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The Penny Conundrum

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When Mr. Peanutbutter answers the door he isn't expecting Bojack Horseman to be on the other side.

"Bojack!" Mr. Peanutbutter says with the normal amount of enthusiasm, "I heard you were in rehab."

He says it immediately to get it out of the way.

"You should have called, I'd have picked you up," he continues, "You look good."

It's true. Bojack looks healthier, more focused and well rested than Mr. Peanutbutter has even seen in recent years. It makes something tender in him throb in sympathy.

"I'm - uh, looking for Diane?" Bojack says unsurely.

"Oh well, you might as well come in for a minute." Mr. Peanutbutter says, tongue out and ears up, as he ushers him in.

Bojack steps inside with a hand rubbing at the back of his neck.

"It's important." He says succinctly.

"I'm sure it is." Mr. Peanutbutter affirms, "but if you want to speak to Diane you'll have to get in line."

"uh...what?" Bojack says, face dismayed.

When Mr. Peanutbutter moves from the foyer to the living room Bojack trails.

"Can I get you anything?" Mr. Peanutbutter asks, skirting the question.

The truth is Diane hasn't been around since the last time they'd slept together. When she told Mr. Peanutbutter it more or less meant nothing. Even after his broken engagement with Pickles she hadn't returned his calls. He can't blame her.

Also, Mr. Peanutbutter isn't exactly lying. Diane is in high demand at the moment. Her new writing overshadowing her previous success.

"It's important." Bojack says again uncomfortably.

"If it's so important why don't you tell me about it?" Mr. Peanutbutter suggests, fetching them some sparkling water from the fridge.

Bojack hesitates when their hands brush as Mr. Peanutbutter passes it over.

"You wouldn't understand." He says, sad.

"I don't know about that." Mr. Peanutbutter shoots back.

Which is how they find themselves having a heart to heart next to each other on the couch.

"Before I left I wanted Diane to...expose my sins, I guess you could say. I told her that I wanted to be better but didn't know how. And I guess taught me how. Only, there's this thing I really need to hold myself accountable for. And maybe it's a cop out but I need her help to do that."

"I see. And what is this 'thing'?" Mr. Peanutbutter asks.

Bojack's silent for a moment before he sighs.

"I tried to sleep with an underage girl." He blurts ungainfully, before gaining traction, "Not just any girl. But the daughter of someone who trusted me, a friend. And she - she trusted me with her daughter and I tried to sleep with her. She was only seventeen. Just seventeen."

It is certainly - shocking.

"What stopped you?" Mr. Peanutbutter asks.

"Her mother walked in." Bojack says dryly. Self loathingly.

Mr. Peanutbutter carefully places his water on the coffee table.

"And I - want to believe I wouldn't have done it. I certainly wasn't - attracted - God. But I didn't stop it. I just laid there and I knew it wasn't right when she came into my room. And I just - I was going to let it happen..."

"That's a lot different than actively pursuing..." Mr. Peanutbutter finally says thoughtfully.

Like a lot of things Bojack does - it's incredibly messed up. But there's a line of logic in there somewhere Mr. Peanutbutter has no doubt.

"She didn't deserve it. She's just a girl and I wonder if - No, I know - I traumatized her. Just like Sara Lynn."

Mr. Peanutbutter had heard about that.

"She was thirty." he offers as the justification he'd offered to himself when he first heard it.

"That doesn't make it any less fucked up." Bojack spits back, "I knew you wouldn't understand!"

Sometimes, Bojack treats him like he's stupid.

Then again, a lot of the time Mr. Peanutbutter is being stupid. Or at least, willfully blind.

"Bojack," Mr. Peanutbutter begins firmly, "I don't know what happened with the girl, or with Sara Lynn. But I do know you. You're weak - no, not like that." Mr. Peanutbutter amends at Bojack's glare, "What I mean is, you're weak to feeling loved. If you so much as get a whiff of it you turn into a pile of jelly."

"Oh that's a pile of shit!" Bojack defends, "If I loved to be loved so much, was so desperate for it, then wouldn't I be sucking up to you?"

"that's different." Mr. Peanutbutter says, because it is. He's almost hesitant to breach the subject because he doesn't want to scare Bojack away.

"Oh, how so?!" Bojack demands, intent on hating himself.

"You don't actually believe me...and - it's too frightening for you if you do."

"...frightening, are you even hearing yourself right now?" Bojack scoffs, "Frightening...Frightening is manipulating an underage girl into wanting you and being so fucked up you don't realize you're doing it in the first place!"

"And you were doing it?" Mr. Peanutbutter asks, already knowing the answer.

