*** Your Title Here ***

      Category: Slash, Humor, Angst
      Fandom: Friends- Joey/Chandler
      Rating: PG-13 (some sexual situations BETWEEN TWO MEN)
      Disclaimer: These characters belong to NBC-TV and their
      creators. No copyright infringement is intended and no money
      will ever be made from this story.

      WARNING: "Slash" means loving interaction between
      characters of the same sex. If this is not your thing, please
      read no further!

      TITLE: A Friend in Need: Dinnertime by: mako


      "Hi, honey, I'm home!"

      Chandler Bing grimaced at the singsong greeting from his
      roommate, wishing that if Joey was going to annoy him every
      night when he arrived he'd at least find some new material to
      irritate him with. "Hi honey, please stop saying that," he
      lilted back sarcastically. "Okay?"

      "Why?" Joey shrugged out of his jacket and tossed it onto a
      door hook. "How else would you know it's me and not some
      mugger or something?"

      "That's true. Unless Nathan Lane's taken up cat burgling,"
      Chandler grumbled, tapping the television remote aimlessly.

      Joey opened the 'fridge and sniffed at a milk container.
      "Nah. He's got a big show now, I don't think he'd have to
      stoop to that level." He winced at the sour smell of bad milk
      and dumped the container's contents into the sink. "Not
      unless he was starving to death. Speaking of starving, do we
      have any food in this house?"

      Chandler sank further into the upholstery. "Yep. I left you
      the beets."

      Joey blinked. "The beets? Wait a minute, are you telling me
      all we got in this house are beets?"

      "They're top-shelf beets," Chandler insisted innocently. "A
      full can of Grade A, chock full of nutrition, delicious
      purple num-nums."

      Joey's lower lip trembled. "But ... I don't like purple num-
      nums." He searched the mostly empty shelves and pulled down
      the lone can. "Man, this sucks," he said mournfully, examining the
      label of an extra large can of Green Giant Sliced Beets. He
      put it down with a groan. "Guess I can wait until tomorrow
      morning for the food cart on the set." He shuffled into the
      living room and settled down next to Chandler on the couch, a
      woebegone look lining his face.

      Chandler tried to concentrate on the TV, but his eyes were
      drawn to his friend's miserable expression. He had planned
      on keeping that last can of Chef Boy-R-Dee hidden in case of
      a true emergency but ... no, he thought, forcing himself to
      focus on the screen, he was going to stick to the plan, no
      matter how unhappy Joey looked.

      Another long, drawn-out sigh sounded in his ear and Chandler
      winced. "I don't mind the hunger cramps and pain," said
      Joey sadly. "But I sure wish this didn't remind me of the
      time my parents sent me to bed without dinner. Boy, that was
      a lousy month."

      Chandler rolled his eyes. "A month. Your parents sent you
      to bed without dinner for a month?"

      "Yeah. But that was okay. I didn't like squid that much
      back then. And that was definitely a squid month." Joey
      clutched at his stomach with a moan. "I sure hope they let
      me have more than half a donut tomorrow at work."

      Chandler grit his teeth but in his heart, he knew resistance
      was futile. "Oh, all right!" he yelled, reaching into the
      sofa and pulling out the last can of Rollercoasters. "Here!
      But that's it. Tomorrow we'll have to raid Monica's and
      you're going in past the mouse traps."

      Joey smiled brilliantly. "I knew it!" He snatched the can,
      danced to the stove and laughed devilishly. "I knew you'd
      never leave me with the beets."

      "And why is that?" Chandler groused, wondering at warm wash
      of joy he felt at the sight of Joey's glee. Joey's happiness always
      made him happy for some bizarre reason, a reason he wasn't
      willing to contemplate at length, truly afraid of what he might find.

      Or perhaps of what he knew already lurked there.

      "'Cuz you love me," replied Joey firmly, plopping the can's
      contents into an already sizzling sauce pot.

      Chandler whirled toward him, nearly falling off the couch.
      "I what?"

      So much for non-contemplation.

      Joey smiled at him. "Because you ... love ... me," he
      repeated happily, stirring his dinner. "And that's okay,
      because I love you too."

      Chandler's eyes grew huge. "You're scaring me, Joey," he
      said, but in fact, it wasn't exactly fear he felt. Wonder,
      confusion, elation, excitement ... but not fear. Not
      exactly. How often had he fantasized about Joey, wondering
      why he was having such thoughts, hating himself for them,
      trying desperately to ignore his feelings by any means
      necessary, even to the point of denying them all together.

