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Opening the door from his office, Gene halts and sweeps a glance over the station room, nonplussed by the sight he's met with. It's late afternoon on a Thursday, but even so it's quieter than he's used to. They've actually got the radio on out there, playing sports highlights. Directly in front of him, Ray's trying to fit an oversized sandwich in his gob, spilling mustard down his tie in the process. On the far side of the room, Cartwright looks up and sees him in the doorway. She offers a hesitant smile that withers quickly under the stern look he shoots back, and she ducks her head down over the files she's sorting. Chris is turned away from him, leaning too far back in his chair and chatting away to Tyler, who's perched on the corner of Chris's desk.

Gene's about to snap something about evidently paying them all too much if not one of them has any work to be getting on with - but he pauses before the words are out. He's still not been spotted by the vast majority, and he narrows his eyes as he watches Sam lean down towards Chris, his smile sharp and voice too low to hear. Chris promptly guffaws in response, grinning up at him. Something about the scene looks far too comfortable to Gene's discerning eye, he doesn't like it one bit. And it's not the first time he's seen its like this week, either.

"TYLER!"

His sudden bellow puts the cat among the pigeons quite nicely. Ray coughs round his mouthful of food, and Cartwright twitches in fright so badly she fumbles her files, sends them sliding. Chris nearly goes arse over tit off his chair - would have done, probably, if Sam hadn't reflexively grabbed his jumper and righted him with a swift tug. His DI looks singularly unimpressed with his summoning, shooting an exasperated look at Gene as he straightens up.

"In here. Now." Gene barks the order and retreats back into his office.

He takes a seat behind his desk while he's waiting for Sam to join him, refusing to acknowledge to himself that it's a bit of a safety measure. It's been about two weeks since the incident between them in the Cortina, and ever since he's done his level best to avoid any scenarios where they're too cozy together. Wouldn't do to go tempting the matter, is all. It's putting a bit of a crimp in his work methods, tell the truth, but he's at a loss for how else to deal with it. Neither of them's said anything. And anyway, Sam seems quite happy to be getting back to the status quo, already back to making eyes at anyone who'll have him, evidently.

At the last moment Gene grabs the newspaper off his desk, holds it in his lap like he's deeply absorbed in the sports section as the door to his office opens and closes sharply. He glances up as Sam wanders closer to his desk, stops and folds his arms expectantly, awaiting whatever bollocking Gene decides on today.

"You screamed, Guv?"

Gene tightens his jaw slightly at the flippant attitude. He debates a few moments over how best to do this, and then decides 'head on' has always worked out pretty well for him.

"You the station bicycle then, or what?"

Sam's expression stays neutral for a few seconds, either a decent poker face or he doesn't quite pick up the implication straight off. Then his eyebrows slowly lift in dangerous, pointed enquiry. "Sorry, what?"

"You heard." Gene makes a show of glowering his disapproval down at the folded newspaper in his hands, refusing to dignify the conversation with his full attention. "Seen you buddying up to DC Skelton out there. Wouldn't have thought nothing of it, before, but now I know what you get up to, don't I?"

"You must be joking..." Sam mutters faintly, eyes fixed on the wall behind Gene, lower lip sucked in with quiet fury.

"Won't have you corrupting the lad," he insists, aiming for stern but suspecting he hits somewhere closer to deeply uncomfortable.

Sam scoffs disbelief, shaking his head. He gets a sudden spiteful look on his face, curls his lip as he says, "Then you've got nothing to worry about, Guv. Save all my seductive wiles for you -"

"Will you lower your voice, for god's sake!" He slaps the newspaper down, scandalised, darting a glance over at the door as though half his team might pile through at any moment.

Sam just huffs a nasty laugh, like he's scored a point. In fact, he doesn't look like he's suffering anywhere near as much as Gene feels he should be, for this conversation, turning to walk back out without so much as a by-your-leave.

"Right, if you're just about done implying I'm the office slut," Sam drawls, so dry it's painful, "I have actual police work to be getting back to -"

"No I am not, Dorothy, so kindly remain where you are and explain to me just what you think you were trying on out there!"

His DI shoots him the most incredulous look he's ever seen, actually seeming struck wordless for a few moments. He sputters something between a laugh and a swear word. "Are you - are you for real? This is seriously what you called me in here to talk about, you're not winding me up?"

"Why would I be winding you up, DI Tyler," he snaps straight back. "It is my job to watch this team, to keep it ship-shape and functioning like a well-oiled machine -"

"Mixed metaphor..."

