptop so that they could watch a DVD. He selected Les Cousins Dangereux, hoping that it would get Maeby in the mood to fool around again.

Maeby assumed that he bought Les Cousins Dangereux after her American remake came out. However, she noticed some extra flyers in the DVD case, and they were all ads for movies that came out a few years ago. She laughed and half spit out her champagne. "Oh my God, when did you buy this?"

George Michael blushed a little. "Well, it's just... I-I thought you were trying to send me a message, Maeby, when we tried to see it at the theatre. I thought it meant that you liked me and wanted to kiss some more."

"I just wanted to see an R-rated, sexy movie--you know, the naughtier the better. Besides, it was just actors playing cousins, not real cousins."


"But it was cool that you got us fake passports, even if we got thrown out anyway." With a smile, she put down her champagne glass and pulled him close. "It turns out that we aren't really cousins either."

"Yeah." They sank into a kiss and nudged aside the laptop, not caring about the movie any longer.

As they made out, Maeby started to murmur, "Shorsh--Georsh Miklel--" She was surprised by her drunken slurring, and she giggled. "Your name's too long! We should give you a nickname."

"Like your real name is Mae, but everybody calls you Maeby?"

"Yeah, don't remind me." Thinking of her own Surely alias, Maeby asked, "What's the opposite of Georsh Michael?"

"The other guy from Wham?"

Maeby laughed and snuggled closer to him. "How about G-M? G-M, G-M, G-M!" She repeated it at different speeds, and with different stresses. "It sounds like MGM, run together."

George Michael felt silly too. "You want me to roar like the lion?" He playfully roared and growled, making pawing motions at her.

She growled back, then kissed him with a smile.

He sighed happily and looked into her eyes. "I love you."

Maeby blinked nervously and sobered up a little then. She of course knew already that George Michael loved her. It was the only thing that explained all his behavior, especially since they found out they were married a few weeks ago. But hearing George Michael actually say the words was new, and Maeby could only unconvincingly answer, "Me too."

George Michael noticed her hesitation, but he just hugged her close and said nothing. He decided that Maeby was just scared, and that he had time to make her fall deeply in love with him. All that mattered now was that they were together, like he'd always wanted.

Maeby still felt bad about her lie. She did have a crush on George Michael, and had been jealous about him dating Bland, but it seemed that George Michael's feelings ran so much deeper. She wanted to be with him now, but she didn't know whether she wanted them to stay married for the rest of their lives. They were only 16.

"George Michael, I-I have to tell you something."

"It's okay, Maeby. We're both a little drunk."

How kind, for him to dismiss his declaration of love as drunken babbling. That touched her even more. "No, um, it--it's about my job. See, I'm not working on the Gangie sequel anymore. It's already finished, and Tantamount's got me on something new."

"Yeah?" He wondered why it was important now.

She searched for where to begin. "When I begged for my job back the other day, my boss Mort said that they wanted to make a TV show about my life story."

"Really? Like that Scandalmakers about Pop-Pop's escape?"

"Yeah, but not just one episode. Like, a whole show, with the whole family in it. But anyway, since that huge incident on the Queen Mary, they decided to make it a movie instead, and that's my new project."

"Wow. With the whole family in it. But wait, how can they do that, Maeby? Wouldn't they get sued, since they don't have anybody's permission?" He surely would have heard about this movie from the rest of the family.

"Uh, well they didn't need everyone's signatures," she claimed, not wanting to get into the whole forgery thing. "It's my life story, so they just needed to get my permission. Besides, my dad signed away all the rights for the whole family when he was in that Scandalmakers episode."

"Oh yeah. That's right."

"I'm sorry. I know it seems like--like I'm selling out the family, but I still thought we were cousins then, and I needed to get away from you."

He nodded. "I understand, Maeby. And I guess you can't get out of it now if you signed something."

"No. Besides, we still need the job, to support us in L.A."

"Yeah. It's gonna be kind of weird, though, to see our lives in some movie. Like a real life Les Cousins Dangereux?"

"I guess so."

"Well, how much were you gonna show, Maeby? Up until we got married?"

"Oh, um... Well, I wanted my job back so that I could get you off my mind, you know. I wasn't going to talk about you that much in the movie, but now..." She shrugged and softly smiled. "Maybe the rewrite will be different."

"Yeah, because we have a happy ending." George Michael kissed her, and offered, "I could you help you write that part, huh?"

"Sure." Maeby felt relieved and pleased that he wasn't angry at her or offended by the movie at all. With a smile, she added, "Hey maybe I can get you a job at the studio too. That way, you can always be around to do my homework for me."

"Yeah." George Michael's ethics about cheating had been thoroughly corrupted by her.

Then Maeby's phone rang, and she checked it. "Oh, it's Tantamount. I better get this." She took the phone into the bathroom. It was the studio lawyer, so she told him that she got a copy of the marriage certificate. "I'm not sure when I'll be able to bring it down today." She felt too drunk to drive.

The lawyer answered, "Oh, that's okay. No rush. I actually called with some good news." He explained that they didn't need her to obtain the family's signatures after all. "Since you're emancipated, you can sign a contract like an adult. They're drawing it up now."

"Wow. So I wasn't lying after all."



"There's bad news too. That Korean kid signed to do a movie from his point of view."

"Oh no! Annyong!"

"So we gotta fast-track our movie before that other studio can get their copycat out. Can I fax the paperwork to you, so you can sign it?"

"Um, I don't know. I'm at a hotel, on--on my honeymoon now."

"Oh, you didn't have it before? Well, congratulations."

"Thanks. We packed our bags and we're going to move to L.A. Do you know any good places to live?"

While Maeby and the lawyer discussed apartments and condos near Hollywood, George Michael put away his laptop and got out his own cell phone.

As he checked his messages, he finally heard his father's heartfelt apology, which considerably cheered him up.

When Maeby returned to the bedroom, George Michael played the message for her. "It really worked. He learned his lesson."

Maeby sat down and looked skeptical. "He changed his mind, just like that?"

"Yeah. I've never heard him sound so upset. Even when Mom died, he couldn't cry, and he'd always try to act strong for me." He frowned and looked a little worried. "Us leaving must have really freaked him out. I should go back and check on him."

"Go back? What are you talking about? We're moving to L.A."

"I know. But you said you had to go to work, so I can go visit my dad and make up with him. Then I'll come back and get us an apartment." Hmm, maybe his dad could help him get a wedding ring for Maeby, since she objected to his mother's ring.

"You really want to see him again? Him and my dad and my mom?" She made a face of disgust.

George Michael frowned and considered the awkwardness of that reunion. "Well, um, I guess I'll call and ask to see him alone. We'll just not talk about that."

"Meet him alone? But what if it's a trap? What if your dad just apologized to lure you home, so he can kidnap you to Cabo or Phoenix?"

"No, Maeby. He can't go anywhere because he's out on bail. The police would come after him. Hey, maybe that's why he's so upset. He's scared that he'll go to prison and won't see me again. Oh, poor Dad."

"No, don't go, George Michael. You--you can come with me to the studio today. Yeah, they don't mind, and we can talk to the lawyer about the marriage license. And I can get you that job. You want to be a reader, or work in special effects?"

"Wow, that would be cool!" But he let his enthusiasm simmer down. "No, maybe tomorrow. I wanna see my Dad first, okay?" He reached for his shoes and started to put them on. "I guess I'll take a cab home. Oh wait, you're drunk, so you should get a cab too." He brushed back the hair from her face and kissed her.

She didn't want to say goodbye yet, and she grabbed his arms to keep him from getting up. "No, don't leave, George Michael. Not now. It's--it's our honeymoon. If you go, he'll just talk you out of coming back."

George Michael saw that she was scared and hurt, as well as drunk. He shook his head and said, "Trust me, I'll come back. And he's really sorry, Maeby."

She still felt like he was abandoning her, and she confessed softly, "Please. I need you. I mean, it's not just the emancipation. Not just the tutoring. I--I--" In a twisted way, he was like the only family she had left.

George Michael looked in her eyes and realized that she was trying to say in her own way that she loved him too. "Maeby." He hugged her close and kissed her.

She said, "You have to stay. Husbands--husbands are supposed to stay."

He nodded. "Okay, I'll stay. But let me call him back at least. I wanna make up with him and check that he's okay."

She sighed and let go. "Fine."

As he dialed the number, Maeby grabbed a telephone book and left for the bathroom again. She looked up jewelry stores, since wedding rings would make their marriage look more official to her colleagues at the studio. She also hoped that getting the rings now would help strengthen their marital ties, since they hadn't had sex yet.

Meanwhile, George Michael called his dad.

Michael was having a lunch meeting with Gene Parmesan and giving him the birth certificates, so he was stunned and elated when he read his caller ID. He excused himself and answered the call, "George Michael!"

"Hi, Dad. I got your message. Did you really mean it? You're okay with me and Maeby?"

"Yes. Yes, I'm so sorry. I was wrong, and I don't want to lose you. I just want you to be happy, son, and I love you."

"I love you too, Dad. I'm really sorry for our fight. I didn't want to hurt you, but it's just--it was the only way to make you listen. I know you mean well, Dad, but I don't want you to keep making decisions for me. I'm growing up now."

"I know. I'm sorry." Michael still feared that 16 was too young to marry, but he would try to respect the decision for now, in hopes that George Michael would turn to him for help, should the marriage fall apart later.

George Michael asked, "So how are you doing with the trial? Any news?"

"No, not really. I just told Jan to cancel any annulment plans. But, uh, before that, I told Pop-Pop about you guys leaving, and he was angry. I'm afraid that he might do something drastic to find you, like sending a bounty hunter. So please be careful."

"Really? Oh." George Michael looked out the hotel window and wondered if Maeby hadn't been so paranoid after all, about being followed.

Michael said, "I'm sorry I told him, but it was before I realized that I was wrong. I couldn't have stopped him anyway. We've been fighting over Gangie's trial, and you kids." And Lindsay. "But look, if you need any help, just call me. I'll do what I can from here, but I can't leave town."

"We'll be careful, Dad. Thanks for the warning. But how are you? Are you okay?"

"Yeah. I'm fine. But I miss you. Are you coming home?" He'd have to get a new place for them to stay, since he was kicked out of the family.

"No, uh, I can't, Dad. Maeby doesn't want to come back yet, and we're still moving to L.A. It's better for her studio job, and she said she was gonna get me a job too."

"Oh." Michael was disappointed. "You really want to live on your own? I mean, it was hard enough for me and your mom back in college..."

"I know, Dad, but it would be too weird going back now. Uh, don't worry about me finishing school. Maeby has to take classes to keep her movie job, anyway, so I'll probably join her. I have the whole summer to get ahead."

"So you'll still graduate?"

"Yeah, and I want to help her to graduate too, but I don't know if she wants to go to college after that. She might just stay at the studio."

"Well, at least you have some plans. But I really miss you, George Michael. I wish I could get my charges dismissed and come see you. If I did, would it be okay if I moved to L.A. too, near you guys? I mean, not in the same house I guess..." He knew that he shouldn't be that controlling.

"You want to come to L.A.?"

"Yeah, if you don't mind. You did say that you wished I could come with you guys."

"Yeah if you really accept us."

"I do. Besides, I don't want to go to Phoenix without you. I'll see if I can get some other job near you."

"That would be great, and I hope Jan can get the charges dropped soon. But, Dad, what about--?" He didn't want to bring up the awkward subject, but could see no other way around it. He lowered his voice confidentially, "I mean, I thought you were gonna stay with... you know, at the house."

"No, no. Why would I wanna stay with that family, George Michael? No, I'm gonna leave them for good this time, and we can all start fresh."

"So, you're gonna, like... end it with Tobias? It's just, I don't want him to come following after you--"

Michael interrupted. "Wait, what? End what with Tobias?"

George Michael really didn't want to say it. "Your... you know, Maeby saw him leave your room that morning."

Michael couldn't understand why his son was confused by this misunderstanding. "What? George Michael, I told you, nothing happened. Don't you remember?"

George Michael answered, "I know what you told me, Dad. I guess, you just couldn't admit it, but you--you don't have to protect me anymore. Maeby told me about that romance package you went on."

"The romance--?" Michael sighed and finally remembered his talk with Maeby last year. He cursed himself for having been too distracted at the time to realize how she might have taken his words.

George Michael tried to be understanding. "I-I guess you were just desperate, Dad, and it, uh, started up again lately... Is that why you were against me and Maeby? 'Cause he's her dad, and--"

Michael made sure no one else was in earshot as he answered, "No! I-I didn't screw him, George Michael. I was only talking to myself, and I just meant that I-I'd sent Lindsay on a date, instead of helping Tobias, like I promised. I never--I mean, I only went to the hotel that day to keep him from finding out about my screwup. But nothing happened between us. Not then, not ever!"

"You mean, Maeby just misunderstood you? Again?"

"I know how it sounds, but please believe me, George Michael. I'm not even attracted to him, and I would never... do anything like that." Except sleep with my brother, twice. He winced and felt disgusted with himself.

George Michael on the other hand, was convinced enough to sigh in relief. "Then you didn't... there was no affair?"

"No." Michael felt guilty, and knew that he couldn't confess about Gob.

George Michael said, "Well, Maeby will be happy to hear that!"

"You think she'll believe it?"

"Um, maybe not yet. She doesn't trust you, Dad, and she didn't believe your apology either. But I'll try to convince her, and get her to at least talk to you. I mean, you guys used to be friends."

"Yeah." Michael sighed, and remembered how, when he was jealous of George Michael and his girlfriend, he kept hanging out with Maeby. Spending time with her and acting like she was his daughter. This was one truly fucked up family.

"So that's why I can't come home yet, Dad. I need to stay with her and get her to change her mind. It'll probably take awhile. We're gonna get an apartment soon."

"It sounds like a lot of work."

"Yeah, but we're happy." George Michael beamed. "We're on our honeymoon."

"That's great." Michael tried to be glad for him, but he could not get used to the idea of his son being married already. Losing his virginity, and moving away, and being all grown up. It was just so sudden, and he was cut off from his son's life, way too soon. "I'll miss you."

"I'll miss you, too, Dad. But I'll call you, and tell you when we get a place. We can talk and you can tell me how your case is going. And you know, if you need me to testify for you at your trial, I'll definitely do that for you."

"Thanks. It--it would be nice to see you."

"Yeah." George Michael wished he could see his dad right now and hug him. "Hey, I got an idea. Maybe we'll drive back for the birthday party at Stan Sitwell's. You'll be there, too, right? Or is that not your real birthday, Dad?" He still needed to get used to Lindsay and Michael not being twins.

"I-I don't know anymore. But wait, there's a birthday party at Sitwell's? I didn't hear about that."

"Well, ask Aunt Lindsay about it. She invited me and Maeby."

"Oh. Then I hope I'll get to see you there."

"Me too. Bye, Dad. I love you."

"I love you."

Chapter Text

Maeby was upset when George Michael told her about his phone conversation with his dad. "Why would I want to go to my mom's birthday party? We moved out to get away from all of them."

"I know, b-but it's a way for me to go see my dad without, like, being alone with him. That way, you know, he can't try to kidnap me." Not that George Michael expected his dad to kidnap him anymore. He was just playing along with Maeby's paranoia.

Maeby sat down and thought it over.

"Maybe you could make up with him too," he added hopefully.

She scoffed. "Make up with him? Why should I? After he ordered us around, and insulted me!"

"But he's really sorry now, Maeby. He changed his mind about us and everything. I'm sure he'll apologize for what he said to you."

"I don't think so. Besides, he's still denying that he did anything with my dad. "

"But I believe him."

"Why? How can you trust him, after all the times he's lied to you, George Michael? And he didn't explain why my mom was drunk and screaming at him at 3 AM."

Fazed for a moment, George Michael stammered for an excuse. "Um, well, that's--that's only because I forgot to ask him about that part, Maeby. I didn't want to talk anymore about Uncle Tobias."

"Right. So you just let your dad lie to you again."

"We don't know that he lied, Maeby. You said yourself that your mom didn't attack him again the next morning or try to move out of the house. So maybe they were fighting about something else, like selling the company shares."

"She was way too mad for that! She called him a bastard, and it sounded like she yanked his hair and had him on the floor. You know, like how she attacked Uncle Gob on the Queen Mary."


"Oh, right. You weren't on the ship. Well I don't know how it started, but I saw my mom slap Uncle Gob, then he said something else to her, and she outright attacked him. Everybody around laughed, and Gangie had to to go break them up." (That was when Lucille gave Maeby the forms to sign.)

"Oh. Well, but you don't know what that fight was about, either. Are you saying that she caught Uncle Gob sleeping with your dad too?"

Maeby made a face. "No I guess not. But I wouldn't put anything sleazy past him, what with him sneaking around with Bland."

"Yeah." George Michael thought it over and wondered, "Hey, what if he told Lindsay about that? You know, to explain why I punched him on the yacht. Maybe your mom was defending me?" That actually made him feel a little better.

Maeby blinked and looked a little hurt. "She's never been that protective about me."

"Oh, uh, well it might be something else too." He put his arm around her comfortingly. "The point is, we don't know for sure what happened, or why your mom attacked my dad that night. If you really want to know the truth, then we can just ask her what happened. She'd tell us the truth, I bet. She already called us, and said she was happy for us."

Maeby nodded. "But we could just call her on the phone to ask her. We wouldn't have to drive back and go to her stupid birthday party."

"I guess so, but I really do want to see my dad again, Maeby. I told you, I'm worried about him. Please?"

Maeby sighed. "Are you sure you want to see him, George Michael? What if we find out that he is lying, huh?"

He shrugged and said, "Look, it doesn't matter if my dad's lying about Tobias. As long as he accepts us now, then I-I don't care if he had an affair." He'd still be uncomfortable about it, but he would learn to live with it, through carefully practiced denial.

"But that's my point," she said. "How do you know that he really accepts us now, George Michael? Or that he wasn't the one to send a bounty hunter after us? You're taking his word for everything."

George Michael shook his head. "If he had sent a bounty hunter after us, then he wouldn't have told us about it; he'd want us to be caught off guard."

Maeby considered that. "But even if your dad's telling the truth, that means that Pop-Pop's got a bounty hunter after us, and it's still not safe for us to go back."

George Michael reassured her. "The bounty hunter can't kidnap us from the middle of the party! They'll be tons of people there."

"But he's a professional."

"Yeah, but then what? Pop-Pop can't force us to get an annulment. Nobody can. You said it yourself."

"Yeah," she admitted. "And we can always lie and tell them that we already consummated it." Still, Maeby was reluctant to go back. "But if we go, we'll have to get a fucking birthday present for my mom. Even if she's happy for us, I still can't stand her."

George Michael understood her reluctance, knowing how much her parents neglected and forgot her. His own father had sometimes neglected him too, in between his attempts to control him. George Michael said, "Well, you don't have to give her a gift. I mean, she didn't give you one for your last birthday." Tobias at least made a scrapbook for Maeby, even if the pictures were traumatizing. Lindsay meanwhile was in rehab (or actually a desert spa that was like rehab). "She'll get plenty of presents from Sitwell and everybody else at the party. So try to talk to your mom instead, like I talked to my dad."

Maeby did wish she could tell off her mother, but she wasn't sure that her words would sink in. "She never listens."

"Neither did my dad, until we taught him a lesson. You should try it with her, you know. Like, remember the homework that you wrote for me when I was at Openings? The paper talking about how terrible your father is? Tell him that stuff in person at the party, and do the same for your mom."

Maeby imagined it. "I could make a scene. A really big scene and ruin her party." She grinned in delight. "Sweet! That'll teach her for forgetting my birthday for 16 years."

George Michael felt a little guilty and worried, but told himself that Maeby's parents deserved to be taught a lesson. Besides, the ultimate result might be a reconciliation like he had with his own father. "Yeah, but just wait until I talk to my father first, okay?"

"I could put that scene in my movie, for a great ending!" Maeby continued. "I could announce my movie at the party too, in front of all the guests. Yeah, make a huge publicity push for my movie, and I'd steal the spotlight even more from my mom's birthday!" She kissed him. "Yeah, we're definitely going to that party."

"Great! Thanks," George Michael said, but repeated his request that she wait until he spoke to his father first.

"Okay," Maeby agreed with a shrug, since George Michael had given her the idea after all. Then she said, "Hey, we should go get wedding rings now. There's a jewelry store nearby."

George Michael was surprised and anxious. "But I don't have any money with me."

She dismissed it with a wave. "That's okay. We'll just charge it on my card. Come on, we're gonna need rings when we show up at the studio in L.A. And if your dad, or Pop-Pop, really is after us, then we can show them that they can't break us up."

So they left the hotel room and headed for the elevator. However, George Michael still felt that he should do the chivalrous thing and pay for Maeby's ring. "Do you think they'll take a check?" He had a bank account for his banana stand earnings.

She shrugged. "We'll find out."

Unknown to the kids, however, they were followed as they left the hotel. After Ice saw them walk into the jewelry store, he called George Sr. to report his findings.

George Sr. complained to the bounty hunter, "You let them stop at a hotel? Why didn't you just tackle them the first time you spotted them?"

"They're kids!" Besides, Ice explained, he was working off a vague description of their car at first. When he did finally spot them on the highway, he had to stay back on his motorcycle, because the kids seemed to recognize him. "She was driving like a maniac, trying to lose me. I had to let her think that she did, or we would have crashed. By the time that I found their car again, they'd already checked into the hotel and got the honeymoon suite. They've been here a while, so they must have consummated it already."

"Dammit! Now they have to get a divorce."

"Yeah, but I don't know how you'll talk them into it. Anyway, I'm not sure if they're going to stay here and have their honeymoon, so I'll put a tracking device on their car. But right now I gotta get back and work on catering Lindsay's party."

"Fine. Those smoothies had better be great!"

"Of course." Ice hung up, then went back to the hotel and slapped the tracker onto Maeby's red convertible.

Meanwhile, Gob rode to the banana stand on his Segway, and Steve Holt was very happy to see him. Gob soon got rid of the strippers, then told his son that he would be getting his yacht back from Lindsay.

"That's great, Dad! Hi, Franklin."

"Hey." The puppet was riding in the pouch on the Segway. Gob pointed to the bananas and said in his own voice, "Give me a Gob!"

So Steve made the double-dipped frozen banana, with extra nuts, for free. His father had told him about this special banana when they worked at the Banana Shack.

Gob wanted the frozen treat as a way of celebrating how good things were going for him. Sure he might not be president of the Bluth Company after all, but he would get his yacht back soon, and he had Michael at last. Gob practically glowed with his secret triumph in seducing his brother after all the years of trying. The naughty sex was just as good as he had imagined it would be, and he only wanted more of it.

While eating the banana, Gob explained, "So Lindsay's gonna call me to let me know when I can get my yacht. You can help me haul it back to the docks."

"Oh, okay. Then I'll help you move your stuffs to the model home."

"Nah, I'm not gonna live there anymore. I'm gonna stay on the yacht with Michael."

"Really, with Uncle Mike?"

"Yeah, he needs a place to stay since Dad kicked him out of the house."


"'Cause he thinks Michael tried to fuck Lindsay."


Gob nonchalantly explained that Lindsay was desperate for sex, and had found out she was adopted, so she wanted to divorce Tobias and marry Michael. "She thought she could convince him to marry her by having sex with him. Anyway, Michael was just trying to scare her off by going along. It worked 'cause she ran away."

"Whoa." Steve was still pretty stunned. No wonder his mom told him to stay away from the Bluths. They were such a shocking and confusing family. However, Steve still ached to spend time with his father, so he didn't try to leave. He just asked if Uncle Mike was still depressed and crying about George Michael and Maeby running away.

"No, he's better now, and he's packing his stuff to move in with me." Gob finished the last of his frozen banana and imagined how great it would be once he got Michael alone on his yacht. Then he could fuck him, and nobody would know but Franklin.

Steve said, "I'm glad he's feeling better, and I hope they find Maeby and George Michael soon." Steve was sad that they were married, but he was resigned to it now, since Maeby drove away from him on the highway. She must not like Steve that way anymore, and he could always find another girlfriend, he supposed. He couldn't date high school girls anymore, now that he was too old and going to be kicked out of Balboa High School.

Gob looked at his watch and wished that Lindsay would call. "Must be red tape with the police or the S.E.C wanting to freeze our assets."

Steve tried to be cheerful. "It just gives us more time to hang out, Dad." He asked about Lindsay being the company president now. "Does that mean we can't do magic at the office?"

Gob shrugged. "I don't know. My dad's using her to spy on Sitwell or something. But Dad said that he's throwing her a birthday party on Saturday at the model home, so I'll probably put together something if I have time." The yacht still had remnants of his Jesus act from his USO tour in Iraq.

"Can I help you with that, Dad? I'll bring the music and be your magic assistant." Steve wanted his father to invite him to Bluth family events. He didn't get to go to either the prison gala or the party on the Queen Mary.

Gob said, "Maybe. I could get the caterer or somebody to film my magic act with the video camera." He still wanted to make a DVD to sell, like Tony Wonder did on his website. Gob had tried filming a magic video with Gary at the office before, but it didn't turn out any better than the election video or the video for the prison gala. Gob had to edit out any flubs so that it wouldn't look bad like on Philip Litt's Girls with Low Self-Esteem DVD.

"Yeah, Dad. I'm sure it will be good this time. You're better than Tony Wonder."

So for a while Gob and Steve discussed possible illusions and music cues for the birthday party. Finally, Lindsay called to say that she had signed the yacht over to Gob. "You're gonna need money to get it out of the police impound, though, so come by the office first, and I'll give you a company check."

"All right, thanks Lindsay." Father and son closed up the banana stand, stored the Segway in the trunk of Steve's Camaro, and drove off.

After meeting with Gene Parmesan, Michael arrived at Balboa Towers, and he called Buster from the parking garage. "Hey, I'm here to drop off the staircar."

"Drop off?" Buster asked, not getting very good reception. His uncle/father Oscar joined him in the living room, so Buster turned on the speakerphone.

"Yeah, 'cause Dad seemed so pissed about me having the staircar." Michael didn't particularly enjoy driving the slow and smelly staircar either. "Anyway, I'm waiting on a cab now," he said as he got his bags out of the staircar. "So do you wanna come down and get the keys from me, or should I just leave them in your mailbox?"

Buster said, "No, wait. Don't leave, Michael."

Oscar added, "Yeah, come upstairs."

Michael shook his head, though they couldn't see him. "No, didn't you guys hear the news yet? Dad's kicking me out of the family."

"We know. Dad called and told us about you and Lindsay. But you don't have to go anywhere."

"Really?" Michael was a little stunned.

Buster nodded. "He can kick you out of the house, but he can't kick you out of the family."

"Right," Oscar said, "and Lindsay asked us to let you stay with us."

"Oh she did?" Michael could understand Lindsay feeling guilty. "And you guys don't mind?"

"No. Family first."

Buster added, "Besides, there's room here now. Lindsay said that she was getting the yacht back for Gob."

"Oh, she did, huh?" Michael pretended to act surprised. "Well good for him. But wait--if I stay with you guys, Dad will be furious with you both."

"He's always angry at us, anyway," Buster pointed out. George had never liked Buster.

Oscar nodded; George was angry with him for having the affair with Lucille, but also for having great hair.

Michael agreed with a shrug. "All right. Since I'm out of a job, I guess I should save money and not go to a hotel. Let me get rid of the cab, and then I'll come upstairs."

"I'll help you with your bags," Oscar said, as he left the penthouse.

After he hung up, Buster went to the kitchen and told Lupe that Michael had arrived and was moving in now. Lupe sighed and muttered in Spanish that it was still shocking that Lindsay felt so sorry for her brother, who had apparently harbored incestuous feelings for her for years.

Buster told her not to complain, since Lindsay had agreed to pay Lupe's wages now that Lucille was in prison.

Lupe said that she would not complain in English, and she congratulated Buster for getting better in Spanish.

Buster smiled proudly; he enjoyed spending time with Lupe, without his mother's disapproval. Since rehiring Lupe, Lucille had been strict that they could never be alone and have sex again.

Downstairs, Michael called to cancel the cab that he ordered, then he walked out of the parking garage toward the entrance to the apartment building, where he thought Oscar would meet him. Just then, his cellphone rang, and the caller ID showed Gob's number. Michael didn't answer it, and he nervously shut off the phone.

The C-word was now tied at the dock, and Gob climbed aboard to make sure that all his magic props were undamaged by the trip. Steve Holt unloaded the Segway from his car, then looked around curiously, since he had not been invited to his father's new yacht before.

Gob was annoyed that Michael hadn't answered his phone, but he figured that maybe he was stuck in an argument with Dad about Lindsay. Gob put down Franklin on a chair and went downstairs to make room for Michael to move in. But in the bedroom, he noticed the suitcase from his girlfriend, and realized that he must move her out first. He went back upstairs. "Hey Steve, I gotta take this to my girlfriend's house."

"You have a girlfriend?" Gob had kept this information from his son as well, thinking that Steve Holt might spill the news to Maeby or George Michael.

"Yeah, drive me over there, okay?" He needed to get there and back quickly, which he couldn't do on his Segway.

"Okay, Dad."

But as they approached the Veals' house, Steve recognized it. After all, he and his campaign manager had gone over their winning strategy for the class president election at her house. Steve already knew that his dad sometimes dated high school girls, but this was rather shocking. As he parked the Camaro, he asked, "Oh my God. Wasn't she George Michael's girlfriend too?"

Gob nodded and said matter-of-factly, "Yeah, she dumped him at the beauty pageant at the Church and State Fair. But listen, Christian girlfriends are way more trouble than they're worth." It had been much like his marriage to his army wife in fact. "All chain and no ball. And even if you do convince them to fuck you, it's no good either. If you get one of those pregnant, they stay pregnant."

Steve's mother Eve Holt was one of those Christian girlfriends, and he felt rather hurt by his father's insensitivity. But he said nothing, because he was still that needy for his father's attention.

Getting out of the car, Gob said cheerfully, "Okay, wait here. I gotta dump her now." He took the suitcase and strode up to the Veals' front door.

When Gob knocked, creepy Uncle Paul answered the door, but before Gob could speak, Uncle Paul snatched the suitcase from him. He gruffly explained that his niece was sick with a cold and that she was in fact dumping Gob, because during the fight on the yacht, Gob had just abandoned her while she was screaming.

Gob excused his cowardice. "Well, nobody was hitting her! Anyway, she could have at least gone to go get her suitcase."

"No she couldn't, because George Michael started the engine, and the jolt knocked her into the water. Nobody rescued her, or even threw her a life preserver. She never wants to see you Bluths again." Uncle Paul slammed the door shut.

Gob felt mildly insulted, but then he shrugged it off, and figured that, either way, he was rid of his annoying Christian girlfriend and all her evangelizing, chaperoning friends. So he rejoined his son in the Camaro, and they drove back to the docks.

Steve asked, "So she was living with you on the yacht?"

"Yeah," Gob said. "She'd just moved in, and I had to keep her a secret for months. But George Michael found out on the same day as the Queen Mary party and he punched me before stealing my yacht." Gob touched the bruise on his cheek as he complained, "Damn teenager. And all along he was married to Maeby."

"Yeah, that's weird." Steve hoped that George Michael would be a good husband to Maeby now, because if he cheated or mistreated her, then Steve would go punch him out, whether they were all cousins or not.

When they arrived at the docks, Gob sent Steve home, insisting that he didn't need Steve's help to move Michael to the yacht. "You go work on the magic stuff like we talked about before."


Once he was alone on the yacht, Gob called Michael again.

Michael had by this time turned his phone on again, and with a sigh, he went to the balcony for privacy. He had to get this over with, or Gob would never stop bugging him. "Um, hi, Gob."

"Hey, Mikey. Where've you been?"

Michael tried not to be affected by his sexy voice. "Uh, Gob, you're alone? Steve's not with you?"

"Nope. Just me and Franklin." He sounded eager and excited. "We got the yacht all ready now. How soon can you get here?"

Michael said, "Uh, listen, Gob, I-I can't move in with you."

"Why not?"

For some reason, Michael couldn't bring himself to hurt Gob's feelings, and he let him down easy. "Well, um, because it'll look suspicious. I mean, the police already thought I was trying to escape to Cabo before, so if I go on the yacht again, they'll think that I'm trying to jump bail. So I'm just going to stay with Buster and Oscar, okay?"

Gob was not okay with that. "No, Mikey! What about our deal? When are we gonna fuck?"

Michael coughed in embarrassment. "Well--well, the deal was only so that you'd help me find the kids, Gob. But Steve lost them, and anyway, George Michael called me back finally and we made up. So the deal's off. Thanks anyway."

"But Michael--"

"So uh, enjoy your yacht with Franklin, and stay away from high school girls." Michael quickly hung up. Gob tried to call him back, but Michael turned off his phone again. He just hoped that Gob would give up and stop calling him soon.

That evening, while Lupe was cooking dinner, Gob dropped by the penthouse and demanded at the door, "Where's Michael?"

Michael turned around and jumped up from the couch nervously, not having considered that Gob would come see him in person, in front of other family members.

Gob strode over with a determined look on his face, growling, "Michael!"

Michael took his arm and quickly excused them to the balcony.

Once Michael shut the door, Gob asked irritably, "How come you won't you answer my calls? Why won't you move in with me?"

Michael hushed him. "Gob, I told you why."

"Then why didn't you say that before, at the house? Why'd you get Lindsay to give me the yacht?" He stood closer and tried to nuzzle Michael, but his brother stepped back and hissed, "People can see us!"

There were balconies all around Balboa Towers, some of which faced theirs. Also, the curtains did not entirely block the view from inside the penthouse.

Gob pouted, then gestured to the part of the balcony that opened onto the master bedroom. "Then let's go inside, and--"

"No!" Michael did not want to be alone in a bedroom with Gob.

"What's wrong with you?" He coaxed, "Don't you want me anymore? Don't you want to have more fun, Mikey?"

Michael shook his head and stepped back again. "No, I told you. The deal's off."

"Fuck the deal!" Gob was becoming frustrated. "I know you liked it, Michael. You did, and you weren't scared anymore."

"Gob, I-I was upset, and not thinking..." Meeting his eyes at last, Michael told him bluntly, "It was a mistake, and we can't do that anymore."

"Why not?"

"It's wrong."

"So?" He whined, "Come on, Mikey, I didn't get to fuck you yet."

Michael hushed him again. "I don't wanna talk about this anymore, Gob. Please leave. Go back to your yacht."

"Come with me."

"No! Come on, Gob, you wanted that yacht even without me there. Go enjoy it."

"Please, Mikey." Thinking he might be jealous, Gob told him, "I even dumped my girlfriend like you wanted."

Michael got annoyed with him. "That wasn't for me! That was for George Michael. And the statutory rape laws."

Gob scoffed. "Oh, you're always so worried about George Michael. You've really gotta let him go." Even though he was a lousy father, he did know that much. "You don't even care if he's happy, just as long as you can control him."

"I do care! That's why I let him stay with Maeby." In his outrage, he lashed out. "You--you're the reason why he ran away!"

"No, Maeby was. And 'cause you're always running away too."

"I mean on the yacht, when he punched you. You're a selfish bastard, Gob, and you--you never think. You're arrogant, and disgusting, and you... you drive me crazy."

Not offended at all, Gob grinned and responded sexily, "You make me crazy, too."

Michael blinked, realizing how close they stood. Avoiding Gob's touch again, Michael left the balcony and retreated to the kitchen, where he tried to help Lupe with dinner.

Gob followed and stole some food, but Michael would no longer talk to him nor meet his eyes.

Buster and Oscar began asking what was wrong, and Michael quickly covered with, "He's mad at me about Lindsay."

Gob said, "No, I'm not," but did not elaborate further.

Michael made a break through the other kitchen door, slipping back into the living room and saying that he wasn't hungry now.

"Michael!" Gob started to follow him again, but Michael didn't stop, managing to get down the hall and lock himself in Buster's room.

Gob could probably pick the lock, but on the other hand, Buster and Oscar were still curiously watching and wondering what was going on, so Gob decided to give up for now. "Fine, I'll go. Goodnight, Oscar. Night, Busty."

"Bye." They remained as puzzled as ever.

So Gob left and rode back to the docks on his Segway. He would have to devise some other plan to get Michael alone. Michael could not hide out forever. Maybe he should change his magic show on Saturday so that he escaped from Lindsay's birthday party while everybody but Michael was there. Then while his family were impressed by his illusion, Gob could sneak into the penthouse and be with Michael. If Lupe was around, then Gob could just kidnap Michael using ether and Franklin. Then he'd take him to the yacht, and talk him out of being a coward. Gob would remind him how good it felt to kiss and touch, to share brotherly love.

Chapter Text

Michael eventually came out to eat dinner, and he made feeble excuses about his fight with Gob. "Just him and Egg and George Michael..." He sighed, "I don't know. Maybe I shouldn't live here. I could go find someplace else tomorrow." Michael did have some savings left, as well as the royalty checks from the Mr. Bananagrabber TV show, to pay rent for a while. He could rent an apartment somewhere and not tell Gob his new address.

Buster and Oscar merely shrugged and glanced at each other, thinking that Michael was making empty threats to run away again. He was the boy who cried Phoenix, after all.

That night, everyone went to bed, and Michael got the couch. He couldn't sleep, though, and kept thinking of Gob, who had slept on the very same couch recently. Michael remembered Gob's embrace, in bed at the model home, and his throat went dry.

So he got up and poured himself a stiff drink. But that reminded Michael of the intervention/party a couple of years ago, when they had laughed and got drunk together. Gob had even climbed onto the dining table and put Franklin's wig on his head.

Michael wondered if Gob was complaining to Franklin right now on his yacht. Or maybe he had already picked up some new girl to fuck to get back at Michael, or maybe he had gone back to the old one? That made Michael frown, but then again, why should he care? If Gob got arrested for statutory rape and imprisoned, that would certainly keep Gob away from him, right? Unless, of course, Michael got imprisoned too, due to his trial for embezzlement, bribery, and conspiracy. Stuck behind bars with Gob again...

Putting down the drink, Michael shook his head and decided that he needed some fresh air. He went out to the balcony, but then he recalled their fight that day. He was actually getting a little hot just thinking about it.

Rushing back inside, Michael put on his shoes and a robe over his pajamas. Taking his keys, he left the penthouse altogether and went downstairs to the staircar. Then he drove around town and felt miserably trapped, since he couldn't go join George Michael in L.A. At least the local authorities didn't force him to wear a tracking device yet, but the police surely would come after him if they discovered that he jumped bail.

Michael finally parked at Balboa Island, and he went to the banana stand to brood. Then he found George Michael's bike locked up next to it, making him miss his son even more. Unlocking the bike, Michael rode out to the beach and wished for the good old days with his little son and his late wife. They should have spent more days here having fun, but Michael had spent too much time working, believing that this would earn him a full partnership in the Bluth Company. What a waste.

Michael realized gradually that he was biking out to the docks. But maybe he was just going to get a DNA sample from Gob for Gene Parmesan. Just one of those sandals he wore, or some hair from his brush... Just something to prove that they weren't brothers.

Soon Michael arrived at the yacht and listened. Silence, so apparently Gob was asleep, or not there. He set down the bike and climbed aboard, but he accidentally knocked over the Segway, which Gob had loosely leaned against against the circular stairs that led to the upper deck. "Shit!" He had to dodge the Segway and grasp onto the stair railing to avoid falling off the boat. The yacht become too unstable for him to climb back onto the pier too.

Awakened by the noise and the rocking yacht, Gob irritably got up from bed and turned on the lights as he went upstairs. But when he opened the cabin door, he looked pleased and stepped forward in surprise. "Mikey?"

Still holding onto the railing, Michael began stammering an excuse for his presence, that he was looking for a tie or something that he left on the yacht when he was arrested. But seeing Gob there, standing in his robe, Michael couldn't think. He let go of the railing and kissed him passionately.

Gob enjoyed it, standing close to him in the shadow of the upper deck. But after a moment, he pulled back and said with a smirk, "People could see us." Then he drew Michael inside his cabin and shut the door.

He turned off the cabin lights, and they plopped down onto the nearest couch together, making out feverishly in the dim room. Gob had come upstairs already barefoot, and he urged Michael to take off his shoes before he stepped on him. It was so silly to come here half dressed in the middle of the night, but Gob certainly didn't mind being woken for this.

So Michael tossed off his shoes, then got on Gob's lap for more physical contact. His brother tasted so good, and Michael kissed him until he was breathless.

"Mmm." Gob caressed his hair and wondered about his change of heart, though. "Mikey, I thought you couldn't come to my yacht?"

Michael shrugged and smelled his neck, glad that it seemed like Gob hadn't been with anybody else yet. He didn't answer the question, just wanting to forget about the police or how wrong this was. They were alone for now, and he wanted to be reckless and impulsive.

Gob was surprised by his brother being at a loss for words, even if he was reluctant to admit that he was wrong. Reclining against the cushions, he untied Michael's bathrobe and asked, "You missed me, huh?"

"Yeah." Michael nodded and grabbed his face for another kiss.

Gob pushed the robe off onto the floor and squeezed his brother's ass. "And it's not a mistake, Mikey?" He looked at him in the moonlight coming through the windows.

Michael regretted his earlier words and realized that Gob wanted a response. He shook his head and admitted with a sigh, "No, it's not. I just... I want you." He couldn't explain it, but he was so crazy about Gob, and he couldn't stop thinking about having doubly good sex again.

Gob felt reassured by that and nibbled his brother's ear, while unbuttoning his pajama shirt.

Michael ached for more intimacy, begging. "Touch me."

So Gob groped him through his pajamas and listened to the way he moaned.

At last Michael started to undress Gob too. While untying the sash of his robe, he found that his brother was already naked underneath and half hard already. "Oh Gob." He hurried to push off the robe and fondle him in return.

Gob grinned at him being naughty and eager. He resumed undoing Michael's buttons and teased him about what he had learned when they had sex at the model home. "You remember how to make my banana stand?"

Sliding off the couch, Michael knelt on the floor to do as Gob suggested.

"Yeah, Mikey." Gob was pleased that Michael was less shy about blowing him this time, though he did still need more practice.

He couldn't suppress his gag reflex and broke away. "Uh--sorry."

"It's okay," Gob said and pulled him up to his lap again. With a kiss, he asked, "You want to go to bed now?"

Michael remembered the crowded cabin he previously explored downstairs on the yacht, and he hesitated. "Well, is there enough room there, Gob? Did you clean up?"

Gob grinned and said, "Always room for you, Mikey." He stood up with his brother and turned, taking his hand and not bothering to pick up their robes from the floor. He wasn't ashamed of being naked, and soon his brother would be too.

As Gob led him through the dark yacht, Michael felt along the walls with his free hand. He expected them to go down the stairs he already went, but instead Gob pulled him toward a dim light further on. He warned, "Watch your step," and took him down a different set of stairs.

Michael was surprised by the large cabin below, with room enough for a queen size bed, wall cabinets, and another bathroom, including a shower stall. "Wow."

Still naked, Gob put an arm around him and asked, "What, you thought I slept upstairs on the couch?" He did often sleep on the couch at the model home, whenever he didn't have a girlfriend or yacht.

Michael shook his head, explaining, "No I just went to a different room before, much smaller, with all your magic stuff, and..." He frowned and recalled discovering Egg's suitcase onboard before he got arrested. Michael felt disturbed again by Gob dating that Christian girl, especially if she was underage. "Gob, you didn't--? Not here, with Egg?"

"No, no!" Gob realized that Michael must have found the suitcase before he got rid of it. He worried that his brother would get angry and leave, so Gob hugged him close and blocked the stairwell. "I didn't fuck her. Don't be jealous."

Michael pulled back to try to make him understand that it was not jealousy, but protectiveness for his son. "Gob, she was George Michael's ex!"

"I know, I know! But we didn't do it, and I dumped her for you." More or less.

Michael looked into his eyes and considered whether or not to believe him. His brother often lied, after all. Then again, sometimes Gob didn't lie even when he should have, like when he confessed that he consummated his marriage, forcing him to get a divorce instead of an annulment.

Gob said, "Mikey, she always brought along chaperones when we dated for months; she said it was until she turned 18, but I didn't know she was lying about that."

Michael frowned and remembered meeting the strange, creepy, and confusing Veals. They were a fucked up family, though in a different way than Bluths.

Gob felt Michael relax in his arms, which he took as an encouraging sign, so he continued, "And I told you, they didn't want a Holy Trinity."

Michael sighed at that and still felt concerned. "But she moved in with you here."

Gob explained, "She, um, she only just moved in on the day of the Queen Mary party, Mikey, and I tossed her suitcase downstairs while I was telling her all about my USO tour in Iraq. Yeah, we were hanging out upstairs when George Michael came over." Well, actually they did some fooling around on the couch as a reward for his heroic prison escape in Iraq, but that was only second base, so he didn't mention it.

Besides, Gob didn't want Michael to get jealous about fooling around on the same couch upstairs. Hopefully Franklin wouldn't say anything about that either, and Gob sneaked a look toward the partly open cabinet where he had tucked in Franklin for the night. Franklin just lay there wrapped in a comfy blanket in the drawer.

Michael obliviously didn't notice the puppet in the room, or Gob's warning glance in that direction. Instead he remembered something. "I guess you guys couldn't have gone downstairs if Dad was hiding in the Aztec Tomb the entire time." Even if Gob took her to a different cabin, Michael figured that Dad would have complained about sex and possibly also tried to impose his old rule about downstairs being off-limits to his sons. Dad had already told Michael that he overheard them discussing the Iraq trip, and he didn't mention sex.

"Right," Gob said, glad that Michael was giving him the benefit of the doubt. He kissed him to try to get him back in the mood for sex.

Michael didn't pull away from him, but he remained distracted, recalling what happened on the yacht. He got mad at Dad for not coming upstairs and revealing himself when Egg moved in and Gob tossed the suitcase downstairs. He thought Dad should have yelled at Gob, told him to take her home to her parents, then stolen the yacht to go to Cabo. It would have saved everyone a lot of trouble, and George Michael would never have fought with his uncle and stolen the yacht himself. If only...

Meanwhile, Gob felt disappointed by Michael's brooding silence. He also felt weirded out to realize that Dad had been downstairs the whole time he was with Egg. He could probably hear them! Gob had to go sit down on the bed, then he wondered why Franklin didn't say anything that day. Did Dad turn Franklin against him? Just like he and Mom always manipulated Michael and turned him against Gob. Maybe that was why Franklin felt too guilty to speak now? With a frown, Gob asked, "I wonder when Dad sneaked onboard?"

Michael was puzzled too. "Dad said he heard from Mom about your yacht, and he planned to steal it to escape to Cabo. But he must have gone to Sitwell first to get the money."

"He did?"

Michael explained about Dad selling the stocks while pretending to be Oscar.

"Oh." Gob felt upset that Dad planned to steal his yacht and abandon the family without saying goodbye, just like his other escapes to Mexico and Reno. Plus Dad chose to exclude Gob again by only confessing to Michael about his scheme.

Feeling bad, Michael stepped closer to the bed and caressed Gob, who looked so much like a kicked puppy. This face was very familiar on him, of course, and Michael didn't like his brother looking so heartbroken and dejected. "I'm sorry."

Gob looked up then and took Michael's hand, trying to coax him to the bed. Sex would make them feel better, surely?

Michael stood there hesitating, but he liked holding hands again. It reminded him of having sex before, and what they already did upstairs. The lights were on in this cabin, too, and he could see how naked Gob was, making no attempt to cover up with the blanket or pillows.

Gob followed where his brother's eyes went, and felt more hopeful. "Mikey." He pulled him close and kissed his neck to remind him. "It's not a mistake."

Michael closed his eyes and felt tempted, leaning into Gob as his morals weakened. He was only human after all, and worse, a Bluth. Their whole family had flouted laws and morals for decades. How was this sin any different than any other compromise of his principles?

Gob felt Michael giving in again, like he had twice at the model home. Maybe the third time would be the charm, and Michael would move in with him. After all, he came over to the yacht all on his own tonight because he was horny.

So Michael sat down and kissed Gob again. It felt so good to touch each other, and the large bed was comfortably inviting.

Relieved, Gob hurried to undress Michael, starting with his pajama pants and underwear. As they lay down, Gob stripped off Michael's shirt, then rolled onto their sides so they could tangle their naked bodies.

Excited, Michael wrestled with him like at the model home, then Gob grasped both their erections and rubbed them exquisitely together. "Oh Gob." He was so intoxicating, and Michael scratched fingernails down his back.

Gob kept kissing him and pumping them until they were panting and crying out. They made a wonderful mess, then slid under the covers where it wasn't wet.

The lights were still on, and Michael glanced at Gob as he caught his breath. None of the forbidden pleasure had diminished with the third time they had sex. Michael didn't know if they were flesh and blood brothers or not, but they were flesh and blood lovers. He was so clearly and repeatedly gay for him.

Gob met his eyes too and asked, "You like me, huh, Mikey?"

He nodded and felt amazed by his brother, who was so irresistible and charming. "Yeah I do like you. I want..."

Pulling him closer, Gob kissed him and hoped the third time would stick. He sat up and thought about going to turn off the lights and lock the door. "You going to stay now, Mikey? Not run away again?"

Finally feeling worried again, Michael remembered their family. "Buster and Uncle Oscar will wonder--"

Gob hugged him and insisted, "It's too late to go now. You should stay here with me."

"Okay." So Michael nodded and gave in, glancing at the clock while Gob got up to switch off the lights. Yeah, it would be more suspicious for him to try to sneak back to the penthouse in the middle of the night. Maybe in the morning he'd just say that he'd gone to retrieve his son's bike, and then decided to make up with Gob about their earlier fight. Michael hoped that story wouldn't sound suspicious at all, but he really couldn't think now.

Meanwhile, Gob turned off the lights, leaving only the moonlight from the portholes in the cabin. He locked the door and got a towel from the nearby bathroom, bringing it to bed and cleaning them up a little. After tossing the towel away, he returned to bed and got under the covers again. "Mikey."

"Gob." Michael kissed him, then lay his head against his shoulder, feeling cozy together in the darkness. They always had sex with the lights on so far, except for upstairs. He tried not to think about Egg or George Michael anymore. All the people who would be outraged and shocked about them. Michael had hired Gene Parmesan to find his real birth certificate, after all, so maybe one day he'd have proof that they weren't blood related. Maybe this could be a real thing they could have.

In the silence, Gob nuzzled his brother's face, brushing his eyelashes against his skin. Michael was in his bed at last, and had promised to stay. It was great to know that Michael would come to him willingly, with no need for ether or other drugs now. He just got scared before, apparently, but he did want Gob after all. It made Gob feel warm inside, and he almost wanted to go brag to Franklin about it, but he didn't want to leave Michael's embrace yet. Besides, Franklin saw and overheard everything from his cabinet nearby.

Michael shifted and asked curiously, "Hey, so when did Dad sneak onboard the yacht?"

Gob thought it over and frowned. "I don't know. I didn't see him hiding anywhere after you bought The C-Word for me, Mikey. It must have been after I moved in with Franklin, and brought the Aztec Tomb here." He rented a truck to move all his magic stuffs from storage to the docks. "Maybe it was when I returned the rental truck. Or maybe it was while I went to get Egg from her house with her suitcase the day of the party. He must have sneaked into the other cabin then. Yeah, she only agreed to move in because I told her there were separate bedrooms, so she could tell her parents that we weren't living in sin."

"So, wait a minute, you weren't going to sleep with her?" Michael sat up and disregarded the fact that Gob had stuffed the other bedroom too full of magic props to be usable.

Gob didn't want to make Michael jealous, so he lied, "No, uh, I told you I was only dating her to keep her away from George Michael." He sat up to glance at Franklin and thought of another excuse. "Yeah, I didn't really like her anyway, Michael, or her creepy family. She was just like Eve Holt, and I didn't want to get her pregnant too." In fact, Gob had bought condoms and planned to convince Egg to use them after the Queen Mary party. He had learned his lesson about evangelical girls not having either birth control or abortions, and he didn't want to risk having another Steve Holt on his hands.

Michael believed Gob's lie, though, and hugged him. "You should have told me before. I would have helped you get rid of her." He regretted encouraging Gob to date his anonymous "religion girlfriend."

Gob was glad that Michael's own self-interest made him easy to convince. Gob had no problem taking advantage to get ahead, since it was over with Egg anyway. "Well, I couldn't tell you, or you'd tell George Michael about her."

"I could have told you that she's not 18."

"I guess." Gob shrugged and kissed him fondly. "You should have been with me sooner, Mikey. I wanted you all along, you know, but you were scared and kept dating those girls. Wouldn't even kiss me, when I made you that CD and everything."

Michael remembered the Franklin CD, and how Gob had cried about it and sung love songs to him. He felt sad now and regretted all his past rejections of his brother, including the time he kicked him out of his bed when Gob became President at the Bluth Company. "I'm sorry, Gob. I just... this is so confusing, and I've never been with a guy before."

Gob said reassuringly, "Don't be scared, Mikey. It's just brotherly love, and it's good."

Michael considered telling him that this wasn't what that phrase meant, but what was the point? Gob didn't understand about the Holy Trinity or anything else religious.

Gob lay Michael down and nuzzled him again. "I wanted you all the time, and I tried to convince you how good it would be."

"I know." Gob regularly left obscene notes for Michael on his computer at work, which Michael would delete without comment. Back then, he kept trying to change his password so that Gob couldn't use the computer, but Gob always broke in easily whenever he dropped by the office. He knew Michael too well.

Gob kissed him and confessed what was true, "I would have dumped her for you any time you wanted. I would have dumped anyone for you." He'd waited for Michael for years.

Michael nodded and remembered the days leading up to the Queen Mary party. "I wish... If you came to my bed these past few days..." He'd woken up with his son, then Lindsay, then Tobias, after all. It seemed inevitable that Gob would be there too, and what would Michael do then? Nothing, like all the times before? Or everything?

"What?" Gob asked in surprise. "You would have let me fuck you?" Even with all the family in the model home?

Michael hesitated and bit his lip. Maybe he shouldn't have slept at the office the last few nights, before the Queen Mary party. Maybe he should have let Gob come to him, or gone to Gob's yacht himself? If only he had found out about Gob's girlfriend before the party. He would have made them break up sooner, and George Michael wouldn't have run away! If only he knew about Lindsay being adopted and the birth certificates years ago! If only everything had been different. "We should have been together before."

Gob nodded and agreed with a smile. "Yeah, Mikey. We should have gone camping at the cabin in Lake Tahoe." That was the perfect opportunity, away from their family.

"I guess so." Michael kissed him and clung to him. He entwined their fingers and decided that everything would have been better if he had given in to Gob before today.

Gob felt so happy and kissed him back intensely.

Michael tried not to listen to the part of his brain that still said it was sick and wrong to be with his brother. He wasn't going to think about George Michael now or feel guilty. This was a crazy family, and it wasn't his fault if he was going crazy too. He wasn't responsible.

Soon Gob licked sensuously down Michael's s neck and slid his hands along his thighs.

"Oh, Gob..." He was getting hard again. They both were.

Gob growled, "I wanna fuck you, Mikey."

Michael thought about Gob fucking him, like he wrote or drew so often in his obscene notes on the computer. Now that they had been intimate in other ways, fucking didn't sound that scary anymore, and Michael felt curious enough to try it once at least. Hmm, maybe that would mean that he could even get a chance to be on top with Gob in return, and that sounded hot. Gob was clearly also very experienced in gay sex, and Michael was willing to trust him in this. He already trusted Gob enough to be naked with him, like he had not been with any other lovers since Tracey.

"Okay," he said softly, "if you're careful." He could always stop Gob if he didn't like it, and they could do something else.

"Yeah!" Gob kissed him in delight. This would be the fourth time they had sex, and no more arguments finally! "I'll make you feel so good, Mikey. I promise." Michael was special to him, and this was brotherly love. His Christian girlfriend was always talking about how pure and good brotherly love was, so he didn't feel ashamed at all. Gob didn't care if Egg or her chaperoning friends meant something else by that term, like they didn't mean "threesome" when they talked about the Holy Trinity. If Mikey loved him, then nothing else mattered.

Michael chose to believe his promise and hoped that Gob meant it like he meant it when they planned to teach Dad the lesson against Boyfights. Maybe Gob was capable of tenderness after all, of making love instead of just fucking. Given his brother's sexual history, though, Michael did ask if Gob had condoms.

"Yeah, I got stuffs." He didn't explain why he bought the condoms, and Michael didn't ask.

Slipping out of bed again, Gob retrieved condoms and lube out of a nearby cabinet, and he winked at Franklin while he was there. Then he quickly returned to bed with the stuffs and kissed his brother excitedly.

Michael lay back on the bed and tried not to be nervous. Maybe doing it the dark would make it feel less weird and gay? It wasn't too dark to see, though, and their eyes had adjusted to the dim moonlight by now.

As Gob spread Michael's legs and teased his hole with lube, he enjoyed watching and hearing all his brother's little reactions. He was trembling and making breathless sounds as they intensely met each other's eyes in the darkness. More and more, Gob started probing inside with slick fingers, and it felt weird to Michael at first, but also forbidden and arousing. Gob was keeping his promise to be careful too, and Michael was glad that his trust was not misplaced. After Gob thoroughly prepared his brother, he stroked himself and put on a condom like Michael wanted.

Once they were both ready, Gob kissed Michael and turned him over onto his stomach. He knew that his brother was a virgin in this area still, so he was gentle and tried to move him into a comfortable position while he slowly pushed inside. It did still hurt, though, and when Michael squirmed, Gob paused and gave him a reacharound with his left hand. "You like cirsumvrenting?" he asked, reminding Michael of one time at the office when Michael tried to teach him the word "circumvent."

The memory amused Michael enough to laugh a little and relax, making it easier for Gob to sink deeper into him. "Mmm, Gob." It felt good.

Gob nuzzled the back of his neck and sighed, "Mikey. You're mine." At long last. He loved how they fit together. "It's you and me."

"You and me." As he shifted on the bed, Michael looked up and noticed now that Gob kept a framed photo of him here on the bedside table. It was the same photo that Gob had used on the card included with his Franklin Comes Alive CD. Was that why his brother dreamed of him? Because he went to sleep always looking at his face? It was apparently Gob's idea of romance and love, and he found it oddly touching.

Soon Gob was completely inside him, and Gob had to take a moment to control himself, to make this last. "It's okay?" he asked.

"Yeah." Michael was on his knees and supporting himself on his arms. He turned and kissed Gob lovingly.

Then Gob grasped his hips and started to move, slowly at first. Michael closed his eyes and moaned softly, feeling both pleasure and a dull ache. When Michael got used to it, Gob picked up his pace. Michael moved with him and made more noise, groaning with each thrust.

Soon Gob found the right angle for him, and Michael cried out enthusiastically. "That's your sweet spot, huh?" Gob asked, and tried to hit it again.

"Oh God." Michael was very glad that Gob definitely knew what he was doing. He bit his lip and started to stroke himself with one hand, while the other hand clutched the bedsheets.

Soon they were rocking together and making the bed creak loudly with their fucking. It was hot and sweaty and so so wrong. It was over too soon.

Finally Gob pulled out, exhausted and happy. He discarded the condom while Michael moved out of the new wet spot. Gob turned Michael toward him for another kiss and asked if he was okay. Michael nodded and clung to him, regretting that he had been afraid for so long. He should have given in before, and thus avoided dating disasters with Maggie Lizer or Sally Sitwell or Rita Leeds. Maybe Gob never would have dated Egg then. "It was so good."

"I told you." Gob grinned and kissed him again. He felt proud and pleased that he'd really fucked Michael this time. Franklin was even here to witness, and Gob knew Franklin wouldn't squeal, because he already took out the tape recorder that was inside him at the mock trial.



The brothers nuzzled each other and lay close, lost in the afterglow. Moonlight streamed through the portholes of the cabin, and they could hear water lapping at the yacht along with other dock sounds. Everything was peaceful and perfect now. Gob was half tempted to whisper, "I love you," but he didn't want to risk Michael not saying it back to him.

When Gob had sex with Kitty in the storage room a couple of years ago, Kitty had made fun of him for being girly when he cried about Michael afterward. She wasn't a good listener like Nellie the whore, who never judged him or said anything about it being wrong. She'd apparently heard everything in her profession, and could not be shocked. Her listening to him was the only thing that helped Gob cope over the years.

In bed, they were still resting, and Gob listened to Michael's heartbeat for a while. Fearing that he was getting girly, Gob finally sat up and offered Michael a drink from the galley kitchen upstairs.

Michael accepted and watched him turn on the lights and leave the cabin. While alone, he listened to Gob puttering around upstairs, and he glanced at the bedside photo again, picking it up and remembering when he took that picture years ago.

Gob put on his robe before grabbing a bottle and a glass from the galley.

When Gob came back to the bedroom, Michael asked pensively, "Gob, how long have you... felt like this? Wanted to have sex? It wasn't just these past few years, was it?"

Gob shrugged and put down the glass and bottle as he joined him on the bed. He was wary of confessing everything, of having Michael judge him and decide that this brotherly love was wrong again. He had seemed to like doing stuff at the model home, only to change his mind and try to back out later. Gob just poured the drink and gave it to Michael, while taking the photo from him and putting it back on the table. He hoped the drink would make Michael relax and let go of the question.

Michael drank, but was still thinking. Then he guessed, "You wanted to fuck me on that Spring Break, didn't you? In my freshman year at college?"

Gob looked surprised and pleased. "You remember that, Mikey?" Maybe it wouldn't be so bad to confess. Maybe Michael could understand. Gob put an arm around him and shared the drink out of the same glass.

Years ago, Lindsay had to repeat the 9th grade in high school, and so she fell behind her supposed twin Michael. But in Michael's senior year, George Sr. bribed a school official to let Lindsay skip a grade and catch up to Michael so they would be in the same graduating class. George Sr. couldn't say no to his daughter, even after all the fights they had about her pregnancies and abortions. He knew those problems came from Lucille's constant criticisms of her weight. Plus the bribe would make things up to Lindsay for losing the class election to Sally Sitwell, her hated rival. George Sr. was not able to fix this election, what with Stan Sitwell keeping a close eye on the ballot box. The end result was that Lindsay at least beat out Sally for Best Hair in the yearbook photos, and Lindsay graduated with Michael that year. But George shouldn't have bothered to pay for her college tuition, because it was a waste.

Soon after the twins went away to college, Lindsay dropped out and took up with various left-wing radicals, still feeling a need to rebel. Meanwhile, Michael excelled at college, as expected, and he especially enjoyed his freedom and independence from his family. The lack of pressure and scrutiny from them gave him the confidence to start dating finally.

Then in 1988, during the Spring Break of Michael's freshman year, Gob came to pick him up, and he showed off his new Camaro.

Michael asked, somewhat bitterly, "Dad bought you another car?" Gob got a car on every birthday since he got his driver's license, and it was always nicer than that yellow 1985 Yugo that Dad tried to make Michael drive in high school. It was supposed to advertise the banana stand, but Michael had rejected it in embarrassment.

As always, Gob lied about his company cars. "No, I won this one on Card Sharks. I'd show you the episode, but Buster taped over it with some Nova special."

"I don't care." Michael just dumped his bags into the car's trunk. He didn't need to see Gob acting smug on a TV game show, and possibly mentioning Michael by name as he gloated over winning the car.

So they got in and drove home to Newport Beach. After a while, Gob broke the tense silence by mockingly asking if Michael was still a virgin.

"No, I'm not! Didn't you hear? I told Lindsay already." He'd called her immediately, months ago, needing someone to be impressed by his milestone, however late.

Lindsay, unfortunately, had misunderstood Michael's confession as something private for her, due to his crush on her; possibly it was an attempt to make her jealous or something. She didn't say this directly to Michael, though. She just acted weird on the phone, awkwardly saying "Congratulations," and hanging up.

Gob answered, "Well, she didn't tell anybody else in the family. I haven't even heard from her anyway since she went off with that latest tree hugger." Privately, Gob was disappointed by Michael's news, but he was determined not to let it show. He said dismissively, "So you've fucked one girl. Big deal."

"Three," Michael corrected him proudly. "I've slept with three girls."

Gob was impressed, but would not admit it. He laughed and made fun of Michael instead. "Only three?"

Michael blinked in confusion. "What? That's a lot. You didn't sleep with that many girls your first year." If he counted correctly, it was only about six girls all through high school. Not that he kept track of how many girls Gob had seduced.

"Yeah, but that was high school, Michael. This is college. There's dorms full of chicks, away from their parents, and getting drunk at keggers. You can get three girls at every frat party."

Michael said, "You've never even been to college!"

"Yeah, but I've fucked tons of coeds on Spring Break. Besides, not even counting the guys in high school, Lindsay's already bagged more guys in college than you."

Michael felt annoyed at Gob for bursting his bubble. "Well yeah, because she wasn't a virgin anymore." He shrugged and tried to regain his confidence. "Anyway, Lindsay dropped out of college, so she has time to fuck every guy. Unlike her, I take my education seriously."

"Yeah, you take it too seriously, and that's why you've only slept with three women! I mean, it's Spring Break right now, but Dad told me that you're gonna spend it working at the Bluth Company."

"Right. What's wrong with that?"

"Why would you wanna spend Spring Break working for Dad? You spent all your summers at the banana stand, and now you wanna waste your Spring Break too?"

"This is important, Gob. I'm not working at the banana stand anymore; I'm working at the Bluth Company. I need to learn about the business, for when I take over someday."

Gob pouted at being passed over, and he tried to get Michael to blow it off. "No, you need to learn how to relax, guy. Let's go to the beach and have some fun instead."

"Fun?" He couldn't imagine having fun with Gob.

"Yeah, it's the opposite of what you usually do." Gob kept offering to take Michael out, and help him hook up with some wild girls on Spring Break. "You can try to catch up to me."

"It's not a competition, Gob, and we're not kids anymore."

"Of course it's not a competition, because if it were, you'd lose, guy. Just like you lost the election for class president to me." He laughed.

Michael pouted, but he was not going to give Gob the satisfaction of a response.

Gob continued, "But anyway, no, this is about me trying to help you, Michael. Just like when I used to help Buster when we were little."

"You mean when you bullied Buster, and called him a chicken?"

"Yeah. It got him to go on the slide and the monkey bars, right? So I can teach you not to be afraid of girls."

"I'm not afraid of girls."

"Yes, you are! You've only fucked three girls." As they arrived at a bus station in town, Gob even pulled over the car, so that he could get out and do his chicken dance.

"Gob, stop it!" Then Michael got the idea to move to the driver's seat and go, leaving Gob behind.

But Gob quickly reached into the window and fought with him for the keys. Then he said, "Come on, Michael. I can help you. I can show you how to pick up girls."

"I already know all about your 'car trouble' routine from high school."

"Yeah, but I got better moves now. I got some great illusions to attract the honeys. Here, I'll show you." He pointed to a hot babe getting off the bus, and Michael recognized her as Tracey, his dream girl from school.

Tracey was also home for Spring Break, and was lugging her bags with her.

Gob started to go hit on her, but Michael stopped him and got out of the car. "No!"

Michael went over himself, and said, "Hi, Tracey."

She didn't recognize him.

"I'm Michael Bluth. We went to Balboa High together."

"Bluth? You're Gob's baby brother?"

Michael blushed. "No, that was Buster. He wore glasses. I didn't."

Then she laughed, finally remembering him. "Oh, you! You were in that play, the Trial of Captain Hook."

"Yeah." He looked somewhat embarrassed, but shrugged it off shyly. "It was an English credit."

She said, kindly, "Well, you looked good in green." And he had definitely grown up nicely.

"Thanks. Can I help you with those?" He helped her with her bags, and she explained that she was waiting for her mom to pick her up from the station. They went over to a bench to sit down, and he said he would keep her company until her mom arrived.

Gob was stunned, watching them intently as they chatted about high school and college life. He leaned on the Camaro and realized that Michael had indeed grown up, finding a new confidence that he had not had when they were kids.

When Tracey's mother pulled up in her car, Michael finally worked up the nerve to ask out Tracey. She said yes and gave him her number, before putting her bags in the car. She waved goodbye as her mom drove away.

Then Michael returned to the Camaro, feeling elated and even joking, "I'm surprised you didn't drive off without me."

Gob said irritably, "You'll never fuck her. She's way out of your league."

Michael was offended. "Oh, like you would know! You just trick girls into sleeping with you."

Gob said, "You don't even have a car. She--she just saw you get out of my Camaro and assumed that it was yours."

"No, she didn't." Still, his confidence was shaken. Michael said, "Well, since you've got this Camaro, you don't need any of your old cars now. Let me use one of those."

"Why? You can go embarrass yourself with your bike."

"Gob, come on! You're such a jerk. I knew you didn't mean it when you said you wanted to help me."

Hurt, Gob reluctantly said, "Fine. You can have my old car from last year."


Gob nodded and swallowed. "'Cause you're my brother."

"Thanks!" Michael smiled and impulsively hugged him.

Gob squeezed him tight and lingered for a while. It had been too long since he'd felt Michael this close to him.

After a moment, Michael pulled back and looked slightly puzzled by his brother's behavior. He repeated his thanks, then got back into the car. Gob got in and started the engine again. As they drove on, he started giving Michael advice for his date with Tracey. Michael intended to ignore all of it as sleazy and dishonest, but he humored Gob by pretending to listen. Gob wanted so much to teach Michael things, to have him be impressed.

They drove home to see the rest of their family and unload Michael's bags. (It was their childhood home, before Mom and Dad moved with Buster to the penthouse. Only Lindsay was missing because she was living with her boyfriend and didn't care about coming home except for money.)

Mom and Dad weren't sure that they liked Michael's new confidence when they talked to him; he talked back and was more sarcastic now. Lucille said that she didn't like whatever new friends he was making at college. Gob blurted out that Michael wasn't a virgin anymore, and Michael became uncomfortable as they all talked about how he was afraid of girls.

Dad was sure of this because Michael had run away from Sally Sitwell once, and he tried to undermine Michael's confidence too. Bringing up the Bluth Company, George Sr. reminded Michael that he would start at the bottom, to avoid accusations of nepotism. He would have to earn approval like anybody else. Michael sighed and went to hang out in his room. He called Tracey to confirm their plans for a date, and he got the car keys from Gob.

When Michael went on his date that night, Gob secretly followed him in the Camaro.

He watched them flirting and enjoying themselves, even though Michael was doing everything wrong, not using any of Gob's recommended moves. So he wouldn't even feel grateful or impressed or ask Gob for more advice tonight.

