His dad's clubs were heavy, but Charlie shouldered them, dragging the set he'd used, and said, "No, no, I've got it." He hauled them all back to the garage to put them away.
He paused for a moment in the coolness of the garage, letting his eyes adjust to the dimness after a whole afternoon spent out in the bright sunshine. He ought to get some sunglasses, like Don was always wearing, but they made him look like a nerd. Don always looked cool in sunglasses. Charlie rubbed his eyes and took one short longing look at the chalkboards--most of them were put away now, but three were still set up, covered with that tantalizingly intractable equation Larry had wanted him to work on. He actually started to take a step in that direction, and nearly overbalanced, having forgotten the clubs still on his shoulder.
Charlie grinned, feeling sheepish even if no one had seen that, and turned back to hang them up on their hook on the wall. His arms trembled a little as he raised the bag--he wasn't used to the particularly repetitive exertion of one swing after another after another, and he'd taken more swings than anybody else, and at least twice as many as were marked on that little card his dad had been waving around, given his hit percentage.
He shook his arms out and then reached for the clubs he'd used, which were, of course, heavier, and which, of course, hung higher up on the wall. Charlie gritted his teeth and swung it up, but he miscalculated the arc and missed the hook, his arms protesting as he raised it again, and then he heard Don say, "Hey." Don was at his back in an instant, his hands covering Charlie's, lifting the bag easily into place.
Charlie left his hands resting between the sun-warmed leather of the bag and the heat of Don's palms, leaning back ever so slightly, cautiously, deniably, against Don's chest, and Don said, "I just came to tell you Dad's calling for pizza. He's gonna leave in a minute to go pick it up."
"Oh," Charlie said, closing his eyes, letting his shoulders slump back against Don, tilting his head forward, "That sounds good."
He heard the car starting up in the driveway as Don chuckled in his ear, and then Don kissed the back of his neck, just a light brush of lips and Charlie smiled; he could feel Don smiling. Don's hands slid off of Charlie's, sliding down his wrists, closing on the muscles of his forearms. "Pizza sounds good, or Dad out of the house for half an hour sounds good?"
Charlie turned around, and Don's hands settled in the small of his back as Charlie said, "And, not or," and leaned in to kiss Don's mouth lightly, nothing that would interfere with Don going on smiling. Another kiss, to remind himself not to start talking about union and disjunction. Don had his sunglasses on top of his head, and Charlie raised one hand to them, his thumb running down the bow as his fingers slid into Don's hair.
Don raised a hand too, tangling his fingers in Charlie's hair. He brushed another kiss onto Charlie's mouth and murmured, "I also wanted to tell you you did a good job out there today."
Charlie snorted, and Don's smile widened. "I didn't even par. Not once."
"Yeah," Don said, and hesitated just long enough for Charlie to roll his eyes, "but you were starting to hit the ball on the first swing, your short game is improving, and I wasn't actually talking about your golf game, anyway."
Charlie ducked his head, looking away from the pride in Don's eyes; Don knew why he'd been there today, why he'd played at loving it. "I still hate golf," he muttered. "But I did like being there."
"Well," Don said softly, pressing his forehead against Charlie's, "I think we can add 'Charlie hates golf' to the long list of things Dad never needs to know. And I'm glad I wasn't totally failing to entertain you out there."
Charlie pulled back just far enough to meet Don's eyes, to see Don smiling at him playfully. Charlie lowered his hand to Don's shoulder, rubbing at the faint grass stain Don picked up on the sixteenth green, laying down on the grass with his putter to his eye like a rifle, lining up his putt while their dad made endless fun of him and Charlie laughed and tried to catch his breath. "No," Charlie said, though he might have meant yes, and kissed Don again, more thoroughly. Don's mouth still tasted of the beer they'd had at the clubhouse--one each, like gentlemen--afterward, and Don's hands tightened on him, on his head and at the back of his shirt, holding him here as though there might be anywhere else he'd want to be.
Charlie eased back a little, pulling gently away from Don's grip, leaning against the bag of clubs. He smelled leather and dust and Don and freshly-mowed grass, and his brain felt half lulled to sleep; he no longer had the slightest interest in the chalkboards he could see over Don's shoulder. Don hesitated for an instant, just looking at Charlie from half arm's length, and Charlie looked back, the heat in Don's eyes making him think ahead. There would be more beer with the pizza, and Charlie would claim to be sleepy and wander off to bed not long after they ate. Their dad really would be sleepy, and doze off on the couch in front of the TV, and then Don would come upstairs and lie down with Charlie in the last of the summer light, warm and lazy and a little buzzed.
But for now there was the coolness of the garage, dim here in this corner but bright near the windows and doors, and the timer counting down in both their heads to the end of this slice of safe and private time.
Fifteen minutes to go before they should both be back in the house, doing something ordinary. Charlie tugged Don closer and Don came to him, kissing him soft and slow, his hands resting easily on Charlie's body. No need to hold on, no need to hurry.
Charlie heard the rattle of the clubs, practically in his ear, as Don pressed a little closer, and Charlie shuddered under Don's hands, tilting his head and deepening the kiss. If he thought of this every time he used these clubs, he'd never make par at all. Somehow, Charlie didn't think he'd mind.