Circular Logic

by: Abigale

Character(s): Josh, Sam
Pairing(s): Josh/Sam
Category(s): Friendship, General, Romance, Slash
Rating: TEEN
Summary: A long weekend looms.

"He doesn't like to be bullied."

While Toby sat at his desk, Josh stood a few paces away from the door. Just as his mind retreated back to contemplating the upcoming summer holiday weekend looming in front of him, drawing out each tedious moment into what felt like infinity, Sam strolled into the Bullpen. His concentration was centered solidly on the documents he held. He looked up and saw Josh. "Hey."

"Hey," Josh responded, unsurprisingly. "You're done with your meeting? Who was it with again?"

"Rocco, the Senior Deputy Assistant Under-Secretary for the Office of...." Sam began searching the page in his hand, brow creased. "Oh god; I hope I was talking to the right person. None of this sounds familiar to me." His attention came back to Josh. "What's up?"

"I'm here to take you home," declared Josh, defiantly holding Sam's eye.

"I don't like to be bullied," Sam eventually told him, glowering.

"Sam, go!" Toby called out to his deputy.

"I don't like to be bullied!" Sam yelled back, but after only an instant, he walked into his office to collect his things.

"Shit. I left my gym bag in the car," Sam complained as he dropped his keys on the table by the door. He stiffly clomped back down the stairs, out of Josh's sight. Returning, he found Josh in the bathroom. "What the hell is that?" Sam wanted to know, pointing an accusing finger.

"It's a bath."

"Yeah, but. What's it doing in my tub?"

Josh scrutinized his friend for a moment before letting it go. "Get in," he demanded.

Sam stepped closer and looked down into the billowing foam. "There are bubbles." He stooped to trap a few in his fingers, studied them as they dissipated. "Don't tell me. Are you telling me you bought -- ?"

"I'm not," Josh assured him, wiping his hands with one of the stark, white bath towels that he pulled from the rack. "It's dishwashing liquid." Sam looked mildly appeased. "But I tried to buy bubble bath once."

Snickering, Sam crossed his arms over his chest. "But you were embarrassed, and chickened out," he scoffed knowingly.

Josh's smile was triumphant. "No. Actually, I just didn't like the scent of any of them. I couldn't picture you smelling like green tea all night."

Bending again, Sam sniffed at the mountain of yellow tinted suds. "Smells like lemons. So, it's okay if I smell like lemons?" he wanted to know, his eyebrows crowding into each other.

"Yes."

Sam insisted he preferred to shower. Josh told him it was too late. It was soak or be soaked, he threatened. "It's for your own good."

Sam huffed in misery. He preferred to shower. "And I won't fit, Josh. Look at the tub," he instructed. "Now look at me."

Seeing that it was time to pull out the big guns, Josh threw the towel over his shoulder with authority. "If you don't put your firm little ass into that water, I'm forcing a Percodan down your throat. Thata boy," he cooed, as Sam began shucking his clothes.

"How did you know?" asked the younger man, averting his eyes from Josh's victorious grin.

Shrugging his shoulders as Sam handed over his pants, Josh told him, "I asked Toby how you were doing, and he folded like a cheap suit."

Sam didn't bother pointing out the absurdity of that statement. "Boundaries, Josh. We're supposed to have boundaries at work." He slipped out of his boxers, with a hand on Josh's arm for support. "I don't ask Donna to tell me what you ate for lunch; you don't try to get the Communications assistants to tell you how much coffee I've had, and we never talk about why we're late in the mornings," Sam recited. He stood before the steaming bath in nothing but his socks.

"None of this helps your hip unless you're actually in the water, Sam."

"I went to the gym before my last meeting," Sam offered weakly as he hopped around, doffing his socks. When he came to stand back on both feet, he clamped his hands to his hips in defiance. "I may have sat for ten hours straight, but then I went to the gym so, I worked out the kinks. There's no need -- "

Josh nudged the writer towards the tub, then steadied him as he stepped over the side.

" -- no need for these extreme tactics," Sam complained. "H- h- h- hot!" He lowered himself cautiously, until he sat up to his chest in bubbles. "What I'm trying to say is, Toby didn't talk to me after I came back from the gym, so he didn't know I felt fine, I'd gotten in a good workout, and...."

Josh had left the room, Sam's voice continuing to drone on as he went to the kitchen and pulled a beer from the refrigerator. Returning to the bathroom, he figured he hadn't missed much.

