on the occasion of chatting with a friend from a different time zone....
"Once upon a time there was a bunny," Renfield said.
"That's a dumb story," Sissy said.
Renfield raised his eyebrows and looked at the children. "You've heard it before?" he asked.
"Yeah, and it's dumb!" Connie said, echoing her older sister.
"I hardly see how that could be," Renfield said, "given that I only made it up this afternoon." Rachel threw her blanket over his head. When Renfield reached up to pull it off, all six children tackled him. "Oof!" he said, and "Oh dear," and "Oh my goodness, no," and "Really, what will your parents say?"
Someone, probably Sissy, tugged on his legs experimentally, but she didn't move him an inch; the children had well and truly tangled him in Sarah's jumprope and wedged him under the far bed. "Come on!" said Sarah. "Let's go!" And the children thundered out of the room, probably still in their bare feet and pajamas.
"Children!" Renfield called. "Come back! Put on slippers! You'll catch cold.... Oh dear." From out in the hallway he could hear the children being cornered by their grandmother, the redoubtable Ms. Vecchio herself. Someone opened the door, sighed, and began tugging on his legs rather more forcefully. Renfield wiggled as helpfully as he could, and was eventually extracted from the bedframe.
Out in the hallway, Ms. Vecchio was still holding court. When Ray pulled the blanket off of his face, Renfield asked him, "Do you suppose I ought to learn Italian? I'm afraid I don't understand what she's saying to them."
Ray rolled his eyes. "Trust me, you don't want to listen to any more of that than you have to." He rolled Renfield over and pulled on the jumprope. "What the hell was Frannie thinking, asking you to babysit?"
"Oh, I do hope she and Stella are having a pleasant evening out," Renfield said. "Really, they're charming children. I'm quite certain that they wouldn't really have shaved my head, earlier, and there's no harm in a few clean earthworms about."
"Worms," Ray muttered, bending down to use his teeth on the knots in the jumprope. "Worms. I should never have let them volunteer to help in the kitchen. Hold still," Ray added. "Dammit! I can't get this loose. Hang on, I'll go find scissors."
Renfield pulled his knees under him and shuffled sideways, bent over the bed for leverage, until he had enough room to lurch to his feet. "Thank you, Ray," he said. "I would appreciate that, really."
Ray's eyes were glazed and he was breathing heavily, open-mouthed. "Yeah," he said, "yeah, um, why don't you come down to my bedroom and we'll work on you there."
"Okay," Renfield said cheerfully. "Of course, I can function quite well without my hands. It's a skill of which I'm rather proud, actually. Just about the only thing I can't manage is removing my own clothing."
"That's not a problem," Ray said immediately.
"Well, I wouldn't want you to feel that I was giving less than a full effort toward any endeavor," Renfield said, "even if my hands were, speaking quite literally, tied behind my back."
Ray put both hands on Renfield's shoulders and kissed him hotly. Renfield leaned into the kiss, closing his eyes. Ray propped him upright. Gratefully, Renfield opened his mouth to Ray's tongue.
"Ewww, mushy stuff!" yelled Connie.
Renfield opened his eyes and discovered that the children, apparently sufficiently lectured on proper respect toward adult authority figures, had returned.
"Mountie and Unc' Ray, sittin' in a tree!" yelled Sissy, and all six children joined in: "K-I-S-S-I-N-"
"Shut up!" yelled Ray right back.
"Oh dear," Renfield murmurred, and his knees buckled as Connie barrelled into them.
Ray grabbed him. "Come on," he said, "let Frannie deal with her own beasts."
"I'll put them to bed," Ms. Vecchio said sternly from the doorway, and the room instantly grew quiet.
"Thanks, Ma," Ray said, and kissed her cheek as he hauled Renfield out of the room.
"Goodnight!" Renfield called over his shoulder.
"Shut up," Ray muttered. "I'm going to get that jumprope off of you and use my damn handcuffs."
Renfield beamed. "Okay," he said, and followed Ray down the hall.