Author: Anne Marsh
Title: Saints, Preserves, and Us
Sequel to Acclimation, reuniverse
Pairing: Josh and Sam A good solid
Rarting: PG to NC-17
Summary: It's not an ordinary day...
Notes: Sam POV. Takes place about a week or so later, as Sam and Josh prepare to celebrate.
Archive: Yes
Feedback: Please.

Saints, Preserves, and Us by Anne Marsh

St. Valentine's Day... I woke up to the sound of water running in the bathtub, and opened my eyes to see Josh perched on the edge of the bed.

"Hey. I've got to check on the bath in a minute... I was just watching you sleep." He smiled, tracing a finger along my jawline.

"Yeah?" I broke into a grin. "Mm. Bath, you say?"

"Yeah. A romantic kinda bath. Only this time, you're getting in first, and I'm treating you." He kissed me warmly. "I have to go make sure it's not too full... be right back."

He disappeared, and I closed my eyes again, listened as the water ran for a while longer, then stopped. Thought about Josh. I felt him re-enter the bedroom, the bed dipping under his weight, as this time he settled a little closer to me.

"Hey." I sighed. "Ready?"

"Go on and get in. I'm just gonna run down to the kitchen and get us some coffee before I join you, but the bath pillow's all set up, so you can get comfy." He gave me an apologetic smile. "It might be a while, coffee's still brewing."

I got out of bed and slipped out of my boxers and into the tub, wondering when Josh had gotten up. The water was nice and hot, and Josh had added the ocean bath salts. It certainly wasn't difficult to get comfy-- the main bathroom light wasn't on, just a dim sort of light comin in from outside, and the three unscented candles he'd lit, sitting on the wide ledge by the wall.

I lost track of time, but when Josh came in, he wasn't just carring coffee, he also had two plates of toast and eggs.

"Brought you something." He grinned.

"Josh! Aw, that's sweet of you." I grinned, too, touched. Josh wasn't exactly big on kitchen endeavours, so scrambled eggs from him was-- wait... Josh hadn't made me his usual efforts, the impossible-to-wreck-scrambled eggs, he'd made me an *ommelet*. Folded, garnished, the works. "Josh... Thanks."

He smiled, leaning towards the sappy side-- I felt pretty sappy myself, of course-- and fed me bites.

I reached up for the fork, but he batted me down gently. "Your hands are wet. Let me, you'll drip everywhere."

Or, in Josh-speak, 'Let me, because I want to do something romantic for you, but I can't exactly come right out and say it like that'.

I let him.

He did let me hold my own coffee mug-- it's safer if I handle that myself, and besides, he had his hands full with both our breakfasts.

Once that was done with, Josh stripped out of his pajamas and slid into the tub to lean back against me, my legs to either side of him.

"That was wonderful, babe." I said, bringing my arms up around him. "Best I've ever had."

"Mm, you've said that to me before." He grinned over his shoulder at me, then relaxed. "Sam..."

"Yes, Josh?"

"Am I sitting on the soap, or are you just happy to see me?"

"I am *very* happy to see you. I am *always* happy to see you." I purred, stroking his upper body amorously, one of my legs winding around one of his.

"Ooh... I like where this is going. You want me to--"

"Not underwater, it dries out the lube."

"Water *dries out* lube?"

"You know it-- because it's, I don't know, water-soluble, it kind of actually does. Anything you use as a lubricant still shouldn't be used for underwater sexual activity."

"Oh. Then what *do* you want to do?"

I grasped him firmly in one hand, pumping steadily and grinding up against him. "This is good."

"You're right..." He groaned. "This is... very... very good..."

He turned and I scooted forward, so that we sat, Josh in my lap, legs extending behind each other, his length against mine. Josh grasped the edge of the tub for balance and thrust against me, and we both braced feet against the tub wall as I held onto him. It didn't take long to get lost in the sensation. In this position, we could kiss, and we took full advantage of that fact. Water sloshed over onto the carpet, and Josh pulled the plug so that we wouldn't cause any water damage. Actually, looking back, I think Josh pulled the plug because it was in the wrong place at the wrong time, an innocent bystander, and less because he was thinking clearly about the long-term consequences of us making love in the bath, but it still did the trick.

Gasping and panting, we leaned on each other, water swirling out around us. I felt his chest heave, heart pound, his hands scrabble for purchase on the water-slick skin of my back.

"Quick shower?" I finally suggested.

Josh nodded, shivering slightly. We made our way as quickly as we could from the cold, empty tub to a hot, if short, shower, and afterwards we dried each other off with intimate familiarity.

Josh's hands lingered everywhere through the towel, my arms, chest, shoulders and back. On my legs, belly, and buttocks, and finally between my thighs. The touch wasn't specifically arousing, or even sexual in nature. Sensual, yes, but not *sexual*. Just... well, familiar. Loving. He knelt in front of me, smiling up with a sweet, disarmingly innocent quality. Innocence on Josh is a rare thing...

He stood up and waited, and I started by rubbing his towel briskly over his hair. After that, the back of his neck and shoulders, then down his arms. He has a nice tone to his arms... lean and strong-- not as thin as 'wiry', but too smooth and nowhere near bulky. Bulky's kind of gross anyway, I think. Lean, I like. Josh is a medium-lean toned kind of a guy. Over his back and chest-- he has a smooth chest. I remember the first time I saw him, without a shirt on-- we hadn't been lovers, we were college students, I think. We might've been at a gym or a pool or something, he's the only part I really remember. He was a little embarrassed about it, and I told him that in some cultures, a smooth chest was a sign of virility, and he said he knew there was a reason he liked me, and now that I can personally attest to Josh's virility... hoo boy. Those cultures were right.

There are other, non-virility-related advantages, too... my mind strayed back six years, to Rosslyn. He was rushed into immediate, high-risk emergency surgery, the kind of emergency where they didn't have time to shave anything before they cut into you, which is, as far as I am aware, standard operating procedure. If you're trying to fix a pulmonary artery or cartoid tissues, a few too many hairs in the way could be the difference between life or death, maybe.

But that doesn't matter now. The scar has faded with time, to a red raised line, nothing more. As I run the towel down his chest, it doesn't demand the special treatment it once did, doesn't need to be avoided or coddled. I wrapped the towel around his lower back and ribcage, dried his stomach, now moving down to my knees as he had.

Josh ruffled my hair playfully, gave me a wink and a smile. Just what I needed... I always feel just a little extra-special when Josh winks at me, like my world's gotten that much brighter. I moved down, did one foot, then the other, before working my way up his calves. Josh has *great* calves. I'm glad he kept up an excersize regiman after I left for California-- like so many of his habits, those regarding excersize were sporadically tended to. After he made his recovery from Rosslyn, he tried to be more regular with it, the two of us usually setting aside the same block of time so that he wouldn't have to do it alone. I think he mostly did it to make me happy, but goodness knows that day was a wake-up call in more ways than one...

Anyway, it *definitely* paid off in the leg department... I had proudly noted the small improvments over time, back when we first started making love, and there has been no decline over the past four years. I moved up his legs, pausing to get the backs of his knees, where he's ticklish. His thighs next... he's blessed there, too. Very nice muscles, the dusting of ginger hair growing lighter the higher you go. Then, of course, there's the nest of hair around his genitals. I dried between his legs, fondling softly, not over-zealously. There. He was dry.

With his arm around me, and mine around him, we moved back into the bedroom, and I started towards the dresser.

