Author: Anne Marsh
Title: Scent
Rating: PGish? (I'm so bad at this rating thing...)
Pairing: Pre-Sam/Josh
Summary: Smell is the sense with the closest ties to memory.
Notes: Just a little something while I iron out the next chapter of 'Get Ready', Sam-musings on Josh.
Archive: Yes
Feedback: Please

Scent by Anne Marsh

Sam curled up in bed, hugging his sweater to him. Josh had borrowed it-- Sam couldn't remember what had happened to Josh's own shirt that day. He returned it with a mumbled apology, unwashed, and Sam couldn't have been happier.

It smelled of Josh. Of sweat and hard work and Josh's deodorant, which was a clean so-called unscented that Sam could still smell. It mingled in with the other Josh-smells, with the aftershave and astringent and soap. With the body musk, a low not under the others. With the cold coffee that Sam himself had spilled when he tripped over himself in front of Josh-- not very much, just a tiny splash that dried invisible on the black.

Smell, the sense with the closest ties to memory. Sam remembered Josh-- his swagger and cocky grin at even the smallest of victories, when maybe others needed to be reminded of their wins. How bone-tired he got when he worked too hard, but how he could still manage a wry smile when Sam needed it, needed someone to commiserate with. Josh's voice, his laugh, his twinkling brown eyes, the straight line of his nose and the full curve of his smiling lips...

He remembered the way his sweater fit over Josh's upper body. It was a flattering sweater-- he kenw that when he bought it. What he didn't know was that he'd see it on Josh, see it conform gently to everything, see it accentuate the positive, as 'twere, and he wondered if Josh took even just a moment that day to luxuriate in the feel-- Sam did, every time he slipped it on. He imagined Josh, eyes closed, just *feeling* the sweater over his arms, or rubbing one palm over the soft fabric...

It was imaginings like this that could get a guy in trouble, Sam decided.

It wasn't the warmest sweater, but it held up to the White House air conditioning. Sam was rarely bothered by air conditioner- cold-- even growing up in Southern California, some kinds of cold you got used to, and every movie theater and mall blasted their AC year-round. And nights got cold-- people who never lived there don't know, but the nights get cold, anywhere in California. In the deserts, nights get so cold you could die of exposure-- Sam learned that in Scouts. He'd spent a 'survival weekend' camping in the desert, but it was safe-- they had thermal blankets, lots of water, and more sunscreen than you'd know what to do with.

Of course, he hadn't had this sweater then. He wondered how it would hold up under a desert night. Of course, you'd have to hold onto it during the desert *day*, and that was a less-than-thrilling prospect any way you looked at it.

He imagined the desert-- at night, he'd never liked it during the day. At night, it was magic, everything tinted blue and purple, and the baying of coyotes in the distance, and nothing to obscure the stars. That was his favourite part-- no lights, no clouds, just stars. He'd like to go out again, drive out to the desert and lie beneath the stars. With Josh. Josh could even wear his sweater, if they could cuddle together, wrapped in an old blanket. If Josh would find constellations with him, and hold his hand, and play connect-the-dots and make their own.

Of course, there was no reason why Josh would do any of these things. But in Sam's imagination, they did them all the time. In Sam's rich, imaginary world, he and Josh would drive out to anyplace that struck their fancy-- nowhere was too far-- and they'd do all the things he loved. Josh would even listen to him talk all about the constellations, and they'd listen to the coyotes, and even howl back, giddy with excitement, the joy of communing with nature, or something. They'd never have to put up with the noonday sun in the desert-- by then they could be at the beach, or halfway around the world, or safe at home, the home they'd share, if it was all real.

And he'd hold Josh close to him-- wearing a sweater like his, soft. And he'd breathe in his smell. And this is what he'd smell like.


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