It’s about as much of a secret that Mike fancies Tracy as it is that Dexter does. That’s not really much of an observation, if Dinah does say so herself.
Mike hangs around because Tracy wants him around, so he’s there most times Dinah is. She’s old enough now to come visit whenever she wants, and she much prefers spending time with Tracy and Dexter to spending it with her mother in her teenage years.
Mike will nurse a drink in front of the three of them and rattle off something about how he and Liz are doing fine just swell just absolutely grand and she wishes she could have come over, she really does every time and nobody has the heart to tell him that they know Liz left long, long ago.
Dinah knows she’ll get yelled at for sticking her nose in everybody’s business, but some things call for it. Besides, everything worked out well the last time. Now Dexter and Tracy are almost perfectly happy with their big house and their big pool (and Mike hanging around all the time, because he doesn’t have much else to do.)
Sometimes it’s Tracy hanging over Mike’s shoulder while he’s writing, critiquing his spelling and grammar. Other times it’s Dexter, who often suggests different wording. Mike rarely listens to Dexter, but he’s kind about it, at the very least.
Dinah thinks they get on better than they should. Especially since Mike is so head-over-heels for Tracy, he shouldn’t look at Dexter with those eyes, and --
She shakes her head. Her mother wouldn’t be having any of that.
Dexter pats Mike on the shoulder and offers to bring him a drink. Mike watches him out the door. Then, he turns to Dinah.
“He’s being awful nice,” He says with a stupid smile. “And most of his suggestions this time weren’t all too bad.”
That’s when Dinah remembers that she isn’t invisible, as she’d like to be.
Mike hesitates before he goes back to his work. Maybe her mother doesn’t need to hear about this one, Dinah decides.
“I’ll see you later,” She says, hopping up off the chair she’s been sitting on. “Make sure you tell me what you come up with. Dexter is always going on about your last book.”
“C.K. Dexter Haven,” Mike mumbles under his breath. He glances up from his writing again. “He talks about it?”
“‘Course he does,” Dinah says. She shrugs and skips out of the room.
Dinah finds Dexter at the bar, fixing Mike a drink just how he said he would.
“You don’t drink anymore, do ya Mister Haven?” She asks.
Dexter doesn’t look up from the drink he’s mixing, like it deserves all his attention. “Not for a long time, no. Why d’you ask?”
“Well, how do you know what you’re mixing Mister Connor is any good if you can’t try it yourself to find out?”
“Because it’s the same thing I’ve mixed your sister many, many times.”
“And they’re the same to you.”
“Well,” Dexter starts, then stops. “What on Earth do you mean by that, Dinah?”
Dinah shrugs. “Nothing much. I just mean, I don’t know that you should mix him the same drink you mix your wife. Maybe make him something worse. Shouldn’t you be cross with him, since he’s still so in love with her?”
Dexter stares at her like she’s grown another head and he’s trying to figure out where it could have come from.
He finally pulls himself together and says, “I don’t mind so much.”
Dinah tries to keep her face neutral.
“You don’t mind? He could be sleeping with her, and you wouldn’t mind?”
“He just says, oh, C.K. Dexter Haven, and then he can do whatever he wants?”
“Yes!” Dexter snaps. He picks the glass up from the bar. “Now, Dinah, that’s more than enough.”
“It very much is,” Dinah agrees. She holds Dexter’s eye contact until he’s out of the room, and realizes that this will be easier than she originally thought.
“Tracy, have you done much with Mister Connor since you got married?” Dinah asks her sister.
Tracy laughs into her glass of champagne and says, “Just since you’re older now doesn’t mean you get to know everything.”
Dinah grins. “So that’s a yes, then.”
“No,” Tracy says. She places her glass on the table in front of her. “Not much at all. Kissed him on the cheek, like you do a friend. Mike’s a friend.”
“But you’d like to?” Dinah prods. “You’d like to have him the way you do C.K. Dexter Haven.”
Tracy lifts her eyebrows. “Well, sure, but I’ve got Dexter. That’s all I can ask for, and I’m perfectly okay with that. Mike’s nice, and had I known him better maybe I would have married him. If I knew Liz would be gone so soon. But I love Dex, I really do. I love him with everything I’ve got.”
“And if you could have Mike on the side?” Dinah pushes a little further.
“Well, I can’t.” Tracy smiles. “So there’s no use wondering.”
Dinah reaches for Tracy’s glass of champagne, but Tracy gets there first.
“Damn you,” Dinah tells her.
Tracy laughs. “You know our mother would never allow it.”
Dexter catches Dinah at the bar mixing alcohol that she doesn’t know the first thing about.
