tagIncest/TabooWhile the Paint Dries

While the Paint Dries

byXarth©

Author's Note: It's been a while, so here's a new story in classic/vanilla flavour. Brother and sister only, no items, final destination.

*****

I let myself in to Kylie's place without even knocking. If she wasn't picking up Mom's calls, she probably wasn't going to answer the door either. Or maybe she would and she'd be irritated I hadn't extended that small courtesy. Whatever. I still had a little brother's prerogative to be an annoying shit when the situation called for it.

I, personally, wasn't worried about Kylie. She got too focused sometimes, especially in her work, to care about the outside world. That was who she'd always been. Mom was concerned, however, and I'd promised I'd check in on my wayward sister.

Kylie's loft was a labyrinth of paintings right from the entryway. Some were hung on the wall, most rested on the floor and leaned against walls wherever there was room. All of them were her work. I'd never known her to show enough interest in anyone else's paintings to actually display them in her apartment.

My shoes got abandoned near the front door, then I picked my way carefully through the delicate maze. A few of the hung paintings were familiar to me, but none of the floor-dwellers were. The latter group tended to move on to new homes at a reasonable turnover, such that I would never count on seeing any of them again on a second visit.

Kylie was in her studio area, which was where she actually did her painting, and where she used to keep her finished work before it had spilled out everywhere else. She was only wearing an old t-shirt, with just brief flashes of her panties beneath as she moved this way and that. Small splashes of paint dotted her exposed skin, with far more of a mess over her shirt from the accumulation of many sessions.

Beautiful lighting filtered in through the large windows to the side of the room. The potential for natural light along with the available space had been the twin considerations when Kylie took the apartment way back when.

I stayed back a semi-respectful distance and cleared my throat. Kylie, by all appearances, hadn't heard me. I knew better. She swiped her brush a few more times at the canvas in front of her, then finally turned.

"What?" she said.

My lips twitched into a smile. Such a curt greeting would have been considered rude by anyone who didn't know Kylie better, and in fact often had been.

"Nice to see you too," I said. "How've you been?"

Kylie sighed and set down her equipment. She rubbed an arm across her face, which only streaked paint all the worse over her forehead.

"Alright, Ty, have it your way. I could probably use a break anyway."

I nodded. She usually could. She lost track of time all too easily when she was in one of her productive phases. "Did you remember to eat today?"

"Yes, smartass." Kylie put a hand on her tummy. "Though I could probably go for some more food now."

"Yeah, I thought maybe you could."

Kylie glided easily through the room and across the cluttered floors. The way she walked through her apartment, you'd almost swear the arrangement of her paintings made sense, and you were the one being silly for walking so gingerly around them for fear of collision.

I followed my big sister to her kitchen area. She opened the fridge, stared at it curiously, then closed it. She did the same to the cupboards next to it.

"You forget to buy groceries again?" I asked as casually as I could manage, given the smugness that threatened to overtake my demeanor.

"Oh shut up. I got busy."

"Yeah, I know. Busy. Speaking of which, Mom's been trying to call you."

Kylie shrugged. "She knows I turn my phone off when I don't want distractions. She didn't really send you to check on me again, did she?"

"She may have."

"Dammit. Can't get a moment's peace."

I bit back a reply suggesting that Mom trying to contact her every couple weeks didn't really constitute an egregious breach of solitude. "Come on, let's go out somewhere, yeah? Get some food in that tum tum." I made my last few words deliberately patronizing, and emphasized them by patting Kylie's belly.

"You're an ass," she said.

"Sure am," I replied cheerfully. "Now let's go. Chop chop. Get some pants on. Maybe a clean shirt. If you shower first, we can even go somewhere nice."

****

We didn't go anywhere nice. I'd known that was pushing it even before I suggested it.

Kylie made herself somewhat presentable, which was about as good as I'd hoped for. She also vetoed any attempt at going farther than a couple blocks away, despite my best efforts to force a little exercise into her.

We ended up at the same diner that we nearly always did when the two of us went for food. It was close, casual, and tended to offer reasonable privacy if we didn't hit a dinner rush.

I smiled at a splotch of green paint on Kylie's shoulder that I hadn't noticed until we sat down. Even the shirt she'd changed into for going out had seen some action.

"I'm doing fine, you know," Kylie said as she sipped the coffee our waitress had poured her. "You don't have to check on me just 'cause Mom gets worried."