Finally Gob frowned sadly and left. He realized that he missed Michael intensely. He hadn't seen his brother much since high school, when he left to become a magician. Gob wanted to spend time with him again, to have one of their tumbling, wrestling fights. Gob waited up for his brother and drank for much of the time.

Michael didn't actually sleep with Tracey that night, but he didn't care when Gob teased him about it once he got home. He was just so happy that she had kissed him goodnight and agreed to a second date. Michael asked if he could keep using the car, and Gob was tempted to say no, but he couldn't resist the look in Michael's eyes. He said, "okay," then enjoyed another hug from Michael.

"You're a good brother."

Gob said nothing and smelled his brother's hair.

Michael blinked, but he could smell the alcohol on his breath, so he figured that Gob was just drunk. "Thanks. Goodnight."

Michael and Tracey slept together the next night, partly because she was feeling a little wild on Spring Break, and partly because Michael was so hot.

Gob was increasingly aware that Michael was hot too. It was crazy of him to notice it, and to feel attracted, but Gob could not help it somehow. He ached for Michael's touch, no matter how wrong it was. Gob realized that the only factors holding Michael back from success with more lovers were his occasional shyness, his goofy haircut, and his obsessive focus on work. Gob was jealous of his brother, but not because of their sibling rivalry anymore; it was because he wanted Michael for himself.

When Michael returned from his second date, he told Gob with a grin that he had now slept with four women. Gob tried to undermine his milestone again, but Michael still glowed about it. Even if the number was supposedly low, Tracey was more than a number to him. She was his dream girl.

Michael continued dating her over the two-week break, even ignoring George Sr.'s complaints that he wasn't concentrating on the business properly. When their holiday came to an end, Tracey gave Michael her phone number at her college, and Michael asked to keep the car, so he could visit her at her college.

Gob agreed only because he thought the fling surely would not last beyond the break. They'd get tired of each other and drift apart, surely. So after a while, Gob drove up to visit Michael at college, but Michael was still dating Tracey.

Gob was surprised that Michael wasn't even cheating on her. "You've only slept with four women, guy!"

Michael said with a smile, "I know, Gob," and insisted that he was perfectly happy with that number.

Gob kept dropping by for visits, and he always acted shocked that Michael wasn't playing the field. To humor Gob, Michael spent some time with his brother, and even attended some of his magic shows, but he stubbornly refused any offers to pick up other girls. Gob tried to accept this limited contact with Michael, but he often tried to provoke fights as well, hoping they would wrestle and tumble once more.

That summer, Michael and Tracey spent almost all their free time together, and he brought her to watch Gob perform magic at a nightclub. However, Gob was irritable all through the show, and afterward, he was quite mean to Tracey. Michael couldn't understand why Gob would be like this, and they kept fighting for months afterward. Gob said Tracey was nothing special just because she had red hair and went to school with them. "What are you, Charlie Brown?"

"I'm not!" Michael replied that Tracey was wonderful and funny and smart. She had everything, so why did he need to date other people?

When his sophomore year started, Michael dreaded introducing Tracey to the rest of his family, but she insisted on it, after inviting Michael to Thanksgiving with her family. Michael decided to introduce her to his family on Christmas Eve, during the Living Classics pageant. He thought that bringing Tracey as his date in public would ensure that his family would be well behaved, but he had underestimated how awful his family could be. The only silver lining was that Mom surprisingly liked Tracey, and she told George not to interfere in their relationship.

George still complained about Tracey, though, and claimed she was a gold-digger. Michael told him he was wrong, but his father would not believe him. He constantly put Tracey down, implying that she was plain and fat. (Much like Michael would later do to George Michael's girlfriend Egg.)

Despite this lack of support from Gob and Dad, Michael still kept dating Tracey through his sophomore year of college. Then on their anniversary, Michael got careless about using condoms, and Tracey got pregnant during Spring Break 1989. After the initial panic, they decided to get married in a month.

When George Sr. found out about the engagement, he strongly urged Michael not to marry her just because he'd knocked her up, (because it seemed too much like how Lucille had tricked him into marriage). Gob had agreed with Dad, implying that Michael only wanted to marry her because he had to. Michael got mad, assuming that Gob was just being sleazy, as well as sucking up to Dad for approval. But maybe it had nothing to do with Dad, and had everything to do with wanting Michael.

Thinking of his wedding day, Michael asked, "Gob, did you set Tracey's hair on fire on purpose? Were you jealous?"

Gob replied, "No, Mikey. I was trying to impress you with my illusion."

Michael took another drink, and recalled that Gob had let a fireball off at his wedding to Rita too, accidentally setting Tobias's hair plugs on fire. However, his illusion for Rita did not harm her at all. So he shrugged off the suspicion. "Okay. But you did--you did want me when you offered that hooker to me?"

"Nellie? Yeah."

Michael clarified, "No, I meant, when I asked you to witness my wedding with Rita."

"Yeah, Mikey." Gob smiled and kissed him. "I-I wanted to do more than watch." He leaned close and whispered all the dirty things he wanted to do.

It turned Michael on again, and he put down the glass on the bedside table. With a kiss, they embraced and made love again. It was their fifth time having sex, and their third time of the night. Gob was pleased.

Chapter Text

At the jewelry store, George Michael and Maeby picked out matching wedding bands, then walked back to the hotel together. George Michael held her hand and said, "I'll buy you a diamond later, Maeby. I promise." Even using his banana stand money, he could not afford a decent-sized diamond, so Maeby had suggested a plain gold ring without a stone.

"I told you, it doesn't matter to me, George Michael. It's just so people will know for sure that we're married, without us having to pull out the marriage certificate for proof."

"I know. I just wish I could've gotten you something as nice as my mom's ring." He squeezed her hand.

"That's okay. You don't have a credit card or anything yet. I still gotta get you a job at my studio."

"Yeah. With a job I can save up for a real ring."

Maeby was beginning to get nervous. George Michael's insistence on a real ring must mean that he considered this a real marriage. To Maeby it was more of a useful accident, a cover story that would allow them to date; she preferred thinking of them as girlfriend and boyfriend now.

So Maeby said discouragingly, "Well, no, we should both save our money for rent and stuff. L.A.'s very expensive."

"Oh, right." George Michael sighed with disappointment. "Well, I'll just have to save up longer, I guess. I'm sorry."

"That's okay. No rush." She kissed him to change the subject. Maeby didn't want George Michael to spend money on a real wedding ring, when she wasn't sure that their marriage would actually last forever. They should wait it out a while, she felt, especially since they hadn't even had sex yet.

Once they returned to their honeymoon suite, George Michael excused himself to call his father, and to secretly ask him for Tracey's wedding ring. He wanted to surprise Maeby, and he hoped that she wouldn't object to his mother's wedding ring as she did to the engagement ring. Also, if his dad was willing to hand over the ring, then that surely would be proof that he accepted their marriage now. Unfortunately, Michael didn't answer the phone, so George Michael left a voicemail message.

In the other room, Maeby phoned the movie studio to say that she definitely wouldn't come back to work until tomorrow. "I mean, as long as I paid for the whole night, we might as well use it for the night."

Her boss Mort Meyers shrugged it off, since it was Maeby's honeymoon. "I guess so. The lawyer's still getting your work permit approved, anyway." Despite her emancipation, child labor laws meant that Maeby must have a work permit, which usually required passing grades at school. "By the way, your dad came to the studio looking for you."

"Oh no. We moved out to get away from him! You didn't tell him where we are, did you?"

"No, and anyway, he didn't come to complain. He was actually bugging us to give him a part in the movie. He wanted to play George Bluth! So the lawyer talked him into signing a form saying that he home schooled you during that time that you missed school, and that you got great grades."

"Wow! How'd you do that?"

"Money, and we convinced him that he'll have a part as a home school teacher in the movie. So we sent Tobias home to work on his lines and to read up on the state's home schooling curriculum, so he could get certified. The lawyer will fudge the dates so it will work out right. In a few days, we'll film a scene with him, and then just cut it out later."

"Great. So I'll see you at work tomorrow."

"And you'll sign all the documents and contracts, right?"

"Yeah, definitely. I'll bring George Michael too, if he needs to sign anything. Uh, he also wanted to talk about rewriting the movie script to mention our getting married."

"I guess it wouldn't hurt to have a wedding to draw the rom-com crowd." Then Mort added awkwardly, "Uh, congratulations, by the way. And I'm sorry about... you know, flirting with you before. I mean, you didn't tell me your real age or anything." Mort had sometimes hinted about taking her out to dinner.

"I know. But I did remind you that you're married."

"Touché. I guess you had to keep your secrets then, just like I hope you'll keep my secrets now. Hint, hint." So far, Maeby hadn't got Mort into trouble with his wife.

"Sure," she said. "And I was wondering if George Michael could get a job at Tantamount too. Hint, hint."

"I'll see what I can do."

"He'd be good as a script reader." Then Maeby told Mort about her mother's upcoming birthday party at Stan Sitwell's estate. She was going to use it to drum up publicity for their movie.

"Yeah, that sounds great. Really build the momentum for our movie, instead of the one with that Annyong kid."

Meanwhile, George Michael ordered a romantic dinner for them, and Maeby got off the phone when the room service arrived.

Bringing the food to the couch, he lit the candles and turned down the lights in the room. "I'm glad we're staying the night."

She agreed, "Me too." Maeby was too drunk to drive, and it wouldn't be so bad to fool around again.

So they finished off the champagne bottle from before, and this made Maeby giggle anew. When they finished the meal, George Michael pulled out his laptop again and they watched his Les Cousins Dangereux DVD.

This time they paid attention, and Maeby got rather turned on. The movie was much better than her sanitized American remake, and it was definitely rated R for a reason. The kids started making out on the couch, and George Michael eagerly rounded second base again.

"Oh, George Michael..." Maeby started to undress her cousin in return.

"Maeby." They slid off the couch onto the floor, where they could only hear the movie, not see it. George Michael had practically memorized the movie, of course, so he tried some moves from it.

"Oh!" She found his increasing boldness very hot and surprising.

While the sexy music played from the movie, George Michael got into her pants, then her panties.

Moaning, Maeby kissed him and kicked off her shoes, as her toes started to curl. She started to wriggle out of her pants, and her hair spread out on the rug beneath them.

Part of George Michael's brain said that maybe he should slow down, or at least pause for a moment. Instead of fooling around on the rug, maybe he should do something gentlemanly, like carry her into the bedroom. However, George Michael stopped listening to his brain, diving head first into third base.

She cried out and ran her fingers through his hair. George Michael was certainly no expert in any kind of sex, but she wasn't very experienced either, and he was trying things that she had liked on her breasts. So he kissed and tasted her, learning how she smelled as well.

It was all right until he tried to improvise with his fingers too. Maeby told him to stop fumbling and take his time.

So George Michael breathed out and listened to his internal clock so he could calm down and be patient. He even paused to close the laptop so he could now hear her breathing. He gazed at her naked body to savor the moment. She was so beautiful, and she was his wife. "Maeby." He kissed her and murmured, "I love you." If it made her nervous, he figured that he could claim drunkenness again.

She did not object, though, and this time she smartmouthed, "I know."

George Michael grinned and opened his fly because he was getting hard.

Maeby told him to take off the rest of his clothes so that she wouldn't be the only naked one. He eagerly agreed and kicked off his shoes. He was funny and cute as he stripped, and Maeby liked seeing this new side to him.

Soon George Michael came back and kissed her again. They embraced and enjoyed feeling the full heat of each other, skin to skin. As they lay down again, he resumed exploring third base with his fingers, but he paid attention to her reactions so he could be sure that he wasn't clumsily hurting her. So he improved, and Maeby wriggled and squealed in pleasure.

She was wet and opening up, and he wanted to be inside her, but he wasn't sure that she really wanted to go all the way yet. Was she just drunk? So he reminded her that they didn't have any condoms, and nervously asked, "Uh, you think we should get--um, call room service for--I mean, if we, we need some now?"

She nodded and said, "Okay." Maeby was rather drunk by now and able to forget about her parents recently giving her an awful sex talk. That helped her relax a lot. Besides, if they did have sex, then it would make George Michael feel committed to her; he wouldn't leave her no matter what lies his dad said.

"Yeah? Okay," he grinned in relief and delight. "Yeah, I'll--yeah." He caressed her disheveled hair, then sat up to grab the nearest phone.

She sat up too and remarked that they might as well move from the floor now. Getting off the rug, she walked into the bedroom and climbed onto the bed.

George Michael watched her appreciatively and quickly ordered the condoms before rushing to join her. They kissed and embraced on the bed, and while waiting, she started to feel him up and find out what moves could make him moan. He could hardly believe this was really happening, that they were married and about to consummate it. He felt lightheaded enough to be dreaming.

When the room service arrived, Maeby got up and put on her robe to answer the door. She hurried back to bed and handed him the pack while she slipped off her robe. After some clumsiness in tearing open the wrapper, George Michael managed to put on the condom. With kisses, he gently opened her up again, and Maeby cried out passionately when he sank inside her. She was so wet and hot, that he started to thrust, and she held him still so she could get comfortable. Then they started to move and figure out a rhythm. George Michael lasted for as long as he could, and called out Maeby's name when he came. This set her off, and they collapsed together.

She sighed when he slid out of her, then opened her eyes to gaze at her not-cousin, who wasn't so timid after all.

George Michael finally caught his breath and tossed away the condom. "Oh, Maeby." Looking at her, he smiled goofily and nuzzled her. He had lost his virginity at last, to his dream girl.

They kissed some more, but began to feel cold, so he pulled the blankets over them. He took her hand and caressed her ring finger again, kissing it. Now they no longer had to lie about consummating their marriage.

She snuggled close to him and didn't even have the energy to worry about the realness of their marriage. She felt safe in his arms, rather than scared, and they cozily fell asleep together.

On the yacht the next morning, Michael awoke next to his snoring brother and thought he looked amazing. Daylight spilled through the portholes and filtered through the glass at the bedside table. He watched the shadows and light play on Gob's naked skin, and it was beautiful. Michael could never brown like that; his own skin freckled or burned most of the time. Hmm, maybe that was a clue that they weren't real brothers? He could only hope so.

In fact, it didn't feel weird at all to wake up in bed with his brother; it felt kind of natural, and way better than waking up with George Michael, then Lindsay, then Tobias sharing his bed, days before the Queen Mary party.

If he had woken up with Gob too, would it have felt right, back then? Or would he have fought with Gob like before? Would they have wrestled and got breathless and kissed? Then they might have had sex much sooner, and probably no one would hear them, like when Michael had sex with Beth Baerly in his bedroom.

Running his fingers through Gob's hair, Michael wished that he did wake up with Gob before the Queen Mary party. Maybe then Gob would have confessed about his girlfriend and agreed to dump her and make up with George Michael? Maybe then Gob would ask Michael to meet him on the yacht for more sex? If only everything had been different, and better.

Leaning close, Michael woke up his brother with a soft kiss.

Gob rubbed his eyes, then grinned. "Hey, Mikey."


"So you didn't run off, huh? I thought maybe you'd sneak away in the night."

Michael shook his head and joked, "Nope. I'm still not good at one-night stands."

Gob laughed and mussed up his hair. "Yeah, and I'd never believe a Chareth Cutestory name."

"Nope," Michael agreed. He still didn't understand his feelings for his brother, but he had decided that he didn't regret last night. He regretted all the days before then, not this.

Soon Gob nuzzled Michael and asked, "So, we should go get your stuffs from the penthouse, right? 'Cause you're moving here now, and you didn't bring anything last night. Just your bike."

"Oh. Yeah, I-I guess so." He didn't feel like leaving bed just yet, though. "Actually that was George Michael's bike that he left at the banana stand."

"It was?"

"Yeah, I found it last night when I couldn't sleep and I drove around town." That reminded Michael that he'd left the staircar at Balboa Island, and he realized that they needed to get their stories straight. "Listen, Gob, we should tell Buster and Uncle Oscar that, um, I already knew the bike was there, and I went to get it. Then I decided to go see you and spend the night here, okay?"

"Okay." Gob nodded.

Michael added, "Oh, and uh, we gotta agree on what we were fighting about yesterday at the penthouse. They got suspicious 'cause I said it was about Lindsay, but you said it wasn't."

"Oh right. Well, let's say we were fighting 'cause you tried to steal my yacht."

"I didn't--!" he started to protest, but then gave in with a sigh. Why deny it? He really did try to take the yacht to Cabo at first. "Fine, but just don't say anything like that when you testify in court."

"Sure. I won't let you go to prison." Not that he was a witness to Michael trying to steal the yacht, but he had heard that story from George Sr.

"Thanks," Michael said. "Okay, then last night I couldn't sleep because I was missing George Michael so much. And I, you know, remembered that he left his bike at the stand, so I went to get it. Then I decided to go make up with you for some reason."

"Because you were sad and wanted to cry some more," Gob suggested. "So you stayed the night."

Michael rolled his eyes, but then felt guilty, since he had quickly forgotten about his son last night, in order to indulge his lust. Still, there was no point in fighting the illicit cravings anymore; he'd just get weak and give in again.

Gob continued confidently, "Yeah, 'cause I already told Lindsay and Steve that you were crying all day yesterday."

Michael looked a little embarrassed about that, though he did indeed cry for a little while. So it was a plausible excuse. "But, uh, would everybody really believe that I went to you to cry again? After you made fun of me before?"

Gob admitted, "Well, it wasn't pretty during your big speech on the ship, guy... but you know, you finally stopped being a robot." Getting to taste Michael's tears had also helped to make the crying less of a turn-off. "And like I said, you came over to apologize for stealing my yacht."

Michael shrugged, "Okay, then I stayed the night. So now that we've made up, I suddenly want to move in with you?"

"Yeah. It's too crowded for you to stay at Mom's place, anyway."

"Well, I guess we could say you let me have the other bedroom. Oh, but Dad saw that room and knows it's crowded with your magic stuff."

"I could say that you decided to sleep on the sofa upstairs. You borrowed a blanket and pillow. Franklin kept you company." Gob thought Franklin would give Michael a good alibi.

"Uh, right." Michael frowned. "Are you sure it doesn't sound weird? They'll know something's going on."

"No they won't, Mikey. Come on, they don't know about us."

Michael pointed out, "Hey, everybody thinks that I almost slept with Lindsay! If they could think that, then maybe they could wonder about us too." He sighed and shook his head. "Besides, the police would still wonder why I'm on the yacht with you. They'll think I'm trying to escape."

Gob said, "Well maybe you should. Let's skip town, like I said."

"No, Gob. I told you, I don't want to disappear, especially since I just made up with George Michael. Look, maybe we can't really stay here. Maybe we have to live somewhere else."

"But I like my yacht! Don't you, Mikey? It's got a kitchen and shower and everything. Just like a real house, only not with shoddy construction like at the model home."

Michael nodded. He actually had been impressed by how spacious and well-appointed the yacht was downstairs, but he was still used to living in a fixed place on land. "Yeah it was nice for one night, Gob, but I really think the police would get suspicious about me staying here longer. I mean, you can stay if you want, Gob, but maybe I should just get a place of my own. An apartment or something. You can sneak over there at night."

"No, that's no good. It'd be harder to keep us a secret."


Before they could argue further, Gob's cellphone rang.

It was Buster, who was so worried that he didn't even greet him with "Hey, brother." "Gob, we can't find Michael anywhere. Do you know where he went?"

Gob glanced at Michael nervously. "Uh, yeah. He's right here actually."

"What? He's there?!"

Michael took the phone and tried to sound casual. "Hello."

Relaxing a little, Buster replied "Hey, brother," then asked why Michael disappeared last night. "You left all your stuff behind, even your cell phone!"

"Yeah, I'm sorry, Buster. I-I didn't mean to scare you guys. I just couldn't sleep last night, so I went to go get my son's bike that he left at the banana stand. And while I was up, I decided to go see Gob and make up with him for our fight."

"Oh. Yeah, why were you guys acting so weird last night?"

So Michael told Buster the agreed-upon cover story, while Gob added his own commentary. "Yeah, Mikey was crying all over again--the big baby!"

Michael cleared his throat. "Anyway, I stayed the night here, and now I'm gonna move in with him."

"Really? On the yacht?' Buster sounded incredulous.

So Michael was right. It did sound weird to their family. "Uh, yeah. See, there's two bedrooms below deck, so it's actually less crowded than staying at the penthouse with you guys." He waited to see if Buster would mention what Dad had seen when hiding on the yacht.

Buster felt slightly guilty about not offering Michael a spare bed at the penthouse, but he really wanted to be alone and thought Michael would understand, after he tried to have sex with Lindsay. He said with a shrug, "Well, I guess if you're not seasick on the yacht or anything..."

"No, I'm not. I got over that." Michael still thought Buster sounded skeptical, so he improvised. "This is a good way for me and Gob to make up and stay friends now that Dad kicked me out of the family. I'll come back to the penthouse later and get my stuff, okay?"

"Okay." Buster still sounded confused, but since Michael had apparently cried so much, maybe he was very depressed, and that was causing his erratic behavior.

"Thanks. Bye."

"Bye, brothers."

Michael hung up in relief and put down the phone. "You didn't have to call me a baby, you know."

Gob shrugged, then smiled flirtatiously. "You want me to make it up to you?" He leaned close for a kiss.

Michael gave in for now, though in the back of his mind he was still wondering whether Buster suspected anything inappropriate between them.

They were still embracing when they suddenly heard a noise outside.

Running down the docks, Steve Holt loudly announced his name as usual, and called out as he climbed aboard, "Dad? Dad!"

"Oh my God!" Michael quietly exclaimed. He panicked, lying down and pulling the blanket over his nakedness in case Steve Holt could see them through the portholes.

"Don't worry," Gob whispered, being experienced in being caught with lovers on a yacht. He got up from bed and called out to Steve, "Just a minute!"

"Okay, Dad." He waited by the circular stairs at the back of the yacht. As he stood there, he noticed quite a mess nearby: a knocked over Segway, and a bicycle lying on the pier.

Gob went upstairs and found Michael's bathrobe on the floor with his shoes, where he left them last night. He quickly gathered them up and tossed them down the nearest stairs, out of view. Finally, he opened the door and let Steve Holt walk into the main cabin, but he blocked him from going any further than the kitchen.

"Steve Holt!" he repeated with raised arms, then pointed curiously at the mess outside. "Hey, Dad, what happened here? Is this George Michael's bike out front? Did he come back from L.A.?" Preferably with Maeby. Steve Holt missed her, and hoped that she had cold feet about her marriage.

Gob answered, "No, uh, he didn't come back. It was Michael. He just biked over here last night 'cause we had a fight before, and he wanted to make up."

"Uncle Mike?" Steve was surprised. "Hey, Uncle Buster was looking for him."

"Yeah we just talked to him. Did he call you earlier?"

Steve explained, "Actually, I tried calling Uncle Mike's phone, and Uncle Buster answered it, saying that he couldn't find Uncle Mike anywhere. He was very worried and hoped that Uncle Mike didn't run away with the staircar, or that the police would catch him."

"Nope. Wait, why were you calling Michael?" Gob wondered if Michael was trying to steal his son again.

Steve Holt answered, "Well I thought he'd moved in with you yesterday, and I was calling to see if you guys wanted to go to the beach today. But Uncle Buster told me that Uncle Mike didn't move in after all." Steve was confused. "But now he's here, without his phone?"

"Uh, yeah. He forgot it 'cause he was so sad about George Michael being gone. Now he's changed his mind again, and he's gonna stay with me now. So you can help us move his stuffs over here."

"Okay, Dad." He was glad that his father was including him, unlike yesterday.

"And next time, call my phone before you come over to the yacht, okay?"

Steve said, "But when I call you, Dad, you don't answer all the time. That's why I tried calling Uncle Mike first."

"Oh. Right." Gob shrugged off his parental neglect. "Well, then, don't come over so early in the morning."

"It's 8:30," Steve said.

"Yeah, too early. Michael's still asleep right now."

"Okay, I'm sorry. Hey, Dad, why didn't Uncle Mike move in with you yesterday? How come he was staying with Buster and Oscar?"

"Oh, he said that he was worried that the cops would think he was escaping, and we were fighting too. But never mind now. We made up. Can you go to your car and wait for us? I'll wake up Michael, and we'll go to the penthouse."

"Okay, Dad. Then we can all go to the beach today, right?"

"Sure. Whatever."

After Steve left, Gob shut the door again and locked it. Then he went downstairs and told Michael that everything was fine now.

"Are you sure he wasn't suspicious?" Michael finally sat up with concern.

"Yeah, Mikey. Don't you trust me?"

Michael's heart was still racing. "It's just--what if he went inside and found my clothes on the floor upstairs? What if that had been the police, or somebody else who didn't knock? We could have been caught."

"No, 'cause I locked the door last night and never unlocked it."

"Oh good. Well, we have to always remember that, and keep the blinds shut, and I-I have to get my phone." Putting on the robe, he got out of bed and looked for his clothes.

Gob helped him, and lightly teased Michael for walking a little funny when he stood up. Michael worried and felt self-conscious, but Gob told him, "If anybody notices, we can say that you fell on your bike weird, or something, in the dark last night."

"Okay." Michael relaxed again. "Yeah, since it's George Michael's bike, not mine, maybe I didn't adjust it properly and hurt myself."

So they both showered and dressed, even though Michael only had his pajamas and robe. Then they went to meet Steve by his car, and Michael explained that he had left the staircar at Balboa Island. So Steve drove them there, then Gob and Michael both got into the staircar and drove it the rest of the way, with Steve following in his Camaro.

At the penthouse, they went upstairs to pack Michael's bags, and return the keys to the staircar. Michael also changed his clothes and checked his phone messages. When he heard his son's voice, he felt guilty again.

The voicemail said, "Dad, Maeby and I bought rings today, but I couldn't afford to get her a diamond, so I thought, maybe you could get me Mom's wedding ring to give to her. Do you mind? Not the engagement ring, 'cause Maeby doesn't like that I used it as a pre-pre-engagement ring before. So I'm gonna try to surprise her with Mom's wedding ring instead, and hope she likes that. Is it okay with you, Dad? If it is, maybe you could bring it to Lindsay's birthday party on Saturday, so I can get it from you then. Let me know. Thanks. It's George Michael."

When Michael called his son back, he said, "Oh, hi Dad! You got my message?"

"Yeah, I'm sorry I didn't call you back sooner. You want your mother's wedding ring?"

"Uh yeah. Do you mind?"

Despite Michael's reservations, he replied out of guilt, "No, that's fine with me, buddy. She's--she's your wife now. I'll just have to get it out and make sure that Lindsay didn't try to steal it to wear on her toe too."

"Thanks, Dad. I'm so glad that you're happy for us!"

"I'm very happy for you," but he spoke with a twinge of sadness, "I just wish I could be there to see you, you know. Uh, how are you guys doing now? Haven't run into Pop-Pop's bounty hunter yet?"

George Michael laughed, "No, not yet. We're at Maeby's studio in L.A. already. She's talking to her boss right now--I guess signing some stuff and getting me a job here. Then I'm going to go get us an apartment, so we can move in today. Otherwise we'll have to check into another hotel."

"Sounds like you're busy," Michael said. "Let me know when you settle in."

"Sure, Dad. And I'll see you at the party Saturday."

"Yeah, see you."

"Bye, Dad. I love you."

"I love you, too." He hung up and sighed sadly.

"Mikey, what's taking you so long?" Gob called at the door.

"I'm coming!" he answered, then came out of the bathroom. They said bye to Buster and Oscar, then left with Steve Holt.

After putting Michael's bags in the Camaro, Gob sat in the backseat with Michael while Steve drove them back to the docks. They brought Michael's bags to the yacht, then Steve wanted them all to go to the beach.

Gob wanted to refuse, but Steve looked hurt and insisted, "Come on, it will cheer up Uncle Mike, so he won't cry anymore."

Michael said, "All right," over Gob's protest. "Uh, can you wait outside, Steve? Let me put on some sunblock and, uh, look for a beach towel."


When they were alone, Gob whined in a low voice, "Mikey, come on, we should get rid of him."

Michael shook his head. "He's your son, and you promised him already. Besides, we don't want him to get suspicious, Gob. Just for a couple of hours, then we'll have lunch and tell him that I have to meet my lawyer or something."

"Fine. Then we send him home!"

"Or to hang out with some of his school friends. Come on, let's go." Michael gave Gob a brief kiss, before they gathered their beach stuff, to join Steve Holt.

Chapter Text

Tony Wonder was in bed with Sally Sitwell. "Are you sure your father isn't suspicious?"

"I'm sure," she said as she smoked a cigarette. "He totally thinks you're gay. That's why he's hiring you to perform at Lindsay's birthday party. He wants you to do your whole 'coming out of the closet' act in front of Lindsay's husband Tobias, so that he'll be inspired to come out as gay after all these years. Then they'll get a divorce and she'll be happy."

"Okay, that makes sense." Tony smoked the cigarette too. "So that means your dad doesn't know that I'm secretly not gay and dating you." Tony had rebranded himself as a gay magician recently, and he hoped that his new magic act would be successful enough for him to fund a movie remake starring himself in Doug Henning's role. Tony wouldn't get to star in a musical unless he was gay, like all the other fake gay celebrities in Hollywood.

Sally said, "Yeah, and he thinks that I'm going to be all nice and sisterly to Lindsay when she comes to our house for the big birthday party he's throwing for her. He thinks that I'm not upset about him taking over the Bluth Company and getting closer to her. It was shocking enough to find out that Lindsay's adopted, and that she was almost a Sitwell."

"That's gotta be rough," he said, as she took back the cigarette. They kept passing it back and forth between them.

"It's so fucked up. This is why, when I was a kid, Dad always compared me to Lindsay in school and elections and charity work. He hated her showboat dad, but he always had a soft spot for her. He said that I shouldn't make fun of Lindsay's nose or weight, even though it turns out that he knew the reason why all along, and never exposed the truth for 40 years! It's twisted!"

Tony nodded. "It's like how my dad always compared me to my older brother all the time." Tony's older brother died, and (before he came out as gay) Tony slept with his brother's widow as a way to get revenge on his dead brother for all the competitions he lost. Tony still had a younger brother who annoyed him, though.

Sally said, "He still loves her more than me, and now he's trying to get closer to her by taking over the Bluth Company. I'll teach him and Lindsay a lesson. I mean, the nerve of him to say that I shouldn't be jealous now that I know that Lindsay's three years older than me and should have been my sister. Plus her name was Nellie! We were gonna be Nellie and Sally Sitwell! How horrible."

Tony shrugged and asked, "What's wrong with the name Nellie?"

"It's stupid and old fashioned and not elegant. It was the name of that spoiled girl on Little House on the Prairie." She laughed. "So I guess it's kind of appropriate, given that Lindsay's such an entitled princess."

Tony had never met Lindsay Bluth himself, though he had heard plenty about her from Sally, who had a longstanding rivalry with her. Sally even showed him an old newspaper article criticizing the entire family as "Cold Hard Bluths." (The article had been written by their former publicist Jessie Bowers, in revenge for Michael Bluth dumping her. In retaliation, the Bluths started a brawl in a restaurant, and Lindsay kicked Jessie's ass.) Tony however disagreed with what the article said about Gob, calling him "a joke" and a "failed magician."

Last year, Tony had met both Gob and Buster at the Gothic Castle, and he wanted them to be on his Use Your Allusion DVD. (Well he wanted Buster only when he thought Gob was just the assistant.) "Gob had a pretty good Sword of Destiny illusion. If only Buster didn't cut off his fingers for real." Gob couldn't recover his manual dexterity in time to be on the DVD.

Sally was annoyed by the change of subject. "What are you bringing up Gob again for? He might have been a big fan of your tricks or whatever, but it was probably just a fake act for his magic career. He was using you, like he was using his brother Buster's fake hand. Don't let the Bluths fool you. I thought that Jessie was wrong about Michael too, but then I dated him myself and saw what a selfish jerk he is."

Michael had tried to hide Sally Sitwell from his son George Michael, and he even denied that they were dating, after they had already been on eight dates. At that point, Sally had felt fairly serious about Michael emotionally, and it was why she put up with him being uptight in bed and never taking off his shirt. Michael was always looking for things to get in between them, and then he got crazy over his ex-girlfriend Maggie Lizer showing up pregnant; even though Maggie was a liar, Michael was convinced that she was having his baby. Sally dumped Michael for her own sanity and realized that the newspaper article about the Bluths must be correct, even about Michael, the supposedly good son.

Tony argued, "But your dad liked Gob for a while and even hired him at Sitwell Housing." The way Sally told the story, Stan Sitwell only hired Gob to play on the softball team and win the game against the Bluth Company. "He was using Gob, and then later he stole Gob's girlfriend Lucille Austero. So maybe Gob's just another victim of his dad and your dad."

Sally was getting fed up. "Look I don't care about Gob! He can do whatever he wants as long as he doesn't help my dad try to adopt Lindsay and put her in the will." Sally had overheard her father discussing it with their lawyer when Stan Sitwell was supposed to be arranging things for Sally to take over as CEO of Sitwell Housing.

"Okay," Tony said, relieved that Gob wouldn't be harmed by Sally's plans to sabotage Lindsay. Buster seemed to be fairly innocent as well, but lately Tony was more impressed by Gob, who did a USO tour in Iraq and got arrested. Since Tony didn't know about the CIA stuff, Tony thought that Gob escaping from the prison in Iraq was an impressive magic feat.

Sally said impatiently, "Now come on, help me figure out how I can foul things up with Lindsay and my father! Can we ruin the birthday party somehow? Like plaster a giant image of Lindsay with her old nose somewhere in front of all the party guests? But my dad might figure out that I did it. Or maybe you can screw up your illusion--"

"Sally!" He was shocked that she would suggest that, at such an important public event.

"All right. Then maybe we just create a diversion and lock Tobias in a closet somewhere so he misses seeing your gay magic act. Then he'll stay married to Lindsay and keep making her miserable. Also, I think my dad is trying to make Tobias his mole to spy on George Bluth, so maybe I can turn him against my dad somehow."

"I guess so," Tony said. So they discussed how to get Tobias alone and trapped during the party on Saturday.

At the model home, Lindsay and George Sr. were having breakfast in the dining room, and he gave her instructions on how to spy on Sitwell. "And if you can't remember everything he says, use this tape recorder, then play it back for me when you get home."

Then the front door opened and Tobias finally returned from Hollywood. (He ended up staying overnight at a motel.) Tobias was beaming about being cast as a home school teacher in the Bluth movie. Waving around the script and research materials he'd been given, he announced to his wife, "Huzzah! I got the part."

"Part?" But then Lindsay remembered. "Oh right, you had an audition." Tobias had told her about this on the phone when she told him about the kids running away from home.

George Sr. rolled his eyes and mumbled under his breath that Tobias was a useless Nellie.

Lindsay pulled Tobias over to the table. "Never mind that. Did you find the kids in L.A.?"

He sat down with them. "Yes and no. It turns out that Maeby works at the same studio where I used to be a security guard. It's called Tantamount--"

"Tantamount Studios, part of Imagine Entertainment," George Sr. grumbled impatiently. Ice the bounty hunter had already reported to him where Maeby's car went this morning, according to the tracker he placed.

Lindsay asked her husband, "Well, what happened at Tantamount?"

Tobias said, "When I got there yesterday, the kids weren't there, but I talked to Maeby's boss, Mort Myers, and he told me that they were on their honeymoon."

George said, "Yeah they stayed the night at some hotel and must have consummated their marriage." Now the kids couldn't get an annulment. On the bright side, though, George Michael had lost his virginity and became a man. If only George Sr. could be sure that Maeby wouldn't get pregnant!

"Consummated it?" Tobias thought that George Michael was afraid of sex. "Are you sure?"

"Yes, I'm sure! I had a bounty hunter following them." He turned to Lindsay, "You see how useless he is? It was redundant sending him to look for the kids."

Tobias protested, "I wasn't redundant! I found out that Maeby is making a movie about the family, and I got a part."

"A movie? You mean like a feature-length Scandalmakers?"

Lindsay was confused. "Wait, that's the part you had an audition for?"

"Oh no, the first audition was something else. I didn't book that. But when I got to Tantamount, Mort told me about the movie about Maeby's life story, and he said that I could have a part as a home school teacher. They would write it especially for me!" He felt very proud of this, having no idea that Mort Myers was just trying to appease him and also use him to fake good school grades for Maeby, so that the lawyers could get her a work permit.

"Great." Lindsay shrugged, and privately believed that Tobias would get fired from this role, as he was from many other acting jobs. "What about the kids?" she asked again.

"Well I stayed in town, hoping to see Maeby and George Michael this morning when they were supposed to arrive. But security wouldn't let me back on the lot, even when I flashed my old badge. I called Mort Myers, and he told me that Maeby and George Michael were still on their honeymoon, and then they would go househunting, so they wouldn't be around for weeks. He said I should go back home and start learning my lines. He gave me all this research stuff too so I could get into character."

(Tobias didn't know that Mort had lied. Maeby had already arrived at Tantamount that morning and didn't want to see her father until the birthday party, so she asked Mort to get rid of Tobias. Mort didn't like Tobias either, and he said they would make sure that he could only come in on the day they filmed his scene.)

Lindsay asked, "So you didn't see them at all?"

"No, I'm sorry."

George Sr. tsked at the useless Nellie, and he suspected that Maeby deliberately kept Tobias out, for Ice had said that her car definitely drove to Tantamount Studios. "Lindsay, you'll have to try to call the kids again, or maybe I can get Ice to shake down this Mort Meyers guy."

Lindsay sighed at the thought of Ice. "Maybe he can shake me down too."

Tobias felt jealous about his wife wanting the bounty hunter again, but he wasn't sure anymore if they were still doing the open marriage thing. Maybe he could impress her by taking her to the studio when he filmed his movie scene. For now, Tobias looked around and asked, "Where's Michael? I forgot to come back to give him an analrapy session after he got out of jail."

"Michael's not welcome here anymore." George explained that he kicked Michael out of the house, for trying to have sex with Lindsay. "He's a sick bastard."

"Wait, what?" Tobias was stunned.

Lindsay argued, "Dad, it's not Michael's fault. I asked him to--" She broke off when she finally noticed Tobias's face, and she realized how selfish she had been to speak of Ice that way earlier. Although Lindsay knew that she couldn't have sex with her husband, she still loved him and didn't want to hurt him by mentioning her attempt to have an affair.

George had no such compunction. "You were just desperate and confused because you found out that you're adopted. Michael should know better, and you said he's been coming onto you for years before he ever knew you were adopted."

"What?" This was news to Tobias too.

Lindsay said uncomfortably, "He used to always call me beautiful when we were kids, and once he asked to stay in my room with me, when he was fighting with Gob." She shuddered. "But he's just lonely and afraid of girls, you know." She turned to her father and argued, "I can understand you making Michael move out of this house, but you can't just kick him out of the family, Daddy!"

"Yes, I can, and I don't appreciate you defying me and getting Buster and Oscar to let him move to the penthouse. That's my home! I've half a mind to go over there and throw them all out."

"No, Daddy!"

Then George Sr. called Buster to berate him, and he found out that Michael was not living at the penthouse anymore. He'd only stayed one night, and now he was moving in with Gob on the yacht. Now George was angry about Gob defying him. Why would nobody let him kick Michael out of the family?

Tobias could barely hear their argument anymore, and he muttered to himself, "So Michael's incestuous feelings go back to childhood. Hmm." Tobias still sort of hoped that his own psychiatric theory was right, that Michael was secretly attracted to him, though he didn't analyze why he wanted Michael to have the hots for him. He told himself that he just wanted to be right as a therapist.

Then Lindsay said she had to leave for work and spy on Sitwell, so she put the tape recorder in her purse and got up. But then she paused and kissed Tobias apologetically. "I'm sorry about Michael." She used the excuse that her father gave her. "I was just confused about my adoption and everything. I felt sorry for Michael too, because he was upset about the kids running away from home. I thought sex would make him feel better, but I didn't go through with it. It won't happen again." Actually, she still planned to try to seduce Ice, but she would keep it a secret from Tobias and anyone else in the family that might tell her husband.

Tobias felt better. "All right, Lindsay. Michael is indeed quite a mess."

George Sr. rolled his eyes, and he had to leave to meet with Lucille's new lawyer, John Haverstock.

Tobias stayed home to read his material and learn his lines as a home school teacher.

Meanwhile, Gob and Michael had a fun morning on the beach with Steve Holt. However, Michael had to warn Gob a couple of times not to try to rub sunblock on him, or otherwise get too close. They all built a sandcastle and discussed the fact that Lindsay was now the company president.

"Can you imagine what kind of houses she's going to build? Maybe one of those crazy ultra-green buildings made out of straw bales!"

Gob said, "Sitwell will give her all my great ideas. It'll be Fuck City!"

Michael laughed and shook his head.

Steve Holt asked about the magic show they were planning for Lindsay's birthday party at the model home. He wanted to get the details right so he wouldn't fail his father again.

Michael looked up from the sandcastle. "Oh you're having a birthday party for Lindsay too?"

Gob nodded and explained that Dad was trying to compete with Stan Sitwell's party. "But he said he wasn't going to invite you because you're out of the family." Gob felt rather sad about that; he wished Michael could come see his illusion.

Michael shrugged it off and said, "That's okay, Gob. I don't want to be invited there anyway. But that reminds me." He called Lindsay to get the details about the other party, at Sitwell's estate. "George Michael mentioned it to me on the phone. We made up yesterday."

Lindsay was still nervous about seeing him, though. "Oh, um, that's great that you made up with George Michael. Look, about the party, I-I don't think you should come. To Sitwell's or the one at the model home."

"What?" Michael was confused and hurt. "I know it's probably not my birthday too, but--"

"It's not that." She breezily mentioned that the PR campaign was about the new face of the Bluth Company, and with Michael being out on bail, it would look bad if he came; many of the party guests were investors and the press. "I mean, I'm not inviting your mother either."

"That's because Mom's in jail," he pointed out. "Come on, Lindsay! It would look even worse if your twin brother was not at your party. You're seriously trying to shun me?"

"But we're not technically twins. And they'll all know it from the press release. I'm sorry, Michael, but it--it's too soon. After what happened... Look, maybe as a birthday present to you, I can send flowers to Sally Sitwell for you, and you guys can make up."

Michael realized now why she was being a jerk; Lindsay still thought he was lusting after her. So he explained that he didn't want to see her or Sally Sitwell, just the kids. They were going to meet him there at Sitwell's, and Michael would give his son Tracey's wedding ring.

"Oh! That's so romantic." Lindsay felt relieved, so she agreed to let Michael come to the party. "But we can't be... seen together."

Michael rolled his eyes, though she couldn't see him. "I'm not going to come onto you, Lindsay. Just make sure that Dad doesn't make a scene if he sees me."

"Okay." So she told him she would send him an invitation with the details about the party at Sitwell's. "By the way, I heard from Buster that you're moving to Gob's yacht. Is that why you asked me to sign it over to him, so he can help you escape to Mexico?"

Michael said, "No, I can't skip town, Lindsay. I don't want to be a fugitive, and I want to be here in case George Michael decides to move home. But maybe I should get an apartment instead. What do you think? Can you help me?"

Gob looked annoyed and started to protest, "Stay with me, Mikey."

Michael hushed him.

Lindsay said, "I already helped you. I asked Buster and Oscar to let you move into the penthouse. Why didn't you stay there?"

Michael stammered for a bit, searching for an excuse. He couldn't tell her, "I can't stay there, or they'll find out I'm sleeping with Gob now." So he gave in and said, "Never mind. I guess I'll stay with Gob."

That made Gob feel better, though he was still worried.

Michael suggested that they leave the beach and have lunch now. He didn't want to get sunburned.

So Steve helped them pack up their beach stuff and they returned to the Camaro. They stopped at the yacht so Michael and Gob could change their clothes.

While the brothers were alone, Gob asked Michael why he kept talking about getting an apartment. "Stay with me."

Michael kissed him apologetically. "Gob, it's not you. I'm just worried about the police."

"I'll tell them you won't go anywhere. You're with me."

"You can't tell them about us."

Gob sighed. "I know. I just--" He touched Michael's face sadly. "I kinda wish I could tell Dad or something, just to spite him. He and Mom always tried to make us hate each other you know? But you don't, Mikey. You kinda like me." He wondered if Michael would say he loved him, if he dared ask.

Michael nodded and kissed him again. He pressed their foreheads together and thought of their fucked up childhood, with all the Boyfights, lessons, and lies. Their crazy family was the reason why they were so screwed up as brothers. Maybe it was also the reason Michael could never have a successful relationship, other than with his wife Tracey.

Soon Michael and Gob dressed and rejoined Steve for lunch. They went to Skip Church's Bistro. Michael's lawyer Jan Eagleman called him, though. She said that she found out that Michael moved to the yacht.

Apparently George Sr. got his wife's new lawyer John Haverstock to complain to the judge about the terms of Michael's bail. Since he didn't have a job anymore, and he was living on the yacht, that made him a flight risk. He should be sent back to jail.

"Oh no!" Michael couldn't believe his father was being this big of a jerk, and he told Gob what Jan said.

Gob took his hand and said they should definitely skip town now. Go hide out in Cabo.

Jan said, "No!" and insisted that Michael just move into the penthouse instead.

Michael said, "Fine, I'll move. But I can't go to the penthouse, Jan. I can't be with my family again right now. It's all awkward since the thing with Lindsay."

"Lindsay?" Also, she wondered why Michael was with Gob, if he couldn't be with family.

Michael uncomfortably told Jan about the incident where he almost had sex with Lindsay.

"Oh my God!" She was shocked.

Michael said, "But I didn't really mean it. I was just trying to scare her off. She has this crazy idea that I'm attracted to her and have been hitting on her since we were kids. But I was just trying to be nice to her when our mother teased her about her nose and her weight. It's just a horrible misunderstanding, but everybody else believes her instead of me."

"But Gob believes you?" Jan guessed. "That's why you moved in with him?"

"Yeah. So I'll find someplace else to live. I'll check into a hotel now until I find something more permanent okay?"

"Sure. It would help if you found a new job too."

Michael sighed, not in the mood to find a new job yet after leaving his old stressful job. "All right. Maybe I can help Gob with his magic career or something. Get him into the Gothic Castle again." It might give them an excuse to spend time together.


So Michael hung up and talked things over with Gob, who was happy to include Michael in his own career. Then he wouldn't have to use Steve Holt for an assistant. Michael cleared his throat and told Gob to not be insensitive to Steve Holt. "That could be your gimmick. A father and son act, you know? We just gotta figure out how to make sure your tricks don't fail."

"Illusions, Michael. A trick is something a whore does for money."

"Okay, I know." Or maybe he could restart the Gobias Industries coffee shop idea with some money from Lindsay. Or the bee company.

Michael called a hotel to make a reservation, then after lunch, they went back to the yacht to get Michael's bags. It was a good thing that he hadn't unpacked yet. When they were alone again, he held Gob close and promised that they could be intimate again that night. Gob just had to come by secretly and leave before any maids or security people saw him. For the rest of the day, he could go hang out with Steve and work on their show for Lindsay's birthday party.

"Okay, Mikey. But we gotta get you an apartment so that we'll really have privacy."


They grabbed Michael's bags and started to leave together. But Gob paused at the door and said to Franklin, "I'll explain about Michael moving out later. Dad fucked it up for us, like always."

Michael looked concerned again about his brother being crazy, but they needed to get to the hotel soon, so he said nothing yet. One of these days, he would need to find time to talk to Gob about the puppet.

So he and Gob left the yacht, feeling sad and worried.

Chapter Text

Maeby still had a hangover from all the champagne she drank at the hotel so she wasn't in a very good mood when Mort Myers told her that her father was trying to enter the studio. That was why she refused to see Tobias or to even call him herself to lie to him. (When leaving the hotel earlier that morning, Maeby let George Michael drive them to Tantamount Studios.)

So Mort handled that problem, then discussed with her various ideas for the big publicity push at her mother's birthday party on Saturday. Soon she signed contracts for her movie rights and discussed rewriting the movie script. Then Maeby handed over the copy of the marriage certificate to the studio lawyer, who confirmed that she was definitely emancipated. In addition to a work permit, he even got her a driver's license.

Meanwhile, George Michael was by himself, filling out paperwork for a job, and speaking to his father on the phone.

When the married cousins reunited, Maeby kissed him and said she would see him later, since she still couldn't work long hours because of the child labor laws. "We might have time to tour Hollywood today, if you find an apartment quickly. The lawyer gave me this list of places to try, and here's a check you can use to pay the deposit."

"Okay, Maeby. I'll get us a great place, I promise." So he returned to Maeby's red convertible, and left to go apartment hunting.

After taking a break for lunch, George Michael found a place that reminded him of the apartment that his parents had in college. He was too young to remember it, really, but his mother told stories about it, and he saw pictures in photo albums.

Tracey fondly remembered the years in college when they didn't live close to Newport Beach, and Michael didn't work quite as obsessively at the Bluth Company. He still wanted to be a lawyer and applied to law school after he finished his degree. But ever since the BabyTock infomercial in 1992, George Sr. managed to impose on Michael more and more, convincing his son that he had to prove his commitment to the company, or else George Sr. might not let Michael run the company someday. George Sr. might put some other employee in charge, or possibly he'd make Gob be his puppet instead, so Michael ended up dropping out of law school after only one year. It was so frustrating that George Sr. kept the incompetent Barry Zuckerkorn as the family lawyer instead of letting Michael finish law school so he could replace Barry.

Anyway, George Michael found a charming place and he got their bags out of the car trunk so he could begin moving them in. He called Maeby to tell her the good news, then returned to the studio to pick her up.

She felt well enough to drive now, so she showed George Michael around Hollywood and bragged about knowing famous people like Ron Howard.

She liked the apartment too, mainly for being an escape from the model home and their crazy family. She said that George Michael would have to cook for them, since they couldn't afford a housekeeper, or to eat out all the time.

"Sure, Maeby. I can do it. We just gotta go shopping for food and kitchen stuff."

So they did that, then put away the groceries. George Michael made dinner while Maeby looked through some stuff from work, then they ate and talked. Maeby was going to have to do more work at home, and then tomorrow she would start taking classes because of the child labor laws which still applied despite her emancipation. At least Maeby knew that George Michael would help her cheat, while he continued taking classes and working at his own studio job.

George Michael washed the dishes, then came over and kissed his wife. After their eventful day, the cousins went to bed early to have more sex. They didn't have a TV yet, and it was still their honeymoon after all.

That day, Lucille Bluth met with her new defense attorney John Haverstock, an attractive man with great hair. He told her that he was working on getting her transferred to a minimum security women's prison. "But it will cost a lot of money, so it might be cheaper to get you under house arrest instead. If that happens, do you want to return to the penthouse or move to the model home with your husband?"

"George is living there now?"

"Yes, he doesn't want to stay in the same apartment with his twin brother Oscar. I think the feeling is mutual, given how he switched their identities before, and Oscar is afraid of going back to prison. It also seems that your husband wants to spend more fatherly time with your daughter Lindsay."

"Adopted daughter," she said.

Haverstock shrugged. "Adopted or not, I would be worried about that young lady too. Apparently your son Michael tried to have sex with Lindsay the other day."

Lucille was very interested in hearing the family gossip.

Haverstock told her the story as he heard it from George. He concluded with, "Lindsay still felt sorry for Michael, and she asked Buster and Oscar to let him move to the penthouse, but he's not still there. He moved to the yacht with Gob, so I tried to get the judge to put Michael back in jail, but before we could have a hearing in court, Jan Eagleman convinced Michael to go stay at a hotel and get a new job."

"What job?"

"Oh, he's going to manage Gob's magic career or something like that. I don't know why he thinks he's qualified to do that."

Lucille was annoyed about the brothers working together. "Bad things happen when brothers collude. George and I have been trying to keep those boys apart for years."


"It's a long story. Never mind." She dismissed the subject with a wave of her hand. "I've decided that I want to go back to the penthouse if you can arrange bail. It will help me keep an eye on Buster too. He once had sex with my housekeeper Lupe, and I fired her." Lucille would never have hired Lupe back, except that the roomba robot could not cook or wash dishes.

Haverstock said, "All right, I'll try to convince the judge at the bail hearing to put you under house arrest. If not, we'll get you transferred to the L.I.T.E. prison."

"Good. I can't wait to get out of here." It felt like being in rehab, and she desperately needed a drink.

Then Haverstock told her that the police found $300,000 cash on the yacht when they arrested Michael. "So I'll definitely make him look like the guilty embezzler instead of you."

Lucille however realized that the cash could not be Michael's. "Why would he need cash if he had $500,000 in checks to give to the family? And he agreed with me that the family should not sell the company stock." Then Lucille realized the truth. Her husband George must have sold his shares and tried to leave her. "That's why he switched identities with Oscar again and didn't come to the Queen Mary party. I knew it!"

Haverstock was very interested. "That's actually what Jan Eagleman said to the prosecutor, to claim that Michael was innocent. How do you wanna play this? Sit on this information?"

Lucille said, "First tell me that you're working for me, not for George. I don't care if George promised to pay you. I've got money stashed away too." She told him that she inherited millions from her mother a couple of years back. (This was Nana, whom Lindsay had searched for, and whom Lucille had lied about for months.) Lucille put the money in a trust fund for Annyong, which she would control until Annyong was 18. (Lucille didn't know that Annyong was actually 18 already.) "He probably still can't get it when he turns 18, since his legal name is different." On the Queen Mary, Annyong had confessed that his real name was Hel-loh.

So Haverstock promised to be loyal to Lucille instead of George, and they plotted to get back at George for trying to leave her.

Later that day, Haverstock mentioned the $300,000 to George, and he hinted that he already knew the truth.

George said, "Don't tell my wife. I'm not going to leave her anyway now."

"Sure. You're the one paying my bills." However, Haverstock said he needed a lot of money soon to pay for Lucille to get transferred to a nice prison, and they should use that cash. He told George that the only way he could get back the $300,000 from evidence would be to admit that it was his money and was unrelated to Michael's or Lucille's crimes. Also, the prosecutor couldn't force him to testify against his spouse, so he should just tell the truth to the cops. Haverstock promised to keep it a secret from Lucille.

Thus Haverstock tricked George into going to the police to claim his money. This had a side effect of making Michael look more honest, and Jan Eagleman thanked Haverstock.

"Don't thank me. I'll still bury you in court."

"Bring it on! Your client is the guilty criminal mastermind."

Haverstock just smiled. That was his advantage. Back at the jail, he told Lucille that they now had proof that George Sr. tried to escape to Cabo and abandon her. Lucille decided to file for divorce from her disloyal husband. "You'll let me handle that too?" he asked, hoping for a big payday.

"Yes, so hurry up and get me out of jail." Lucille liked how manipulative and charming Haverstock was; this could be the start of a great partnership.

Michael settled into his hotel room and felt lonely. He appreciated the good news from Jan Eagleman, but he wished she could get his charges dropped altogether.

"I'm working on it. But the prosecutor is Wayne Jarvis, so I have to look over the plea deal he offered with a fine tooth comb. Just sit tight."

Michael hung up and lay back on the bed, remembering how Dad forced him to drop out of law school. He should have become a lawyer and not worked for Dad at the Bluth Company. Things would be so different now.

After getting rid of Steve Holt, Gob called Michael to talk about coming over tonight.

Michael sighed and said that he missed Gob.

"You do, Mikey?"

"Yeah. Do you think I should have become a lawyer?"

"I don't know. Maybe Dad would have kicked you out of the family even earlier. He wanted you to run the company."

"But he never actually let me be in charge. He was always undermining me, even when he went to prison."

"I know. Maybe we can leave the family now. We can run off somewhere after you're safe."

"But George Michael--"

"I know you wanna see him. Sure, we can visit him in L.A. sometimes, but then he'll go to college soon. So we can be together, Michael, and he won't find out."

Michael considered it, surprised that Gob was talking about a year from now at least. He wanted to be with Michael for that long? He wanted a commitment? "Are you sure you won't want to go back to dating girls by then?"

"Well, if you want to have a threesome with Nellie or somebody, that's fine with me. But I wanna be with you, Mikey. I waited all these years, you know, for you to want me too."

Michael sighed and said, "I know." He felt touched. "Yeah, I guess we could... we could try to escape from the family together. We could start all over somewhere that people don't know us. Maybe Phoenix."

"Or Cabo."

"Yeah, if I can stay out of prison, and you can stop doing your chicken dance in public. You and me... we could be good." It was crazy actually, but Michael didn't care anymore. Being with Gob made him feel better somehow, and dating other people had turned out to be a disaster.

"Yeah, Mikey." He bit his lip against saying, "I love you" again, and Gob just said he would come see him soon.

"Okay. See you."

On the yacht, Gob excitedly told Franklin about the phone conversation. Michael agreed to run away to Cabo with him, and it made Gob feel giddy. "He said we could be good together, Franklin. Maybe that means he loves me too."

Franklin warned, "Hey, you dummy! Michael's always nice for a little while, then he turns into a big jerk again later."

Gob frowned, recalling how Michael did reject him recently. He had complained about it to Franklin last night when he returned from the penthouse and tried to come up with a plan to kidnap Michael. But now, sitting on the bed where he and Michael made love last night, Gob wanted to be optimistic. "But Michael came here without me even drugging him or anything, Franklin. You saw how he liked the sex."

Franklin said, "Three times!" It surprised him that dull, boring Michael was that hot for Gob.

"Yeah, and Mikey didn't try to sneak off in the night, either. He even tried to move in with me, until he had to go to that hotel instead. Besides, this time Dad kicked Michael out of the family, and Mom's in jail. So they won't turn Michael against me anymore."

"Doesn't mean they won't fuck it up somehow, like forcing Michael into the hotel." Franklin answered cautiously, "Well, maybe Michael does wanna be with you, and George Michael's out of the way for now. But be careful, dummy! Don't be too needy and desperate." Lucille Austero had dumped Gob for being too needy, after all.

So Gob sighed and agreed, "Okay." He would do his best to get Michael to fall in love with him, and he would wait for Michael to say he loved him first. In the meantime, Gob picked up his bedside photo of Michael to kiss and hug it, to get some of his neediness out of his system before tonight.

When Gob did come over later, Michael had a romantic dinner for them and he kissed Gob at the door while he locked it.


They fooled around on the couch while drinking wine and feeding each other from the room-service cart.

When they got undressed, Gob tried again to teach Michael how to give him a blowjob. He was beginning to improve, and they tried a sixty-nine.

Eventually they went to bed to fuck in a more comfortable place. As they got out the condoms, Michael asked if he could be on top, but Gob said not yet. He still wanted to show Michael some moves and other positions.

"What other positions? There's top and bottom." There was also oral sex and handjobs, but Gob had already shown him those things.

Gob found his brother amusingly innocent about sex, so he decided to teach Michael how to sit on him and ride him hard. It was good to see his face while they fucked, and Gob also explored whether Michael liked being spanked in bed. So they had a passionate, exhausting night.

Gob sighed afterward and could no longer stop himself from saying, "I love you."

Michael snuggled closer and murmured, "I think I love you too." It felt like it. It wasn't normal and it wasn't sane, but it felt like love. It felt better than fighting or being alone.

Feeling happy, Gob smiled and sang "Everything I Do (I Do It For You)" to him.

They fell asleep together, and Michael was only sad to have to wake Gob in the early morning and make him dress. He had to sneak back to the yacht before anybody saw him.

Back in Hollywood, the cousins returned to Tantamount Studios the next day, and Maeby gave her husband a brief tour of where they made the Gangie horror movies. Then George Michael began his new job as a reader, though for some reason another reader named Jeff seemed resentful of him. (Jeff secretly had a crush on Maeby and had wanted to marry her, but after learning her true age, he felt weird about it.)

Maeby resumed work on her movie, but had to attend classes with the studio tutor, to comply with child labor laws. George Michael went with her and helped her to cheat. He didn't think it was wrong, since obviously Maeby was a big film executive who had better things to do with her valuable time. She still had trouble with math, but George Michael was happy to do that for her. If she needed him, then he wouldn't have to be afraid of some Hollywood bigshot stealing her away from him.

After the tutoring, Maeby took George Michael to her office to show him her stuff and to make out in private. They discussed the plans for driving back to Newport Beach on Saturday, and Maeby was excited about getting to ruin her mother's birthday party.

"Have you worked out what you're going to say to her?"

"Almost. I'm not sure if should talk about the folk band, the inner beauty pageants, and the open marriage thing. I don't want to give away spoilers for the whole movie in front of all the party guests. But I'll talk about how she's oblivious and shallow and fake. I'll tell her I have a great career now and a fancy car to make her jealous."

"And you have a great marriage too," George Michael said. "Better than her and Uncle Tobias."

Maeby shrugged. "I guess so, then I'll name drop all the famous Hollywood people I know to make her and Dad feel bad about not paying attention to me. I'll tell them that they can't steal my money because I'm emancipated. Of course I can't tell my Dad the truth about his movie part being fake, or else he won't do the home school stuff I need. So I have to lay into my mother more than my father I guess."

"Sure. You'll teach them a lesson, and in a couple of days, they'll feel bad and try to make up with you."

"They can try." Maeby felt too spiteful to accept their apologies, though. She would thoroughly make them suffer first before she would contemplate letting them visit her in L.A.

Meanwhile, after work at the Bluth Company, Lindsay dropped by the penthouse to see about fixing up Buster with Lucille Austero. Dad wanted to punish Sitwell and steal his girlfriend away.

When Lindsay arrived at the penthouse, she overheard Lucille 2 already inside and talking to Buster.

"Sweetie, I'm so sorry I didn't come right after you lost your hand, but I thought it might be awkward after dating your brother, and then Stan Sitwell."

"I know. It's nice of you to look after me, and to help my sister at the Bluth Company."

Lindsay opened the door and came inside. "Lucille 2! I'm glad that you're visiting Buster."

"Well, it's just across the hall from my apartment. I'm glad he's doing well without his mother around."

Lindsay tried to get Buster to flirt with Lucille 2, not realizing that Buster was thinking of her as a mother substitute only. He was really interested in talking to Lupe instead, and catching up about her family, whom he briefly lived and worked with, when trying to escape to Mexico.

Lindsay didn't understand the Spanish that Buster was speaking to Lupe, though Lucille 2 caught bits of it. She talked about how she would run for office in 2008, and she would want to do outreach to the Latino community by adopting a child.

Lupe decided to show Buster how to make something other than breakfast martinis for his mother, so he joined her in the kitchen.

Lucille 2 asked Lindsay whether she really felt comfortable inviting Michael to her birthday party. "Wouldn't you rather bring a date? I mean, of course your husband will be there, but it's possible he won't pay attention to you." (Sitwell already told Lucille 2 about Tony Wonder the magician being the main entertainment for the party.)

Lindsay nodded and said, "I know. He's so oblivious and excited about his part in Maeby's new movie. He won't pay attention to me at all. I wish I could bring Ice the bounty hunter as my date."

"Ice?" Lucille 2 asked Lindsay all about Ice, and she was very interested in trying to set up Lindsay with him. She kept her plans to herself for now.

Chapter Text

Haverstock tried to get Lucille bailed out before the weekend, but the hearing did not go his way. Wayne Jarvis pointed out that Lucille Bluth wasn't just charged with white collar financial crimes. She was also charged with hijacking the Queen Mary, endangering all the party guests, and resisting arrest by the police. The Coast Guard were also forced to haul the historic ship back to the dock at considerable expense.

The judge decided to take more time to sort out the maritime law charges, and he adjourned until Monday. So Lucille would remain in jail and miss both of Lindsay's birthday parties. Not that she really cared about her adopted daughter celebrating her fake 35th birthday twice. After decades of lying about Lindsay's age, Lucille was tired of the charade and felt that Lindsay needed to grow up. That was why she admitted the truth when Lindsay confronted her about the adoption, and why she tried to sell Lindsay to Stan Sitwell on the Queen Mary.

When Haverstock told her about the delay in getting out of jail, Lucille asked him not to tell George yet that she was filing for divorce. She wanted it to be an unpleasant surprise when he got the papers. Until then, perhaps Haverstock could find evidence of whether George was seeing Kitty again.

Meanwhile, Stan Sitwell came to the Sitwell Housing office to ask his daughter Sally for a favor. "Honey, you don't have a date for Saturday night do you?"

Sally worried for a moment that her father somehow found out about her secretly dating Tony Wonder. She asked cautiously, "Why?"

He sat down and began delicately, "Well, I know that you don't want me to interfere in who you date--"

She pouted. "Then don't!" Sally hated it whenever her dad interfered in her love life. He was lucky that she even agreed to attend his lovefest for Lindsay.

Stan continued sheepishly, "It's just that Michael Bluth will be at Lindsay's birthday party."

"Michael's coming?" Sally felt annoyed. "I thought you said this party was about promoting the new face of the Bluth Company, not the old face."

He nodded. "That was the plan, but Lindsay talked me into it. She says that Michael wants to meet with his son there. Apparently George Michael agreed to come back with his cousin--I mean, wife--for a visit."

"I can't believe those kids are really married!"

"I know." He shrugged it off. "So Lindsay invited Michael, and he promised to keep away from her. But what about you, Sally? I think it would be a good idea if you had some arm candy so that he won't try to flirt with you again." Stan Sitwell no longer approved of Michael Bluth, especially after Lucille Austero told him about Michael lusting after Lindsay for years.

"Oh." Sally considered that idea with a frown. She had been rather shocked when her father passed on the news about Michael trying to have sex with Lindsay, and it made Sally view her failed relationship in a new light. Maybe Michael had never been sincere, and had only used Sally as a substitute for Lindsay. How gross!

Stan explained, "So that's why I want to get you a date, honey, if you don't already have one."

She rolled her eyes irritably. "You want to set me up with somebody?"

He shook his head, "No, not like that, Sally. I mean, you don't have to treat this guy like a real date, and I would completely understand if you never saw him afterward. But since this is last minute, I just thought I could suggest someone to escort you. His name's Ice."


Stan looked embarrassed and slightly bewildered. "Yeah, I don't know his last name. He's a bounty hunter that Lucille told me about, and this is his number." He took out of his pocket a phone book clipping that Lucille Austero gave to him. They were both still old-fashioned enough to use phone books.

Sally glanced at the clipping. "A bounty hunter?"

"Don't worry. He's perfectly respectable, and owns a nice suit. Lucille says that he's muscular and handsome, which you could surely use to make Michael feel intimidated, right? I also understand that Ice is African American, and he rides a motorcycle. Sounds like good arm candy, doesn't he?"

Sally was suspicious. "When did Lucille Austero need a bounty hunter?"

"She didn't, but he's a party planner too. You know how many parties she throws with her brother Argyle." He let Sally assume that Lucille Austero had hired Ice in that capacity.

"A party planner and a bounty hunter? Wait, you didn't hire him to plan Lindsay's birthday party, did you?"

"No, I'm using the Balboa Country Club to cater the event. I didn't hear about Ice until everything was already arranged. Besides, I believe that George Bluth already hired Ice to do another party earlier that night."

She sighed. "Dad, is this some plot of yours against George Bluth?"

"No, no, Sally. If I wanted to screw things up for George's party, I would have just bribed Ice to cancel on him at the last minute. No, I just want you to have a date to protect you, and I think that Ice's bounty hunting might even come in handy."


"Because Michael Bluth might want to use the huge crowd at our party for cover, so he can slip away and jump bail. Lindsay says that he's not trying to skip town, but I'm not so sure."

Sally recalled the news of Michael's arrest. "Yeah, didn't the police capture him on the company yacht with $300,000?"

"Exactly. So will you please call Ice and ask him to be your guest at the party? If he says he won't have time because of the earlier party, then tell him that I'll send a car to pick him up so he won't be too late after wrapping up the first party. Do your best to talk Ice into it, and I'll pay whatever price he asks. Tell him that it's to protect you from Michael, and that there's a chance Michael might become a fugitive, so Ice will be tempted by the possible reward. Please, Sally. Do it for yourself, if not for my sake."

So Sally gave in and called Ice's phone number. She introduced herself as CEO of Sitwell Housing, and she explained the situation as clearly as possible.

Ice was shocked to hear about Michael wanting his sister Lindsay, and he agreed to go undercover as Sally's date. It would cause him some scheduling trouble, though, and he asked if he could have Sitwell's car before the party, so he wouldn't have to use his motorcycle to bring all the food and catering equipment to the model home. His motorcycle had a sidecar, but using it would also require Ice to wear casual clothes when he rode it, to keep his nice clothes from getting dirty.

Sally told her father of this request and agreed to bring Ice the car beforehand and leave the keys with him. Ice also requested a room where he could change into a tux once he arrived at Sitwell's more formal party. Stan offered the guest house, and they made the financial arrangements too.

After the phone call, Stan thanked his daughter and gave her a hug before leaving what used to be his office when he was CEO.

Sitwell made plausible excuses about Ice, but he wasn't telling his daughter the full truth. He hoped that Lindsay would be somewhat jealous about Sally dating Ice, even just for pretend. He also wanted Ice to be around to comfort Lindsay at the party, assuming that his plan worked and Tobias came out as gay after the magic show. Of course, if that didn't work, or Tobias became jealous about Ice, then Sitwell would have to devise another plan to break up Lindsay's unhappy marriage.

When Sally was alone, she called Tony Wonder to explain why she had to bring a date that night. He didn't answer her, because he was busy preparing for the show, so she left a message. She knew her secret boyfriend probably wouldn't be jealous. After all, Tony often had to flirt with guys to maintain his gay reputation, so surely he would understand.

Early Saturday evening, George Sr. held a small birthday party for Lindsay at the model home. The other guests were Tobias, Buster, Oscar, Gob, Steve Holt, and even Franklin. (George was reluctant to invite his twin brother, but Oscar had promised to return George's tuxedo, so he could wear it to Sitwell's party later. George wanted to go so he could keep an eye on Lindsay and remind Sitwell that Lindsay already had a loving father.)

The model home was decorated with banners and balloons, and Ice was catering, but it was a pretty modest party, since the family needed to save their money for legal fees.

After getting the tuxedo from Oscar, George went upstairs to change into it. He was blissfully ignorant of his wife's plans for divorce, and Ice's plans to attend Sitwell's party.

While she waited for Ice to make her a smoothie, Lindsay was relieved that her mother couldn't come and ruin her big day with her usual nasty criticisms. Of course, if Lucille had really wanted to attend, she could have sent a surrogate like Dad used to do, but she didn't ask for one. Lindsay was not going to pay for that, anyway.

