The scent of Ben's cooking wafted from the kitchen into the living room. Joey sprawled out on the couch, lazily flipping through the TV channels. When Josh sat on the other side of the couch, Joey lifted his legs then settled his feet in Josh's lap.
"Last time I talked to you, you were having a few troubles. Everything settled down yet?"
Josh shrugged a little. "A bit. We still have our moments, but it's getting better. I think we just needed time."
Joey gave Josh a lopsided grin. "I'll kick his ass if he causes you any more trouble. How's that?"
Josh chuckled. "Yeah, yeah. You and what army, man? There's a real badass beneath the leather and denim."
"Anything decent on TV?" Ben asked from the kitchen.
"Not really," Josh said. "Dinner almost done?"
Ben walked over and gave Josh an upside-down kiss. "Mmm...soon."
"There's not a damn thing on." Joey dropped the remote down in disgust, then eyed the other two. He realized he'd made a mistake in letting Josh go right after Josh and Ben started dating. "If you two play tonsil hockey all weekend, it's really gonna be a bore."
Josh grumbled when Ben pulled back. "Oh, like you haven't been getting any. Trust me, we won't spend all weekend in the sack, smartass."
Ben grinned. "We won't?"
"Fuck you," Josh laughed, reaching up to whack Ben on the arm. "Feed me. Then feel free to challenge me on that."
"You'll eat your words. That's a promise," Ben shot back.
"You're both making me wish I'd brought along a fuck buddy for the weekend."
"You should have," Ben flippantly agreed before he headed back into the kitchen.
"See?" Josh grabbed the remote. "We're perfectly fine."
"You sure you're not trying a bit too hard to convince me?" Joey asked with a touch of curiosity. "I think I know you better than that."
Rolling his eyes, Josh didn't say anything for a moment. "We're just different, that's all," he said finally. "We agreed to take things slow."
His toes pointed down, Joey kneaded them slightly into Josh's thigh. "Did you agree to take it slow because you want to or because you don't want to lose him? And remember, the last time I saw you, you were drunk off your ass and complaining about Ben."
"Both," Josh muttered. "I love him, but...he hasn't said anything like that to me."
"I think he cares about you, but I haven't seen anything like love when he looks at you." Joey sat up, then shifted to put his arm around Josh. Inwardly, he was rather pleased with the situation. "If it gets bad enough, you know you can always talk to me." Then he released Josh and stood. "Maybe we should hit the liquor cabinet. They always kept this place well stocked. Want something?"
"No, thanks." Josh got up and wandered into the kitchen, looking somewhat preoccupied with his thoughts.
As Josh walked away, Joey watched him out of the corner of his eye and smiled to himself before pulling several tall glasses from the cabinet. He had a really good feeling both Ben and Josh would be joining him. No doubt Josh had some serious doubts about Ben, and Joey enjoyed egging him on. Ben had never deserved somebody like Josh, and Joey wanted Josh back. Once he grabbed a bottle of vodka, he wandered into the kitchen.
"Feel like a screwdriver?" he asked Ben as he passed the guy on his way to the fridge.
"Sure." Ben flipped the hamburgers on the stove-top grill. "Want one, babe?" he asked Josh.
Josh sat at the table. "Hell, why not? Mix me up one, too, man."
After he grabbed a couple cans of 7-Up and the orange juice, Joey returned to the bar and mixed up the drinks. He gathered up all three glasses in both hands before returning to the kitchen. "There's more where this came from." With a smile, he set the drinks on the table, then sat across from Josh. Ben went to the table to get his drink and took a sip. He winked at Josh and gave him a grin on his way back to the hamburgers.
"Oh, man, that's good," Josh said after a sip. "Burgers done?"
Ben returned a couple minutes later and put a big plate of his signature teriyaki burgers on the table. "Yup. Fries coming up." He got the basket of fries from the counter, then sat down beside Josh.
All three of them dug in and between mouthfuls, Joey complimented Ben on the dinner. "I need to hire you to cook for me, man."
Ben smirked at him. "Keep one of your fuck buddies around long enough and make him do it."
"Yeah, right," Josh mumbled in-between bites. "No one can touch my man's cooking."
"True, but I'm not for hire. Unless somebody pays me some big bucks."
"I can promise you big bucks," Joey tossed in as an inducement.
Josh raised an eyebrow. "Now he's pulling out the big guns." Ben leaned over and whispered in Josh's ear. Whatever it was, Josh snickered. "Shut up."
Joey smirked and settled back in his chair as he finished off his drink. "I'll get you in my kitchen yet, Ben."
"Just fix me another drink, smart ass."
"Mmm..." Josh stole a quick kiss from Ben while Joey got up to mix more drinks. "You'll have to fight me for him, Joey."
"Damn shame I forgot my swords. We could have fenced for him," Joey quipped. As he stood at the bar, he glanced into the kitchen, happy to see the guys preoccupied. Then he pulled out a small vial and dropped a tablet into Ben's glass. When he returned to the kitchen he set the drinks down with a flourishing bow.
Josh mumbled something, mouth too busy with Ben's. When they finally parted, Josh smirked up at Joey. "I'd kick your ass in a heartbeat."
"You never could in high school. Why don't you two go relax in the living room, and I'll wash up." Joey took a quick sip of his drink before he started to gather up the dirty dishes.
"I let you win," Josh shot back. He got up, tugging Ben with him. "Come on, gorgeous. Let's go make out while Joey does the dirty work."
Joey almost laughed but managed to stop himself. It wasn't likely Josh would get much out of Ben since he'd spiked Ben's drink with a mild sedative. Happy with himself, he filled the sink with hot water, added soap, and piled the dishes in the water. His thoughts were occupied with his own touch of glee as he methodically washed the plates and utensils. While he wasn't overconfident, he did have the feeling Josh would return to him.
He could hear the television and low murmurs from the living room. It didn't take him long to finish the dishes, but he puttered around, wiping down the counters and table. Finally, he tossed the dish cloth into the sink, picked up his drink, and went to join them.
"Dude. You can't be tired," Josh laughed, nudging Ben with his elbow.
"Mmmhmm..." Ben's response was muffled on Josh's thigh. One of Ben's hands rested higher up, fingertips close but not quite touching Josh's crotch.
Josh sighed. "So much for fooling around."
"Must have had a hard day at work." Joey grabbed Ben's shoulder, shaking him slightly. "You're disappointing your man."
Ben yawned widely in answer. He squeezed Josh's thigh lightly and mumbled, "Sorry, babe. Maybe I should hit the hay before I fall asleep here."
"Okay." Josh bent down and kissed Ben's head. "I'll be in there in a bit."
"'kay." Ben sat up and gave Josh a brief kiss before heading down the hall, already half-stumbling. END EXCERPT