"You're probably right," I agreed. "But it gives me an excuse to see you. You don't make it easy. If you had it your way, I'd probably see you once a year, at Christmas."

"I'm not that bad."

"No? When was the last time you called me? Wanted to hang out? Even just sent a text without being prompted?"

"Um..."

"Take your time."

Kylie glared at me, then her eyes softened and dropped to the table, chagrined. "You're right. I'm sorry."

"It's fine. I know you. I know how you are."

"Better than anyone," she concurred with a faint smile tugging her lips. "And I guess... maybe... I don't mind if you want to drag me out somewhere every now and then."

"Gee, that was almost affectionate."

"Yeah, almost." Kylie took another sip of her coffee. "What are you, twenty-six now? And you're still that annoying little shit of a brother just below the surface. I can feel you wanting to do something stupid sometimes. Even now. Just to get a reaction out of me."

"The reaction's always been the best part," I agreed easily. "You'd miss it if I didn't do little annoying things occasionally. It's part of my charm."

"No, I don't think it is. It's just something I've learned to tolerate."

"Coming from you, practically the same thing."

Our food arrived, and I immediately stole a fry off Kylie's plate, despite having a pile of my own. After our discussion about my annoyances, I couldn't help myself. She just rolled her eyes, which was all I'd been hoping for anyway.

"How are things going with you?" Kylie asked as though she'd only just thought to inquire, which she probably had.

"Pretty good. Work's fine. The house is fine. Everything's fine, basically."

"Uh huh." Kylie's nose wrinkled. "Can't believe you're still putting up with roommates. That used to drive me crazy."

"Yes, but you're a hermit," I patiently explained. "Any people drive you crazy."

"That's not true. I just need them to not, like, be around me, is all." Kylie waved her arms. "When I'm home, I mean. When I'm-"

"When you've retreated to your cave for solitude?"

"Goddammit, Ty. Now I'm a bear?"

"A hermit bear," I confirmed. "A bear even more lonesome than the average bear. Off in your magical cave in the sky where-"

I ducked as a bit of french fry was pinged at my face with impressive accuracy. It caught me on the temple and glanced off. I grinned like the shit of a little brother I was.

"Ass," Kylie said.

My grin broadened.

****

"Let's get you some groceries," I said on the walk back to Kylie's place.

"Nah, not right now," she said.

"You have literally no food. You should have some. Even magic hermit bears need food."

"I want to get back to painting," she whined.

"And you can. Right after shopping. It won't be so bad. My car's parked right outside your place. We'll pick it up, throw some things in a cart, drive back, done. Easy peasy."

"Ugh."

"My treat?"

"You know money has nothing to do with it."

"I do." I shrugged. "But you never know. The offer sometimes works on you anyway."

Kylie's eyes narrowed. She was still silent as we approached my car. I unlocked the doors, then held the passenger side open for her. She stood indecisively for a moment.

"Fine," she said. "But you're not paying."

"Excellent. I don't have any money on me anyway."

That was a lie, but it made Kylie roll her eyes again, and even got a baby smile out of her.

****

I felt better as Kylie and I stocked her fridge and cupboards later on. Rationally, I knew she wouldn't actually let herself starve for the sake of finishing a painting or avoiding the outside world, but emotionally I shared some of the same concerns Mom did.

I'd already texted Mom not to worry about Kylie, that she was fine. I'd received a text back asking me to get Kylie to call her. I'd ignored it.

Kylie padded off before we'd finished putting everything away. I chased her down a few moments later, and she was already back to her painting, heedless of the potential damage to her 'good clothes.'

"Ky, your outfit?" I reminded her.

"Oh, yeah, right." She frowned as she noticed the same bit of green on her shoulder that I had earlier. She picked at it, but it was old and not coming off easily. "I probably need new clothes too, at some point," she admitted.

"Well if you want-"

"Not today."

"No, I knew that. I was gonna say when you got around to it, you could hit me up."

"Yeah, maybe."

Kylie stripped out of her shirt and pants like I wasn't even there. Even her socks came off, then got balled up and thrown safely to the side of the room with the rest. Only her bra and panties stayed on. Those, I noted, were less presentable than her outer layer. Though, of course, they weren't intended to be seen.

"You know I'm still here, right?" I said.

"You've seen me in my underwear before," she said without turning around.