"- and as such, I would appreciate not having to pry you off every male officer who gives you the time of day around here!" There's a small chance he's verged into hyperbole, but it's too late to backtrack now. He finishes brusquely, "And god knows what you've got going on with poor Cartwright."

"'Poor Cartwright', what -!" Sam's voice actually pitches up with outrage. "God, what is actually happening here! Since when have you given a single, solitary fuck about Annie and me?"

Gene leans over his desk, hissing angrily. "Since you're pulling one over on that girl, going behind her back doing the dirty -"

"What's the matter?" Sam narrows his eyes astutely. "Guilty conscience?"

Gene promptly forgets the safety barrier his desk provides, because suddenly he's up out of his chair and striding round it, visions of knocking that obnoxious expression clean off the other man's face.

But Sam stalls him with a quick shove backwards. "Look, stop - stop! I wasn't going behind her back, alright?! We've not gone out in months."

Gene halts, wind taken out of his sails rather abruptly. "Since when?" he protests, pointlessly. "I've seen you. Still nattering away together over tea and biscuits every time I turn around."

Sam just rolls his eyes. "Yeah, it's called being friends, you should try it some time." He glares up at him, then apparently decides he's on a roll and goes for broke. "And yeah, as it happens, I'm friendly with Chris an' all, but I can assure you I'd rather put my own eyes out than try and snog him, Jesus! And before you bother accusing me of having it off with half the station, let's get it out in the open, shall we? I'm not flirting with Ray, or Phyllis, or with - with suspects or witnesses or victims, or any other wildly inappropriate list of people you've conjured up! So just - give it a rest, alright?"

The quiet that descends after that is awkward, to say the least. Gene can't meet his eye, and eventually Sam makes a tired sound and steps back from him, turning again to stalk out of the office.

"Wasn't on the list."

His DI pauses with his hand on the doorknob, glaring back at him. "What?"

Gene stands in the middle of the room with his hands on his hips, scowling at the spot of carpet somewhere between them. "Me. Wasn't on your list of people you're not trying it on with."

Sam just fixes him with a truly scathing look, pulling open the door. "No, Guv. Well spotted, Guv." He slams it behind him as he leaves.

 


 

For once, Gene's actually late leaving. Ray and Chris stop by his office near the end of the day, possibly under the unjust impression he's napping in here, to ask if he's coming the pub. He makes a performance of being bitterly resentful that Rathbone wants a particular report finished by morning, so Gene's got to stay and do it. They look distinctly bemused, at that, but at last they bugger off.

When he does pick up his coat to leave thirty minutes later, it's hardly a surprise to find the station room dim and mostly empty. There's only Sam left sitting there, head bent as he fastidiously fills out the report that really does need handing in come morning.

Gene walks by, lingers conspicuously just past his desk. His DI doesn't look up, silently continuing with his focused scribbling, a pinched look of concentration on his face.

"Pint?" Gene grunts, eventually.

Sam drops the pen so fast it leaves a line of blue ink across his page. "Finally. Thought you'd never ask," he says, low and fervent, and Gene understands they're not really talking about the pub.

 


 

Neither of them pretends they're going out for a drink, which makes it slightly less awkward, at least. Instead they go back to Gene's with a takeaway. His little box flat’s not much, and for a surreal moment he actually gets self-conscious of the place, with its unmade bed and secondhand couch with the mystery stain. Course, then he remembers Tyler's disaster of a living situation and feels a bit better.

Sitting now at the rickety little dining table, the remains of the food spread out between them, Gene’s quite enjoying the familiar argument about whether or not Sam knows what's going to happen on Doctor Who. It's an old favourite, trotted out often enough on stakeouts whenever a new episode's come out. He has to admit, Sam has a bloody infuriating ability to predict what's coming up. Half the reason Gene still watches the daft show is just so he can try catching him out.

"Telling you, Tom Baker would make a great Doctor. Bet he's in the running to be cast."

Gene makes a scornful sound. "Sod off, never heard of him."

Sam just grins, busy picking at the last of his chippie. He looks relaxed, leather jacket shrugged off over the back of his chair, one leg drawn up under him. Gene’s in a similar state, tie and blazer dragged off the moment they stepped through the door. He’s not exactly sure how he expected it to go, inviting Sam here, but as it turns out it's not nearly as uncomfortable as he was braced for. Actually, it's pretty much like every other time they've sat sniping at each other over drinks or food or work. To the point Gene wonders if they're even on the same page here, or if one of them's missed a signal somewhere. He's already decided he's not going to be the one to say anything untoward, just in case.