"...the statistical improbabilities were astounding, and I got completely caught up in it. Otherwise, of course, I would have remembered to get up and move around a little." Sam's dripping hand rose out of the bubbles, reaching for the bottle Josh held. "But when it ended, I realized I was for shit, stiff and sore as a.... really sore." He took a sip of beer, and handed it back to Josh, seated on the closed lid of the toilet.

"What now?" Sam wanted to know.

Sighing heavily, Josh downed a gulp of icy beer, and then leveled his stare on Sam. "I don't know, Sam. You relax, I guess."

Sam looked around the brightly lit bathroom, then down at the frothy bubbles surrounding him. "I'm relaxed." He gazed up at Josh with expectation on his face.

"That was fast," Josh said nonchalantly, examining the label on his beer.

After a moment, Sam shifted awkwardly in the tub, splashing at the water. "Are you, what are you doing? Are you just going to sit there?" He drew his mouth into a tight, challenging line.

Josh thought for a moment, before answering. "If I leave, will you stay put?"

"For how long?"

"Until your muscles loosen up. I don't know."

Sam's arms flapped in the water again, splashing Josh's pants. "I don't like to be bullied," he grumbled.

Setting his beer aside, Josh got to his feet and grabbed a towel. "Stand up," he ordered in defeat.

"Well, that was a success," Sam grinned, watching Josh's reaction carefully.

After he was sufficiently dry, Sam wandered into the bedroom. "So, now it's my turn," he said, as he began rifling through a dresser for something to put on. "You need to eat something; you look pale. Really, Josh, when was the last time you went to the gym...?" Sam's voice trailed off when he realized there was no one in the room with him, a fresh tee-shirt hanging limply from his fingers.

Settled on the sofa with the remote in one hand, a briefing book in the other, Josh propped his feet on the coffee table. "It's early," he said when Sam entered. "Do you want to order something to eat?"

"Um." Sam sat gingerly next to the other man.

"Ah ha!" Josh yelped in glorious victory. "I knew you were still sore!"

"I sat on the phone," Sam corrected him, reaching down and brandishing Josh's cell phone.

"I'm still... I know you're achy. Later, I'm gonna rub you down." Josh's eyes slid away from Sam, and he leaned over to place his phone on the end table.

"You aren't going anywhere near my ass, Josh."

"I'm not -- !"

"Nope. You touch even one of my trigger points, and I'll kick you into orbit." Sam struggled to his feet, and ambled into the kitchen.

Josh remained where he sat, stewing in vexation. "I'm telling Toby that the next time you're seated in a meeting longer than three hours, he's got to send someone in after you!" he hollered towards Sam.

Who appeared in the archway. "Do that, and I'll tell the First Lady that you've been having palpitations."

The two men stared hard at each other, fully aware that a line had been crossed. Evoking the name of Abigail Bartlet in issues relating to health was like opening the missile silos. It was hard to step back from that level of alert.

"I won't tell her that," Sam admitted quietly, lowering his eyes in regret.

"I guess you know when to stretch your own muscles," Josh countered, also unable to make eye contact.

They ordered steak and cheese sandwiches, and ate them in front of the television. Most of Sam's fell to the paper it came wrapped in, and when he got up to retrieve a fork, Josh noticed a definite stiffness to his movements.

But he didn't say a word about it.

Later, when Sam actually declined working at the dining table, as was his usual practice, Josh tsked softly, and pulled Sam into a loose clinch on the sofa.

"Sam."

"What?"

"Nothing. Just, 'Sam.' I'm having a moment."

"Ah."

They took turns debating the merits of the brief Josh had brought home, Josh eventually admitting he had no counterargument to Sam's most salient points. "You realize you just deconstructed everything I was supposed to say to the President before he leaves tomorrow, right?" Josh scolded, with mild annoyance.

"You should have had me write the memo," Sam replied, disentangling himself from Josh's embrace. He yawned noisily, and stretched his arms above his head, a strip of eternally tanned skin appearing above the waistband of his droopy jersey knit pants.

"Mmmm. That right there is reason twenty-two why you look good enough to eat," Josh said lecherously before smacking his lips. "When did I begin talking like this?" he wanted to know with a perplexed frown.

"Like...?"

"All, you're so hot, you complete me, blah blah bullshit."

"Well, since I know you're not saying that complimenting me is bullshit, I'll just hazard a guess and say... since you started watching Buffy?" Sam smirked.

"Thanks, Sam. You're a peach." Josh put down the brief he'd been holding and stared towards the darkened window. "There I go again."

"Get over yourself."