"Wait. Go sit on the bed, first thing's first!" Josh said excitedly. I watched him run still-naked out the door and down the hall to my office, where we'd agreed he could stash his presents for me in the closet with the copy/fax.

Mine for him were in the linen closet outside our room. We knew each other's hiding places, and had agreed to be on the honour system. And while Josh can be impatient, I trust him not to peek, because he really does like a good surprise, and besides, he wouldn't betray the honour system, because he knows it's important to me.

He returned with a small gift back. "Your first gift of the day."

"My fourth. I already got a nice hot bath, a nice, hot breakfast therein, and an even nicer hot Josh."

"Well then you've got catching up to do." He laughed.

"Hey, you got a hot Sam, didn't you?" I defended, opening the gift. Ah... silk boxers. Not surprised. They were red lip-prints on black. "Should I wear them today?"

"Oh, do." He shot me a leer. I laughed, we dressed, and soon we were both sitting on the bed, holding hands and just grinning at each other.

I have a present for you." My grin widened. "Wait right here."

I returned, placing the present in his hands. He ripped at the paper and held the book aloft, a laugh on his lips. "Gay Fairy Tales... oh, that's great... You know, I've always wanted a nice, non-heterosexist bedtime story. Not that you're not a wonderful non-heterosexist bedtime something else..."

"I thought it was kind of neat. It's just-- you know, fairy tales retold with a gay perspective. All the princesses become princes, stuff like that, I guess. Anyway, I thought it might be a cute St. Valentine's Day present. It's not your big one, though."

"What's my big one?"

"I'll give it to you after our teeth are brushed and you're ready to go." I tempted.

---/-/---

Josh had bounded downstairs before I finished flossing, and was waiting by the door when I got there. I pulled an envelope out of my jacket pocket and presented him with it.

When he opened the card, two tickets fell into his hand. "Hey... Knott's Berry Farm? Cool! I've never been there."

"It's not too far away." I nodded, smiling. "And since you were so interested in getting to know the attractions of your new home state, I thought maybe I'd take you."

"Come on, Sam, let's go!" One hand shot for the doorknob, the other found mine. He was laughing, happy... he reminds me of a kid sometimes. I can't help wondering what his childhood was like, what he used to get excited about.

"I don't even know what the rides are, what are the rides?" He asked, climbing into the passenger's seat.

"Well, Ghostrider, for starters. That's one of the first ones you'll see." I turned on the CD player, volume low, so we could talk. "It's a wooden roller coaster, it's built over the street, so cars can actually drive under a tunnel, and it goes right over! I think wooden roller coasters are cooler than a lot of the new-fangled metal ones."

He laughed. "New-fangled metal ones, huh? Well, I would like to try this wooden roller coaster."

"There's Sky Cabin, that's another one you'll see early on. It's really high, and you go up, and then come down. It's simple, but it's pretty fun."

"So, a drop ride?"

"No, it's not like other drop rides. It's... first of all, it pre-dates the current popularity of the drop ride, and it doesn't go as fast as they do, but-- It's nice. When you're at the top, you can see everything. And there are some other roller coasters, of course, and-- Oh, Josh, we absolutely have to ride on the time machine one! It's my favourite ride!"

"Totally." He grinned. "What else?"

"There's a log flume ride-- it's not like the one at Disneyland, it stands on its own merits."

"I've never been to Disneyland, either." He shrugged.

"Well, I know where we're going next year."

"A log flume ride." Josh repeated.

"Yeah. It starts out kinda slow, you're in a log-shaped boat-thing in the water, and you're in sort of a tunnel-- like a dark ride, and then you get to the very top, and you speed down the flume, and sometimes you get splashed. And there's a river-rafting ride, you can get wet on that one, too. And there's a show, the Mystery Lodge, it's a story-teller show, with effects, it looks pretty neat, and there's a pioneer town, and an Indian Trail, and some shops-- and I will buy you a souvenir at one of them, and I'll buy you a t-shirt. And there are some places to eat, and some Snoopy stuff. And Independence Hall. You don't need the ticket for that, it's outside the park, but it's all historical and pretty neat, and the ticket is an all-day ticket you know, so we can go over to Independence Hall or to the shops outside the park, and then go back in."

"Sounds great. Thanks, Sam... you're wonderful. I've never been there! That is so cool. This is an *awesome* Valentine's Day present!" He was bouncing in his seat. The conversation was, for the moment, pretty over, and he turned up the volume as Cake's 'Stickshifts and Safetybelts' came on.

---/-/---

"Knott's Berry Farm," I began, as we pulled into the parking lot. "Is so named because it began as a berry farm. Knott grew berries-- he *invented* the boysenberry-- and his wife made pies and preserves. My grandfather-- oh, or wait... maybe it was my great-grandfather. One of the two-- was given the opportunity to get in on the ground floor, and he said 'You're crazy, man! No one's going to drive out to the middle of nowhere for a berry farm!', and he turned him down... it would've been neat if he'd said 'yes'." I sighed.

"Yeah. You'd be getting in for free." Josh laughed. "Ah, come on. It's not like he knew it'd be an amusement park someday."

"Knott once bought an actual ghost town to use as an attraction." I informed him, as we got out of the car.

"That's dedication." Josh nodded, a spring in his step as we headed towards the gates.

"The aptly-named Ghost Town. They still make the best preserves ever-- not *in* the Ghost Town." I said.

"We should get some, then." He wrapped his arm around my shoulders.

"They have a gourmet food shop, in the California Marketplace. The rows of stores right outside the park."

"Cool."

---/-/---

Ghostrider was one of the nearest attractions to the main gate, and Josh dragged me into line. Okay, so here's the thing... I don't like rollercoasters all that much. It's not like any irrational fears or anything, I just don't care for them. And maybe I have a little fear, but it's perfectly rational fear, and-- and I just *really* don't like going upside-down. Hence my assertion that wooden coasters are better-- they're just as safe, and they never, ever turn you upside-down.

As we waited in line, Josh slipped his hand into mine. We stood, traded smiles and playful glances. I decided that waiting in line isn't so bad.

>From somewhere behind us, I heard the tail end of a slur. Just the '--hole cocksuckers'. I looked over at Josh again, wondering if he'd heard. He shot me a wry smirk.

"Quite the mental image, no?"

I couldn't help snickering a little. I am so glad I have Josh... I don't think anyone else could take away the sting like he does. I know Eleanor Roosevelt said 'No one can make you feel inferior without your consent', but it doesn't always work that way... Josh can make me laugh at other people's insults, though. And just the thought of him reminds me that I have nothing to feel inferior about. I don't think I'd make it without him. I *know* I'd never be where I am today.

I put my arm around his shoulders, just long enough for a brief squeeze.

"Hey!" The guy from somewhere behind us shouted. "Get a room, you fags!"

Josh turned around. "Excuse me?"

"You heard me." Guy From Somewhere Behind Us said, and the party between us and him scootched to the sides under the force of Josh's glare.

"Josh..." I whispered firmly, touching his elbow. Inside my head, the words 'don't do anything stupid' played on a loop.

"I'm sorry, remind me-- *how* does my relationship affect you?"

Guy From Somewhere Behind Us had to struggle for a moment to articulate an answer. "You people make me sick, that's how."

"He put his arm around my shoulders. For three seconds. Hey, is that your girlfriend?" He pointed to the girl hanging off Guy >From Somewhere Behind Us' arm. She was wearing a miniskirt short enough to classify as a wide belt, and a halter top that'd do a stripper proud. The words 'hoochie mama' came to mind for some reason...

"Yeah."

"You put your arm around her?"

