Title: Relax Sequel C - The Ugly
Notes: Kindly beta'd by Sue C. All other notes and disclaimers as in Sequel A, especially the one asking for feedback :)
The Ugly by Hannah
"So, it occurs to me that you're straight."
In his surprise, Josh opened his mouth to protest but before he could say anything, he began to choke on his mouthful of food. When he had recovered, he saw Sam's steely blue eyes gazing solemnly at him. "What do you mean by that?" he asked indignantly.
"Exactly what I said. I think you're straight."
Josh stared at the man sitting on the other end of the sofa and carefully examined Sam's expression, looking for a hint that he might be joking. Finding only honesty, and perhaps just a hint of sadness, he reached across for Sam's hand but before he could make contact Sam folded his arms across his chest defensively.
"Sam, we've been going out for ten months now. That really doesn't seem like a very straight thing for me to have been doing, you know?"
Sam sighed deeply and Josh began to realize that their conversation was for real. "Six months ago, Josh, you came to me and said you thought you were ready for us to make love and I pointed out that you weren't. Now, feel free to correct me if I'm wrong, but as far as I'm aware, that was the last time you mentioned the subject."
Josh felt his cheeks heat up in his embarrassment. "You said you were okay with that," he protested. "You said you'd wait as long as I needed."
Sam grimaced. "I know I said that, and I meant it, but that was when I thought you'd only need a few more weeks - maybe a month or two tops. But we've been a couple for nearly a year and, well, we've not really gone very far."
From Sam's faltering speech, Josh began to sense that he was as uncomfortable broaching the subject as Josh was about it being broached.
"I thought you were happy," mumbled Josh.
"I was." Sam pinched the bridge of his nose, a clear sign that he was upset. "I really was, Josh, but that was six months ago and I just... I want us to be doing more than we are these days. I want to know that when we go to bed, you're going to be thinking about what would feel good to me."
Josh swallowed nervously. "What's that?"
"What's that?" repeated Sam incredulously. "Right. As long as we're having this conversation, let's go for broke, okay?"
"Okay." Josh was even more nervous now. In retrospect, he should have realized this conversation would have to happen before too long - thinking back over the previous few weeks, he could remember countless occasions where Sam had been a little terse with him, a little distant. So this was why, he thought.
"When we're in bed, what do you like us to do?" Sam asked.
"I like... I like... everything Sam."
"But we don't do *everything*," shouted Sam. "Oh my god, Josh, you can't even bring yourself to talk about what we're already doing, can you?"
"Okay, okay." Josh tried to calm Sam down, knowing that his anger wouldn't make the conversation any easier for either of them. "I like it when you touch me - when you jerk me off. I love you going down on me. And that time you let me watch you getting yourself off. That was really hot."
There was silence for a moment, before Sam spoke. "Don't you notice anything about that list of yours there?"
Josh thought for a moment then shrugged, unable to see what Sam was getting at.
"It puts you completely in the passive - you're the object of all those verbs: I touch *you*, I go down on *you*, I let *you* watch..." Sam's voice trailed off. When he spoke again, his voice was soft. "In all the time we've been together, the only things you've let me do to you are things a woman could do. What's more, you've only ever reciprocated with handjobs, and given that you always have your eyes closed when you do that, I can't help thinking that the only way you manage to get through it it is by telling yourself that it's your penis you're touching."
Once again the room fell silent as Josh processed what he had just heard. Reluctantly, he had to admit to himself that Sam had made some valid points. "Alright, so maybe you're not totally out of line with all that," he admitted, "but it's like I told you before - I didn't experiment in college, or any time before or after that. So this is all new to me."
Sam's shoulders slumped. "Okay, look, I have to stop you there. I didn't 'experiment' in college - I *came out* in college." He paused. "Josh, have you ever been attracted to a guy? I mean, have you ever found yourself daydreaming about him, wanting to hold him and kiss him and make love with him?"
"Well, there's you," Josh said hesitantly.
"Other than me?"
"Erm," Josh racked his brains for a minute. "Not so much, no."
"Okay. And when you've thought about us together in bed, have you ever imagined going down on me, taking my penis in your mouth? Or putting your fingers, or your cock, up my ass? Or having me do that to you?"
Josh couldn't stop himself from shuddering slightly at Sam's questions, a movement which didn't go unnoticed by Sam.
"You haven't have you?" Sam's voice was sad.
"No," came the whispered response.
"Josh, you're straight. I mean, maybe you're, like, one percent open to experimentation, but to all intents and purposes, you're straight."
"No. See, I do imagine us making love and it turns me on. I love the thought of you taking me in your mouth, letting me come down your throat. But you don't want any of that. If you were at least imagining it, and you were just scared about following through with it in reality, then I could work with that, but you don't even want those thoughts in your head. Face it, Josh, you're straight."
"If that's the case then why did we get together in the first place?" asked Josh miserably.
"I don't know. Maybe you were just drunk enough that first evening we kissed. Or maybe the lighting was really flattering in that bar. Or maybe... maybe you confused just friendship-love with romantic-love, because we've both been single for so long. I think you would have reached out to anyone who cared about you."
"But I didn't reach out to *anyone* - I reached out to you."
"That's because I was there, Josh. And because CJ would never let you be so stupid with her, and Donna's bright enough to realise that you'd be cruxified by the press for dating your assistant. So you turned to me and, because I'm in love with you, I let myself hope that you wanted more than you did."
Both men watched the clock on the wall tick the minutes away. It was a long time before either of them moved. Eventually Josh stood and turned to Sam who was sitting huddled in the corner of the couch, looking sadder than Josh could ever remember seeing him.
"I should go," Josh whispered.
Sam nodded silently, pulling a cushion to his chest.
"I'm really sorry, Sam," said Josh, the sincerity of his apology shining through. "I never meant to hurt you. I was just... I don't know. Confused? Maybe. Lonely? Definitely. And I wish you hadn't been the person I dragged into that."
Sam bit down on his lip as he nodded again.
"I wish I could want this," continued Josh. "I'm sorry."
"It's okay," croaked Sam. "You can't be what you're not. And you're not gay."
"Yeah." Josh shrugged then turned to leave the room. At the doorway he turned.
"You'll be okay?"
"I guess." Sam didn't sound so sure.
"I'll see you at work tomorrow?"
"I... I think I'm gonna call in sick."
"Yeah." Josh took in the sight of his best friend. Sam hadn't even looked this upset when Lisa had called off their engagement. "Are we going to be okay?" Josh asked hesitantly.
"I don't know," answered Sam as his voice started to crack. "But for now, could you just go? Please?"
Josh walked out the building and closed the door behind him. On the doorstep he paused for a moment then pushed his copy of Sam's key through the letterbox, before turning to walk home.
Inside the house, Sam heard the light thud of the key as it landed on the doormat. He closed his eyes and wept.
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