"Do you know; you probably don't know this. But did you know I've never been one of those guys -- "

"Of course I know."

"Let me finish! I've never been one of those guys who goes on and on about this stuff. You love 'em? Tell 'em. And that's the end of it."

"So... basically, I bring out the poet in you. Or, I inspire you." Sam removed his glasses before heading in the direction of the bedroom. "You're right. That's creepy. Goodnight."

Setting aside the report, Josh wandered into the kitchen to rinse out his coffee mug, snatching Sam's pear core along the way. When he returned from the kitchen to look for his car keys, he mumbled to himself, "And I'm picking up after him; this really is turning into a Twilight Zone episode."

"He's loping."

"He's limping."

"He's loping."

"No, he's limping, Toby!"

"Oh, for crying out, CJ. Sam!"

Up ahead a couple of dozen paces, Sam swiveled gracefully and stared back, wide-eyed, at CJ and his boss.

"Think he could pivot like that if he was injured?" Toby snarled under his breath. Then louder, for Sam's benefit: "Leave the draft on my desk."

Sam blinked twice, then looked down at the sheaf of pages laying atop his notebook. "The one you just told me to leave on your desk, like, thirty-two seconds ago?" he wondered aloud, clearly irritated.

CJ's snicker was cut off by the sharp look from Toby. "That would be the one, thank you very much." Taking her elbow in hand, he steered CJ down another corridor. "You're a pest, and an agitator."

"And Sam was in pain, and limping down the hall, which makes you unobservant and unfeeling."

Toby stopped in his tracks and slowly turned his head toward his companion. "I thought we just settled that."

"He was limping."

"Sam lopes. It's what he does."

It was the day before the long weekend began, and Leo's most pressing business was the ragged state of his cuticles. "He's listing a little to one side," Leo informed Toby, loitering in the Communications Director's doorway, studying his nails.

"Oh, for the love of god; I'm not doing this again." Toby sucked violently on the end of his pen.

"Send someone to Dirkson this afternoon. I want us to have a presence there to counter the rhetoric the Republicans'll be dishing out when the hearings break." Leo plunged his hands into his pockets, then tilted his head in thought. "We do have someone who knows something about international trade deficit flow, right?" he asked hopefully.

"Not so much, no," Toby informed the Chief of Staff. "But I can send Marissa. She's an excellent liar."

Leo left satisfied, and Toby pondered for the tenth time that seemingly endless day if anyone ever listened to the actual words that came out of his mouth.

Sam certainly didn't.

"I wanted half this length!" Toby bellowed later that day. "Half means less. Not half as much more!"

Sam nodded his head in agreement. "I know. But that just wasn't going to work, Toby. Trust me." He leaned back against Toby's shelves, dislodging a stack of binders. As he scrambled to keep the rapidly deteriorating pile from sliding away, Sam earnestly continued his explanation. "If you'd read it before you rip it to shreds, you'll see that this is one of those times where more is better. Every one of those points I make is backed up with irrefutable statistics and anecdotal facts." Sam gave a final shove to the binders, and they wavered precariously on the edge of the shelf.

Toby watched, fascinated, as the binders began the slow crawl towards their inevitable fall. "How much you wanna bet they take the dictionary with them?" he asked, his eyes directing Sam where to look.

"Ten bucks," Sam answered easily, and began digging in his pocket.

"This is the time, when all men -- all persons -- no, all citizens -- Every time I write that word it reminds me of... hey, Toby? What was that movie where the aliens descend and address the 'citizens of Earth?'" Sam's eyes peeked over the top of his glasses, his face open and waiting.

"You're insane."

"Can't you ever just play along?" Sam shook his head, gaze falling back to his laptop, the original question forgotten. He was getting very consistent about forgetting things lately. His phone, his vitamins, his own birthday; he kept meaning to talk to someone about it....

Almost four hours earlier Sam had decided that this day would be the longest in recorded history. Not because there was so much to keep him occupied, busy, chasing his tail. But for the simple reason that there was nothing going on to keep him grounded to the business at hand, and his mind focused and functioning.

They were all bored beyond reason.

He shifted on the sofa, re-crossed his ankles on the coffee table. "And that drink. Do you remember?"

The sound of a file hitting the desk brought Sam's attention back up to Toby. Arms crossed in front of him, face a mask of carefully cultivated irritation.