"All the time, she's my girlfriend."

"Do I tell you to get a room?"

"That's different, man." Guy From Somewhere Behind Us shook his head. He looked uncomfortable.

"Really? Enlighten me." Josh crossed his arms, leaned back a little, posture smugly defiant. I've said it before and I'll say it again, I love that man...

"'Cause you're a couple of fags."

"And that's your business because...? Oh, yeah, right. 'Us people' make you sick. Well guess what, pal? You make me sick. We even?" And he turned back around, slipped his arm pointedly about my waist, and pulled me flush against his side.

Guy From Somewhere Behind Us started in with some kind of retort, involving a lot of loud swearing, but stopped short when a man vaulted over the railings that delineated the line.

"Hey!" He shouted instead. "No cuts!"

"Excuse me." The vaulter pulled out a wallet and flashed a security badge. "This is my day off, and I'm here with my wife, and I really, really hate to have to deal with this. On my day off. With my wife. What's going on here?"

"That guy's hassling those guys in front of us." A woman from the party seperating us supplied.

"I just said 'get a room'." Guy From Somewhere Behind Us defended.

"Excuse me," I stepped back towards the knot of people. "I'm sorry about this, really. It's your day off, and you just want to spend it with your wife. I understand, I'm here with my fiances, and we were standing right over there, holding hands, when this gentleman used several profane epithets. My fiance--" Here I motioned to Josh. "Was just trying to reach an understanding, and this... 'gentleman'... caused a small commotion." I offered one of those smiles you learn in politics.

"You didn't encourage this commotion?"

"No, Sir, we were merely standing here in line, holding hands. After the first... comment, made by the other party, I put my arm around his shoulders, not even for five seconds, you know, just a quick gesture. That's when he told us to get a room, using an offensive slur based on my sexual orientation. That's when my fiance attempted--"

"Are you guys lawyers, by any chance?" The Security guy asked.

"Yeah. Sorry." Josh nodded. "Actually, my fiance is a State Senator, he represents Orange County's district in Sacramento. There was no violence on our part, that's all. We just wanted to be left alone. You know, on Valentine's Day."

Security Guy turned to Guy From Somewhere Behind Us. "Okay, Sir, I want you to go stand over there, someone will be along in a minute to escort you off, and we'll get this sorted out. Ma'am, feel free to stay in line and enjoy the ride. And the two of you." He nodded to Hoochie Mama, then to us, and removed Guy From Somewhere Behind Us from the line, speaking quietly into a walkie-talkie.

The line, which had been pretty immobile for a while, finally started to move again, not a moment too soon.

---/-/---

"How did you like it?" I asked, resolved not to let Josh know that at several points I had been terrified. At least I never got nauseated.

"I feel *great*!" Josh stretched. "Wow... I think that was good for my back... what does that? Centrifugal something? G-Force? Something's responsible for my back feeling better. From now on, I am going on roller coasters instead of seeing a chiropractor."

"They actually won't let you do that." I shook my head, moving towards a bench. Just then, I saw Security Guy and his wife exiting the ride. "Excuse me... Hi, I wanted to thank you. For earlier, with that guy."

"Oh. Yeah, no, it's my job."

"It's your day off." I shrugged. "Thanks."

"No problem, man." He shook his head. The wife smiled at us, and they went their way, and I went back to Josh and the bench. The mercifully-attatched-to-the-ground bench.

"What do you want to do next?"

"You're the expert. Guide me."

"Well, we can go this way for Bigfoot Rapids, this way for the log ride, this way for--"

"Oh! Hey, Sam, you said you'd buy me a t-shirt. Check this one out!" Josh jogged over to the nearby souvenir stand, grabbing a shirt that read 'I Survived Ghostrider'.

"You want it now, or do you want to come back and get it later?"

"Later. We don't want to carry it all day. Besides, I might see one I like even more. We'll just have to see what else I survive!"

Okay, Sam Seaborn... you made your bed, now spend the rest of the day facing sheer pants-wetting coaster horror...

---/-/---

We wandered around Ghost Town a little longer before heading in the direction of Bigfoot Rapids.

"This is the Mystery Lodge?" Josh asked, pausing.

"Yeah. You want to check it out before or after?"

He sized the building up, then looked over at the ride. "After."

The line for Bigfoot Rapids was both shorter and less... eventful, than that for Ghostrider, and I had a lot more fun rafting down the manmade river. I liked the spinning, bouncing feel of water underneath us. A waterfall we went under drenched Josh, and he tried to shake as much of the water onto me as possible, in retalliation for me laughing. We came out of the whole thing a little too wet to go inside, but there were some benches outside, under the sun, where we could rest our feet and air-dry a little.

"That was *great*." Josh plopped down next to me. "I'm having the time of my life."

"Good." I smiled, and he leaned over to kiss my cheek, bushes concealing us from the masses, the bright flowers our only witness.

I get far too poetic when Josh kisses me, I think that's what the problem is.

"Did you come here when you were a kid?" He asked, leaning his damp head against my shoulder.

"Yeah, a few times when I was growing up, like over summer vacations. I hadn't been in *years*... and then last year, it was my birthday, and I thought I'd treat myself. It wasn't as much fun without you. I guess... I guess nothing's really fun alone, is it?"

Josh kissed my cheek again, squeezed me. "Guess not. Lucky for both of us I'm here now, isn't it?"

"Oh, I'm definitely very lucky." I sighed. "How you feeling? Dry enough?"

"Eh, sure." He grinned and stood, grabbing my hand to pull me to my feet. "C'mon. Is it set up like a theater? We can sit in the back row."

---/-/---

Once inside-- not the waiting area, but all the way inside, it was set up pretty much like a theater, and Josh did get me in the back row, although I promised myself I wasn't going to make out with him like we were teenagers. I mean, I have an image to uphold, right? And besides, it's really not the kind of atmosphere condusive to... well, okay. A room with Josh in it pretty much equals condusive atmosphere, unless there's a funeral going on or something.

We held hands during the show. It was neat-- it was a live show on the other side of a glass wall, with smoke effects and some projections, all about oral tradition. Even though I knew how they did most of the stuff they did, a couple things completely baffled me, and the whole story behind it was nice. Also, Josh was holding my hand, so... yeah. Pathetically in love with that man. It's really wonderful.

>From there we went on to the log ride. It doesn't have seperate seats, it has a long bench running down the middle of the log, and you sit with one leg on either side and hold the handrails. Josh sat in front, and I scooted up to get as close to him as I could, my hands touching his on the rails. The start of the ride goes in and out of the manmade mountain a couple of times, heading upwards. When it's outside, you can see the park, and when it's inside, there are some fake stuffed coyotes and such, and dioramic backdrops. And it's slow, and for the most part, dark. I slipped an arm around him, hand on his chest.

"Are we close to the top?" He asked.

I heard the joyous screams from the log ahead of us. "We must be."

"You gonna hang onto me?" I could hear the grin.

"Oh, yeah." I grinned right back.

We could look out a moment, and then our log was rushing down the flume, and Josh was leaning back into me, one hand like mine on the handrail, the other wrapped around my wrist, my other hand still on his chest, and we were laughing, or shouting, or something in between, wind whipping our faces, and this time, when we reached the end, we got equally wet. Not soaked all over, just adequately splashed.

Outside the exit, there was a board with monitors, and they put up pictures of everyone, just as they began to go over. Josh pointed ours out, and I smiled, pulling him into half a hug.

"Do you think everyone who sees that picture can tell I'm in love with you?" I asked.