"Anyway, what do you know," he adds belatedly, returning to the point. "You think Steve McQueen's a good actor. Tossers, both of you."

Sam lets out a bright laugh. "Charming, thanks."

"Just calling 'em like I see 'em."

"You know, I'm thinking of trying to train you like Pavlov's dog," Sam says suddenly, completely matter-of-fact, popping a chip into his mouth. "See if I can get a bit of behavioural conditioning going. Every time you actually agree with me on anything, I'll wank you off or something."

Gene promptly goes very still, if only to avoid choking with an undignified splutter on the mouthful of whiskey he's just taken. He sets it down, swallows carefully. Well, at least that clears up any ambiguity on the issue, he supposes. Sam is watching him with a purposely blank expression, clearly waiting to gauge his reaction to the comment. It feels like a gauntlet thrown down, like if Gene can't meet it with the same studied indifference he'll lose a point in whatever unspoken competition they're always at.

So he sits back in his chair, folding his arms across his chest and sniffing slightly. "If that's the condition on getting any action off you, Gladys, this is going down the pan right quick."

Sam's eyes light with amusement and the pleasure of a challenge met, though his expression doesn't change much. He mimics Gene's slouch. "Can't even be bought with sexual favours, you really are on the up-and-up these days."

Gene purses his lips, hoping to conceal the quick clench of his jaw as he works out how to casually say the next. "Not cheap ones, any rate. Thought the deal was for more than a wank if I indulged your delicate sensibilities with a bed."

The other man looks gratifyingly surprised, pausing in chewing for a few seconds. Then he tips his head in concession, flashing a pleased, somewhat unwholesome grin. "Suppose it was," he allows. He moves to stand up - and for a startled moment Gene thinks he's going to get to business right then and there, but Sam just begins to gather up the leftovers and scrap containers from the table, taking them over to the kitchenette to start cleaning up.

"You'll make someone a wonderful wife one day, Sammy," he comments blithely, heart beating a bit faster.

Funny, he's almost being genuine. Sam moves around the kitchen like it's his own, efficiently putting things back in order. Feels strange and domestic. Gene takes the opportunity to watch him unobserved for a few moments, frowning as he tries to decide what he wants here, why he wants it. It's nearly impossible to let himself consider he pursued this. Passing opportunity in a dimly lit car is one thing, but he actually brought Sam here this time. There was a point to it. They've sat eating chippie and arguing about football and making bloody jokes like it's all above board, like they're not really here for something sleazy. He winces at the reminder, rubs a hand roughly down his face, suddenly not sure he can do this.

It feels like opening a corner of his brain that's been under lock and key for as long as he can remember. The thoughts feel slow and tentative in coming, dizzying in their unfamiliarity. He takes another swallow of whiskey to steady himself, and then purposely takes another look.

It's not like Sam's what anyone would call overly manly, anyway, he comforts himself. Doesn't look like one of the muscled, groomed telly actors the missus used to moon over, or even the fine figure of masculinity that Gene's cultivated for himself over the years. But then he doesn't go the other way either, doesn't resemble the femme, waifish boys who get dragged in for soliciting sometimes and fight like wildcats in the cells. He's not much of anything, really, is Tyler. Compact, and scrappy, and too serious for his own good.

But for whatever reason, Gene likes what he sees.

Even in the privacy of his own head, it's mortifying to admit. He can feel that stinging heat on the back of his neck again, not helped by the flush of alcohol in his blood. Sam's moving about dunking dishes in the sink, perfectly oblivious to the mild crisis he's causing, and all Gene can think is that he likes the stretch of fabric across Sam's shoulderblades as he works, likes how his forearms look with sleeves rolled up to the elbow. Christ, but he's a pathetic bastard.

Sam had said back at the station he wasn't trying it on with anyone else - had in fact pointedly implied it was just Gene he had his eye on - and frankly he's not sure what to do with that, or why it would even be the case. Even if Sam's as flaming queer as they come - and further set on not denying it, the little perv - Gene hadn't been under the impression he himself was of much particular interest to someone like that. Then again, maybe he hadn't been. At least not until he'd gone clumsily offering a quick fumble that had gotten out of hand, so to speak. Maybe for Sam it's just convenient to take him up on his blatant interest.