A moment passed, where Sam once again abandoned his inquiry, but Toby... Toby looked as if he might have a clue. This one he knew. "It was a Radioactive -- "

"Long Island Iced Tea! Right." Sam flashed a gleaming, male-model smile and went back to work. His computer clacked away and he sniffed once, allergies scratching at his eyes. Then, "But, what was it that made it -- "

"The Chambord, or maybe it was the Midori; I really don't remember, Sam." Toby allowed some much warranted exasperation to be breathed into his answer. It seemed to keep him interested in the inane conversation, to remain annoyed.

"I'm asking because, she said she really loved them. And it would be great to, you know, for her. Whatever it was that made it radioactive, to get her a bottle of that."

"Sam?"

He was puzzled for a moment. He'd been looking at Toby, but the voice came from behind him. To his right. And up.

"Hey, Josh." Back to work, clackety clack. Finding just the right word, something better than 'inadequate.'

"Can I steal him a minute?" Josh hung in the doorway, apparently excluded from entering the room by the fear of getting pulled into whatever quagmire the speechwriters had been struggling in all morning.

"Me?" Sam inquired of Josh, while looking directly at Toby. "Or him?" Swinging his head around to Josh.

"You're -- you're confusing me, Sam. You. I want you." Josh stepped backwards out of the doorway, and appeared a second later in Sam's office, on the other side of the blinds.

"Well," Sam declared, still seated. "CJ hates it when he does that, but it's not so bad. It's not like I'm feeling passed around like a drunken girl at a frat party."

"Sam!" Toby admonished sharply.

"I'm making a point," Sam argued, getting to his feet.

"And being pretty damn insulting while doing so."

"If anything," Sam said, placing his laptop on the cushion where he'd been sitting, "I'm insulting the frat boys."

Toby snorted indignantly. "You aren't doing much for the girl's reputation either."

Sam stared at him. "She's not real, Toby." He continued staring. "But if it makes you feel better, I'll apologize to her."

Josh's voice called in from the other room: "Can't you just ignore him, Toby? You of all people...." He stood framed in the shared window, hands on hips, his expression silently calling to Sam to get his ass moving.

"I think I left -- "

Sam glided past Josh and reached under his desk for his briefcase. "I have your tie." Sam's voice was hushed, but not a whisper.

"Ah." Josh stepped closer, shielding Sam's movements from the open door. "This one, it's butt ugly," he complained, grazing a hand over the tie that hung down the front of his shirt. "It's all I had in the office."

"Well don't change it now. Unless you spill something on it. It'll seem kinda weird...." Sam handed off the length of fabric to Josh and snapped shut his briefcase. "And don't do that again, okay?" He looked steadfastly into Josh's eyes. "Don't come by in the morning like that."

Josh's head bobbed up and down. "I know, I know." A smile rose between twin dimples. "But...."

"Yeah," Sam agreed, fighting back a blush.

"Oh, I'm supposed to tell you to come see CJ, too," Josh tossed over is shoulder as he made his way to the door.

"Wait!" Sam joined him in the threshold. "She wants me to come to her?"

Josh stuffed his tie into a pocket, and cocked an affirmative eyebrow at Sam.

"Uh oh."

"What did you do?" A spark of interest lit Josh's face and Sam shrugged, and bit his lip. "It's probably nothing," Josh assured him and began to turn away. "She was smiling."

"Uh oh."

Josh stopped, and turned back. "What did you do?" he asked again.

Another shrug of the shoulders, the lip turning white between Sam's teeth.

"You must have some idea...?"

"Um, I was too late to brief her this morning," Sam offered.

Josh looked around the bullpen quickly, lowed his voice and leaned into Sam. "Well, you can't blame me."

"But you -- "

"Sam, I mean, don't tell CJ I'm to blame. I've been good. So good. I can't afford to get sucked into the vortex that is your -- "

"Ahem." Toby appeared in his doorway, a legal pad dipping from his hand. "May I have my deputy back?" he asked while making it perfectly obvious that the outcome had already been decided for them.

"CJ needs to see me," Sam said. "Now, I guess." He looked to Josh for confirmation, but the blank look he got didn't help. "So I'm going to go check on that, with her. I'll be back. Eventually." He pumped a thumb down the hall, and dug his other hand in his pocket.

Toby worked a hand through his beard. "If she needs you, she can damn well come get you."

Sam was already on the move. "I prefer to go to her like a man. Chin up, shoulders squared. Look death right in the face and...." His voice petered away as he continued down the hall.

"Size matters, guys. Who are you kidding?" CJ licked her finger and slid one crisp page to the side. "I can't believe we're even considering perpetuating this shit."

Josh looked at Sam, who was looking at his shoes.