"Well, I'm sure they'd draw that conclusion." He turned to me, leaned over to kiss the end of my nose. "Hey, you're cute."

I may have blushed. I shouldn't still blush, he's complimented me a million times, the man shares my bed! But I think I still may have blushed, just a little bit, at his roguish smile, and at his simple-but-flattering observation.

"Ah, my mistake-- *very* cute."

So he caught the blush. "Yeah, well. C'mon... we can still fit in some more running around before lunch."

"I'm up for it." He nodded, and we headed towards the Calico Mine Ride.

---/-/---

"The Calico Mine Ride." I announced grandly as we got in line.

"And was this ever a real mine?" Josh asked teasingly.

"That is a distinct possibility." I replied. "I do know that the Calico Mine Ride reaches the infamous Calico Glory Hole."

"The Infamous Calico Glory Hole." Josh repeated, grinning broadly and wickedly. "Happy Valentine's Day, honey. You're such a romantic."

"I *believe*," I nudged his ribs. "That the infamous Calico Glory Hole is a mining thing."

"I would think, because otherwise we'd be looking for it in the men's room."

"Hush. This is a family place." I tried not to laugh at him, but it wasn't easy, and he knew it.

What's worse, I kept thinking about it throughout the ride.

---/-/---

After the mine and the Butterfield Stagecoach-- which is, as you might surmise, a faux-authentic wild west stagecoach, it was definitely time to eat.

When I was here alone, I just went to the diner on the Boardwalk, or the Carnation creamery. You can't go to a nice, sit-down family restaurant without a family of some sort. Now I have Josh, and I want Josh's St. Valentine's Day to consist of the best restaurants. Nice, sit-down family ones. So I took him to Auntie Pasta's.

Auntie Pasta's is an Italian restaurant in a fake Wild West. As we entered, Josh turned to me and whispered 'what is this, a spaghetti western?'. It's family-style dining, and there are a couple of televisions set up, showing old Snoopy cartoons. We got a table for two in a corner and watched as Charlie Brown searched for the perfect gift for the Little Redheaded Girl.

"What do you want? Spaghetti? Lasagna? Linguini? Ri--"

"I can read the menu." He grinned softly. "I'm gonna run to the bathroom, if the waiter comes while I'm gone, I trust you to order me a drink."

Josh stood and kissed the top of my head in passing, then paused and doubled back.

"You figure out what you want?" I asked.

"No, I just wanted to let you know-- if I find the Infamous Calico Glory Hole in there, I'll take you back and... show it to you." He bobbed his eyebrows.

"That's just what I need, Josh. To get arrested at Knott's Berry Farm." I waved him off. "Maniac."

Our waiter did show up, almost as soon as Josh was out of sight. I ordered two glasses of boysenberryade, which you can only get here, and which, ergo, Josh has never had before. He arrived when the drinks did.

"What's this?"

"Boysenberryade. It's good, try it."

He tried. He liked. "Okay, it is good."

"What did I tell you? You know you can only get it here."

"Oh, nice. Get me addicted to something new and tell me I have to buy my way into an amusement park any time I want some? Go buy me a plastic Snoopy canteen, Sam, I'm smuggling some of this stuff out of here."

I laughed. "There's a restaurant outside the park, Josh. I think you can get it there."

"You don't want to do my smuggling idea?"

"Not as such, no."

"Eh." He shrugged. "Spaghetti?"

"Somebody's not feeling very adventurous."

"You want adventurous? I can do adventurous. I will go out there and find something huge and fast, and show you adventurous. What, you don't want spaghetti?"

"Spaghetti's fine, Josh." I shook my head, reaching across the table to touch his wrist. "And I *know* you can be adventurous. I'm just saying--"

"Oh, you *know*? I thought this was a family place, Sam." He teased.

"You have no room to mock me there, Mr. Glory Hole."

"That was my nickname at Harvard."

"Oh, it was not."

"You win." He pretended to flinch as I swatted at his arm. "We can have something else if you'd rather."

"No, I *like* spaghetti. Just wondered why you picked it, that's all. I mean, you had it a little while ago, and I thought you might want-- I don't know, something tube-shaped. Or--" I shrugged. "It's not because I don't want spaghetti. I'm just wondering how your mind works."

"You'll never know."

"I mean--"

"*I'll* never know, for that matter."

"I *mean*, if it's your favourite, that's the sort of information I should store away."

"No, just-- it's a good Valentine's Day food." He said evasively.

"Is it something we've done before and I've forgotten? Oh, I haven't forgotten an 'us' thing, have I?"

"No, Sam." He smiled, patted my hand. "You have not forgotten an 'us' thing. I just-- it's romantic. You know, romance. That thing you like before we have the wild monkey sex."

"You like it, too."

He head the good grace to blush. "Yeah. Sure I do."

"I'm going to hazard a wild guess."

"About spaghetti?"

"It's not because of that scene in 'Lady and the Tramp', is it?"

"No." He snorted, as though shocked I could think such a thing. Of course, he meant 'yes', and it was written all over him. I grinned.

"You are cute."

"I didn't find the Infamous Calico Glory Hole." He sighed. "I looked."

"Shush."

"Okay." He was smiling at me now, fully sappy and besotted. I can't even imagine what we must look like, the two of us, gazing at each other. But I didn't so much care.

We ordered spaghetti, sat and ate and kept looking at each other like that, and every so often, Josh would crane his neck to see how Charlie Brown was getting on with that Little Redheaded Girl.

"I don't know why he didn't just make a pass for Peppermint Patty. I always thought she kinda had a thing for ol' Chuck." I shook my head.

"Sam, it's because he was in love with the Little Redheaded Girl!"

"How well did he even know her? She always called him 'Brownie Charles'."

"She was just being cute, I think. He loved her! Besides, you didn't think Peppermint Patty was a lesbian?"

"Uh... no."

"Really. I thought you would."

"What's that supposed to mean?"

"I'm just sayin'... She and Marcie have a thing going."

"They're little kids, Josh."

"But they're foreshadowed. Charlie Brown loves the Little Redheaded Girl, his sister loves Linus, whose sister Lucy loves Schroeder, and Marcie loves Peppermint Patty. Marcie's femme, Patty's butch. Did Pigpen ever love Violet? Or Frieda? Frieda had a cat, I remember that cat was, like, boneless..."

"And Snoopy loves Woodstock?"

"Not like that, no. Sam, there's a fine line, and hon, you cross it."

"You're the one with the lesbian theory."

"But I thought *you* would have the lesbian theory. You know, with your 'Bringing Up Baby' theory. I don't really care, except that Charlie Brown can't make a pass at Peppermint Patty because he loves the Little Redheaded Girl. Also, I always kind of wanted Lucy to just once get Schroeder. I mean, sure she's bossy, but they're so cute, how she leans on his little piano?"

More soulful gazing, more occasional glances to check on Charlie Brown's progress. More in-jokes traded without words, and discreet nudges and smothered laughs. Josh scooted his chair around to sit close to me instead of across from me for a little while, and I let him start at the other end of a strand of my spaghetti and didn't think about who was watching. There was an odd number of meatballs, and I put the extra one on his plate while he wasn't paying attention. I don't think he counted the meatballs, anyway.

He scooted back around to sit at his own plate, and we talked a little, and laughed a little, and had our drinks refilled, and once, Josh whispered 'Glory Hole', and it was all I could do not to spit mine all over my plate.

It was with a light heart that I paid the check for lunch, and with Josh on my arm, I was ready to follow him onto whatever amusements he deemed fit, provided I didn't get turned upside- down on a full stomach.