The smoothie was delicious, and Lindsay smiled at Ice dreamily. He was as handsome as ever, but Lindsay couldn't flirt with him in front of Tobias. She would have to wait for him to be off duty, or call Ice in the next few days to come to her office at the Bluth Company, where she could seduce him into having an affair with her.

Ice acted professionally, but he did glance at Lindsay with some concern. Poor Lindsay, having a horrible husband, and a brother who was creepy with her! Ice worried about Michael attending the other party, and he wanted to protect Lindsay more than Sally Sitwell. Should he divide his time equally between them, or just shadow Michael closely the whole time? Being an undercover body guard seemed more complicated than bounty hunting.

Meanwhile, Gob and Steve Holt started setting up the illusion while the other guests chatted and got smoothies too. They tried not to fill up on food, though, since they were going to Sitwell's later. Oscar wasn't going with them, since he didn't have his own tuxedo, and he planned to take some free shrimp to go. Maybe he would even call his friends from the Mexican border to come visit him in the penthouse. He hadn't seen them since he went to the Queen Mary party, and they could bring some pot so he could get high again.

George returned downstairs wearing his tux, and he saw Lindsay staring at Ice. Knowing how desperate his daughter was for sex, he tried to help her by distracting Tobias and taking him out on the patio. "Tell me more about your movie role. Do you know if the rest of the family are going to appear in the movie?"

As soon as Tobias was outside, Lindsay went back to the smoothie station and tried to flirt. "Hi, Ice." She twirled her fingers through her hair. "I'm glad you came for my birthday."

Ice nodded and wondered if he should tell her that he would come to the other party too. "Well I'm glad that your father hired me and didn't have any hard feelings about me trying to capture him last time. That was business."

She nodded. "Do you like my dress?" She tried to walk the fine line between being sexy and professional, since she had to take press pictures at the other party.

"It's beautiful, but..." he lowered voice, "be careful around Michael."

"Oh, I know," she said. "He promised to just visit the kids and keep a low profile away from the reporters. Besides, my dad will keep him away from me."

Ice felt relieved. "That's good. Your brother shouldn't harass you, even if you are adopted."

Lindsay felt hopeful and flattered by his concern, so she didn't try to defend Michael. "Well, maybe after tonight... I could call you about working for me at the Bluth Company. You could be my bodyguard maybe." Her mind filled with romantic images of the 1990s Whitney Houston movie. If only Ice would carry her the way Kevin Costner carried Houston, or the way that Frank Wrench once carried Lindsay when she got shot with a tranquilizer.

Ice considered the job offer and said he would look into getting a bodyguard license.


Tobias came back with George Sr., so Lindsay had to quickly grab an appetizer and head back to the living room before her husband suspected anything.

Glad to be free of Tobias's chattering, George got a smoothie and asked Ice about the kids in Hollywood. "So they got an apartment already?"

"Yeah, and they're both working at the movie studio now. I don't think you can convince them to get a divorce and move back here, even if I did shake down Mort Meyers." Plus, it didn't really sound like bounty hunting to Ice. Even chasing after the kids had been a stretch of his job description, since the kids committed no crimes. Ice agreed to do it mostly so he could cater another party.

George shrugged in resignation. "I guess so. We've gotta live with their marriage for now. But Lindsay told me about the kids coming to the party at Sitwell's, so I'll try to talk to George Michael tonight about making sure he uses protection. Running away together is all very romantic until the girl gets knocked up, and you have to deal with a crying baby all the time. I'll tell them horror stories about babies having babies." Hopefully he could persuade the cousins to be sensible, even if they insisted on being emancipated.

Soon George joined the family in the living room. Tobias was bragging to everyone about his part in Maeby's movie, and Lindsay sat feeling bored and frustrated.

Since it was Maeby's life story, Steve Holt wondered if the movie would mention the time he dated Maeby and had sex with her. (Steve didn't know that they never actually had sex, because Maeby had roofied him that night.)

Gob wondered which actors would play him and Michael in the movie.

George got irritated with Gob for mentioning Michael. "He's out of the family!" he insisted. "Gob, you shouldn't have let him stay on your yacht. And what's this I hear about you giving Michael a job now?" Haverstock had mentioned it over the phone when explaining that Michael was now in a hotel instead of jail.

Gob pouted and wished he could tell the truth, but he knew that he couldn't reveal their brotherly love. Besides, Michael said that he didn't care about being kicked out of the family, and he said that Gob should stay on Dad's good side so that he could learn about Dad's plans and know what the lawyer Haverstock would do in court. So Gob spoke arrogantly and pretended that he only let Michael move into the yacht because Michael had convinced Lindsay to give him the yacht back. It was just a thank you for a favor. "And I gave Michael a job because he said he would help me get back into the Magician's Alliance, like that one time that he talked Rollo into letting me have a show at the Gothic Castle."

"Fine." George sighed. "I guess if he's busy with you, then he'll stay away from Lindsay. But you watch him carefully, Gob. Don't let him try to escape to Mexico in one of your illusions."

Gob said, "He won't go anywhere. I'll make sure."

"Me too," Steve Holt said, wanting to be included.

Then George remembered something else about Gob. "Hey, you keep your hands off Lindsay too. She told me that you hit on her when you found out she was adopted."

Gob got defensive. "Well, I'm sorry! Lindsay was talking about marrying Michael, and I was trying to get revenge on him." He also wanted Michael for himself, of course, but that was a secret.

George Sr. shrugged. "Well at least you only hit on her after you found out she was adopted. Michael's a sick bastard."

Gob said nothing and drank his smoothie.

Then Dad told Gob and Steve to get on with the magic show, so they got up to wash their hands after eating sticky chicken wings. Since Ice had all his equipment set up in the kitchen, Steve used the wetbar sink, while Gob went to the foyer bathroom to change clothes.

When they returned, Gob got the video camera and asked Ice to record their magical performance. Ice agreed since he didn't have anything to do now that all the guests had their smoothies.

Steve Holt started the music, and Gob danced around in his religious cloak that he wore during his USO tour in Iraq. He did some of his Christian magic act, but he was still no good at card tricks, and he didn't have any pool nearby so he could do the walk on water illusion that actually worked. Steve soon came onstage as his father's assistant, but when he released the doves for the big finish, they flew away and started going after people's food. At least the birds stayed alive this time.

The show ended in chaos as Gob and Steve had to recapture the doves while the guests ducked and screamed. Steve Holt turned off the music and Ice stopped recording to protect his leftover food. He covered everything and started putting the leftovers in the fridge. After Gob caged the birds, he retrieved the video camera and put it down next to Franklin. He was going to take the camera to Michael later so that he could edit the video on his laptop.

After things calmed down, Ice served the birthday cake, and Lindsay happily blew out the candles. George Sr. had also agreed to pretend that she was 35, so that was the age that the candles and the icing declared. She silently wished that she could have an affair with Ice, and she hoped it would come true soon.

They cut the cake, and everybody got a slice. Lindsay enjoyed the fact that Lucille was not here to comment on her weight and how she should be on a diet. Finally Ice started to clean up the dirty dishes and break down the smoothie station, since everyone was now having alcoholic drinks instead. (Well, everyone except Buster.)

As Gob ate his cake slice, he complained about Sitwell not letting him do any magic at the other birthday party. "He hired Tony Wonder instead."

"You're better than him," Steve said supportively.

"Yeah," Gob said, though he felt a little insecure after the bad show. "Sitwell said that it's so I can enjoy the party as a guest instead of having to work that night. But I bet he still hates me for stealing his eyebrows. He fired me and stole my girlfriend, which is a total overreaction."

George Sr. said, "He's a horse's ass. That's why you shouldn't trust him, Gob. None of us should." He looked significantly at Lindsay, still worried about her loyalties.

"I know," Lindsay said, then grabbed the presents to begin opening them. She started by unwrapping the gifts from her father.

He warned her that he couldn't spend much money on her because of Lucille's legal fees. Besides, Lindsay had a Bluth Company presidential salary to buy anything she wanted, like during her recent shopping spree. "So I thought I would give you something more sentimental instead."

Lindsay discovered that the first box was jewelry and the other was a fur coat. Both used to belong to Lucille, and Lindsay was confused.

George explained, "See they're your mother's, Lindsay. These were the things you used to want from her but she didn't give you. So I'm giving them to you now, so you know that you're still a Bluth, and you're still my little girl."

"Oh." He was trying to comfort her about her adoption, then. So Lindsay said, "Thank you, Daddy." She wondered if Lucille had given permission to give away her belongings. If not, then it felt like Lindsay was sticking it to her mother.

Tobias gave Lindsay a present as well, a custom license plate to go on her new company car. But he was actually just bragging about his part as a homeschool teacher, which turned into the undecipherable HMSKLTCH. She sighed.

Buster made Lindsay a card with a drawing of Lindsay feeding him hot ham water once when he was starving. The message said, "Sister, you're still my sister," to also reassure her about the adoption, while Oscar went with making a banner congratulating Lindsay on her new job at the Bluth Company.

Gob's gift had been his show, though Steve Holt also gave Lindsay a hug and some chocolates, wanting to make a good impression on his aunt, after all the previous confusion between them. (Maeby had once told Steve that Lindsay was her father in drag, and Maeby only admitted the truth when dating Steve a few months back.)

Lindsay thanked Steve, and said she was glad that he wasn't upset about Maeby getting married. "You'll find somebody."

"Thanks, Aunt Lindsay." Steve was just glad to be accepted by more of the Bluth family.

Gob grabbed Franklin, the video camera, and the caged doves. He said he was leaving to pick up Michael for the other party, so Steve gave his father the keys to the Camaro. Steve was going to stay to clean up the illusion and change into a tuxedo. Lindsay had already agreed to let Steve ride in the limo with her and Tobias.

Ice was washing the dishes from the birthday cake and packing up so that he could wrap up the party and go to Sitwell's. He gave Oscar a container of leftovers as well.

When Steve changed clothes and came back, Tobias said that Steve Holt looked good in a tuxedo.

"Thanks. Uncle Mike got it for me, so I can go to Sitwell's party too." He felt so proud.

After paying Ice, George left the model home with Buster and Oscar in the Mercedes. (He was going to drop off Oscar at the penthouse before going with Buster to the Sitwell's.) George refused to go in Sitwell's limo, and the staircar would be too slow. He wanted to be on time in order to keep Sitwell from continuing to steal his daughter's affections.

The limo ride cheered up Steve after the bad show, and he said happily, "Steve Holt!" while Lindsay laughed and was glad to have someone to talk to besides Tobias, who could never stop talking about his part in Maeby's movie.

Lindsay was already wearing the necklace her father gave her, though she left the gorgeous fur behind in her room, in case any animal rights activists attacked her or called her a hypocrite at Sitwell's party.

Ice had already packed his things and left, and nobody knew that he was joining them too.

Chapter Text

Michael was alone in his hotel room putting on his tux for Sitwell's party, and he paused to look at Tracey's wedding ring, which he had retrieved for George Michael. Originally Michael had not wanted to remove either ring from his wife's finger, but she got so sick and thin in the hospital that he had to take the rings off for safekeeping. When Tracey died of ovarian cancer, he kept the rings just like he kept her clothes.

At the funeral, Michael could not cry because most of his grief had been wrung out of him already during the coma, and he wanted to be strong for George Michael's sake too. Most of Michael's self-centered family had not understood his numbness, and they spoke insensitively, especially George Sr., who had never stopped hating Tracey. Gob at least surprised Michael by being somber and not trying to do a magic show. (Gob didn't know what to say, though, and mostly just stammered incoherently. At the time, Michael assumed that Gob was just uncomfortable with death, but perhaps Gob felt overcome with guilt about his incestuous love and secret jealousy.)

In the confusion when he and George Michael had to move to the model home attic, the rings must have got separated, and Michael did not check on them for years. Lindsay must have found and stolen the engagement ring sometime after she moved back from Boston with her family. Thankfully she didn't get the wedding ring too.

As Michael picked up the ring box from the table and opened it, he wondered what Tracey would think about George Michael being married to his own cousin Maeby. They were only 16, after all, and didn't know the realities of marriage yet.

Michael had convinced himself for a while that Tracey would have agreed with him and opposed the marriage. But it wasn't just the marriage; Michael hadn't wanted to compromise either, to let George Michael to date Maeby and annul the marriage. Everyone kept pointing out that the kids were not blood-related. Michael wondered if that would make a difference to Tracey, if she might think that it was no big deal. Why, she might even have noticed the crush much earlier and given George Michael advice years ago. If only Tracey had lived, so that Michael could ask her opinion.

Then Michael wondered what Tracey would think about him being with Gob now. She would be shocked and angry of course, but Michael would never have cheated on her while she was alive. Yet was she up in heaven right now judging him? Watching his actions in horror?

But Michael had tried to resist. He had tried for so many years to even deny that Gob felt that way about him. Then when he could no longer deny it, Michael tried to discourage Gob's advances and regarded his brother's feelings as just a symptom of his loneliness and neediness. That sort of thing ran in the family, after all, with Buster being so inappropriate with Mom. Michael had tried to tell Gob no, tried to make him see that he could find love with somebody else, anybody else, if he would grow up and stop being sleazy. Michael had tried to do the right thing, but Gob could not or would not let go of the desire.

And why should he? Maybe Gob somehow sensed that they weren't real brothers. Mom and Dad had always hated Gob, so maybe he thought he might be adopted? Maybe he had even suspected that Lindsay was adopted too. After all, looking at the baby photo of Michael with Nellie, it was obvious that they weren't twins. Maybe Gob half knew and remembered this but because of Mom and Dad's lies, Gob got confused and couldn't be sure. So there was the possibility in his mind, but he didn't tell Michael about it. Why not? Because he wanted Michael to love him regardless of whether they were blood-related? Because he still wanted to be a real Bluth?

Michael sighed and shut the ring box, returning it to the table while he finished dressing. Maybe he could ask Gob about this tonight. Maybe he'd tell Gob about hiring Gene Parmesan to investigate, and then he'd ask for a DNA sample so they could have a test. But then again, Gob might not want to know, and might be scared about not being a real Bluth. Michael didn't want to hurt him. Maybe he should even call Gene Parmesan and cancel the investigation? After all, he should save money now that he was living in a hotel.

Michael sat down on the bed where he and Gob made love. And it did feel like love somehow. It felt so good, at least when he could stop thinking about George Michael or Tracey. Michael wasn't sure when he started to want Gob too. It might have been a while back, and he had been in denial until that day in the model home. There was something irresistible in the way that Gob looked at him and clung to him. There was something strange and undefinable in the air whenever they stopped fighting and just tried to talk. To see each other.

A year ago, when Michael first heard Gob singing that Bryan Adams song on his Franklin CD, he had been touched rather than horrified. Michael didn't want to betray his brother to the prosecutor, and he had wondered what the card with his face on it said. Michael had worried that Gob had been explicit, like in his computer messages, and that the police had read it. Luckily, by the time that Michael got released and got the CD back, he discovered that Gob had only written in the card, "For my hermano." Maybe Gob had finally realized that he ought to show that his feelings were more than lust, that they were emotional too.

Gob even said he loved Michael recently, and he'd repeated it these last couple of nights in the hotel too. Michael ought to be skeptical, given Gob's promiscuous history and his habit of lying. But Michael didn't find it hard to believe Gob when he looked in his eyes. It felt like love to Michael too. He had kind of liked Gob since they were kids, and had ached to be friends without their parents around to interfere. If only Gob had realized their manipulation long ago and had stopped doing stuff for Dad's approval, but apparently it was something that Gob could only see once they grew up. Once they taught Dad a lesson for the Boyfights.

Now he and Gob were much more than friends, and why shouldn't they be? Why not? They were two consenting adults, and Gob had been his only friend for the past few years. This might be crazy and forbidden, but it felt like love. Whatever Tracey thought of them in heaven, Michael could not let it hold him back. His wife was gone and had been for five years now. Tracey would always remain in his heart, but he could not live in the past. He needed to move on, just like when he stopped wearing his own wedding ring and stopped keeping his wife's picture by his bedside (or rather, next to his sleeping bag, when they lived in the attic).

Michael picked up the ring box and put it in his coat pocket so he wouldn't forget it. He would see George Michael tonight at the party and give him the ring. He would try to make up with Maeby and just let them be happy together.

Then the kids would go back to L.A., and he would be happy with Gob.

When Gob arrived to pick him up, Michael helped him carry the stuff inside the room, and he shut the door so he could kiss him.

Gob was glad that he had an excuse to openly visit Michael instead of just sneaking around. "I missed you."

"Me too." He put the video camera on the table next to his laptop so that he would remember to watch and edit the video later. "How'd the show go with Steve?"

Gob said, "Great. The birds survived, after all." He gestured to the caged doves and put them down along with Franklin. Gob didn't have time to make a trip to the yacht before driving to Sitwell's party.

Now that Gob's hands were free, Michael hugged him and kissed him passionately. "I love you."

"Yeah?" Gob asked, feeling very pleased.

Michael nodded and sighed. He was sure of it now.

Gob kissed him and murmured that he loved him too. Then he tried not to be so girly, and he said that Michael looked hot in his tuxedo.

Michael smiled and pulled away to check his appearance in the mirror. "You think it looks all right? I had it dry cleaned, but I had to sleep in it that night in jail after the Queen Mary."

Gob pointed out, "Well you slept in it before, when we went to rescue Mom from the warden."

Michael recalled that night in prison at the charity gala. "Yeah, but I undressed before I got into bed. Remember, my tux was on the chair when we woke up."

"Oh yeah." Gob brushed fingers through Michael's hair and said, "I wish I hadn't been knocked out that night. Then maybe we could have done stuff in the cell."

"No, I was still afraid back then."

"Didn't seem that way to me, guy. You climbed on top of me outside the wall."

"I was reading the map on your belly."

"You didn't have to do it like that. Could've sat down next to me." Gob grinned. "Not that I was complaining." In fact, as Michael awkwardly balanced above him, Gob got so turned on that he had to look away from Michael's ass and think unsexy thoughts, so that he wouldn't get an erection or spank him. They were supposed to be on a mission to rescue Mom, after all.

Michael thought about it and realized that Gob was right. He didn't have to be on top of Gob to read his map, and even the map wasn't that clear or useful. But Gob lying down on the ground with his shirt pushed up had distracted Michael enough to not think clearly. Michael quickly got embarrassed when the prison guard saw them, though, and he hurried to find Mom separately from his brother.

Gob came close again and nuzzled his neck. "If only we got together back then, Michael. Maybe we could have run away long before the Queen Mary."

Michael shook his head. "No, Gob, I couldn't have abandoned George Michael." Then he added irritably, "And weren't you secretly dating Egg then?"

Gob shrugged. "I would've dumped her for you any day, Mikey. But yeah, I guess we couldn't go anywhere, and you weren't over Rita yet. But at least it showed me that you were attracted to me, and I wasn't imagining it. Too bad you were still a coward the next morning when I tried to touch you."

Michael recalled that night and wondered if Gob was right. If he was afraid of himself giving in, as much as he was afraid of Gob making another advance. "I was in denial," he said.

Gob nodded. "Well at least Mom turned out to be fine, but I never wanna go back to that prison again." It still made him shudder to recall that he saw Mom and Dad in the conjugal trailer.

"I know." Though Michael did wonder why Gob got so freaked out about Mom and Dad having sex, yet he didn't find sleeping with his brother weird at all.

As Michael patted his back comfortingly, Gob worried about Michael's embezzlement charges. "If you go to prison, I gotta figure how to break you out without you getting shivved. I just want you to be safe, Michael."

"Don't worry, Gob. Jan Eagleman said that my case was looking better now since Dad claimed his money."


Michael looked at his watch. "Well, anyway, you better change into your tux now." He went to get it from where it was hanging.

Gob took off his religious cloak from his magic show and tossed it aside, partly covering Franklin. Gob didn't notice as he complained, "You shouldn't have bought Steve a tux too. Now he'll be following me around all night."

"Gob, he's your son. Besides, you guys can hang out together while I talk to George Michael alone." Michael feared that George Michael might still be mad at Gob, so he wanted to avoid a confrontation.

"I know, but what about after Sitwell's party? I realized that even if Steve rides home in the limo, I'll still have to return his Camaro to him, and by the time I get back here on the Segway, it'll be after midnight."

"So?" Michael started to help him change clothes. "Are you saying you'll be too tired for sex?"

"No, but it'll spoil your birthday present."

Michael was surprised. "You got me something? But it's probably not my real birthday."

Gob shrugged. "I don't care. I couldn't wait anymore, and Dad said he didn't remember what your real birthday is anyway."

Michael felt disappointed, but figured that maybe Gene Parmesan could find out his real birthdate. "What did you get me, Gob?" Was it another CD? But he probably didn't have time to make one.

Gob smiled and told him, "I was gonna let you fuck me tonight." It was hot, after all, when Michael was on top of him in the model home. So maybe he'd be good at fucking too.

Michael blinked and was turned on. "Yeah? Really?''

Gob nodded and spanked him.

Michael asked, "Just for tonight, or from now on?"

Gob rolled his eyes. "Having sex the same way all the time is boring, Michael. What, were you and Tracey dull and boring in bed?"

Michael said, "No, but I'm new to this gay sex stuff."

"I'll teach you everything you need to know." Gob put on his pants. "I just thought the first time should be special. But I guess you're right. We can pretend tomorrow's your birthday."

"Okay." But as Michael watched Gob putting on the tuxedo, Michael pictured undressing him instead. "Maybe we could... do something now."

Gob looked surprised. "You wanna fool around? But we'll be late to the party."

"George Michael's got a long way to drive from L.A. We won't miss him."

Gob liked Michael being naughty. "Yeah? So, like, you wanna a blowjob or something?"

Michael didn't answer. He just pulled Gob close and kissed him urgently. They undressed so that they wouldn't spoil their tuxes, and they got in bed together. Gob thought they were gonna just swordfight again, but once they were naked, Michael couldn't resist reaching behind Gob and asking if he could feel him inside. So Gob got out the lube and showed Michael how to finger him. Michael was eager to learn and to find Gob's own sweet spot.

It was so hot, and Gob was glad that Franklin knew to be quiet without Gob having to tell him so. The doves made the occasional cooing sound, but Michael didn't mind.

They soon got carried away, and Michael got his birthday present after all. He really enjoyed being on top, and he gave Gob a reach-around as well.

Michael was too excited to last long, and after he slipped out, Gob finished himself off. As he threw away Michael's condom, he told his brother that he would get better with practice. Maybe next time Gob would give him some special "dong tea" to make him last.

"Dong tea?"

"I got it at the Ancient Chinese Secret shop." It was the same place that he bought the Sword of Destiny.

"Oh. Okay. Well, we better get cleaned up now." Michael kissed him and got out of bed.

Gob suggested that they save time by showering together, so they did that, and Gob shampooed his hair playfully. Michael laughed, but said they shouldn't fool around anymore. So Gob behaved himself and just said, "Happy birthday, Mikey."

"Thanks." Michael kissed him.

When they were clean, they dried off and got dressed again, hoping that they wouldn't look suspicious. The brothers had to hurry to Sitwell's party, and maybe their hair would finish drying as they drove in the Camaro.

Meanwhile, the lavish birthday party was underway at Sitwell's estate. There were fireworks in the sky and banners that read "Happy Birthday, Lindsay." All the Bluth Company investors were invited, along with big society people in Orange County. A horde of reporters were covering the event, and fancy waiters went around with trays of hors d'oeuvres or champagne glasses. A full orchestra was playing too, and Sitwell hoped that this party would help everybody forget about the Queen Mary party that ended in disaster.

Stan Sitwell had Lucille Austero on his arm as they greeted guests. She hadn't yet moved in with him because she enjoyed her penthouse at Balboa Towers, but she sometimes stayed over. For years Sitwell had resisted the urge to have a fancy estate like this one, but Lucille 2 had convinced him that he deserved to indulge himself since he divorced his wife a few years back. Besides, he did plenty of charity work for underprivileged kids and hospitals. If he couldn't have a fancy sportscar because of his alopecia, then he could have a fancy estate with a mansion and guest house.

Since Ice had not arrived yet, Sally Sitwell went off to secretly meet Tony Wonder backstage. (A special outdoor stage had been set up for his show, but the back area was closed off for dressing rooms and props. Tony even got a special booth nearby where his assistants could sell the DVDs.) After checking that they were alone, Sally asked, "Everything's ready for Tobias?"

"Yeah," he said. "All set. You just gotta lure him over here on time."

"Right. And you got my message about Ice too?"

Tony nodded. "Yeah. That's fine, Sally. I'm just surprised about Michael being in love with his own sister. And this was even before everybody knew she was adopted?"

"Apparently it was before she even had her nose fixed."

"Wow." Tony was surprised that Gob turned out so normal, given his crazy family. Gob was rather cool and fun in fact. Tony hoped that Gob would like his show tonight, and maybe they could talk backstage. Tony could ask how Gob escaped from the American-run prison in Iraq, and then Gob might agree to be on his next DVD.

Sally vented again about how Michael was a terrible boyfriend to her, and that she never should have dated him. However, she didn't realize how similar her current relationship with Tony was. After all, Tony had to hide Sally too and keep her a secret from all his gay fans. But Sally thought it was more equal, because she was hiding Tony from her father, so that her dad wouldn't interfere in her love life.

Then she looked at her watch and had to leave, so she gave Tony a discreet kiss before leaving his makeshift dressing-room.

Chapter Text

Ice arrived at the party and Sally showed him to the guest house so he could change into a tuxedo. She went into another room and checked that all was ready for Tobias.

Tony Wonder was going to drug Tobias and trap him in a prop closet, which one of his assistants would wheel away to the guest house, without knowing why. Then Sally was going to bring the prop closet inside the house, drag Tobias out, and lock him in a bedroom until the show was over. This far away from the stage, Tobias hopefully would not be wakened by the noise of the party and fireworks. Whenever Tobias came to and tried to get out, Sally would just tell him that he got drunk and passed out, so she hid him from reporters. She was just trying to prevent a scandal from ruining Lindsay's birthday party. That was the plan, at least.

When George arrived at the party, he said to Buster in disgust, "Look at this stuff! Sitwell's so desperate to buy Lindsay's love." But George secretly felt envious of his rival's money and success. Why couldn't Sitwell just let go of Lindsay? If Sitwell was lonely in his estate and had an empty nest, then he could adopt any underprivileged kid from one of his charities. Instead he wanted to steal Lindsay because George and Lucille had stolen Nellie from him all those years ago. With a sigh, George gave the valet his car keys while he and Buster got out of the Mercedes. Wandering into the crowd of guests, George and Buster went to look for their other family members.

At another part of the estate, Lindsay and Tobias got out of the limo, followed by Steve Holt, and the press mobbed them for pictures. Stan Sitwell stepped forward to greet them, and he hugged Lindsay as he wished her a happy birthday.

"Thank you, Stan." It was awkward to call him that, but Lindsay couldn't call him "Dad" like he wanted her to.

Sitwell noticed the necklace she was wearing, and he almost assumed it was from the recent shopping spree, but Lucille 2 recognized the necklace.

"Your mother's necklace? It looks so nice on you."

"Thank you." Lindsay hugged Lucille 2 and said that she was so glad her mother couldn't get out of jail.

Meanwhile, Tobias loved the attention from the press, and he started bragging that he was an actor and had a role in an upcoming movie from Tantamount Studios. He didn't mention that it was because of Maeby, so that it would seem like he earned the role without nepotism.

Steve exclaimed, "Steve Holt!" when reporters asked who he was. When he put his arms down, he did explain that he was Gob's son. "Is my dad here yet?"

But of course, Gob and Michael were very late, and so the family moved on while other party guests arrived.

George Sr. had to call Lindsay's cellphone to find her, then he and Buster met them by a fountain.

Lindsay was sipping champagne with Lucille 2 and Stan, but now Sally joined them. Lindsay was jealous to see her rival with Ice, though they explained that it was a fake date because of Michael coming to the party.

"Oh." Still, Lindsay was disappointed that Ice was being Sally's bodyguard first. "I hope Michael doesn't really try to run away tonight. That might ruin my party."

"Indeed." Sitwell asked Ice to be discreet if he could. "We don't need a scandal."

George almost wished that Michael did ruin the party and humiliate Sitwell. But then again, that might hurt Lindsay and doom Lucille to being convicted, so he stayed quiet. He hoped Gob was keeping a close eye on Michael, wherever they were.

Sally Sitwell faked being nice to Lindsay, but it was awkward, and she said she looked forward to seeing whose company would make more money.

Stan said there was plenty of room for two successful housing companies in Orange County. Then he whisked Lindsay off to schmooze with investors, and George followed closely.

Buster and Steve wandered away to enjoy the fireworks, and they had fun sampling all the food from the trays. They also bonded over how they loved magic, and how Buster performed with Gob a couple of times. "I wish I could be a good assistant and do things right," Steve said.

Buster said that magic looked fun because of the dancing, but it was hard. He accidentally cut off Gob's fingers and got him buried in a coffin, after all. "That's why I eventually forgave Gob about the seal that bit off my hand. Gob didn't mean to hurt me."

Meanwhile, Lucille Austero tried to keep Tobias from saying anything embarrassing, and she pulled him away. "Leave the boring business stuff to them. Let's have fun." She invited Tobias to meet her brother Argyle, who used to perform in musicals before he went to rehab.

"Argyle? Oh, I've only heard his name as Gyle Garland when the Bluths mentioned him."

"Yes, that was the name he preferred back when we played the young lovers in the Fantasticks. Lately, though, Argyle says he wants to change his name to Austero, like me." Argyle could be so silly sometimes, though many people referred to them both as Austero already, since they threw many parties together.

(Lucille 2 had also encouraged Argyle to invite as many of his gay friends to the party as possible. Between them and Tony Wonder's gay fans, Tobias would have plenty of men to pick from once he came out as gay.)

Tobias did like meeting Argyle and his friends, but Sally Sitwell knew this was part of her father's plan to out Tobias. Sally kept trying to get Tobias alone and come with her to see Tony Wonder before his show, but Tobias said he didn't want to see how the magic was done and ruin the illusion.

"No, no, he won't show you how his tricks are done. I just mean, you can get an autograph or something. Tony's famous, and was just in a British magazine."

Tobias said, "Yes, I've seen it in Wee Britain." He still went there sometimes, and everyone called him a poofter. "I do like meeting famous people, but I don't want to annoy Gob. He's jealous of Tony Wonder. I wonder where Gob is, by the way." He checked his watch.

Some of Argyle's friends wanted to meet Tony Wonder, and asked if Sally would take them backstage instead. She said they could do that later, after the show, but she wanted Tobias to talk to Tony first.


"Because, um, because sometimes he still gets nervous about coming out, and he wants to discuss his issues with his family." After all, Tony often talked about his problems with his father and his brothers. "So maybe as a therapist, you could help him."

Tobias was reluctant to act as a therapist again, just when he was having some success as an actor, but Argyle's friends all encouraged him to go. "Oh, help Tony Wonder!"

"He's so great and brave!"

Tobias liked the self-esteem boost, and he figured that he needed to add more "celebrities I know" to his highlight reel, so he decided not to worry about annoying Gob or Steve Holt with a perceived betrayal.

So Tobias went off with Sally, and Ice dutifully stayed close to Sally, though he worried about Lindsay and kept scanning the crowd for Michael.

Lucille Austero was slightly puzzled by Sally's behavior, but shrugged it off and figured that giving therapy to Tony Wonder might also help Tobias come out as gay. So Lucille stayed with Argyle and his friends, who gushed about Tony Wonder's magazine article.

Then George Michael and Maeby arrived at the birthday party, and they both wore their fanciest clothes. George Michael became nervous around all the reporters, but Maeby was totally in her element as a studio executive. She confirmed that she was indeed married, then hinted that she had a special announcement to make later if they would stick around.

Everyone was curious, and they took pictures of her beautiful designer dress. She looked so grown up.

The cousins began to mingle with the crowd, and they ran into Buster and Steve, who hugged them and congratulated them on their marriage. They showed off their wedding rings and talked about their new apartment.

Steve tried not to be jealous, and he told them that Gob and Michael didn't arrive yet. "Do you think we should call them?"

"No, no. Let's just enjoy the party and eat some free shrimp." Maeby led George Michael away and grabbed a champagne glass too.

They smiled secretly while thinking of their honeymoon, and they looked very much in love, in Steve's opinion. He tried to be happy for her, and then he went off with Buster, talking about what it was like to have feelings for a family member.

Buster knew that feeling, but told Steve that he would get over Maeby. "Come on, do you want to meet somebody at this party? I'll help you. We can do some magic together to impress women." He was so naive.

Steve was surprised that Buster was being so outgoing and confident. Buster confessed that he was excited and falling in love with someone now, so he needed to brush up on his flirting skills. "You can show me how you kiss girls and dance with them, you know." Buster did have some dating experience with Lucille Austero and Starla, but not much.

"Okay, Uncle Buster." Steve was really happy to spend time with more of the Bluth family.

Lucille Austero soon returned to her boyfriend to tell him where Tobias was, and how Sally unwittingly helped them.

With Sitwell preoccupied, George decided to sneak away with Lindsay and look for the rest of the family. They ran into George Michael and Maeby by the fountain.

Pop-Pop told them, "No, I haven't seen Michael either, but he's out of the family."


Lindsay defended Michael somewhat. "He's probably just avoiding me, like he promised. He knows that I'm uncomfortable." Then she took a breath and tried to explain to the kids about Michael hitting on her for years, and how they almost had sex recently.

"No shit!" Maeby said.

George Michael was confused and stunned as well. He stammered incoherently and had to sit down. He dimly remembered a phone call where his dad claimed that he would not hook up with Lindsay just because he found out she was adopted. He was a liar and a hypocrite.

Maeby felt smug and then wanted to prove that Michael lied about Tobias as well, so she asked Lindsay about the morning a few days before the Queen Mary when Lindsay fought with Michael in his bedroom at 3 AM.

To Maeby's surprise, Lindsay confessed that she tried to get Michael to marry her by threatening to sell her shares. "But he refused, and said he wasn't into older women."

"He refused? But why?"

Lindsay shrugged. "I don't know. I think he was in shock and didn't really believe that I was adopted yet. And anyway, George Michael had confessed to him about making out with Maeby, so I guess Michael felt guilty."

That comforted George Michael somewhat, that his father had tried not to be a hypocrite, and had initially resisted the impulse to sleep with his sister.

"So then did you yell at him about Dad?" Maeby said.

"What do you mean?" Lindsay asked, but then she guessed, "Oh you mean about me divorcing Tobias? Yeah, I told Michael that I wanted a divorce and to remarry before I was 40, but he just wouldn't listen, even after I yanked him by his hair and threw him down. I was so angry, and then I went back to my room and woke up Tobias. I told him I was going to get a divorce and I kicked him out."

"Yeah, I heard that," Maeby said. "But then Dad went into Uncle Mike's room."

"He did?"

Maeby was getting confused and had to sit down too. So Lindsay didn't know about Tobias and Michael after all?

Lindsay then said, "Oh, Tobias told me later that he got a job from Michael. He threatened to sell his stock too, so Michael agreed to give him a job finding a party location. He was the one who booked the Queen Mary."

George Michael felt better, and he touched Maeby's hand. So his dad had told the truth about something.

Maeby asked her mother, "Are you sure?"

Lindsay said, "Yes, he wouldn't stop bragging about how at least Michael still considered him part of the family, and even if we did divorce, he'd still have Michael." She rolled her eyes. "He's got such a stupid crush on Michael that he thinks Michael wants him too."


"Yes. Tobias is so in denial that he keeps projecting onto other people. Don't you remember, Maeby, how he was in Boston?"

Maeby nodded and reluctantly recalled that Tobias always thought everybody else was gay. Here in Newport Beach, there was even a time during the high school Shakespeare play that Tobias tried to set up Steve Holt and George Michael to kiss. Maeby was just so convinced that her father must have done something with Uncle Mike, but apparently it was just a misunderstanding.

George Sr. said, "Stop talking about Michael and that useless Nellie. Let's talk about babies." So he started to lecture the kids about birth control and tell horror stories about babies having babies. Maeby was too numb to protest, and George Michael just sighed and insisted he was using protection with his wife.

"Good. And if you guys ever change your mind about this emancipation stuff, you can always come home."

"Yes," Lindsay offered. "After all, you're not fighting with Michael now, so there's no reason to be far away. Unless you just like Hollywood more."

Michael and Gob arrived finally, and there was not as much press still waiting at the front for VIPs to arrive. They got champagne and walked by the orchestra which was playing a romantic song, while party guests danced. It almost felt like being on a date right under everybody's noses, and they discreetly held hands.

But then they pulled apart when Buster and Steve called out to them. They had no luck with women, and they greeted their family warmly. "Hey brothers!"

"Hi Dad! Uncle Mike." Then Steve asked why they were so late.

Gob lied, "Uh, the doves got away again."

Michael was surprised. "Again?"

Gob told him how the magic show ended at the model home.

"Oh." So it didn't go that well after all. Michael told Gob to hang out with Steve and Buster while he went to find George Michael.

On the way, he ran into Stan Sitwell, though, who stopped him. "Where are you going? To find Sally?"

"No, sir, I just want to see my son and Maeby."

"Good, but try to stay away from the reporters. And Sally."

"I know." Michael looked uncomfortable and wondered if Lindsay told Sitwell about the incident where they almost had sex. Maybe also the nonsense about him hitting on her for years. That must be why Sitwell was looking at him suspiciously.

Sitwell tried to be friendly and polite, though, and he changed the subject. Gesturing to the banners, he apologized for not including Michael's name. "I mean, this can't be your real birthday."

"Sure," Michael said, trying to shrug it off. "I understand. Besides, Lindsay said it was about the face of the new company."

"Yes, and believe me, I would have preferred not to let your father come either, but Lindsay insisted on it, and now he's off with her again." Sitwell knew they were plotting against him, but he still hoped to win her over.

Since Sitwell apparently knew so much about Bluth family secrets, Michael asked him, "Do you know when my real birthday is?"

He shook his head. "Sorry. It's been so long ago that I can't remember." He remembered Lindsay's birthday just fine, for he still thought of her as his lost Nellie.

Michael sighed and started to go. "Well anyway, I've got to find George Michael."

"Wait, just a second." Sitwell reached in his pocket for a business card. "I've got something that I think will help you."


Sitwell handed the card over, then pat Michael's back as he confidentially whispered, "To help you get over your obsession with Lindsay."

Michael read the card and realized that it was for a psychiatrist. "Oh. Well, at least you didn't recommend Tobias."

"Oh, definitely not!" Sitwell knew that Tobias had problems of his own. "Anyway, Michael, I hope you can learn to get better, and find someone new. Good luck."

Gob helped Steve hook up with a woman at the party, all the better to get rid of his clingy son, then he walked away with Buster, eating food and waiting for Michael's return. The brothers passed by a sign advertising Tony Wonder's act.

Buster read aloud a note on the sign. "As seen in Attitude magazine. Is that a magic magazine? I thought it was called Poof?"

Gob explained that Attitude was a gay magazine. "That's Tony Wonder's new gimmick. I'm here, I'm queer, now I'm over here."

Buster asked, "You mean he's not really gay? It's just a gimmick?"

Gob shrugged. "I don't know. He was into the ladies when we met him, remember? Or maybe he's bi. I don't care." Gob just jealously complained about Sitwell not letting him perform.

Buster shrugged. "Maybe he'll mess up. Like, the doves will fly away from him too."

"He doesn't use doves since he lost a n--" Gob got an idea then. He could sabotage Tony's closet act. "Hey Busty, I gotta go now."

"Okay." Buster watched Gob finish his champagne and run off. Buster went to go ask a waiter if they had any juice instead of just water and champagne.

Michael finally caught up with the kids, who were alone now. He hugged George Michael and then tried to apologize to Maeby. She reluctantly agreed to shake his hand, at George Michael's prompting, but still felt weird.

George Michael asked why his father was late, and Michael used the same lie about the doves.

"You're at a hotel now? They really kicked you out of the family."

"Uh, sort of." Michael could guess about what Lindsay might have told them, and knew he had to go along. "I'll get an apartment soon I hope."

"Aunt Lindsay told me about you and her," George Michael murmured. "So you were telling the truth about Uncle Tobias all along? Why didn't you just tell me, Dad?"

Michael felt guilty and frowned. "Well, I--a sibling is different." But he loved Gob.

His son nodded. "And you thought she was blood-related to you for so long. Well, I'm sorry that things are so weird now, and you're all alone."

"I'm not. I mean, Gob--Gob gave a job helping with his magic. That's why he had the doves at my hotel." He hesitated on what he could say. "I--We don't hate each other. We never did really. It's just--"

"Boyfights and stuff." George Michael had seen the videos. He wasn't sure how he felt about his father being friends with Gob. "Is he still seeing my ex-girlfriend?" He knew that specifying her by name would not work with his father.

Michael shook his head and tried to apologize on Gob's behalf. "No, he dumped her, and um, he's sorry. Please don't be mad at him, George Michael. I mean, you're happy now with Maeby. Married and everything."

George Michael nodded and tried to accept that. He turned and asked Maeby if they could be alone, and she agreed readily, for she was going to publicly tell off her mother and ruin her party. Good thing that her husband reminded her.

So while they were alone, Michael gave George Michael the wedding ring he'd asked for.

"Thanks." He opened the box to look inside at the ring, at the proof that his father accepted his marriage now, and he hugged his dad. He felt excited. "I hope she'll like it." He closed the box and put the ring in his pocket.

Michael asked how they were doing in their new apartment. Did George Michael like his job?

His son said everything was great, but he grew concerned, asking his father what he would do to get over Lindsay. "Like maybe you should see a therapist. Or can you not afford to now?"

Michael said he just needed time and would stay busy with his trial and helping Gob.

Meanwhile Sally took Tobias backstage and introduced him to Tony Wonder, but she left in a hurry so that she would have an alibi, and so that she could go unlock the guest house. She had to get rid of Ice, though, by telling him that she spotted Michael by Lindsay and pointing into the crowd. So he hurried away.

Tony was a little confused at first about Tobias wanting to give him therapy, but he went along. He tried to lure Tobias close to the closet while getting ether to drug him. However, things went wrong because a couple of Argyle's friends sneaked backstage to eavesdrop on Tony Wonder, and they burst into the room accidentally. They had been leaning on the door and wall, not realizing how flimsy the backstage area was.

The door almost hit Tobias, and Tony pulled him out of the way, instead of realizing that he could let him get hit and knocked out. Tony asked who the people were, and they started to answer, but other dressing room walls started falling. (Tony usually had gay dancers and assistants perform during the show.) Then Ice came back in looking for Sally and/or Michael, and there was much confusion as people ran around trying to get the walls up.

Tony tried to get Tobias alone again so he could drug him, but Tobias was acting very weird now.

He said that Tony saved him from getting crushed under the door and the two guys. Tobias had often suffered severe injuries before, and this was the first time that somebody saved him. He was very grateful and really wanted to help Tony with therapy.

Tony found Tobias creepy, though, and he didn't want to get into his real feelings about his father or his brothers. Especially when Tobias kept saying double entendres. Was this guy trying to flirt with him? But whoa. He just said "analrapy"!

It was enough to make Tony panic and try to escape him. He ran out of the dressing-room and tried to call for his assistants while going towards the stage where there was a large closet for his illusion. He was going to hide inside it, but then he collided with Gob, who was trying to sabotage it. Not realizing this, Tony impulsively kissed him.

Startled, Gob pulled back to protest, but Tony held onto him and whispered, "Pretend to be my boyfriend, please. I've got a horrible stalker."

He kissed Gob again, and Gob was starting to get into it, though he felt guilty and worried that Michael might see them.

Soon Tobias found them and stopped short in shock. "Gob!"

Gob stopped kissing him and looked up. "Tobias?" Oh dammit! He might tell Michael. Gob pulled away and started to say, "This isn't--!"

Tony interrupted, though. "I don't need any analrapy! Stop following me."

Gob understood now, and turned to tell Tony, "He means therapy. Analysis and therapy."

Tony calmed down. "Seriously?" He looked at Tobias irritably, "Don't say that, then!" God, Sally was right that Bluths were awful, including in-laws like Tobias.

Tobias apologized, and looked disappointed, because he did indeed have a crush on Tony for saving him, but clearly it would go nowhere, just like his crushes on Carl Weathers and guys from the gym. This was something he seldom admitted to himself.

"Please go," Tony said, forgetting about Sally's plan to trap him. "I don't need therapy either."

Tobias didn't protest. He apologized for interrupting them, and just said to Gob with surprise, "I didn't know you were gay." He thought they were friends, because they did talk sometimes.

Gob said, "I'm bisexual." Then he added, "It's a secret. Don't tell Michael or anybody."

"Okay." So Tobias left, and they were alone again.

Gob tried to leave too, since there was no point in sabotaging the illusion if Tony knew it was him, but Tony held onto him.

"Hey, I'm sorry about kissing you. But you didn't mind it, did you? Because you're bi?"

Gob shrugged. "I-I have a boyfriend already, and I don't want him to find out you kissed me."

"Oh. All right. I won't tell anybody either. Sorry, I just panicked. I have a secret gi--guy friend, boyfriend too." He liked how they were the same.

"Secret? Why would your boyfriend be a secret? You came out already."

"Oh, um, she--he doesn't want to deal with paparazzi following us around, and his family's always interfering too."

"Oh. Well I gotta go now."

"No, wait," Tony said. "Why don't you stay and we'll go to my dressing room? I wanna ask you about escaping that prison in Iraq. And then you can stay for my show. I'll let you and your boyfriend get good seats, and then you can come backstage for autographs and stuff."

Gob shook his head and reminded him, "He's a secret. We can't be seen..." Gob thought about it. "Maybe I'll bring my brother instead."

"Sure. Is he a fan of the new show?"

"Yeah, let me go get him." So Gob left to look for Michael and explain things. He wasn't sure that Tobias could really keep the secret to himself. If he had awareness and control over the words he said, then he wouldn't say half the things that he did.

Tony watched Gob go and thought what a good kisser he was.

Chapter Text

Sally was waiting at the guest house, but she saw no sign of Tony's assistant with the prop closet. She was getting impatient and worried, so she called Tony's cellphone.

Back in his dressing-room, Tony felt guilty for forgetting about the plan. He explained, "I didn't get a chance to drug him. There were too many people around, and Ice came back wanting to search for Michael in all my props. Then Tobias started acting weird about the therapy, and I ran into Gob."

"Gob? What was he doing there?"

"I don't know. I just... I ended up kissing him so that he would pretend to be my boyfriend."

"What for?"

"Tobias scared me, and I panicked. He was being creepy and talking about analrapy, which Gob said means--"

Sally interrupted because she saw Tobias wandering around the party, with his head down, doing a Charlie Brown walk. "Wait, I see him now. I'll try to get him and call you later." She hung up and left the house to go after Tobias. If only she had drugs on her, but maybe she could persuade him to come with her voluntarily. Yeah, she might spill something on him and tell him he could go change clothes in the guest house. Then she could knock him out from behind and still lock him up until after the magic show.

Meanwhile, Gob went looking for Tobias, but couldn't find him in the crowd, so he gave up and decided to call Michael.

Michael answered cheerfully and asked if Gob was still with Steve and Buster.

"Nah, I got rid of them. You done with George Michael yet?"

"Yeah, he went to find Maeby. I'm just looking for you now." Michael heard some commotion and saw a horde of reporters gathered around the fountain, so he walked away to avoid them and keep a low profile, like he had promised Lindsay. Michael was half afraid that the reporters would question him not only about his embezzlement charges, but also his supposed lust for his adopted sister, if they had heard the gossip.

Gob asked where Michael was and warned him to stay away from Tobias.

Michael lowered his voice and continued to sneak away from the crowd. "Of course I will. It's bad enough that Lindsay thinks I want her, but he does too."

Gob was relieved. "Good. I need to talk to you, so meet me by the guest house, okay?"

"Okay." Though Michael was worried by his tone. He wondered what was wrong, that they couldn't discuss it on the phone.

They soon met up at the house, and the door was locked, but Gob broke into a window, while Michael reluctantly served as lookout. He didn't understand why they were doing this. If they needed to talk privately, then why not go back to the car?

Gob accidentally knocked over some stuff inside the house, but fortunately, nobody else was around to hear the noise. "You okay?"

"I'm fine." He soon pulled Michael inside too, and they moved into another room . Gob insisted that Michael needed to sit down, and he paced a bit before deciding to sit as well.

Gob took his hand and told him anxiously, "I didn't mean to do it, Michael. It was an accident."

"Huh? What are you talking about?"

"Tony Wonder kissed me. I was just trying to sabotage his illusion, and he came out of nowhere and jumped me."

Michael was confused. "What? Why would he do that?"

Gob explained as best as he could what happened, but he was pretty confused too about what Tobias was doing there. "I was scared he was gonna tell you, and you'd get mad at me."

Michael shook his head and squeezed his hand. "It's not your fault, Gob. It sounds like Tobias's, for being his usual clueless self."

Gob finally relaxed and looked surprised. "You really believe me, then?" He had feared that they would Boyfight, which was why he wanted to talk inside the house where nobody could see them or overhear.

Michael answered, "Yeah. I trust you, Gob." This was love, and just the fact that Gob felt guilty for a mere kiss touched him. It confirmed to Michael that Gob's feelings were genuine.

Gob smiled and hugged him, squeezing onto the same chair with him.

Michael laughed and said softly, "I love you."

"I love you." He happily pulled Michael onto his lap and they kissed. After a moment, Michael got up, for fear of the chair giving way beneath him, though he still smiled and held Gob's hand.

Gob got up and asked him how things went with George Michael.

"Okay. Lindsay already told them about Dad kicking me out of the family, but George Michael seemed to take it pretty well. I told him that you dumped Egg and were sorry."

"Is he still mad at me?" Gob didn't want to get punched again.

"Well, I wouldn't bring her up any time soon, but I think he'll let it go, Gob. He's happy with Maeby now, and she didn't seem as mad as before, either."

"Good. They're probably so laid back 'cause they're enjoying their honeymoon."

"I guess so." Michael wondered when the honeymoon would end, and when they would start wishing that they could just be kids again, without responsibilities. He hoped that things would work out, though, and he decided not to interfere unless George Michael asked for help and advice.

Putting an arm around Michael, Gob told him about Tony Wonder inviting them backstage, to make up for the kiss.

"You actually want to see his show?"

"Well, I thought at first that you wouldn't believe me, and that I'd have to take you there for Tony to tell you what happened." All while keeping Tony ignorant of Michael being his secret lover. "But now we can go see the show and heckle him maybe."

"In front of all his fans and the press? People might think we're homophobic."

"He's the one using his coming out to sell tickets!" Gob scoffed resentfully. "I could have come out years ago and did the same act, but I didn't want Tobias coming onto me."

Michael could understand that aversion. "So instead you went with the Christian magic act?"

Gob was too jealous to see that doing a religious act as a gimmick was just as unscrupulous as using one's sexuality as a gimmick. "That should have been my magazine article, and my show. I don't know how, but Tony Wonder is always stealing my ideas." Gob didn't know that this was accidental; it was just that Gob and Tony simply thought so alike that they came up with similar ideas. "He's not even doing it right. I mean, what kind of slogan is 'I'm here, I'm queer, now I'm over here'?"

Michael agreed that it did sound lame, and he kissed him soothingly. "We'll come up with something better for you and Steve."

"In the meantime, let's go ruin Tony's show."

"No, Gob, it'll look bad, and Lindsay will get mad if I draw attention to myself."

"Oh. Well, then let's yell at him backstage about stealing my idea."

"But he didn't steal this idea from you, because you never went through with it. Gob, are you just still mad about him kissing you? Tony didn't mean anything by it, and he's trying to make it up to you now. Come on, didn't you used to like him?"

Gob said grudgingly, "He was cool when me and Buster did the Sword of Destiny illusion."

"Yeah, and you guys were gonna be on his DVD, right? So maybe if we're nice to him, then he'll let you be on his next DVD." Perhaps Gob and Steve could do the Sword of Destiny without injury, and camera tricks could cover up any flaws in the act.

"You think so?" Gob considered whether he could put aside his jealousy.

"It's worth a shot. I mean, Rollo hasn't been returning my calls at the Gothic Castle. Maybe Tony could help with that too."

Gob said, "Tony did say he wanted to talk about how I escaped from the prison in Iraq."

"Oh, we can't tell him about the CIA stuff." Michael feared that the CIA would try to "take them out" for real if they talked about Dad building houses in Iraq.

"I wasn't planning to." Gob started to leave the room with him. "I don't have to explain how I escaped, Michael. That's the whole point of the Magician's Alliance, that we don't tell how we do our illusions. So I can just be mysterious and tell Tony that I can't reveal how I did it."

"Huh. That's not a bad idea." Michael pulled Gob back from the window and suggested they go out the front door.

"Yeah. So let's go talk to him." Gob opened the door and peered out to make sure that he coast was clear, then they exited together.

Michael shut the door, and they left for Tony's magic show. They had unknowingly missed an incident at the fountain.

Sally tried to get Tobias to the guest house, but Ice caught up with them first and said he couldn't find Michael. "But I did see Lindsay was with her father, and she was fine. So I better stay with you now."

Sally was trying to think what to do, when they came upon Maeby making quite a scene.

Maeby had called her mother to meet her at the fountain, and while waiting, she gathered the reporters to hear her special announcement. They curiously wondered if Maeby was pregnant or something like that, and she denied it with a scoff.

When Lindsay showed up with both George Sr. and Stan Sitwell, Maeby then spoke into the microphones, "I'd like to officially announce tonight that Tantamount Studios is making a movie of my life story, so you can learn all the details of how I grew up, made hit movies, and got married."

Cheering up a little, Tobias interrupted by calling out, "I'm in it!"

Lindsay rolled her eyes and was thinking about leaving, because she didn't want to be bored to death, but Maeby spoke loudly to draw her back.

"I want to dedicate this movie to my mother."

Lindsay stopped when the cameras began to turn to her as well. "Really?" She smiled and wondered if that was Maeby's birthday present to her. "That's so sweet."

Maeby smiled back, but it was not sweet, and she said, "Yeah, because you're such a shitty mother."

There were gasps all around, and Lindsay was shocked. "Maeby!"

Maeby stepped closer to confront her. "This movie's gonna tell the whole truth about how horrible and selfish and fake you are. You're a fake Bluth, but you're also a fake mother. You never loved me, and I had to learn how to take care of myself."

Sitwell tried to intervene and hush Maeby, asking if she got drunk on champagne. "You shouldn't have--"

Maeby pulled out of his grasp and refused to be led to some place more discreet. "Stay out of it! I can do what I want because I'm emancipated." She turned back to Lindsay, "You didn't give a crap about me when I was growing up. You just wanted to use me to get attention and to make yourself look good. But whenever I was inconvenient, you forgot I existed. You forgot my birthday for 16 years, even though I found out that you always stole the birthday checks that Nana sent to me. Now you can't steal my money anymore. I have a great job and a great car and a great marriage." She showed off her ring to the cameras.

"I'm happy for you," Lindsay said. "I'm not trying to steal from you. You're so grown up, Maeby, and I'm proud of you."

"Proud of me? You had nothing to do with it. You were always fighting with dad, or whacked out on drugs when we were in the the family band together."

"I had to be," Lindsay protested, then lowered her voice, self-conscious of the reporters all listening, as well as Tobias nearby. "You know your father."

Maeby did know, but could not criticize her father as harshly. "Dad was horrible too, but at least he didn't take drugs or drink all the time, so that I had to pour him into bed." Or drive when Lindsay had a buzz. "In Boston you were always busy with your stupid wine and cheese fundraisers for your shallow causes that you didn't even believe in."

"But I did believe!" Lindsay said, getting upset. "It was why I married your father, because we both used to believe. We were going to change things." Indeed, that was what she told Johnny Bark once, about their activism. Lindsay looked at Tobias sadly and wished he would give up his stupid dream of being an actor.

Tobias thought Lindsay was gazing at him with love and he smiled back. He started toward Maeby and began in his psychiatrist voice, "Young lady, I think--"

Maeby said, "This is between me and her. Do you wanna keep your job?"

Tobias blinked, realizing that he could get fired from the movie.

Maeby really couldn't fire him, not yet, but was willing to use the threat. Besides, it showed how terrible Tobias was, to back down from defending his own wife, just for a job. She turned back to her mother. "No matter what I did, I was the invisible girl, and you never paid attention to me."

Lindsay said, "But I did, Maeby. I tried to. Remember when I punished you for your bad grades and made you work for Gangie?"

Maeby rolled her eyes. "One time!"

"But you saw her," Lindsay said. "You saw how awful my mother is, how she criticizes everything about you, even when she's pretending to be nice. You hated that, and we made up, remember? I wanted to be a better mother than she was, Maeby. We moved to Boston so that you wouldn't be around Gangie, and have her call you fat all the time."

George Sr. felt guilty and sad to realize that Tobias wasn't the reason that Lindsay moved away. Lucille was. He wished his wife had listened to reason and not been so harsh on their adopted daughter. George had really loved her, even if they did lie about her age and adoption.

Lindsay continued to Maeby, "Besides, I wasn't drunk all the time. I didn't drink while I was pregnant, and then I had a natural childbirth in the bathtub for you, without any painkillers. It was horrible." But she did it all for Maeby's sake. (And to show up her mother Lucille; at the time Lindsay had thought Lucille was her natural mother, and had been drunk while pregnant, which she clearly had been with Buster.)

"I know! Dad showed me the pictures." She shuddered.

Lindsay said, "I'm sorry. He shouldn't have done that. We even got into trouble when he mailed out our birth announcement, so I thought he got rid of the pictures."

"He didn't!" Maeby shrugged dismissively, "So you went all hippie for my birth, but after I was born, you weren't there for me. You weren't a better mother. Why couldn't you have been like Aunt Tracey?"

"Like her? But she and Michael put that BabyTock in George Michael's crib. And then they were in that infomercial! I didn't do that to you, Maeby, and I got you a nice nanny to take care of you while I was doing the fundraisers."

"Yeah my nanny raised me more than you did."

Lindsay said, "Gangie was so suffocating and controlling with Buster, so I gave you your space. I didn't want to stifle you with rules or scare you with lessons, so I never punished you for stuff, and I sent you to a progressive school like I used to go to."

"But you didn't notice when I wasn't in school, or that I made up a fake twin sister."

"You made up a fake twin?" Lindsay was shocked. "Why did you do that? Because you wanted a sibling? It's not that great. Anyway, I didn't want to make you stressed out about school, like Michael made George Michael stressed out. But I cared about you, Maeby. I took you to inner beauty pageants."

"I hated those!"

"I'm sorry. But I was trying to teach you that you were beautiful inside, Maeby. It was those stupid judges that kept picking the other girls to win."

Maeby said in frustration, "You have an excuse for everything, don't you?"

"Maeby--oh wait, remember that one time you did win a contest? Was that when you were pretending to be your fake twin? In a wheelchair and with the nose?"

Maeby was surprised that her mother remembered, given how obsessed she had been with coaching Bob Loblaw's daughter and trying to seduce Bob Loblaw.

"See you did win, once. I'm so glad." Lindsay asked, "Maeby, why are you so angry with me? I supported your marriage. I support you."

Maeby protested, "You lied all the time, and didn't notice when I tried to run away. You tried to steal Steve Holt."

"I didn't know you liked him, and I stopped seeing him when I found out."

The reporters started whispering among themselves as they recognized the name Steve Holt. Trisha Thoon called out, "You mean your nephew?"

Somebody else asked, "Your other cousin?"

Lindsay turned to explain, "We didn't know then," but already the reporters were excited by the scandal. Lindsay was married after all, and seemed to have dated her nephew at some point, even if he wasn't related by blood.

Maeby was upset about things not going her way, and she broke down in tears.

Lindsay went to hug her, and Maeby was too defeated to protest, slumping against her mother as she cried. Sitwell thought this was a good time to get rid of the reporters, so he gestured for Ice to help him disperse the crowd.

Sitwell told Tobias to find George Michael. (He had been detained by Buster at another part of the estate, while Steve had gone to his Camaro with the woman from the party. It was his first time being with a girl who wasn't in high school, so he wanted to impress her.)

Sitwell started to take Lindsay and Maeby to the guest house so they could talk in private and calm down, but George got jealous and took over, saying, "They're my family," as he put an arm around Lindsay, who was still holding Maeby. Sitwell acquiesced and just sent Sally to go with them, since she had a key to the house.

Sally could see that this would spoil her plans for Tobias, but she figured that the scene between Maeby and Lindsay had effectively ruined the party. Perhaps in private she could even get Maeby to tell her more damaging secrets about what a horrible person Lindsay was.

Tobias soon joined them with George Michael, so Sally went to unlock the door, but found that it was already unlocked. She didn't have time to wonder about that, and just let them inside. Later she would try to talk to Maeby, but right now she wanted to talk to Tony about Gob, and whether he suspected anything.

Meanwhile, after the initial flurry of gossip, many of the party guests looked uncomfortable and talked about leaving, but Sitwell asked them to please stay. There was going to be cake and presents later, as well as a magic show. He got the orchestra to play again, and he called Lucille 2's phone to ask for her help.

She soon showed up with Argyle, and they sang songs together, to make the crowd relax again. Meanwhile, Sitwell looked at his watch and hoped that Tobias would be free soon, so he could go to Tony Wonder's show.

Chapter Text

When Michael and Gob arrived backstage, they soon found Tony Wonder's dressing-room, but Tony looked surprised. "That's not Buster."

"No, this is Michael."

"Oh. Michael." Tony had only seen the guy once in person before, at the Save Our Bluths dinner, so he didn't recognize him at first. Tony felt uncomfortable, since this was apparently the crazy brother in love with his sister.

"Hi," Michael said and shook his hand.

Tony awkwardly let go and said to Gob, "It's just, I thought you would bring Buster, since he likes magic, and you guys used to perform together."

Gob said, "Michael likes magic too. He's working for me now."

Michael nodded. "Yeah, we were hoping you could do us a favor. Gob wants to get back into the Magician's Alliance and perform at the Gothic Castle again."

"You'd have to get past Rollo."

"I know. I've been trying to call him, but he won't answer. Can you help with that?"

Tony said okay, they could go there on Monday. "He probably doesn't like you since you tricked him with the non-Allliance-approved assistants." Plus there was Michael's recent arrest, and the gossip about him and Lindsay, to put Rollo off. Tony didn't see why Gob should unfairly suffer for that, though. "I'll get Rollo to call an Alliance meeting so we can vote you back in."

"Really? Will there be enough votes for me?" Gob hadn't been able to speak to any of the members in years.

Tony told him, "Don't worry about it. I'll talk to everybody and convince them to let you back in. They should have done it a long time ago. I mean, it wasn't even your fault when that TV reporter showed the Aztec Tomb on the news."

"Yeah, that's what I said!" Gob felt hopeful and smiled a genuine smile. He realized that Michael was right, that they should be nice to Tony Wonder to get his help. Now Gob didn't feel so irritated about Tony stealing his ideas anymore.

Tony found Gob's crooked smile adorable, and he smiled back.

Then Michael realized something. "Hey, Steve's not Alliance-approved, is he?"

Gob frowned. "Oh. I wonder if we can get him in?"


"My son," Gob explained. "He likes magic too, so I'm letting him be my assistant."

"Oh, right." Tony had heard vaguely about Steve Holt. "A father and son act, huh?" He stroked his W-beard pensively.

Gob found that attractive and remembered kissing him, which made him feel embarrassed and guilty.

Michael asked Tony, "How do we get Steve Holt approved?"

"Well, I can bring it up at the meeting, and Gob can nominate him, I guess. They might want to meet Steve in person first and make him swear secrecy." Tony shrugged. "But they gotta approve him, for your father and son act. I'll insist on it to Rollo."

"Thanks, Tony," Gob said.

Michael thanked him too, and said that they'd talk to Steve Holt soon. "Just let us know when we have to be there."

"Oh, you can't be at the meeting, Michael. You're not a magician." Tony also thought that the Alliance members would prefer not to have Michael come to the Gothic Castle.

Before Michael could protest the exclusion, Tony Wonder asked him to step out so that he could talk to Gob, magician to magician.

Michael felt somewhat offended, but Gob turned him to the door and winked at him. Michael realized that Tony wanted to talk about the prison escape in Iraq. "Okay."

So Tony called for an assistant to take Michael to their reserved seats in the audience.

Once they were alone, Tony shut the door and asked Gob to sit down with him. "So now can you finally tell me how you got out of that prison in Iraq?"

Gob smiled mysteriously. "You wanna know about that?"

"Yeah, please Gob. I wasn't there, and I wish it had been on TV. Did your brothers screw that up somehow?" Michael seemed to screw up the Save Our Bluths dinner, after all, with his awful speech that made everybody leave. Just when Tony finally found a hiding place where he could wait for people to say "wonder", everyone left, while Gob said something about following people to their cars. It was totally confusing, and when Tony saw the raw chicken dinners, it turned him off doing any more food-related illusions.

Gob answered with a shrug, "Nah, the prison guards just didn't want any publicity about how easy it was to escape. They didn't want to get into trouble, so they didn't try to arrest me again, as long as I kept quiet."

"Oh. So then your brothers came to pick you up?"

"Yeah, and I helped get the treason charges dropped against our dad." It was Buster's photos that helped them blackmail the CIA, but after all, Gob was the one that Dad told about the location of the houses in the first place.

Tony was impressed. "I couldn't figure out how you did that, either, Gob. Then the S.E.C. dropped the other charges, but I guess that was so they could charge your mom instead, and your brother." He looked concerned and leaned closer to Gob. "Are you sure you wanna work with Michael?"

"He's innocent. I'm going to testify for him at his trial."

"Really? But what about him trying to sleep with Lindsay? He's crazy."

Gob scoffed. "He doesn't want her like that, Tony. He was just trying to scare her off."

"What, really? Are you sure?"

Gob nodded, half wishing he could confess that Michael loved him, and they were happy now, and he didn't care if it was crazy. Instead he said, "I'm worried that his trial will go badly and they'll send him to prison anyway. I have to break him out without him getting shivved."

"Oh, I read about that time you got shivved." There had been a newspaper article with the prison warden, and it made the Oops column in Poof magazine too. Tony confessed, "I didn't get it before, that you were doing the whole accident routine when you escaped from there." It made so much sense after Tony saw Gob doing the accident angle with Buster during the Sword of Destiny. "You're so brave to risk your life like that, Gob. It could have gone wrong." He touched Gob's hand.

Gob felt flattered, and was reminded of how Egg readily believed his story of being a hero in Iraq. He liked that Tony respected him now as a magician, unlike during the Sword of Destiny, when Tony had liked Buster better. "The doctor said the shiv got stopped by the key I swallowed earlier. Ta-da!"

Tony laughed, and Gob thought he was laughing with him, not at him. He wished Michael were here to see.

Sitting closer, Tony pressed again, "Tell me how you got out of the prison in Iraq."

"I can't tell you. I want to be in the Magician's Alliance."

"But it's just us magicians here, and I won't tell anybody else."

"No, you never know who might be listening in, or hiding." He gestured to the prop closet that was still sitting in the dressing-room. "What's this for?"

Tony gestured dismissively. "Nothing important. Come on, tell me, Gob. Please."

Gob shook his head. He wanted to change the subject, and he was still worried about Michael, so he asked Tony, "Do you think you could help me figure out how to break Michael out of prison? If he goes there?"

"You want my help?" He was surprised, given Gob's expertise as an escape artist.

Gob said, "Well, there's a new warden now, but the guards are still horrible. Every time I go there, they stun me or hit me or worse." He grimaced at the thought of his parents in the conjugal trailer, and he wished that he could forget seeing them. Gob didn't take a roofie afterward because he still wanted to remember Michael climbing on top of him that day, as well as Michael dressing in their cell the next morning.

"That's awful," Tony said. "Did they treat you bad in Iraq too?" It was an American-run prison after all, and they might have tried to torture him as an enemy combatant.

"Well they tased me and stepped on me when they arrested me. But at that prison, the Americans were so busy training the Iraqis to run it, and those guys were super forgetful." Like forgetting to lock Gob's cell door, or closing the gate with Gob outside during the honor marathon. No way was Gob going to run a whole marathon by himself in the war-torn, dangerous country. "Yusef was nice." Gob still regretted the fact that he forgot to say goodbye to Yusef when he left. Gob had flirted with him, hoping for better treatment, though he wasn't quite sure that he was reading Yusef's reactions correctly.

Tony said, "That's good. I was worried about you for a while."

"You were?" Gob was surprised and pleased.

"Yeah, I thought I might never see you again." Tony was glad that Gob made it home so quickly after his escape. "I've gone on USO tours for the troops too, but I was never brave enough to try a prison stunt like you. It must have been so amazing! I bet it would have made a great DVD." He sighed and asked, "Hey, Gob, would you be on my next DVD?"

Gob grinned at how easy it was to get favors from Tony. He wondered if Tony might have a crush on him ever since he came out as gay; that would explain the kisses earlier and his behavior now. Of course, they both had secret boyfriends, so nothing could happen, but the attraction could still be useful. Gob didn't see any harm in charming Tony and flirting a little. He said casually, "Well, I'd have to talk to Steve and Michael about that." Since Michael had been to law school, maybe he could look over any contracts and negotiate for a good deal with whoever was managing Tony Wonder's business.

Tony said, "Sure. We'll work out the details. Just say you'll do it, please. You should have been on my last DVD anyway."

Gob pointed out, "You wanted Buster, not me."

"I'm sorry. I got fooled by your act with the hidden identities. But come on, Gob, I'll make it up to you this time. Plus I'm already helping you with the Magician's Alliance."

"Well, okay, Tony. I could do it to thank you, I guess."

"Great!" Tony was excited. "We can work together finally."

"Yeah, together." Realizing that he got distracted, Gob asked again, "Tony, please help me figure out how to break out Michael. If he goes to prison, I think the guards will treat him horribly and not protect him from other prisoners either." Tobias said that White Power Bill was dead, but there were probably more guys like him in prison.

"I see," Tony said. "And Michael's not a magician, so he wouldn't know how to escape or hide himself." He could understand why Gob didn't want his brother to get hurt, even if Michael was crazy. Tony didn't want his own younger brother to get hurt, no matter how annoying he was, and he hadn't really wanted his older brother to die, either. It left everything unfinished and messed up between them; the revenge sex with his brother's widow hadn't helped either. It just felt empty and fucked up.