"Size matters?" Josh squeaked. Squeaked like a mouse; a tiny, cowering little mouse coming face to face with a big old snarling, salivating cat. CJ was the cat.

"Pfft!" was CJ's answer. She flipped to the next page of the Climate of Sexual Attitudes in America report she'd been skimming through for the last half an hour, the only thing she'd found to keep the strangling boredom at bay.

"But -- Sam!" Josh turned to his friend and pleaded to him mutely. Help! "When did this happen?" he griped.

"Pfft," CJ snorted.

Sam's eyes were finally dislodged from his glossy shoes, and he shrugged one solitary shoulder. "It's not that big a deal, Josh," he spoke knowingly, resigned to their fate as Men Who Are Judged By Their Penis Size.

Josh shook his head, squeezed himself further back into CJ's sofa. "No. No, no. This is... that's been like, the feminist mantra for years. Size does not matter, so we should all stop trying to prove it. It's the thing that's gonna bring world peace at last. We don't have to compete anymore. And... we were getting there. We were so close!"

"Josh," Sam patted Josh's knee affectionately. "It's okay. You really don't have anything to worry about." He quirked a meaningful eyebrow at him and allowed a minuscule smile to form on his lips. "I don't have anything to worry about either, for that matter," he mentioned with a hint of tasteful pride.

"Pfft."

Josh looked from one of his friends to the other before speaking to Sam. "Can I just say? You're extreme confidence right now is even more annoying than your usual lack of self-confidence in these matters."

"I'm just saying. In this case, I don't mind that they changed the rules."

"We didn't change them, Sam," CJ informed him while flicking to the next chapter. "It's always mattered. We just didn't tell you. We thought it was for the best."

Now Sam blanched, but he remained silent, eyes drifting to the wall above CJ's desk.

"So, you still think it's okay?" Josh, turning to Sam, was indignant. "They've been lying to us for years. Decades. Hell! Centuries!"

Eyes snapping back to meet Josh's, Sam shrugged once more. "And you believed them. Who's been fooling whom?"

"Pfft." CJ put down her report. "Seriously. You're saying you didn't know, Josh? I mean, that's all your gender has ever been about. Until we said, 'Hey fellas, guess what? We really don't care.' And then it's, 'Oh, great, what a relief, we'll never think about it again?' Pretty convenient for you, huh? Pfft!"

"I knew." Sam could be such a pain in the ass sometimes. Which had nothing to do with the conversation they were having, or his earlier declaration. "I never really fell for it."

"You just went along with it...?" Josh struggled with all the complexities of the issue, but couldn't help coming back to the effect this would have on him personally.

"Well, what was I gonna do? Argue with them?"

Josh considered this for a moment; Sam, debating the relative merits of size, with his date.

"It matters to me," Sam confessed.

"That's because -- "

"No. It's because.... Why shouldn't women care? Size matters."

And CJ snorted once more, while shaking her head. "See. This is why we decided to go to such extremes to reassure you. It was so much easier on us not to have to listen to this crap."

Sam leaned into Josh and looked him in the eye apologetically. "And you should also know; the premature ejaculation thing? It's really not okay, and it doesn't, in fact, happen to everyone."

"I've never dreaded a weekend this much in my entire life," Josh was bitching. "Have I ever said I wish the President was back from New Hampshire before? I don't remember ever feeling that way before." He jammed two softbound reports into his backpack, then tossed in a handful of highlighters.

Sam sat on the edge of the desk, one leg swinging freely back and forth. "Nope, not a thing wrong with me today. Perfectly fit. Gonna play basketball this weekend," he informed a distracted Josh. "You?" Sam picked up a mound of paperclips, clamped together in a four inch ball, and studied it. "Wow."

"I'm not playing basketball," Josh said. "I'm not doing anything. I'm going home, I'm taking some work in case anyone sees me leave, but it's never coming out of my backpack. I'm taking this weekend for myself." He looked over to watch Sam examining the paperclip sculpture. "Are you really playing basketball?" he asked with a slight whine.

"Yup."

"But... you're coming by afterwards, right?"

"Yup."

"Don't laugh at me." Josh's disembodied voice came through the closed door of his apartment.

"That would be rude."

"You were brought up better than that, Sam." Josh cracked open the door, against his better judgment.

"My father, it turns out, is a rat bastard who deserves to be -- oh. my. god." Sam's laughter overcame his downward spiraling train of thought. "Your knees! Your knees!"

"You've seen my knees before."