---/-/---

We rode the Ghost Town Railroad before taking a meandering stroll towards the Boardwalk area. Kingdom of the Dinosaurs was the first Boardwalk area ride we reached, and I pulled Josh into line excitedly.

"Favourite ride, huh?" He grinned.

"Yes!" I laughed. "Since, like, always. It's the greatest!"

So Josh smiled and kept his arm around me in line, and boarded the car at the end of the wait. Kingdom of Dinosaurs is-- well, it doesn't go really fast or anything like that. It's a time machine thing, and there are animatronic dinosaurs, and some early mammals, and some nifty effects, but mostly it's the dinosaurs. It's just really cool, that's all, and as you ride along, you listen to all sorts of actual facts about dinosaurs, embedded in the time machine voice-over.

At the end, Josh just shook his head and grinned at me. "I should have known. An educational amusement park ride! That's so Sam I could-- It had science! But those dinosaurs were awesome, yeah."

"I always liked dinosaurs." I shrugged. The exit from Kingdom of Dinosaurs goes into the Dinosaur Discovery Center, which in turn leads into Dinostore Digs, where I found *my* T-shirt of choice. A National Geographic T-Rex T-shirt. I took it over to the counter, but Josh intercepted me, holding his wallet and a little stuffed pterasaur

"My treat." He grinned. "You're buying me something later, so..."

"What's that?" I indicated the pterasaur.

"He's for you." Josh said matter-of-factly. "You like him?"

"Yeah." I grinned, putting my arms around Josh's waist as he paid. "I do."

---/-/---

Sky Cabin was next-- a slow-spinning ride that took you up in little 'parachute' cars and gave you an aerial view of the park, but that didn't bring you down fast. A fast drop ride, at this point, would probably make me lose my lunch.

"Hey, I bet I can see our car from here!" Josh said, leaning to the side a little. "Oh-- No, no. There's a ride in the way. But I can see parking lots."

"This is nice." I slipped my hand into his. "You. Me... Pterry."

"Terry? You name him already?"

"Pterry, with a 'p'."

"Right. Because he's a pterodactyl."

"Pterasaur. He's *not* a pteradactyl."

"Oh. Pterasaur. Sure."

"Josh..."

"Mm-hm?"

"I love you, baby, you know that?" I smiled, wrapping my arms around him again.

"I know that." He grinned, snuggling against me. "Love you, too."

"Just want you to know how much." I said. "More than life."

"Just as long as you don't try to prove it by jumping, I'm very fine with that right now." Josh sighed.

"I figured I'd prove it by *not* jumping. Or, you know, doing anything to shorten the time I'll be spending with you." I squeezed him. "Happy St. Valentine's Day, Joshua."

"Happy Valentine's Day, Sam."

---/-/---

After Sky Cabin, I tried steering Josh's attention towards the bumper cars, and it happened. Josh spotted Xcelerator.

"Ooh, Sam! Over here, c'mon!"

Now, I'll go on the record and say it, Xcelerator looks cool. It's fifties-themed, with classic-car shaped cars that zoom around the track, and the colour scheme works out well, and it's a neat roller coaster, visually.

But it goes upside-down.

And looking at it is making me seriously nervous.

And Josh really, really wants to ride it. So I'm going to.

Standing in line, I wrapped Pterry and my T-shirt tightly in the plastic bag from the store, my hands looking for some honest work, something that didn't involve nail-biting. The ride operator offered to hold onto our things while we 'enjoyed the ride'. 'Enjoyed the ride'... don't make me laugh, pal! I nodded and tried to look more excited and less nervous. Oh, be honest, Sam-- less nauseated, less terrified. Less like a guy who might pass out.

Okay, seriously. It's time for me to get a good talking to. I mean, how bad can it be? From where we're standing, I only see one big loop, and that'll be over in a matter of seconds. Big deal, right? Of course right. And really, what's so all-fired scary about being upside-down, for Pete's sakes? It's not like Josh wants to wade through a pit of snakes, it's a roller coaster! I can do this.

The operator put our bag into a little cubby underneat the control panel, and we were strapped in.

"This is gonna be *great*!" Josh grinned over at me. I tried to grin back. "You okay?"

"Fine. Psyched."

"You sure? I mean, if it hasn't been long enough since you ate or something--"

"There's really nothing we can do about it at this point." I braved a broad smile and Josh reached over to grab my hand as the ride started its initial climb. Or whatever. Started picking up speed and heading for... loops, and things.

I could close my eyes, and maybe I wouldn't even *notice* when we went upside-down.

"It'll be fun." I said. Josh winked at me.

Parts of it were... well, fun could be the word for it, I guess. Other parts were... not so much with the fun. More with the terrifying. I didn't scream, you know, like in fear or anything. I didn't scream in fake-fear, either, which most people were doing. I could pick Josh's whoops out of the general cacophony, and I could squeeze his hand. I so took full liberty of that one...

I spent the entire ride in a state of clench-- my hand clenched onto Josh's, my jaw clenched, my-- well, I was pretty clenched. You know, you say 'clench' enough and it starts sounding like it's maybe not a real word at all... My eyes were even clenched-- the few times I opened them, the combination of ground whizzing away from us and wind rushing against unprepared eyeballs made me shut them again.

When the ride stopped and Josh collected our bag, I was wandering from the ride on wobbling legs.

"Dizzy?" Josh asked, steering me towards a bench.

"Yeah, no, a little bit." I tried to shrug it off.

"Sam..."

"Yeah?"

"Do you not like roller coasters?"

Well. There was no escaping *that* one, was there? It's not like I can *lie* to Josh. "Nah, I-- not really."

"I didn't know." He put an arm around my shoulders. "The way you were talking earlier, like in the car, I assumed-- and you seemed-- We could've done something else."

"No, it-- I'm okay with roller coasters. I mean, it-- it depends on the coaster. Some I like, and some I don't, and-- well, you never know until you-- well, no, okay, that one I was pretty terrified of, but-- it was okay. I did want to try it, just once. See what it was like."

"Okay. Next time, you steer me towards one that won't cause you to break my fingers." He joked, giving my hand a light squeeze. "How's that sound?"

"Jaguar's okay. Over in Fiesta Village-- over that way. It's kind of a wuss coaster, compared to... well, that one. But it's still pretty fun."

"Cool. You aren't going to throw up on me, are you?"

"Nope. Stomach's fine."

"Would it still be fine if I brought you ice cream? I see ice cream."

"Yeah." I smiled. "I think if I could survive Xcelerator, I can survive ice cream."

---/-/---

Josh bought one double scoop of mint chip and one of cookie dough, and we traded bites and sat with our knees resting against each other.

"We should probably do something not-a-roller-coaster immediately after the ice cream, right?"

"Right." I said.

"It's a beautiful day out, isn't it?"

"Don't know. I'm preoccupied with this beautiful man..." I smiled, stealing a quick kiss, which Josh returned and prolonged.

We wandered over to Fiesta Village, finishing off our ice cream cones, and I spotted Waveswinger-- it's basically like one of those old midway rides, where everyone gets strapped into a swing, and you all spin out farther and farther the faster it goes. More my speed-- you went kind of fast, and you went kind of high, and you *were* kind of sideways, but... I don't know, something about it seemed... I just like it, I guess.

After Waveswinger, Josh spotted the Dragon Swing-- another one that reminds me of an old carnival ride-- a big fake Viking ship that everyone buckles into a seat on, and it swings one way, then the other, until it's almost vertical. Also very fun, when one hand is wrapped in Josh's anyway. And from there, I let Josh take me on Jaguar.