Gob watched Tony get quiet and zoned out, which felt strangely familiar to him. He wondered if Tony might hear the same music he did, but then told himself he was being silly. Tony was famous and successful; he didn't have any reason to feel darkness inside him.

Gob curiously reached out and touched Tony's W beard, just to feel it, and Tony finally blinked and seemed embarrassed. He made an excuse, "Sorry, I just was thinking about having a smoke. I shouldn't have started smoking, but now I can't quit."

Gob shrugged it off and said flirtatiously, "I like what you did with your new beard."

"Oh yeah, my girl--my girl Friday, she said the pink triangles go with my coming out." It was easier to maintain the little fuzzy beard too.

Laying on the charm, Gob asked him, "So will you help me with Michael?"

"I don't know. I never tried to plan a prison escape before."

"Well, you can figure it out. We can both figure it out." And hopefully together they could make it work without somebody getting shivved.

Tony shrugged and finally agreed, since he did want to do an illusion with Gob. "Okay. Are Buster and Steve Holt going to help too?"

Gob thought about it, but said, "Nah, they mess up too much as assistants." And they might let secrets slip to the other family members, until Dad called the police to stop their escape. "This is too important."

"Well I'll do my best, but..." Tony realized something. "Wait, Gob, if we break Michael out of prison, then we'll get into trouble with the cops."

"I don't care. I have to save Michael, and then we can disappear on my yacht. Go down South America way."

Tony frowned. "But I can't just leave the country. What about our DVD?"

Gob realized that Tony assumed that he would come along with them as a fugitive. Gob did feel a little guilty about leaving Tony behind to face the music, but how could he get rid of Tony so he could be alone with Michael in Cabo? "Maybe we can make the illusion look like you didn't help. That it was just me and Michael escaping. Then you can stay here with your secret boyfriend."

"My boyfriend. Right." Tony felt a little guilty for making a promise without consulting her. Sally certainly wouldn't agree to suddenly leave America, especially to help Michael, whom she hated. "What about your boyfriend, Gob?"

Gob was caught off guard. "Oh, uh, he's gonna be there too. He'll meet us there when the coast is clear."

"Wow, I guess he really loves you."

"Yeah." Gob smiled to himself. Michael loved him at last.

Tony felt disappointed. "But wait, if you guys flee the country, then you couldn't come back because the police would be after you. So I wouldn't get to see you again, Gob, or have you be on my DVD."

Gob said, "You could work with Steve Holt instead, and teach him magic stuff." Maybe Steve would like Tony when they met, and Gob would be rid of his son for good. "Buster could help too if you get him in the Alliance."

"I guess. But I thought you and me were gonna have fun."

"Sure." Gob offered, "Look, maybe when it's safe, I'll contact you so you can secretly visit me and Michael. Yeah, you can tell us how our family is doing, and we can do a show together or something. Just don't bring Steve along, or anybody else." Gob assumed that he and Michael would be happy and successful in their new identities; he could easily make fake IDs for them, and Michael could become a lawyer. Whenever Tony visited Cabo, Gob could tell him that they changed their names and were pretending to be a couple to protect Michael's identity. That would explain things if he saw them kissing, though they would have to control themselves around him.

"What about your boyfriend?" Tony asked.

Gob forgot. "Oh, he might be home visiting his family. Besides, it's not like we're married or anything."

Tony considered it. "So you'd be a magician in South America under a fake name, and you'd never come back? You'd really do all that for your brother?"

"Yeah." Gob couldn't lose Michael to prison, just when he finally had his love. "Well, Michael might want to come back now and then to visit his son, but we'll have to do that secretly too, and you can help us then. Smuggle us in, and we'll wear disguises."

Tony suggested, "And maybe you could record something to be on my DVD after all, only you'll wear a mask on your face--"

"--like I did for the Sword of Destiny, only I won't take off the mask--"

"--and you can use your son's name since you look like him--"

"Then we'll make fun of that awful Masked Magician who reveals everybody's secrets."

"Yeah, totally!" Tony got excited and finally stopped worrying. "Okay, that sounds great. Besides, your brother might not get sent to prison after all, if they find him innocent. So you might not have to go anywhere." Tony would prefer it if Gob could stay in town.

"Yeah maybe. We'll see." Gob and Michael had still planned to run away together, though, to escape their family. Tony Wonder didn't have to know about that part, just like he didn't have to know what really happened in Iraq. Gob only said, "Thanks, Tony."

"You're welcome. I can't wait for us to work together."

"Yeah, it'll be fun."

"I hope you like my show tonight, too. I'll dedicate it to you."

"Really?" Feeling happy and proud, Gob impulsively hugged Tony, who hugged him back.

Without knocking, Sally barged into the dressing-room, and she was startled to find her boyfriend embracing Gob. "Tony?"

The magicians let go of each other and looked embarrassed, but they still sat close to each other. Tony explained with giddy excitement, "Sally, Gob and I are going to do an illusion together, and he agreed to be on my DVD."

She faked interest in his news. "Great. Listen, I need to talk to you alone."

"Oh. Gob, why don't you go join Michael and wait for the show to start?"

"Okay," Gob said, and left to find his brother.

As she shut the door, Sally looked worried and asked Tony, "Michael's here?"

Tony explained that Gob brought him to the show, and he tried to gush some more about their conversation.

She interrupted him and wanted him to finish telling her about what happened with Tobias earlier. Did Gob suspect anything? Was Michael trying to hide in Tony's magic props so he could escape the police? Or did he come here trying to see her? Either way, she would have to call Ice.

Tony said, "No, don't call Ice. Michael's not going to escape." Not yet anyway. "Gob says he's innocent, and doesn't even like his sister like that."

"What? You believe that?"

Tony shrugged. "I've never met Lindsay, and barely met Michael. But Gob believes him, and even wants to testify at his trial. Besides, Michael didn't ask about you at all, Sally. He's just working for Gob now and wants me to help Gob get back into the Magician's Alliance. We're gonna do that soon, and I'm gonna help his son too."

Sally sat down and gestured to the prop closet. "Wait. First tell me about Tobias."

So Tony sheepishly told her what happened and apologized for forgetting about the plan to trap Tobias. "Besides, all my assistants were busy fixing the walls, so they wouldn't have been able to wheel Tobias over to the guest house."

Sally shrugged and said that even if their plan had worked, Tobias would have been discovered when Lindsay and Maeby went to the guest house. She told Tony about the big scene at the fountain. "She really hates her mother, and is going to make a whole movie about it. It's so great! I'm gonna have to talk to Maeby soon, so we can swap stories about how awful Lindsay is. I could tell her about the high school election and give her pictures of Lindsay's old nose that she can use. She'll look worse than that Gangie monster!"

"Great." Tony was happy that she wasn't annoyed with him and had a new plan to work on. He wanted to avoid telling her that he agreed to help Gob's escape plan for Michael. Sally might be annoyed with him, and Tony was still hoping that Michael wouldn't go to prison so that the brothers wouldn't have to flee to South America anyway.

So Tony told Sally that she should go see Maeby now. He needed to get ready for his magic show, and he promised to inspect all his props for Michael.

"Okay, I'll talk to you after the show." Sally kissed him and left.

Meanwhile, Gob and Michael were sitting in the front row and whispering to each other in case any of Tony's crew could overhear them while they set up the show. Gob told Michael that he and Tony would do an illusion together and a DVD, but said he would tell him more details back at the hotel.

"Okay," Michael said, understanding that there was something more private to discuss later. He took Gob's hand and said, "I'm glad you're really trying to make friends with him now. It's better to be friends instead of being jealous all the time."

Gob nodded. It was better to be friends instead of hated rivals. Just like loving Michael was better than letting Dad pit them against each other.

Michael then told Gob about what happened at the fountain. He'd heard the gossip from one of Tony's assistants who got a cellphone video of the incident and showed it to Michael. "He said it's sure to be on the news tonight." The press loved covering Bluth brawls, even if this particular fight didn't turn physical. Michael summarized what Maeby said.

"Wow. So Maeby's still mad after all, but at Lindsay, not you."

"Yeah I'm sure glad she stopped accusing me of being with Tobias, and didn't mention it to the reporters either. That would have been awful."

Soon the rest of the audience began to arrive, so Michael and Gob just sat quietly and waited for the show to start.

Chapter Text

In the guest house Maeby wiped her tears and pushed away her mother who was still embracing her. "Stop it! You don't really love me. You were just faking it for all the reporters at the fountain."

"No, Maeby--" Lindsay began.

"You're a liar and you don't care about me." She turned to George Michael for support. "Tell her she's a horrible mother! Tell her!"

George Michael hugged his wife and gave her a tissue. "Hey, Maeby, calm down. I'm sorry I wasn't there."

Maeby had enough of crying and didn't want a hug now. She commanded, "Tell her off, George Michael! Tell her."

"Are you sure?" George Michael was not good with confrontation, and he felt outnumbered by the other adults with them in the house.

Pop-pop tried to intervene, saying, "We've already had enough fighting today. You kids may be emancipated, but have some respect."

"No! You can't tell us what to do!" Maeby glanced at Tobias irritably. "Don't you try to give me therapy either. You're as bad a therapist as you are a father."

"But Maeby--"

"It's amazing that you didn't lose your license before you broke that guy's sternum in Boston. You're so oblivious, that you didn't notice when I became a studio executive or got you that job as a security guard."

"Wait, you got me that job?" Tobias thought he was hired by Mort Meyers just because the original security guard got the part as Confidence Man #2.

"Yeah, but you screwed it up like you screwed up your job being a security guard at the mall." Tobias had shot his gun at all the mice in the store. (The mice had been part of Gob's attempt to shoplift with George Michael.)

"But why didn't you tell me about your job, Maeby? Why didn't you tell any of us?"

"Are you kidding? No one listens to me or notices me. It's like I'm invisible. When I didn't go to that Openings school, you didn't even ask me where I was all that time, Dad. You just made me help you make goody bags, and I bet you don't care about me now except for how I can get you parts in movies."

Tobias felt somewhat guilty because that was sort of true, and he sat down on a nearby couch. He wondered if Maeby ever found out that he lived on the Frank Wrench TV set for a while when Lindsay kicked him out and he pretended to be Mrs. Featherbottom.

George Sr. looked at Tobias smugly, and he did still think he was a useless Nellie, even if his son-in-law wasn't the reason that Lindsay moved to Boston.

Lindsay said to Tobias, "I told you you shouldn't keep talking about your part in Maeby's movie. She thinks we don't care." She went to pour some alcohol. "Maeby, honey, let's have a drink and talk things over." Maeby was only 16, but Lindsay thought her being emancipated might make the drinking legal. "Let's make up."

"No! I don't believe your lies." She turned to her husband again and insisted, "George Michael, talk to her. She wouldn't listen to me at the fountain, but you know her. You know the truth. Tell her she's awful."

So George Michael tried to obey his wife. He spoke honestly but calmly, "Aunt Lindsay, you forgot Maeby and neglected her so many times."

Lindsay protested, "I was giving her space so she could be independent."

Tobias added supportively, "Not like Buster."

George Michael told them, "It was too much space. I mean, you guys didn't know her age at all or remember her birthdays."

"I did," Tobias said.

"One time!" Maeby complained, "You were a day late, and the scrapbook cover said, For Maeby's 14th Birthday! I'm 16."

George Michael nodded. "Not to mention the graphic photos of her birth."

He shuddered, and so did George Sr., who hadn't liked the birth announcement either. He decided to sit down too, as he watched the argument unfold.

George Michael pointed out, "Aunt Lindsay still forgot Maeby's sweet sixteen, even though I reminded you guys. Plus she stole the birthday checks from Nana every year. If you were going to steal Maeby's money, then you could at least spend it on giving her a party and presents."

"But we needed that money to pay for her nanny and to keep sending her to school. Besides, what would a little kid do with thousands of dollars?"

"Was it that much?" He looked surprised. "My dad would have put that kind of money into a college fund or something."

Lindsay rolled her eyes, and Tobias said, "Michael thinks he's such a great parent, but he put too much pressure on you in school and turned you into a little John Wayne Jr. who can't express himself."

Lindsay added, "Yeah, and he freaked out about you kids getting married. You left because you were fighting with him, remember?"

George Michael acknowledged that his father wasn't perfect. "Yeah, we had to teach him a lesson, and it worked. He finally started listening to me, and he changed his mind about us. Maeby wants you guys to listen to her too and make up with her."

Actually, Maeby wanted to make them to cry and beg for her forgiveness.

Lindsay protested, "But Maeby didn't have to make a big scene in public like that. Why didn't she try to talk to us in private?"

"Because I wanted to ruin your party!"

"Well that's not very constructive," Tobias said.

George finally spoke up, "She must have learned it from Michael. He gave that awful speech at the Save Our Bluths dinner. We're lucky that people decided to donate to our legal fund anyway."

Maeby had indeed been at the party, standing in the back with George Michael during the speech, but she scoffed at the idea that she was imitating Uncle Mike. "No, he's as bad as you guys sometimes. I knew that you wouldn't pay attention to what I said unless I made a scene in front of other people."

Lindsay asked, "And you're making a movie to make me look like a bad mother?"

"You are a bad mother! Maybe just as bad as Gangee is!"

Lindsay gasped.

"Hey, hey!" George Sr. protested on behalf of his wife. "I know Lucille is critical and controlling and manipulative..." He realized this was the wrong way to go. "But Nana was no picnic either. You think she was a sweet old lady, but she turned both Lucille and her sister into alcoholics. Then she disowned Lucille when she dumped her fiancé in the army." (For Oscar.) "Lucille had to start from scratch, working as a waitress at some roadside diner when I met her." (Then she tricked him into getting her pregnant so she could be with a man who reminded her of Oscar but wasn't a hippie, so she could get money from her mother again.) "Then we got married, and she helped me run the business for years." Both the original banana stand and the housing company. "She got insecure about ever being poor again, but she was smarter and tougher than lots of guys in the business. The S.E.C. didn't catch on to us for decades." Plus, Lucille helped him stick it to Sitwell for years.

Lindsay folded her arms and complained, "She didn't have to lie and be so mean."

George pat her shoulder comfortingly. "She had postpartum depression." And addictions to tobacco and alcohol. "We had to lie about lots of things to protect the family."

Lindsay still didn't forgive Lucille, and she touched her necklace, half wanting to take it off, and half wanting to go see Lucille while wearing the fur too, so she could flaunt them both.

Meanwhile, Maeby remembered the day that she spent being criticized by Lucille, but she didn't want to think about feeling sympathy for her mother then. Just because Lindsay had an awful mother didn't excuse her own behavior.

Lindsay asked, "Protecting the family, or protecting herself? She's the one guilty of all the crimes, isn't she, Daddy?"

Maeby thought she was a hypocrite. "You kept trying to start businesses in Boston too, with Uncle Mike's money." She paused to wonder if that was also a sign of Uncle Mike being in love with his sister for years. Ew. "Everybody in this family is so busy with their fucked up businesses and affairs and trials and rehab. It's not 'family first' at all; it's family last."

George Michael nodded and held Maeby's hand. He was glad for her to take over the arguing, and he felt secure that their marriage was better than anybody else's in the family. Except for his mom and dad, but he did worry a bit that his father had been in love with Aunt Lindsay also. But if he didn't ever cheat on his wife, that would be okay, he supposed. George Michael knew what it was like to have secret feelings you were ashamed of, and Aunt Lindsay did explain earlier that she didn't try to have sex with Michael until recently.

Pop-pop said, "We did everything for this family! We taught the kids lessons and sent them to the best schools. If the teachers were wrong, then we got rid of them." George poisoned two teachers with muffins, while Lucille made Michael's math teacher disappear. "We taught them about hard work and competition. I mean, yeah, maybe Tobias screwed you up, and Lindsay listened to too many kooky liberal ideas, but she tried to be a good mother to you, Maeby. She moved across the country to keep you away from Lucille's criticisms."

George Michael asked, "Is that why you guys only visited every couple of years?"

Maeby shrugged, and Lindsay tried to repeat much of what she said at the fountain.

George Michael was surprised, and protested, "Hey, my mother was good! I liked the BabyTock. It's why I'm so good at woodblock."

Lindsay insisted, "It was dangerous, just like the Cornballer it came from, but you guys burned yourselves on that all the time. Tracey didn't have the natural childbirth in the bathtub like I did, and she didn't listen to anything I tried to tell her about how to be a better parent." Both Tracey and Michael did not believe in many new-age parenting techniques that Lindsay and Tobias advocated.

Maeby scoffed. "You weren't better!"

George Michael agreed. "My mom was always there for me, and she protected me. I never got hurt on that stuff." Though he heard his father swear quite a lot whenever he got burned on the Cornballer. "I'm fine, and we had fun."

George Sr. still hated Tracey though, and he complained, "She coddled you too much. It was like Lucille with Buster. You're no good at sports either."

George Michael got annoyed. "She loved me! That's what's important. I wish she was still here to see me get married and stuff." He took Maeby's hand and thought of the ring in his pocket, but he wanted to wait for a more private time to give it to her.

Lindsay pointed out, "Tracey might not have approved of you guys. She might have freaked out like Michael did."

Maeby shrugged. "Then we would have told her off too. So what?"

George Michael was shocked. "No, no, she'd want us to be happy, Maeby." He dismissed the subject and turned to his aunt. "It sounds like you and Uncle Tobias were doing the opposite of whatever Gangie or my mom did. But that doesn't mean that you were good parents. You overcompensated and ignored Maeby when she needed you. It was like you didn't care about her at all."

"No! I loved Maeby," she insisted. "We both did."

"You have a terrible way of showing it. Look, I guess you didn't mean to hurt her, but you did. You neglected her and didn't pay attention to her in school. You lied to her and fought all the time and took drugs in the family-band. Then you did the open marriage, and Uncle Tobias pretended to be Mrs. Featherbottom for a while."

Maeby added, "Then Dad got those awful hair implants, and you guys wanted to use his disease for attention. You're both so fucked up, and I'm going to make you look horrible in the movie so everyone will know I was right. Then they'll judge you, and you'll be sorry."

George Michael didn't want to be so confrontational, and he wanted Maeby to make up with her parents. "Come on, maybe you guys meant well and didn't realize what you were doing to her. But now you know. So maybe you can listen to her now, and change for the better. Then Maeby could rewrite the movie to be a little nicer."

"What?" Now she was getting angry at her husband.

George Sr. said, "Hey, raising kids isn't easy or simple! You kids don't know yet, because you haven't had any babies, and hopefully you won't for years." He was going to continue, but the door opened.

Sally Sitwell came in and asked how things were going. "Everything okay now?"

"No!" Maeby folded her arms stubbornly.

Sally shrugged. "Well, if you guys would prefer to leave the party, then I can sneak you out while everybody's watching Tony Wonder's show. It starts in a few minutes."

Reminded of his doomed crush on Tony Wonder, Tobias said, "Yeah, maybe we should go home. You kids come in the limo with us, and we'll talk some more."

Maeby refused. "No way! And you guys are not sneaking out of the party, because I'll make another scene! I'll tell the reporters more stuff, and George Michael will tell them too."

"I will?" He looked worried, but saw that she was annoyed already with him and might fight with him too if he didn't support her.

Sally interrupted by saying, "You can save it for the movie." She smiled and flattered Maeby. "I mean, I'm sure it will be a great success like your other movies. I'd really love to talk to you about it more, Maeby. Being a big executive in Hollywood must be great."

"Well, yeah, it is," Maeby said guardedly, not quite sure how to take Sally's attempt to connect with her. She seemed to want something.

Sally said to everyone else, "So stay or go. I don't care. I've just got to lock up this house if you guys leave, and tell my Dad that his party is going to be ruined some more." She was gleeful at the thought of more scandals plaguing the Bluth Company.

George Sr. said they should probably try to sneak out despite Maeby's threat, and he tried to steer Lindsay and Tobias to the door. He told Sally, "Just tell Sitwell to send Lindsay's presents to the model home." He still wanted to get the money from returning the presents, and given how extravagant the party was, they'd be screwing Sitwell out of a lot of money.

"Presents! Oh." Lindsay remembered the gifts that Stan Sitwell promised her, and she said, "No, I want to stay and get my presents. Maybe we can ask Sitwell where they are, and we can sneak over there and get them before we go home. The limo has plenty of room."

"But we won't have time if Maeby gets the reporters."

Maeby rolled her eyes at her mother's typical greed, and was going to follow through on her threat, but Sally stopped her and whispered, "I have stuff to tell you," so Maeby stayed behind while Lindsay left with George and Tobias.

After the door closed, Sally told Maeby, "Lindsay's so horrible! I have so many stories I can tell you for your movie, and I still have pictures of her old nose."

"Really?" Now Maeby was interested.

George Michael was indecisive about whether he should get Maeby to make up with her parents, but there was no stopping her as she sat down with Sally and gossiped.

He decided to just get a drink and stay with them until they were done, or the party was over. Sally even started to tell some stories from the 1990s, when Lindsay was jealous of Lucille liking Tracey. George Michael wanted to hear tales of his mother, and he did feel annoyed with Lindsay for criticizing his mother's parenting skills.

To George Michael, his mother was undoubtedly better than his father, who meant well, but had many faults due to his horrible upbringing. George Michael still wished that his mother was still alive, and he wondered if that would have kept his dad from going quite so crazy the past few years. At the very least, it would have kept Michael from trying to sleep with Lindsay. George Michael was glad to make up with his father, and he hoped things would be okay.

Meanwhile Lindsay called Stan Sitwell to ask about the presents, but he talked her into staying at the party.

"No, no, Lindsay, don't leave yet. Lucille sang with her brother, and the guests forgot about it. Every family has squabbles anyway. Don't worry. We'll go to the magic show, then cut the cake and give you the presents. I promise that if Maeby tries to makes another scene, that I'll stop her. I'll have my security keep her away, and make her stay in the guest house or something until the party is over. Then you can take as much time as you need to make up."

Lindsay agreed and tried to talk George into it, but he was doubtful.

"No, we should go. The reporters will still pester us with questions even if they don't see Maeby."

"But Daddy, please. I can ask Ice to keep them away or something. This party was supposed to make up for me being three years older. I want to stay."

George Sr. couldn't resist his daughter, especially since he felt guilty about how Lucille had driven Lindsay away to Boston. "All right. We'll stay."

"Good. He told us to meet him at Tony Wonder's show. Let's go."

So they left with Tobias, who was reluctant to see Tony again, but tried to push aside his feelings with denial again. Then Buster and Steve came along, accompanied by Steve's date, Sue Hsu. Buster had explained to Steve the incident at the fountain, and they hoped that everything was okay now.

(Earlier, Buster had managed to get some juice from a waiter who didn't know any better, and he went wild, dancing around and singing about being in love. Unfortunately, he frightened people when his new prosthetic hand kept falling off, and he got depressed about being a monster again. George Michael had to retrieve his uncle's hand, then reassure him that he wasn't a monster. When Tobias told them about Maeby confronting Lindsay at the fountain, Buster decided to go look for Gob and Steve. He found Steve first, after calling his phone and interrupting his make out session with Sue. Besides kissing Steve, Sue also spent much of the time trying to teach him how to say her last name.)

Buster and Steve were excited about the magic show, and Sue held onto Steve's arm.

Soon the family joined the crowd at the magic show and took their seats with Stan Sitwell, Lucille Austero, and Ice. (Argyle was sitting with his gay friends in another row nearby.)

When Ice couldn't find Sally, Stan had called his daughter, who said she was with Maeby at the guest house.

"Really? Do you think you can keep her there and calm her down?"

"Sure. I'd love to. We have so much in common." Like hating Lindsay. Sally didn't care about missing the show, and Tony would understand, since she had seen his show many times before. Besides, he told her to go see Maeby, after their plot against Tobias failed.

Her father said, "Thanks." What great luck, that Sally was helping him keep the party under control. He believed that this meant Sally really was starting to feel sisterly to Lindsay. Now he could just concentrate on watching Tobias's reaction to the show.

Buster was going to call Gob to find him, but then he spotted Gob and Michael at the front and waved to them. They waved back, but didn't get the chance to talk before the show started, and the curtains opened.

The magic show began with electronic music and a voiceover by Tony about secrets. A nondescript man in a suit apparently represented "society" as Tony Wonder came onstage. Gob looked disappointed and murmured to Michael, "he didn't dedicate it to me."

Michael patted his hand soothingly and whispered that the Society guy put a gag on Tony Wonder, which apparently explained the voiceover. Neither of them noticed a bean bag chair in the audience.

On stage Tony did a running kind of dance toward a cop character, who caught him and handcuffed him. Michael recognized the guy as a real cop that he met before. "He's part of the gay couple that had that baby with Maggie Lizer. Or actually, she lied about being their surrogate."

Gob recognized Officer Taylor too as a cop who had hit Oscar before when mistaking him for his fugitive twin brother. Gob cringed in his chair and was worried that the cop would find some excuse to hit him too. Maybe he shouldn't have come to the show.

Now there was a father figure onstage wearing a bald cap and glasses. "I don't want to look at you, son," the disapproving voiceover said, and the guy put a hood on Tony's head.

Gob was surprised that Tony apparently had father issues like he had, and that his father even looked the same as George Sr. When he heard, "Why can't you be like your brother?" Gob glanced at Michael sadly, and thought of the Boyfights.

Michael wished they could be alone so he could hold and kiss Gob. Make up for all the hurt, and tell him that they didn't need their parents anymore. For now, all he could do was squeeze Gob's hand to say that he loved him.

Meanwhile, Tony's assistants revealed a big closet on the stage and locked him inside. Then with an explosion of glitter, Tony popped out of the bean bag chair, asking, "Did somebody say Wonder?"

Nobody did, but his gay fans cheered anyway, and Gob was surprised into clapping along. Tony grinned at Gob and then ran onto the stage. "Now everybody's gay!" With more glitter, the assistants stripped their costumes and danced to the music.

As they continued dancing, Tony took the microphone and welcomed the audience to the show. Then he pointed to Gob and said, "I'd like to dedicate my show tonight to a truly great magician, who just came back from an amazing USO tour in Iraq. Please give a big hand to my friend, Gob Bluth."

Gob was flattered, and Michael was happy for him, encouraging him to stand up and take a bow. Michael did his best to stay out of the spotlight, lest Lindsay be angry with him. Gob joined Tony on the stage and thanked him with a hug.

Tony whispered in his ear, "Sorry I couldn't do it earlier. It was pre-taped." Plus, he had been in the beanbag chair the entire time, while the guy on the stage was wearing a mask, but Tony didn't have time to explain all that now.

Then Tony spoke into the microphone again, "Now let's have a birthday dance for Gob's sister Lindsay Bluth!" So the music changed and Tony danced with Gob while the other assistants removed the closet from the stage to let out the fake Tony.

Tony encouraged the audience to stand up and dance too. Many of his gay fans danced, though some of the more conservative company investors were too shy and not used to dances that weren't waltzes. They stayed in their seats but clapped along to the music. Michael also stayed in his seat to not draw attention to himself, but he was happy to see Gob so giddy.

Lindsay got up and danced with Ice, glad that Sally Sitwell wasn't here. Steve danced with Sue, and Buster danced with Lucille Austero, but just as friends. Lindsay was having a great time, and she hoped that the cake and presents would be great too. Maybe she could bring some cake to Maeby as a peace offering after the party ended, and they could make up.

Meanwhile, Stan Sitwell watched Tobias's reaction to the show, hoping that he would be inspired to come out, but he couldn't read Tobias's feelings. He seemed withdrawn and quiet, not even clapping. Maybe Stan's plan hadn't worked after all, and Tobias was just too deep in denial. He sighed and decided to come up with another plan tomorrow. Maybe he could get Tobias a gym membership where he could meet more guys. And if Maeby fired her father from the movie, Stan could try offering him another job.

Chapter Text

George Bluth Sr. didn't enjoy the magic show, and he wasn't impressed by Tony Wonder, even if his tricks worked better than any of Gob's stupid tricks. George couldn't take any magician seriously, especially one who thought that Gob was great. He scoffed during Tony's dedication, and he wondered if Michael had bribed the guy into giving Gob a publicity push.

Thinking of Michael, George worried that his disowned son would try to sneak into Tony Wonder's prop closet so that he could disappear after the party. George tried to keep an eye on Michael from afar, but it was difficult through the dancing crowd. He felt annoyed that Gob was dancing on the stage instead of doing his job and watching Michael for any escape attempts. Gob was always disappointing him.

Ice wasn't doing his job, either, by dancing with Lindsay instead of guarding Sally Sitwell. But Sally wasn't around at the moment, and Lindsay probably needed the protection more. George also knew that his daughter desperately wanted to have sex with Ice, so he looked to see whether Tobias was getting jealous at all.

Tobias did glance at his wife dancing with Ice, but he was also looking onstage at Gob dancing with Tony Wonder. He sat very quietly in his chair, and Sitwell was watching him for some reason. George wondered if Sitwell was starting to hate Tobias too and was hoping that Tobias would fight with Ice and get beat up. That would be great, but George didn't like the feeling of agreeing with Sitwell about anything.

At least Buster was dancing with Lucille Austero. Maybe one of George's plots was finally working, and Buster would be able to steal Sitwell's girlfriend right from under his nose.

Then the dance music ended, and Tony thanked Gob before asking the audience to sit down again. Gob headed back to the front row, while Tony's assistants returned to the stage with a big box for the saw-the-lady-in-half trick.

When Gob returned to his seat, Michael took his hand and smiled, saying, "You'll be back in the Magician's Alliance in no time."

"Yeah," Gob whispered in Michael's ear that he wished they could dance together.

"Me too."

For now, Gob settled for putting his arm around the back of Michael's chair.

George noticed Gob's gesture, but he didn't suspect anything strange yet. Gob was often clingy after all, and maybe he had finally remembered to do his job of keeping tabs on his brother.

As the show went on, George looked around the crowd to try to spot the reporters, but apparently Sitwell's security people had managed to sequester them away from the audience. George then tried to hear if anybody nearby was still gossiping about Maeby's fight with Lindsay at the fountain. Nobody was, so maybe the magic show was a good distraction for the party guests. George just hoped that the show would be over soon, so they could collect Lindsay's birthday presents and leave before Maeby managed to find the press again. George wouldn't mind it if Maeby made another scene and caused Sitwell a headache, so long as he and Lindsay escaped beforehand.

Lindsay was happy after dancing with Ice, but when she glanced at Tobias, she feared that her husband was upset with her, and she felt guilty. So Lindsay tried to restrain herself and not flirt with Ice during the rest of the show.

Meanwhile, Steve and Buster quietly discussed Tony Wonder's surprising dedication, as well as Gob's behavior. Steve explained to Sue, "My dad didn't like Tony Wonder before. I don't know when he made friends with him." It must have been during the party tonight, but it seemed very sudden.

Buster nodded. "Yeah it's weird. We'll have to ask them about it. Maybe this means we can go backstage later and get autographs."


Sitwell told them, "Sally's friends with Tony Wonder, and she promised to take some of Argyle's friends to get autographs after the show. But she might be too busy with Maeby now. Maybe we can all go with Gob instead." He hoped that Lindsay would be tempted to linger at the party.

George protested, though, "No, let's not waste time. Get right to the cake and presents so that we can leave. We can't hang around long with all the reporters wanting a scoop."

Sitwell saw his point, since he wasn't sure how long Sally could keep Maeby calm. His security people couldn't keep the reporters on ice indefinitely either.

Tobias also said he didn't want to stay and see more of Tony Wonder.

So Sitwell sighed. "Fine. We'll wrap up the party as quickly as possible." He mainly just wanted Lindsay to stay for the presents, so he that could rub them in George Bluth's face. So Sitwell called the caterers and told them to have the cake ready right after the magic show.

"I can't wait for my presents!" Lindsay was excited about both the gifts and the cake. She was so glad that Lucille wasn't here to tell her not to eat two slices of cake tonight, that she forgot about her idea to bring Maeby cake as a peace offering. She often forgot her daughter.

However, Buster and Steve still wanted to see Tony Wonder after the show. "I've met him before with Gob. I bet he'll let me backstage."

"You can take Argyle's friends with you," Lucille Austero suggested. She told George, "Buster and Steve can leave the party later and get a ride home with me."

George shrugged indifferently because he only cared about getting himself and Lindsay out of the party. Tobias would probably come along too and help carry presents to the car. For once, he could be useful.

When the magic show finally ended, Tony bowed as the crowd applauded. He smiled at Gob, then went behind the curtains with his assistants.

The Balboa Country Club waiters directed people to go to another outdoor stage where they would soon serve cake and more champagne. As the crowd dispersed, Lucille Austero started to lead Lindsay away, and George insisted on taking Lindsay's other arm so that Sitwell wouldn't try to escort her.

Sitwell gave in again and waved them on. He asked Buster and Steve to go meet up with Argyle's friends who were waiting for Sally, then he left with Tobias.

So Buster went to tell Argyle's friends of the change of plans, but Sue held Steve back a little while. She told Steve that she had fun tonight, but she had to get back to her family, with whom she came to the party.
"Oh, okay. But I can call you tomorrow?"

"Yeah." She kissed him goodnight and wished him good luck with getting Tony Wonder's autograph.

Then Steve caught up with Buster and the others. Soon the group made their way to the front of the stage.

Michael and Gob were discussing whether to go get cake, or go backstage again, and they stood apart when their family approached.

"Hey, brothers!" Buster said. "That was a great show."

"Yeah," Gob agreed, but looked at the gay guys with them, especially one guy holding a "Freedom" sign.

They excitedly explained that they wanted to meet Tony Wonder and get autographs.

"Okay, I guess we can go," Gob said with shrug. "But give him a minute to get the glitter out of his hair." Tony's assistants probably also needed time to put away all the props backstage.

While they waited together, Steve asked Gob, "Dad, when did you make friends with Tony Wonder?"

Gob answered casually, "Oh, before the show. He's not so bad, and I'm going to be on his next DVD."

"Wow! That's so cool."

Michael added, "Tony's going to get Gob back into the Magician's Alliance on Monday. You too, Steve."

"Really?" Steve was surprised.

"Yeah, you'll have to come with me to the Gothic Castle on Monday, so I'll call you then." Gob didn't want to get into the details of Alliance business in front of non-magicians, so he decided to lead the way backstage now.

The group followed eagerly, and Gob knocked at Tony's dressing room door. "I brought some guys to meet you."

Tony opened the door in surprise to see such a big crowd. "Oh." But he was glad that he didn't see Tobias there as well.

"You remember Buster? This is my son Steve--"

"Steve Holt!"

"And these guys..." Gob trailed off and let Buster introduce Argyle's friends.

They had copies of the British magazine, and the Freedom guy wanted his sign autographed too. It was why he brought it to the party. A couple of the guys also apologized about sneaking backstage earlier and knocking over the walls.

Tony dutifully signed autographs and politely posed for photos with his fans. But when they gushed about the magazine article and started to confess about their own coming out stories, he felt uncomfortable and guilty. So he told them that they better get to the fountain to get some cake before all the other guests ate it. They just laughed and said they were on diets.

Then Steve said that Tony's show was great, and thanked him for helping them with the Magician's Alliance.

"No problem. I can't wait to see your father/son act." Tony smiled at Gob and asked, "Did you like my show?"

"Yeah, it was great." Gob still felt a little weird about the voiceover part about Tony's father, though, and he remembered Tony zoning out before. But Gob couldn't ask Tony about any darkness inside him in front of all these people.

Tony also wished they were alone, and he said, "I can't wait for us to work together."

Gob nodded and smiled, while Michael looked on approvingly.

Then Tony asked everybody to go again so he could pack up his things, and this time they obeyed. Argyle's friends went to find him and show off their autographs. Everybody else went to get cake.

Meanwhile, most of the party guests were already gathered around a raised platform on which a huge cake was displayed on a table. The stage also had a microphone, which Sitwell used to lead the crowd in singing happy birthday to Lindsay. The catering staff lit the candles, and Lindsay made another silent wish as she blew out the candles. (This time she wished that Maeby would make up with her soon and not make her look bad in her movie.) Then the servers cut the cake, and waiters served slices to all the guests.

While Lindsay was enjoying her slice, Sitwell raised his glass of champagne in a toast to Lindsay. He gave a speech to the investors about a "new start" for the company and he thanked everyone for attending the party and making it a success.

George folded his arms and wanted Sitwell to hurry up, but Lucille Austero hushed him and tried to keep him in the background with Tobias.

Then Sitwell announced three big birthday presents, each with a musical flourish from the orchestra. First he gave Lindsay a membership at the country club, so that they could see each other all the time, outside of work. "And what fine work the country club did with the catering tonight," he said, encouraging the guests to clap for their waiters.

Though Ice joined in the polite applause, he just felt a little bit envious that he wasn't hired to cater Sitwell's party. He could have used the free publicity. Ice decided that he would try to speak to Lindsay later and ask if her job offer of being a bodyguard would also allow him to cater parties at the Bluth Company.

Lindsay put down her cake on the nearby table and took the membership card happily. It was a golf membership, not a pool membership, giving her privileges to eat inside the club. She didn't play golf herself, but she figured that her father could also use it to schmooze with company investors and get them to sell their stock. Then they could vote out Sitwell as CEO sooner.

Sitwell went on with the next announcement. He pulled a key out of his pocket and said that it was the key to the guest house on his estate. "So that you or your family can always feel welcome in my home." He was subtly trying to get her to move in, and he hoped that George Sr. still hated him too much to come join Lindsay in the guest house.

"Oh, um, thank you," Lindsay said, taking the key from him. She didn't intend to move in, and she thought maybe Sitwell was trying to help her make up with Maeby, by letting the kids stay there whenever they came home to visit.

Sitwell's final present was a giant check, but not to Lindsay. Sitwell said it was a charity foundation in Lindsay's name, dedicated to helping underprivileged children.

Lindsay was shocked and amazed by getting something named after her. Unlike her attempt to get attention for Graft vs. Host, there was nothing bad about helping underprivileged kids, and the crowd were already applauding. It reminded Lindsay of her wine and cheese fundraisers in Boston, and she thanked Sitwell enthusiastically.

Her only real disappointment was that she thought Sitwell would give her "lots" of presents, not just three. But he soon hugged her and whispered in her ear that the rest of her gifts were in a room of the guest house, and she could get them in private any time she liked.

George Sr. watched with annoyance. Sitwell had given Lindsay presents that she couldn't return for money. Not without some major backlash and embarrassment. He was upset about being foiled, and he grumbled to Tobias, "That hairless freak!"

Lucille Austero hushed him, while fireworks went off again, and Sitwell told everybody goodnight.

Chapter Text

The reason the press didn't mob Lindsay and Steve Holt earlier was that Stan Sitwell had his security people keep all the news media away from them, using the excuse that no photography or videorecording was allowed during Tony Wonder's magic show.

The frustrated and bored reporters didn't like being penned up and given press releases about Lindsay's new green building initiatives at the Bluth Company. So they began discussing the Bluth family's earlier scandals among themselves, and some photographers remembered a Christmas party at the Bluth banana stand on Balboa Island. A marijuana-impaired Lucille Bluth ran over her son-in-law Tobias, then crashed her car into the banana stand, trapping Gob, who got rescued by Buster with a crane. It was a huge disaster and a very strange party, but rather typical for the Bluths.

At the time, some of the Bluth Company employees had mentioned in TV news interviews that Lindsay and George Michael sang "Afternoon Delight" during karaoke just before the car crash. A temporarily deaf Tobias had even said, "That's my wife and nephew! We have an open relationship." So it seemed that Lindsay had a history of being inappropriate with her nephews, long before she knew she was adopted. Trisha Thoon called in the scoop to her TV station, and her colleagues started to look up old footage from the Christmas party last year. Unfortunately, they didn't have any footage of the actual karaoke singing, just interviews about it and the subsequent car crash.

After the magic show ended, Sitwell's security folks finally released the reporters, but it took them a while to find out where the party guests all went. They missed the cake cutting and when they caught up, Lindsay was still on stage finishing her cake slice and watching the final fireworks that wished her happy birthday.

Seeing the news media straggle in, Sitwell held up the big charity foundation check again and gestured for the paparrazzi to come get photos of it.

They had no interest in that topic, though, and Trisha Thoon asked where Steve Holt was.

Another reporter added, "And where's Maeby?" They'd love to hear more details about her mother trying to steal her boyfriend.

Not to be outdone, Trisha remarked snidely, "Are they singing karaoke somewhere?"

"Or having Afternoon Delight with Michael?" According to witnesses, Michael had also sung the song with his niece Maeby during the previous Christmas party at the office. This crazy family was just full of incestuous incidents, and always had been.

"Oh no!" Lindsay got embarrassed and backed away from the barrage of microphones and cameras. George Sr. didn't understand the references, though, because he'd been living in the attic at the time. So she whispered to her father, "It's like Buster's 'Why I Want to Marry My Mother' magazine article again. Only worse."

"Oh." Now he got it, and tried to shield Lindsay more, while Ice and Sitwell joined in. Tobias was still somewhat numb and distracted, not sure what was going on.

Holding the giant check in front of her, Stan Sitwell urged Lindsay to leave quickly.

Lucille Austero also went to the front of the stage, trying to tell the reporters that the karaoke singing was old news and no big deal. After all, she herself and her brother Argyle had played young lovers in The Fantasticks musical years ago, and that didn't mean anything. She defended the Bluths, "They were probably just joking, or roasting themselves for the company employees."

Meanwhile, Lindsay, Tobias, and George Sr slipped out the back while the reporters kept asking where Maeby, Steve Holt, and Michael were. Behind the stage, George led the way and tried to blend in with the crowd.

Some party guests had already started to leave after the cake-cutting, and some were now abandoning ship due to these accusations of incest. Clearly this party was ruined, and they should have left earlier when Maeby fought with Lindsay at the fountain. Not even Lucille Austero singing and tap dancing with her brother could save this mess.

As they ran for the front gates, Lindsay briefly thought of ducking into the guest house to hide (and get the rest of her presents), but she knew that Maeby was there and likely still angry enough to fight again. Maeby would certainly make things worse with the press.

So Lindsay said nothing and just followed her father to where the cars were parked. There was already a crowd gathered, and the valets were having trouble keeping up with demand.

George got annoyed and asked where the limo was. He would be forced to ride in Sitwell's limo after all.

They soon spotted it, and the chauffeur was already waiting for them, since he saw the final fireworks in the sky. So George, Lindsay, and Tobias got into the back and locked the doors. They told the driver to go, and soon the limo drove away from Sitwell's estate.

The other Bluths, however, were late for the cake-cutting, due to hanging out backstage with Tony Wonder, and at first they didn't run into the people leaving the party.

While they tried to find the stage, Buster mentioned that he and Steve were getting a ride home with Lucille Austero.

Gob asked his son if he could keep the Camaro for the night and return it tomorrow instead.

Steve said sure, and mentioned that he was going to see Sue tomorrow, so he would need his car back.

"Good." If Steve was busy on a date, then he wouldn't be clingy, and Gob would get to spend more time with Michael on Sunday.

Then Michael, Gob, Steve, and Buster finally encountered the crowd of people rushing away from the party, often even leaving cake and champagne behind on benches. The edge of the fountain was also littered with plates and glasses. Only the Balboa Country Club waiters stopped to try to clean up the mess.

"What's going on?"

Then hordes of reporters arrived and saw the Bluths. They were most interested in Michael and Steve, and they mobbed them with questions about Maeby and Lindsay and "Afternoon Delight."

Michael had no idea why they were bringing up old news, but he tried to back away. "What? No, I did not try to steal Maeby from my son!" What an absurd question.

Gob tried to distract the reporters with a fireball, but ended up shooting lighter fluid in their eyes instead. He grabbed Michael's hand and ran away with him.

Most of the reporters didn't follow, instead making their way to the fountain to try to wash the lighter fluid out of their eyes.

Steve thought that this was very clever of his father, and he threw champagne and cake at anybody who was still bothering him. Then he and Buster ran away together. By that time, Sitwell's security people arrived to try to control the situation as well.

Meanwhile, the brothers were getting lost in the crowd, and Gob stopped to steal a piece of cake from the ground, using a handkerchief in his pocket. Michael wasn't sure if Gob was going to use it on a reporter, but he urged Gob to hurry. Gob stuffed the handkerchief in his coat pocket, then they ran out to the parking lot, which was jammed up too.

"How are we gonna get out?"

Gob wished that he had doves in his pockets to release, or maybe mice. He did spot the key to the Camaro hanging on a hook behind the harried valets, so he took it, and ran off with Michael to the car.

They got inside the Camaro and caught their breaths, hoping that the reporters wouldn't still come after them. If they did, maybe they would assume that Michael and Gob brought the staircar instead and look for that. Michael wondered if he should call Buster and Steve.

Gob said that they'd probably find Lucille Austero and get their ride home.

"I guess so." Michael held hands with him and said, "This party ended about as badly as the Queen Mary party."

"Yeah." Gob was wondering about what Tony Wonder was doing right now. "I hope he doesn't get upset and back out of our deal."

"You mean not get you back in the Alliance?" Michael was worried.

Gob said, "Well maybe he'd still do that, but I think he might feel weird about you dirty dancing with Maeby--"

Michael sighed with regret about that Christmas party.

Gob continued, "And maybe he wouldn't help me break you out of prison."

"Break me out of prison?"

Gob explained the deal he had made with Tony to help Michael escape prison.

Michael was touched by Gob's concern, but told him again not to worry about his trial. "I'll be fine. If anything goes wrong, I'll try to make a deal to go under house arrest."

Gob tried to be assured, but George Sr. had spent a year in prison despite being an innocent patsy. He squeezed Michael's hand and said, "Wish you could be with me on the yacht."

"I know," Michael said. "Me too." He wished they could leave for Cabo right now and go to that Mexican model home. They could spend the summer there alone, starting a new life and being free of their family for good. Free of everyone except George Michael, of course. But Michael was beginning to have hope for the future.

Maybe Gene Parmesan would find some proof that he and Gob weren't related. Then maybe someday, Michael could tell the truth to his son instead of hiding Gob. Maybe George Michael could understand because of him and Maeby? He'd acted pretty understanding about Michael and Lindsay, after all.

George Michael was still in the guest house, waiting. His wife had finished gossiping with Sally Sitwell, but they went into the bathroom to fix Maeby's makeup, after the crying she did earlier that evening. Sally had convinced Maeby that she should pretend to forgive her parents, so that Tobias would still do the homeschool thing for her. Then she could keep her studio job, and still devastate her parents later with the movie portraying them both as horrible people. By the time it was finished and released to theaters, Maeby would be 18 and not need a work permit anymore.

Sally said, "It's just like how I'm pretending to go along with my Dad working at the Bluth Company. That way, he'll still trust me and tell me all his plans for Lindsay."

"And we can ruin them!" Maeby said. "They'll never know what hit them."

George Michael was willing to go along with their scheme by not telling Lindsay or Tobias the truth about the film, but he hoped that he wouldn't have to actively participate in anything illegal like he did when he tried to buy pot for Uncle Buster's girlfriend Lucille 2. George Michael wanted to support his wife, and maybe the movie was the only way to teach Lindsay and Tobias a lesson for being bad parents. They still thought they were so much better than Tracey and Michael. George Michael would be sure to tell the writers how wonderful his mother had been, and how her dying had been a great tragedy.

While Maeby and Sally were in the bathroom, George Michael turned on the TV news. Reporters were already covering Maeby's fight with Lindsay at the fountain and speculating about what juicy details would be in the tell-all movie.

George Michael expected this reaction, of course. "Well, she certainly got major publicity for our movie instead of Annyong's." Maeby's boss Mort Meyers would probably be pleased.

However, some old footage from the Bluth Company Christmas party last year came on, and Trisha Thoon reported via phone, "But that car crash and giant banana rescue overshadowed something far more disturbing going on." She gossiped about the karaoke singing and made insinuating remarks about the whole Bluth family.

"Oh no." George Michael got worried then.

Just then, Maeby came out of the bathroom with Sally Sitwell. Maeby was on the phone with Mort Meyers who told her to check the news.

She also was stunned and embarrassed to be reminded of singing "Afternoon Delight." She hoped that there wouldn't be footage of the actual singing. "Mort, that was an accident. It wasn't--"

In breaking news, the TV now showed Lindsay hiding and disappearng after the cake cutting, and the chaos of all the party guests leaving. Then there was Michael and Gob running one way, and Buster and Steve running another. When security people finally showed up, there was also some confusion as the orchestra and Tony Wonder's assistants tried to leave with the magic props.

Sally enjoyed seeing the birthday party get ruined so spectacularly. "Ha! Maybe Dad will finally see that Lindsay's more trouble than she's worth! She's not sweet innocent little Nellie anymore. She's a Bluth, through and through." She clapped excitedly, then decided to leave the guest house to enjoy the fun. She only stopped at the door to say, "Call me later," to Maeby.

Maeby stayed behind and listened to Mort say that any publicity was good. "People love Bluth brawls and scandals. They'll eat this up. Annyong's movie won't stand a chance. Good job!"

So Maeby shrugged and hung up, feeling weary. "Let's go home," she said to George Michael, who was more than happy to leave. "If anybody stops us, just say 'No Comment' and keep walking." There was no point in trying to defend themselves about the karaoke, if it was good publicity. Besides, they'd have their final say in the movie. For now, Maeby just wanted to go back home and rest before she had to fake forgive her parents tomorrow.

In jail, Lucille Bluth also saw the news about the family and realized that she dodged a bullet by not attending the party. Her lawyer John Haverstock called to tell her about the ruined party as well.

Lucille said that Lindsay deserved this scandal for refusing to grow up, even after finding out about her adoption. She was pretending that she was only 35 years old and trying to recapture the social status that she had in Boston when she was known for charity fundraisers.

Haverstock said, "Well, take care that the reporters don't bring up your own relationship with Buster. We might have to put you in rehab to make you look more sympathetic to the jury."

Lucille hated the thought of being deprived of alcohol longer. She just wanted to go home and sleep in her own bed and take her postpartum pills again. With alcohol, of course.

Meanwhile, in the limo, Tobias was relieved to finally leave the party, no matter the reason. He hadn't wanted to stay, ever since he saw Tony Wonder kissing Gob. Later, he became more depressed to see Gob dancing with Tony on the stage. Dancing with him in public, even though he claimed that his being bisexual was a secret.

Tobias brooded about that silently while Lindsay and George Sr. kept talking during the ride home.

Lindsay explained all the "Afternoon Delight" references to her father. "Didn't Michael tell you about those Christmas parties?"

George answered, "Mostly he just said that Gob fired everybody at the first party and that Lucille crashed the car at the second party. Oh and some stuff about George Michael not spending any time with him." George didn't actually see a problem with Gob firing all the employees, because he did many mass firings of employees over the years. But George had been annoyed about Gob wearing all his suits, and getting one covered in candy.

Lindsay could understand Michael being embarrassed about the karaoke incidents. "I thought this stuff blew over the first time, but they think they have new ammunition I guess."

George tried to look on the bright side, saying that Sitwell's party turned out no better than a Bluth party after all.

Lindsay nodded, and said, "Maybe Sitwell can issue press releases tomorrow saying that nothing happened with me and Steve Holt. Or George Michael. It's just a misunderstanding." Lindsay remembered with chagrin the time she offered to be a mother figure to George Michael, only to learn later that her nephew had a crush on his teacher and had misunderstood Lindsay's offer. She hoped that George Michael wouldn't tell Maeby about that, because Maeby might use the story in her movie.

Then George complained that Sitwell gave Lindsay presents that she couldn't return. "And what use is a million-dollar check to a charity foundation going to do us? You can't spend that money."

Lindsay said that she liked the charity foundation, as long as she didn't have to spend time with the underprivileged children herself. As for money, maybe they could return the other presents instead.

"What other presents?"

Lindsay told her father what Sitwell had whispered to her, that he got her many other birthday presents, and left them all at the guest house. "We must not have seen them because they were in another room I guess."

George was annoyed that Sitwell waited so long to tell her that. "You mean they were there all along, and he had us stay at his party for the magic show and the cake for no good reason? What a horse's ass!"

"I'm sure he didn't want to ruin the surprise, Daddy. Besides, I liked the magic show and the cake. We just have to wait for those reporters to leave. Maybe tomorrow I can sneak back and pick up my presents. We have to go back anyway and get the Mercedes you left behind."

"Sitwell just wants you to hang out at his guest house some more and be tempted to move in." What little he'd seen of the house looked far nicer than the model home in Sudden Valley. "Don't do it, Lindsay."

"Of course not. I'll probably just try to get Maeby and George Michael to stay there for the weekend instead of going back to L.A. Then we could talk and make up I guess."

George Sr. shrugged. "Yeah if she can change her movie to not trash us, we could use some good publicity."

"Yeah, that's why we need the charity foundation, to make us look good." Lindsay reached in her pocket to pull out her new membership at the Balboa Country Club. "This will be great too, so I can lunch with society ladies. And you can use my golf membership to play with the investors, Dad. Get them on our side so we can vote out Sitwell."

"I already have a golf membership," George said.

"No, no, Michael reduced it to a pool membership while you were in prison." He was such a penny pincher. "Mom tried to get Michael to upgrade it so she could eat in the clubhouse, but then she changed her mind without telling him. She pocketed the extra money so she could send Buster back to school instead." He joined an archaeological dig and got a huge rock stuck in the car for a while. "Your card never got upgraded from the pool membership."

"Oh." George considered whether he wanted Lindsay to buy him back his golf membership, or else use the new membership that Sitwell bought for Lindsay. After all, using Sitwell's own gift to undermine him at the company board meetings would be satisfying.

So they talked about which investors to woo, and how Lindsay could spy on Sitwell at the Balboa Country Club, where he might be relaxed and not as careful as he was at work.

Chapter Text

Eventually, the parking lot at Sitwell's estate emptied, and Gob was able to finally start the car and drive away without being accosted by reporters.

Michael was glad, and he hoped that George Michael and Maeby had managed to escape.

But after they drove a while, Gob realized that the cake in his pocket was melting from his body heat and leaking frosting on him,so he pulled the car to the side of the road and parked. He got out of the car and tried to clean his tux, but he just wrapped the cake in another magic handkerchief.

Michael looked around for a trash can and asked why Gob didn't just throw away the cake now. "You're not going to eat it, are you? It's been on the ground."

"No, it's for the doves back at the hotel. They'll probably be hungry by now."

"Oh. Well, I thought they might have had their fill at Dad's party when they flew away from you."

Gob shrugged and said, "They didn't steal that much food, and it's been hours now. We better feed them so they'll be quiet and not wake up anybody else at the hotel tonight."

"Yeah I guess so." Michael grinned and was reminded of the sex they would have soon. They better not get caught by the hotel employees. "I can't wait to move out to an apartment." Michael had already made inquiries at a few places, and was trying to decide on one that would fit his budget and make his savings last.

"Yeah." Gob came back to the car and considered giving Michael the handkerchief of cake to hold, but then he offered to let Michael drive instead. "It's your birthday."

Michael laughed, even though it really wasn't his birthday. So they switched seats and Gob held the handkerchief carefully to not make a mess.

Michael loved getting to drive a good car, after being saddled with the staircar for so long. Even when he bought a Corvette once with his company shares, Michael didn't get to enjoy that for long before selling it. He said, "We should get a car like this when we leave for Cabo."

"A car? I thought we were going on my yacht?"

"Yeah, but once we're living in the model home in Cabo, we won't need the yacht anymore. And besides, someone might recognize it from the news." Michael had been arrested on that yacht, after all.

"Oh." Gob saw his point and frowned. "Yeah and my Segway has my name on it. We gotta change our names and make fake IDs."

"Exactly," Michael said. Few people rode Segways, anyway, so that vehicle would make them stand out too much in Mexico.

Gob said sadly, "Well, I guess we'll have to sell that stuff then, and that would give us money for a car."

"Yeah." In case he had sentimental attachment, Michael offered, "You could always give the Segway to Steve Holt before we leave, so he can hang onto it for you." Maybe someday they'd come back to visit George Michael, and tell Steve the truth as well.

Gob shrugged and decided that he'd rather give the Segway to Tony Wonder as a farewell present, but if he mentioned it out loud, Michael would nag him about Steve instead. So he didn't say it. "Having a car again would be fun." Dad had continually given Gob cars over the years to make Michael envious. It also kept Gob happy when he played softball in the annual games against Sitwell. Of course, that didn't mean that Dad was any nicer to him, still yelling at him during games for doing a victory dance. And he never played catch with Gob when he was a kid either.

"Yeah, we could drive to lots of places." Michael thought about it happily. Escaping the family and starting over. Being together and free at last.

Gob said, "We could go camping finally and bring Franklin along too."

Michael frowned and felt worried. Maybe now was as good a time as any to talk to Gob about Franklin. "Gob, um, don't you think you should leave Franklin here when we go?"

"What? You mean put him in storage again, or give him to Steve? But Franklin likes hanging out again, and he doesn't like Steve. He's too clingy."

"Gob, you don't need Franklin. Your act with him got you beat up once, remember?" This was in 1987 while Michael was still in high school, but Gob had left home to escape Eve Holt. That was why Gob was at a club in Torrance, far away in Los Angeles County. At the hospital, Michael had convinced Gob to stop using Franklin in his act, and to put him into storage. (Michael never knew that Gob did occasionally get Franklin out of storage and meet with Nellie the whore over the years.)

Gob answered, "I know, but we won't use him in my magic act. People would recognize him from our CD and that TV show we did." He and Franklin had been on the courtroom show Mock Trial with J. Reinhold for a little while before getting fired. "But we can still be friends, and hang out."

Michael said, "Gob, he's not--"

Gob said, "Michael don't worry! Franklin wouldn't tell anybody else about us. He can keep a secret." Franklin never told anyone about being a pimp, or about Gob's love for Michael over the years. "Besides, he already overheard us having sex twice, and he didn't even interrupt us, let alone tattle."

"He heard us--?" But then Michael realized what Gob meant. That Franklin had been on the yacht and in the hotel room. "I didn't know that he was--" Damn, he was talking like Franklin was a person again.

With a sigh, Michael pulled the car over in a secluded spot again, and he shut off the engine. He turned and tried to talk to Gob seriously. "Gob, Franklin's not real. He's not alive."

Gob pouted. "Why are you being so mean? Is it because he's black?" Was Michael secretly a racist after all? "After all the lecturing you and Tracey did about how I'm bad for George Michael." In the 1990s, Gob had brought Franklin over to perform for George Michael's birthday party once. "Judging me all the time, and telling me not to bring Franklin."

Michael felt guilty and said, "I'm sorry I didn't let you come over more." Back then, he had tried to make Tracey see that Gob wasn't so bad; he didn't know any better because of Mom and Dad. Plus there were racist people at the country club and at the annual Cinco de Cuatro party too, making Gob think that Michael was overreacting and being too politically correct. "He's like an overgrown kid, really. Like Buster."

Tracey said with a sigh, "Yeah, clearly. He thinks Franklin is real." So Tracey agreed to let Gob visit, but not with Franklin anymore. "I don't want George Michael to repeat any of his racist jokes. I mean, we're not going to Cinco de Cuatro for a reason." Lucille had been offended when Michael stopped going to the holiday that she invented, but Michael had to put his foot down somewhere. He told his mother that there was bound to be blowback someday from the Hispanic community.

But Gob still kept being offensive even without Franklin, and he was rude to Tracey just like the rest of the Bluth family. Then there was Gob's drug use and his frequent partying with girls on Spring Break, and she got fed up, so gradually Michael stopped letting Gob come by the house. He did still see Gob at the Bluth Company or family gatherings without Tracey. (Tracey often went to visit her own family for a break from the Bluths.) So there was no total estrangement with Gob, like Michael had with Lindsay in 2002. Still, Michael had kept his distance and he became more judgmental over the years.

Gob remembered the 1990s, and he said quietly, "I guess it was for the best, 'cause I was jealous of you and Tracey. I tried to keep it a secret and get over you by dating other guys."

"You did?" Michael asked, becoming curious about Gob's sexual history.

Gob confessed, "Yeah, at first I just had a threesome with a guy and a girl from Lindsay's wedding. Hippies, you know. They were into it." Actually it had been somewhat awkward, due to Gob's inexperience and nervousness. "I never saw them again, 'cause I didn't want Lindsay to find out or tell Tobias. But I learned that I was bisexual for sure, and I thought maybe I could pretend some other guy was you. So I started seeing some guys, hoping I could find somebody that would make me forget you and stop being jealous." It didn't ever work, though. There was no love like Michael's love. It was why he chose that Bryan Adams song for the CD. He ached to have Michael love him and respect him.

Michael was glad to know that some of Gob's gay experience was not purely for money; Gob didn't get arrested until late 2000, and Michael had misunderstood what "following people to their cars for money" meant. He had been distracted about Tracey's coma, and he thought Gob was dealing drugs instead. Michael sighed with regret about his blindness. Many times during the 1990s, he had obliviously ignored many accidental slips about Gob's sexuality and his incestuous love. Michael had been in denial and blocked them out in a way that he never blocked out Buster's creepy love for Mom.

"I'm so sorry, Gob." He shouldn't have been so distant and rude to his brother. But Dad and the Boyfights made him try to act superior and lord it over Gob that he was Manager of the Bluth Company, not Gob. "This is why you couldn't ever settle down with someone? I should have seen--"

Gob shook his head. "You couldn't help it, Michael. You only loved Tracey then." Gob knew that Michael's morals were stricter than Dad's about cheating, and Gob didn't want to disappoint Michael. He looked somewhat uncomfortable and said, "Let's not talk about it anymore."

Michael hugged him, though, and whispered, "I love you."

"I love you." Still Gob tried not to cry and be girly. He pulled away, saying that Michael would smush the cake.

Michael asked him, "Did you ever talk to anybody about this? Like Nellie?"

Gob said, "Yeah sometimes she would listen to me, and then I'd feel better. I talked to Franklin too, and he said he was still my friend." Nellie wasn't really a friend, since after all she was just a hooker and frequently got bored with Gob's crying.

Michael frowned and worried again. "Gob, Franklin's not--"

"Michael, stop it!" Gob didn't want to hear this.

Michael touched Gob's face tenderly. "He's a puppet."

Gob insisted, "He's my real friend, Michael. He said he still liked me, even after we lost all the money. Even after I got kicked out of the Magician's Alliance."

Michael realized that Gob did actually notice that all the shallow friends he had in high school were gone. Some of it was due to him disappearing suddenly when Eve Holt got pregnant, but when Gob came back home to Newport Beach, most of the guys he hung out with had moved on. Gob never went to college and his faltering magic career had started to look desperate and uncool. Plus he got rid of his cars finally and got a Segway, which was off-putting. Then the Bluths lost everything, and even the Magician's Alliance didn't respect him anymore.

"Gob, I'm your friend. You know that, don't you? You don't need Franklin now. You have me."

Gob protested that Michael wasn't living with him, and he had to deal with Steve Holt all the time and lie to the family. Franklin was the only person he could talk to about that. "Don't you like Franklin? Come on, you let him testify at the mock trial."

Michael remembered saying, "I support my brother!" and tossing the puppet to Gob on his way to the witness stand. He also recalled the fact that Wayne Jarvis and other people also sometimes acted like Franklin was alive as well, so Gob's delusion was hardly unique. Also, George Sr. went stir-crazy while living in the attic and he talked to Lindsay's dolls like they were alive, too. Maybe Gob's belief in the puppet wasn't so bad after all, and Michael needed to be more supportive.

"Yeah, I did," he admitted.

Gob said, "And he was a big hero, and you won the mock trial. So you owe him. Be nice."

Michael sighed and gave in, apologizing for "being mean."

Gob felt better and said smugly, "You're just jealous of me having another friend, 'cause you don't have any other friends."

Indeed, Michael had lost the friends he made in college because he became so busy with his marriage, raising George Michael, and trying to finish his degree and go to law school. All the while, he worked at the Bluth Company, and Dad forced him to drop out of law school after only a year. Michael hardly ever had time to relax and have fun, though Tracey tried to help him over the years. She was the one he could talk to about his frustrations, though Michael could never build up the courage to quit the company and leave for good, despite all his threats to run away.

Michael said, "Fine. Yeah. I'm sorry for being jealous."

"Good. And I won't tell Franklin what you said."

Michael still worried, but decided not to protest Franklin anymore, to let Gob keep the puppet for now. Gob was starved for love and acceptance. Perhaps he did still need Franklin to comfort him whenever Dad put him down and Michael wasn't around. "But let's not keep having sex in front of Franklin. That's weird."

Gob smiled and agreed. "Okay, we'll put him in the bathroom tonight. He can watch the doves and make sure they don't escape again."

"All right." Michael started the car again and drove back to the hotel.

Relieved to change the subject, Gob chatted about the birthday party and all the fun things that he'd do with Tony Wonder soon.

Michael didn't protest again that Gob shouldn't break him out of prison. He was too busy brooding about Gob's psychological damage.

Maybe if Gob became good friends with Tony Wonder, it would help his self-esteem and his sanity. Gob could make up with the rest of the Magician's Alliance and realize that he had many friends who cared about him. Maybe then Gob would feel less lonely and not need Franklin. Michael hoped that Gob would get well enough by the time they left for Cabo, that he might agree to leave Franklin behind, or put him into storage again. Michael could argue that the puppet would be too recognizable and reveal their identity to strangers.

If Gob let go of the puppet at last, then they would be happy in Cabo and love each other. Michael would take care of Gob and treat him like he deserved.

When they arrived at the hotel, Michael parked the car and got out. Gob changed seats and handed Michael the thing of cake to take to the doves. Gob was going to leave, drive around a bit, and hide the car somewhere else. Then he would sneak into the hotel later and spend the night.

So Michael went up to his room, and he fed the cake to the birds in their cage. Then he moved them and Franklin to the bathroom. He looked at Franklin a moment, then shut the door.

He went to undress and wait for Gob in bed. While alone, he brooded some more.

Michael realized now why he was in denial about Rita for so long. It wasn't just because he was a self-absorbed narcissist. It wasn't just her British accent that fooled him for all those weeks that they went on what turned out to be play dates. It was Rita's sweetness and innocence, her occasionally vacant expression, and her disarming way of getting Michael to relax and ditch work. Rita had been so carefree, loving to just roll down a hill in Sudden Valley or laugh wildly at the Poppins doll that kept knocking Michael over. She reminded him of Gob's child-like love of fun and magic. Even his belief in Franklin. Dating Rita was Michael's way of lying to himself, that he didn't want Gob, that he could find somebody else like his brother.

Recently, while bored in his hotel, Michael had watched a movie on TV called Pumpkin, starring Christina Ricci. It was a subversive comedy about a sorority girl who fell in love with a mentally challenged guy named Pumpkin, whom she volunteered with for charity. Michael had watched the film while remembering his time with Rita and feeling embarrassed. The movie was a satirical look at political correctness and prejudices. Many of the characters were hypocrites who claimed to support Pumpkin, only to forget him casually, even Carolyn, Christina Ricci's character. When they grew closer, everyone ostracized Carolyn and accused her of raping Pumpkin, and having unnatural desires. The school counselor said that the love was only a romantic fantasy arising from her sympathetic compassion for Pumpkin. Even when people became more accepting of the couple, they remained uncomfortable with watching Carolyn kiss Pumpkin. It was black comedy, complete with bad poetry, a suicide attempt and a fiery car crash.

But Carolyn said that Pumpkin had a beautiful soul, because he knew pain. "Only those who suffer can grow into beauty."

Michael knew that Gob had suffered plenty. He'd watched for years as their parents fucked him up and denied him any love, making him needy and desperate for approval. Between the Boyfights and the traumatic lessons with the one-armed man, it was a wonder that Gob survived with any self-esteem at all. Perhaps he overcompensated with his arrogant confidence, and the family's wealth had insulated Gob from the real, normal world. Despite all his problems, Michael thought that Gob had a beautiful soul.

Thankfully, Gob was not actually like Pumpkin in the movie (and even Pumpkin protested that he wasn't "special"). Gob was more crazy than stupid. Gob had flashes of brilliance sometimes, like when he figured out that Mom framed Michael for a car accident. Some of his magic tricks had even worked, like the walk on water illusion and the Free Chicken outside the courthouse. Gob could be rational sometimes, and he seemed better since they got together, with the exception of Franklin.

Heck, Forrest Gump had featured a relationship between a man with an I.Q. of 75 and a troubled woman named Jenny, with a brief life. Despite his mental impairment, Forrest insisted that he knew what love was, and eventually they married and had a son before Jenny died. That was treated as a legitimate romance in a perfectly mainstream movie.

Gob wasn't nearly as impaired as Forrest Gump, either, so why was it wrong to love him back? In Michael's opinion, Gob was pure and good underneath his bravado. He was just in a state of arrested development, still clinging to comforting kid stuff like magic and Franklin. Michael believed that all the bad things about Gob were not really his fault, that he learned racism, sexism, and corruption from their parents. Gob never grew beyond his glory days in high school, when he was wildly popular and won a class election using Dad's dirty tricks. Dad had even somewhat approved of Gob then for seducing girls with his "car trouble?" routine, though he got annoyed when Gob got them pregnant. But Lindsay was constantly getting pregnant too, and Dad got her abortions. Similarly, when Gob had accidents, Dad just paid off the girls, until Eve Holt refused to have an abortion. So Dad sent Gob out of town to escape any possibility of a paternity test, that could result in having to pay child support. It was no wonder that Gob had a twisted set of sexual morals, and didn't understand love.

But could Gob learn what real love was? He seemed capable, when he was with Michael. Their intimacy didn't feel twisted and wrong; it felt like love, and Michael did not want to pretend any more that he only felt compassion and sympathy. He loved Gob too, and wanted to make up for all the pain Gob had suffered. He wanted to fix him and heal him.

Chapter Text

Back at Sitwell's estate, Tony Wonder and his magic assistants got stuck while waiting for security and the Balboa Country Club waiters to clean up the mess. So they sat on their prop closets and costume trunks chatting about the disaster. They even sold more DVDs to some gay fans who were still hanging around marvelling at how bad a straight party could go.

Argyle said to his friends, "Heteros are strange, but Bluths are even stranger." Often he wondered why his sister liked Bluths so much.

The Freedom guy worried that his autographed sign might get messed up in the chaos, and he hoped that the parking lot jam would clear up soon so that they could leave.