"Many times. And I've tried to explain almost as many times why-"

"Yeah, yeah. I know. Inappropriate. Whatever. If you didn't want to see me half naked, you wouldn't still be looking."

"That's..." I trailed off, slumped, and turned away instead. It wasn't worth arguing about again. Truth be told, I didn't much care one way or the other. It mostly just annoyed me that she didn't care either.

What sort of sister just let her little brother see her in her underwear? That wasn't right. That wasn't how these things were supposed to go. She was supposed to get mad and call me a perv and probably throw something heavy at me, or punch me repeatedly in a not-too-sensitive area. The media had collectively lied to me about these sorts of scenarios.

Then again, Kylie was Kylie. She hadn't ever fit any of the classic cliches, not consistently at any rate, and that didn't seem about to change.

****

I waited a couple weeks to see if Kylie would contact me on her own. She didn't. I used her predictable lack of communication as an excuse to drop in on her again.

As before, I simply took the elevator in her building up to her loft, then entered using the spare key she'd given me. No warning, no chance for her to beg off.

Her place was tidier than I expected, which was to say a dent had been put in the number of paintings awaiting homes. There was actually a decent amount of space to walk around without fear of bumping into anything. It was a particular relief for me, since I could never tell which of her works were the really valuable ones.

There was a logic to it, she assured me, but I'd never understood it. It had never had much to do with the size of the canvas or how much I liked the painting in question, and that was about all I had to go on. I'd pretty much given up even trying to evaluate, and therefore had to be all the more careful handling or tiptoeing around piles of her work of indeterminate value.

Kylie was in her studio area. No surprise there. She was also totally naked, which wasn't as much of a surprise as I would have liked it to be either.

I coughed loudly and pretended to examine a painting hanging to my left. It was one of the long-term residents, a swirl of dark colours that made me think of an improbably close nebula in the night sky. Uninteresting to buyers, Kylie had informed me, and I suspected she'd only kept it because I'd mentioned I liked it.

"Hey," she said. "Wasn't expecting you."

"You never expect me," I said.

"That's true."

Out of the corner of my eye, I watched Kylie pad across the room and pick up a shirt. She bent over unselfconsciously as she grabbed it off the floor. Once she had it on, I risked looking at her again. Her lone garment was only just barely long enough to give her some semblance of modesty.

"See, if you'd learn to knock, I could have put clothes on first," she said.

"You never answer when I knock," I countered.

"Well you could be anyone. Why would I answer if I don't know who it is?"

I rubbed my face in exasperation. "Do many people knock on your door?"

"No."

"Then is it really that big a risk?"

"Hard to say. I don't have much data to work with."

"Goddammit, Ky."

She grinned a small, impish smile. I found myself mirroring it.

"Mom can't be panicking about me again already," she said. "I sent her a text only yesterday. No, wait." She paused and stuck her tongue out of the corner of her mouth thoughtfully. "Three days ago? Four tops."

"No, Mom didn't send me," I said. "You never got back to me about clothes shopping."

"From what I know about boys, which admittedly isn't much, you shouldn't really be all that interested in girly clothes shopping."

"And yet, here I am." I shrugged. "Though to be fair, I'm mostly just hedging against walking in on you naked again. If you needed clothes that badly, you really should have let me know."

"Pff, whatever. You know damn well my wardrobe isn't quite that bad." Kylie gestured to her setup. Only then did I take in the canvas and the mirror next to it. "I was just trying something out."

"I see that. Is that... you? Naked?"

"Yeah. It's not easy. I mean, I've never been great at people anyway. But doing myself's even trickier. Mechanics-wise, mainly. I do like that it doesn't involve interacting with an actual model."

"Uh huh."

I was trying not to look, and only partly succeeding. It helped that the nude girl in Kylie's painting wasn't necessarily a dead ringer for her. I could tell that it was her, of course, but I could also pretend that it wasn't. It was less conflicting than staring at my sister's actual body.

"Not bad," I said.

"You think?" Kylie looked at her work more critically. "Not great either, though. If you like it, you can have it when I'm done. I'm not gonna sell it or anything either way."

"Um... I'd probably rather not have a nude painting of my sister, actually. Let alone in a house with roommates."

Kylie cocked her head. "Oh yeah. I guess that could be awkward. Oh well. Maybe I'll keep it. I'll have to decide if I like it when it's finished."

"Yeah, you do that."