And he's alright with that, really. Better the devil you know, all that. Can't deny they're as safe a bet for each other as they're going to find, what with mutually assured professional destruction if anything were to go south. And he supposes they get on, a bit. Enough that he sees the sense in convenience - even if the thought brings its own twinge of discomfort.

Thing is, Sam's younger, and not exactly awful looking when it comes down to it; whip-smart and with that type of fire in his belly that people pay attention to, whether they like it or not. For all the insults he dishes out on the regular, Gene's got no real doubts he'd be more than able to charm the knickers off birds if he ever wanted to - and even if he didn't, sod it, that he could have better pick of the blokes who went in for this sort of thing than his recently divorced, broke, semi-functioning alcoholic wreck of a boss.

So. Convenient, then. Not like Gene's ever been one to turn his nose up at convenient.

He shakes off the morose mood that's come over him and stands up, a bit too quick so the chair scrapes back behind him. Sam glances briefly over his shoulder.

"Pass me anything you're done with."

Gene ignores the instruction, leaving his empty glass on the table as he moves into the kitchen, only to halt a few paces behind the other man. He's not sure how to do this, he realises belatedly. Not sure what his own role is supposed to be, how he gets them from talking shit to actually - well. Whatever comes next.

Sam turns round still drying his hands on the dishtowel, lifts his eyebrows slightly at Gene's hovering. "Alright?"

Hand curling restlessly at his side, Gene steps straight up to him rather than answer. Sam seems to get with the programme, at that, something in his face changing as he drops the towel somewhere. He darts a quick glance down over Gene, checking, and then reaches for him.

He's not sure which of them closes the distance proper after that, but suddenly he's got his hand on the back of Sam's neck, tugging him up into a kiss, and Sam's clutching at his shirt and pulling at him right back. For a few seconds it's just as strange as it was the first time, feels like it's not really him doing it. He goes still again, frozen like that, chest tight with something like panic. Sam's mouth moves against his softer than he would have given credit for, tasting like salt and alcohol. It's careful and persuasive, both of them breathing unsteadily in each other's space, eyes open and unfocused. Then Sam bites lightly at his lip.

It's the tipping point, because then he's moving forward, pressing Sam back against the kitchen counter, crowding into him with his bulk. Sam makes a short, sharp noise of approval into his mouth, one arm hooked up round the back of his neck. The other man is shorter than usual, he realises - kicked off his stupid lifted boots at some point during dinner. Gene will mock him mercilessly about the revelation later, soon as he gets his upstairs brain back in working order, but right now he loves it, loves that he can tower over him and trap him where he wants. It's got the same visceral, physical edge to it as throwing Sam against the filing cabinet in his office when he's being a mouthy prat, except here he gets to crush against him and have Sam moan appreciatively for his efforts. Gene thinks he's going to lose his mind over that sound, that it's going to haunt him.

He can't stop touching wherever he can reach, amazed that it's not just allowed but encouraged, from the reaction he's getting. He's got his hand on Sam's jaw - thrown only briefly by the prickle of sideburns and stubble against his palm - then down to squeeze his shoulder, the top of his ribs, his narrow waist. Gene entertains the fleeting hope that his back holds out for theatrics like this, and then he gets his hands round Sam and lifts. Sam claws at his shoulders in surprise, a look of blank astonishment on his face as he's hoisted up to perch on the counter with Gene between his legs. Should be more used to being manhandled by now, Gene thinks vaguely.

He wants to see, for a minute. Wants to get his head around what it is he's doing.

He won't kiss him again straight away, ducks his head as he just looks. Watches his own hand flatten out against Sam's collar, the bone and muscle of his chest. It feels weird, with no tits to get hold of. Instead he can feel the rapid thud of Sam's heart right under the heel of his hand, the too quick rise and fall of his breathing. The other man looks back at him curiously, and then sits up a bit straighter, like he's accommodating the careful exploration.

So Gene slides his hand further down the rumpled material of Sam's shirt, to settle over the flat of his stomach. He's never really considered it before, but he thinks he might like that Sam keeps himself fit and slim like this, that he insists on his ridiculous morning runs and salad lunches. He makes a rough sound in the back of his throat, pressing slightly, and Sam sucks a breath as his fingers massage just above his belt. He reaches for Gene, takes hold of his arm and guides him closer, so Sam's knees can close against his sides.