Argyle said, "Hey, maybe I can convince Stan Sitwell to let us stay the night at his guest house, since my sister's dating him." So he got out his cellphone and called his sister Lucille. She said that Stan had given the guest house to Lindsay, but that Stan had extra bedrooms in the main house, and she would talk him into letting Argyle's friends stay for the night.

"All right, thanks." So Argyle told his friends, and they went to go wait at the door to the main house.

Tony sighed and wondered if he should call Sally and ask if she could also talk her father into letting him and his crew stay the night. Or maybe they should try to return to the outdoor stage and hide from reporters in the dressing rooms.

Just then, Sally came along and looked quite happy as she pulled him aside to gush about the disaster. She filled Tony in on stuff he had missed on the news, and Tony felt weird to learn about Michael singing "Afternoon Delight" with Maeby.

He wondered if Gob might be wrong after all about Michael and Lindsay. Also, lusting after an adopted sister was one thing, but Maeby was so much younger than Michael, and his niece. "How old did you say she was?"

"She's 16 now. So at that Christmas party she was 15, I think."

Tony frowned and sank down on a bench in shock. Maybe he should try to get Gob to stop being friends with Michael. "Wow. And people thought he was the good son for all these years?"

Sally nodded and joined Tony on the bench, but she did remember something Michael said while they were dating last year. "He told me about that Christmas, and he said that the karaoke was an accident because he didn't know the song. He went to the party with Maeby because he was jealous of his son spending time with his Christian girlfriend." Michael had been obsessed with his son, continually complaining about Egg and never getting her name right. He also kept hiding Sally from George Michael because he claimed that George Michael might not be okay with them dating. What a horrible boyfriend Michael was.

Tony asked, "What if he was just lying to you?" What if he was lying to Gob about Lindsay too? What if he just wanted Gob on his side, to testify at his trial?

Sally considered it, worrying a little about how blind she had been. After all, Michael was in love with Lindsay, and he must have dated Sally as a substitute for his sister. So spending time with Maeby might have been a way to feel closer to Lindsay as well. But Maeby wasn't blonde like her mother and didn't much act like her.

"Wait, Maeby told me about that Christmas too." (This was back at the guest house, even before seeing the TV news reports.) "She didn't say that Michael was creepy with her. She said they just fixed the banana stand and stuck candy onto Gob's suit. Maeby didn't know about the song either, and she was just hanging out with her uncle to make her mother jealous. Lindsay was drunk at the party and wanted to seduce some employees because she had an open marriage with Tobias." Sally rolled her eyes at what a horrible mother Lindsay was.

Tony felt relieved, but he still thought he should call Gob to make sure about Michael.

Sally was also considering calling Maeby just to make sure, but then her father called her phone. "Hi Dad. Yeah, I know what happened. It's all over the news already too. No, I'm not with Maeby right now. She's still with George Michael."

Then her father asked if she could come help him and Ice to get rid of the reporters and help the orchestra leave. He would also feel better if he knew that Michael wasn't trying to hit on Sally now that Lindsay had left.

"All right, I'm coming, Dad." She hung up and said goodbye to Tony for now. "I'll come over later tonight."

"Okay." Tony told his assistants that he forgot something from his dressing-room, and he went back there. When he was alone, he called Gob.

Gob was alone and hiding the Camaro. He had to wait a while to sneak back to the hotel, so he was glad to talk to Tony in the meantime. "Hey, Tony!"

"Hi Gob." At first they just talked about the disastrous end to the party, and Tony explained about the news reporters accusing the family of incest after the cake-cutting.

"Oh yeah, reporters are awful." Gob had experienced gotcha journalism himself when he was accused of killing Earl Milford during a magic show a few years ago. The TV news guys had edited Gob's words to make it look like he confessed to murder. However, Earl Milford had actually escaped the nursing home, and Gob had hoped to be called a hero, only to find Milford dead later. Luckily, the autopsy on Earl Milford revealed years of abuse from the nursing home staff, and then other residents came forward too. So luckily Gob didn't get arrested after all, and the nursing home was investigated and shut down, freeing all the abuse victims.

Tony asked, "What if the reporters are right about your family?"

Gob said that the reporters were wrong and jumping to conclusions. "Steve Holt never dated Lindsay. He dated Maeby."

Then Tony brought up the karaoke singing. "But didn't that actually happen, Gob? Michael sang with Maeby at the office party?"

"Oh yeah, I remember him dirty dancing with her. Took him so long to figure out the meaning of the song. He's kind of an idiot sometimes." But Gob loved him.

Tony got worried again. "There was dancing too?" So Tony really tried to convince Gob to stop being friends with Michael.

"What? No." Gob insisted that Michael didn't really want Maeby like that. It was an accident, because Michael was an idiot, and jealous about George Michael and his girlfriend. "He's not a pervert like Barry Zuckerkorn."

"Are you sure about that? And what if he's just lying to you about Lindsay too?"

"No, Tony. I know." He wished he could explain why he knew. Because Michael loved him, and they were together now. Michael wouldn't lie to him anymore.

"But Gob--"

Gob interrupted and asked if Tony would still help him break Michael out of prison. "Please, Tony. I can't let him get hurt or worse."

Tony sighed and knew that it would upset Gob if his brother got shivved or even died in prison. "Okay, I will, but listen, I think he's really crazy, and he needs help. Like a psychiatrist or something. Tell him to do that, okay?"

Gob said, "He's fine." He didn't want some therapist to talk Michael out of loving him, or make him freak out again about being gay.

"Come on, Gob. He's no good for you, and you shouldn't let him work for you either."

"It's just a job for right now, Tony. He really wants to be a lawyer instead, and I'll help him with that after we leave the country."

Tony protested. Gob saving his crazy brother from prison was one thing, but why escape the country with him? "Why not just help Michael disappear to South America and then come back here to Newport Beach? Don't stay with him."

Gob said, "No I want to. We're gonna have fun going camping and stuff."

"But what about your secret boyfriend? You should stay here with him and the rest of your family. Plus, you and me, we could do a magic tour or something. We could have fun."

Gob imagined it for a moment, but he still refused. "No, I'm going away with Michael. My boyfriend already agreed 'cause he loves me."

Tony couldn't understand how Gob's boyfriend could be okay with this. "What's your boyfriend's job, anyway? And what about his family? What if he doesn't want to live with your crazy brother anymore?"

Gob wished that he could explain that Michael was his boyfriend. He just said lamely, "I can't tell you about him. I promised to keep him a secret."

Tony asked, "But will you call him and ask him what he thinks about Michael?"

"I'm seeing him tonight."

"Oh, good." Tony was relieved, and he hoped that Gob's boyfriend would talk to him about Michael too and not approve of them being friends. "Okay. Well, call me tomorrow and let me know how it goes."

"Okay. Bye Tony." Gob hung up and felt worried. It would be hard to keep Tony from arguing about Michael. Gob would have to come up with a good cover story about his secret boyfriend, along with a name and everything. He'd try to use Chareth Cutestory, but it didn't sound like a believable name. He would have to talk this over with Michael, since after all they needed to pick new names for their fake IDs.

Gob also decided that the next time he talked to Tony about Michael, that he would have to flirt with Tony even if it made him feel guilty. After all, Tony had a crush on him, and Gob could probably charm him enough that he would finally believe that the reporters were wrong, and that Michael didn't need a therapist. Then they could continue their plan to break Michael out of prison, and everything would be fine.

Meanwhile, Sitwell's limo arrived at the model home and dropped off the passengers. George went to bed in the master bedroom while Lindsay and Tobias returned to their pink bedroom with twin beds.

"What a long night." Lindsay undressed and put away her birthday presents, including the necklace that George gave her at the first birthday party. She also stopped to look at the fur coat, regretting that she would not be able to wear it out in public.

Or else, she could wear the fur coat as a disguise, along with a wig and glasses, like when she got a job as a sales clerk at the mall. Then Lindsay could maybe go out on a date with Ice and finally have sex!

She was very excited about this, and got into bed humming the song that they danced to during the magic show.

Tobias was in his pajamas now and sitting in his own bed, but he wasn't able to sleep. He irritably told Lindsay to stop humming that song.

Lindsay was startled by how annoyed he was, and now she worried that Tobias was suspicious about her and Ice. "Tobias, I'm sorry. I do love you. It's just, we never have sex, and you don't even want to dance with me."

"What's so great about dancing?" And then he grumbled about Gob dancing with Tony Wonder on the stage. "Right there, in front of everybody."

Lindsay was confused. "Gob always dances at his shows. And it was a birthday dance for me."

"It wasn't for you! It was--" Tobias finally could not hold in the secret any longer. He confessed to her what he saw backstage, when Tony Wonder kissed Gob.

"What? They're dating?" Then she thought about it. "Oh, that explains why Gob didn't hate Tony Wonder any more. I thought Gob was just happy about Tony dedicating the show to him, and that's why he hugged him and danced with him."

Tobias asked resentfully, "Did you know Gob was bisexual? He never told me before then."

Lindsay shrugged and said, "Sort of. I mean, I was never sure about it." She explained that her friends had a threesome with Gob at their wedding. "Remember my bridesmaid and her guy what's his name? Gob was flirting with them throughout the wedding and trying to keep it a secret. Anyway, she told me later that they went home with Gob that night and had sex with him. It was all awkward, and she apologized for sleeping with my brother."

"Why didn't you tell me?"

Lindsay shrugged. "I didn't know for sure that Gob was bisexual or gay. It could have been a one-off thing. Everybody experiments in college." Gob had never been to college, but he was still in that general age range at the time. "I thought maybe he was rebelling too. You know, Michael got married, I got married, and we all knew that Buster wanted to marry Mom. I thought that Gob was feeling some pressure to settle down too, and he was rebelling by trying a threesome instead. I didn't really care."

Tobias was still upset. "You should have told me. They were my friends too."

"I didn't think you could handle it then. She told me after our honeymoon, and I thought you'd find the mention of any sex disgusting and disturbing."

With a frown, Tobias remembered their awkward wedding and their even more awkward honeymoon when Lindsay kept trying to take off Tobias's cutoffs so they could have sex. He told her that he was a never-nude and wanted to have something called a "celibate marriage." He claimed it was an actual thing, but she suspected that he just made it up.

She was angry that Tobias hadn't told her this stuff before the wedding. "I told you that I wanted to have a baby!"

"We could adopt," he said.

"That'll take too long! And I also want to show up my mother about being pregnant the right way and having a natural childbirth!" She also didn't believe that Tobias's never-nudism was a serious thing, and kept trying to seduce him, while he ran away from her and locked himself in the bathroom. She kept banging on the door and begging him to get her pregnant so that she could compete with Michael and Tracey.

Tobias became upset, because he didn't know that that was why she wanted to marry him so quickly. He opened the door and yelled, "I thought you loved me, and that we believed in the same causes!"

"I do believe. We're activists, and we're going to change the world."

He nodded and said, "We finish each other's sandwiches. Why can't we be activists for celibate marriage as well? Teach everybody that sex isn't for everyone, and that soulmates are about souls, not bodies." He said many other hippie things, while she kept saying that she liked sex and couldn't imagine living the rest of her life without it.

Lindsay said, "Why couldn't you at least have told me this while we were engaged?"

Tobias felt bad, but said, "You were dating that other guy before me, and I thought he'd come back and steal you away if we weren't married."

After much more fighting and crying, Lindsay finally said that they could go have an artificial insemination so they could have a baby. They could pretend that they had fertility problems and not reveal Tobias's never-nude secret. Thus, Maeby was made in a cup, like soup, and Lindsay agreed to try celibate marriage for now.

(But deep down Lindsay assumed she was hot enough that she could eventually seduce Tobias into taking off his cutoffs and having a sexual marriage someday.)

Remembering the awful honeymoon and the awful marriage made Lindsay depressed about all the things she was wrong about. If she'd known that she was adopted, then she wouldn't have insisted on having a natural childbirth. If she'd known that she could only seduce Tobias once in a blue moon, and that he'd just lie there, she wouldn't have agreed to a celibate marriage. Maybe she would have gone back to her previous boyfriend and had Maeby with him instead. But Lindsay wasn't entirely sure that somebody else's genes would have made Maeby the same person. What was more important, the soul or the body? Nature or nurture?

In his own bed, Tobias was remembering their awful marriage as well, and all the years that they had separate bedrooms in Boston. "I'm sorry I didn't tell you everything before we got married."

She shrugged. "I'm sorry I didn't let you tell anyone that we have a celibate marriage. I know you wanted to be an activist about it, but I just... kept hoping I could change your mind."

Tobias felt guilty about something else, something that had been nagging at him since he saw Gob with Tony Wonder. "I think... maybe I do want to have sex, but not with you."

She blinked and turned to look at him. "Who?"

He hesitated a moment longer, then admitted quietly, "A man." He wanted to be with a guy and dance in public and be happy, like Gob and Tony had looked happy on the stage together.

Lindsay was shocked that Tobias was finally coming out of the closet. Not that she didn't already suspect this, given the way Tobias talked, and how many crushes he had on guys like Carl Weathers. It was a relief that he said it, though, and she almost wanted to celebrate and dance around the room. Still, she knew that Tobias must be feeling vulnerable about this, so she moved to his bed and touched his arm supportively. "Oh, honey."

He looked at her and said, "But I thought... I mean, we finish each other's sandwiches."

She nodded and hugged him. "I know. I still love you." She cried a little and he did too, taking off his glasses. "Maybe we are soulmates, but like friends soulmates instead of lovers soulmates?"

He shrugged. "I don't know anything for sure." His emotions were all frayed and confused from years of denial. He frowned and asked, "Do you think we should get a divorce?"

She thought about it, and said, "Maybe later, when this scandal dies down. I mean, we don't want people to think it's because of this fight we're having with Maeby, or that any of that stuff they're reporting is true. Besides, this is between us, you know?"

He nodded and was surprised that Lindsay was being so understanding. "Yeah, we should try to make up with Maeby."

She nodded. "So we'll work on that first, and decide what to do later. I mean, unless you want to go be with your guy right now?" Hmm, maybe if she gave Tobias permission to date someone, then he wouldn't be mad about her dating Ice?

He shook his head. Tobias currently had a crush on Tony Wonder, but he knew nothing could happen, since Tony was apparently with Gob. Tobias wanted to find a man of his own when he was ready; maybe somebody else from the gym, because he did connect with a lot of guys there. "Not anybody specific right now."

"Oh, so you just meant a man in general. All right. Well if you do meet someone special, you can tell me, and we'll talk about what to do." Lindsay hesitated a moment, then decided to take a risk. "Tobias, I know you and me can't have sex, but would you mind it if I was with someone else?"

Tobias put his glasses back on and realized that she was hinting about Ice. He felt somewhat upset that she already had somebody lined up to have an affair with. "Oh you want to do more than dance?"

Lindsay shushed him from raising his voice. "Tobias, please. I do love you, but I've been celibate for years for you. Please. You don't want me like that. What am I supposed to do?"

Tobias sighed and relented. "Well, don't date him in public, or parade him around here so your father can say what a useless Nellie I am compared to Ice."

"Of course not," she said. "We'll keep it a secret, and I won't tell my father."

"Or the rest of your family."

She nodded. "Or the rest of my family." She hugged him and kissed his cheek. "Thank you, Tobias. Don't worry. You'll find someone too, and I'll support you until we decide what to do. No matter what happens, we'll always be friends, and we have Maeby together too."

Tobias nodded. They would always have that connection at least, even if they eventually divorced. He realized that he ought to be more grateful that she wasn't even kicking him out of the house yet, so he said, "Thank you. I love you."

"Me too." They hugged and cried some more until Tobias said he was tired after their very long day. So Lindsay returned to her bed and they turned out the lights. Lindsay reached across and held his hand for a little while until he fell asleep. She was happy about getting to have sex with Ice soon, and she wondered if it was because of her birthday wish. Maybe her other wish would come true as well.

Soon Gob returned to the hotel and kissed Michael. "Wait, wait," he said when Michael started to undress him. "I gotta move Franklin."

"I already moved him to the bathroom."

"You did?" Gob looked, then saw his Jesus cloak over the back of a chair. "You didn't tuck him in." He let go of Michael and grabbed the cloak, then he went into the bathroom, covering the doves' cage with the cloak, and wrapping Franklin in the hood. He kept talking to Franklin all the while too, and it was annoying Michael.


"I'm coming." He said to Franklin, "I'll finish telling you about the party tomorrow." Then he turned out the lights and shut the door.

Michael was still annoyed when Gob came back to bed, so Gob had to get him back in the mood for sex. "Don't worry," he said. "I didn't tell him about you being jealous before. But you gotta be nicer to him, or he'll get suspicious. You should have tucked him in."


Gob shut him up with a deep kiss and groped Michael until he was more in the mood.

"Mmm. It's still my birthday, right?"

Gob grinned and laughed fondly. It was after midnight, but they were only pretending it was Michael's birthday after all. "I didn't have time to get my dong tea, so we'll have to save it for another time."

Michael was glad to know that Gob was willing to let him be on top "another time" and not just tonight. "I don't need it now." He kissed Gob and helped him finish undressing. He made love to him slowly, enjoying the fact that there was no need to rush this time. He could linger and kiss him all over and try to fuck him face to face. Looking in Gob's eyes made it more special, and he loved watching the faces he made.

Gob moaned while Michael touched his cock, and he said, "You're learning to be a real Bananagrabber now, huh?

Michael laughed and looked at him adoringly. "You're so funny and sexy and..."

"And magical?" Gob asked. He had liked it when Lucille 2 called him magical when they dated in 2005.

Michael smiled and nodded. "Magical." It was magical, the way that Gob made him feel. Until recently, he had been afraid that he could never love again, this deeply. That even if he dated someone decent like Sally Sitwell, that he'd keep fucking it up because he couldn't be happy. He was afraid of getting close to someone, only to lose them, like he lost Tracey to cancer. But Gob was worth the risk. Gob made him happy.

So they made love until they were quite tired that night.

Sally Sitwell had to help her father until very late, and then when she got a moment alone she called Maeby. She knew it was kind of rude to call this late, and she should have waited for Maeby to call her tomorrow or something, but Sally had been worried about that Christmas party. So she called Maeby just to make sure that Michael had not been seriously coming onto her with the karaoke song.

By this time, Maeby and George Michael had returned to L.A., and were getting ready for bed. This was the first time since they eloped that Maeby felt tired enough to tell George Michael no sex tonight.

"Okay." He knew she was emotionally drained and worried about the gossiping reporters. Would the news in Orange County make it to the Hollywood press as well, and would all her colleagues at the movie studio be snickering about her on Monday? If so, George Michael would defend Maeby and fight anybody that he had to, for her honor.

George Michael almost wanted to take out his Mom's ring and give it to Maeby tonight, but he sensed that he should wait until tomorrow when she would hopefully be less distracted. So he just changed out of his suit and took care that Maeby didn't see him take the ring box out of his pocket.

When Sally called, Maeby answered in case Sally was calling about their scheme, and she was rather surprised by Sally's questions. "What? Ew, no, he wasn't doing that." She looked around to see that George Michael wasn't listening to her phone call, then she went into another room just in case and shut the door.

"Are you sure?" Sally asked. "I mean, who picked the song?"

"He just asked for the first song on the list, but I was the one who suggested us doing karaoke in the first place. Besides, after having George Michael and Annyong both have crushes on me, I know when a guy is being creepy." Not to mention Mort constantly coming onto her before he knew her age. Even that reader Jeff once said "Yes" to Maeby's "marry me" line.

Sally asked, "Oh, George Michael was creepy to you?"

Maeby backtracked and felt a little guilty for saying that about her husband. "Well in the beginning he was, being all nervous around me and giving me uncomfortably-long hugs sometimes. But he's better now, and I realized that I liked him too, 'cause I got jealous of him and Annie McNoFace."

"And I guess finding out that you weren't blood-related helped it not be creepy too."

Maeby nodded. "Yeah. So that's all you wanted to call me about? I thought you had news about my mom or something."

"No, nothing that you didn't find out on the TV. I guess the gossiping reporters just made me paranoid about exactly how fucked up Michael is. Sorry to bother you."

"That's okay. Good night." Maeby then returned to her bedroom with George Michael and finished undressing.

He didn't ask about her phone call, assuming it was part of the plan with Sally. It was better for him not to know more, so he could plausibly lie to Lindsay and Tobias if he needed to. He kissed Maeby good-night, and then they went to sleep.

Meanwhile, Sally sneaked over to Tony's house and told him that she made sure with Maeby about the Christmas karaoke. He felt a little better about Gob, though he still hoped that Gob's boyfriend would talk him out of escaping the country with Michael. He didn't say this out loud to Sally, though, and they had red wine together.

Instead, Tony told Sally about the DVD deal with Gob and the planned Magician's Alliance meeting on Monday. He carefully avoided telling Sally that he was going to help break Michael out of prison, because he knew that Sally still hated Michael.

Thankfully, Sally didn't think the magic part was that important. Instead she was surprised to hear that Gob had a secret boyfriend. "He's bisexual? I didn't know that. But I guess it makes sense." Gob had worked for the Hot Cops stripping agency, after all, and they were all gay. Sally also had once seen Gob sitting with a guy on his lap at the Sitwell Housing office.

Tony said, "Tobias didn't know either, so I guess he's not out to his family."

Sally shrugged and warned Tony not to get too close, or Gob would find out the truth about Tony's coming out. "He could get mad, expose you as straight, and ruin your career."

"Don't worry. The only thing I'm better at than fucking women is pretending to be gay."

Sally frowned at his choice of words, but soon dismissed it with a shrug. Maybe Tobias's unfortunate way of speaking was rubbing off on Tony after the failed therapy. Then she got an exciting idea. "Hey, maybe you could use this magic stuff with Gob to help us spy on the Bluths. He could be our mole to let us know what Lindsay's doing with my dad."

Tony didn't want to use Gob like that. "He's my friend."

"Yeah but we wouldn't do anything bad to him. And you wouldn't even have to tell him to spy. Just ask him questions about his family, and don't let him realize what you're doing."

"It's not nice or honest."

"You think he's being nice and honest with you? He got you to help him with the Magician's Alliance and put him on your DVD."

"But I asked him to be on my DVD. He didn't want to at first and I talked him into it."

She looked surprised, and skeptical. "But you're more famous and successful than Gob. He's using you to get famous too and make money."

"No, he wouldn't do that."

"He's a Bluth. You can't trust him."

Tony was getting annoyed with her. "Just because his family's horrible doesn't mean he is too! He's my friend." Gob was special and amazing and magical. "Maybe you should leave." He didn't want her to stay the night if she was going to be like this.

Sally sighed and didn't get why Tony liked Gob so much. Maybe because Tony's family didn't support his magic career, and his brother died, and his other brother was a pain in the ass. Maybe Tony wanted Gob to replace his brothers somehow. "I'm sorry, Tony. I guess you're right. You're not like your family, and I'm not like my dad."

"Yeah," he said with a pout, thawing a little.

So Sally tried to support the new friendship, and she kissed Tony. "Have fun with him, then. Just be careful that he doesn't find out you're not gay."

"I will. Don't worry."

Then they went to his bedroom and turned out the light as they undressed. As they started to have make up sex, Sally was concentrating so much on hiding her alopecia, that she didn't notice Tony being weird. He was often self-involved like Michael had been, but with more bravado about proving that he was "all man." Sally didn't think about what Tony said about being better at pretending to be gay.

Chapter Text

At the hotel, Michael and Gob lay contentedly in bed, and Gob loved the way Michael looked with his hair messed up after sex. Feeling sleepy, Michael started to pull the bedcovers over them, and he asked, "Can you get the lights, Gob?"

But as he reached for the bedside lamp, Gob remembered that he had to ask Michael something. "Wait, um, what name would you like for your fake ID, Mikey? Don't say Chareth Cutestory, 'cause that doesn't sound real."

Michael said, "It wasn't supposed to be Cutestory. Maggie interrupted me. It was going to be Chareth Chamberlain." He thought this pseudonym flowed well and was elegant.

Gob didn't like the fancy name, however, and he complained, "That's too many letters to put on the fake ID. It won't fit." Or at least he didn't want to go to the trouble of making it fit.

Michael sighed and said, "Fine, I'll think of something shorter before we go to Cabo." Maybe a favorite literary character or a name from Tracey's family instead. Michael would take time to make a decision.

Gob asked, "Can't you think of something now?"

"Why now? We're not leaving yet, Gob." Surely thinking up a slogan for Gob's new father-son magic act was of higher priority at the moment.

"I gotta tell Tony Wonder the name of my secret boyfriend soon."

Michael looked surprised and confused. "Why?"

Gob said, "Well 'cause I told him that we were leaving America, after breaking you out of prison, and he doesn't think my boyfriend would go along with that."

"You don't have to break me--" When Gob's words sunk in, Michael sat up anxiously. "Wait, you told him--?"

Gob assured his brother, "I didn't say it was Cabo. I just said South America way. And I told him he couldn't come with us."

Michael relaxed somewhat. "But why tell Tony Wonder anything? Just say that your secret boyfriend is a secret, and tell him to mind his own business."

"I tried, but he's getting suspicious. I told you he wouldn't like you dirty dancing with Maeby."

"I wasn't dancing with her!" Michael protested. "And it was an accident."

Gob said, "Whatever. It looks bad, especially since everybody already thinks you're crazy about Lindsay." Maybe it wasn't such a smart move for Michael to scare her off, after all. Maybe Gob should have tried spraying lighter fluid in Lindsay's eyes instead, so that she would run to the bathroom while he escaped with Michael.

Michael grumbled and wished that people would believe him about Lindsay. If only he could tell the truth, that he really loved Gob. Unlike when he dated various women and tried to hide them from George Michael, he didn't want to keep Gob a secret. That was why they were going to Cabo, so they could live openly as a couple and be happy together. And someday, if Gene Parmesan found proof that they weren't brothers, he'd tell the truth to his son too.

Gob worried that Michael's grumbling meant that he was offended by Tony thinking he was crazy. "I told Tony that you're innocent and were just scaring Lindsay off, but he's worried that you're lying. He wants to know why my boyfriend trusts you and would drop everything to come with us to South America."

"Your boyfriend trusts me--?"

"Yeah 'cause I can't say you're my boyfriend, so I made up--"

"Oh. I get it." Michael was somewhat sleepy, and having trouble following Gob's convoluted lies for Tony Wonder. "Can't you just be mysterious again? Say it's private?"

Gob said, "I have to tell him some details, so that he'll help me with the magic stuff."

Michael thought Gob meant Tony helping him with the Magician's Alliance. He had no idea that Gob had promised to let Tony visit them in Cabo, and help smuggle them back into America whenever they visited George Michael.

Gob thought a bit. "Maybe I could tell him that my boyfriend is from South America and that we'd just be going to his home. Yeah, Colombian like Marta." But then again, Gob wasn't sure about how to make a fake Colombian ID, or that Michael would pass as a Colombian.

"Or your boyfriend works there," Michael suggested, "as a maritime lawyer."

"Oh, maybe." Gob considered whether he could pass this off believably to Tony, since he'd already mentioned that Michael wanted to be a lawyer. Well maybe he could say that the fake boyfriend was an old friend of Michael's from law school. That was why he trusted Michael and was willing to harbor the escaped fugitive from prison. So Gob asked Michael again, "Okay. What name do you want for that? Better than Chareth."

Michael shrugged and was too tired to think. "I don't know. What fake name do you use with women?"

"Oh sometimes I use Franklin's name. Franklin Delano Bluth. He doesn't mind."

Michael sighed about the puppet again, and he remembered that the pimp on the phone had given the name "Frank" as well. Of course, Michael hadn't realized at the time that Frank was a pimp or that Nellie was a hooker. He should have recognized the voice and realized that Nellie was not his sister long before he discovered Gob and Franklin in her hotel room, but Michael had many blind spots where he only heard what he wanted to hear.

Gob said, "But I can't use Franklin's name now, 'cause he's in the system ever since the mock trial. Oh, I know! I've still got a fake ID from high school with the name Derek Taylor. I could make a new one of those for me." He would have to use a current picture and make a convincing passport using the latest forgery techniques.

"Derek Taylor?" Michael asked. "Where'd you come up with that?"

"From that old TV show that you used to watch as a kid. You know, Silver Spoons with that great mansion full of toys."


Actually Gob used to watch it with Michael in their bedroom, while pretending that he wasn't watching it. The show aired on Saturday nights, and Gob would busy himself getting dressed to go out later on a date, saying that he was too cool to stay at home and watch a lame sitcom. But still he always managed to linger long enough to watch the whole episode with Michael. It was nice having a weekly moment of truce between them, when they could watch a show and not fight, and that was why Michael didn't spend that time studying.

Gob enjoyed the depiction of a wealthy family with a nice father who was boyish and never quite grew up, until his son Ricky came along. (Ricky's mother had not told her ex-husband about the boy for 12 years.) There was a stern and disapproving grandfather who occasionally visited to grumble about money and respectability, but even he didn't teach lessons using a one-armed man. No matter what happened, the Strattons made up for their family disputes with heartfelt hugs, making them quite different from the Bluths. It often made Michael sad and envious that his family couldn't be like a TV sitcom family.

"Yeah, you remember Derek, don't you?" Gob asked. "He was Ricky's friend who was fun and cool, and taught him how not to be a such a dull, boring wimp."

"Derek wasn't fun and cool, Gob. People didn't like him playing tricks and causing trouble." Even Derek's best friend Ricky described him as a "bad seed" once.

Gob nodded and laughed. "He was smart and knew how to take advantage."

Derek would ingratiate himself to adults, while being rotten and manipulative to his peers. He would tease Ricky and make him feel insecure to make himself feel better about his broken home. (Derek's father constantly cheated on his wife.) Derek also thought he was a "stud" with girls, and he got kicked out of military school for peeping at an old woman in a shower. For a business plan, Derek even came up with a very Bluthian scheme of claiming to make photo frames in his treehouse, burning it down, and then collecting the insurance. It was indeed fitting that Gob would use Derek's name for an alias when he started making fake IDs to get into bars and clubs.

"Too bad Derek got written out," Gob said, "for being more popular than the star." To be fair, the actor left to star in his own show as a teenage con artist, but it didn't last long. Gob shook his head at the injustice of it all. It reminded him of how his parents always passed him over for Michael or their other siblings. "You know, Derek sort of looked like you, but you were more like that Ricky guy instead. All goody-two shoes... uptight... favorite son..." He started to hear the music again.

Michael started to point out that Ricky Stratton was an only son, rather than a favorite son, but then he realized that Gob had zoned out. Over the years, he had noticed that Gob sometimes went vacant like this, and he thought it was because Gob was recalling their terrible childhood. Then he finally learned about Gob taking forget-me-now pills, and that made him worried. "Gob? Gob?" Michael tried to rouse him out of it.

"Huh? Oh." Gob returned from his dark place and was glad to find Michael there, so he kissed him and mussed his hair again.

Michael was still concerned. "Gob, are you all right?"

He said "I'm fine" with his usual bravado. "Hey, did you think of a fake name yet? Like Dave..." For some reason the last name Hogan came to him.

Michael dismissed it. "I don't care. Pick something out of the phone book." He wanted to talk about Gob zoning out. "Listen, have you been taking more roofies, Gob?"

"No." Gob nuzzled his cheek and said, "Never want to forget this." He had Michael's love at last. Why lose a second of that?

"Good. You shouldn't take any drugs anymore." He remembered that Gob had been on cocaine when he was arrested in 2000. That was partly why Michael had thought "following people to their cars" meant drug dealing. "Promise me you won't, Gob."

"I promise."

"I want you to be safe. I love you."

"Me too." Gob kissed him and basked in his love. He was going keep Michael safe too, by breaking him out of prison and escaping to Cabo. He said, "We're gonna start over and be happy. I'll teach you how to have fun and relax."

Michael ran fingers through his hair. "I'd like that."

They kissed a while and embraced, getting tangled up in each other again. They felt peaceful and were already drowsy, so they soon fell asleep. Gob hadn't quite decided on a fake name for Michael yet, but he had most of the cover story figured out, so he wasn't worried anymore.

After leaving Sitwell's estate, Lucille 2 dropped off Steve Holt at his home, then she headed to Balboa Towers with Buster. She said goodnight to him in the hallway, then Buster went into the penthouse.

"Oh no! Mother will be so angry about this mess!"

Buster found his uncle/father Oscar sleeping on the couch while his friends ate messily and watched TV. (They had long ago run out of the leftovers that Ice gave Oscar, and had been steadily raiding the kitchen for food.) The roomba worked hard trying to clean up the crumbs, until it ran out of power.

When the hippies saw Buster arrive, they all got up to greet him, because Oscar had told them about his son. Heartfire, Dr. Norman, and China Garden introduced themselves and gave Buster a friendly hug.

"What's that smell? It's like when I cremated my turtle Mother."

Heartfire said silently, "Real sticky weed."

Dr. Norman said, "You should come visit us at the border, Oscar's son. Macca root is even better than this. But this is all we got now. You want a hit?" He offered Buster some pot, but Buster shook his head as he went to plug the poor roomba in.

Going across the hall, Buster knocked and told Lucille Austero about the unexpected guests who took over the penthouse.

"Oh dear." She invited him to sleep over at her own penthouse. "Go get your pajamas."

As Buster returned across the hall, she went along and confiscated the weed from the hippies, telling them to go to bed, because in the morning she was going to have security kick them all out.

China Garden protested that they had been invited by Oscar.

"Oscar shouldn't have presumed. It's not his place." She turned off the TV. "Now go to sleep and try not to be stoned in the morning, if you don't want to get arrested." Since they weren't real cops, the Balboa Towers security guards might let the hippies slide on the pot, if they agreed to go home.

The hippies grumbled and were bummed out.

When Buster and Lucille Austero returned to her place, she intended to flush the pot, but Buster stopped her.

He told her it might be good for her vertigo. "Really?"

"Yeah, I did a study on it in college. Maybe you should try it." He knew she was trying to not be dependent on her vertigo pills.

"I don't know. I"ll ask my doctor if it's safe." For now Lucille 2 put away the weed in a bathroom cabinet, then she showed Buster to the spare bedroom.

"I know. That's where your pretend-kid sleeps during elections."

"Yes, by the way, do you know if your housekeeper Lupe knows of any deserving children who'd like to be my kid in 2008? They get a whole year living with me, then a college scholarship." Maybe she could get more than one kid this time and have them stay at Sitwell's mansion, and they could have lots of photo ops.

Buster shrugged. "Lupe has a big family, and her niece pretended to be Lindsay when they checked into rehab together." She even wore the S.L.U.T shirt while impersonating Lindsay. "I'll ask her."

"Okay, Buster. Goodnight."

"Goodnight." After shutting the door, Buster changed into his pajamas and got ready for bed. He hoped that Lupe would not be mad about having to clean up the mess tomorrow. He decided that he would help her clean if the roomba wasn't charged enough to vacuum. He smiled and went to sleep.

On Sunday morning, George Michael got up to make breakfast, and then he brought it on a tray to Maeby, who was still in bed.

She was surprised and happy, so she didn't complain about him waking her up before noon on Sunday. As she sat up and ate the delicious food, George Michael sat close to her and put his arm around her, asking if she felt better since last night.

She shrugged and said, "I'm glad I helped ruin my mom's party, but I wish the reporters didn't remember all that stuff about the karaoke singing." The gossip made everything sound worse than it was.

"I know." George Michael didn't want people to think that he'd been inappropriate with his aunt Lindsay either. It was bad enough thinking that his father loved her. "We'll have to make sure the script writers get it right in the movie."

"Yeah. I can't let Mort push for more scandal just to sell more tickets, like with the cousins movie." It might make the movie more successful, but Maeby didn't want people to think Uncle Mike had been creepy with her. Once, she forgot herself and tried the "Marry me" line on him to get out of trouble, and Uncle Mike was not amused at all. That was another reason why Maeby was sure that her uncle hadn't been coming onto her with the Christmas karaoke.

George Michael remembered protesting the cousins movie and how Maeby had kissed him afterward to thank him. Then the living room floor dropped beneath them, as if they were sinking into hell, but Maeby had kissed him again anyway, as if she didn't mind the sin. He smiled at the memory and kissed her.

Maeby asked why he wasn't eating with her.

He said that he'd had some cereal while cooking her special breakfast. "This is for you, to cheer you up about fighting with your parents."

"Yeah, I have to fake making up with them today." She rolled her eyes in annoyance. "But thanks, George Michael. You're sweet." She kissed him, and encouraged him to share with her anyway, if he wasn't full.

He smiled and said he had another surprise for her. He went to get the ring box, and then he knelt on the floor by the bed.

Maeby's eyes grew wide as she realized what was happening.

He opened the box to show her his mother's wedding ring, and he explained that he got it from his father at the party. It was proof that his father accepted them now. "So, I know we're married already, but would you wear my mom's ring?"

She didn't know quite what to say, and she kept chewing her pancake to give her time to think.

He got up from the floor and brought the ring closer to her so she could see the diamond. "Don't you like it, Maeby? It's not the engagement ring that you didn't want. Don't you think it's pretty? It's nicer than the one I bought you at the jewelry store."

"Uh, yeah." But Maeby still didn't want to put on the ring. It was too much pressure. This wedding ring was more like a forever ring, because he wanted their marriage to last forever, or at least until death, like with his parents. "I don't know if it's my size," she said to stall.

He sensed that she was hesitant for other reasons, though, and he asked, "You want me to save up money to buy you a different ring?"

"No, no. Don't do that. We need our money for rent and stuff." (Of course, George Michael's job didn't pay nearly as much as Maeby's job did.)

"But I should get you a good ring, because you're my wife." She deserved the best, and he wished he could afford to give her the best.

Maeby gestured to her plain wedding band. "This is a good ring, George Michael. I don't need more. I'm not fancy about jewelry. That's my mom, not me." Plus if she needed any jewelry for a red-carpet event, she could get fancy jewelers to loan her stuff for the night, like they did with celebrity clients.

"I guess." He looked disappointed and insecure, though. "It's just, my dad gave it to me, and I thought you'd trust him now and see that he's really sorry for everything."

"Oh." She tried to be reassuring. "Yeah, I'm glad that you made up with him, and he gave you the ring. I guess he does accept us then, but, um..." she searched for what to say, "I don't want him to get the impression that we're going to move back to Newport Beach. I still don't wanna go back and live with my parents, especially if I have to fake being nice to them. It's better to stay here so we don't have to see them, and can just lie to them over the phone."

"I guess so. I'll try to explain it to my dad." He closed the ring box with a sigh and decided to put it away in a drawer. He put the box with a picture of his mom that he brought from the model home. At first he was happy to unpack his mother's photo in their new apartment, but then he realized it would be weird having his mother "see" him and Maeby having sex, so he put the photo in a drawer and only took it out sometimes to look at it and wish that his mother was still alive.

Maeby was glad that George Michael agreed to back off, and she excused herself to the bathroom to brush her teeth. She heard George Michael cleaning up the tray and taking it back to the kitchen, so Maeby got her phone and called Sally Sitwell.

"Hi. Sorry. Did I wake you?"

"No, actually I've been awake a while." She always had to sneak out early if she stayed the night at Tony Wonder's house.

"Good." Maeby told Sally about George Michael trying to give her his mother's ring, and how she felt about their accidental marriage as a convenient cover story. "I mean I like him a lot, but we just got together. It's too much." She had never really had a serious boyfriend for very long, and she didn't do more than make out with Steve Holt before she roofied him.

Sally told her it was okay to be nervous. "You are just 16, which is very young to get married. It would be different if you got married on purpose because you loved him that much, but it was an accident because of the mock wedding. So you're stuck in this strange place now, and George Michael is over eager. Maybe he feels weird about you making more money than him and he thinks he has to compensate somehow by getting you his mom's ring."

Maeby calmed down a bit and hoped that was true. Perhaps George Michael wasn't trying to force a forever commitment from her. He was just embarrassed about the ring he bought her and how he couldn't buy her nice things.

Sally said, "Or maybe George Michael wants to try to make the reporters see that your marriage is real and normal, not like the rest of your crazy family."

"Oh yeah. That could be it, too. Are they still talking about the party on the news? I almost don't want to check." She and George Michael recently bought a TV for their apartment, but it was in the living room, not the bedroom.

Sally said, "Yeah definitely, and my dad is still scrambling with PR guys about how to spin this and deny all the incest stuff. I told him what you said about the karaoke."

"Good. Yeah, I better talk to Mort Meyers about it too."

"Okay. Talk to you later."

"Bye." So Maeby finished brushing her hair and getting dressed. Mort was probably at home this weekend and not in the office.

George Michael returned to their room and asked if she wanted to watch the news yet, or call her parents.

"Oh, right, I have to fake forgive them today. Let me check the news first."

They went to the living room, and watched the news together. The Hollywood press had indeed picked up on the story from Orange County. Maeby also got out her laptop to check her email account. Mort had actually sent her a message already, sounding excited about the scandal and asking her to call him later to strategize.

Maeby sighed and steeled herself to talk to her parents first. She put aside the laptop and picked up the phone.

"Oh hi, Maeby! I was going to call you."

Maeby rolled her eyes but kept her voice pleasant. "Mom, I'm sorry about what happened at the party. I got drunk on champagne and didn't expect things to get so out of control."

"Oh, I forgive you, Maeby."

It annoyed Maeby that her mother was "forgiving" her. She put the call on speakerphone so that her husband could hear how awful her mother was being.

Lindsay noticed and asked, "George Michael, are you there?"

"Yeah, Aunt Lindsay."

"Good. I'm glad you guys got away from the reporters okay, but I wish you could have stayed at the guest house for the weekend so that we could make up in person."

"No it was better to leave."

"Yeah, and I guess you better stay away from Orange County for a while. But don't worry too much about the scandal. If it doesn't blow over soon, we could always threaten to sue people for libel. Stan Sitwell's working on a press release to explain the karaoke. He says it's simpler if we say that we were just joking with the employees, than explain about trying to make each other jealous."

"I guess." Yeah it did sound weird for Uncle Mike to be trying to make his son jealous.

Lindsay said, "Your father and I had a good talk last night, and we want you to know that we really do love you, Maeby. We always did, and we're so happy for you and George Michael now."

"I know," she answered, but didn't believe Lindsay for a minute.

"I'll try to get your father to stop talking so much about being in your movie. But will you please rewrite your movie so that it won't make us look like bad parents? I mean, the whole family could use some good press right now, including you."

"Yes, I'll change the movie to be nicer," Maeby lied. "Dad can still do his homeschool teacher part too."

"Good. I'll tell him. Oh here he is now." Tobias had been washing up the dishes after breakfast and he came to the phone, as Lindsay told him what Maeby said.

Tobias said, "Maeby! How are you?"

"I'm good, Dad. I mean, other than this scandal."

"Yes, it's very unfortunate." Tobias considered coming out to his daughter as well, but then George Sr. walked into the room, so he didn't tell Maeby after all. Perhaps they could talk in private sometime when he came to the studio to film his part in the movie. "Thank you for letting me stay in the movie. I'm sorry if I bragged too much, but I'm so excited that my daughter is a big-time movie exec. I'm so proud of you."

"Thanks, Dad," she said, but was feeling impatient with him. "Anyway I have to talk to my boss now about the scandal, so I gotta go now."

"All right, Maeby. Take care!"

"We're glad that we could make up."

"Bye! We love you!"

"Bye." Maeby hung up and sighed again.

George Michael squeezed her hand and said supportively, "We'll teach them a lesson. They'll see how awful they are in the movie."

She smiled and put her head on his shoulder. He was a pretty good boyfriend slash husband, and she said, "Listen, I'm sorry about the wedding ring earlier. Maybe you could save it for our first anniversary instead?" Picturing one year in the future wasn't as frightening to her as picturing forever. And besides, they had been married a couple of months ago, so their anniversary was actually less than a year a way.

George Michael cheered up and smiled. "Sure, Maeby. I bet my dad will be able to come visit for our anniversary party by then." He hoped that the embezzlement charges would be dropped and that his father would no longer be forbidden to leave Newport Beach.

"I guess so." She shrugged, and just hoped that Uncle Mike wouldn't try to be controlling, or lecture them about babies having babies, like Pop-pop did.

George Michael kissed her, then went to wash the dishes, while Maeby phoned her boss.

Mort Meyers said, "It's Sunday and our movie's all over the news and the internet. We just gotta figure out how to sustain this press interest for when the movie gets released." That's what he meant by strategizing, apparently.

Maeby said, "But I told you that gossip is not true. The karaoke was an accident."

"Of course!" Mort told her to relax. He didn't seriously believe that she ever flirted with her crazy uncle. This was just a ploy to stir up controversy and interest, like with the cousins movie. "Going with the incest angle again is marketing genius!"

"No, no!" She told Mort that she didn't want all that innuendo written into the movie. "It's my life story, and I don't want actual lies in it. I want to tell the truth about my awful family, not made up stuff."

"Okay okay. Let's talk facts. You got married to your cousin George Michael. Technically you're not blood-related, but you guys didn't know that when you got married, right?"

She admitted, "We didn't find out until the Queen Mary."

"Right. And you didn't know about Steve Holt either before you dated him?"

"No I didn't. Nobody knew about Steve Holt being a Bluth until a few months ago."

"So it's still kissing cousins, even if your mom is adopted. It's like your uncle Michael loving Lindsay for years when he didn't know she was adopted--technically not incest, but still messed up. I mean, not that you and George Michael--"

She said, "No, you're right, it was weird before we found out we weren't related." She and George Michael had avoided each other many times because of the awkwardness after they kissed in the sinkhole, and then after they got to second base.

Mort was relieved, and he said, "Anyway, we can push the same almost cousin angle that you did with the cousin movie. I mean, Annyong's movie folks are trying to tap into the scandal by claiming that you kissed him at some point."

She sighed. "It was just to make George Michael jealous." It didn't even work.

"Oh that happened? Okay." Mort said, "So with Annyong being your sort of uncle, they're trying to push that scandal for publicity, but I don't think that'll work since Annyong is obviously adopted, and he's not even older than Steve Holt. It's like he's another cousin more than your uncle."

"Can we just focus on the movie showing how awful my parents are? I don't think Ron Howard's gonna be happy making a movie that's 100% incestuous gossip."

"Okay, okay. People did like the stuff about you fighting with your mom at the fountain. Wait until they get a load of your father!" Mort didn't like Tobias when he met him at the studio.

"Yeah, so let's focus on my awful childhood in Boston. Besides I just got this great new source of pictures of Lindsay in high school, and stories about awful things she did in the 1990s, which I was too young to remember."

"A new source, huh? Friend of the family or disgruntled maid coming forward?"

"No, an enemy of the family, but I have to keep her name out of it, because her dad will interfere if he finds out." So Maeby told Mort about Sally Sitwell's stories of Lindsay, and then explained how she fake forgave her parents and hoped Mort could film Tobias's homeschool scenes soon.

Chapter Text

On Sunday morning, Stan Sitwell had breakfast with his overnight guests and asked for their opinions of Tobias.

Argyle only met Tobias last night, but some of his friends met him years before, at a local book signing.

"Yeah!" They gushed about getting autographs and raved about Tobias's "The Man Inside Me" book.

The Freedom guy said that he had been shocked when Dale told him afterward that Tobias was married to Lindsay Bluth. "I didn't know she was the one in his book's dedication. I thought that Lindsay was a guy." (Tobias had changed all the pronouns to masculine.)

Dale pointed out, "But Lindsay did come to the book signing that day." They hadn't known who she was at the time, but in hindsight, it became clear, especially when Lindsay left due to George Sr.'s heart attack and Tobias asked Dale for a ride to the hospital. Dale was a nurse there, so they could park out front.

Argyle said with a shrug, "I told you that Bluths are strange."

"But he's not a Bluth. He's a Fünke."

Dale said, "I don't know why Tobias is still married to her even now. I didn't think people still stayed together for the sake of the kids. Plus Maeby's emancipated now, so she doesn't need them anymore."

Stan Sitwell said, "Actually, from what Lindsay tells me, Tobias is in the closet and claims that he's not gay." (He hadn't heard about Tobias coming out.)

They were quite disappointed and incredulous. "But his book was so great!" Dale assumed that no one could write that book and not be out.

"And he was going to give therapy to Tony Wonder!"

Sitwell said, "Tobias has been in denial as long as I've known him, and as long as Lucille has known him too." He meant his girlfriend Lucille Austero, who had been a friend of the Bluth family for many years.

Argyle nodded, and said, "It's so sad when people can't face themselves." He mentioned gay people in his own generation who only came out late in life, after they had already been married and/or had kids. It was painful and traumatic to leave the closet and risk losing your family.

"But at least they finally got free," the Freedom guy said, feeling sorry for Tobias and trying to remember passages from the book in a whole new light.

Sitwell asked them all if they had any ideas about how to help Tobias come out, but they were divided in their opinions.

Argyle said it was not a good idea to try pushing Tobias if he wasn't ready.

Sitwell felt discouraged. "I thought him seeing Tony Wonder's show last night would--" He got cut off by a phone call. One of his security guards was doing a check of the estate, and he found a broken window in the guest house. So Sitwell excused himself from breakfast.

When Sitwell came to the guest house, he saw the broken window as well as some crushed flowerbeds underneath it, showing signs of a break in last night.

The security guard said it probably happened during the chaos at the party, but nobody noticed it until morning light. Unfortunately, they didn't have any security cameras pointed at this part of the house, so they didn't know who did it. "Do you want to beef up the security, or file a police report?"

"Well, let me see if anything's missing first." Sitwell didn't want Lindsay's birthday presents to be stolen. Or worse, maybe one of the reporters broke in hoping to catch Lindsay alone to grill her about the alleged incest with her nephew.

Fortunately, Lindsay's birthday presents were all where he hid them inside, so Sitwell relaxed and just had his guard inspect the whole house for any further damage. While he waited, Lindsay called to ask if the coast was clear, and if she could come get her presents.

"Yeah, they're still right here in the guest house, and George's Mercedes is still parked in the lot. Will he be coming with you?"

"No, he's going to wait here for my new company car to arrive today." She was going to take a cab to Sitwell's estate.

"Oh yes, they're delivering the Lexus today. It will certainly be less conspicuous than the Bluth Company staircar."

"Yes, or the cabin car." Lindsay remembered Michael forcing her to drive that monstrosity last year, and she wondered what ever happened to it. Michael must have got rid of it because it reminded him of spending time with Rita; after she got over being beaten and drugged, they had a few dates there, and Rita had played the banjo.

Sitwell said, "Oh that thing. Actually, I think I got a message about the cabin recently. Somebody had found it, and wanted to know if the Bluth Company still wanted it."

"Oh definitely not!"

"Well, not to drive, but I was thinking that if we had both halves of the cabin, we could install it somewhere in the woods, and set up a camp for underprivileged children. Wouldn't that be nice for the kids in your charity foundation?"

Lindsay said hesitantly, "Well I don't know anything about camping. My parents never took me--" George Sr. had only tried to get the boys interested in outdoor activities and sports. He never told Lindsay about his cabin at Lake Tahoe either.

"Oh that's all right," Sitwell assured her. "We'll hire professional camp counselors to take care of the kids. I just wanted to be sure that you didn't want the cabin, since it used to belong to your father."

Lindsay was relieved. "No, that's fine with me. Give it to those poor kids."

"All right. I'll take care of that on Monday. See you soon."

"Yes, I'll be there in about an hour. Bye."

Sitwell felt very hopeful that he would get to bond with Lindsay alone, without George Bluth hovering. Maybe he should wait for her and talk her into opening the presents here, so he could see the happy look on her face and perhaps get more hugs.

But then the security guard returned, saying that he found no other damage to the house, and that he swept for electronic devices and hidden cameras too, in case the burglar tried to plant bugs in the house to spy on Lindsay.

"Oh I didn't think of that. Thanks."

"That's what you pay me for." Then he recommended that they should fix the window and install alarms on the guest house. "And did you want new security cameras?"

Sitwell thought about it, but said, "I don't want a bunch of workers all over this house when Lindsay gets here today." He certainly didn't want her to get discouraged from moving in, if she thought the house wasn't safe. "Let's wait until she comes for her presents, and I'll gently explain to her about the broken window. Then when she leaves, we'll get his place fixed up and install an alarm system." He could always give her new keys later and tell her the alarm code for the keypad.

"Yes, sir."

Then Ice arrived to return Sitwell's car and get his payment for guarding Sallly Sitwell at the party last night. He came into the guest house, and Sitwell started to write him a check, but he got an idea.

"How would you like to earn a bonus?" Sitwell explained to Ice about the broken window, and he asked if Ice would wait here and guard Lindsay's birthday presents. "It's just for a little while, because we won't get the window fixed and alarms installed until later. I think Lindsay would feel safer if you were here to assure her that the guest house is all right." He also wanted Lindsay to spend time with Ice so that she wouldn't be so desperate and lonely. That was more important than Sitwell being alone with her; he could always see her at work or at the Balboa Country Club now.

Ice asked, "But shouldn't you find out who broke in? Just to make sure it's really safe here?"

Sitwell said, "I think the break-in only happened because we had so many party guests last night, and things got out of control. But normally we wouldn't let strange people onto the estate in the first place. Plus, you can help Lindsay take all the presents out to the car."

Ice remembered that he wanted to talk to Lindsay about her job offer, and whether he could cater parties at the Bluth Company, so he agreed to stay at the guest house.

Sitwell wrote him a check for last night, and they discussed how big the bonus check would be. "I'll give that to you after Lindsay leaves, since we don't know how long that will take. Feel free to watch TV or help yourself to anything in the fridge while you wait." He had stocked the place with food and drinks to make the guest house more attractive to Lindsay.

"Okay." As Sitwell left, Ice just sat down and watched more TV news about the scandal. He felt worried about Lindsay.

Sitwell went to make more arrangements with security, and he also said goodbye when Argyle and his friends left the estate.

Early that morning, Gob got up from bed and went to take a shower. Michael woke up from the sound and the light in the bathroom. He glanced at the clock sadly and wished that Gob didn't have to go so soon. Once he moved into an apartment, then Gob could stay the night without having to sneak away before dawn. Maybe Michael could even convince Gob to move in with him, instead of staying on the yacht. After all, they were going to live together in the house in Cabo, so sharing an apartment would be like getting an early taste of that freedom.

After his shower, Gob toweled off and wrapped Michael's blue bathrobe around him. This was Michael's normal robe that he brought from the model home. Gob still preferred his own short satin robe, but at least Michael's robe was better than the hotel robes that he didn't like.

Then Gob picked up Franklin and the cage with the doves, and he carried them out of the bathroom. He smiled to see Michael awake, and he sat on the bed to kiss him.

Michael held onto him affectionately even while Gob changed into his tuxedo. "I can't wait until we're living together."

Gob nodded. "In Cabo, we could spend all day in bed, if we want to."

Michael sighed and ached for that. Even just to hold hands in public and kiss, and nobody would say anything about it being wrong. They could just be together, and maybe he'd grow a beard so that nobody would recognize him from the news. "That sounds perfect."

Gob grinned and gave Michael back his blue robe while he resumed dressing. "Anyway, I'll call you later when I get back to the yacht." He had to drop off Steve Holt's car first.

"Okay." Michael put on the robe and got up to help Gob carry the cage and puppet to the door. "Are you sure you can sneak out all right? How close did you park the car?" He worried that the doves would wake up and start making noise.

"It's fine. I know how to sneak out of hotels, Michael." Gob often sneaked out when having one-night stands with women or men. He also sneaked out of various houses and apartments when he lived with some lovers and cheated on them. Once he even climbed out of a conjugal trailer in prison to get away from Kitty, though that had not gone well. "This time I don't have to carry the video camera, either."

"All right." Michael trusted in Gob's experience, and tried not to worry.

After another kiss, Gob told him to go back to sleep. He turned off the bathroom light and went out the suite door carrying Franklin and the doves. His Jesus religious cloak was still on the cage to keep the doves quiet and sleeping.

Soon he went down a hall and out a back way that he knew in this hotel. A stairwell led to an attached restaurant on the ground floor, and then there was a door that went directly to the street instead of the hotel lobby. It was early enough in the morning that no one was there, so Gob could slip out the side entrance unobserved. Then he headed to where he hid the Camaro a few streets away. Once Franklin and the doves got settled inside, Gob started the car and drove to Steve Holt's house. (Actually Steve was still living with his mom Eve.)

Along the way, Gob talked to Franklin about the party, and his talk with Michael in bed. He asked Franklin his opinion on what Michael's fake name should be. Franklin suggested "Charlie Brown" but Gob said, "Nah. That name's too famous." And it reminded him of Buster calling his balls "Charlie Browns."

Soon Gob arrived at the house, and he saw Steve Holt sitting on the front steps looking sad. Gob parked the car at the curb and opened the window to ask, "How long have you been waiting for me?"

Steve shook his head and came closer to the car. He explained that he got up for church with his mom earlier, but she saw all the TV news stories about the Bluths and told Steve that he shouldn't have gone to the birthday parties. "She got mad that I let you have the Camaro for the night, and that I was learning sinful secular ways by riding in limos all the time."

Gob remembered how annoyingly religious Eve Holt had been, and how similar she was to Egg. He hoped that Eve Holt wouldn't come out of the house to yell at him, and he started to hand the keys over to Steve so that he could leave as quickly as possible. He was going to leave the doves with his son, so that he could practice the magic routine some more. Then Gob could just walk away with Franklin and get a cab back to the yacht.

However, Steve continued talking after he took the keys back, "My mom says I shouldn't see you anymore or be your magic assistant. She says I should give back the tuxedo too."

"What?" Gob was initially annoyed that this meant he'd have to take the doves back too, but then he realized that Eve Holt was solving his problem of how to get rid of his clingy son.

Steve said, "I told her that we were gonna get in the Magician's Alliance and--"

"That's okay," Gob interrupted. "If your Mom forbids you to see me, that's fine."

Steve was disappointed and confused. "But what about our father-son act, Dad? And the meeting tomorrow?"

Gob shrugged and undid Franklin's seat belt. "It's okay. I'll just talk Michael into being my assistant instead and then we'll work on a new act. Anyway, I gotta call a cab so I can take the doves with me." He reached for his cellphone.

Steve Holt was hurt that his father was agreeing to abandon him again, and he became clingy. "No, wait, Dad. I want to be your assistant."

"But what about your mom?"

"Well, um, she can't tell me what to do. I'm 21 already. Maybe I should move out." He'd gotten used to still living with his mom while he kept trying to pass high school, but now they were kicking him out because he was too old.

Gob didn't look pleased. "You sure? But I can't let you live with me on my yacht. There's no room for you and the birds and all my magic stuffs." He had Franklin say, "Yeah, get your own place!"

Steve looked hurt again, since he knew his father had let Uncle Mike move in; now there was suddenly "no room" on the yacht. But Steve was tired of fighting with his mom, so he said, "Well maybe I'll get an apartment then." He had some money saved up from his job delivering packages to people. "Or I'll ask Aunt Lindsay if I can stay at the model home now that George Michael and Maeby moved out."

Gob said, "Well, I guess you can. But are you sure you wanna make your mom angry?"

Steve hesitated and felt conflicted, but then he said, "Maybe I should. She doesn't understand how much this means to me, getting into the Magician's Alliance and going to the Gothic Castle." Steve had loved magic even before he knew that Gob was his father. "She always disapproved of me liking magic, I guess 'cause she was still mad at you for leaving." Eve Holt didn't approve of her son having premarital sex, either, but it was harder to discourage him once he turned 18. Besides, she was glad that Steve was straight, for she had grown worried the year that he styled his hair in a strange way and felt perfectly okay with being cast as a girl in a Shakespeare play where all the gender roles were switched around.

Gob shrugged off his memories of abandoning Eve Holt. "Yeah, she's a real drag."

Steve was still very insecure and needy. He opened the car door and moved aside Franklin so he could sit in the passenger seat. "Please, let me stay as your assistant, Dad. I'll get better with the magic. I promise. I'll really practice." He would have more time to do it now that he wasn't in school, on the football team.

Gob sighed, wishing that Steve didn't have to act so clingy. But he remembered that he had introduced Steve to Tony Wonder backstage, so he might as well keep Steve as an assistant. Tony already didn't want Gob working with Michael, and he might complain about the switch. So Gob gave in, but he took Franklin from Steve. "All right, fine, if you get your own place." To minimize the amount of time he would have to spend with his son, Gob asked, "What about that girl you met last night? You still going on a date with her?"

Steve Holt had forgotten about Sue Hsu, due to his argument with his mother. "Oh, I hope so. I haven't called her yet. Do you think she's seen the news about the party, and that she believes all that gossip? I hope she won't be upset too."

Gob said, "Don't let her blow you off. Tell her the truth, that you never dated Lindsay and that the reporters got everything wrong. Don't let them mess it up."

Steve Holt started to feel better now that his father seemed to be giving him romantic advice and to actually care about his life. "So I should call Sue and still try to have a date tonight, even with all the scandal?"

"Sure, yeah, if she still likes you. Go for it. Love each other." Gob was trying to wrap up this conversation quickly. Franklin said, "Yeah, give her some sugar."

Steve Holt smiled and hugged him. "Thanks, Dad."

Gob didn't remember the last time that Steve hugged him, for he had taken a roofie to forget. He felt conflicted about the hug, just like when he wasn't sure how to take it when Stan Sitwell hired him and acted like a father to him. He mumbled uncomfortably, "You're welcome," and said he and Franklin had to go now. "You better go talk to your mom about moving out, and remember, I'm leaving the doves with you so you can practice." He gestured to the cage in the back seat.

"Yeah, Dad. See you later."

Gob got out of the Camaro with Franklin and hurried away, calling a cab to pick him up.

Eve Holt came out of the house, for she had been watching them from a window. She couldn't hear them talking in the car, but she assumed that Steve was saying goodbye to his wayward father once and for all. Eve had only tolerated her son spending time with Gob because Steve was so lonely and determined when he signed up for the S.A.D. program. "Is that bastard gone for good?"

Steve Holt shook his head and got out of the car to explain his decision to move out of the house.

Eve was shocked and upset, trying to talk her son out of it. "I know you're 21 now, but you should save money and stay here. Besides, how are you gonna hold down a steady job if you're off doing magic tricks all the time with him?"

"But if we're both in the Magician's Alliance, then we could get lots of work." Many people didn't hire magicians who weren't Alliance-approved.

"That won't be enough. He's a terrible magician."

"No he isn't! My dad is great!"

Eve Holt scoffed.

Steve told her, "Plus, he made friends with Tony Wonder, so maybe he'll teach us cool stuff to do, and we can work with him a lot." Tony Wonder certainly seemed financially successful, and he thought that would reassure his mother.

"He's that gay magician, isn't he? I don't want him to turn you gay."

"He can't turn me gay. And there's nothing wrong with being gay." Or transgender. Steve had been rather intrigued when Maeby lied to him that Lindsay was her father. Only when they dated later did Maeby explain the lie as a practical joke that got out of hand.

"It's a sin!" Eve insisted. "Plus with this scandal, the whole Bluth family will be pariahs. You should stay away from them."

"That stuff isn't true!" Steve protested. "It's a misunderstanding, and they didn't get the joke." When he heard the press release about the karaoke being a joke, that actually sounded plausible to him. Bluths and Fünkes apparently had an odd sense of humor.

They kept fighting, but Steve went inside the house and started packing his stuff, while his mother cried about losing her son to stupid magicians.

Steve insisted that he loved magic, and that it was a great honor to go to the Gothic Castle to meet the members of the Magician's Alliance. "Plus I signed up to go to the army, so I should spend as much time as I can having fun first." He was worried about what would happen to him in the war.

Eve Holt was worried too, and couldn't bear not seeing her son for the last year he had of civilian life. She begged him, "Don't go."

Steve said, "Look, I'll visit you sometimes, Mom, as long as we don't fight about the magic. Or my dad."

She said, "You can't rely on Gob for anything. He'll abandon you the first chance he gets."

"No, he likes me now. He really cares."

"Steve!" She hugged him and said she loved him.

Steve said, "I love you too, Mom. But it's time." He gently pulled away, then left with his bags.

She cried as she watched him get in the Camaro and drive away.

Gob got back to his yacht with Franklin, and they went downstairs to the bedroom. After changing his clothes, he called Michael to say sweet nothings again. He wanted to try to convince Michael to have phone sex with him, when they couldn't be together, but Michael didn't want to say anything explicit over the phone. He changed the subject to Steve Holt, and whether he had been suspicious at all.

"No, he was all upset about his mom." Gob told Michael what happened.

"Oh he's moving out? Well I guess that's good for him. I should move out too. Get myself an apartment today."

"Yeah, that'll be great. But don't let Steve Holt move in."

"Of course I wouldn't." That would definitely interfere in their sex life. "But maybe I'll talk to Lindsay to make sure that she lets Steve take the spare room." He could probably guilt her into it because she still thought he was in love with her. "You can work on your magic there with him too."

"I guess so. Let me know when you get the apartment. We'll borrow the staircar or something and move you out."

"Sure." And Michael would be sure to give Gob a spare key. They said their I love yous and hung up.

Michael called Lindsay, who said she wasn't at home. "I'm on my way to Stan Sitwell's house to get my presents. Are you sure Steve Holt should move into the model home? With the scandal, it would look like I'm really dating him or something."

"Well then let him stay at Sitwell's guest house or something. Try to be supportive, Lindsay. Gob needs to be a good father to him."

"For his magic act? They why not let him stay on the yacht?"

"With all the girls Gob might bring there?" Michael had to keep up the fiction that Gob would still be having sluts over for sex. "Please, Lindsay."

"Fine. I have to talk it over with Sitwell first, so I'll tell Dad to let Steve into the model home for now. He'll be a nice buffer between Tobias and Dad, I guess." She had promised to not tell her father about Tobias's coming out, so they probably shouldn't be alone too much. Steve could distract them by telling about his fight with his mother.

Meanwhile, Gob had breakfast on his yacht and talked to Franklin while he made the fake Derek Taylor passport. "Do you remember that show, Franklin? Derek was awesome."

Franklin said, "Derek should have got more girls."

"He didn't have a car yet. And he got that one girl." Gob didn't remember her name, but she was a genius redhead who manipulated Ricky and his father, who wanted to hire her for his toy business. She was thoroughly conniving, dishonest, and greedy--perfect for Derek. The redhead only appeared on one episode, so Gob never saw how far Derek managed to get with her before she left for her job at a Japanese place. But Gob imagined that they must have had some fun for a while. He wondered if it would be nice to date someone who was the same as you.

Gob said, "We should watch that show again. I wonder if it's on DVD now." Or maybe they could check Youtube for videos.

He was still chatting with Franklin when Tony Wonder called. "Oh, hey Tony." Gob had forgotten that he was supposed to call him.

"Hey Gob. Is this a good time?" He would have called earlier in the morning, but wasn't sure if Gob was awake yet or would still be with his secret boyfriend.

"Yeah, it's fine."

"So how'd it go with you and your boyfriend last night?"

"Great." Gob smiled at the memory and looked fondly at his picture of Michael.

"Did you guys talk about Michael?"

"What? Oh yeah." He put down the photo and tried to remember the cover story for Tony. "Everything's fine. I told you, he doesn't mind coming with us to South America."

"Even with this scandal and--?"

Gob said, "Yeah 'cause he already works there as a maritime lawyer."

"A maritime lawyer? What's that?'

Gob shrugged and remembered Michael playing a lawyer in that high school play. "Uh, he's a lawyer against pirates and stuff like that." His wife the seal dealer had also wanted a maritime lawyer once. "He handles seal deals too."

Tony was quite confused. "Oh, is he your mom's lawyer for hijacking the Queen Mary?"

Gob didn't think of that. Still, he didn't want Tony to think he was dating the old guy John Haverstock. "No, uh, 'cause he's a secret from my mom and everybody else."

"Oh, right."

"Look, I can't tell you more, Tony. He only let me say this much so that you'd stop arguing with me." Gob said firmly, "My boyfriend loves me, and we're going to his other place in South America, so it all works out."

Tony was disappointed, and he tried to argue, "But if your boyfriend works in South America, isn't that the first place the police will look when you escape with Michael?"

"No, 'cause nobody knows about my boyfriend in the first place. Don't you tell them either, if they question you."

"Of course not. I wouldn't betray you, Gob."

"Good," Gob smiled and said, "So you'll still help with the prison escape and everything?"

"Yeah, but what about Michael being crazy? Why don't you get him into therapy?"

Gob got annoyed that Tony wouldn't let that go. Maybe flirting on the phone wasn't enough. He should be there in person to charm Tony. "Let's not discuss this on the phone. Can I come over to your place?"

Tony was surprised but pleased. He did want to see Gob again before the Alliance meeting on Monday. "Yeah, you want to have lunch with me?"

"Yeah. And your boyfriend's not there, right?" Gob knew he shouldn't flirt in front of Tony's boyfriend. "So we can talk in private?"

"No, uh, he's not here. We can be alone." Tony realized that he needed to clean up his house for any signs of Sally staying over. She would sometimes forget her purse or leave cigarettes with her lipstick on them in ashtrays.

"Good." He went to get something to write on. "So where's your place?"

Tony told him the address, and Gob said he would be there soon.

"Okay, I'll see you. Bye." Tony hung up and started cleaning up his house. He got excited too and decided that he would cook a nice lunch for Gob.

Chapter Text

To visit Tony Wonder, Gob dressed in a very sexy outfit with tight pants, then he got on his Segway and rode out to the house.

When Tony Wonder answered the door, he was rather stunned, and Gob could see that he was impressed.

"Hey," Gob said in his sexy voice.

"Uh, hey." Tony felt underdressed in his Sunday sweats, but then Gob smiled his crooked smile, and Tony relaxed into smiling back. "You look great."

"I know," Gob said smugly, and moved to squeeze past him into the house.

Tony realized that he had been blocking the entrance, and he apologized as he shut the front door. "Sorry. Yeah, go on in."

Gob had squeezed by on purpose, though, to brush up against Tony, and then to give a view of his ass walking past him.

While Gob looked at the house, Tony glanced in a nearby mirror to fix up his hair and to adjust his necklace, the only fancy thing he was wearing today. He wanted to be a convincing fake gay after all, and he hoped that his house was clean enough.

Gob glanced around at the white kitchen and the sleek, modern furniture. So much metal and glass, with splashes of blue, like the neon guitar on the wall, or the boxy couch in the living room. There were weird, arty vases all around, and even a table shaped like a small person holding a tray.