****

I wasn't able to convince Kylie to go out. I'd had a feeling it was one of those days as soon as I'd found her painting a nude self-portrait. Her moods could often be telegraphed by what sort of piece she was working on, if one could decipher the connections, and in this case there was the obvious correlation of nudity to not leaving the apartment.

She was amenable to taking a break and eating an early supper with me. I assumed she'd missed lunch, but didn't ask.

I made us grilled cheeses, then we sat together on her bed and put on a movie. Kylie being Kylie, she didn't actually have a dinner table. Or chairs. Or even a couch.

Actually, that wasn't quite fair. She had a pair of tables, but they were dedicated to art supplies. She had one large, comfy chair that was often used as a 'temporary' surface to leave a painting on, or occasionally for its actual purpose of sitting in. She liked to sit and stare out the window sometimes, just watching and thinking. I'd never seen her sit in it to read a book or watch tv or anything.

So we shared her bed, in what constituted her bedroom, though it wasn't quite a proper room. I wasn't sure who had designed it, but one whole wall was just a curtain Kylie had hung up, and usually left halfway open. It was a space that tended to be painting-free, at least, excepting a couple hung on the more solid walls. It was no less messy for all that, and had clothes and various items strewn about wherever they'd been dropped. I tried to ignore what was almost certainly a vibrator half-hidden by the mess on her night stand.

The bed itself was a perpetually disheveled affair, always a mess of half-kicked-off covers and pillows going the wrong way. It was cozy enough to sit and eat on.

"So how-" I started.

"Shh," Kylie interrupted almost immediately. "I'm watching the movie."

I glanced at the screen, then back to her. "It's Pirates, Ky. You've seen it a dozen times, at least."

"I like it. Cap'n Jack's funny."

"Yes, I know. But I'm pretty sure you could recite the entire script word for word. You don't-"

"Shh!" she insisted.

I rolled my eyes, but stayed quiet until Johnny Depp was off-screen. "Can I talk now?"

Kylie frowned, then shrugged. "Fine. What's so important?"

"Nothing, nevermind."

I took our plates and took them back to the kitchen. I gave them a quick wash to eradicate the crumbs and bits of melted cheese, then returned to my sister.

I stopped short upon approaching the bed. My face warmed noticeably.

"Uh, Kylie?"

"What?"

"Your pu- I mean, your, uh, lady bits are like... there."

She looked down at her lazily spread legs with only her shirt keeping her modest. I knew I should have insisted on more clothes being donned.

"Oh," Kylie said. She closed her legs up, but without any rush to the movement.

I stayed where I was, unsure whether to get back on the bed with her. It felt questionable all of a sudden.

"You can say 'pussy' you know," she said. "I don't mind."

"No, but I do. It's not a word I like to associate with my sister if I don't have to."

"Why not?"

I sighed heavily. "Goddammit, Ky. Sometimes I swear you act oblivious on purpose."

A smile tugged at her lips, nudging me closer to suspecting I wasn't wrong. Shortly thereafter, Captain Jack did something silly but somehow brilliant on screen, distracting Kylie's attention. I gave up on my moral quandary and crawled back into bed with her.

This latest uncomfortable flash of femininity from Kylie set my mind awhirl. I'd already been a bit on edge from catching her naked, not to mention the large painting of roughly the same image hanging out on the other side of her loft, just in case I'd forgotten. I'd at least avoided seeing her vagina in the flesh in that instance. This time, it was basically stuck front and centre in my brain.

"Couldn't you glare at me and call me a perv or something?" I asked.

"Why?"

"'Cause I saw your... pussy."

Kylie snorted in amusement. "That was my fault. Not yours so much."

"See, there you go being calm and rational about it again. I hate when you do that."

"You do?"

"Yeah. It's too... it's wrong. It's just wrong."

Kylie considered. "So I should get mad at you and say or do hurtful things? Just so we can be normal?"

"I mean... yes? Kinda?"

She shook her head. "And I'm supposed to be the weird one."

I set my jaw and stared straight ahead at the movie. I wasn't going to win this argument. If Kylie wasn't bothered by me seeing her bits, then she wasn't going to be convinced to be bothered.

It wasn't really about that anyway. I was trying to make it about her reaction, the same way I basically always tried to make it about her whenever I caught her in various states of undress. I'd never seen her fully naked before, nor had such a framed shot of her pussy, but it had been a close thing a few times.

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