Jaguar seems to grow like a giant red jungle vine, out of a Mayan temple in the middle of the park, winding around a ways, never turning upside-down. It's a family-friendly coaster, one for all ages and most conditions. Still no pregnant women or heart problems. It occured to me that I could have wormed out of Xcelerator if I had brought his heart into it, but he doesn't have a *condition*, and he's long past the time when he was on restriction for things like roller coasters, and besides, what kind of bastard would I be if I did that? But Jaguar is okay, it's pretty fun. This time, when we crested a peak and Josh let out one of those shouts of joy, I tried one of my own. It felt natural, right. Yes. I was having fun on a roller coaster.

We passed by Montezooma's Revenge, which *does* go upside-down, and Josh shot me a questioning glance.

"Maybe... maybe next time we come here. I'm a little coastered out." I said apologetically.

Josh kissed my cheek warmly, slinging an arm around me again as we walked. "Sure. What's next?"

---/-/---

"The Merry Go Round."

"A Merry Go Round?"

"It's one of the world's oldest working Dentzel Carousels. One hundred years old, with forty-eight handcarved animals, including lions, tigers--"

"And bears?"

"Oh my. Ostriches, camels, zebras, giraffes, pigs, and cats. And, you know, horses, but those are kind of boring when you've got the other things."

"No kidding. I wanna ride a tiger! You sold me, Sam, let's go." He laughed. I felt all of ten years old, and Josh did, too, you could see it on his face. Soon Josh was sitting on a tiger, and I was next to him, being not-so-particular in my animal of choice, and things were just... just perfect.

---/-/---

After the Merry Go Round and the Hat Dance-- spinning sombreros, kind of like the teacups at Disneyland-- the only place left to explore was Camp Snoopy. We rode the High Sierra Ferris Wheel-- at the top, Josh made another search for our car-- and found the koi pond, watched as kids fed pellets to giant fish.

The Walter K. Steamboat circled Reflection Lake, and we rode that, enjoyed the tranquility for a while. After that, we saw more shops, and revisited a couple we'd seen only briefly before. I bought Josh his 'I Survived Ghostrider' shirt, and a stuffed Snoopy, dressed as the World War One Flying Ace. I also let him buy some fudge at the Calico Candy Kitchen, but I made him promise to save it for later.

I bought him another boysenberryade, and we rode the train around Camp Snoopy that wove through a little forest and around the lake. Dusk was beginning to settle as we left the park for the California Marketplace just outside. More shops, and I made some mental notes about what to come back for when it came time to buy him birthday presents.

I bought preserves at the gourmet shop and reminded Josh that he'd already bought fudge inside the park. Then I bought some pancake syrup and vowed to make pancakes someday so we could use it. Josh had ducked through the doorway that seperated the gourmet food shop from yet another candy store next door, and soon he was grabbing my elbow and tugging me after him.

"Check it out!" He beamed. "A wall of M&Ms. And in all different colours! You could get any colour M&Ms you wanted here! We could even get M&Ms in our wedding colours to have at the reception. I'm gonna buy some M&Ms-- just a small some!"

"Okay." I sighed. I wasn't going to give in, but *man*, I love M&Ms. "But remember-- we're *saving* them."

"Yeah, yeah. I'm getting these teal ones-- what colour do you want for yours?"

"Josh, I--"

"Come on. Favourite colour?"

"I like the red ones." I shrugged.

"But you can get red ones anytime!" Josh sighed. "They have gold ones and black ones and white ones and grey ones and purple ones and-- different kind of purple ones, and flamingo pink ones, and--"

"Okay, get me some lavender ones."

He raised an eyebrow. "Lavender, Sam?"

"Yeah. They look nice with the teal. Lavender."

"Okay." Josh smiled indulgently and measured a scoop of the lavender M&Ms into the bag with his teal ones.

And as it grew late and I detected the first rumblings from the stomach of one Joshua Lyman, we hit our final destination, Mrs. Knott's Chicken Dinner Restaurant.

After a meal of homestyle fried chicken, biscuits, mashed potatoes, and more boysenberryade, we were finally ready to head home.

Josh changed CDs in the car, Billy Joel's 'To Make You Feel My Love' starting up.

He turned to smile at me, relaxed, contented, and I stole frequent sidelong glances at him.

"When the rain is blowin' in your face, and the whole world is on your case, I could offer you a warm embrace, to make you feel my love." He crooned softly.

"When the evenin' shadows, and the stars appear, and there is no one there to dry your tears, I could hold you for a million years, to make you feel my love." I returned, a grin threatening to overtake me.

He took my hand, kissing my knuckles and skipping a line to do so. "I've known it from the moment that we met, no doubt in my mind where you belong... I'd go hungry, I'd go black and blue, I'd go crawling down the avenue. There's nothing that I wouldn't do, to make you feel my love."

"The storms are raging on a rolling sea, and on the highway of regret..."

"The winds of change are blowing wild and free. You ain't seen nothin' like me yet... I could make you happy, make your dreams come true. There's nothing that I would not do. Go to the ends of the earth for you... to make you feel my love..."

"There is nothing that I wouldn't do, to make you feel my love."

Another kiss to the back of my hand. "You're beautiful."

"I get another present when we get home, don't I? Don't think I forgot what you said about the bookstore and waiting for today."

"Somehow, I did *not* think you would forget anything I might have said about getting you a present at a bookstore." Josh grinned. "And that's not the only present I have for you once we get home..."

"Josh..."

"Yes, Sam?"

"You're beautiful, too."

"Nah. Ruggedly handsome, I'd say."

"I'd say you were full of it." I teased.

"I could be. You'll just have to wait until we get home, won't you?"

I got myself firmly under control. I really didn't relish the thought of getting a speeding ticket when I was already half-hard just thinking about Josh, and promises, and the way he was stroking my thigh...

"Can I get us home in one piece?"

"That would be a neat trick, but I think you'll have to settle for getting us home in two pieces. Once we're there, I can see what I can do..."

I can just imagine how the talk would go, too... 'I'm sorry, officer, I know I was going seventy, but it's St. Valentine's Day, you see, and I just want to go home and bugger my boyfriend, and oh, I'm a State Senator, so if you could let me off just this once?'

Yeah, that'd fly.

Josh's fingers trailed lightly back down the inside of my leg to my knee, and I decided we could go a very tiny bit faster...

---/-/---

Once we got home, Josh led me to the bedroom, kissing me getnly and passionately every few steps, alternating light kisses with deep ones, his hands slipping under my shirt.

"Hot when you're wet..." He murmured, and I remembered catching a *look* from him, just after Bigfoot Rapids-- not The Look, just *a* look, a hungry, predatory look...

"Hot when I'm dry." I countered, pulling my shirt off, and he made a noise of zealous assent, feasting on my chest with none-too- subtle smacking kisses.

Okay, so everybody hates a sloppy kisser in a mouth-on-mouth situation, but there are these times when he gets carried away with other parts of me, that sloppy isn't so bad a thing, where a line of saliva threads down my abdomen, and his teeth scrape my skin and ragged breaths interrupt the frenzied pace of his lips and tongue... That I like.

Josh continued to strip, balancing awkwardly on one foot, removing his pants while still bent over, his mouth against my navel. We tumbled back onto the bed, and he managed to shake free of his shorts, had my pants around my ankles already... I jerked as he grasped me through the silk of my boxers, wanting to push into his hand, again and again, but afraid of ending things before they began.

