AN: This is for Aimless who sparked this during an IM conversation.


Tessa opened the door to Richie's room and rolled her eyes, Richie's earlier words running through her head. 'Yup, got it all cleaned up; all the dirty laundry is in the hamper.' Apparently, by in the hamper Richie meant all over the floor. Sighing she began to mentally rehearse her lecture as she picked up every article of clothing she found, dropping it in the basket. She picked up a sweater, one of his nice sweaters that she had just bought him, and found something she had never expected to see.

Richie was such a good boy, most of the time. He would never stoop to such levels. Sure, he was a little too excitable sometimes, she had caught him clutching a pillow more than once while he was watching one of his movies, but he was a good boy, he would never. she looked closer at the piece of filth she had found. Sure enough, all the proof she needed was right there in big red letters, PENTHOUSE.

She picked up the magazine and threw it on top of Richie's clothes before picking up the basket. Duncan and Richie were in the kitchen fussing over the leaky faucet. Seeing her chance, she rolled up the magazine in one hand and rested the basket on her hip.

"Richie, be a dear and take this down to the laundry room and start sorting," she said. Richie could tell by the tone someone was in trouble.

"Sure thing." He took the basket. 'Hate to be Mac right now,' he thought, trying not to grin. He noticed all the clothes were his and he had just said he had cleaned his room, but luckily Tessa seemed too mad at Duncan to lecture Richie about something as small as laundry.

Once Richie could be heard making his way down to the basement, Tessa slapped the magazine on the counter. "Look what I found."

"I hope you have a search warrant if that came from Richie's room."

"It did, and I don't need one. Look at what he's been hiding!"

Duncan straightened up from the sink to see what Tessa was seething about. "Okay, what have we. this is what you're upset about?" he asked picking up the magazine. "Tessa, he's eighteen."

"And too young," she insisted.

"Not really."

"Duncan, I don't like this! These are degrading to women!"

"They have these for women, too," Duncan pointed out.

"And those are degrading to men!"

"It's just a little harmless juvenile boy entertainment."

"You wouldn't say that if Richie were a girl," she retorted.

"But that's different, Tess."

"How? He's a boy so he can be as perverted as he wants? But girls are supposed to be 'untainted' until married?"

"That's not what I said."

"It's what you meant!"

"Do you want me to talk to him?" Duncan offered. "I'm sure he hasn't done anything. But if you're worried."

"I am, as you should be."

"Tessa, it's all perfectly healthy. When I was his age, I'd hide and watch girls bathe. It's what boys do. They get interested at his age."

"There are healthier ways to explore."

"Look, he's not hiding a girl, he's hiding a magazine. Which means there's nothing to worry about."

"But next it will be a girl."

"He knows better than to have a girl in his room."

"You're always saying that if he gets away with one thing, he'll try to get away with another."

"This is harmless. I still say we should let him sit in his room and pretend he's some big stud. Let him get it out of his system."

"So you think he should be allowed to go to the adult movie store?" Tessa demanded crossing her arms.

"No, I'm saying."

"So you agree it's wrong?"


"So it's okay?"

"I'll talk to him!" Duncan relented. "Send him up."

"Good, and when you're done, this goes in the trash." She left the magazine and went to the basement to send Richie upstairs.

A minute later, Richie came into view. He started to go to the sink but noticed Duncan was sitting at the table. "Fix the faucet?"

"Not yet, we need to talk."

"For once I can honestly say I didn't do it," Richie told him. "I'm clean, I swear!"

"Not according to Tessa, you're not."

"Is this about my room? 'Cause I didn't think she was going in there so soon. I was gonna clean it up."

"No, it's not about that. It's about something more important. Sit down."

Richie sat. "Am I in trouble?"

"No," Duncan hurried to assure him. "You didn't do anything wrong. It's all perfectly natural."


Duncan took a deep breath. "You see, Rich. at your age you're going to get curious and want to experiment and explore," he started.

"Is this about my attempt at cooking?" Richie asked. "I cleaned it all up and the sink was acting funny before that."

"No, this isn't about. what ever it is you tried to make."


"Well, it's not about those. It's about you."

"And my exploring. I didn't know I had a curfew," Richie tried to defend himself.

"Not exploring the city. but it would be nice if you're home before two at the latest. It's about you exploring. yourself," he finally decided on.

"Myself?" Richie asked. Then he realized what Duncan was talking about. "I'm not gay!"

"No!" Duncan quickly corrected. "I know you're not. that's not to say if you ever changed your. that's up to you, but that's not what I'm talking about. See, boys, like you."

"I didn't steal anything!"

"No! Richie, would you stop jumping to conclusions? I want to talk to you about this!" He picked up the magazine he had been hiding in his lap. Richie took one look and burst out laughing. "What?"

"You're trying to give me the sex talk?" Richie asked between gasps of air. "Aw, man! This is classic!"

"What's so funny about that?"

"You. telling me. about. Oh, man wait 'til I tell everyone about this!"

"Richie, stop laughing, this is serious."

"Sorry." Richie's laughing subsided to random tremors as he forced himself to calm down.

"See, soon you're going to want to. experiment with something other than a magazine. you know, Richie, this is hard enough without you mutating into a hyena over there!"

"Just stop!" Richie laughed.

"Rich, you need to hear this."

"Too late," Richie told him once again trying to clam himself. "About three years."

"Then you really need to hear it!"

"Mac. I know. And I was real careful every time and I'm clean; I've been tested," Richie told him abruptly becoming serious.

"Richie, you're too young to need to be tested."

"But I do and I have. Seriously, Mac. You don't have to worry about me."

"I want you to stop. While you're living here, you're as innocent as you should be, got it?"

"Okay," Richie answered awkwardly.

"Richie, when I thought this," he indicated the magazine, "was the extent of your knowledge, I defended you to Tessa. I told her you weren't doing anything wrong. And from here on out, I want that to be true. Now, as far as this goes. Tessa doesn't want you to have it, so I'm keeping this and any others I find laying around."

"So what if I hide them?" Richie asked.

"I'm taking what I see. I'm not going to search, but if I see one." Duncan allowed Richie his loophole.

"Sounds fair to me."

"Now, you should probably apologize to Tessa," Duncan told him.

"But you said I didn't do anything wrong," Richie protested.

"As someone who went through this stage, I don't think you did. But women are more sensitive about things like this. Just tell her you know she doesn't like what you did and you didn't mean to offend her."

Richie cracked a smile. "Aren't you supposed to be teaching me not to lie?"

"Just keep this between you and me."

"Okay." Richie got up and went for the stairs.

"And you might want to mention your room!" Duncan called after him.

Richie apologized to Tessa and returned to his room to make sure his collection was safely hidden. Mac followed Richie into his room and waited until he was sure that Tessa was out of hearing distance, "Richie, I'll never look through your other magazines. Just make sure Tessa doesn't see anything. Okay?" he winked.

"Sure, Mac. Hey, Mac?" Richie asked as Duncan turned to leave.


"Where do you keep yours?" Richie smirked.