"Yeah, but not sticking out from under, um, is it possible those were your dad's shorts? Don't dads wear those sort of...." Sam walked a slow, careful circle around Josh. "You're wearing your father's Bermuda shorts, Josh."

"So much for not being rude."

Sam pointed accusingly at Josh's pale, knobby knees. "That's rude," he snickered, then threw his hands up in the air. "Okay; you've won. I'll call the damn, corrupt air conditioning people for you and pretend to be your lawyer. Now go put on some clothes."

"I'm appropriately attired for hanging around in 97° heat. When you're draining onto the floor and beginning to spoil, all Banana Republic'ed to death, I'll be happy to mop you up. And I won't have to worry about getting you all over my clothes."

"Because what possible harm could it do?" Sam crossed his arms while he continued to sweep appraising eyes over Josh.

"You wear women's clothing," Josh shot back at Sam. Standing a mere two feet away, he watched the color first drain from, then rise on Sam's cheeks. "You wear purple -- "

"Oh," Sam choked out. "You're talking about the -- "

"Well, yeah."

"You wouldn't believe." Sam began strolling towards the kitchen. "I mean, you just couldn't imagine the compliments I got with that shirt. It was lavender, by the way."

"It was stunning, and it could have paid my rent."

"People said it brought out my eyes even more than when I wear blue."

"I didn't notice," Josh fibbed, following behind Sam.

"And it was a gift, so who cares what it cost?"

"And you also wear women's clothing."

Sam turned sharply and scowled. "They're socks, Josh. All-cotton sports socks."

"For women." Josh hefted himself onto the counter.

"I thought... nowhere on the package did it say -- "

"Right on the back. And you saw it and shrieked."

"I merely mentioned... I said 'Damn! I bought the wrong socks.' "

Josh shook his head, dissenting. "You shrieked like a girl -- which you are -- and threw them on the bed, and stomped out of the room."

"Jesus, your imagination! I swore, yes, I did. But when I realized they were still the right size, I put them down. And left the room."

"I think you pouted for like -- "

"Josh." Sam placed his hands on Josh's shoulders to keep him from floating away on his fanciful theme. "They're, like, unisex. They're socks."

"Women's socks."

"Fine."

"It's not like I'm insulting your manhood or anything."

"No. I didn't get that impression at all," Sam smirked at him.

Helping himself to a bottle of water, Sam slammed the refrigerator closed with a flick of his wrist. "I'm heading to the wharf."

Josh was already shaking his head. "Nuh uh."

"Scallops, shrimp, maybe some crabs? Soft-shell crabs," Sam continued, returning to the living room, Josh trailing behind.

"No!" Josh wailed helplessly. Then, "You did mean I should come with you, right?" asked hopefully.

"Of course."

"No!" Josh wailed helplessly. "I'd, I'd have to change."

Sam turned to Josh, placed his hand on his chin with fondness. "I thought you weren't ashamed of your knees?" he teased.

Josh's eyes lowered in humility. "I'm not. But lime, orange and pink plaid doesn't do anything for my complexion," he admitted.

The deal was, Josh would stay in the car while Sam strolled the bustling pre-holiday D.C. waterfront scooping up the freshest seafood he could find. In return, Josh didn't have to change from his ensemble, and could keep the air conditioner running.

What Sam hadn't told him was that they were then heading straight to CJ's, where she had graciously accepted Sam's invitation to cook them all a sumptuous meal.

"I need to stop at the liquor store," Sam told Josh, as he pulled into a parking space. "Wine," he added breezily.

"Have you forgotten that I'm the cheapest date you've ever had, and beer is fine with me?" Josh asked, ducking down to peer at Sam through the window. Sam strolled away without answering, and was back with four bottles in under four minutes.

"And you don't need to get me drunk to have your way with me, and wine gives me a headache anyway?" Josh persisted. He took the sack from Sam, and peeked inside. "Um. Chambord? Midori?" He looked up from the sweet, fruity liqueurs, and blinked at Sam. "They don't really go with the assertive properties of the Viognier," he announced, proud to show off the single thing he ever remembered Sam telling him about wines.

At that point, Sam had no choice but to confess the plan to Josh. Josh, howling the entire way to CJ's, begged to be dropped at his apartment to change.

"I pay for dinner for a MONTH! No wet towels on the bed! No more messing with your answering machine! Sam! Pleeease! Take me home! Take. Me. Home. Now."

Sam turned to Josh with a glint and placed a warm hand on Josh's exposed thigh, before carefully drawling, "I don't like to be bullied."

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