"How long has it been, Sam?" Josh whispered, resting against me, his lips by my ear. Our chests heaved against one another, and one of his hands had slipped bast the elastic of my shorts, to cradle one buttock, wedged between me and the mattress, skin and silk.

"It's only been one day, Josh." I reminded him, chuckling. "Not that I don't appreciate your insatiable ardor."

"No.... since I-- Sam, it's been almost four years since I had you inside me... not since--"

He stopped talking, apparently unable to divide his attention between speech and undressing me, but I knew the end of the sentence. We hadn't since he-- since the Bartlet administration-- visited Orange County, nearly four years ago. I had gone back to Josh's hotel room, ostensibly to talk political strategy, as well as to catch up. We had talked a lot of political strategy during that visit, but that night in his hotel room had been all catching up, and Josh had been the one 'catching'.

It was beautiful. Poignant. I didn't know how long it would be before we'd be together again, after he left. If I lost, not too long. A couple of months, maybe, but not too long. If I won, four years, four years before he could come for me again. And I had won, but I didn't know I would on that night, when Josh begged me to take him and I wasn't about to say 'no'.

It was wonderful on a physical level, for both of us. I made sure of that, made darn sure Josh was getting as much out of it as I was, that he came before I was spent, that this time would be something perfect he could carry with him when we were apart... It was wonderful to be able to hold Josh in my arms, to be touching him from head to toe-- and to be touching him so deeply, about halfway between. That night we laughed and we cried, and we made love... and we forgot for a while, that we would be parted before too long.

I kissed him, in the here and now, found the new tube of lubricant in his bedside drawer and prepared him as gently as he'd prepared me, our first time since we'd been apart. It was slow going, but I didn't mind, relished the feel of Josh as my one hand rested gently on his stomach and my other stretched him. Our eyes were locked, the deep brown of his drawing me in and nailing me to the spot and filling me with the most unbelievable sense of joy, of the strange-but-perfect juxtaposition of jangling anticipation and calm that only Josh could instill.

He lay on his back-- we'd experimented with positions, and several had their charms, but I wanted to be able to look into his face, to kiss him without any craning of necks-- and I inched into him, one hand framing his face, one cupping his balls.

His breath hitched and he held my shoulders, eyes still boring into mine, fathomless and black with passion.

"Tell me if you need me to slow down."

"You're slow enough." He smiled, traced a thumb over my cheek. "Sam... you can give me a little more now."

I complied, watched his face carefully for any signs of discomfort. The slight twinge I caught accompanied a small smile, and I waited until he relaxed, pushed in a little further, stroking his shaft now. He was getting harder, and beginning to whine if I stayed still too long, and I shifted forwards, watched as his cock came to life in my hand, as the lingering pain fled from his expression. He wrapped a leg around me and pulled me in closer.

I came down, resting heavily on my forearms, kissed him. "Josh... Josh, baby, look at my eyes,"

His own opened, smile enraptured. "My Sam... mmm, it's been too long..."

"I'm in you, babe. All the way."

"All the way." He repeated, kissing me. "Good... you remember what to do next, right?"

I laughed, kissed him, hard. "Yes."

"Yes..." Josh hissed, and this time, he meant something completely different.

We rocked slowly, his arms around me, mine to either side of him, close, kissing every few moments as I pulled back only far enough to bury myself in him again, to provide his prostate with some friction. At the same time, I kept my hand around him, pumping in a counterpoint to my thrusts, such as they were.

Josh has the most beautiful cock you could ever imagine.

Before seeing Josh in action, I had no idea what I was missing out on... oh, I knew I was gay, or at least not straight. I knew I had a certain... appreciation, for the male form, that went beyond artistic, knew that the thought of getting with girls didn't impress me with quite the same gravity that it did my peers. But I didn't think I'd every enjoy some of the things I enjoy with Josh, at least not as much as I do. See, I was a fan of the male *form*, of chests and shoulders and strong limbs, but I didn't find the male genitalia particularly sexy. I always thought it was kind of an ugly, weird sort of thing to get aroused by. I mean, it had its function, and it was good for that, but... I certainly never thought I would actively enjoy going down on a guy or anything. I thought I'd enjoy what I had down as a very vague concept of 'sex'. That's all.

And then Josh and I became lovers, and how I loved him... and he has this beautiful erection, which yeah, sounded weird to me the first time the thought crossed my mind, too, but it is, it's perfect. The proportion, the flush at the head, the way it looks and feels, the way it curves up from his body, emerging from a nest of dark red curls, the way it smoothly flows into the full, dark sac beneath, and the way the sweat on his skin glistens. The vein that runs up the underside, not over-pronounced, but just visible sometimes. I get really, really turned on by Josh's cock. I guess it's the only other one I've ever had personal experience with-- before Josh, it was me, my hand, and whatever pictures I could obtain in perfect secret. Not much, before the advent of an all-encompassing Internet, and even after... well...

Anyway, I guess the point is, I enjoy lavishing attention upon certain portions of my lover's anatomy. I also enjoy being ensconced to the hilt in his hot, tight, passage, being ravaged by his tongue, being mauled by wandering hands as we get whipped into a mutual frenzy, to a point past finesse.

Sometimes, finesse is overrated.

Loud cries were muffled by each other's mouths, as my orgasm filled him, as his spurted against my chest. We came down off the peak slowly, clinging to each other, panting heaving breaths and sweat-damp hair and pleasure-heavy bodies that could not bear to part.

Finally, Josh flashed me that lopsided smile. "*Very* happy Valentine's Day."

I nodded, collapsed against him again, lying just to the side of him, no longer directly on top. My fingertips travelled the length of his side.

"You're gonna have to give me a minute before I go get your final present."

I just licked and sucked at his collarbone in reply, enjoying the salt of his skin in these aftermoments. His hands were still on my back, mine tracing along his ribs. I had all the minutes in the world for this man.

---/-/---

After I cleaned us both up a little, Josh went to the other room, came back with two wrapped packages-- one big, book-shaped one, and a second small box-shaped one.

"Okay, open." He smiled, passing me the big one.

Josh's wish being my command and all, I did. It was a big coffee table book of Pablo Neruda's poetry, selected around the theme of the ocean, in English and in Spanish, accompanied by these beautiful, sensual paintings, all blues and browns, waves meeting shores, form and colour... I touched one page, where brown caressed blue, seemed to draw it in, and I let out a soft gasp.

"Oh... Josh, it's wonderful."

"You like?"

"I love. Pablo Neruda, the ocean? Josh, there's no going wrong with this!" I laughed, grabbed him in a hug. "And the paintings... it's gorgeous. And I can read the poems in their original Spanish! You're so good to me..."

"Yeah, well, you've been pretty good to me." He chuckled, stroking my back. "I'm glad I made the right choice. And here."

He handed me the little box, and I unwrapped that as well, revealing a Campaign-in-a-Box kit like the one he'd bought for Leo. I grinned. "Cute. Thanks."

"Hey, who knows, it may come in handy some day." Josh smiled, capturing my lips in a gentle kiss. "Hey, before you brush your teeth..."

"Mm?"

He got the M&Ms and brought them over. "Just a few. C'mere, I'll feed some to you."

"Well, who am I to argue?" I stretched out and let him place M&Ms between my lips, reached up to do the same. After about six each, he put them away and we got ready for bed, moving the presents to the top of the dresser to await proper places of honour in the library or on the coffee table.