Gene lets him - rather enjoys the impatient expression the other man's got plastered on, actually - but he's still occupied running his hands down his spread legs. He's got no idea if many blokes have legs like Tyler's, he tries not to look at that sort of thing too often, but he decides he definitely likes the stretch of spry muscle in his grip.

"Do I pass inspection?" Sam asks archly, tipping his head back so he's looking down at Gene.

"S'pose you'll do," he admits gruffly, unwilling to voice how sodding well perfect he thinks all of it is.

Sam hooks a leg around him, forces him up to the edge of the counter. He's an inch or so higher than Gene in this position, seems to take great satisfaction in the fact as he slides his arm round Gene's shoulders. Gene holds steady, watching for his reaction as he moves his hand up Sam's inseam, runs his fingers curiously over the ridge of his hard on through his trousers. Sam's mouth immediately opens on an inhale, eyes drifting closed. He makes a satisfied sound and parts his legs wider in clear invitation, leaning back on the counter like he's on bloody offer.

"Tart," Gene rumbles.

Sam's eyes flash back open in surprise, pupils dilating. His mouth turns up slightly. "Still on that?"

Gene just dips his chin to his chest, glowers up at the other man as he starts working Sam's belt open. He probably wouldn't have guessed it, before. In fact, he knows damn well he'd have lost good money betting Sam was as repressed and by the book in bed as he tried to be on the job. But he's seen it, now. Knows firsthand the way he demands things, knows how his voice sounds right up against Gene's mouth as he talks his way through coming, no shame or hesitation about what it is they're doing. Gene's never felt that before, never been exposed to anyone who has, and he's not got the vocabulary to explain quite what it did to him.

But he knows he wants the feeling again: Sam squirming and shameless for him, devastating in the things he's willing to do.

So he gets Sam's dick in his hand and pumps, watches fascinated as the other man's gaze goes dark and lazy. He steps in about as close as he can manage when Sam's socked foot digs insistently into the back of his leg, finally allows himself to be kissed again. Sam slides his tongue into his mouth in the way that's fast becoming his favourite thing ever, jerking a bit as Gene strokes him, fingers curling on the back of his collar. Gene moves his free hand round the other man's waist, pushes at the small of his back to slide him forward and dips his fingers down below Sam's belt until he gets a gasp.

"Like that, like that." Sam keeps mumbling encouraging nonsense, his hands braced on Gene's shoulders, squeezing as the pace picks up. Gene watches his face intently, wanting to make sure it's good, that he gets it right. Everything else might be uncharted territory as far as he's concerned, and he's not quite decided on how much he wants to do with all of it just yet, but this - he can do this much. He squeezes his fingers quick over the tip, generously smearing pre-come, and jacks his hand until Sam hisses and clings to him.

"You're too good at that," Sam admits quietly, eyes closed as he pushes his forehead against Gene's "Stop, wait, you'll make me -"

"Thought that was the point."

"Not yet, not yet." Sam grabs at his wrist to stop him, both of them breathing hard at the nearness of it. He tips his head back with a strained sound of frustration, then suddenly plants his hands on Gene's chest. "God, move, let me -"

Sam shoves at him, and then he's sliding off the counter and straight down past Gene as he goes to his knees. Gene's so startled he nearly takes a step back, but Sam's already got a hand hooked on his belt, tugging it open, dragging him closer as he reaches inside. But he pauses, and his eyes flick up with brief hesitation.

"Yeah?"

Gene can hardly make his voice work. "Sodding - yes!"

Sam takes him into his mouth like he's been gagging for it, and Gene can't breathe. Christ, it's been years since - and never, never this, not like this. You'd pay more than he can afford for how convincing the moan Sam issues around his cock sounds, for the way he scrabbles at Gene's shirt and trousers like he's trying to haul him in. Gene grabs hard at the edge of the counter, jaw dropped open in astonishment, unable to look away if half Manchester's finest were to come bursting in on them right now. The heat of Sam's mouth is scalding as he sinks forward, like he's immediately trying to take as much of Gene as he can manage. He chokes a bit, backs off and bobs his head, but he's got that obstinate look that Gene recognises even in this context. He wraps his hand around the base and makes little sounds of effort as he swallows what he can.

"Fuck, Sam, fuck -!"

It's all he can do not to shove his hips forward, suspecting it'd be poor manners. Sam's enclosed in the space between Gene and the counter, his back right up against the cupboard door. His knees are spread, and Gene realises he's got one hand working between his legs, tossing himself off while he sucks. Gene has to grit his teeth, force out a growl as he struggles not to come on the spot.