In the dining room there was a large magic poster of Tony, and his "Wonder Show of the Universe." It made Gob a little jealous of Tony's successful career again. But at least it wasn't a poster from his current gay show, with all the glitter and the lame "I'm here, I'm queer, now I'm over here" slogan. So Gob shrugged off his envy, and just said, "Nice place."

"Thanks." Tony invited him to sit while he got their lunch from the kitchen. "I made it with chicken. You're not vegetarian or anything, right? 'Cause you could just have the pasta."

Gob said suggestively, "Nah. I like meat."

His innuendo was lost on Tony, who was busy ladling marinara sauce from a pot. "Okay."

Gob lounged in his chair and was pleasantly surprised when Tony brought over big full plates of the pasta. Some gay guys he had known were always on fad diets trying to look shredded, so he was glad that Tony wasn't one of those high maintenance guys. Gob loved carbs, and had not done well on the low-carb diet a few years ago. "Smells good."

Tony smiled and handed him a thing of grated Parmesan to sprinkle on the pasta. "What do you want to drink? Water or juice...?"

"Red wine?" Gob noticed a bottle on the nearby kitchen island.

"Uh, sure." Tony had already cleaned up Sally's wine glass from last night with her lipstick on it, but he forgot about the opened bottle. Fortunately, red wine kept better than white wine, and he figured that they might as well finish off the bottle. So Tony poured the wine into a couple of clean glasses, and he set the bottle on the table.

"Thanks." Gob smiled and brushed his fingers against Tony's when he took the wine glass.

As Tony sat down to the table, he raised his glass for a toast. "To us finally working together, and you getting back into the Magician's Alliance soon."

"Yeah! To us!" Gob joined the toast, then took a sip. "Mmm, good wine."

Tony said, "I love red wine." Even with chicken.

"Me too. It's like, why only have it with red meat, like they say?"

"I know! It's good all the time."

"Food rules are stupid. Like the one about waiting 30 minutes after you eat to swim. Come on! I go scuba diving all the time while--"

"--while eating Captain Crunch! Whoa." Tony's mind was blown by their shared experience, and he wondered if Gob was doing one of those mind-reading tricks on him. "How'd you know about that time I did that to try to prove my brother wrong?"

"What? I didn't--" Gob was impressed as well. "Your brother who died?"

"Uh, yeah." Tony got a little uncomfortable to remember competing with and fighting with his older brother. He changed the subject by pushing a basket toward Gob. "Try some bread."

Gob did so. "Wow."

Tony smiled. "Good, huh?" He made a W shape with his hands and wiggled his fingers for punctuation. "It's 'Wonder' bread. See it's like a quotation mark but with a W."

Gob thought that was cool. "I should do that."

"Hey, don't, okay," Tony said, looking a little too serious.

So Gob nervously said he wouldn't.

Tony relaxed again and told him excitedly how he baked the bread himself a few days ago, and kept it fresh in a bread box. Tony had become interested in bread since he figured out how to bake himself into a loaf of bread to feed the troops a few years ago. He told Gob how he did the illusion too, since he no longer did food-related magic.

As he listened, Gob ate the pasta and drank more wine. The delicious food reminded him of how Lucille 2 used to cook for him when they were dating. She would make him tomato soup, grilled cheese sandwiches with bacon, and jello. It felt so great to be cared for by a motherly figure, that Gob could see what Buster saw in her, even though he was embarrassed to be seen in public with her. That, and his neediness, had caused Lucille 2 to leave him for Sitwell.

Gob told Tony his old idea to boil himself into a cauldron of soup, and said, "Maybe I could do that on the DVD."

"Yeah! Soup and bread. That's perfect." So perfect that he would reconsider doing a food illusion. "And after I'm baked and sliced, I can dip me into y--" He blushed when he realized what he was saying. "I mean, dip the bread into the soup."

Gob just laughed flirtatiously. No doubt about it. Tony definitely had a crush on him.

Embarrassed, Tony went back to eating. He hoped that Gob only took his bad choice of words as proof that he was gay, like that crazy Tobias.

Gob stretched his legs under the table and let his sandals brush against Tony's shoes. "You're funny," he said.

Tony did try to play it off like a joke, laughing lightly. But he withdrew his feet, assuming that Gob had only accidentally stretched too far, simply because he was tall and had long legs.

Gob assumed that Tony was just remembering that he had a boyfriend, and should feel guilty about his crush.

They continued eating, and started talking about making the DVD. "My business manager will want you to sign a contract about how we split the money."

"Yeah, I'll have Michael look at that." He knew about contracts and legal stuff.

At the mention of Michael, Tony frowned. "Why do you keep working with him?"

"He's my brother. I love him." It was simple to Gob. So very simple, and very true, though Tony wouldn't realize what he really meant.

Tony shrugged. He knew that everybody had to say they loved their family, even when they hated their family. "I know you want to protect him, and I guess giving him a job keeps him out of jail now. But come on! You don't have to actually make him do the job, Gob. You could make him go to therapy instead, so he won't be crazy."

"He's not crazy, Tony. I told you, Michael doesn't want Lindsay, and he was just scaring her off. She was all desperate because of Tobias, and she just found out about being adopted."

"And you're sure that Michael isn't lying to you? Everyone else believes Lindsay." Even Sally Sitwell, Lindsay's nemesis.

Gob shook his head and tried to think of some way to convey Michael's innocence. "No. Come on! Michael freaked out about George Michael and Maeby getting married, and they're not even blood-related. Why would he come on to Lindsay for years, when he didn't know she was adopted?"

Tony thought about it. "But maybe he didn't want the kids to be together because he wanted Lindsay for himself?"

"No, if Michael wanted her, he would have just agreed to marry her."

"Marry her?"

"Yeah, didn't you hear? She wanted to divorce Tobias and marry him." Gob assumed that since he overheard Lindsay saying this to Mom on the Queen Mary, that other party guests must have heard it too and gossiped about it. However, they mostly just gossiped about Lindsay fighting with Gob, and how Lucille had to rescue him. (And eventually, when Lucille hijacked the ship, that was all anybody talked about.)

"What? Whoa!" Tony was shocked.

Gob explained, "Michael didn't want to marry her. But that just made her want him more." Much like with her celibate marriage, Lindsay assumed that she could seduce Michael later, despite his refusal when she first proposed. "So he just pretended to give in, and finally she ran away. That's all that happened."

"Wow. I did not know that." Tony wondered if maybe he should tell Sally all this, the next time he saw her. Perhaps she wouldn't hate Michael as much, or think that he dated her as a substitute for his sister.

Gob felt smug. "See? The reporters got the gossip all wrong. They don't know anything."

"I guess so." After all, Sally said that Maeby confirmed that the karaoke thing was an accident. Michael was apparently innocent after all. Tony asked, "And you told your boyfriend all that too? That's why he's okay with you helping Michael escape to South America?"

"Yeah," Gob said, "And he likes Michael, 'cause they went to law school together. They're friends." He almost said that they were "the same" but thought better of it.

Tony was surprised. "Your brother went to law school? I thought he was the favorite son, destined to run the Bluth Company." The expectation was there practically since he was born, according to Sally Sitwell. George Bluth was always boasting about his "good son" to Stan Sitwell.

Gob looked down into his plate. "That was what Dad always said, yeah." Especially whenever Gob asked why Dad only wanted him to play on the softball team, not actually come to the office for anything, even his paycheck. Dad only wanted Michael at the company, nobody else, and Michael didn't even want it. It was fucked up.

"Michael wanted to be a lawyer, but Dad said he already had the best lawyer, and wanted Michael to learn the family business instead. Michael said he wanted to quit and be a maritime lawyer, but Dad wouldn't let him go. Said Michael owed him for giving him a job to support his wife and baby, after he was stupid enough to knock her up in college. Michael got mad and tried to get into law school anyway in the 1990s, but he only did one year before Dad made him drop out to be Manager at the Bluth Company. Promised he'd run the whole company someday. Dad had a way of making Michael think he wanted something that he didn't really want." Anything for Dad's approval. That trick worked on Gob too.

Tony also knew what it was like living up to expectations and obligations. His own father always yelled at him for becoming a magician instead of going into the family business. Tony's brothers had gone into the business instead, while smugly saying that Tony was irresponsible and selfish to turn his back on tradition. "Hello darkness, my old friend..."

Gob glanced up to see Tony looking vacant again, and it was so familiar. Now that they were alone, he wanted to ask about Tony's darkness, and his father, and his brother. He moved his chair closer, and reached to touch Tony's face again.

"Huh?" Tony started for a moment, then tried to make an excuse. "Sorry, I--"

"Do you hear music?" Gob asked him.


"When you go away, do you hear a song?"

Tony swallowed, thinking that Gob was really good at this mind-reading thing. "How--how do you know...?"

"I hear it too." Gob hummed the beginning of the song. "Is that the one you hear?"

Tony blinked and nodded. "Yeah."

"And your father, is he the same as mine? Is he--"

"Yes! Like what you were were saying about your dad--he's the same. Always judging and manipulating. Pitting me against my brothers, and making--"

"Making you feel like you aren't there."

Tony was amazed. "Same."

Gob stared at Tony for a moment before realizing that he was holding hands with Tony now. "Uh, sorry." He got up and moved his chair back.

Tony also got up nervously and asked if Gob wanted more bread. They went back to eating for a while, but stole glances at each other over their wine glasses.

Gob wondered about Tony's dead brother, and how the widow took it when Tony came out as gay recently. She was probably upset, along with Tony's girlfriend at the time.

Meanwhile Lindsay arrived at Sitwell's estate, and he greeted her with a hug in the parking lot, before walking with her to the guest house. She was going to tell him about Steve Holt needing a place to stay, but she forgot when he told her about the broken window at the guest house.

"Oh no! My presents."

"No, they're all there. I promise." Sitwell also tried to downplay the incident, saying that the break-in probably wasn't by anyone truly dangerous. It was probably by some investor or big-time society person, who was upset about the disastrous party. "I mean, remember, many of these same party guests rioted over Graft vs. Host at the prison gala. They were venting their frustration, that's all. Investigating the incident would only cause embarrassment."

"Oh. I guess so."

"But we'll take precautions and add a house alarm later today after you go, so don't worry, Lindsay." He then opened the door as he told her that Ice was inside, guarding her presents.

"Ice?" Lindsay got excited. "Sally's not here, is she?"

"No, no. They weren't really dating, remember."

Lindsay looked pleased by that, and started to primp her hair.

Sitwell smiled and said, "Well, I'll leave you two alone now. Happy Birthday, again." He leaned in to kiss her cheek before he turned to go.

"Oh, okay! Thanks." She waved at him happily and then went inside the house with a big smile on her face. "Ice!"

Ice got up to see her. "Lindsay, I'm glad you made it without getting caught by the paparrazzi."

Lindsay said, "Well, I had to get the cab driver to go around a few times to lose them."

"Good. Come here, I'll show you your presents."


He led her into another room, where Sitwell had left all the gifts out in the open (after he checked that they weren't stolen). There were dozens of boxes, in all shapes and sizes. Sitwell was trying to make up for all the birthdays that he didn't get to spend with Lindsay, as well as assuage his guilt for not speaking up earlier about the fraud about her age. Stan's wife had told him that they shouldn't interfere in the Bluths' family, even as horrid as they were. She said Stan should move on and concentrate on appreciating their miracle daughter Sally. It was one of the reasons that Stan argued with her and eventually divorced her.

Lindsay squealed happily. "Oh, there's so many!"

Ice shrugged. "Yeah, he gave me a cart thing so we can take them all out to your car. Ice started to load all the presents onto it.

Lindsay said, "Wait, wait. Let's not leave yet. I want to talk to you, Ice. Did you still want to be my bodyguard? Or are you gonna stay with Sally Sitwell?"

Ice said, "No, that was a one time thing. I'd rather protect you. You need it more, especially now."

Lindsay felt pleased and twirled her fingers in her hair again. "Yeah that party." She got a little nervous and shy, since it had been so long since she dated anyone. "Did you, um, did you like dancing with me last night?"

"Uh, sure, but I wanted to ask you something."

"Yes?" She got excited, hoping that he'd ask for a date.

"Could I cater for you?"


"For the Bluth Company. The next time you have an event, could I do the party planning for you?"

"Oh." Lindsay was disappointed.

Ice was confused. "I thought you liked my smoothies and salmon rolls and everything at your other birthday party."

"No, I did. I just, I thought--never mind." She sat down and sighed in frustration.

Ice didn't understand her reaction. Did he offend her somehow? He pulled up a chair. "What's wrong?"

She said sadly, "It's just, Tobias came out to me last night, and--"

"He did? Wow."

Lindsay nodded, then felt guilty for telling her husband's secret. "I'm not supposed to tell anyone, because we're not gonna get divorced until the scandal dies down."

"Right. That makes sense." He touched her hand sympathetically.

Lindsay smiled at his concern and felt hope again. She said, "I want to start dating soon, though. Tobias said I could, if I didn't do it in public, and I thought, you know..."

He blinked as he got her meaning. "You want to date me? But I thought you wanted me to work for you."

"We could do both. You could be my bodyguard, and it would be an excuse for us to be together all the time, but secretly we'd be having an affair."

Ice shook his head, saying that he didn't like to mix business and pleasure. That was unprofessional.

"Unprofessional? The most professional guy in the world is Wayne Jarvis, and he had no problem trying to date my mom and work for her at the same time."

Ice shrugged. "Well he's a lawyer. They're unethical. When I'm on the clock, I'm on the clock."

The more Ice resisted, the more Lindsay wanted him. "You weren't on the clock when you danced with me. Come on, Ice. Don't you want me too? You almost agreed to date me after my father's wake, remember?" (George had faked his death, and Ice had catered.)

Ice nodded and recalled that it was after the wake ended, when Maeby finally got direct in trying to fix them up. But Ice left because he found out that George was alive and had escaped the attic. So he went back on duty to track George down, forgetting about Lindsay. "I know, but that was after the wake ended. But if I work for you again, then we can't date."

"So don't work for me, then!" Lindsay was getting desperate. "Don't you think I'm beautiful?"

"Sure, but--see, I really wanted to cater for the Bluth Company. It could be a regular gig, so I wouldn't have to keep bounty hunting all the time, or become a bodyguard."

Lindsay said, "So, um, let Stan Sitwell hire you as a caterer. Then you'll work for him, not me. Yeah, I'll tell him how good your smoothies are and how it will raise employee morale if we have more parties at the office." (Back when Michael was president, Lindsay had once offered to buy the employees lunch, but she didn't call a restaurant, and they all mistakenly got on a bus to Catalina. Perhaps if Ice was in charge of arranging lunches, then such mistakes wouldn't happen?)

Ice considered it. "So I could just be a caterer and not a bodyguard anymore."

Lindsay said, "Yeah, anything you want, as long as we could date. Please, Ice. It's been so long for me." The last time she had sex with a man was three years ago with Tobias, but he just lay there, and before that, it had been years of frustrated attempts at seduction.

Ice did feel sympathy for her, stuck in a marriage to a gay man for so many years. And she had that brother who was creepy with her too. Lindsay was surrounded by unhealthy relationships, so maybe Ice could help her feel normal and happy. Anyone else she approached would probably stay away from her due to the current scandal.

He asked hesitantly, "You didn't really date Steve Holt did you? And were you really just joking around with your other nephew at the karaoke?"

Lindsay said, "Yes, that was just a silly joke. Bluths always roast themselves at the office Christmas parties. And no, I didn't date Steve. I just flirted with him until I found out Maeby liked him, and none of us even knew that Steve was Gob's son at the time."

"Oh, okay. And you're not really blood-related to any of them." So Ice relaxed and said, "Then all right. Let's date."

"Oh, Ice!" She impulsively kissed him.

He smiled and said, "I could take you out dancing." He did like her moves at the magic show, and thought they could have fun at a nightclub.

Lindsay said, "No, I promised Tobias I wouldn't date in public. Or maybe I could wear a disguise." She had that wig and glasses after all.

Ice said, "Well maybe we can meet at my place or at your house, since your husband is okay with us dating."

"No, actually he doesn't want you to come to the model home, because my father's living with us. Tobias doesn't want him to know that I'm dating anybody."

"He didn't come out to your dad?"

"No. My dad's never liked Tobias, and I guess Tobias feels jealous because he doesn't have a man to date yet. Maybe you and me can have our dates here at this guest house."

"I guess so, since Sitwell gave it to you for a present. It's a nice place. I could bring some of my stuff to the kitchen and cook you a romantic dinner sometime."

"I'd love that!" She kissed him again and felt happy.

Ice made out with her a while, but found that she was getting aggressive, already feeling up his muscles and trying to pull him onto the same chair with her. "No, no. We should save it for our first official date. Uh, let's go take the presents to your car."

"Who cares about presents?" She was so eager to have a sexy man in her arms again, and his resistance only made her want what she couldn't have. She clung to Ice and toppled over the chair, knocking aside some presents and possibly breaking them. Lindsay and Ice landed on the floor, and she kept kissing him, not wanting to get up from the carpet.

Ice said, "Lindsay, we shouldn't do this yet. I'm on duty right now, guarding your presents."

She pounced on him and begged, "I need you. Please fuck me." She started lifting up her skirt. "It's been so long, I'm practically a virgin again."

Ice was stunned, but figured that she was right, she probably didn't have sex since she had the baby with Tobias. It kind of turned him on, and Lindsay was already taking off her underwear and touching herself.

Seeing how desperate she was, he gave in, but he told her they should move to the bedroom.

"Okay." She tried to kick off her panties so she could stand, but Ice decided to pick her up and carry her out of the room. She liked that, and put her arms around him as she kicked off her shoes.

He took her to the bedroom and lay her on the bed while he locked the door and started to get undressed himself. She stripped herself naked and then welcomed him with kisses.

Lindsay got off very quickly while Ice was still finger fucking her, and he thought it might be best to just make this a quickie, so he could get back on duty. However, she didn't want him to go, and kept groping him. "Fuck me with your big strong cock."

So he stayed, and she kept touching her clitoris too, with the result that she had another orgasm while he was inside her. He kept thrusting and she begged him to make it last for hours. He didn't think that was wise, though, and only spent about half an hour before he pulled away breathlessly. He felt somewhat guilty for being so unprofessional, and was just glad that he happened to have a condom on him for this unexpected tryst.

Ice turned to her and asked, "Better now?" Ice assumed that she was only so desperate and slutty from being denied sex for so long; maybe now she would be calmer.

Lindsay nodded and basked in her multiple orgasms.

"Good." He stroked her hair briefly and kissed her again.

Lindsay feared for a moment that she might not want Ice anymore, now that she had slept with him, but no, the kiss was still good

Then Ice got up from bed to retrieve his clothes and go take a shower. She still found his nude body hot and ached to have sex again, but she knew that he wouldn't give in again. Not yet anyway. Lindsay figured that she could continue to use these moments of denial, when she couldn't have Ice, to keep the flame of her desires strong. She wouldn't be able to flirt with Ice at work, when he was catering at the Bluth Company either, so she would have to save her passion for their secret dates.

Chapter Text

After Michael took a shower, he got dressed to go out and rent an apartment, but before he could find his newspaper, on which he'd previously circled apartments and made handwritten notes, his son called him.

"Oh, hi, George Michael. Are you back in L.A. now?"

"Yeah, Dad. We managed to get away in all the confusion at the party. Maeby's talking to her boss about the scandal now."

Michael sat down and asked, "Oh, is she in trouble?"

"No, Mort likes the scandal, and he says that any publicity's good publicity."

"Hmm." Michael tsked disapprovingly about Hollywood morals, and he wondered whether working at the movie studio might corrupt his son even more than the family had.

George Michael said, "I saw on the news how you got away with Uncle Gob." He laughed a little. "He sprayed lighter fluid in their eyes."

Michael nodded. "Yeah, we got away." He wondered if it was a good sign that George Michael was able to laugh about Gob now, and not be angry about the previous betrayal. Perhaps his honeymoon with Maeby really was helping him let things go. Michael also wondered if his son was suspicious at all about them running off together while holding hands, or if he hadn't noticed that part of the news footage.

George Michael said with a sigh, "I tried to give Maeby the ring this morning."

"Oh? How'd that go?" Given his son's disappointed voice, Michael wondered if the honeymoon was over now.

"Well, I tried to tell her that it proved that you accepted us now, but she didn't want to wear it yet. She doesn't want to move back to Newport Beach, either. I'm sorry."

"Oh, that's all right," Michael said, figuring that his son coming back would be an inconvenience to him and Gob. "I understand. You need space from me."

"Yeah, and it's better for our jobs." George Michael tried to sound more hopeful. "Maeby doesn't really forgive her parents, but she had to fake it for her movie. But I think she does forgive you, Dad, and she'll wear Mom's ring someday. Maeby says that I should save it for our first anniversary." He beamed a little to be talking about an anniversary.

"Really? Wow." Michael relaxed now; it did seem that Maeby loved George Michael after all.

"Yeah, and I figure that by then, your trial will be over, or the charges will get dropped, so you can come visit us in L.A. for our anniversary party. I can show you our apartment."

"Oh, I suppose so. Yeah, we'll come." He hoped that he could get George Michael and Gob to get along at the party, and even share a hug maybe. Then someday, Michael could tell his son the truth, and they could be a family.

George Michael assumed that his father meant the whole family, when he said "we'll come." He wondered if Gangee would be out of prison too, and if everyone including Steve Holt would come to the anniversary party. They might even have to invite Maeby's parents too, but perhaps her oblivious parents would just forget to come, like they always forgot Maeby's birthdays. George Michael said to his dad, "Good. And let me know if you need me to come back before then for your trial or anything."

"Yeah, I will, buddy. Thanks."

"Bye, Dad. I love you."

"I love you too, George Michael." He hung up and sighed, taking a moment to pleasantly imagine the anniversary party a year from now.

Michael and Gob would probably come back from Cabo before then. (He didn't think that he would need to break out of prison or be a fugitive.) As great as Cabo might be, he assumed that they would run out of money eventually and need to get new jobs. To escape the family, they could go to Phoenix and continue to live under their aliases. Maybe Michael could go back to law school, or they could start a Gobias coffeeshop to support them. They could just keep visiting George Michael and Maeby in L.A. every now and then, while trying not to reveal the truth prematurely.

Michael wondered when Gene Parmesan would find proof of his parentage, if ever. After all, Mom said that Gene never found proof of Dad's adultery. Well, if Gene didn't find anything for years, then Michael could probably hire someone else. Or maybe they could try to tell George Michael the truth even without proof, and hope for his acceptance.

Suddenly, Gene Parmesan called, and Michael answered, "Hey, I was just wondering when I'd hear from you."

Gene commented on the scandal all over the news. "Wow. This is why you want proof that you're not really part of this family, huh?"

Michael went along with that. He asked how the investigation was going.

"Terrible. It looks like your parents went to great lengths to hide any proof of Lindsay being adopted, and since your birthday was probably different than hers, they hid your real birth certificate too."

"I'm not surprised. But surely they had to get out my real certificate sometimes, for government records."

"Maybe they bribed people to look the other way. The folks at the adoption agency sure weren't talking about Nellie, or you."

"Did you find any clue about my real birthday?"

"Not really." Gene said that he first talked to the family of their old housekeeper Rosa. "You know, from when you were kids. They suggested looking in some storage units where your family keeps their secret stuff. But the one in Tarzana had no birth or adoption records, the one in Reseda had another copy of your fake Nichael certificate, but with more misspellings. Maybe it was a first draft. Finally, the storage unit in Newport Beach burned down three years ago--"

"Because of arson." Michael remembered the incident when Dad paid T-Bone to torch the place.

"Yeah. So you see how hard this is." Gene asked, "Are you sure I shouldn't just ask your parents point blank for your real records?"

"They're liars! Look what they did to Lindsay."

"I know, but Lucille likes me," Gene said, recalling all the times Lucille shrieked in delight at his disguises. "Maybe I could persuade her somehow and not tell her that you hired me. I could say that I'm looking for Dr. Miller about something else." Dr. Miller had been the family doctor for years, and must know some secrets. He had pumped Michael full of drugs, after all, to help Lucille frame her son for a car accident. Gene suspected that Lucille had paid Miller off and helped him to leave the country after he lost his medical license.

"No," Michael said. "That wouldn't work. Mom's been lying about Buster for years too, and he's the one that she loves the most."

"But maybe she lied to Buster because she loved him the most. She was protecting him from the truth about his real father."

Michael insisted, "She lied about Nana being alive for six months after she died. Who was Mom protecting, other than herself? No, there's no way she'd tell you the truth about anything. What about tracking down our estranged aunt? And our cousin Larry? Maybe they have the records." Michael was sure that Mom must have kept the incriminating originals somewhere; after all, Dad kept the H. Maddas cooler of evidence and the signed contract with Saddam Hussein because Lucille "had a good feeling" about the Iraqi dictator eventually paying them.

Gene sighed. "Okay, I'll try to track them down."

"Also, please find out if Gob's adopted or not. I think maybe they lied about him too." Once, Michael heard Lucille say "that ship sailed 35 years ago" when talking about getting rid of Gob. But Gob was 38 at the time she said it. Maybe he'd been adopted instead of Michael?

Gene was surprised that Michael questioned his older brother's origins as well. "If I have to do twice as much investigating, then I'll have to charge you twice as much too."

"Fine," Michael agreed. All the more motivation for him to get out of the hotel and into cheaper lodgings soon. "What kind of DNA sample do you need?"

"Oh, I'm not sure. I haven't found someone to do that testing yet. Right now I'm heading to the hospital where you were born, according to this certificate. I'll see if they still have records from back then, or can tell me who the attending doctor and nurses were."

Michael reminded him, "Remember that the birthdate is probably wrong on my certificate, so ask about any births that year."

Gene grumbled about having to check out all possible birthdates. That made his job harder, on top of researching Gob's past. "If only we could narrow down these dates somehow." That was why he wanted to talk to Lucille or the ex Dr. Miller. Even if he could just find a family photo album with pictures of Lucille being pregnant, he might be able to estimate likely birthdates, for each of her natural children.

"Call me if you find anything." Michael hung up and looked for the newspaper again. He finally found it under his laptop on the table, and he went out the door with it. He was going downstairs to have breakfast in the restaurant, then he'd get his bicycle and go rent an apartment.

For a while, Sitwell was busy on the phone too, trying to reassure several investors that the scandal wouldn't ruin the Bluth Company, but when he finished, he wondered if Lindsay had left with her presents yet, and he called his top security guard.

The guy said that Lindsay hadn't left the estate yet. The Mercedes was still in the parking lot, and in fact, Lindsay and Ice didn't even bring any presents out to the car yet. Sitwell looked at his watch and wondered what was taking Lindsay so long. Did she get distracted flirting with Ice and trying to talk him into a date?

So Sitwell went to the guest house and knocked on the front door, but no one answered. He opened the door and came inside a little, only to discover Lindsay's shoes strewn on the floor, along with her panties. He could hear sounds coming from another room too.

Sitwell was embarrassed, and quickly left, shutting the door again. He didn't realize that Lindsay was that horny, and he felt a little mad that Ice took advantage of her while he was supposed to be working. But after he told security to stay away from the house too, Sitwell finally looked on the bright side; Lindsay would no longer be as desperate and frustrated as she was when she tried to have sex with Michael.

Soon Sitwell returned to his own house and called Lucille Austero to tell her that their plan to fix up Lindsay and Ice had worked.

"Oh good for her." In turn, she told Stan about Oscar's hippie friends and all the pot they smoked at Balboa Towers. The hippies got thrown out this morning, and Lucille 2 suggested sending Oscar to rehab, but Buster wanted his uncle/father to stay. "So Oscar's trying to sober up now, while they clean up the mess." Since Lupe was busy, Lucille 2 agreed to go grocery shopping to replenish the kitchen and pantry. "I'll talk to you later."

After hanging up, Sitwell got on his computer which was hooked up to his Bluth Company account. He looked at the message about the former Lake Tahoe cabin, and then he researched possible sites for the camp. "I wonder if I could call it Camp Nellie?"

At last, Lindsay called him on her cellphone. She had showered and dressed now, and Ice was taking her birthday presents out to the Mercedes on the cart.

"Hi, Stan. Thanks so much for my presents."

He cleared his throat nervously. "You're welcome. I hope you like them." Sitwell knew that she was probably going to return the gifts for money, but at least she would keep his three big presents.

"Yeah, I'll open them at home. Listen, I talked things over with Ice, and I think you should hire him at the Bluth Company."

"Oh you do?" He guessed that this was an excuse for Lindsay to spend more time with Ice.

Lindsay continued, "Yes, I think the employees might feel left out since they couldn't come to my birthday party last night. Besides, we've been looking for more ways to improve morale for the workers." Since becoming Bluth Company president, Lindsay had replaced the office lighting again and started giving the employees longer break times so they wouldn't be stressed out. "So I think if Ice caters lunches and we have more office parties, that might help." She praised Ice's great smoothies and food.

"All right." Sitwell wanted to hint that he knew about her and Ice, and that he would help keep her affair a secret, but he felt too uncomfortable to admit how he knew her secret. Perhaps he could get Lucille Austero to get Lindsay to confide in her instead.

"Great! So can Ice start on Monday? You could meet with him now, since he's here."

"Okay, I'll talk to him about the job. Send him over to my house." Sitwell had to give Ice his bonus check anyway. He just had to act like he didn't know what happened. At least Lindsay sounded happy and excited about having an affair.

"Okay, thank you!" She hung up and told Ice the good news.

"Thanks." He closed the car trunk and started to leave with the empty cart, so he could meet with Sitwell at the main house.

"Wait!" Lindsay gave him a hug. "I'll see you Monday."

"Yeah." He kissed her cheek, and then waved goodbye as she got in the Mercedes.

Lindsay waved back and put on big sunglasses before she drove out of the estate. She hoped that no reporters would recognize her and pester her on the way back to Sudden Valley. As she was driving through town, her father called her.

George Sr. also wondered what took her so long to get the presents.

Lindsay said that she ran into Ice and had to talk him into working for her at the Bluth Company. "He's going to cater lunches and parties at the office."

"Oh you're still trying to sleep with him?"

Lindsay felt tempted to tell her father the truth, but she remembered her promise to Tobias, and only said, "Yeah, I need an excuse to spend time with Ice, and he said he wouldn't guard Sally Sitwell anymore."

"Okay. Then hire Ice and convince Sitwell to go along with it."

"Yeah, I already talked to him about it." She changed the subject. "Hey, did my company car arrive yet?"

"Yeah they dropped off the Lexus, and I was fighting with Tobias about whether to put his stupid license plate on it, but then Steve Holt arrived, you know. He had those doves with him and kept feeding the birds and trying to practice stupid magic tricks with them." George sighed in annoyance. "So did you tell Sitwell that Steve was coming over yet?"

"Oh, I forgot about that." Lindsay worried now, since she needed the guest house for her trysts with Ice. She suggested, "Maybe we can get him to stay with Michael at his hotel instead?"

George protested futilely, "Michael's out of the family."

"But you let Gob work with him."

"To keep him from escaping before his trial!" And to keep the sick bastard from hitting on Lindsay again, while she was desperate for sex.

"Well, Steve could keep him from escaping too. He could be there when Gob's on the yacht."

"Hmm, and then Michael could deal with the dumb doves." It didn't sound like a bad idea to have a backup plan in place, given how Gob regularly disappointed him. So George agreed. "Well, can you handle that, Lindsay? I'm already late for going golfing with some investors at the country club today."

"Oh I'm sorry, Daddy. Don't worry. You just go golfing now, but please don't talk to Tobias about Ice."

"Fine. I'll borrow your club membership and your Lexus, okay?"

"Sure, Daddy. I'll see you later when you get home. Maybe while you're gone, I'll open all the presents and go through them for receipts, so we can return them all for money."

"Good. I'll probably be home for dinner."

"Okay, bye." Lindsay hung up and felt guilty for not telling her father everything. But she still loved Tobias enough to keep his secret until he was ready to date someone too. She drove to the model home and decided not to call Michael about Steve until after lunch. Lindsay was now curious about her presents, and wanted to open them as soon as possible.

After lunch, Tony and Gob moved to the living room to discuss how to break Michael out of prison and create a diversion that would last long enough for Michael and Gob to escape the country on the yacht.

"You can't use any glitter, or they'll know you helped us."

"I know." He sat down on the couch with Gob and stroked his W-beard pensively. "Do you think maybe I can send Michael a loaf of bread with a key baked in it?"

"No, they search any outside food, and they would find it." Gob wondered if he could slip a key into an ice cream sandwich from the prison's vending machine, though. But Michael might accidentally swallow the key.

Tony got out some legos and tried to work out the plan on the coffee table. He moved aside an ashtray, along with a pile of magazines, including the recent British magazine with his coming out story inside.

When Tony handed him the magazines, Gob glanced at them distastefully, remembering when he first read the article in Tobias's copy of Attitude magazine. (Tobias pretended that he bought the magazine in Wee Britain so he could show Gob the article about Tony, but it was clear that Tobias had bought it mainly for himself, due to the shirtless guy on the cover.)

Dumping the magazines onto another table, Gob tried to show Tony the layout of Orange County Prison. He asked for a marker and piece of paper, and Tony leaned close as he watched Gob draw it out. Their legs brushed against each other.

When Gob finished the map of the prison, he talked about where the guards patrolled and when. He pointed out where the conjugal trailers were, and where the searchlights pointed at night. "Maybe we could park the staircar at the prison wall, and all the guards could be distracted by prisoners escaping over it. Then I can find Michael."

Tony said, "Maybe I can plant some kind of smoke bomb in the conjugal trailers, so they'll think there's a fire too."

"But how do we get them to think that Michael's still there, even after we leave?"

"Maybe we could use masks. I use masks in my magic show."

"You do?"

Tony explained how his closet/bean bag chair illusion worked. "Maybe we could get a mask that looked like Michael, and we can put it on one of the prisoners while they're sleeping in their cell. Probably whoever Michael's in a cell with."

"But then people would wonder where Michael's cellmate was."

"Maybe we could make a dummy to put in the other bed."

"Yeah. But how do we smuggle it in?"

"Damn! If only we had magic assistants to help!"

Gob shook his head. "We can't trust anybody else."

"I know," Tony said. "Assistants sabotage you all the time. That's why I started shaving, so I could be my own Legs in the Saw the Lady in Half Gag." He pulled up his sweatpants to show Gob his legs. "Wanna feel?"

Gob figured that Tony was flirting again, so he touched his shaved legs admiringly. "Wow, they are smooth. Just like a lady's."

"I even paint the toenails," Tony said, "for when I wear those open-toe shoes."

Gob was impressed by his dedication. He wondered if Tony's boyfriend liked his shaved legs too, when they were in bed.

Tony shifted and crossed his legs now, saying confidentially, "In fact, one of my assistants must have called Rollo to tattle on me."

"What? When?" Gob asked.

Tony explained, "It was earlier this morning before I called you. Rollo was all mad and said he heard that I dedicated my show to you at Lindsay's party. He said that the Alliance was still blackballing you, and how dare I call you my friend and dance with you onstage."

Gob frowned. "Some assistant of yours told him that?"

Tony nodded. "Yeah, it was probably Darryl; he's always felt more loyal to the Alliance than to me. Anyway, I told Rollo off and said to call an Alliance meeting to vote you back in, but he said no way. I told him it was huge mistake when he kicked you out in the first place, and that you never deserved it. If Rollo wouldn't call the meeting, then I would. I'm the most famous and successful member after all, and they would listen to me. Rollo said he would set up a meeting, but to kick me out for associating with you." Tony scoffed.

Gob asked, "Aren't you worried?"

"No, because I can just call all the other members myself, and tell them that we have to make things right. The rule is about magicians revealing secrets, not non-magicians like that TV reporter who showed your Aztec Tomb."

"I know!" Gob said. Tony totally got him, and Gob felt very warm to him.

"Besides, a lot of the Alliance members wanted to vote you back in three years ago when you did that show at the Gothic Castle, but Rollo overruled them, just because you used your girlfriend and nephew in the act. Even though the Saw-the-Lady gag is so old, all the how dey do dats know it already! I heard Rollo was the one threatening to take away your Alliance-approved assistants in the first place. It was so unfair!"

"Totally." Gob was very pleased to hear that the members did support him after all. It boosted his self-esteem. "I wish you had been there." Tony didn't join the Alliance until after his USO bread illusion got him into Poof magazine, two years ago. The USO didn't care about what memberships magicians had, which was good for Gob later.

Tony said, "I was still a little w back then. The members told me about it afterward."

Gob was surprised. "So they still talk about me?"

"Sure. When you did the Sword of Destiny, and revealed your identity, I knew you were too damn good to keep out. While you were in the hospital, I asked around the Alliance about letting you back in so you could be on my DVD, and you totally had the votes for it." Tony sighed sadly. "It's too bad you couldn't get your fingers working in time for the DVD, and then I had all that lawsuit trouble because I didn't have rights to the title." Tony had really wanted to do that Poe allusion for Use Your Illusion 2, but his business manager told him that they had to go in another direction due to the lawsuit.

Gob sighed with regret. "Yeah, I wish Buster didn't cut off my fingers." He never got to perform the real Sword of Destiny illusion, which he thought would impress even Rollo.

Tony nodded sympathetically. "That show totally didn't deserve to make the Woops column, by the way. It was your assistant's fault, after all, and I told those Poof guys, it's not funny when a magician loses his fingers. It's serious!" Tony hadn't liked it when lost his testicle to a hungry dove either. He hated all the jokes people made, and he was afraid that he wasn't "all man" anymore. "I'm glad that they saved your fingers." He reached out and brushed against Gob's hand.

Gob thought Tony was crushing on him again. "You wanna see?" Gob showed him the fingers and let Tony touch the scars. He was going to tell the story about the doctor reversing his fingers at first, but instead he noticed how close Tony sat to him, like he was aching for more contact. His hair smelled nice, and Gob found himself wanting to lift up his shirt and show Tony his scar from getting shivved in prison. But would that be too intimate? Would that be crossing a line? Gob often had trouble with boundaries, but he wanted to be faithful to Michael. Besides, Tony had a secret boyfriend too. They should feel guilty.

Letting go of Gob's fingers, Tony sat back and said, "Now we can finally vote you back in."

"Right. Um, are you sure they won't listen to Rollo again?"

"I'm sure. While I was busy cooking lunch, I heard lots of members call to leave messages on my answering machine. They supported you and said they wouldn't vote me out. So all I gotta do is call the members back tonight and make sure they're okay with approving your son at the meeting too. Trust me. It's in the bag. I bet Rollo's just holding out because he's jealous of all the magic groupies you got when you were running things."

"Yeah, maybe." Rollo also didn't respect Gob because he once worked for the Hot Cops stripping agency too. "Thanks, Tony."

"You're welcome. I mean, you're the fucking founder, Gob, and everybody liked your escape in Iraq too."

"Right." To avoid Tony asking about the escape again, Gob went back to his map of the prison, and he drew people on it to represent the guards and warden. The little stick figures reminded Gob of Michael reading the map on this tummy. He smiled a mysterious smile.

Tony was curious. "What?"

"Nothing. Just thinking of my boyfriend."

Tony wondered about Gob's boyfriend, and how they met. When did the maritime lawyer come to Orange County Prison? Maybe during the recent Bluth Foundation gala at the prison? Yeah, perhaps the lawyer came to visit his old friend Michael, but got swayed by Gob's considerable charms. Tony wondered what Michael thought about Gob being bisexual and dating his friend, but then it occurred to him that he already knew the answer. Backstage, Gob had told Tobias not to tell Michael.

Tony asked with concern, "Is Michael homophobic?"

"What? Huh?" Gob looked up from his map in surprise. "No. Where did you get that idea?" Tony was the one that didn't feel comfortable shaking hands backstage, because he thought Michael was crazy.

"Yeah, but when you told Tobias that you were bisexual, you told him not to tell anyone. Especially Michael."

Oops. Gob was caught by his earlier words. "Yeah, but that's--that's just because Michael can be so judgmental sometimes, and Tobias might mention you kissing me and give Michael the wrong idea, that I was cheating on my boyfriend."

Tony frowned in confusion. "Wait, so Michael already knows about your boyfriend?"

"Yeah, I told you. They went to law school together."

"No, I mean, he knows that you guys are dating? You came out to him?"

"Oh. Yeah." Gob hurried to improvise a cover story for this part. "Uh, he caught us together, on a romance package at the spa." (Like Gob caught Michael and Tobias in bathrobes.)

Tony was stunned. "And Michael wasn't judgmental?"

Gob shook his head. "No, he was fine with it. Well, maybe he was a little jealous that he couldn't spend as much time with his lawyer buddy." Yeah, Michael had been jealous of George Michael spending time with his girlfriend, and Michael was now apparently jealous of Gob having Franklin for a friend too. Typical Michael, getting possessive like a spoiled favorite son who normally got all the attention. "That's why Michael followed us to the hotel." Gob shrugged it off. "We had a Boyfight about it, but made up."

"Oh." Tony had heard about the Boyfights too, and Sally had shown him one of the videos because it had a glimpse of Lindsay's old nose. Tony asked, "But you didn't tell the rest of your family about your boyfriend?"

"No, no. They, uh, they wouldn't understand about me being bisexual. My parents think that gay guys are sissies, and my dad always hated Tobias." That was why Gob didn't come out to his parents. He figured that he shouldn't give his parents more reason to hate him, or try to shove him out of a moving car, like Tobias.

Tony was still a bit bewildered. "And Michael never tried to out you either, to get you in trouble?" Tony's younger brother probably would have done such a thing to gain their father's approval, had Tony not outed himself in his shows and the British magazine. Not that Tony was actually gay, but still--it was the sort of thing that his brother would do. Tony's older brother might have done the same, had he not died before he could.

Gob said, "No, he didn't, 'cause they're good friends. Besides, now we have to be secret because of the escape too."

"So you already told Michael about the escape plans?"

Gob nodded, "Sure. I told him how we're gonna break him out and go to South America to live together. Now he doesn't have to worry about his trial at all."

Tony shrugged, "Yeah, I guess your brother would be grateful for that."

"Yeah, so we can all spend time together, and Michael can study so he can become a lawyer like he always wanted. Everything will be great, and then you'll help us sneak back in to visit George Michael sometimes."

"Right. And we'll do the DVD."

"Yeah." Gob smiled.

Tony envied that Michael was a good brother and friend after all. He was even innocent and not crazy. No wonder Gob liked Michael enough to break him out of prison and run away to South America to protect him. Tony wished that he had brothers like that. "You're so lucky. Your boyfriend loves you, and your brother--" He trailed off and started to hear the music.

Gob felt concerned by Tony zoning out again. It reminded him so much of times when he would suddenly find himself looking blankly into a mirror and not knowing how long he'd been standing there. He touched Tony's face until he blinked and responded.

"Oh, I--" Tony looked embarrassed but also slightly relieved that he didn't have to explain himself to Gob, that they were the same. "I'm sorry."

Gob wondered if Tony was feeling guilty about flirting when he had a boyfriend. Gob also started to feel guilty for using Tony's crush to help him and Michael. "You're okay?"

"Yeah. Thanks." He offered to go and open another bottle of wine.

"No, uh, maybe I should go now. Let you clean up and call the Alliance members."

"Sure, Gob. I'll call you when the details of the meeting are all set."

"Good. I'll see you Monday, then."

"Yeah, Monday." Tony reached for the map and started to roll it up. "I'll hide this so my boyfriend won't see it."

"Yeah. Your boyfriend." Gob frowned and watched Tony put the map away in a secret drawer in another table.

When Tony came back to clean up the legos and return the ashtray and magazines to their proper places, Gob sat near indecisively.

Finally he asked Tony, "He's not jealous, is he?"


"Your boyfriend. Did you tell him about us kissing backstage, and did he get jealous?"

"Oh." Tony shook his head. "No, no. I explained that it was because of Tobias, and it was just pretend."

"Oh, good." Gob didn't want to cause real trouble for Tony.

Tony started to feel guilty too. "I mentioned that you had a secret boyfriend, but I told him you weren't out to your family. He won't tell anybody else."

"Thanks. Yeah we gotta keep it a secret. I won't tell anybody about your guy either." Not that Tony had told him much.

"Thanks." Now that he was done cleaning up the coffee table, Tony got up from the couch and led the way to the front door.

As Gob was saying goodbye and thanking him for lunch, Tony decided to hug him. After what they had confessed about their darkness, and their fathers, and their brothers today, a simple handshake didn't feel right.

Gob was surprised and hugged him back. He liked the smell of Tony's hair, the sound of him breathing, and the feeling of his beard against his skin. He was so tempted, and if not for Michael, Gob might have kissed Tony. He felt guilty for even remembering the kisses that they already shared backstage.

Soon Tony let go and smiled again. "See you on Monday."

"Right. Monday." Gob left and walked to where he parked his Segway outside.

But he didn't leave immediately, and he looked back to the front door, which was now closed. He told himself not to go back and knock. Kissing Tony would be wrong. Sleeping with him would be a huge mistake. Not that it ever stopped Gob before when he cheated on other lovers. But Michael wasn't just anybody. He was special, and it was a miracle that he even loved Gob now, after all these years. Besides, Tony had a boyfriend too. Gob shouldn't fuck this up.

Biting his lip, he decided that he needed to get back home to the yacht so that he could talk to Franklin about his problem. So Gob finally got on his Segway and rode away.

Chapter Text

When Michael got downstairs to the hotel's restaurant, a lot of people looked up from their breakfasts and stared at him, whispering to each other. He realized that they must recognize him from the news and be gossiping about the scandal. So Michael held up his newspaper in front of his face and tried to discreetly ask for a table in a secluded corner where no one would see him. However, the host was reluctant to seat Michael at all, trying to suggest that he order something to go instead.

"Come on!" Michael irritably complained that the reporters were wrong, and he never hit on his niece, but then the hotel manager came over and drew Michael back to the lobby.

"Sir, you might want to return to your room," he warned discreetly. "The reporters have been waiting for you." He gestured to the windows, and Michael could now see the crowds gathered outside with cameras. When they noticed Michael, they tried to rush inside to take pictures of him, but hotel security forced them to remain outside.

However, a small group led by Trisha Thoon broke away from the pack, and they slipped in via the side entrance. Hurrying through the restaurant, the reporters started peppering Michael with questions, not just about Afternoon Delight, but also a bachelorette auction three years ago, when Michael bid on his sister Lindsay. Trisha had sure done her homework.

"That was for charity," he defended himself. "And we never went on a date."

The hotel manager got in front of him, though, to block the cameras and microphones. He called for more security to push the reporters outside again.

Giving up, Michael retreated upstairs back to his room. He would have to order breakfast through room service, and he supposed that he should be glad that the hotel didn't throw him out due to the scandal. The manager was willing to give Michael the benefit of the doubt, it seemed, since Sitwell sent out a press release about the karaoke being a joke.

As he ate his breakfast, Michael worried about if and when he would be able to leave the hotel to check out the various apartments he was interested in. What if the reporters spotted him and still followed him when he left on his bike? Maybe he should call Gob and ask him to create another diversion so he could escape the hotel unseen?

But then Jan Eagleman called, complaining about the scandal and the fact that she had to work on Sunday morning because of him.

"I'm sorry," he said. "I wish those damn reporters would take Sunday off as well."

"No such luck, especially after Trisha Thoon dug up how you bid on your sister at that bachelorette auction. Why didn't you tell me this stuff before?"

Michael insisted, "But it didn't mean anything, Jan! That was a pity bid, after Lindsay spent the day in the Wetlands."

"And you never went on the date with her?"

"No, of course not." Besides, Michael had been arrested immediately after the auction for kidnapping that woman that he thought was Lupe. Thankfully, she didn't identify him in the lineup, and he was let go.

Jan Eagleman didn't like all these surprises. She grilled Michael for any other incidents that the press might dig up while looking for scandals. "Is there anything else that you're keeping from me? I'm your lawyer. I have to be prepared with a response, not caught off guard like this."

Michael didn't tell her about him and Gob. Instead he said, "Well, a couple of years ago, I went on a romance package with Tobias, but it wasn't really a date." He explained about previously setting up Lindsay on a date, and having to distract Tobias. "Maeby thought I was having an affair with him, but I think she believes me now. She didn't mention it to the reporters at the party when she had the chance."

Jan sighed again about the Bluth family being too close, and she said, "Well, I'm glad that you made up with her. However, perhaps the masseuse or other witnesses at the hotel might blab about you guys going on that romance package. But we can probably dismiss any such gossip by pointing out that you're not gay."

Michael didn't contradict her. He also explained that he dated Rita Leeds last year, while not knowing that she was mentally disabled. He almost married her, until he found out about her condition.

Jan had indeed heard about the millionaire owner of Wee Britain, who escaped deportation with help from the lawyer that her uncle Trevor hired. "Your mother and father tried to get you to marry her anyway? Maybe we can use that to make them look more unsympathetic and more likely to have embezzled from the Bluth Company."

"I guess so. But make sure people know that I didn't sleep with her."

"Right." Luckily, Jan believed Michael when he said that Rita's British accent fooled him into thinking she was smart. Many other people had made that same mistake, though other people didn't spend weeks dating her before they realized the truth.

Michael confessed, "I also, um, thought that a prostitute was my sister." He explained about Nellie the whore, and how he hired her to work at the Bluth Company while not knowing her profession.

Jan was starting to see how stupid and blind Michael could be. "You just assumed she was the right Nellie without doing a background check on her? And you didn't monitor what she was doing at the company?"

"Yeah, I'm sorry. But Gob should have told me that he was her pimp."

"I know, but you should be more careful about improprieties at the company. If the prosecution ever finds out about it, you could be charged with more crimes." She was surprised that Michael was so careless, given that he had a year of law school and ought to know better than the rest of his family.

"Well I'm not at the company anymore, and I don't think Lindsay or Sitwell will bring it up."

"No I suppose not. Sitwell is managing the Bluth Company image pretty carefully. He already issued a press release about the karaoke singing just being a joke. Is that true? We should probably send out a statement of our own before it looks suspicious."

Michael said, "It was more of an accident than a joke. Maeby and I were goofing off at the office Christmas party to make George Michael and Lindsay jealous."

"Jealous?" Jan was concerned.

He realized how that sounded. "I mean, they weren't spending time with us, as family, and we wanted to make them miss us. Anyway, Gob was trying to act all serious as the company president, but he was really just alienating the employees, so Maeby and I had some harmless fun behind his back. I didn't know the karaoke song, but I stopped it when I realized how inappropriate it was. I tried to distract people from it by saying it was time for a toast, but Gob just got angry and fired everybody." Michael had blamed himself a little bit for ruining Gob's suit, but Gob also was imitating Dad too well, with his short temper and his mass firing.

"That's why you had the second party, to hire them back?"

"Yeah." Michael shrugged. "I don't know why Lindsay and George Michael sang the same karaoke song at the banana stand. Maybe they really were joking with the employees, and trying to make fun of us." Plus, the song was pretty catchy.

Jan said, "Well if that's their story, then we should probably go along with it. Especially if all the employees saw you guys goofing off before. We could say that it was a misunderstood joke about your brother Buster's 'Why I Want to Marry My Mother' article."

"Oh, I guess."

"I'll have my secretary write something up, and we'll put it out soon. Just call your son to let him know, and make sure that Maeby will back us up if somebody questions her."

"All right." He could possibly ask that Maeby portray the incident that way in her movie.

"And from now on," she warned, "try not to get into such compromising situations again. Or at least let me know quickly so we can spin it properly." The court of public opinion was as important as the actual court where Michael would be tried.

"Okay." Though he still didn't tell her about all the compromising positions he'd been in with Gob lately.

"So stay put in your hotel until the scandal dies down."

Michael protested, "But Jan, I need to go out today. I want to go rent an apartment."

"Why would you want to do that?"

"Well, I can't afford to stay at this hotel forever. And Gene Parmesan is still investigating my birth certificate, remember? I'll need money to pay him."

"Then why not go back to the penthouse with Buster and Oscar? Surely you can try to make up with your family now that you're all in the same boat with the scandal?"

Michael insisted he couldn't go there. "No, no. They still don't believe me about Lindsay."

She sighed. "Then stay where you are. Maybe you can borrow some money from George Michael and Maeby for now. I'll try to see if I can get you into a cheap motel later where the reporters can't find you." But she had to find someplace within Newport Beach's city limits, given the terms of Michael's bail.

"But I want to leave today." He ached to be with Gob somewhere more private, and he picked up the newspaper. "I already called some places, Jan. I just need to see them to pick one." He had to make sure that Gob would be able to sneak in and out unseen. "Can't you help me get out, like when the reporters go to lunch? Lend me a car--"

"No, no, Michael. We've got more important things to do now. Don't be impatient. Stay put."

After she hung up, Michael pouted in disappointment. He did call George Michael to explain about the press release, and to get the karaoke story straight with Maeby. Then he finished eating his breakfast, which was now very cold.

Finally, Michael decided to call the numbers in the ad listings again, to make sure that the apartments were still available, and to ask how late he could come over. Unfortunately, the landlords, who had previously been willing to discuss renting to him, now said that they didn't like the Bluth scandal and didn't want him to come.

Frustrated by these rejections, Michael called Lindsay again, asking her to help him get an apartment. "Maybe you could check them out for me and send pictures. Oh wait! Maybe you could hire me a surrogate who can send me video of each place and rent one for me." Then hopefully Gob could help him make the switch and move there. "They could give the name Chareth--"

"Michael! Hold on." Lindsay was annoyed, because she was still in the middle of opening her birthday presents and making a list of all the stores where they needed to be returned. How presumptuous of Michael to ask for an expensive surrogate.

Since Tobias was making lunch, and Steve was helping make the list, Lindsay excused herself and got up with her phone.

She went outside on the patio for privacy and closed the door. "Actually, Michael, I want Steve to move in with you at the hotel."

"What? Why?"

"He can't stay at the guest house. I'm, um, I'm using it... as a place to spy on Sitwell. Yeah, it's part of Dad's plan to vote Sitwell out."

Michael rolled his eyes about Dad's schemes. "But you're already spying on him at the office, and now at the country club."

"I need this place too. Besides, I want a break from the model home sometimes. It's a piece of shit compared to the guest house, and I don't like Dad and Tobias fighting all the time.."

"Then let Steve stay at the model home, and be a buffer, like you said."

"No, Dad doesn't like Steve having Gob's doves and practicing magic tricks. So Steve should stay with you. Don't worry, I'll upgrade your hotel suite and pay the bill, so you don't have to worry about affording it."

"It's not the bill." Michael searched for an excuse to give. "No, um, if I let Steve move in, then Gob will accuse me of stealing his son again. He'll leave half my bicycle in my bed." Michael vividly remembered waking up to the oily, disassembled bike in his bed at the model home. It took forever to get the stains out of the sheets.

Lindsay sighed and rolled her eyes at her brothers' crazy antics. She suggested that Michael go live with Buster and Oscar, like she had originally arranged.

Michael whined, "No, I can't! Please, Lindsay." He said that she could get Steve to move in with Buster. "Then you can give me Sitwell's guest house instead."

"Give you the guest house?" She found Michael ungrateful and demanding.

Michael thought about it and realized that Gob probably couldn't sneak onto Sitwell's estate easily. "Okay, well then just help get me an apartment please. I'll pay for it myself. I just can't get out right now because of the reporters."

Lindsay was getting annoyed with Michael imposing on her all the time and trying to get places to live. Lindsay didn't feel that sorry for Michael. Then she remembered what Sitwell said about finding the cabin recently. She could get revenge on Michael for making her drive the cabin car, by making him live in the musty old cabin instead. "Wait, I just thought of a place you could stay, Michael. It's a great place away from all the reporters, and Steve doesn't have to stay with you."

"Yeah? Where is it?"

"Wait, Michael. First you have to promise that this is the last favor. Stop calling me all the time and asking me to do stuff for you or Gob. I have a job, you know, and I'm busy."

"All right, I'm sorry. I didn't mean to bug you."

"Do you promise?"

"I promise. Just tell me about the apartment. Can I move in today? And is it within Newport Beach? 'Cause I can't leave town, you know."

"I know. Let me arrange it." Lindsay then hung up and called Sitwell to tell him not to give the cabin to the charity foundation, but to give it to Michael instead.

He was shocked by the change of plans. "But what about the camp for the kids?"

Lindsay said they could get the kids a different place on Catalina island instead where they could pet sheep. She insisted that Michael must get the cabin, to teach him a lesson.

"For what? Trying to sleep with you? I don't think that--"

"No, for being an ungrateful pest and making me drive that awful car."

"Oh." Sitwell considered that it was good for Lindsay to stop letting Michael guilt her into things. It wasn't her fault that her brother was crazy, or that he fought with his son about Maeby. Sitwell hoped that Michael would take his advice and seek therapy so he could let go of Lindsay. "Well, if you insist."

"Yeah. Can you get that arranged for today, Stan?"

"No, I don't think so. The trucks have to drive both halves of the cabin back to Orange County, and we have to pick a piece of unused land for it."

She said, "It has to be within Newport Beach because of Michael's bail. Just don't put it in Sudden Valley." She didn't feel comfortable having Michael that close.

"You're right. We shouldn't put him there, especially since we're trying to start building more houses and renaming it Paradise Gardens. Michael living there would just remind everybody of the scandal."

"Yeah. Maybe you can put the cabin in the wetlands where it's all sticky and gross." Then Michael could suffer with the horrible frogs and cranes.

Stan said, "No, I think it would sink and disturb the wildlife. But I think I can find some place in the woods in the hills." There were some pockets of undeveloped land within the city limits.

Lindsay said. "Good. But how soon can the cabin be delivered? I want to get Michael out of my hair soon."

"Well I guess I can get it installed by Monday afternoon."

"Okay, I'll let Michael know. Thanks."


So Lindsay called back Michael to say that his place would be ready on Monday.

"Oh." Michael was a little disappointed at having to wait another day, but he shrugged it off and asked again where the apartment was.

"You'll see." She said she wanted it to be a surprise. "Just get packed and ready to go. I'll pick you up tomorrow."

"No, I can call Gob to take me--"

"But he doesn't have a car."

"He could borrow one. And I thought you didn't want me to be seen with you."

"No I don't, but, um, this is different. If the reporters are still there tomorrow, then I'll have Tobias create a distraction with the staircar or something. I'll take you to your new place myself." She wouldn't miss the look on Michael's face for the world. "I, uh, want to show off my new Lexus to you."

Michael sighed and gave in. Lindsay was being weird and wanting to rub in her success at the Bluth Company, he supposed. At least she wasn't forcing him to live with Steve Holt anymore, and Michael figured that he could call Gob to meet him at the new apartment later, after Lindsay dropped him off.

On the C-word, Gob was still freaked out by his feelings. He dropped his Segway flat by the circular stairs, then he rushed inside the cabin and down the stairs. Curling up on the bed with Franklin, Gob anxiously confessed what happened at lunch with Tony Wonder.

Franklin said, "Calm the fuck down, you pussy! Nothing happened. You left."

Gob asked, "But what about next time?"

"Next time you'll be at the Alliance meeting with Steve Holt and everybody else. You won't be alone with him."

"But I still have to meet with Tony alone to plan the escape."

"No you don't. He's got the map now, and you guys can talk over the phone. Tell him you don't want to meet in person any more, to make sure that the police won't think that Tony helped you with the escape."

"Oh." Gob felt a little calmer now. "But what if Tony still wants to see me because of his crush?"

Franklin shrugged. "Tell him that your boyfriend won't let you, 'cause he's jealous."

Gob nodded. "Yeah, Michael's so jealous. Franklin, don't tell him what happened with Tony."

"Nothing happened. Tony flirted with you too. Showing off his legs like that and getting you to touch him."

Gob admitted quietly, "I kind of liked it."

"So what? It's just a crush. It's 'cause Tony made lunch for you, and he has a cute new beard, and he's helping you with the Alliance."

"Yeah, he's a cool guy! Did I tell you he made up that W quotation mark?" He hadn't mentioned it before because it was hard to show Franklin the gesture with only one free hand.

Franklin said sternly, "Control yourself!"

Gob got worried again. "I'm not good at that."

There was a silence for a moment, then Franklin suggested, "If anything did happen, you could give Tony a forget-me-now. And take one too, so you won't remember."

Gob frowned as he considered it, but he shook his head. "No, I promised Michael I wouldn't take roofies anymore. And it's wrong to cheat, even if I could get away with it. Regular wrong. Not hot wrong."

Franklin said, "You don't want to lose a second of Michael's love."

Gob nodded, glad that Franklin understood. "I love him." He reached for his picture of Michael and stared at it. Lifting up his shirt, he touched his scar from the shiv, and he told Franklin, "Michael touched me here last night." Indeed, Michael had kissed and caressed Gob all over, exploring all the things that Gob liked. But when he came to this particular scar, Michael was filled with regret. "He got so sad and he apologized for not bringing the staircar to help me break out of prison. It was his fault that the guards caught me and I got stabbed later."

"Yeah, no kidding!" Franklin said sarcastically.

Gob was more forgiving. "He apologized for trying to steal Marta, too, and he said, wouldn't it be great if I had escaped prison and broke up with her like I planned to do?"

Franklin said, "But he was gonna try to date Marta, then."

Gob explained, "No, but he said that she would probably say no, because she still loved me then. Or that he would chicken out and feel guilty, so he would come tell me the truth."

"And then you'd Boyfight."

"And then I'd kiss him. Make him fall in love with me." Michael had spent much time last night imagining how good it could have been, if they had got together years ago. Gob had liked the fantasy too. "He would have asked me to move in with him, in his room. In his bed."

Franklin said skeptically, "Nah he'd be a chicken because of George Michael. He'd come to the yacht, though, to be with you."

"Yeah, maybe." Gob sighed and remembered the night that Michael spent here with him, making love. He finally admitted that it wasn't a mistake, and he didn't try to run away again. He loved Gob at last.

After a moment, Gob put down his shirt and felt guilty again for being tempted to let Tony touch him there too. He said anxiously, "I can't lose him, Franklin."

"You won't. You can control yourself."


Franklin pointed out, "Hey, you didn't have sex for months just recently. If you can do it for Egg, then you can do it for Michael."

Gob thought about it. "But that's because Egg's redhead friend was always there chaperoning, and they didn't want a Holy Trinity."

"Well, you controlled yourself for Krindy too."

Krindy wasn't her actual name, but it was the name that Gob and Franklin used between themselves whenever they discussed Gob's ex-wife.

"Oh yeah, Krindy." Gob started to have hope now. At first, he didn't consummate his marriage to Krindy because they spent most of their first night on escalating dares, and Krindy had to leave suddenly because she forgot about her seal deal. However, she and Gob stayed married for a couple of weeks, and still Gob didn't have sex with her, even though he moved into her apartment.

Krindy was too busy with her sick seals, and then too upset about her parents divorcing, to have sex with him. She was always buying Gob bright sweaters to wear too, and Gob just went along to win her approval. The marriage was all chain, and no ball, and then after the bachelor party, she left to be with her brother in the army. Gob only consummated the marriage when Krindy came back from the army and divorced him.

Franklin argued, "You didn't have a chaperone with Krindy, and you didn't fuck her or anybody else when you lived together. If you can keep it in your pants for Krindy, then you can do it for Michael too. You love him."

Gob nodded. "Plus, I get to have sex with Michael, so I can last longer than two weeks. It's only Tony that I have to avoid fucking."

"Right," Franklin said. "You can do this. You don't even have to flirt with Tony anymore, because now he believes you about Michael."

"Oh yeah." Gob was relieved. "He stopped telling me to get Michael into therapy."

"Yeah, your cover story worked. So just plan the escape with him, and everything will be fine."

Gob felt a lot better now, and he thanked Franklin.

"Just stop being a pussy," Franklin said.

Gob laughed and then put down his photo of Michael. Feeling great now, he went back to making his Derek Taylor passport.

As Franklin sat with him, he pointed out, "Hey, we were talking about Derek before, and that girl who was the same as him. It made you wonder about what that would be like. You just have a crush on Tony because he's the same as you."

Gob found that comforting too. "Wow. Yeah, maybe that's it. I wanted to know what it's like to date someone who's the same. But it's just a crush with Tony, not love. Derek didn't stay with that girl anyway."

Chapter Text

After getting off the phone with Lindsay, Michael realized that he would have to pack up his belongings in preparation for moving out tomorrow. So he hung up his tuxedo for the hotel's dry cleaning service to pick up, and he ordered lunch.

Then Michael noticed that he still had the video camera that Gob dropped off yesterday, so he turned it on, rewound the videotape, and watched the magic show from Lindsay's party at the model home. On the screen, Steve Holt played the usual Final Countdown song while Gob danced around in his Jesus cloak and did various magic tricks like he did in Iraq. Sometimes Steve would assist onstage and encourage his father. Michael was not very surprised by the frequent mistakes in the show, nor by the doves flying away, since Gob had mentioned that earlier. The recording ended abruptly after Ice put down the video camera, and Michael sighed, shaking his head. The only bright side was that the birds survived the show; if Gob could consistently keep his magic animals alive, it would at least save on the cost of having to constantly replace them.

Sitting at the table, Michael turned on his laptop and connected it to the video camera so he could download the footage to the computer and try to edit it so that it would look better; Gob really wanted to be able to sell magic DVDs like Tony Wonder did. Michael didn't have any experience with making and selling DVDs himself, but he figured it couldn't be that hard since Dad sold Caged Wisdom tapes while in prison, and even Tobias had a Families with Low Self Esteem video that was briefly successful. Maybe Gob could get one of Tony Wonder's DVDs, so that Michael could see how professional magic videos should look.

Room service arrived, so Michael got his lunch then resumed his seat by the computer and camera. As he fiddled with the software, Michael tried to figure out how to fix Gob's show and also tried to think of a good slogan for the father-son act, but nothing came to him yet, so he just ate his lunch.

Then Michael called Gob to tell him that Lindsay was getting him an apartment, since he couldn't go out himself, due to the reporters.

"Where is it?" Gob asked.

"I don't know. Somewhere in town. She wants to surprise me." Michael would rather pick the apartment himself, but beggars couldn't be choosers, and perhaps the scandal severely limited his choices. Maybe Lindsay had to bribe somebody to rent to him. He told Gob, "She's gonna pick me up tomorrow afternoon and drive me there when it's ready."

"But how is she going to get you out without the reporters seeing and following you guys?"

"Lindsay said that she would get Tobias to make a distraction with the staircar. I don't know the details."

"Oh." Gob was disappointed. "So I can't even help with that?"

"Well, you can ask her if she'll let you help, but I don't know if she will. She sounded really annoyed with me, and made me promise no more favors."

Gob grunted and wondered if Lindsay was being irritable due to continued lack of sex. Maybe she was also starting to listen to Dad about Michael being out of the family.

Michael added, "Besides, don't you have to be at the Gothic Castle with Steve Holt?"

"Oh yeah, I have to go to the Alliance meeting tomorrow."

"Right. What time do you have to be there?"

"Uh, I don't know yet. Tony's gonna call me back and let me know when it's all set." Gob felt slightly uncomfortable about mentioning Tony Wonder, and he glanced at Franklin for moral support so that he wouldn't accidentally reveal having lunch with the magician.

Michael said, "Okay. Well if you're in the meeting, I'll just call to tell you my new address, and you can come see me after you get rid of Steve Holt." He sighed in relief. "I'm so glad I managed to talk Lindsay out of making me live with him."

"Me too. But wait, is she still gonna give Steve Holt a place to stay?" Gob didn't want his son to keep bothering him all the time.

Michael shrugged, not feeling sure. "Well I suggested that Steve move in with Buster and Oscar at the penthouse. Maybe you can tell him that yourself, and he'll listen to you."

"I guess so." Gob mentioned that Steve was going to try to keep dating Sue from the party, and hopefully that would keep him busy too.

"Oh that's nice." At least Steve wouldn't wallow miserably about his fight with his mother. "So anyway, Gob, when you come over, I'll give you a copy of the key to the apartment. I hope it will be easy for you to sneak in and hide your Segway. If this place is no good, I don't think Lindsay will let me switch."

Gob said, "Don't worry, Mikey. If there's no parking garage to stash my Segway, then I'll hide it in the bushes or something." Or if there was an elevator, maybe he could bring the Segway up to the apartment for the night.

"Okay." Michael also remembered that Jan Eagleman had offered to find him a cheap motel later. So even if the apartment was unsuitable, Michael wouldn't have to stay there for long. It felt a bit like he was playing musical chairs lately with all this moving around, but it was worth it to be with Gob. "I hope it's a good place, so we can finally have some privacy."

"Yeah." Gob looked forward to Michael being out of the hotel. He could probably bring some of his stuffs and leave them at the apartment, such as his short robe and his dong tea.

Michael said fondly, "If it's got a nice kitchen, I could even make you dinner tomorrow night." He wanted to set up a candlelit supper, like he once tried to do for Rita at the model home. (The date got ruined when his family kidnapped and drugged her, and Michael instead spent the night salvaging the evidence from the car fire.) Michael had already forgiven Gob long ago for drugging Rita, and the relationship had been a huge mistake anyway. He felt glad to finally get a chance to do romantic things with the right person now.

Gob felt pleased that Michael would cook for him too. "Ooh, can it be tomato soup? And grilled cheese sandwiches with bacon in them?"

Michael was amused by his simple tastes. "Really? You don't want anything fancier?"

"Nah. Can we have jello for dessert?" Gob already ate plenty of fancy gourmet foods at Sitwell's party, so right now he wanted to enjoy homey foods like Lucille 2 used to make for him.

"Okay." Michael just laughed and figured that a simple meal would be easier to manage while he was still settling in at the new apartment. Maybe he could convince Gob to move in with him later, and they could have a fancy dinner with wine then. For now, Michael said, "I could make you breakfast in the morning too, and we could have it in bed."

"Yeah." Gob was happy at the thought of Michael spoiling him some more. His brother had become so much nicer and more relaxed lately, probably due to the sex. That was why Gob had felt surprised and upset when Michael suddenly acted mean and jealous about Franklin last night. Gob hoped that Michael would learn to be friends with Franklin soon. "Hey, do you still have my Franklin CD? We could listen to it at your place." Perhaps hearing the CD again would help Michael to stop feeling jealous of Franklin; he would realize that Franklin was a real friend and supported them.