Josh climbed into bed after me, pulling the covers around our bodies and wrapping himself around me. "Goodnight, my love... I don't know the rest of the words to this song..." He sang, a laugh in his voice. "Goodnight, Sam. I love you."

"Love you." I echoed, snuggling against him. "Sweet dreams, handsome."

"They are when I have you in my arms." He kissed my temple gently, hands petting over my bare skin a while longer before sleep stole over him and his movements stilled, hands gently heavy on my body.

"Sweet dreams, Josh." I whispered against his arm, kissing him there and following him into sleep.

---/-/---

I woke up that morning to Josh nibbling on my neck, his hand between my legs.

"Good morning..." I mumbled, smiling.

"I thought so." He raised his head long enough to grin at me, then went back to nibbling.

"What're you doing?"

"Sam, if you can't tell, I'm going to have to try harder." He said, rubbing his thumb in circles around the head of my erection, gently squeezing the shaft.

"I can tell, I can tell..." I gasped, bucking. "Oh, but you can try as hard as you want..."

He didn't, except for some further nipping and suckling on my throat, his hands moving up to travel around my waist, over my flanks, up the line dividing my abdomen.

"You're frisky today..."

"Yeah." He bit my shoulder. "I am."

"Mmm... to what-- oh!-- do I owe-- OH!-- the... mmmpleasuremmJoshmmm..."

"You like that?"

"I always have... oh, yeah..."

"I'm working... today, on this-- mmm, Sam you are *so* hot... thing, I-- oh, oh, yeah... want to make the most of my time with you... do that again..."

"Mm, who's your daddy?"

"You are, now come on, do that thing again!" Josh whined, rubbing against me.

"Mm, no, say it..." I teased, grinning.

"Sam, you big stud, take me, take me now." Josh parroted.

"Okay, now say 'I haven't seen anything so big since--"

He laughed out loud. "You are nuts. C'mon, do that thing again, please?"

I did the thing again.

"I haven't seen anything so big since they brought a live donkey into the '98 DNC." Josh purred.

"Ooh, not what I was going to say, but very creative." Man, I love playful sex...

"Do I get points for creativity?"

"You get *this* for creativity." I did the thing yet again, and Josh growled once, made a blind grab for the lube by the bed, and had me slicked up before I could think of any further sexual banter.

"C'mon... you gonna take charge?" He whispered, rolling off of me, stretching out on his stomach. He wiggled his hips enticingly. "C'mon, Sexy... c'mon, Stud... what happened to 'who's your daddy'?"

"Josh... after last night-- and after the four... celibate years before that-- I don't want to overdo it."

"You won't." He breathed, raising his hips up a little higher. "Now come on, I need you... you get me so hot..."

"You promise you'll be okay?" I touched the back of his thigh, felt him quiver at my touch. "Josh, if you have to go into work, I don't want you to be sore... we could--"

"What part of 'I need you' didn't you understand?" He whined, lifting his hips yet again and presenting a very clear target. "Sam... c'mon, I know you want it, too..."

"It's just been a while since you were used to it..."

"Well, I'm not gonna *get* used to it if I don't get your cock crammed so far up my--"

"No need to get vulgar." I placated, tracing a finger around his opening, finding the lubricant. "If you're sure I won't hurt you... I was just afraid you'd be sore enough in the morning as it is."

"You have that meeting today..." I was taken aback by the seemingly-irrelevant turn he'd taken. "The one you were telling me about... where you were gonna play hardball... with those corporate guys... and I was thinking... about how seeing my Sam in action always turns me on... and I dreamed about you last night..."

"Oh..." So Josh isn't the only one with a Look, huh? I started preparing him, taking it as slowly as I had last night, looking for any signs that he might still be too tender.

"And you secretly like it when I get vulgar..."

"Sometimes..." I admitted.

"You're a dirty boy, Sam Seaborn." He grinned at me, over his shoulder.

"I learned from the master." I shrugged, finding his prostate.

"You know, it's pretty hot when you get all forceful... I like it." He pushed back a little.

"Yeah?"

"Oh, yeah. It's so hot... I like seeing you argue, sometimes... because when you get all passionate, it reminds me... of other things... that get you passionate..."

"Like what?" I whispered against the back of his neck, just starting to work a second finger in.

"Like *this*..." He hissed, pushing back some more.

"What was your dream like?"

"Like you... sweeping everything off this big desk... and backing me up against it and kissing me... and bending me over it... and you wouldn't let me come, when you took me... so that then afterwards, you put me in this big leather chair, naked from the waist down, and you sucked me off... and it was *so* hot..."

"I don't normally push things off of desks just to have sex with you. Usually I take you home."

"Technically, we were at home. It was a home office. Technically. Not the one you have now, though."

He had said 'technically' a lot, and I wondered what part he wasn't telling me, and then I remembered what I was in the middle of doing, and it didn't seem very important.

"Oh..." I kissed a spot between his shoulder blades and scissored my two fingers, felt for any tensing or cringing, but Josh was fine.

"Yeah... and then you had me again... on the rug... man, *that* was pretty good..."

"I let you come?" I nuzzled the back of his shoulder, grinning.

"You made me come so hard, Sam... More."

I started in with the third finger, almost painfully aroused as Josh detailed his erotic dream to me, as I prepared him for my entry, as he worked himself on me.

"Then we were in... ooh, that's it... we were in-- mmm, the bedroom, and I guess we'd had a shower or something, and you had me on my knees and you told me just what you wanted... Oh, and-- Mmm... after I gave it to you... you had me on the bed, and you used a-- little more-- a toy on me..."

"We don't have any of those..."

"It was a *dream* Sam... and you were talking about... I think it was the economy, but you made it sound *really* dirty, and when you got hard again-- because in this dream, apparently we're insatiable sex-fiends-- you straddled my chest and I sucked you off again while you reached around behind yourself to keep-- oh, yeah, Sam-- keep-- I'm ready for you..."

I positioned myself carefully, slid into him one inch at a time in case he wasn't as ready as he thought. Josh, however, seemed perfectly capable of taking everything I gave.

I was blushing from the pornographic details of the dream, and rock-hard, and I wanted to hear more, but Josh was past coherent sentences, was mewling and groaning and gasping my name.

It was one of those earth-shattering orgasms, and I removed myself from him as gently as possible, spent a long time recovering breath and strength before leading him to the shower.

The water was hot, steam surrounding us in the glass chamber, Josh's hands on my back and my arms wrapped tight around him.

"Just what I needed to get through the day." Josh smiled at me. I soaped him leisurely, scrubbed his back and watched the water sluice the suds away, his skin rinsing clean, and pink from the heat of the water.

"You're beautiful..." I smothered the two words into his mouth, and he responded with a deep, loving kiss, his hand on my cheek.

He washed me, taking special care with his favourite areas, and we got out and dried off, pulling on clean underthings and wrapping ourselves in bathrobes before heading downstairs.

---/-/---

Josh poured the coffee and I poured the Cheerios, and we ate in companionable silence, sharing the morning paper. There were winks and smiles, cheek-kisses and hand-squeezes... all of those little things that make up a wonderful morning. It was a workday, but not one where we had to rush, to leave too early, and we were enjoying the little extra leisure we were afforded.

After breakfast, I dressed Josh in his grey suit, white shirt and brown-striped tie, and he pulled a black suit and red tie for me, hands lingering on buttons as he did my shirt up for me.

Briefcases sorted and about five goodbye kisses later, he was in his car and I was in mine, watching his 'Value ALL Families' bumper sticker disappear into the distance. I love that man...

---/-/---

~FIN~

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