It isn't like he hasn't been approached by underage fans. He knows it's unforgivable to lend any credence to even the most tenacious ones. Still, Mr. Peanutbutter has no doubt that Bojack did nothing in particular to invite it other than be himself. Furthermore, he suspects the problem is not so much a sin of lust but something else.

It doesn't excuse, but as far as Mr. Peanutbutter understands nothing had happened anyway.

"I don't know." Bojack says, so incredibly lost.

"Bojack-" Mr. Peanutbutter means to comfort, but Bojack cuts him off awkwardly, immediately changing the subject and trying to quell the vulnerability he's put on display.

"Frightening..." Bojack scoffs, "the things you come up with. Like I'm not just a huge pile of shit."

"Yes, frightening." Mr. Peanutbutter begins, blood pressure rising at Bojack's willful self hating schtick, "Because if you did appease me. Show yourself to be so desperate and vulnerable and compliant to me as you did with everyone else you think might give you the least bit of positive attention it would put you in a very frightening position."

Mr. Peanutbutter often doesn't think things through but this is one subject that he's been over a thousand times in his mind. How someone so desperate for scraps falling from a strangers table dodges his love every chance he gets.

"And what position is that?" Bojack scowls unhappily.

"Underneath me." Mr. Peanutbutter growls.

And gosh, he really doesn't mean to say it. To break it to Bojack like that.

Bojack's whole face heats at the implication.

It's a moment where anything can happen. Disquieting, and Mr. Peanutbutter is afraid he's ruined things. He glosses over it as best as he's able.

"You're punishing yourself for something that didn't happen-" Mr. Peanutbutter picks up the last thread of conversation before his hiccup right away.

"Might have happened." Bojack corrects, unsurely following Mr. Peanutbutter's lead. He's a little shaken, Mr. Peanutbutter can tell.

"So you're punishing yourself for your lustful thoughts then." Mr. Peanutbutter says darkly, unhappily.

He's probably just ruined everything. He knows he has. And even though it was obvious, how can he expect Bojack to live in willful ignorance after this?

"I never had any...lustful thoughts. Just the fact that it was legal because we were in New Mexico gives me the creeps." Bojack admits distractedly.

"So she pushed and you were going to let it happen." Mr. Peanutbutter continues. And maybe for the first time ever he wishes Bojack would stop looking at him.

"I like to think I would have stopped it but I...I don't know." Bojack says, conflicted. His distress there is real.

And that really is the crux of it all.

"So you're haunted that you thought about making the wrong choice."

And there it is. Bojack's face tells him everything he needs to know. He's hit the nail on the head.

"By hesitating..." Bojack says haltingly, "I wonder if I...damaged her in some way..."

"If you're 17 and go looking for sex from a 50 year old man I'd say you're already pretty damaged." Mr. Peanutbutter says, politically incorrect and he knows it but he feels it's just the truth.

He's never seen a well adjusted fan offer him oral within fifteen minutes of meeting him. He's never met a well adjusted fan who offers themselves at all.

"She's not - she wasn't." Bojack defends, "She's Charlotte's daughter. She's not even a fan, just a kid making a dumb choice."

"Sounds like you both made some bad choices."

"I ruined a friendship, because what? Because Penny pushed? I - I don't even have words for how not alright that is."

They stare at each other in silence.

"If I pushed," Mr. Peanutbutter asks, quiet and nonthreatening, "Would you let it happen?"

Bojack immediately flusters. They're both taken aback at Mr. Peanutbutter's forwardness. Bojack doesn't shy away from him exactly but he does seem suddenly very small. Almost shy-like. When he looks at Mr. Peanutbutter it's almost like he's looking for guidance.

Like he's at a loss.

"I-isn't there a - um, girlfriend of yours around or something?" Bojack stutters uncomfortably, "I've never known you to be single."

"I cheated on my last girlfriend Pickles. I hardly think I deserve another one."

"You cheated?" Bojack repeats incredulously.

It's not something Mr. Peanutbutter is proud of. He'd been under the impression him and Diane were getting back together. The real offense is that he hadn't broken up with Pickles afterward, hadn't told her, had even proposed to the poor girl.

"I guess neither of us have a great track record with young women." Mr. Peanutbutter offers.

"Look," Bojack says seriously, "I've never - "

He stalls just there, wrings his hands.

Mr. Peanutbutter leans towards him and puts a hand on his shoulder, softly brushing the nape of Bojack's neck.

"This is me pushing." Mr. Peanutbutter says. "You can say no if you want. But if you don't say no that's still not going to be enough. I'm going to need to hear you say yes."

"Yes is very deliberate." Bojack states, breath shallow at Mr. Peanutbutter's closeness.

Mr. Peanutbutter gets it. Not a lot in Bojack's relationships have been deliberate.

He waits.

"Yes." Bojack says, a little embarrassed, unequivocally.

They seal it with a kiss.