Michael tried to remember what he did with the Franklin Comes Alive CD after he got it back from the police two years ago. After reading the card, he did finally keep his promise to listen to the CD, but at the time Michael felt awkward and embarrassed about the love songs, so he hid the CD in a dresser drawer and never looked at it again. "Um, I think it's still at the model home, Gob. I forgot it when I packed, and Dad kicked me out of the family. Maybe you can get it the next time you're there."

"Oh." Gob was disappointed that Michael didn't keep his special gift from two years ago.

Michael apologized and reminded him, "I was still in denial then about us."

"I know." Gob sighed, but cheered himself up with the thought that there was an "us" now, after all these years. He had often wished for Michael to love him back, even knowing that it might be hopeless because of Tracey. Then when she died, Michael withdrew into himself and continued to grieve for years before he attempted to date again. Gob had feared that Michael could never love him, could never even like him as a brother and be nice to him again. "But you love me now," he said.

"Yes I do." Michael wished he could hold and kiss Gob right now. Things would be so much better once they were at the apartment.

"So I'll get the CD, and we can play it during dinner tomorrow." They wouldn't have to worry that any hotel maids would overhear, and they could have a romantic night. Michael would finally appreciate his CD, and Gob could even leave it there with his other stuffs.

"Yeah," Michael did want to hear the CD again. It would feel different to listen the love songs now that he and Gob were together. So he told Gob where he left the CD, and he said, "I hope that Dad didn't find it already. You should make sure he's not suspicious."

"I will," Gob said, though he doubted that their father would listen to the CD even if he did find it in the master bedroom; Dad didn't like Franklin and had never supported Gob's magic career. Gob thought it more likely that Dad tossed the CD in the trash instead. Well, if it was already gone, Gob had some extra copies stashed in one of the family storage units; the CD didn't sell that well, even after "It's Not Easy Being White" was featured on that mock trial TV show.

Michael said, "It's a good thing you only wrote 'for my hermano' in the card."

Gob nodded and asked, "Hey, you got a CD player too, or should I bring one tomorrow?" He had the boombox that he used to play Final Countdown during his magic shows.

"I got one," Michael answered, but he asked if Gob could bring him a Tony Wonder DVD.

"What?" Gob was surprised and apprehensive.

Michael explained that he needed it so he could make the magic DVD for Gob. "I could probably contact the company that manufactures and sells the DVD too."

"Oh. Well, uh, I'll see if I can find one by tomorrow." Gob was a little nervous that he might have to see Tony in person to get a DVD, but maybe he could just ask him about it at the Alliance meeting and get Steve Holt to pick up the DVD later. Yeah, he wanted to get Steve to hang out with Tony Wonder anyway, so they would bond over magic. Then he could get rid of his clingy son.

"Okay." Then Michael beamed and told Gob about his phone calls with George Michael this morning. "He said we could visit them for their one-year wedding anniversary. So he must forgive you by now."

"Wow, great." Gob was glad that George Michael wouldn't punch him anymore, and he figured that this party would be his and Michael's first visit to L.A. "Maybe I'll do a magic show for him and Maeby."

Michael worried that Gob might set somebody's hair on fire again. "Uh, maybe we should check with them first about that. They're probably too old for magic, anyway."

"Nobody's too old for magic, Michael!" After all, Sitwell hired Tony to perform at his party for Lindsay, and all the adults enjoyed the magic show. "Besides, George Michael loves magic. Remember how he followed me around for Spring Break once?"

Michael nodded, recalling how his son had bonded with Gob three years ago. George Michael was enthusiastic and easily impressed even when Gob got the magic tricks wrong. He also defied his father later by leaving the Bluth Company to sneak aboard the yacht, and he almost got blown up when Gob sunk it for his magic trick. Michael had been so scared, then so relieved when he found out that his son was safe, that he fired the kid and let him enjoy his Spring Break. "Yeah I know, Gob. I had to get George Michael a cell phone after that so I could always know where he was."

Gob pouted a bit at the close call that he had no control over. "I didn't know that he sneaked back later, Michael! I never would have hurt him on purpose."

"I know." Actually, Gob had hurt his nephew years later by stealing his girlfriend, but Michael supposed that Gob wasn't counting that betrayal. Michael had never liked Egg anyway, and found it easy to forgive now. He said, "Anyway, Kitty got blown up with the yacht, and she survived just fine."

"Yeah, with the cooler of evidence." Gob wondered why Dad told him to destroy the evidence then, only to claim that the evidence exonerated him later.

"Yeah, that's weird." Michael remembered the next Spring Break when Kitty threatened them with the H. Maddas cooler. After puzzling over it, Michael said that Dad must have thought the cooler had incriminating evidence when he was in prison, but after Kitty helped him escape, Dad got a look at the contents and realized that it exonerated him. So he told her to safeguard it, but did not try to release it, for fear of the British builders coming after him.

"Oh, I guess so," Gob agreed, then went back to grumbling about Spring Break 2004 when he made the yacht disappear. He had wanted to spend his favorite holiday with George Michael, to make up for all the years in the 1990s when he wasn't allowed to visit. Gob had enjoyed George Michael's admiration and respect, but Michael spoiled it by interfering. "You told him that magic is a path to a lonely life where people mock you and you don’t even realize it." So disrespectful and insulting, right in front of the impressionable kid.

Michael felt bad about his harsh words. "I'm sorry, Gob. I didn't mean it."

Yes he did. Gob knew that. It was the hardest part about loving Michael over the years, how judgmental and superior his brother became. Gob would do anything for a scrap of Michael's kindness and approval, only to be rejected, just like with his parents. Gob would pretend that these casual putdowns didn't bother him, but he would often cry with Franklin in private. Sometimes Franklin argued that college had made Michael into a smug jerk, and that Gob shouldn't keep pining for him. But Gob couldn't let go, and sometimes Michael would be nice, giving him some attention and trying to be friends. Gob tried to settle for just friendship, but then Michael would smile and laugh, and Gob would get lost in his eyes again.

Feeling hurt, Gob complained, " I just wanted to hang out with George Michael and teach him how to have fun like you never did. But you had to act so mean, and you told me to stay away from him." Michael had said it even before Gob made the deal to keep away and use the yacht for his show.

Michael apologized again, "I'm sorry, Gob. I-I just didn't want him to be around all that booze and sex. He was only 14."

Gob said, "He didn't care about those coeds, Michael. He just wanted to know how I'd make the yacht disappear."

"You're right." Michael recalled George Michael innocently believing that Gob asked the girls to flash their breasts merely for misdirection. Despite the party atmosphere, George Michael was genuinely fascinated by the "awesome mind puzzle" of Gob making the yacht disappear. Instead of being relieved, Michael had forced his son to work at the Bluth Company office to keep them apart. He had been so wrong to not support either his son or his brother then.

"Of course I'm right," Gob said, feeling glad that Michael agreed with him at last. He also didn't see the harm in his 14-year-old nephew being around drunk college girls during Spring Break. Gob had been sexually active in high school himself, and he often sneaked into bars with his fake ID. Even if George Michael was too awkward and uncool to take advantage like a Bluth, Gob thought that the kid needed a break from always stressing out about grades.

Michael sighed and regretted discouraging his son's interest in magic. If they had become close back then, maybe Gob wouldn't have betrayed George Michael later. If George Michael had stayed with Gob, he would have learned beforehand about Gob blowing up the yacht, and he wouldn't have been in any danger.

"I was an idiot. Maybe you guys could have been friends and never fought. I want you to be close again someday." He wanted them all to be a family.

"You mean it?" Gob asked. "I'm not bad for George Michael anymore? I can hang out with him next time?"

"Of course," Michael answered. "That's the whole point of us visiting them in L.A. You can make up and be friends."

"I know, but I mean, you're not gonna make fun of magic again, or yell if I take him to a bar?"

Michael worried and pointed out, "Gob, he'll only be 17 next year."

"I know, but he's already married, so he should be able to drink like an adult!" Besides, Gob had already made French passports for both cousins three years ago, so if they still had the fake IDs, they would appear to turn 21 next year. "Hmm, maybe we could even throw him a late bachelor party too, with strippers."

"No, Gob! He shouldn't cheat on Maeby."

"That's why I said strippers, not hookers. Look, George Michael married too young, and needs to learn how to have fun before he leaves for college." Maybe that would keep the kid from turning into a smug jerk too.

"Gob--" That was the last thing George Michael needed before college. "He's already learned how to have fun with Maeby. As crazy as this accidental marriage is, I think she's actually been good for him. He's forgiven you already."

"Yeah 'cause of their honeymoon," Gob said. "But a bachelor party won't ruin that, Mikey. I had a late bachelor party, too. You bugged me to let you be the best man."

"It was only two weeks late, and you hadn't consummated your marriage yet. I don't think Maeby would be okay with it on their anniversary." Nor did he think George Michael would go along with it. At least he hoped so. There was no telling how much Hollywood would corrupt the kids in a year.

Gob remembered the bachelor party that Dad threw him at a hotel; it had actually been a plot to fake the death of a stripper and scare the accountant Ira Gilligan into not testifying. The whole scheme failed, and Dad yelled at Gob, but Michael turned off the TV and was nice for a change. It gave Gob warm feelings to remember that night. "You said I should trust myself, and I'm a better man than Dad."

Michael realized what Gob was referring to, and he said sweetly, "You are, Gob. You're better than the whole damn family."

"Except George Michael, and you." Michael was the good son, better than him. Dad always made Gob do dirty work at the company so that Michael's record would stay clean.

Michael shook his head. He didn't include himself and George Michael in the family, since he wasn't sure that they were real Bluths. Besides, he was starting to doubt that he was better than Gob, because he could see now that he had been a self-involved narcissist several times. "No, Gob, you're the best. I love you so much."

Gob felt happy and surprised, almost giddy. "I love you too." He wished he could nuzzle Michael and bask in his love some more, but they were stuck on the phone. "You mean it, Mikey? You really think I'm good now?"

"You're the best," Michael insisted.

"No, not just the best in the family." Bluths were terrible people, after all, and it wasn't a high standard to meet. Gob asked, "I'm good, even for regular people?"

Michael was somewhat puzzled by Gob's question. "What do you mean?"

Gob explained, "Well, like, Eve Holt said I was a rotten liar for not marrying her when she got pregnant. She said I was an evil sinner, and I shouldn't have got the other girls to kill their babies." She was so religious and judgmental; it made Gob glad to leave when Dad gave him money to skip town.

Michael said, "It's not your fault, Gob. Dad made you leave. And you probably shouldn't have married her." She sounded horrible, even if Gob should have paid her child support.

Gob shrugged it off, because he cared more about Michael's opinion of him. "Yeah, but you and Tracey used to say I was bad for George Michael. And Dad would always say you're the good son and I'm not."

"He was wrong. We were wrong. I should never have kept you away from George Michael." Michael felt so guilty for ever rejecting Gob; he always knew how fragile Gob was and how their parents constantly made him feel unwanted.

Gob was pleased. "So I'm good now. I'm finally good enough for you to love me."

Michael's heart broke for him. "You've always been good enough, Gob. I was just too blind to see before."

"And you loved Tracey." They had been married for 12 years, and even after her death, Michael kept using George Michael as an excuse to keep holding onto her.

"Yes, but now we're together, Gob." Michael wished that he'd been with Gob sooner, to comfort and love him like he needed.

"Yeah. Now you love me too, and we'll be good together in Cabo. You said we would."

"Yes," Michael said emotionally. "You and me. Like we should have been."

Gob was still needy. "What do you like about me the most?" He kind of wanted to know what he'd done right, after all these years.

"Everything. Your voice and your smile and your heart. You're so pure and sweet and good."

Gob chuckled a little at Michael calling him pure, but he felt a boost of self-esteem anyway. He grinned at Franklin and let him hear the phone; then Franklin would know that Michael wasn't a smug jerk to him anymore.

Michael went on. "You're amazing and magical, Gob. You're all I want." He wished he could hold Gob close and stroke his hair right now.

"How long did you want me?" Gob asked. "Was it only at the prison when you read the map on my tummy?"

Michael said, "No, before then." He wasn't sure how long ago it was. He always felt tender to Gob when he was hurt, but also frustrated by their endless fights. And then there was the way that Gob looked at him and embraced him too close sometimes. Gob made him feel special, and Michael could talk to him about things, like he used to do with Tracey. Somewhere along the way, Michael's brotherly feelings turned passionate, though he continued to deny it. "I don't know when. It's just... Oh Gob. I love you."

"Love you," Gob echoed, looking at his picture of Michael.

Michael wished he could say more, and he still felt awful for how he'd treated Gob all through the 1990s. Even if he couldn't have requited Gob's love then, he should at least have been a better brother and friend to him. If Michael had been more understanding and nice over the years, then maybe Gob wouldn't need Franklin now.

"Gob, you know that car you gave me in college?" Dad never gave Michael a company car, but Gob got plenty and finally let Michael borrow one for his first date with Tracey. Though Tracey didn't care much about money, Michael did appreciate being able to look like a grown up for their date, instead of having to show up on a bicycle.

Gob frowned a bit, wondering why Michael had to bring up Tracey now. "I didn't know you'd love her and go and marry her."

"I know, but you let me keep the car even after Spring Break, so I could keep dating her. I should have thanked you more for that."

Gob shrugged. "You hugged me. And sometimes you'd go to my magic shows." He also tried to get Michael to cheat on Tracey during his visits, and they would fight about it, while Michael lectured Gob to not be sleazy in his own love life.

Michael said, "Yeah, I should have realized that you were jealous. I'm sorry." In those days, when Gob got overly friendly with him, Michael blocked it out with denial or put it down to Gob's drunkenness and neediness. "But listen, Gob, if we didn't have that car when we got married, then Tracey and I would never have made it." Between renting the campus apartment, Tracey dropping out to stay home with the baby, Michael finishing college, and his having to commute to work at the Bluth Company, the newlyweds didn't have a lot of money at first. Gob's car had been very useful, and he never even asked Michael to formally buy it from him. "You were a good brother, and so unselfish."

Gob sighed sadly. "I just thought, if you kept the car, that you'd still visit me and come to my magic shows."

Michael nodded. "I did want to, Gob. But I was so tired with work, school, and everything." He just wanted to stay at home with Tracey and George Michael then. That was how he lost touch with many of his college friends too.

"I know. But I was glad when you moved back home."

Lucille had wanted to see her grandson more often, so she got George to offer Michael a house in Newport Beach, after he finished college. It was a Bluth Company house, of course, with shoddy construction, but Michael and Tracey put up with it so that George Michael could have a yard to play in, and go to the beach. Michael also needed to save money to try to go to law school. That fell through of course, so Tracey went back to school instead.

Michael told Gob, "I wish I could have convinced Tracey to let you come over again. She was grateful about us still having the car, but--"

"I know," Gob said. "She didn't like me, or the rest of the family."

Michael wanted to make it up to Gob, and hold him again. "Do you think you'll be able to come over here tonight? I don't know how late the reporters will stay at the hotel."

Gob wanted to be near him too. "I'll find a way to sneak in, Michael. It's not a Jamba Juice."

"Good," Michael said, and looked forward to it.

Maeby and George Michael were eating lunch, when Maeby said, "Your father's kind of weird, you know?"

Michael had called them earlier about the press release, and Maeby got annoyed by Michael talking about the karaoke thing. Maeby didn't want to talk to the press at all about the scandalous gossip; she was only going to respond with the scene in the movie showing that it was all an accident. Michael wanted it to be a joke instead of an accident, and he wanted to get their stories straight. Maeby said "Fine" but wanted to get off the phone quickly.

George Michael looked up from his plate. "Yeah, he can be hard to get off the phone." He remembered his dad constantly trying to interrupt him and Egg via cellphone.

Maeby was glad that George Michael wasn't defending his controlling dad. Perhaps he was finally learning not to be such a daddy's boy. "Even when I hung out with him for a couple of days, it was mostly to make my mother jealous."

George Michael remembered feeling jealous too. "Did you really go on a roadtrip with him?"

"No, I spotted Uncle Oscar before we left town."

"Oh good. That's the only reason I hung out with your mom, to make my dad jealous." George Michael didn't want Maeby to think he really was flirting with her mom like Steve Holt did.

Maeby understood and took his hand. "I'm so glad we finally got away from our crazy family. We're like the only normal ones." George Michael had said this to her once, before giving her a creepy long hug. But now they weren't blood-related, so it wasn't weird anymore.

"Yeah." George Michael smiled and kissed her. But as he let go of her hand, he shook his head and sighed wistfully. "My dad used to be more normal, but he's been acting strange ever since Mom died five years ago. I don't think he got over her."

Maeby nodded. "I know, he's like a robot. All work and no play." Though Uncle Mike was briefly fun and laidback during the Christmas when he was Vice President, Maeby knew that his usual mode of operation was being stern and judgmental. (She once spent Bring Your Daughter to Work Day with Uncle Mike, who kept trying to lecture her to be honest and hardworking.) "He made you work all the time too."

"Yeah, but my dad was just stressed out about the company, you know, and Pop-pop's trial for treason."

Maeby rolled her eyes.

George Michael shrugged it off. " I don't know. Maybe because he bottles stuff up, it makes him overreact about certain things, like that time he panicked and thought I was smoking pot. Or how he threatens to abandon the family every few months."

"Yeah. And him freaking out about us being married."

George Michael frowned. "Or that time he thought Maggie Lizer was pregnant, and he wanted me to break into her house to find out the father." That had not been a fun "adventure" at all, especially when they discovered the cops staking out the place.

Maeby hadn't been around at the time, so she asked, "Was she the nutjob lawyer?"

"Yeah," he said. "But I think the publicist Jessie was crazier." George Michael wondered why his father was attracted to so many unsuitable girlfriends. About the only normal person was Sally Sitwell, and Michael denied dating her. "You know, he always kept worrying that I didn't want him to date anybody, even though I told him I was fine with it. It's like he wasn't really ready to date--or for me to date either."

"Totally," Maeby said, but didn't expand on it, for she had never liked Bland, and she tried to get rid of her too.

George Michael said, "I mean, I love my mom, but I know she would have wanted Dad to move on. I kept hoping that if he found someone new, then he could relax and stop being so controlling." He sighed, "But then Dad just ended up with Rita."

Maeby suggested, "It could be his being in love with his sister. That's why he's so weird."

"I guess so." George Michael worried a bit and wondered who his father loved more, Tracey or Lindsay. "I wish he'd known that she was adopted a long time ago, but of course that doesn't mean that your mom would have loved him back."

Maeby nodded. "She's too much of a coward to leave my dad."

George Michael held his wife's hand again. "I'm so glad we have a better marriage than them."

"Yeah. Let's prove it." She kissed him and suggested they have sex.

George Michael eagerly got up from the table, and didn't care about leaving all the dirty dishes behind. He was excited to return to their bedroom and have afternoon delight.

Chapter Text

Still stuck in his hotel room, Michael tried again to edit the magic video into something presentable, but he had trouble cutting out the ending with the doves flying away. Besides, he was still somewhat worried and distracted by how needy Gob sounded on the phone.

Michael turned off the laptop and disconnected it from the video camera. He slipped the computer into his leather bag, then started packing clothes to move out tomorrow. Michael hoped that Gob would take back the video camera when he came over tonight; otherwise Michael would have to bring the camera along when Lindsay picked him up.

While Michael sat on the bed to fold clothes, he recalled discussing fake names with Gob last night before they went to sleep. From what Gob said, he apparently thought of them as Ricky and Derek from Silver Spoons, even though those TV characters were only friends, not brothers. That must be because Gob secretly knew they weren't related. Michael imagined what life would have been like if he and Gob hadn't been raised as brothers. If they had just met in school, or been neighbors. He wished they could have grown up that way for real.

Michael considered the episode when Derek got written out; he could remember it because Gob had been rather annoyed, and he lost interest in the sitcom afterward. Derek had to move away due to his parents getting a divorce. Ricky, who had often made sarcastic and judgmental remarks about Derek to his face, was actually sad to see him go. So the kids did bond despite their sparring relationship, and they shared a goodbye hug.

Similarly, Michael felt sad when Gob left town after Eve Holt got pregnant; even though it meant that Michael wouldn't have to Boyfight with Gob any more, he still sort of missed him being around. And he certainly didn't feel triumphant or pleased about Gob getting beaten outside the club in Torrance in 1987. That was why Michael talked him into putting Franklin in storage; because he still loved his brother despite their childhood problems.

Meanwhile Lindsay had lunch with Tobias and Steve Holt at the model home. After they finished making a list of all the stores her birthday presents came from, Steve had called Sue Hsu to ask if she still liked him. He convinced her that the Bluth scandal was untrue gossip, and she agreed to have a date tonight, as long as they drove out of town to avoid reporters.

"That's nice." Then Lindsay asked Steve to go live with Buster and Oscar at the penthouse.

Steve was surprised, because he was just starting to settle in and feel like a part of the Bluth family. "You don't want me to stay here, Aunt Lindsay?"

Tobias also protested because he liked having Steve Holt at the model home. He had hoped that Steve might help him rehearse lines for his part as the homeschool teacher in Maeby's movie. After all, Steve had acted in the high school Shakespeare play that Tobias directed. "Lindsay, don't kick him out. He may be Gob's son, but he's still our nephew." Tobias didn't care that Lindsay was adopted and not blood-related to the Bluths; after all, Lindsay still loved George Sr. like he was her real father.

Lindsay explained, "I didn't mean it like that, Steve. I'd love to have you stay with us. It's just, there's the scandal, and the reporters might think we were dating or something."

"Oh," Steve said, not having realized that before. "But I can just tell them I'm dating Sue."

"Would she be okay with that? She wants to avoid the reporters. Besides, you were fighting with my dad earlier about the magic doves."

Steve said, "Well, maybe I'll keep them in the garage or something. Or take them back to my dad's yacht to practice." He did want to hang out with Gob more.

Lindsay tried another angle. "Come on, Steve, why would you want to live in the kids' old room, when you're not a kid? You're 21 now, right?"

"Yeah," he said.

"And when you date Sue, you don't wanna bring her back to a room with bunk beds, do you?"

"Oh, I guess not." Steve did feel that he should try to act more grown up now that he wasn't dating high school girls anymore. Sue went to college, but was home with her family for the summer.

Lindsay added, "Besides, Buster can rehearse magic with you. He used to do shows with Gob."

Steve got excited, "Yeah, maybe he can help me learn to be a good assistant for my dad."

Tobias pouted and said he didn't want to be alone with George Sr. constantly making fun of his acting. He'd probably call him a "useless Nellie" too.

"Don't worry, honey." Lindsay told him that he wouldn't have to be all alone fighting with Dad for long. She told him that Sitwell was going to start building more houses soon, and they were renaming the place Paradise Gardens.

That did cheer up Tobias. "So there will be a lot of construction workers here, with all their cranes and trucks and swinging balls?" Construction had stopped on Sudden Valley a long time ago, and he was excited for it to resume. "I could bring them lemonade and stuff."

"Sure." Lindsay hoped that seeing all the brawny construction guys would make Tobias happy, and possibly he could find a man to date.

Later that afternoon, Gob went to retrieve a copy of his Franklin CD from the model home, and he ran into Steve Holt alone and feeding the doves in the living room. Lindsay and Tobias had gone to return all of Sitwell's birthday gifts for money, and George Sr. was still golfing at the country club.

Gob started to talk to his son, and Steve explained that he was going to move in with Buster and Oscar at the penthouse, and Gob was pleased.

"Good," Gob said to Steve. "And you're still going on that date with that girl?"

"Yeah," Steve replied happily. "I called Sue, and she believes me! We're gonna have a great time tonight." To impress her, he would probably tell her all about his joining the Magician's Alliance tomorrow, and he hoped that she would admire his career.

"That's great. Love each other." Gob then headed upstairs to search for the Franklin CD in the master bedroom.

Steve soon took the doves (in their cage) out to his Camaro, so he could drive to the penthouse at Balboa Towers. He was also going to bring his packed bags and the boombox with the Final Countdown CD in it. Lindsay already called Buster to tell him that Steve was moving in.

Gob quickly found the CD where Michael left it, so Dad must not have found it when he moved in. It looked like Dad just hung all his clothes in the walk-in closet, instead of using any dresser drawers. Gob smiled and put the CD in his pocket before he returned downstairs.

Getting on his Segway, Gob quickly left the model home and returned to his yacht to figure out how to sneak into the hotel again. His usual method of entering the restaurant, hiding out in the bathroom until the restaurant closed, and sneaking up the stairwell, probably would not work with all the paparazzi outside. So Gob decided to go in disguise as a delivery man, like he did at the permit office a few years ago. But maybe he should wear dark glasses and a wig too.

While Gob was retrieving his disguise, he noticed that the page on the clipboard had been signed by someone at the permit office, and the name was Charlie Levinson.

Gob considered that name for Michael's alias in Cabo, and he said to Franklin, "That sounds like a believable lawyer's name, doesn't it?"

Franklin said, "Yeah, and Michael likes names that start with 'Cha' too." Gob had mentioned "Chareth Chamberlain" already.

"Yeah, and it's not too long." Gob tore the page off the clipboard and gave it to Franklin. "Okay, remind me to make a passport with that name later." He was glad to finally have a fake name picked out for Michael.

Then Gob got out some dark sunglasses, and Tony Wonder called back to tell him the time of Alliance meeting tomorrow. "Okay thanks."

"And I called all the members back. They're fine with voting your son in too. It'll be so great to see the look on Rollo's face."

"Yeah." Gob chuckled. Then he decided to go ahead and ask Tony Wonder to bring a magic DVD to the meeting for him.

"Oh, you don't have one already?"

Gob lied, "No, uh, I lost half my stuffs during my divorce. So I was hoping you could get me a new copy so I can show Michael, and he can make a DVD of my father-son show too."

"Okay. I'll get you replacements, Gob, plus the new DVD of my gay show."

Gob rolled his eyes at Franklin, because he didn't like Tony's new gay magic act. There was all the glitter and the lame slogan, "I'm here, I'm queer, now I'm over here." Also, the voiceover about a disapproving father reminded him too much of his own father. Gob decided that he would just give that particular DVD to Steve Holt to study how to be a good assistant. "Thanks. I'll see you tomorrow, then."

"Okay, bye Gob!" Tony then hung up and eagerly searched for extra copies of all his DVDs to give to Gob. He would autograph them all and wrap them up together like a present.

When Sally Sitwell came over that night, she was amused by Tony getting so excited for the Magician's Alliance meeting. They heated up the leftover pasta for dinner, and she told Tony about all the old photos and news clippings she dug up about Lindsay today. She was going to mail the package to Maeby in Hollywood soon.

"That's nice," Tony said, not really paying attention to his girlfriend. He opened a new bottle of red wine, even though Sally told him that it didn't go with chicken. "I like it," he insisted, though he agreed to grab a chilled white wine bottle from the fridge for her.

When George returned from golfing, he complained to Lindsay that the shareholders didn't want to vote Sitwell out yet. All the scandalous gossip about the Bluth family made them too nervous to make another major change at the company board meetings.

"I tried to tell them that this whole scandal was Sitwell's fault for inviting all the news media to the party, but they wouldn't agree. They even liked his press release, and they're hoping that will fix it."

"I'm so sorry, Daddy," Lindsay said, then tried to cheer him up by showing him all the money they got from returning Sitwell's gifts to the stores.

George was very happy to count the cash and pocket it. "Great. Now we'll have plenty of money to buy back shares once we convince people to sell." He went upstairs to put the money away in a locked drawer.

When he returned downstairs, they had dinner with Tobias, and George asked, "So you made Steve Holt move out already?"

"Yeah, he's at the penthouse with Buster and Oscar."

"What? I thought you were sending him to the hotel to watch Michael."

Lindsay told him about the change of plans. "Michael was whining that Gob would get mad at him, so I decided to move him into the cabin." She explained about Sitwell finding both halves of the cabin and bringing them back to Orange County soon.

"That's my cabin, though," George complained. "Michael shouldn't have got rid of it in the first place, even if he was upset about dating that simple-minded Rita."

Tobias said, "I don't even know why he had dates with her in the same cabin car where she got beaten and drugged; I guess she really didn't remember the kidnapping."

George shrugged, not caring. "Michael should have married her for the money, and then just let her live in the cabin car. Rita could play the banjo all she wanted, or crash the trains in the Tiny Town set that Gob built. We could have kept her happy and hidden away from her Uncle Trevor, but no, Larry Mittleman had to screw it up."

Lindsay said, "Well we've got the cabin back now. I'm going to teach Michael a lesson by making him live in it."

George did like the idea of punishing Michael, but he wasn't sure about the method of Lindsay's revenge. "Actually it's not that bad a cabin, when it has the bedrooms attached. I brought lots of mistresses there, when it was in Lake Tahoe."

"Yeah, but that cabin hasn't been used in forever, Daddy, and it's probably all musty and smelly now."

"Hmm, I guess you're right." When Lucille found out about the secret cabin, she had forbidden her husband from going there, and she hired Gene Parmesan to make sure he never went on any other business trips with women. George still managed to sneak around with Kitty for eight years because they had sex on the family yacht, rather than leave town.

Lindsay warned them both not to tell Michael before she surprised him with the cabin tomorrow, and they agreed.

Then George started plotting to undermine Stan Sitwell some more, and Tobias listened silently, wondering if he ought to try calling Sitwell again.

George then discussed going to Lucille's bail hearing tomorrow, to find out if she could be released to house arrest.

Lindsay didn't want to go to the hearing, and she made the excuse that she ought to go to work as usual so she could spy on Sitwell some more.

George said, "You probably want to see Ice too."

Tobias became uncomfortable, and Lindsay cleared her throat. "Don't talk about Ice." Though Tobias already gave Lindsay permission to date, she knew that he still felt jealous.

George sighed and let it go.

Soon they finished eating dinner, then watched TV while Tobias went for a jog, hoping to get in shape for those burly construction workers.

Later that night, Gob went in disguise to the hotel, carrying a large fake package. (He was going to use it later to take the video camera out of the hotel room.) Soon Gob got past all the paparazzi and into the hotel lobby.

Some security guard tried to stop him from going to the elevators, but Gob insisted that his package needed to be signed for, and that he wasn't going to hand it over to anybody else to take upstairs.

"Well, who's the recipient? I'll call their room and check that the package is expected."

"It's for Michael Bluth. Tell him it's from Derek Taylor." He pretended to read the sender on the clipboard.

"All right." The security guard called Michael's room, and Michael confirmed that he wanted the package.

So the guard waved Gob on, and Gob hurried to Michael's room.

Michael was eager to let him inside, and he put a Do Not Disturb sign on the door before shutting and locking it. Then he kissed Gob and pulled off his wig and glasses. "You look so silly in this."

Gob tossed aside the clipboard and empty box. "Time to show you my package."

They laughed and headed to bed happily. As they undressed and kicked off their shoes, Gob told Michael that he picked out the fake name Charlie Levinson for him.

Michael didn't really care and said, "Okay." Then he tried to get on top, but Gob rolled them over.

"It's my turn," he said.

"But I thought you'd let me do it even when it's not my birthday."

"Sure, but I have to bring the dong tea for that."

Michael pouted. "I don't need that."

"You haven't tried it yet, Mikey. It could be even better maybe. Let's wait until you move in to your new place. Come on, it's my turn now."

"Oh okay." Michael did enjoy the sex they had on the yacht, and when Gob showed him how to sit on him the other night. Gob was great at making love in any position. Besides, Michael wanted to make up for how he had been a jerk to Gob for so long, so he didn't mind letting Gob have his way tonight.

"Good. Come here."

They finished getting naked, and Gob lay on top of Michael, counting his freckles. Michael laughed and ran fingers through his hair. They melted together with deep kisses, gradually rubbing each other more and more. Then they got out the lube and condoms, and Gob surprised Michael by showing him a new sideways position.

"Wow." Michael was impressed and turned on. Gob knew so much about gay sex, and Michael was eager to learn.

"Mikey." Gob fucked him passionately, while Michael stroked himself.

It was hot, and he was so gay for Gob. When they finished, Gob spooned his brother cozily and he asked, "Did you mean what you said before? About being sorry for Marta?"

"Yeah," Michael said, and turned to touch Gob's scar from prison. "I'm sorry, Gob. It's just that you didn't love her, and I thought you gave me permission when I confessed at the soap opera set. Remember, I told you back then?" After the Boyfight in front of the courthouse, Marta dumped them both and afterward Michael explained the whole thing to Gob.

"I guess." Gob shrugged. He only partly remembered what happened on the soap opera set because he had been punched out by an actor. He wasn't sure he could believe Michael's version of events, but maybe he was telling the truth now, because he loved Gob.

Michael asked, "Why were you so mad at me, Gob? You didn't really love her, did you?"

"No." Gob pouted and said, "It's just, I thought you weren't ready to date yet, Michael. When Tracey died, you just kept working more at the Bluth Company and didn't take off your ring for a year. Even when you did, you said you never had time to date."

"Well, I wasn't ready," Michael said. Tracey had been a huge part of his life, and he could not get over her quickly.

"I know, but I was worried that maybe you decided to never date anybody again, after Tracey died. You were alone so long, and you told Lindsay that you weren't gonna date anybody while George Michael was in high school."

Michael remembered Lindsay teasing him for being too scared to ask out Jessie Bowers.

Gob said, "Sure, you dated that publicist Jessie, but I thought it was just for the press releases, to make the family look sympathetic. But if you really wanted Marta, then that meant you were okay with dating. I thought you'd tell me yourself, so I could help you learn how to date again. So that we could at least be friends and I could be your wingman." The dating scene had changed drastically since Michael was last single. "I thought you'd let me show you how to pick up girls, and maybe let me teach you about threesomes too. Maybe we could be together someday, if you weren't afraid."

Michael was surprised, and he realized now that Gob hadn't started coming on to him, or leaving sexually explicit messages on Michael's computer at work until after the fight about Marta. "I didn't know. So why did you try to set me up with Nazghalia then?"

"To help you learn how to date, but not fall in love." It had been a double date with Gob's girlfriend of the moment, a high school cheerleader. "But I got jealous of you flirting with Nagarma." So Gob seduced her instead.

"I wasn't really flirting with her," Michael said. "I was just being nice, like when I used to try to cheer up Lindsay about her big nose."

"Oh." In any case, Michael soon dated the teacher Beth Baerly, and Gob had to get back at him. But he wound up sleeping with the wrong teacher. "You lied about me to George Michael, though," Gob said irritably.

"I'm sorry." He kissed him.

Gob forgave him and explained, "So later I tried to teach you how to have a one night stand at that bar." That was when Michael met Maggie Lizer, while Gob got distracted by Krindy that night.

Michael said, "Well now we're together, Gob. We got it right at last."

"Yeah. You finally love me." Gob nuzzled him and said, "Tell me I'm good,"

Michael remembered how needy Gob was before, and he reassured him, "You're so good, Gob. I love you."

Gob smiled happily and enjoyed Michael petting him a while. It helped keep away the darkness inside of him.

Michael said that he didn't ever want to be the favorite son, and Dad was a jerk for making them Boyfight. "I wish... I wish we could have been friends back then." He wished they weren't raised as brothers, and could have been truly like Ricky and Derek, only never separated.

Gob asked, "So you did kinda like me, huh?" Sometimes when Dad was out of town cheating on Mom, Michael was nice to him. Also, during lessons, Michael would hug him when they were screaming at the one-armed man. But Gob wasn't sure if that was just because Lindsay always hugged Baby Buster.

"Yeah, I did." Michael said. "It's just, you never believed me when I tried to stop fighting or make up with you. You wouldn't trust me because of Dad and you always thought I was trying to trick you."

Gob looked at his brother sadly and felt bad about their horrible childhood. He wished that they could have been friends too. He said quietly, "I'm sorry for beating you up, Mikey, and pushing you into the ocean when we were fishing. It's just, Dad never liked me unless I was fighting with you."

"I know."

"And Dad loved you. You were the good son." Pain and jealousy flashed on his face for a moment, and he looked away.

Michael made Gob face him again. "Gob, I never wanted to compete with you or hurt you."

Gob felt better. "You really mean it, Mikey?"

"Yes," Michael said, and caressed him tenderly.

They kissed some more, and Gob told him, "Egg and her religion friends would tell me all the time that I'm a no-good sinner who should repent. So did her family." They were so judgmental. But Gob thought of something and worried again, "You said I should change too because of God, remember?"

Michael felt guilty for being judgmental, especially in light of how wrong he was about Nellie the whore that night at the hotel. "I'm sorry." Why should he agree with some evangelical nuts about God, anyway? "I was so wrong." He snuggled closer. "They don't know you like I do, Gob. They don't see how good you are."

Gob grinned and liked hearing he was good. "I'm magical."

"Yes you are."

Chapter Text

When Steve arrived at the penthouse with all his stuff, he was surprised to learn that there were only two bedrooms. He had assumed that the penthouse would be spacious and have enough bedrooms for him, Buster, and Oscar. After all, Lindsay had said that he shouldn't settle for the room with bunk beds at the model home. "Where am I gonna stay?"

Buster explained, "Oh you can share with me, Steve. There's still an extra bed, from when Annyong used to live here." He went into a closet to pull out a spare bed. "You can keep the doves in my room too."

Steve was disappointed. "But what if I want to bring my date Sue here, and we want to be alone?" He turned to Oscar, who had already claimed the master bedroom. "Can I borrow your room instead?"

Oscar said, "That's fine with me, but what about when Lucille comes home? At least I hope she'll be transferred back here for house arrest soon. If she does, then I don't think she'll like being displaced."

"Oh!" Steve hadn't realized that Lucille might return to the penthouse before her trial. Lindsay hadn't mentioned that possibility, and now Steve felt insecure. Maybe Lindsay didn't really accept Steve in the family and was pushing him away like Gob often did. "Well, um, maybe I shouldn't move in, then." Maybe he should go rent an apartment instead.

"No, no!" Buster said. "If you want to spend the night with Sue, then you can use my bedroom. I'll just ask Lucille 2 if I can sleep across the hall then, that's all." The widow Austero already let Buster stay the night in her spare bedroom when Oscar got high with all his hippie friends.

"You sure that's all right?"

"Yes, it's fine. Come on, I want you to stay here, Steve. We can have fun together." Buster also wanted to be able to consult Steve for romantic advice so he could figure out how to win back Lupe while keeping it a secret from his mother, who might fire her again.

With a shrug, Steve Holt moved in and got the doves settled into Buster's room. Then he got ready for his date and went to pick up Sue Hsu in his car. They drove out of town to a romantic spot, and he told her all about the Magician's Alliance. She was very impressed that he got an autograph from Tony Wonder and might even be on a DVD with him and Gob.

She asked, "If you have a show at the Gothic Castle, can I come?"

"Sure!" Then they went to a movie and shared popcorn.

They had a great time, and she agreed to go back to the penthouse with him. Buster and Oscar greeted Sue with hugs that awkwardly turned into shoulder rubs.

Sue backed off a little and tried a polite handshake instead. "Nice to see you again," she said, because she mistook Oscar for George.

"No, this is my uncle/father Oscar. That was my father/uncle Dad at the party."

She looked confused, and Steve worried that Sue would think that the Bluths were weird, and that maybe the scandal about them was true.

So Steve went out on the balcony with her for privacy and he explained about Oscar being Buster's biological father, though for years everyone thought his twin brother George was the father. She understood now, and she did like the view from the penthouse. They got romantic and made out again.

Counting this as their second date, after Sitwell's party last night, they decided to sleep together, and Buster did go across the hall as he had promised. Sue was amused when she heard the doves cooing in their cage, and she didn't mind Steve staying in Buster's room.

"It's like me having to share a dorm room at college," she said generously, though the room seemed more like a little kid's room. She had sympathy for Buster losing his hand, though, and was glad that Steve was friends with his uncle.

Steve felt hopeful that living at the penthouse would work out after all, and he stopped worrying about why Lindsay made him leave the model home.

At dinner, Sally kept talking about her and Maeby's plans to trash Lindsay in the movie, and Tony just sat there eating. Then he remembered what Gob told him at lunch about Michael, so when Sally paused for more wine, he finally interrupted.

Tony told her what Gob said, that Michael was not in love with Lindsay. He only pretended to want to sleep with her, and she ran away from him. He was not crazy after all, and was actually a good brother to Gob.

Sally raised an eyebrow and shook her head. "No, he isn't. They fight all the time." She had witnessed some of their petty fights herself, as well as hearing about many other fights over the years.

Tony said, "Yeah, I remember you showing me the Boyfight video, Sally. But they're not kids anymore and things are better now. Michael once caught Gob with his boyfriend and--" He hesitated and realized that he shouldn't tell Sally that Gob's secret boyfriend was a maritime lawyer and a college friend of Michael's. Better that she not know such details if the police questioned her after they broke Michael out of prison.

"And what?" Sally asked.

Tony finished lamely, "And, um, he realized that Gob was bisexual, but hiding it from their homophobic parents. Michael accepted him and didn't try to out him to the rest of the family. He was loyal and kept Gob's secret."

Sally didn't buy that story. "That doesn't sound like Michael at all. He and Gob once had lunch with me and my dad at the country club, and they kept fighting childishly the whole time. See, Gob was dating Lucille Austero, but he didn't want to admit it--I guess because Buster dated her before, and she's an old friend of their mother."

"What, really? Buster too?" Tony had already heard from Sally that Gob used to date Stan Sitwell's current girlfriend, but he was surprised to hear about Buster too.

"Yeah." She shrugged it off. "Oedipal issues, I guess. Anyway, Michael kept teasing Gob and trying to out them as a couple, while Gob denied it. Hmph." Just like Michael would later deny that Sally was his girlfriend. If only she had realized sooner that Michael was a hypocritical Bluth, just as awful as anybody else in his family.

"Are you sure?" Tony was confused.

"Yes," she answered. "Lucille Austero got mad at Gob for being a coward, and Michael didn't care about getting him into trouble. Plus my dad tried flirting with Lucille too! Trust me, those guys didn't stop Boyfighting just because they grew up."

Tony said, "But that's just one awkward lunch, and maybe Michael was just upset on Buster's behalf and wanted Gob to go tell him the truth." Conflict involving multiple brothers could be complicated.

"No, no! That wasn't it." To give him more examples, Sally told Tony about newspaper articles she'd read about Michael and Gob fighting publicly, once at a ribbon cutting ceremony when the fake house fell apart, and more recently when they competed with two different banana stands. "They also fought in front of the courthouse a couple of times. I think once was about Michael stealing Gob's girlfriend Marta."

Tony was disappointed in Michael as a brother, and he wanted to ask Gob about that later. For now he excused it with, "Well, it's probably 'cause their dad manipulated them somehow, pitting them against each other. Gob's dad is just like my dad. I couldn't help fighting with my brothers, even though I knew better, and I slept with my brother's widow for revenge." That had been fucked up, especially since he already had a girlfriend Tiagra at the time.

Sally said, "That's my point. Michael and Gob fight all the time. They can't help themselves."

Tony insisted, "But Michael came through for Gob and his boyfriend. Remember, nobody else in the family knew that Gob was bisexual, and he told Tobias to keep it a secret."

"But didn't he say, not to tell Michael?" Sally asked, remembering when Tony told her the story before. "See, Michael didn't know already."

Tony explained, "No, um, he did know. Gob just didn't want Tobias to tell him about us kissing. Michael might think that Gob was cheating on his boyfriend and tell him."

"Exactly. To get him into trouble," Sally said.

Tony frowned and felt undermined. But he tried to get back on track. "The point is, Gob said that Michael's not crazy. When Lindsay found out she was adopted, she wanted to divorce her gay husband and marry Michael, and he told her no. But that just made her want him more, and he had to pretend to want to sleep with her, to scare her into running away."

Sally folded her arms skeptically. "And how does Gob know all this? Was he there?"

"Um, I don't know."

Sally said, "Besides, even if Michael hypothetically said no to marriage, it doesn't mean that he doesn't want to sleep with her. Who'd wanna marry her and be stuck to her for life? Michael could have just been worried that his son wouldn't approve. That was what he always said to me when he was keeping us a secret!"

Tony nodded and sighed, because she often complained about that.

Sally continued, "But as for sleeping with her in private, where nobody would know..." She shrugged and made a face of disgust.

Tony said, "You weren't there either. You don't know what happened."

"But Lindsay told everything to Lucille Austero, who told my dad." She shrugged. "I guess Lindsay could be lying, but Michael could be lying to Gob too about the whole thing. He wants Gob to give him the job and to testify for him at the trial."

"But why would Gob believe him then? Why would he protect Michael, if he's always a lying jerk to him?"

"I don't know. Gob's kind of gullible and dumb sometimes."

"Sally!" Tony was getting mad at her again, for insulting his friend.

She quickly said, "I just mean that he's got a weakness with his family. He's needy and always wants their approval. It's like you and your dad."

Tony frowned and nodded sadly. "I keep thinking... hoping that he might finally like me and be impressed by my magic career." It was a futile hope, though. Tony's father didn't care about his fame and success as a magician; he cared about duty and tradition.

Sally patted his hand sympathetically. "So maybe Gob can't see that Michael's manipulating him? Maybe he's hoping they can be friends at last?"

Tony thought about it and remembered that Gob said they would have fun in South America and go camping together. Did Michael make empty promises to him, just to get Gob to help him? But what about Gob's boyfriend the maritime lawyer? Surely he would defend Gob and make sure that Michael was trustworthy? If only Tony could meet him.

Sally insisted, "Michael is definitely crazy! I told you how he got about Maggie Lizer, and her stupid fake pregnancy. He knew she was a liar, but he still let her mind games get to him. And even before I dumped him, Michael was always looking for things to get between us. Always saying that Gob would hit on me, so we shouldn't tell anybody we were dating. Always saying that his son wouldn't be okay with us, so we should meet at my place. He wouldn't ever let me come over to the model home unless we sneaked up the staircar to his balcony." That was how Michael smuggled Beth Baerly into his room too. "We were sneaking into his bedroom like guilty teenagers! And then he wouldn't take his shirt off during sex. What the hell was wrong with him?"

Tony shrugged. "I don't know. Maybe he's a nevernude like Tobias."

She chuckled a little, but frowned and felt depressed. "No, he was probably wishing I was freaking Lindsay the whole time. Ugh!"

Tony remained puzzled. "But you didn't think he was using you for a substitute back then. He never said her name in bed or anything?"

"No. Not during sex. But he talked a lot about all his family during our dates. Like complaining about Gob being President at work, or Lindsay and Tobias having an open marriage, or his son having a girlfriend and not wanting to go to Legoland with him." Sally had sympathized at first and used the opportunity to vent about her father to Michael, but she often got the impression that Michael wasn't listening to her. He was so self-involved, a trait which had only been useful with respect to hiding her alopecia.

Tony asked, "If he's so crazy, then how come Michael didn't look for you at Lindsay's birthday party? He didn't ask about you at all backstage at my show."

She shrugged. "Maybe my dad scared him off and told him that Ice was my bodyguard and not just my date. My dad's always interfering like that. I mean, he even tried to set us up at the bachelorette auction. If only I had stuck to my first instincts and not dated Michael! But my horrible father had to guilt me into it. I gave Michael a chance, and he fucked it up!"

Then Sally angrily told the whole story of her dating Michael again, and Tony tried not to roll his eyes. He poured himself some more red wine.

In 2005, Sally ran into Michael working at the banana stand, filling in for his son. Gob showed up on his Segway and squirted her with lighter fluid. He called her "Sally Stickwell" and teased Michael about loving her in high school. Later, she and her father ran into Michael at the country club, where he was wearing a jacket too big for him. Sally went into detail about the awkward lunch, when Gob and Lucille Austero joined them. She really rubbed in how much Michael and Gob were fighting, so Tony would see that Michael was a terrible brother.

Tony tried to interrupt, saying that maybe Michael was embarrassed and getting revenge for Gob teasing him earlier at the banana stand.

Sally shook her head skeptically. "Then in a parking lot, I ran into Michael at a car fire, and the ambulance took him away. I went to see him in the hospital, but his insurance card was declined and I felt sorry for him. I was going to come back and check on him later to see if his family came to help him. But then he surprised me at the bachelorette auction and bid $15,000 on me. But it turned out that my dad gave him the money to buy his car. So manipulative!"

"Your dad or Michael?"

"My dad. And I shouldn't have fallen for his manipulation later, but I totally did! I should never have listened to him, but I couldn't help myself."

After Sally said no to Michael, she left the auction. Stan Sitwell also left in disappointment at not winning a date with Lucille Austero.

Disappointed and desperate for money, Michael called Stan Sitwell that night to say that Sally rejected him. "But I still have to pay the country club my bid, sir. So since the car deal's off, would you be interested in buying my date gift basket that I'm not going to use? I'll throw in some Bluth Company shares if you want."

"What? No, no, Michael. Our deal still stands." Sitwell said he would buy the Corvette anyway. "I still need that car, after mine got blown up. Just, um, drop off the car here. I'm so sorry for Sally's behavior."

"What? Really? Oh thank you so much, sir." He got in the Corvette and drove to Stan Sitwell's house. (This was the modest house that Sitwell owned before Lucille 2 encouraged him to buy an extravagant estate.) As he handed over the car keys, Michael asked, "Is Sally here, sir? Could I speak to her?"

Sitwell sighed and explained, "No, I'm afraid she's at her own home. She was supposed to come over tonight to discuss some business at our company, but she canceled at the last minute. I assumed it was so she could see you, but it must be because she's avoiding me again." Sitwell gave Michael a check for the car, then patted his shoulder paternally. "Don't worry about Sally, Michael. I'll speak to her myself."

"If you could tell her that you don't approve of me at all, that would really help me." Then Michael called for a cab and left with his check.

Sitwell sighed and shook his head sadly. Back inside the house, he phoned his daughter and lectured her about her horrible behavior at the bachelorette auction. "It was for charity!"

"It was for a new golf course!"

"It doesn't matter! If you didn't like the charity, then you shouldn't have signed up for the auction! When you signed up, you promised to go on a date with whoever made the winning bid. For you to back out on a whim was unethical, uncharitable, and unacceptable!"

That stung. She always felt that her father was comparing her to Lindsay, even when Lindsay supported the stupidest causes, including the fake disease "T.B.A." that was featured at the Bluth Foundation gala for two years.

Stan argued, "The only way the date is optional is if the guy behaves horribly, like he's dangerous." He shrugged. "Or if the bidder is a family member." They had seen Michael bid on Lindsay at last year's auction out of pity.

Sally had enjoyed Lindsay's public humiliation, both from her awful Wetlands appearance, and from having to be rescued by her brother. It reminded her of unpopular kids in high school who had to take a cousin to a dance. "Well he did behave horribly. He said he bought me."

"It was a figure of speech." Stan insisted, "Besides, it was rude and selfish to leave Michael in the lurch like that, after we saw his credit card get declined at the country club! If I don't buy his Corvette, he would still have to pay $15,000 to the country club. You want him to go into debt because of you?"

Sally remembered Michael actually telling her that he couldn't afford the $15,000 bid, and felt bad. But she said, "I figured he could withdraw the bid and the next highest bidder would win. It's not my fault that Michael couldn't afford it."

"He could afford it because I bought his car."

"Because you wanted to set us up! Look, I'm not going out with him, Dad! I told you to stop interfering in who I date."

He countered, "Well, you shouldn't interfere in me buying a car! That's not up to you. My car got blown up, and I need a new one."

"That was your car on fire?" Sally hadn't known that, but the fiery explosion did make it unrecognizable.

"Yes. Didn't you see me arrive in a cab?"

"No, I was late from seeing Michael in the hospital. But come on, Dad, you can't drive a convertible!"

"I can if I don't put the top down!" he said, while self-consciously adjusting his wig. "Anyway, I wasn't going to keep Michael's car for long. The insurance rates would be outrageous. I just wanted to drive it for a while to impress my date if I won." (He didn't realize that the Corvette would trigger Lucille 2's vertigo.) "Whenever my insurance claim gets paid on my destroyed car, then I'll just donate the Corvette to a charity and get a less expensive car. But that's my business, Sally. I made the deal. You don't make Michael back out of it!"

"Dad!" Sally was upset, and felt he was being so unfair.

"Fine, don't go on the date, but at least apologize to him, or you'll give us a bad reputation with the local charities."

"What, Michael's going to complain? With his awful family?" She pointed out that Lindsay was spotted at a local NRA rally recently, and was wearing a fur coat while flirting with the actor Moses Taylor, TV's Frank Wrench.

Stan said, "And didn't she get shot with a tranquilizer? She was probably making a point about the cruelty of hunting animals. It was a dramatic reenactment or parody. Her actor husband probably talked her into it. In fact she was so committed to the cause that she did it the same night as the auction."

Sally was so frustrated that her father always gave Lindsay a pass.

"As for Michael. I bought the car from him anyway, so I guess he can use the gift basket for someone else, who's not so rude and capricious. If you don't want to apologize to him, let that be on your own conscience. I thought we raised you better."

"Arghh!" Sally hung up and called her mother to vent about her awful father. It was one of their worst fights ever, and she considered resigning from Sitwell Housing altogether, until her mother calmed her down and said she worked so hard to become Vice President. Why quit over something unrelated to the business? Besides, Sally needed to stay in town to see the specialist doctor for alopecia. "But you can always visit me, if you need a vacation."

So Sally she left town to visit her mother for a week.

Not knowing this, Michael came to Sitwell Housing with the gift basket from the auction. He hoped that Sally might change her mind if her father had said he didn't approve of him. But the secretary said Sally wasn't in, and Sitwell was trying on a long wig in the office. Michael mistook the back of Sitwell's head for Sally and thought she was avoiding him, so he left.

After Sally returned to town, she found out that her father was dating Lucille 2 now, having stolen her from Gob. Her father was being all lovey dovey with the widow Austero, and was too busy to interfere in her life. Sally felt a little sorry for Gob, but it was his own fault for being a coward at the country club and making Lucille Austero mad. Thinking of the awkward lunch at the country club, Sally started to reconsider dating Michael. He and Gob did fight childishly, but Sally remembered feeling sorry for Michael, wearing a jacket too big for him and getting his credit card declined.

She decided to go see Michael at the Bluth Company one day. His office/storage room made her feel sorry for him again.

He was embarrassed by the office, but glad for her to at least see that he wasn't working at the banana stand. Michael asked why she left town so abruptly, having only heard about it when Sitwell called him to say he was sorry for Sally leaving without apologizing.

Sally said she had a fight with her father, who was so overbearing.

Michael didn't think that Stan Sitwell was so bad, compared to his own father.

"Oh yeah?" Sally challenged, complaining that her father compared her to Lindsay all the time. "He thinks she's so great even though she dropped out of college, and all her businesses failed. Everything about her is so fake."

Michael responded with the Boyfights that George put him and Gob through. "At least your rivalry wasn't caught on tape and sold internationally."

Sally conceded, "True. But my dad drives me crazy at work too. I constantly have to win his approval, but all of the sudden he hires Gob at our company, just for the stupid softball game. Even after that, my dad let Gob waste a lot of time talking about Fuck City at meetings before he fired him."

Michael hadn't realized that Sally would feel threatened by that. He knew the feeling of being displaced by Gob at work too. "How do you think I feel, with Gob being President, and me in this office?"

She realized that they had a lot in common, having to work for fathers who were impossible to please. "At least your father's not around. I mean, he's alive, but a fugitive somewhere far away, so he can't bother you." Sally had heard that George Sr. faked his death and escaped.

"Uh, yeah. I'm so lucky." Michael wished that his father really had fled the country, instead of staying in the attic. It was stressful having to keep the secret from the rest of his family.

Feeling more friendly, Sally took his hand and said maybe they should start fresh, and forget about what their fathers thought.

"I'd love that, but..." Michael awkwardly confessed that he had already given away his gift basket from the bachelorette auction to Tobias.

"That's okay." Sally asked to treat him to lunch at the country club instead.

He looked embarrassed and protested, "I have money. My credit card was just--"

"Michael, it's all right. I see you now in your business suit that fits you. You were just having some kind of cashflow problem because of your fancy Corvette, weren't you?"

"Yeah, that's it. Just a temporary thing." Michael couldn't tell her that George Sr. had charged a hot tub on his card, and that he returned it, so he could bid on Sally at the auction. But he unwisely offered to help Tobias, who bid on Lindsay with the whole $5,000. That was why Michael needed Stan Sitwell's money later.

Sally pointed out, "And you're not a golf member of the country club, so it makes sense for me to pay so that we can dine inside. You're not one of those guys who are too macho to let a woman pay, are you?"

"No, um, no." It did bother Michael a little, but he knew better than to start a fight now that Sally was warming up to him again.

"Great. I'll make us reservations." So they finally left together and had a good meal at the country club with no interruptions.

When she brought up the golf cart ride that they never went on, Michael confessed that he did like Sally then, even though he ran away from her. "The reason why I never went after you before was that my father was always pushing me into it."

Sally's eyes lit up. "So you didn't want to date me after you knew that your father approved." She smiled and realized that they were the same.

Michael nodded and took her hand.

Sally decided that it wouldn't be so bad to date Michael after all.

Soon they went on several dates and bonded over their work and their crazy families. They talked about how silly the Bluth/Sitwell feud was, and Sally felt that Michael understood her. She even thought keeping their relationship a secret was fun and exciting for a while.

But he was uptight in bed, and didn't want to take his shirt off. He said nervously that he hadn't dated in a while, and he wasn't sure of the current fashion in male grooming.

At the mention of body hair, Sally became self-conscious about her alopecia, but soon discovered that he was oblivious to her symptoms, given the right distraction.

When Michael still didn't take off his shirt after a few nights together, Sally wondered if he just couldn't relax at her place. So she suggested going over to the model home next time, but he insisted that his family should not find out they were dating.

"Come on, Michael. Your son won't mind. I'll talk to him, and he'll understand."

"No the last woman to talk to him was that publicist Jessie, who said he was getting in the way of my happiness." Michael let Lindsay kick Jessie's ass for that.

Sally insisted that she would not say something awful like that, but Michael remained wary. "He loved his mother very much." He only relented as far as sneaking into the house the way he had with Beth Baerly once, and only after his family was asleep. Even then, Michael put away his son's picture in the drawer, and he wouldn't take off his shirt.

Sally should have seen the signs that Michael was not really committed to her, and was a terrible boyfriend, but she kept hoping that he would improve with time. That he would become more loving and devoted, like he had been with his wife Tracey. Sally had sometimes seen them together in the 1990s and thought they looked happy. Michael was not a womanizer and cheater like his father or brother, after all.

On their eighth date, the couple had Sunday brunch at Skip Church's bistro, and Michael was willing to imagine a hypothetical where they got together in high school and had a completely different child from George Michael.

But then they ran into George Michael and Maeby, and everything went to hell.

Michael introduced them awkwardly, and also criticized his son for skipping work at the banana stand.

When George Michael asked if Sally was his girlfriend, Michael said no. He only corrected himself slightly and acted ashamed.

Sally got annoyed and left them alone, so that Michael would admit the truth and stop being so cowardly. She talked to him a few minutes later, and he assured her that he did tell his son about them. George Michael was fine with it, and Michael promised that he would tell the rest of his family now. Sally had hoped that they were past the whole thing and that Michael might finally relax in bed on their next date.

But he soon went crazy over Maggie Lizer's fake baby, and that was the last straw for Sally, who dumped him.

Sally told Tony Wonder, "Michael was so neurotic and fucked up the whole time. He just couldn't be happy at all, and it was like Jessie was totally right in her article, that Michael uses his son as an excuse to keep women from getting too close. If Michael's not crazy about Lindsay, then what other explanation is there for his horrible behavior?"

"I don't know."

"Anyway, don't listen to Gob about Michael. He's wrong."

Tony frowned, "Well, if Gob's wrong, then I better talk to him so his brother won't fool him anymore." He better try to talk to Gob's boyfriend too.

Sally shrugged. "I guess so."

Tony felt unhappy and decided to clean up after dinner. He wasn't sure that he was in the mood for sex anymore.

Fortunately, Sally understood that he was upset, because she was angry at Michael all over again. She lit a cigarette and decided to go home. "I have to get up early tomorrow to mail my package to Maeby anyway. Goodnight." She kissed Tony, then left.

Chapter Text

In Michael's hotel room, Gob woke up early again and felt pleased about being naked in bed together. He pushed aside the blanket so he could see Michael's scars from his multiple surgeries when he had the horrible Dr. Stein. Gob liked seeing Michael's scars, which were like his own scars from prison and from Buster cutting off his fingers. It made him think they were the same, and he loved Michael all the more for the physical imperfections.

Gob kissed one of his brother's scars gently, then quietly slipped out of bed to the bathroom. Stirring from the light, Michael yawned and was happy to hear Gob humming a love song in the shower. Gob was so magical, and the bed was still warm from his presence.

Michael sat up and said, "Morning," when Gob finished and turned off the shower.

Wearing a towel, Gob leaned out to say "Morning" in return, and he smiled crookedly.

Michael loved his smile and his voice, and wondered why it took him so long to fall for Gob's many charms. If only he hadn't been in denial and afraid for so long. He could see now that they were meant to be together. Their parents just fucked it up for them.

Turning back to the bathroom mirror, Gob shaved and brushed his teeth. When he was all done, he changed into Michael's blue bathrobe again and came out to grab his clothes and find his courier clipboard.

Michael said with a sigh, "Tomorrow you won't have to sneak out anymore." He was looking forward to moving into an apartment today.

Gob nodded and asked, "You'll make me breakfast, huh?"

"Yeah. What would you like, Gob? French toast? Or maybe eggs and bacon?"

Gob came back to bed and said, "Bacon!"

Michael laughed softly and pulled him close for a kiss. He playfully ran fingers through Gob's still damp hair, and wished he could hold him forever.

Gob wished he could stay longer and make love again, but he had so much to do to day, what with the Alliance meeting and all. "I love you."

"Love you too."

Gob kissed his cheek, then took off the robe and dressed in his delivery man disguise. He sat down to put on his shoes, and Michael tried not to laugh at how silly the wig and dark glasses looked. Soon Gob put the video camera into the fake package and asked Michael to help him tape the box shut.

Michael was glad that Gob remembered about the camera without Michael needing to remind him. He really must have quit the roofies then. Michael liked that Gob was so much more rational lately since they were together. "That's good."

"Thanks," Gob said, as he got up with the package and clipboard. "Okay, I gotta go now."

Putting on the robe, Michael accompanied him to the door and said, "See you tonight."

"Yeah, call me when you move in." Gob kissed him goodbye, then quietly opened the door and left for the stairwell. He sneaked out of the hotel before dawn, and there was no longer a crowd of reporters outside.

It was a little inconvenient, though, for him to figure out how to carry the video camera while on his Segway. At first he tried to tape it to the footrest, but it was not very secure and kept bumping the wheels. Finally Gob ended up taking it out of the package, and dumping the empty box in a dumpster. He attached the clipboard to his Segway's zippered pouch to cover up his initials on it, then he just carried the video camera, and tried to balance as he slowly rode down the street. It didn't occur to Gob, though, that the trip might take a long time with the added weight, and that people might wake up in time to see him and wonder why a courier would be hauling around a video camera on a Segway so early in the morning.

When Gob got back to the yacht, he removed the clipboard and put down the video camera. Then he changed out of his disguise and into his satin robe so he could sleep some more. When he woke up later, he lounged in bed for a while and talked to Franklin about Michael.

"It's gonna be so great at his apartment, and he's gonna cook for me."

Franklin still had the paper from the clipboard yesterday, and when he noticed, Gob remembered that he needed to make Michael's fake ID. So he poured himself a drink for breakfast, got out his stuffs, and began to make the fake "Charlie Levinson" passport.

After a while, Gob's phone rang, and it was Tony Wonder. "Hey, Tony."

"Hi, Gob. It's not too early, is it?" He had been waiting and smoking nervously since early this morning because he was so restless and worried.

"No, it's fine. What's up? Did you get the magic DVDs?"

"Yeah, I'll bring them to you at the Gothic Castle today. It's just, um, I kinda wanted to talk to you before the meeting."

"Why? Is something wrong?" Gob wondered if the Alliance members changed their minds about approving Steve Holt. Maybe they wanted Steve to perform a magic act for them first to prove he was worthy.

Tony hesitated, not sure how to explain on the phone, "Well, can you come over to my place again? We could have breakfast, or maybe brunch." He didn't want to push too hard in case Gob was with his boyfriend.

Gob got nervous and looked at Franklin for support. "No, uh, I'm busy right now. Let's just talk at the Gothic Castle later."

"No, Gob. This is private stuff, and we need to be alone. My boyfriend's not here, if you're worried."

Gob felt tempted but tried to stay firm. "No, um, I can't come over, Tony. I-I decided we shouldn't meet in person anymore so that the police won't think you helped me with breaking Michael out of prison."

Tony was surprised. "Really? But how will we plan the whole escape?"

"We can talk on the phone, you know, and you can look at the prison map I made for you."

"But wait, if we keep having long phone conversations, won't the police still suspect that I helped you? They can check phone records, can't they?"

Gob hadn't thought of that. "But they can't listen in on what we're talking about?"

Tony shrugged. "No, I guess if they didn't have warrants and bug our phones..."

Gob said, "Okay, so if they ask you why we were calling so much, you'll just say that we were planning our magic DVD together, that's all."

"All right." Tony understood that he needed to lie to protect Gob after the prison escape. "Anyway I need to talk to you about Michael."

"What about him?'

"Well, uh, Sally says that he really is crazy, and that you shouldn't trust him."

"What?" Gob was upset, because he thought he fixed this problem already. "Sally who?"

"Sally Sitwell."

"Sally Stickwell? Why were you talking to her?"

Tony realized that he should have said his "boyfriend" but then again, how could he explain his secret boyfriend knowing about the awkward lunch at the country club? "Uh, well, Sally and me are friends."

"You're friends?" Gob was surprised. "Oh, I thought her dad just hired you for the birthday party. I didn't know you knew her."

"Yeah, we met at a show once. Anyway, we got to talking about your family's scandal, and I tried to tell her that Michael didn't want Lindsay, and wasn't crazy, like you said, but she said I was wrong. That you were wrong."

Gob frowned. "Who cares what she thinks?"

"Well, she used to date Michael, and she says he was so crazy and neurotic."

"She's just mad because they broke up."

"But she was the one who dumped him! She says he was nuts about Maggie Lizer, and was a terrible boyfriend the whole time."

"Don't listen to her," Gob insisted. Michael was a good boyfriend, at least to him. "Like she's so great." Gob remembered Sally walking in on him once with a guy sitting on his lap and also generally avoiding him during the brief time he worked at Sitwell Housing. "Isn't she homophobic?"

"What? No. She's my friend."

Gob shrugged. "Well then, I guess she just hates all Bluths 'cause she hates Lindsay."

"Well, she likes Maeby. But I guess she's not a Bluth. But neither is Lindsay, really." He was getting distracted. "Gob, please. Let's not argue on the phone. Just come over--"

"No," Gob said. "I don't have time. I've gotta meet with Steve and then Michael's moving to a new apartment today."

"He is?" Tony was curious.

"Yeah, Lindsay found him a place, and I gotta give Michael the DVD after I get it from you. Plus, I gotta see my boyfriend tonight. Charlie," he added, looking at the passport he was making, "That's my boyfriend." Gob stopped himself from saying the whole name, so that Tony wouldn't try to look for a real maritime lawyer named Charlie Levinson.

"Oh, your boyfriend, huh?" Tony was glad to have a name for the maritime lawyer, and was happy that Gob trusted him with that much information.

"Yeah." Gob smiled and fondly remembered making love.

Tony asked cautiously, "And Charlie really trusts Michael too? He made sure that Michael wasn't just using you and lying to you about Lindsay?"

Gob insisted, "He loves me." Michael told him so many times, not just with his words, but with his eyes and his touch. The way he kept away the darkness inside him.

Tony assumed that Gob meant Charlie loved him. "I know. I just want to make sure that he's protecting you properly. That he's not just assuming that Michael's the good son, and trustworthy. I want to know that he made sure."

"Why don't you believe me?" Gob asked him. "You believed me yesterday."

"Sally told me lots of stuff I didn't know before. Like, Michael stole your girlfriend once? And you keep Boyfighting all the time."

"Not anymore," Gob said. He had been expecting a Boyfight at Sitwell's guest house, only to discover that Michael trusted him now and forgave him easily. "We taught our dad a lesson for the Boyfights. Besides, Michael already said he was sorry for stealing Marta."

"Really? That's so great," Tony said in relief. "Also, Sally said you guys once had lunch with her, her father, and Lucille Austero at the country club, and she saw you fighting. She says that Michael tried to make you admit you were dating Lucille to embarrass you and get you in trouble with Buster. Is that stuff true?"

Gob sighed and tried to explain, "Well, sort of. First Michael took Lucille 2 out in his Corvette to try to get her to sell her Bluth Company shares back to us. But then I slept with her, and she kept the shares and made me the company president again. Michael got all mad at me for messing things up."

"Oh." Tony could see the situation was a lot more complicated than Sally Sitwell said.

"Anyway, they caught me having lunch with her at the country club, and Michael wanted to embarrass me for revenge. I think he was mad too 'cause he wanted to date Sally but couldn't flirt in front of her father."

Tony was glad to have other explanations for Michael's behavior. It was still disappointing, but also understandable and human. Tony wondered if all the Bluth brothers had oedipal issues, since they had all flirted with Lucille Austero. "So it wasn't about getting you in trouble with Buster?"

"Not really. But I did make him promise not to tell anybody later."

Tony asked, "And did Michael really keep you and Charlie a secret from your family? Sally says that Michael's a terrible brother and would try to out you. If he knew about you kissing me backstage, he'd tell Charlie so that you'd get in a fight."

"No, no!" Gob said, "Michael's my friend now. He used to be mean and lie all the time, but now he's nice." Except when it came to Franklin. "He likes me now. I'm good." Gob wished he could explain that Michael loved him. That they were in love and happy.

Tony said, "I want to believe that, Gob, I do. I wanna be happy for you. But my brothers, they've fooled me so many times. I'm worried that Michael is taking advantage of you, just so you'll testify for him."

Gob said he didn't have time to discuss this now. He had to call Steve Holt about the meeting.

"All right, but we'll talk more later?"

"Later," Gob hung up and sighed, asking Franklin, "I gotta flirt with him at the Alliance meeting, don't I?"

Franklin nodded. "Just don't fuck it up."

Gob already felt guilty, and he looked at his picture of Michael sadly. "I'm sorry. I have to do this, so he'll help me keep you safe." Gob kissed the photo and then hugged it a while.