He stops a few feet away. “Aren’t you a bit young for drinking?”
Dinah pours all the alcohol into the largest glass she could find and picks it up.
“It’s for Mister Connor,” She explains. “I’ve never had a drink before, nobody will let me.”
She picks up two smaller glasses in her free hand and heads back to the room that Mike is surely still writing in.
He’s buried in a typewriter when she gets there and puts the big glass right on the desk next to him, jolting him out of his thoughts.
“Dex --” Mike starts, and then glances up. “Oh. Dinah. How are you?”
“Fine,” Dinah says. “Want a drink? I mixed it myself.” She holds out a small glass to him and he takes it, pouring himself a cup.
“If you insist,” He says, and then throws it back. His face twists into something that makes Dinah decide she’s not going to try drinking right now, and she puts her own glass down on the desk too.
“Writing going well?” Dinah asks, taking a seat in a nearby chair as Mike pours himself another drink. “You think you might have a drinking problem?”
Mike shakes his head. “Drinking only helps with writing. And if I do, that’s a problem for another day.”
“C.K. Dexter Haven wouldn’t like you drinking as much as you do,” She tells him on his fifth glass. “You know he gave up drinking.”
“I know,” Mike says, slur in his voice. “I know, I know, I know, I know. Easier to talk to him, though, that way. Tracy’s so nice and simple to talk to, she’s like warm butter and toast, or something.”
“Butter and toast,” Dinah echoes. “Right. And Dexter?”
“C.K. Dexter Haven,” Mike says. “C.K. Dexter Haven makes me nervous, ‘cause maybe I’m not good enough to hang around here and he feels bad for me.”
“Oh, I’m sure that’s not true.” Dinah sits forward. “He loves having you around.”
Then, Mike comes to a very intelligent realization, which he summarizes as, “I’m the toast.”
Dinah blinks. “Sure, Mike, you’re the toast.”
Mike stands up quickly, knocking his chair over in the process, and announces, “I am going to speak to C.K. Dexter Haven.”
Then, he stumbles right out the door.
Dinah sneaks behind Mike all the way to Tracy and Dexter’s room, where Dexter is laying on the bed reading. The sneaking doesn’t take much, with how out of it Mike is, but the last thing she needs right now is to get caught.
Mike leans in the doorway and slurs, “C.K. Dexter Haven, you make me very, very nervous.”
Dexter places a bookmark in his book and sets it down on the table next to the bed. “And you’ve come to tell me this now?”
“Dinah makes the greatest drinks, you know. No you don’t. You don’t drink.” Mike laughs. “She’s fantastic, what a great little girl. Did you know that I’m toast?”
Dexter presses his lips into a thin line. “You’re… toast. Care to elaborate?”
“No!” Mike shouts, then claps his hands together and laughs a loud, drunken laugh. “Yes, yes, I was only joking. I’m toast and you and Tracy are like different kinds of butter.”
“Butter,” Dexter repeats, a smile tugging on the corners of his lips. “We’re butter. Fantastic, tell me more.”
“See, you know when you put all your… your warm butter on toast, and it’s so easy. And I talk to Tracy, and she’s warm butter. Also real easy to kiss.” Mike laughs again. “Sorry, she’s your wife, but it’s true.”
“Very true.” Dexter nods. He looks more amused than anything else. “And what about me?”
“Cold butter,” Mike says. He hiccups. “Cold butter.”
“Cold butter.” Dexter nods.
Mike nods again, and they’re nodding in sync.
“Cold butter,” He continues. “And it scratches the toast all up and it’s hard to get on there. Most people want all their butter to be warm, right? But you’re cold. Probably tastes just as good, though. I think it’d be pretty neat to find out. Cold butter, warm butter, I’m just toast all the same.”
That’s when Dexter’s eyes go wide.
“Tastes just as good?” He asks. “Like, with Tracy?”
Mike scrunches up his face and waves a hand around absently. “She was all full of champagne. Real nice, though, real great. Smooth butter.”
Dexter shuts his eyes for a moment, and then calmly requests, “Mike, please stop talking about toast and butter and address the fact that you said you wanted to find out what I taste like.”
Mike hiccups again.
“I’m full of alcohol.”
They both fall silent. Dinah holds her breath.
“I think…” Dexter finally says. “Maybe this once. Of course, this is something Tracy will have to be in on, correct?”
“Correct, of course, correct,” Mike agrees, nodding like a bobblehead. Then, he grabs both sides of Dexter’s face and kisses him.
Dinah lets out her breath. They can figure the rest of it out themselves.