"You're fucking filthy," he manages to hiss, appalled and reverent.

Sam darts a glance up at him, eyes bright with challenge. He pulls off, panting slightly as he works his hand over the spit-slick length. "Complaining?"

Gene puts both his hands flat on the counter, leaning forward to peer down at him. "God no. Might put you in for a commendation."

Sam huffs a laugh, and then ducks forward again. He tongues at the slit and the underside, and Gene groans as he sinks back into the wet heat of his mouth. He reaches down, moves his thumb appreciatively over the hollow of the other man's cheek, then round so he can get his palm between the cupboard door and the back of Sam's head, carefully starting to move. Sam makes a muffled sound, clutches at his belt and pulls in encouragement. Gene looses a gust of breath, watching as his dick slides in and out of sight. Sam's got his eyes closed in concentration, colour flushed across his face. His hand works frantically on his own cock as Gene pushes slowly into his mouth, and he keeps humming little bursts of impatience that vibrate right through every nerve Gene's got.

"You going to come like that?" he asks in disbelief, voice rough with how much he suddenly wants it.

Sam's amber eyes flick up towards him again and he manages to nod.

"Fuck. Yeah. Go on then."

Sam makes another obscene noise and jerks himself faster, breathing hard through his nose as he forces himself to take more into his mouth. He takes his hand away and bobs his head down further, rocking forward. Gene's hold on the back of his head guides the pace, pushing a bit more than he probably should, but he can't stop himself. Every time he does it, Sam makes appreciative little bursts of sound in his throat like he's getting off on it. He gets a better grip on Sam's hair to keep him in place, and then suddenly Sam's moaning loud around his cock, shuddering. He loses his rhythm right at the wrong moment, and Gene can't help thrusting forward, manners forgotten as he chases his own orgasm. Sam makes a choked sound and comes, clawing at Gene's leg, wanking himself off onto the kitchen lino between his knees.

Gene's right there with him, grunting astonishment as orgasm rips through him, spilling into Sam's mouth without asking. He heaves a breath, tips his head back as Sam sucks him through it, as noisy as he was through the rest of it. He keeps right on going until Gene finally has to push at him when it gets too much, ease him away. Sam swallows as he leans back, trying to catch his breath. His back knocks into the cupboard door as he falls against it, shooting a heavy-lidded glance upwards.

Gene practically gapes at him, thoughts not processing. He feels unsteady, has to turn away while he gets himself zipped up again, if only to hide his unguarded expression for a moment. After a few seconds, there's the sounds of Sam doing the same on the floor, then slowly clambering upright with a groan.

"God, ow. Not young enough for that anymore..."

Eventually, he turns back to see the other man slumped against the counter. His hair's stuck up at odd angles, and there's a disheveled look about him that to Gene makes it painfully obvious what he's been doing. He doesn't know what to say, and Sam doesn't seem inclined to move any time soon, looking tired and immensely satisfied with himself. Eventually, for lack of anything else to do, Gene moves to join him and they both lean against the counter, surveying the sparse mess of Gene's flat in silence. Gene braces his hands on the surface either side of him, taking up space, and Sam folds his arms loosely across his chest.

"So much for needing a bed," Gene mutters at length, inadvertently frowning down at the mess on his floor.

Sam ducks his head, mouth curling up at the corners. "Yeah well, it was the thought that counted."

Gene breathes a weak laugh. Can't do much else, really. But it dies quick, and then he's back to staring doubtfully at a mark on the carpet. He taps his thumb against the edge of the counter, wondering if he's supposed to offer another drink or something, or if Sam will make himself scarce now that it's done. Probably better all around if he did, really. Less awkward.

"This just something convenient for you, then?" It's out before he can think better, no segue, and he immediately wants to top himself out of embarrassment. Christ. Probably doesn't even make sense, blurted like that without the tangle of thoughts that come attached.

Sam looks over at him, frowning slightly. For a moment Gene thinks he doesn't get the meaning, which is fair, but then the other man snorts dismissively. "Are you kidding? This is hands down the most inconvenient thing I've ever wanted in my life."

Gene makes sure to keep his eyes fixed straight ahead, jaw jutted, nodding as though in grave agreement. It's only when he feels Sam look away again that he lets himself quirk a faintly surprised smile.