Steve Holt called him to ask when the Magician's Alliance meeting was, so Gob told him the time and said he'd meet Steve at the penthouse. "Then you can drive us in the Camaro."

"Okay, Dad! I can't wait to get into the Alliance. Steve Holt!"

Gob hung up and hoped that he could use Steve to avoid spending any time alone with Tony Wonder. Until then, he tried to distract himself by finishing the Charlie Levinson passport.

At the courthouse, Lucille's bail hearing was back in session, and the judge was deciding whether to release her to house arrest. George watched hopefully, but he had money for Lucille to go to a white collar L.I.T.E. prison if necessary.

John Haverstock argued to the judge that Lucille was not a flight risk if she got out on bail. Besides, she needed to be at home for her son Buster. He told the story about Uncle Oscar and his hippie friends smoking pot at the penthouse and getting kicked out in the morning. "Buster needs more responsible supervision, and Lucille needs her postpartum medication too."

Wayne Jarvis protested that Buster was 33 and could take care of himself.

"But he's mentally challenged, your honor! He was recently in a coma for weeks, and a lot of his brain cells died. Plus he has a hook because lost his hand to a seal, and he's an army veteran."

Haverstock's argument won the judge over, and he decided to grant bail, setting it at $250,000. Haverstock already had the money from the Bluth family's defense fund. "Great. So her house arrest can start today?"

"Yes, as long as the defendant gets an ankle bracelet and new security cameras are installed in the penthouse."

"Why can't they use the old ones from George Bluth's house arrest?"

"Because of the hijacking of the Queen Mary. Maritime law mandates that the cameras be waterproof." The judge struck his gavel to end the hearing, and people started to leave, though Lucille lingered with Haverstock to thank him.

George congratulated them, but was disappointed that Lucille was going back to Balboa Towers instead of joining him at the model home.

"It's a shithole," she said, "and someone needs to keep an eye on Buster."

"I guess so. But will you please kick Oscar out of there? Let him go back to his pot-smoking hippie friends."

"Maybe." Lucille said that she was more concerned about Buster staying the night at Lucille 2's penthouse.

"No, no," George said. "Don't worry. It's part of my plan to get Buster to steal her away from Sitwell."

Lucille didn't want Buster to date the widow Austero. "That's a stupid plan." Then as a guard started to take her away to get an ankle bracelet, she said cryptically, "Check your mail."


Haverstock also advised George to go home and get his mail. "I'll make the arrangements for my client to move back to the penthouse. Go on. Don't worry."

Meanwhile Michael was still in his hotel room when his lawyer Jan Eagleman called him.

She told him bad news about his trial, saying that she had read the audiotape transcripts made by the prosecution. "It turns out that Annyong recorded you on tape discussing the bribery, embezzlement, and conspiracy with your mother. I'm trying to get the tape thrown out as inadmissible in court, but Wayne Jarvis insists that it's allowed under the Patriot Act."

"Oh no." Michael regretted speaking that way in the penthouse. But he had no idea then that Annyong was in the walls spying on them. You could always tell a Milford man.

Jan said, "But the prosecutor offered you a plea deal anyway. You see, Jarvis doesn't just want to get your mother on embezzling these cashier's checks and hijacking the Queen Mary. That's small potatoes. He wants to convict her for all her other crimes at the Bluth Company, like racketeering, evidence tampering, fraud, and pension-robbing. If you can give credible evidence about the corruption at the company, then they'll grant you immunity and drop the charges against you."

"Oh." Michael realized that he should have been expecting this maneuver, given the long list of financial crimes that Dad got charged with, even before anyone suspected the "light treason" in Iraq. Wayne Jarvis had tried to get Michael to flip on Dad at the mock trial too.

Jan asked, "So do you have anything that we can give to the prosecution?"

"I'm not sure I really know anything." Michael told her that he was never aware of Mom secretly controlling the business in the 1990s while he was Manager and Dad kept him distracted with Boyfights. Back then, Michael thought that Mom only cared about overmothering Buster, criticizing Lindsay, catching Dad cheating, and competing with Lucille Austero. "I guess I could talk about how she was using the corporate checkbook and credit cards to buy furs, jewelry, and facelifts."

"Okay, I'll check with Jarvis about whether he'll accept that. He's in court at your mother's bail hearing right now, so we'll see how that turns out."

"Okay thanks." Michael considered telling Jan that he was moving to an apartment today, but decided to wait until after Lindsay took him there. Michael didn't know where the apartment was, after all, and might have to ask Jan to get him a cheap motel if it turned out to be unsuitable.

Lucille got out of jail and Haverstock drove her back to the penthouse. She came inside and her ankle monitor was turned on, while workers installed new security cameras. Haverstock supervised them, while Lucille reunited with her family.

Lucille expected to see Oscar and Buster, but was surprised by Steve Holt standing there and trying not to yell out his name. Instead, he held his arms down and tried to greet her with "Hey, Gangee" as Buster had advised him to do.

Lucille stared and demanded, "Who are you?"

Steve felt rejected. His maternal grandmother was no longer alive, and he had hoped to bond with his paternal grandmother now.

Buster explained that Steve Holt was Gob's son, and he just moved in last night.

"Why would you let him move in here? Where's he gonna sleep?"

Buster told her, "In my room. We still have that extra bed for Annyong."

Oscar hugged her close and tried to kiss her. "Plus we can share like we used to."

Lucille pulled away from Oscar, realizing that he still reeked like pot. "No, you're taking the couch, or you're leaving." Then she went to sit down on the couch, diving for a bunch of alcoholic drinks that Buster had made to welcome her home. "At last!" She grabbed a glass and drank like she was dying of thirst.

Steve was glad that Lucille was drinking it all. Steve was an alcoholic and had been worried that he'd be tempted by all the breakfasts Buster made after Sue went home that morning. Steve decided to go into Buster's room and rehearse with the doves some more. Buster and Oscar would try again to talk to Lucille about Steve moving in.

"I like Steve," Buster said. "I want to teach him about being a magic assistant, and I like his birds." He missed having a pet turtle Mother and remembered being excited when a bird walked on his pillow once.

"What birds?" Lucille asked while she grabbed the next glass.

Buster decided to wait a bit until his mother was more drunk. "I'll get your postpartum pills." He got up to find the medicine bottle.

Oscar came close and tried to rub her shoulders. She pushed him off, so he sat next to her and apologized for not visiting her in jail. "I'm still too afraid of cops and prisons."

"I know, Oscar. Thank you for being here for Buster, what with George running off."

"Of course. Buster's our son."

Lucille nodded and wondered whether Oscar was still hoping to resume their affair, so she clarified that if he kept staying in the penthouse, then he would have to take the couch this time. "Or else you can go home to your lemon grove."

Oscar explained, "No, I don't live there anymore, Lucille. Lately I started living on the Mexican border with my friends so we can enjoy macca root. I just came for your Queen Mary party when George invited me, and I only stayed this long because I was so worried about you in jail. But you're safe now." He sighed, "And if you're going back to George... maybe I should leave town again."

Lucille shrugged with indifference. "Stay or go. George is not coming back."

Buster returned and thought he understood what his mother meant. "Father/uncle Dad wants to stay with Lindsay now, because he's so worried about Sitwell stealing her."

Lucille nodded and told Oscar, "So if you want to stay and spend time with Buster, that's fine, or you can go back to your friends at the border."

"And you're not worried about your trial?"

She shook her head and glanced at the back of Haverstock's head. "I have a good feeling about my new lawyer." She had great confidence in Haverstock's courtroom abilities, and he also had nice hair, like Oscar used to have before it wouldn't grow back long. Lucille looked forward to Haverstock visiting her frequently to discuss her case.

Oscar said, "That's great, Lucille. I'm so relieved." He said he would head home, and gave Buster a hug goodbye.

Buster was somewhat sad to lose his father, but he thought Lucille would be more receptive to Steve Holt staying if the apartment wasn't so crowded. "You can came back for Mom's trial later."

"Sure, Buster. You can call me."

Lucille just enjoyed her drinks and took her postpartum pills.

After George got home and checked his mail, he received a notice that Lucille was suing him for divorce due to his trying to run off to Cabo. George was shocked, and he tried to call Lucille, who didn't answer.

So George called John Haverstock to complain about him being listed as Lucille's divorce lawyer. "You tricked me about getting the money from the police!"

Haverstock smiled. "After all, she is my client, not you."

"You dirty, rotten... lawyer!" George hung up in frustration and told Tobias about it. Lindsay was at work at the Bluth Company while Tobias was home working on his lines as a homeschool teacher.

Tobias looked at the divorce papers. "Wow. Lindsay will like this. She hates Lucille."

"Lucille will try to take back her birthday presents." George had hoped to smooth things over with his wife by saying he was conserving money for her legal defense. But apparently she had her own money stash. "Who knows how the shareholders will react either?" George paced the room and worried that now he had to get another lawyer to handle his divorce. He decided to use his $300,000 cash, (which he had intended to spend on Lucille in the L.I.T.E prison) to hire a lawyer, but who could he get now? Barry Zuckerkorn?

In desperation, George drove to the penthouse to visit Lucille. Haverstock and the workers had left by now.

Buster was still trying to talk to her about Steve Holt. "Lindsay said she'd pay for Lupe's wages if we let Steve move in." It was actually the same deal she'd made when she asked Buster and Oscar to let Michael move in.

"Oh, right. She's got the damn job." Lucille resented that Lindsay was now Bluth Company President; it meant that she would have to be nice to her adopted daughter for money. Lucille wanted to save her own money stash for her trial and divorce.

Interrupting them, George waved the divorce papers at his wife and pleaded with her to stop it. "I got you that lawyer, when Michael betrayed you."

Buster was shocked hearing about the divorce and started moaning. Steve Holt peeked his head out wondering what was going on.

Ignoring Buster, Lucille accused her husband of trying to run off with Kitty the whore.

George insisted that he hadn't been with Kitty since Reno. "Besides. I would never take her to Cabo. Never tell crazy all your secret hiding places."

"Then why were you trying to steal the yacht and leave for Cabo?"

He hemmed and hawed. "I didn't know that the S.E.C. would come after you. I thought you'd be fine, Lucille. I just didn't want to hang around here while you started running the company through Michael. You didn't need me anymore, and Buster is still living at the penthouse too. I didn't want to spend my retirement dealing with his hook problem."

"So you decided to cut and run."

"Come on, honey! It's like when you were going to cheat on me with Warden Gentiles. You were angry and trying to get back at me, but you changed your mind and we made up. I did want to go to Cabo, but I changed my mind after you got arrested. I realized you needed me, so I came back to stay."

"Hmph." Lucille remained skeptical and wouldn't agree to drop the divorce. She even threatened to take away the Cabo property in the divorce and then sell it.

George said, "Lucille! That place was for us to escape to, if we ever needed to take to the sea, like Barry told us." They couldn't stay on the yacht forever, especially with four kids, one of whom got seasick.

Lucille said, "I don't care. We're through, George." She got up with finality. "Now leave. I want to get some sleep." She grabbed a bottle of vodka to take to bed with her, and then she locked the bedroom door.

George stayed a little while and considered trying to enter using the balcony, but he got annoyed with Buster moaning, so he decided to go and find a lawyer.

Meanwhile, Steve came out to comfort Buster about his parents.

Chapter Text

On Monday morning, the Bluth Company employees expected the office to be stressful and frenzied due to the family's scandal, but instead they found a party under way. Standing by a "We appreciate you" banner, Lindsay greeted everyone with "Surprise!" and directed them to the room where the Christmas party took place. There were lots of banners and decorations put up, and everyone got party favors. Stan Sitwell explained that this party was to make up for the employees not being invited to the Queen Mary party or the birthday party at Sitwell's estate. "It's not just the investors who matter. It's you too."

Then Sitwell introduced Ice as the company's new full-time caterer, and he pointed out a buffet table loaded with food for everyone. While the employees helped themselves or lined up for Ice's smoothies, Sitwell gave a speech about them being so loyal and hardworking in the midst of many obstacles and scandals. This boosted the employees' morale, and everybody clapped. "So this is our way of saying thank you. Enjoy!"

After his appreciation speech, Sitwell approached Lindsay and said that hiring Ice was a good idea. The employees really seemed to enjoy the food and smoothies.

"Yes, isn't he great?" Lindsay said dreamily. She stared at Ice and wished that she could convince him to come to her office for some naughty fun. He only smiled at her, though, and remained focused on his catering. She would have to wait for their date tonight at Sitwell's guest house, when they could have more sex.

Sitwell merely nodded, pretending that he didn't know about the affair. "By the way, the guest house is all fixed up now." He gave her the new house key and alarm code.

She was pleased. "Thanks. Maybe I'll come over tonight to test it out."

"Of course. Feel free to use it whenever you wish. Try the pool." Sitwell had already told his security guards to always let Lindsay's car (and Ice's motorcycle) onto the estate.

Thinking about the guest house reminded Lindsay about the cabin in the woods. She asked how soon she could move Michael into it.

"Later this afternoon. Both trucks are delivering the cabin in Orange County, and then the construction workers are going to put the halves back together as one house."

"Good. Where in the woods are you going to dump it?"

Sitwell said, "Well, I'll give you the directions there later, but it's out near Crystal Cove State Park. See, I originally thought that place would be good for the kids' camp."

"Right." Lindsay almost forgot about the camp for the charity foundation. "They'll be fine on Catalina Island. Kids love to pet sheep."

Sitwell went on, "Anyway, the property is in a coastal canyon, northwest of the park. It's full of oak trees and chaparral shrubland."

Lindsay didn't really care about the habitat. She asked, "Are there lots of wild animals there?"

"Yes, I think some do occasionally wander out of the State Park. Animals don't know human boundaries after all."

"Great." Lindsay hoped there would be wolves, to help teach Michael a lesson. After all, a wolf had been spotted in Newport Beach a couple of years ago, and maybe wolves were more abundant near the state park.

Now Sitwell talked to her about the plans to distract the paparazzi from Michael's hotel today. Lindsay had confided in him about needing to pick up Michael unobserved. She also wanted to get Tobias out of the house, so that he wouldn't fight with George Sr. or constantly rehearse his homeschool teacher part. Sitwell offered to help by asking Argyle's gay friends to meet Tobias at the staircar and do a gay rights protest near the hotel to distract attention. Lindsay liked that idea, and Tobias had agreed to do it.

After Sitwell told her that everything was now arranged with Argyle's friends, Lindsay went back to her office to call Tobias, to remind him to bring the staircar that afternoon.

"Yeah, I'll be ready." Tobias was looking forward to seeing Dale the nurse again. They first met at his booksigning for The Man Inside Me, and Dale had given him a ride to the hospital. Now Tobias wanted to try coming out to someone else besides Lindsay, and he hoped Dale could be that someone.

"Good." Lindsay hung up, then looked up the Crystal Cove State Park on her computer. The local wildlife included bobcats, coyotes, and skunks, along with many species of birds and reptiles. In fact, there were numerous rattlesnakes on the website, and she was sure that Michael would hate living in the cabin, just like she hated the wildlife at the Wetlands.

Lindsay rejoined the party for a while to have a smoothie and try to get Ice to dance with her. But he still wouldn't flirt with her on the job, so she went back to her office and found that she had a message from her father. Lindsay assumed that it was simply news about Lucille's bail hearing, so she braced herself and called him back. "Did the judge let her out, or send her to prison?" Lindsay had her fingers crossed for prison, because she was not eager for her critical mother to be free.

George replied, "Out, but it's not good." He told Lindsay about the divorce, and that he was trying to hire a lawyer. "But everybody's saying no, so I guess I gotta find Barry in Reno." That was the last place that George had seen Barry Zuckerkorn, when Michael fired him.

"Oh," Lindsay was surprised, but not upset by the divorce. She asked eagerly, "So we can throw her out of the family, maybe?"

George said, "No, Lindsay. We need Lucille on our side. If she flips on us, she could testify against me at her trial and put me back in prison."

"What? No!" Lindsay didn't want to lose her father, especially because of her awful mother.

"And she might take back your birthday presents," he warned.

Lindsay gasped and clutched the necklace she was wearing. "Why does she have to ruin everything?"

"It's not her. It's her slimy lawyer Haverstock. That bastard's talked her into saving herself and throwing the rest of us under the bus."

"And that's why she's divorcing you now?" Instead of years ago when she discovered him cheating with various women.

"Uh, yeah." George had not explained to Lindsay that he intended to flee to Cabo, and that Lucille had proof of it. "It's so she can testify against me, I bet, and he wants the divorce fees. But I'm not giving up without a fight, so that's why I'm leaving town to find Barry."

"You really think he's still in Reno?"

George shrugged as he was packing his bags for a few days in Reno. "Well if he's not, I could try to hire some other lawyer out there, I guess." Maybe Kitty would still be there too. He hadn't seen his crazy mistress and ex-secretary since Reno either. Perhaps she would still be devoted to him and willing to help him out if he promised to give her control of the Bluth Company once he and Lindsay voted Sitwell out.

"Well, are you flying there or driving?" Lindsay wanted to know if he would take the car out of town, or need money for plane tickets.

"I'll drive the Mercedes. Anyway, honey, you just keep spying on Sitwell for me and report to me anything important while I'm gone."

"Okay. Good luck." Lindsay was glad that her father wouldn't be home to fight with Tobias for a while. "I'll let you know if Mom and her lawyer do anything too."


At noon, Gob rode his Segway to the penthouse, to meet Steve Holt so they could go to the Gothic Castle for the Magician's Alliance meeting. When he arrived, he saw Steve sitting with Buster at the dining table, and trying to get him to eat lunch.

Gob came over and said, "Hey, Busty. What's wrong?" He looked rather depressed. "Mom didn't get out of jail?"

"No, she did," Steve said, "But she's getting a divorce from Pop-pop."

"What?" Gob was stunned and looked at Buster, who nodded.

Steve got up and excused himself to go get ready for the Alliance meeting.

Gob took a seat at the table and began nibbling at the food that Buster didn't eat.

Buster sighed and told Gob about Mom arriving for her house arrest, Oscar leaving for Mexico, and George coming over later to complain about the divorce. "They had a fight. Mom says that father/uncle Dad tried to escape to Cabo with Kitty." Buster didn't yet mention the fact that Lucille threatened to sell the Cabo property, because he didn't think it was important.

Gob absorbed this news and asked where Mom was now.

"In her room with a bottle of vodka. She hasn't called for lunch yet, so I think she might be asleep."

"Oh, well that's good," Gob said. He pat Buster's shoulder sympathetically, "Maybe she'll change her mind after she wakes up. Dad's always managed to talk Mom out of divorce before whenever she caught him cheating. Maybe he'll buy her a new fur or something, and she won't go through with it."

Buster tried to have hope, but remained worried because Mom actually got a divorce lawyer and officially started legal proceedings this time.

Steve returned, dressed up nicely to meet the magicians at the Gothic Castle, and he remarked, "Dad, Gangee didn't like me moving in here. I might have to ask if Lucille 2 will let me stay across the hall a couple of nights while I find someplace else to go."

Now Gob got worried that Steve would try to move in with him on the yacht. "Maybe I could talk to her or something." Mom never liked him, but sometimes if he bothered her enough, she would do things for him, like buying the Aztec Tomb.

Steve was happy that Gob seemed to care about him and want to do stuff for him, so he hugged his father again.

Gob was uncomfortable and pulled away, hurrying over to Lucille's bedroom. He knocked at the door and called out, "Mom? Are you awake?"

Inside, Lucille stirred, but was far too comfortable in her bed to get up, especially for her least favorite child. "Go away, Gob."

"But I wanna talk to you about Steve Holt. Can't you let him stay, please?"

Lucille had almost forgotten about Gob's son. "Why don't you send him back to his own mother? Or let him stay on the yacht with you?"

Gob said, "Come on, you let me stay here once when Marta kicked me out." Although Gob didn't really stay the whole three days that Lucille agreed to give him. Mom had asked him to zip up her dress, and Gob found it macabre. "Besides, Buster likes Steve and needs somebody to cheer him up about the divorce."

"Oh, he told you about that? Don't worry, Gob. No one's fighting over you."

Gob felt hurt and annoyed, so he left her alone and returned to Steve and Buster. "Sorry, Steve. I'll try again later. We have to get to the meeting right now."

Steve understood. "Okay. Thanks for trying, Dad." He turned to Buster, and said, "I'll be back soon."

Gob suggested, "Maybe you can go tell Lucille 2 about the divorce, and she can cheer you up. Bye, Busty." So Gob and Steve left the penthouse together.

Buster did kind of want to talk to Lucille Austero, but he wondered if Lindsay and Tobias knew about the divorce yet. Maybe he should call them first. So he closed the door and went back inside for the phone.

Now that Buster was alone, Lupe came out of the kitchen and tried to encourage him to eat again. She also pointed out that Buster's father had often threatened to kick him out of the penthouse, so he should be glad about the divorce.

"I guess so." Buster finally agreed to eat a little, and he called Tobias, only to learn that he already heard about the divorce.

Meanwhile, Lucille realized that she was hungry now, so she called for Lupe to come bring her some lunch.

"Yes, Missus." Lupe went to make a lunch tray.

Lucille asked Buster to come into her bedroom via the balcony and unlock the door for Lupe. She still didn't want to get up from the bed.

Meanwhile, Gob and Steve rode the elevator down to the parking garage, and he told Steve various things he could say to win Lucille over.

"Offer to zip up her dresses for her. Buster can't do it right with his hook now. Or say that you'll bid on her at the next bachelorette auction. She'll give you the money to bid." Both Gob and Buster had bid on the wrong Lucille the past couple of years.

"Okay, Dad."

Leaving the elevator, they soon found Steve's Camaro and got into it, with Steve driving.

On the way to the Gothic Castle, Gob asked how Steve's date went last night.

Steve grinned. "It was great. Sue doesn't care that her mom and dad got mad at her for still dating me." She wanted to rebel from her parents. "She was impressed that I got an autograph from Tony Wonder and that I'm joining the Magician's Alliance today. If we have a show at the Gothic Castle, she wants to come."

"Oh, that's good." Sue would keep Steve busy. "Anyway, about the meeting today, you'll have to wait outside the room with the other assistants until after I'm voted back in. Then we'll call for you and you'll get approved too."

"Sure, Dad. Maybe I can make friends with the other assistants while I'm waiting."

"Yeah, then you can hang out with me and Tony Wonder for a while before you head back home." That way he wouldn't be alone with Tony.

"Cool! Maybe you'll give me a tour of the Castle and I can take pictures of me there to show Sue next time."

"Right. Whatever you want."

When they arrived at the Gothic Castle and parked the car, Steve got out and shouted, "Steve Holt!" excitedly.

Then they went inside, and for a moment Gob savored finally being let in without having to wear a mask. Steve looked around the place in awe, and noticed some posters of magicians. "Wow. I wonder if they still have your posters."

Before Gob could answer, there was a puff of smoke and glitter, and Tony Wonder appeared. "Did somebody say Wonder?" He handed over his present to Gob and tried to hug him.

Gob felt worried about his closeness, and he pulled back to unwrap the present. "Uh, thanks." He was surprised that Tony autographed them all.

Steve was impressed by Tony's appearance, and he felt glad that his father was friends with Tony Wonder now. "Can I see?"

Gob handed all the DVDs to his son, "Sure. You can hold these for me while I'm in the meeting."

"Okay, Dad."

Tony Wonder then pointed Steve toward a table where the magic assistants were sitting and having drinks. "Are you 21 yet?" He wasn't sure that Steve would be allowed to be in the bar.

"Yeah, I am."

"Good." Then Tony pointed out his assistant Darryl, who looked annoyed. "Darryl, this is Steve. Take care of him until I get back."

Steve hurried to join Darryl and the other assistants. He put the DVDs down on a table for a moment so he could raise his fists and cheer "Steve Holt!"

Meanwhile Tony went with Gob to the office for the Alliance meeting. Tony leaned near to confide that he yelled at Darryl this morning for telling on him to Rollo.

Gob felt very aware of his crush on Tony, and he wished that Tony didn't have to look so cute with his spiky hair and his pink beard. Gob could even smell that Tony had been smoking a lot recently, and it made him wonder what kissing Tony right now would taste like.

Dismissing the thought, Gob entered the office and saw the whole Magician's Alliance for the first time in a couple of years. There were a few new members since he last saw the group, such as Tony Wonder and some woman named Morgana who now had posters in the room.

Rollo was angry to see Gob, and tried to kick him out, but Tony stopped him. "I invited him."

"You can't invite him! He's banned. He shouldn't even be in the Castle."

Peitros the Wizard spoke up and said, "Gob can stay, with a clause of silence." He had picked up the phrase from Tony Wonder. "All in favor?" He raised his hand, and most of the other members raised theirs in agreement as well.

Rollo was surprised and annoyed. "Fine. You sit there." He made Gob sit with Tony in the middle of the room, separate from everyone else. "Let's get this meeting started." Rollo went to take his own seat at the big desk.

Tony sat close to Gob and patted his hand to reassure him that all was going well. Gob stared at Tony's hand and was tempted to entwine their fingers. Funny, he didn't like holding hands before Michael started doing it with him lately. It was one of the ways that Michael showed that he loved him.

Rollo said, "In fact, I called this meeting because you invited Gob to your show on Saturday night. Not only did you dedicate the show to him, you said that he's your friend and danced with him onstage."

Monsieur Crimson, who always wore a red silk shirt, said with a shrug, "Tony was hired for Lindsay Bluth's birthday party. Of course Gob was invited to his sister's party."

Rollo complained, "But Tony shouldn't have done all the rest of the stuff at the show. We should vote him out."

Morgana argued, "He was welcoming Gob home from his USO tour. You have to admit, nobody knows how he escaped that prison in Iraq."

"Morgana!" Rollo thought that she would be on his side, since he invited her to be the first female magician in the Alliance. Previously, women had only been magic assistants.

Peitros said, "We should revisit the decision to blackball Gob in the first place. It was a mistake."

"What? No." Rollo insisted, "The Aztec Tomb was on TV."

Tony said, "But it was the news reporter who showed it, not Gob. The rule is about us members revealing secrets, and she only found out because the police dogs found Gob's father."

Thrombor the Terrible asked, "Who knew police boats had dogs?"

Gregorio the Quiet Storm didn't say anything, but nodded in agreement with Thrombor. He thought dogs couldn't sniff anything in water.

Jazreel said, "Besides, Gob did the Aztec Tomb trick at that retirement home, and he ended up rescuing Earl Milford."

Rollo pointed out, "Earl Milford died."

"That was an accident," Tony said, "and the autopsy helped prove the abuses at the retirement home. It got shut down and all the other residents were rescued."

Many of the members murmured approvingly about all the great things Gob did. Gregorio continued to nod while shuffling his deck of cards.

Rollo pouted and realized that this was why Tony invited Gob to the meeting, to turn everybody against him. "No, we can't vote Gob back in. Remember how his ex-Legs assistant said that Gob revealed the Saw the Lady in Half trick at a kids' pizza parlor?"

Monsieur Crimson responded, "But she could have been lying because she was jealous about Gob cheating on her." Everyone knew about Gob's promiscuous behavior from when he founded the Alliance. Also, the members had looked the other way when Tony Wonder had both Tiagra and his brother's widow Candida for magic assistants; the women knew about each other, after all, so what was the point in interfering?

Rollo said, "But then Gob performed the trick at Gothic Castle using his nephew and his girlfriend. Come on, you guys agreed with me then to keep him out."

Peitros shrugged, saying, "I've changed my mind. Everybody knows the Saw-the-lady-in-half trick, and Gob needed last minute replacements because his Legs didn't show up. It was the best he could do."

Morgana said, "Plus he did that great Sword of Destiny show with his brother Buster. All the how-dey-do-dats loved it."

"He shouldn't have tricked his way into the Gothic Castle, with the mask. Besides, Gob's second show was a disaster, and he had a real accident."

Tony insisted, "That goof was his assistant's fault. He's always had unreliable assistants. Hopefully with his son now, things will be better."

"Yes, I can't wait to meet Gob's son, Steve," Jazreel said.

Rollo turned to Tony, and accused, "You invited him here, too!"

"Yeah," Tony said defiantly. "We're gonna vote him in too." He stood up and tried to begin a vote on letting Gob back in.

Rollo stood up too and interrupted. "No, we should vote you out for going behind my back like this. You were warned about this before, Tony!" Darryl had told Rollo when Tony tried to get Gob back in after the Sword of Destiny. Rollo squashed the plans, and Tony got caught up in his legal troubles with getting his DVD title approved.

Tony dared him, "Just you try it!"

Gregorio pulled at Rollo to sit down and motioned for him to be quiet. Sometimes Rollo got very annoyed with Gregorio's mime/cards act.

Monsieur Crimson said, "No, we like Tony. Whenever he performs at the Gothic Castle, he always brings a crowd."

Thrombor added, "After his big show on Saturday, maybe even more people will come to the Gothic Castle tonight."

Rollo got annoyed. "If you let Gob back in, we'll just attract people interested in his family's scandals. Not people who want to see the magic."

Peitros shrugged. "So what? Lots of people came to Gob's shows just to see him dance with the scarves, and hold the knife in his mouth." It certainly wasn't for the card tricks, which Gob never learned to do right, even when Gregorio tried to practice with him.

Reminded of all the magic groupies Gob attracted, Rollo said, "He learned all those dance moves as a stripper. He's not a real magician."

Morgana scoffed. "Lots of magic assistants perform in skimpy outfits." She tried to at least balance things out by having male assistants wear skimpy clothes during her act. Morgana's shows often got spillover interest from Tony Wonder's gay fans. "Sex sells."

Jazreel argued, "Gob is our founder, the first one to say that we should form a local group instead of relying on groups in other cities. You didn't have a problem joining up when Gob started this Alliance."

Rollo pouted. "So you mean all of you want to vote him back in?"

Gregorio nodded, while Thrombor said, "Gob did that amazing escape in Iraq."

Tony grinned and pointed out that everybody wanted to let Gob back in last year, after the Sword of Destiny.

Rollo said, "I thought you guys only wanted to vote Gob back in out of pity because his fingers were cut off. He might have to retire from magic and work at his family's company for good. So you were gonna let him have one last hurrah on Tony Wonder's DVD."

Gob frowned to hear this and looked at the members with worry. Was Tony wrong about their votes? Was it just pity that they felt?

"No it wasn't pity," Peitros said. "We wanted him to recover and do the Sword of Destiny at the Gothic Castle again. But I guess he didn't want to work with Buster anymore after the accident with the sword."

Thrombor shrugged. "Who could blame him? Two Poof Goofs because of his assistant."

Tony said, "Plus I just got distracted about my DVD, 'cause the lawyers wouldn't let me keep the Use Your Allusion title." He regretfully put an arm around Gob and told him he was sorry he didn't come see Gob in the hospital.

Gob was shy about Tony touching him, so he just glanced away and mumbled, "It's okay." He'd forgotten about the clause of silence, and nobody bothered to shush him.

Rollo asked, "If you guys wanted him back in, then why didn't you ask for another vote last year?"

Morgana said, "We didn't know how long Gob would need to recover from Buster cutting off his fingers." They all dreaded that kind of injury, especially Gregorio, whose act mostly featured cards. "Maybe he had to keep practicing to get back his magic touch in his fingers."

Monsieur Crimson added, "Plus you got into that big fight with Tony, about him going behind your back. I kept thinking that we should ban Darryl from being an assistant because he told Tony's secrets, but you said the rule doesn't apply like that."

Jazreel said, "We should have voted Gob back in after that great Free Chicken show by the courthouse."

"Yeah," Thrombor agreed. "But Gob seemed all busy with his family's company, and his dad's trial."

"And then he went on that tour in Iraq! If only there was video of the escape!"

Rollo could see that the other members still loved and admired Gob no matter what, and it made him depressed.

Tony said, "So come on, let's vote Gob back in, already." He raised his hand and asked, "All in favor?"

Everybody but Rollo raised their hands, and Rollo asked pitifully, "Wait, what about me? You're not putting him in charge again?" He feared that he would be kicked out and they would retake that photo with Gob standing in front of the Alliance.

Tony shook his head. "No Gob's going to be busy with my DVD and his new father-son act. I don't care if you stay, as long as you don't get in the way."

The other members murmured and decided that Rollo could stay the head of the Alliance, if he was willing to listen more to them.

"All right." Rollo said in defeat, "Fine, Gob is back in the Magician's Alliance."

"Yes!" Gob got up excitedly and told everybody thank you. He felt just as great as the day that he and Michael taught their father a lesson for the Boyfights.

Tony laughed and said, "Welcome back." He went to hug Gob.

"Uh, thanks." Gob blushed at the embrace and could smell him again. He wanted to kiss Tony, and decided to give in to temptation. After all, he was supposed to be flirting with Tony, for the sake of Michael's prison escape. So he kissed Tony's cheek cautiously and tried to imagine he was just kissing Michael, but Tony was shorter than Michael, and Gob could feel his W-beard too. Why did he have to be so cute?

Tony didn't pull away, thinking that gay guys were more affectionate than straight guys, so he should go along with the kiss. Besides, it felt kind of nice.

All the other magicians glanced curiously at their lingering embrace. They whispered that maybe Gob was dating Tony now. That was why they danced together at Tony's show.

Rollo was rather annoyed by this gossiping, and he cleared his throat loudly to get their attention. "Are we done now?"

Tony finally let go and turned. "No, we have to vote Gob's son in." He hurried out the door to call to Darryl to bring Steve Holt.

Meanwhile, Gob moved his chair to join the rest of the Alliance members. They took turns shaking his hand or patting his arm to welcome him back.

Tony soon returned with Steve, and introduced him to the Alliance.

Steve was somewhat starstruck by all the great magicians, and he was pleased to see Gob sitting with them. "This is so great, Dad."

Tony said, "Gob, come on, swear him in. He's your kid, after all."

"Oh. Okay." So he stood up, and Rollo gave him the magician's book that they used for swearing in.

Gob held the book out to Steve and made Steve put his hand on it. Then Gob tried to remember the oath he had originally made up when he founded the Alliance, but he kept stumbling on the words, and Rollo had to grudgingly correct him.

Steve stammered too as he repeated the oath, swearing to never reveal a magician's secret. Finally, he finished the oath, and then the magicians approved him with a vote. Steve cheered, "Steve Holt!"

Gob gave the book back, then the meeting was over. Everybody started leaving, though some stopped to congratulate Steve Holt and said they hoped to see the father-son act soon.

Steve asked, "When can we do a show here, Dad?"

"Not yet. You have to practice some more, and I'm busy tonight. Maybe later this week, if the schedule's open."

"Okay. Can I have a tour of the Castle now?"

"Sure." Gob gladly started to leave the room with his son, while Tony tagged along.

Chapter Text

Back at the Bluth Company, Sitwell told Lindsay that the cabin in the woods was all ready now and gave her the keys and the directions there.

"Great!" She hugged him and waved goodbye as she left the office. In the elevator, Lindsay called Michael to let him know that she would pick him up soon. She told him to check out of the hotel now, so they could leave in a hurry.

"Okay." Michael said that he would wait for her in the parking garage, so that he wouldn't have to hang around the hotel lobby for too long. "Oh, do you have a bike rack on your car?"

"A bike rack?"

"Yeah, I want to take my bicycle with me to the apartment." Actually it was George Michael's bike, which Michael had brought along when he first moved into the hotel.

"I don't have time to get a bike rack." Lindsay was so annoyed by her whiny brother.

"Ask if Sitwell has one you can borrow. He's always doing those charity bike race fundraisers." Sitwell liked these races because he could strap on a bike helmet and not have to worry about his fake hair flying away in the wind.

"Okay, fine, I'll ask him. Just be ready to go." She hung up to call Sitwell, not wanting to go back up in the elevator. Unfortunately, his bike rack was on a different car at his estate, and Lindsay was feeling too lazy to go pick it up and attach it to her car. She said, "Never mind" and just continued to the Bluth Company parking lot to find her Lexus. She didn't have time for Michael's nuisance demands.

Getting into her car, Lindsay called Tobias to tell him to create his distraction at the hotel now. Then she put on a wig and dark glasses so she wouldn't be recognized by paparazzi, and she drove away.

Soon Tobias drove to the hotel in the staircar and parked near the crowd of reporters, who were somewhat curious about the arrival of a Bluth--well technically a Fünke. They started to take pictures and pepper him with questions about the scandal, but Tobias waved them away and honked the horn to make them back off.

He seemed to be waiting for someone, and they hoped that Michael Bluth would come down from his hotel room and meet with his brother-in-law. So they eagerly waited, with some cameras watching the hotel lobby and some watching Tobias, who rolled up his windows and wouldn't talk to anybody.

Then Dale the nurse arrived in a car with several gay friends, including Argyle Austero. They all got out of the car, and Tobias happily went over to greet Dale while everyone else opened the car trunk to get the protest signs.

"Hi, Dale," Tobias said somewhat shyly, even though they saw each other recently at the party at Sitwell's estate. That was before he came out, though.

"Hey," Dale said, feeling sad and concerned for Tobias ever since he heard from Sitwell that Tobias was in the closet. He wanted to help Tobias come out, but knew he should tread carefully, from what Argyle said about men who stayed in denial for decades.

Meanwhile, Argyle passed out the signs and sent everybody to go stand on the staircar where they could be seen. Tobias hardly noticed the signs, and just went along with Dale so they could stand close together on the stairs.

Argyle held up a sign showing a picture of Lucille Bluth with a big X over her face. Instead of just having a gay rights protest, Argyle had convinced his friends to protest Lucille Bluth hijacking the Queen Mary and trying to blame the Hot Sailors for her crime. Many signs supported the strippers, or just "Freedom" in general.

But Argyle also reused some signs from years ago when he protested Lucille's offensive Balboa Bay Window magazine cover, in which she pretend-married Buster in a gorilla costume. Argyle was still mad about that, though he confused Buster for Michael. The signs showed the magazine cover with captions like, "No friend to gays!" and "Down with Bluths!"

Dale felt slightly worried that Tobias would be offended on behalf of the Bluth family, so he tried to quietly apologize for it. "I couldn't talk him out of it."

"Huh?" Tobias finally glanced at the signs and realized what they said, but he shrugged it off. What with Lucille divorcing George, and Lindsay always hating her mother, Tobias assumed that Lindsay had approved the anti-Lucille protest. "She is really mean," he said.

Dale felt relieved and smiled. Waving their signs together, he and Tobias joined in the protest chants led by Argyle Austero.

The paparazzi were certainly surprised and confused by Tobias chanting "Down with Bluths!" while standing on the Bluth Company staircar. So they took pictures of the strange protest, and Trisha Thoon asked Tobias why he was participating. He replied that these guys were his friends, and so were the Hot Sailors, who were fine, upstanding citizens. Tobias explained that he hired the Hot Sailors for the Queen Mary party, and they were normally known as Hot Cops. He rambled on about the Tobias is Queen Mary nightclub that he used to own, and how the Hot Cops got shot confronting gang members. "They were so brave!" He spoke in his usual suggestive way, making the whole thing sound surreal.

Some reporters also recognized Argyle Austero from many elegant parties he threw with his wealthy sister. Trisha asked Argyle why they were protesting at this hotel instead of at Balboa Towers where Lucille was under house arrest. Argyle answered that Michael was here at this hotel, and he gestured to the magazine cover of Buster in the gorilla costume. "They both belong back in prison!"

Trisha tried to correct Argyle, that he mistook Buster for Michael, but Argyle couldn't believe that his sister Lucille would still like Buster if he posed for this magazine cover.

It was quite a hot mess, so the paparazzi were too distracted to notice when Lindsay drove up in her Lexus. She briefly glimpsed the protest across the street, but didn't stop to read the signs. She ducked her car into the hotel's parking garage, and kept driving around until she spotted Michael sitting on the bicycle, with his luggage nearby.

Lindsay waved to him and took off her dark glasses, so he would recognize her, then she pulled up to the curb and opened the car trunk.

"Nice car," he said, expecting her to gloat about her expensive Lexus, as she had said she was going to do.

"Better than the car you gave me," she said somewhat spitefully, but she gestured at him to go put his stuff in the trunk already, before somebody spotted them.

Michael started to go to the back, but was disappointed to see no bike rack. "Sitwell didn't give you one?"

"I didn't have time to get it," Lindsay said. "Just put it into the trunk."

Michael tried, but the bicycle didn't fit, and he said, "Well, we could put it in the backseat if we open a window or something." Steve Holt's car didn't have a bike rack either, and Michael remembered that they had just stuffed the bicycle in the back seat on the way to the hotel. So he put only his luggage into the trunk, closed it, and then opened the door to put the bicycle into the back seat. He got in and rolled down a window while he tried to balance the bicycle and tie it to the seat belts so it wouldn't slide around or fall out of the car. Lindsay had already left a blanket back there.

Getting impatient, Lindsay told him to stay there in the backseat with the bike. "You have to duck down so nobody sees you while I drive away."

"What?" Michael had assumed that he could ride in the front passenger seat, but now that he thought about it, Lindsay was right that somebody might see them together and follow them from the hotel. "Oh all right." Michael sighed and crouched down, trying to get comfortable as he covered himself with the blanket and held onto the bicycle which partly leaned out the window.

"Finally!" Locking the doors, Lindsay put her dark glasses on again, and drove them out of the parking garage, still unseen by the paparazzi.

Due to the open car window, Michael could hear Tobias's "Down with Bluths" protest, and he tried to ask about it. "Is that part of your plan?"

Lindsay shushed him and turned on the radio to cover. After they drove out of earshot of the hotel, she told Michael the protest didn't matter as long as it distracted people. "Tobias is bonding with his gay friends. Maybe he'll meet someone."

Michael was surprised that Lindsay was resigned to Tobias being gay, and that she wasn't acting jealous or hurt anymore. But she was probably trying to have an affair again. So he shrugged it off, at least as much as he could shrug in his position.

Lindsay drove toward the highway, so she could cross the bridge over Newport Bay.

Michael felt uncomfortable and bored, asking when he could sit up.

"Stay down. We're still passing lots of people."

Michael sighed and partly pushed the blanket aside so he could look at her in the rearview mirror. "At least turn off the radio."

"Oh you don't like it, Michael? It's satellite radio," she bragged, but turned it off. She glanced at Michael in the mirror. "You never got me anything but that horrible cabin car with the banjo in the closet."

"We didn't have any money for a real car."

"You bought yourself a Corvette when the stock was unfrozen!"

Well, she was right about that, so he didn't protest.

She went on complaining, "You promised me a car, remember? For getting Johnny Bark out of the tree so you could bulldoze it. But you never kept your promise, Michael, and you didn't even give me the Corvette after you were done with it."

"I had to sell it to Sitwell," he said. "To pay for my bid at the auction. Besides, Dad gave you plenty of cars, didn't he?" Michael spoke bitterly, "He even bought you that Fiero while you lived in Boston!"

She lied, "No, I won that car on--"

"Lindsay, come on! Gob already told me the truth about the cars. I worked so hard and never got one company car in thirteen years!"

Lindsay said, "Well Dad was mad at you for rejecting that yellow banana car in high school, so he was teaching you a lesson about being ungrateful. Be glad he didn't use the one-armed man for that." They both shuddered slightly at the memory of numerous lessons featuring J. Walter Weatherman. "Anyway, who cares if Dad didn't give you a car? Gob gave you his old Ford Mustang, didn't he?" That was Gob's car before Dad bought him the fancier Camaro.

"Yeah," Michael said, smiling a little about how unselfish Gob was. He wondered if Gob was back in the Magician's Alliance yet.

Lindsay said, "Then when you moved back home, you didn't need a car because you drove Dad to work everyday in his Mercedes."

Michael pouted. "He made me drive him. He always used that time to complain about Tracey and tell me that I should get divorced."

She scoffed. "Mom and Dad did that to me about Tobias all the time. If you didn't like it, then you should have just moved to Phoenix like you were always threatening to do."

Michael sighed and remembered several times trying to pack up his family into the car to go. But the car was Gob's car, and Michael could never drive far before giving up because Tracey said that they couldn't uproot George Michael in the middle of the school year. So Michael would stop the car and Tracey would calm him down and listen to his frustrations about his family. Then she would suggest taking a vacation or visiting her family for a while to get away from the stress. He would feel better and drive home, then Tracey would tell him she would finish her degree and get a job that could support them, so he could go back to law school. It was a nice fantasy for a while, but the next day Michael would apologize to his parents for trying to quit the family, and Dad would tell him "family first" while insulting Tracey. Things would go back to normal, or at least the Bluth version of normal, until the next time that Michael got fed up with his crazy family and cried Phoenix.

Lindsay pointed out, "Sure, Dad gave me cars, but he never gave me money for my business ideas, you know. I had to ask you instead." She had appealed to their bond as twins, not knowing yet that she was adopted.

Michael remembered loaning his sister money for her Mommy What Will I Look Like and Dip-a-Pet businesses, both of which failed. Their 2002 fight over Lindsay "wasting" his money had led to them not speaking to each other for a year.

Lindsay said, "Dad never supported me in business. He supported you." She thought Michael was such a spoiled favorite son.

Michael realized that he had been judgmental and self-involved. He felt guilty enough to say, "Sorry. At least Sitwell supports you now."

She nodded, but felt a little guilty about liking it when Sitwell was fatherly to her. Both he and Lucille Austero had been very helpful to her lately.

They drove on in silence, and Lindsay turned the radio back on. After a while Michael asked again, "Can I sit up now?"


"Please, Lindsay! It's uncomfortable."

"Oh, all right." They weren't downtown anymore and not many people would see them now. She slowed down so that Michael could get up from underneath the bike.

Michael stretched out in the backseat and looked around, realizing how far they'd gone along the Pacific Coast Highway. "Are we leaving the city? I thought this apartment was--"

"No, no, we're still in the city," she assured him. She said his new place was in Newport Coast, a neighborhood that was annexed to Newport Beach only in 2002, so he was lucky that it was within city limits after all.

Michael blinked in confusion. Newport Coast was a very upscale, exclusive area. There were some apartments to rent, but there were also fancy condos, beachfront villas, and private estates owned by celebrities such as John Beard. "What? Lindsay, the rent will be too high for me to afford."

"No there won't be any rent, Michael." She lied, "It's, um, a piece of property that Sitwell acquired to develop green living. You can test it out."

"Really? You built a house so soon?" He began to dread that it might be a fake house like the one they built for the ribbon cutting ceremony.

"More like relocated. You could say it's prefabricated." She told him to close his eyes or lie down again, because she wanted to surprise him.

He reluctantly closed his eyes and put his head against the bike that he still had to hold. Michael had heard of modular, prefabricated buildings that were constructed elsewhere then assembled like a puzzle on site. Maybe it would be okay, especially if he didn't have to pay rent. But he worried about what Lindsay meant by "green living." He tried to hope for the best, though. Surely the local homeowner's association would veto anything too radical and weird in Newport Coast.

Lindsay felt excited about teaching Michael a lesson. She kept following the directions that Sitwell gave her for the cabin, and soon they left the highway to go inland on Newport Coast Drive, climbing into the hills and canyons.

She drove past some luxury townhomes, golf courses, and million-dollar mansions. Then she found the fresh dirt road made by the Bluth Company trucks that delivered the cabin today. She followed it into the woods, then parked her Lexus in a clearing. Pleased to see the cabin, she shut off the engine and glanced back at Michael. "Don't look yet!" she warned.

She got out out of the car and went to help Michael set aside the bicycle with his eyes still closed. Taking his arm, she led him from the car and stood him in front of the cabin, just like she remembered Michael taking her to see the cabin car.

"All right, you can look now."

Michael finally opened his eyes and stared in disbelief. "That's not--?"

"It sure is."

Michael stood there in shock. He'd never seen the cabin whole and on the ground before. He hadn't seen either half of the cabin since his breakup with Rita months ago, when he sent a Bluth Company crew to drive the cabin car to Oscar's lemon grove near Camp Pendleton. They unloaded it from the truck and reunited it with the other half of the cabin, which had finally been found after it went missing for several weeks after leaving Lake Tahoe.

(Michael figured that Uncle Oscar might need a nicer place to stay than his old trailer, and that he deserved it since George got him locked in prison for months. Michael didn't know that Oscar had decided to move to the Mexican border, and didn't ever return to his lemon grove to discover Michael's gift.)

Now apparently the cabin had been returned to Orange County, and Michael realized that Lindsay had been lying about giving him an apartment. Talk about green living!

Feeling smug and triumphant, Lindsay gave Michael the keys to the house. "There. You were right, Michael. I got a live-in after all."

"Live-in?" Michael frowned and finally glanced around at the remote location, surrounded by trees and hills. He had no idea where he was. "You wouldn't really leave me here."

"Yes I would." She walked away to open the car trunk and get his luggage out of the Lexus.

"Lindsay!" He could see that she was getting revenge for the cabin car, but he hoped that she wasn't serious about the prank. "I didn't do anything this bad to you. I came to save you from the Wetlands." Even though he gave up looking for her after two seconds.

"Well I wouldn't have gone to the Wetlands if you didn't tell me that I wasn't charitable!" She dumped his bags on the ground and shut the car trunk.

He asked, "How did you even find the cabin?" He didn't tell her or anyone else in the family where he sent the cabin. Nor did they really care, except to ask if Michael could buy them a real car instead.

Lindsay explained the story as Sitwell told it to her. "I didn't find it; the marines did. Yeah, apparently they didn't like the cabin being in Oscar's lemon grove at Camp Pendleton. It got in the way of their tank maneuvers, and they said that nobody was allowed to build on that property anyway."

"Oh." Michael forgot about the easement.

Lindsay went to get the bicycle now. "So they tried to find Oscar at first to tell him to get rid of the cabin, but they couldn't find him, and they tried to contact the Bluth Company, to ask if we knew where he was. I guess you didn't see it 'cause you were upset about breaking up with Rita, and then you got all mother-obsessed during the Bluth Foundation gala.

Michael vaguely recalled seeing an envelope with a Camp Pendleton address, but he had assumed it was a thank you note from Oscar and set it aside. Being self-involved, he soon forgot about it with the Boyfighting over the banana stands, and eventually he must have lost it, possibly when Gob overturned his desk to practice his testimony for the mock trial.

Lindsay said with a shrug, "They wondered for a while if Oscar disappeared because of Dad switching places with him in prison. So the marines handed it over to some government lawyer to track him down, but they had no luck either and decided to sell it at auction, on the condition that whoever bought it had to move it somewhere else. So the cabin got split up again, and they were trying to get it listed for sale when Mom hijacked the Queen Mary. In the news, Oscar was mentioned being on the ship, so the lawyer sent another letter to the Bluth Company warning that Oscar had to pay fines and move the cabin, or they would sell it to somebody. Sitwell realized which cabin they meant and told me about it." She gestured to the cabin with a smile. "And I knew just what to do with it."

"And now you're dumping me here with it?"

She nodded as she shoved his bike closer to him. She said she was teaching him a lesson for being whiny and ungrateful. "You should have just stayed at the penthouse like I arranged."

Michael said, "I'm really sorry. I didn't mean to bug you with all the favors. I mean, come on, I paid for your businesses in Boston, you know?"

"Then you shunned me when they failed. Even though it was your fault because you were too cheap to spring for the bigger sink for the dogs!"

He said, "Lindsay, I let your whole family move into the model home when you had to leave that Four Seas hotel."

"I bet you just did it so you could control us and lecture us everyday to get jobs." She frowned and shuddered. "Or maybe you did it so you could be close to me and get me to sleep with you sometime when we were drunk."

Michael rolled his eyes that she still thought he was in love with her; since she didn't feel sorry for him anymore, he decided to be more honest. "No, I didn't! That was a mistake, Lindsay. You're just my sister."

She didn't believe him and walked back toward her car, saying, "I'm with Ice now, Michael, so move on, okay?"

He pleaded with her, "Wait, don't leave me in the middle of nowhere."

"It's not the middle of nowhere. It's Newport Coast, where everybody rich and fashionable wants to live. You're so ungrateful, Michael." To scare him, she said, "Watch out for the coyotes and skunks and rattlesnakes. There's lots of rattlesnakes." She got back into the Lexus and drove away.

Michael watched her disappear and tried to decide what to do.

Back at the Gothic Castle, Gob was taking Steve Holt on a tour through the backstage areas that the public weren't allowed to see. There were lots of magic posters and other memorabilia displayed for Alliance members and approved assistants only. Steve Holt wished he could take pictures to show his girlfriend Sue, but he could only take pictures in the lobby area.

However, Gob hadn't been at the Castle in a while, and didn't know that some things had changed there, so Tony often added commentary or led them to places that had been remodeled or updated. They went into a storage room where lots of Gob's stuff had been moved after Rollo took over.

"This is me starting the Alliance." Gob was the one who originally bought the Castle and fixed it up to look like the Magic Castle in Los Angeles. He used his family's money as well as money from selling some of his old company cars.

"Wow!" Steve liked the picture. "They should hang this upfront now!"

Tony agreed. "Yeah, we should get Rollo to make an announcement that you're back. It will be good publicity whenever you do your first show here."

"Let's go do it now!" Steve took the picture and headed back to the lobby.

Gob followed, but Tony took his arm and murmured to him, "Gob, wait, I still need to talk to you about Michael, remember?"

Feeling nervous, Gob avoided meeting his eyes. "I know, but I don't wanna do it in front of Steve."

"Well tell him to hang out with the other assistants now, so we can have some privacy."

"No, I promised to show Steve around."

"Darryl can finish the tour with him."

"No, Steve will think I'm blowing him off."

"You can make it up to him later," Tony insisted. "Please, Gob. I have a show tonight and won't have time to talk later. Anyway, you'll be with Charlie tonight. Unless, maybe you'd let me meet him?"

Gob shook his head. "No, why would you--? He's a secret!" he said firmly.

Just then, Darryl came over, holding the stack of DVDs which Steve Holt had left behind on a table during the Alliance meeting. "He's out front messing with the pictures. You done with the tour yet?"

"Oh. Right. He forgot those." Tony told his assistant, "Darryl, tell the kid to put these in the car, then finish taking him to see all the cool stuff. I gotta talk to Gob for a second."

Gob tried to interrupt, but Darryl went off in a huff, muttering about how Tony was always bossing him about. He felt he should get to do more important magic stuff, ever since Tony got rid of his girlfriends/magic assistants Tiagra and Candida when he came out.

Tony grinned and tugged at Gob's arm again. "See? Easy. Come on, let's go to my dressing room, while your kid's busy." He led the way and Gob followed slowly, telling himself that he could control himself like Franklin told him to do.

So they went inside the dressing room and shut the door. Tony realized that he still had glitter in his hair from before, so he stopped to shake it out at the mirror.

Gob just stood staring at him, half tempted to run fingers through Tony's hair, or smell it.

"There." Tony adjusted his necklace too then sat down in a chair, beckoning to Gob to join him.

Taking a breath, Gob finally approached Tony and sat next to him. "Uh... good to be back," he said shyly, looking around the room.

"Yeah." Smiling, Tony reached out and took his hand. "We can hang out all the time here and rehearse for shows together. It'll be great."

Gob stared at their clasped hands, and imagined being alone together often backstage. So he tried to fix that quickly. "Hey, Tony, do you think you can help me teach Steve Holt some magic stuff too? I've been trying for a while, but he keeps messing up. I guess, you know, 'cause I'm his dad and it makes him nervous. He tries so hard to impress me." But it would never work, just like Gob could never find a way to please his own father.

Tony also knew the feeling of stumbling over yourself to win your father's approval. "Sure, Gob. I can help." He also figured that if he mentored Steve Holt as a magic assistant, then Darryl would actually fear being replaced and learn his lesson about loyalty. "You've had such bad luck with assistants, so I'll help him be the best."

"Thanks." Gob smiled and felt a little relieved as he let go of Tony's hand.

Getting serious now, Tony sat up in his chair. "So, anyway, about Michael..."

Gob sighed and pouted, "We already talked about him."

"I know, but Sally's so sure that he's crazy, and she says that your awful family lies all the time. So are you sure that he's on the level with you? I mean, how did you even find out about Michael trying to sleep with Lindsay? Were you there?"

Gob nodded, and said that he was in the kids bedroom while Lindsay was trying to seduce Michael at the model home. "He told her he didn't want to marry her or have an affair, but she kept saying that sex would cheer him up, and that Tobias wouldn't be home to find out. I tried to make her leave him alone, but she wouldn't listen to me. So I went to talk to Lucille Austero, and we called Dad to try to stop Lindsay." He didn't mention the fact that he ran away because Lindsay threatened to fight with him again, like on the Queen Mary.

Tony was glad to know that Gob was actually there to overhear what happened. "Wow. So Michael did refuse to sleep with her."

"Yeah, and I guess he got tired of her not giving up, so he pretended to give in to her, then she got scared and ran away, like I said. I saw Michael right after that, and he helped me get Lindsay to give me my yacht back."

"Oh, so you were there most of the time. And he did a nice thing for you." Tony relaxed and felt more confident that Michael was a good brother, after all.

Gob shrugged, remembering with annoyance how Michael at first refused to move in with him and said it was all a mistake. Maybe he was just having another freakout about being gay, and he should avoid talking to therapists or anybody else who would make him think that being together was a huge mistake.

Tony noticed Gob's silence and anxious face. He wondered if Gob had gone to his dark place, and he decided to reach out and touch Gob's face.

"Huh?" Gob blinked and was startled.

"Sorry." Tony backed off and asked, "Were you hearing the music?"

Gob shook his head but stared at Tony, wondering if he had been trying to kiss him. Gob felt very tempted to kiss him again, and not just on the cheek. He could remember how it felt backstage when Tony was hiding from Tobias. "I was just... thinking about something."

"Oh." Tony kind of wanted to ask what was on Gob's mind, but wasn't sure if he should be that nosy. He just felt very warm and close to Gob since they confessed about their family and the darkness inside them.

Gob glanced away uncomfortably, then stared at their legs, so near to touching each other. He ached to feel Tony's smooth shaved legs again, and to maybe push the pants up higher... But no, he had to control himself like Franklin said. "Is your boyfriend," he cleared his throat, "is your boyfriend into magic?"

Tony was surprised by the question. "Uh, no. He's in business." He decided to be vague about Sally, and many times he was too bored to understand what she said about the housing business anyway. It didn't interest him any more than his own family's business did.

"Oh," Gob said, looking up. "It's just, before you came out, you had both those girls hanging out here as assistants." After Gob and Buster's successful Sword of Destiny act, they stayed to watch Tony Wonder's show, and had seen both the women onstage, doing a "razzle dazzle" dance to create suspense for Tony to pop out when somebody said "wonder."

"Uh, yeah, they wanted to be in the show." His girlfriend Tiagra had been in the act first, then Tony convinced Candida to join too. At the time, it seemed like a good revenge to not only seduce his brother's widow, but to get her to support his magic career, unlike his family who were so adamant about the family business. But the revenge was just fucked up.

"Oh, so your guy doesn't want to be in the act?" It seemed to Gob that, given Darryl's disloyalty, Tony ought to get rid of him and try to get his boyfriend approved as an assistant instead, like he got Tiagra and Candida.

Tony shrugged. "Well, we're a secret."

"Right. I forgot." Gob brushed against his leg and wondered again if Tony's boyfriend enjoyed those smooth legs in bed. "Does he shave you?"

"My boyfriend?" Tony was a bit puzzled by the way Gob looked at him now. His voice had become all deep and gravelly too. It was kind of... sexy. If he was into that sort of thing. Charlie must love that voice.

"Uh--never mind," Gob realized that his question was too intimate, so he withdrew his leg and sat back in the chair.

Tony tried to get back to discussing Michael. "Anyway, so you told Charlie about Michael refusing to have sex with Lindsay, right? And he's seen Michael himself to make sure it wasn't a trick? Did he want proof because he's a lawyer?"

Gob felt discouraged that Tony couldn't just take his word for it, that he let Sally change his mind after all the flirting he did yesterday. Gob was used to his parents turning Michael against him with Boyfights, but hopefully that was over now that Michael loved him. "He's not crazy. We're good now, 'cause we taught our dad a lesson."

"Oh yeah, you mentioned that on the phone before. What happened?"

So Gob told Tony the story about the banana stand fights, and how they teamed up with J. Walter Weatherman to scare Dad into not pitting them against each other anymore. It somehow all worked, even though Buster planned a lesson at the same time.

"Wow, what a stunt. So you and Michael stopped Boyfighting after that?"

"Well, we do argue sometimes." Gob definitely remembered Michael getting mad at him about Nellie the whore, and betraying George Michael. Plus there was the whole trick where he wouldn't move onto the yacht and tried to dump him until he changed his mind. "But we don't Boyfight anymore, Tony." He wished he could explain that Michael loved him now. It seemed inadequate to say, "He's sorry for everything, and we made up. We're gonna start over and be happy in South America."

"With your boyfriend."

"Yeah. He loves me." Gob tried to hold onto that thought, tried to stay true to Michael and not fuck things up.

Tony said, "Okay, I'm sorry for doubting you, Gob. It's just, I got worried about you, 'cause my family's awful too." He told Gob about mean tricks that his brothers had played on him, often so they could win approval from their father.

Gob sympathized and could remember Michael being mean to him in the 1990s. Without realizing it, he sat closer, putting his hand on Tony's.

Tony smiled and leaned nearer to hug him. Talking to Gob made him feel so much better. Sure, he often talked to Sally about his brothers, but she was an only child and could not understand. She would claim that she knew what it felt like, though, because of her father's annoying love for Lindsay, but Tony still didn't think it was the same thing.

Meanwhile, Gob blushed when Tony hugged him, and he was overwhelmed with feelings the more he could feel him and smell him. He kind of wanted to pull Tony onto his lap so they would be on the same chair, but that made him feel guilty.

"If you ever need to talk..." Tony offered, in case Charlie was an only child too and couldn't understand about brothers.

Gob looked into Tony's eyes and barely heard his words. He was more wrapped up in the way Tony's beard moved when he talked, and he wanted to touch it again. He did, and then before he could stop himself he leaned in and kissed Tony's lips.

Tony was surprised and tried to ask what Gob was doing, but then Gob deepened the kiss and ran fingers through his spiky hair.

Tony closed his eyes and moaned a little, and that kind of scared him. He pulled back breathlessly and asked in confusion, "Gob?"

Gob felt instantly guilty and regretful. Tony was reminding him that they were only flirting, and they both had boyfriends, and this was wrong. "I'm--I'm sorry." Damn it! If only Franklin had been here to stop him. He let go and worried that Tony would hate him now and not help him with the prison escape.

"I-I was just kidding," he said desperately. Gob got up from the chair and paced the room anxiously. "Don't tell anybody--I mean..." He wanted to take back the kiss, so he tried to laugh it off as a joke. "Ha! I fooled you. I'm just--just paying you back for kissing me backstage the other night at your show."

"Oh." Tony just stared at him in a daze. "Oh. You got me."

"Yeah, so, don't mention it. Your boyfriend doesn't need to know. Or Sally. Nobody." Gob felt awful and couldn't stay anymore. "Where the heck is Steve Holt?" Gob said, rushing out the door and not closing it.

Tony just watched Gob leave and heard him call out, "Steve! Where are you? Tour's over." He disappeared in search of his son.

After Gob departed, Tony felt flustered by how much he liked the kiss. But Gob was a great kisser, an incredible kisser. Tony would have to be a robot not to like it. Besides, he'd flirted with and kissed other men before to maintain his gay image, so what was the big deal now?

Tony told himself that he was just nervous about pretending to be gay, and maybe Gob was only testing him out to see if he was really gay. Yeah, he'd mentioned Sally Sitwell, so Gob must have suspected that Tony wasn't gay. So he kissed him to make sure. Tony swallowed and tried to feel lucky that he managed to pass the test.

Chapter Text

At the Bluth Company, Stan Sitwell watched a TV news report about the protest at Michael's hotel. The anchor John Beard introduced the story with the headline "Down With Bluths" while Trisha Thoon reported from the scene. John Beard showed photos of both Argyle and Tobias while explaining, "Both of them attended Stan Sitwell's party on Saturday. Argyle even tap danced with his sister Lucille Austero, the well known socialite and perennial political candidate."

"That's right, John," Trisha said, "and Argyle is currently changing his name to Austero as well."

"One has to wonder how Lucille will feel about her brother protesting the Bluths, when she owns so much stock in the company and recently tried to defend the Bluths."

"Exactly, John, and what does Lindsay Bluth think about her husband siding with the Hot Cops instead of her own mother?"

"It certainly makes for strange bedfellows," John Beard emphasized, while the headline changed to "Strange Bedfellows" on screen.

They kept talking some more about possible rifts in the Austero and Bluth families, but Sitwell didn't listen anymore. He sighed and called Lucille Austero. "Did you see the news?"

She replied, "Yes, and I'm so sorry for Argyle's behavior. I didn't think he still had those protest signs."

"Why does he think Michael is Buster?"

"Oh he's so stubborn about grudges, and he told me never to date Buster again, so I had to mislead him about who was in the magazine. Argyle can't understand that Buster's not really homophobic. He doesn't hate anybody. He just couldn't resist the chance to pretend-marry Lucille, like he always wanted."

"Right." Sitwell had seen that Balboa Bay Window magazine with Buster's 'Why I Want to Marry My Mother" essay. He said, "I hope Buster's over that Motherboy stuff now." He didn't think the Bluth scandal needed any more ammunition. "Anyway, I don't know how the company shareholders are going to react to this protest. They might call another meeting, so be prepared to come over and help me calm the board."

"Yes, and I'll try to talk to Argyle about the protest. Maybe we should hire a company publicist too to help us spin this stuff."

"Probably. See you soon, dear." He said goodbye to his girlfriend and hung up the phone, wondering how to keep the employees from panicking as well. More food and smoothies from Ice probably.

Lindsay returned from dropping off Michael at the cabin, and she decided to gloat to Stan Sitwell since her own father was out of town. "It worked!" she said as she entered his office.

"A little too well." Sitwell rewound the TV and showed her the news report.

"Oh," Lindsay said. "Maybe I better call Tobias to get him to stop?"

"Yeah, since you don't need the distraction anymore."

After she got off the phone, Sitwell reassured her. "Don't worry. At least they stopped talking about the incest for a while. We better hire a publicist soon, though."

Lindsay said, "Not that Jessie Bowers chick. I'll kick her ass again!"

"I know, Lindsay. Why don't you get the party going again for the employees, while I handle this? Don't let them worry about the company stock."

"Okay, thanks." She left to turn on the music again and get the employees to dance and play games to keep them in a good mood.

At the movie studio, Maeby glared at anybody who was gossiping about the Bluth scandal, or watching it on TV or online. Since she didn't have to hide her age anymore, Maeby stopped using the "Marry me" line to deflect and started treating people more like underlings. She also cussed a lot, like she did when Tobias pretended to be Mrs. Featherbottom.

Today, Maeby gave George Michael the day off from reading film scripts and had him accompany her to meet with the writers on her biopic.

First she firmly told the movie writers that she never flirted with her crazy uncle Michael, and explained how they were going to write the karaoke scene as a big joke.

"Okay." They took notes, and somebody asked George Michael, "So you singing with Lindsay later--that was continuing the joke?"

"Oh, uh, yeah," he said. He and Maeby had already decided not to talk about being jealous of their family at Christmas, because that would sound strange to people.

Then Maeby told them to really trash her parents in the movie and to write George Michael's mother Tracey as the ideal mom to make Lindsay look more horrible in contrast.

"My mom was the best," George Michael said, because it kind of sounded like Maeby was implying that his mom wasn't perfect in real life.

"Right," Maeby said diplomatically. She told her husband, "You can stay here and tell them all stories about your mom, and how great she was."

George Michael beamed happily and took out an old family photo album to show everyone.

Maeby also handed the scriptwriters a list of notes that Sally had made for her at the party on Saturday. "This is some rotten stuff that my mom did before I was born. I'll have more details later, but this will get you started." Sally Sitwell's package of old photos and newspaper articles had been mailed this morning and needed more time to arrive.

"Okay, boss."

Maeby then got up and kissed George Michael goodbye for now. She had to go work on other movies like Gangie 3, so she was leaving him to deal with this.

"Bye, Maeby." Then George Michael opened the photo album and pointed out all the pictures of his loving mother, both before and after she got sick. He explained how wonderful she was, and how he missed her so much. Tracey was practically a saint for putting up with the Bluths always insulting her. (George Michael still didn't think there was anything wrong with his mom putting BabyTock in his crib, and besides, his dad was so much more controlling.)

One guy asked, "But your dad loved his sister the whole time?

Somebody kicked him for being insensitive.

George Michael frowned and said, "I didn't know about that, and neither did my mom. He kept it a secret, and nobody knew that Lindsay was adopted either. But my dad really did love my mom. If he didn't, he wouldn't have gone so crazy after she died." He told them stories about his dad being worse the last five years, like when he first made him work at the banana stand, taking over the job from a Bluth Company employee. "He said I should learn about the sweet sting of sweat in my eyes from a hard day's work."

In Newport Coast, Michael took out his cellphone to check if he could get a signal and found that he had bars. Relieved, he looked for his position on a map, and discovered that he was less than a quarter-mile from the nearest paved road. Good, then Gob probably could pick him up after his Alliance meeting. Of course, the dirt road on which Lindsay had driven her car was too new to appear on any map, so he should see where it met Newport Coast Drive, so he could give Gob proper directions.

However, Michael had too much luggage to carry with him on the bicycle, so he decided to lock his luggage inside the cabin for now. Leaning the bike against a tree, Michael grabbed his luggage and headed for the cabin.

He stopped on the porch to unlock the door with the key that Lindsay had given him. When he opened it and went inside, the place was musty and filled with cobwebs. He didn't see any snakes yet, so he brought his bags inside and set them down on a brown leather chair with an afghan. The living room, fireplace, and kitchen looked familiar to him, but now there was a back wall, with doors leading to the two bedrooms at the rear of the house.

Michael went back outside and locked the door before going to get on the bicycle. He rode along the winding dirt path in the woods until it met Newport Coast Drive, the main road going inland into the San Joaquin Hills. Turning onto the street, he briefly explored the area and took pictures of landmarks that might help Gob find him. Soon he saw enough street signs and houses to know that he was not far from some affluent subdivisions. The cabin was on land that could not be developed because it was too steep and near many coastal canyons. Besides, a few more canyons and ridges to the east was the Crystal Cove State Park.

So Michael returned to the dirt road and the cabin in the woods. Leaving his bike on the porch, he sat on a rocking chair by the ch