      Oh, only about every day they'd been living together, that's all.

      "Sorry," Joey shrugged. "But facts is facts as my old
      English teacher liked to say." He tasted the pasta then
      picked up the pepper mill, grinding some dark flakes into the
      pot. "Wait a minute ... is that right? Should that be
      'facts are facts'?" Another shrug. "No wonder I don't speak
      so good."

      "Well," said Chandler, swallowing past a huge golf ball sized
      lump in his throat. "Speak so well."

      Joey dumped the steaming noodles into two bowls. "Whatever.
      You like a spoon or a fork? I like spoons better myself."
      He plopped down next to Chandler and handed him a dish.
      "Take your choice."

      Chandler stared at the proffered meal. "That's your dinner."

      "Hey, I don't eat without you," Joey said indignantly. "It's
      rude, right? You'd never do that to me, right?"

      Chandler flushed and shook his head. "Um, no, I wouldn't,
      I guess." He took the bowl. "Thanks ... pal." He paused.
      "And, we are pals, right Joey? Just pals. Nothing more
      than pals, and that's all we'll ever be is pals ...right?"

      Hoping against hope he'd be wrong, but Chandler needed
      to know just the same. His heart was thumping wildly but
      he could cover that up -- he'd had a lot of practice for it in the
      past few years, a day's worth for almost exactly as long as
      he'd lived with Joey.

      Maybe even longer.

      Oblivious, Joey chewed through a mouthful of food. "Whatever
      you say," he said, and grinned brightly at Chandler, his eyes
      crinkling merrily at the corners. "But I think anyone who
      gives up his last can of Rollercoasters is more than just a pal."

      The dish trembled in Chandler's hand. "Okay," he
      said, gasping for air. "What do you mean by that?" The fork
      rattled against the bowl's side and the entire plate landed
      on the coffee table with a "thunk." "Because if you mean
      what I think you mean ... I mean, what you mean that you are
      insinuating you mean, then I mean ..." he rambled frantically.

      His voice trailed away as Joey deliberately put down his
      dish, picked up a napkin and delicately wiped his mouth.

      Chandler watched, fascinated and terrified by the sudden urge
      to pull away the napkin and take that beautiful mouth beneath
      his own, tongue away the tiny bits of sauce that lingered,
      run his hands over Joey's sides, snake his arms around his
      waist and ...

      "I mean that you and I belong together," said Joey quietly,
      breaking through Chandler's fog of lust. "Look, even if
      we're never going to act on it, why should we kid ourselves?
      I was thinking about how lost we are without each other,
      about how we know what the other is thinking without even
      saying it, about how we just fit together and it didn't
      take long to figure out that we were meant to be together."
      Joey chuckled softly. "And if it doesn't take long for me
      to realize something, I figured this should be a snap for you."

      "Uh, huh," Chandler stammered. "But ... uh ... I mean ... well ...."

      "Okay, maybe this isn't so easy for you to figure out." Joey
      smiled, then settled back to watch the baseball game that was
      starting. "But we got time. Take all the time you need
      because I'm definitely not into rushing things."

      "What's wrong with rushing things?" asked Chandler suddenly.
      "I like rushing. Nothing wrong with rushing."

      "Nah," replied Joey with a shake of his head. He put his
      feet up on the coffee table and tucked his hands behind his
      head. "Rushing confuses people. And I don't want us to be

      "Damnit Joey, what's wrong with confusion?" Chandler yelled,
      leaping up and compulsively raking his hands through his
      hair. "I like confusion. I live for confusion. I mean, I
      moved in with you didn't I? What's more confusing than that?"

      Joey watched him carefully. "Why was that confusing?"

      "Because ... because I wanted ... " Chandler sat down
      suddenly, breathing hard, his heart pounding painfully within
      his chest.

      What had it been that he'd wanted all those years ago? A
      person to share the bills with? A friend? A companion? A

      Or was it Joey he'd wanted, pure and simple?

      "What do you want, Chandler?" Joey looked at him intently,
      his eyes very bright in the dim light shining from the TV
      set. "Tell me, what do you want right now, right this
      minute, forgetting everything else, it's just you and me here
      together ... what is it you want?"

      Time stood still for what seemed like eternity, until
      Chandler realized exactly what it was he'd wanted then and
      still wanted now. "You," he whispered, before leaning over
      and taking Joey's mouth beneath his own, no longer caring
      what may come of it.

      It was insanity, yes it was, but it was also what he'd been
      waiting for a very, very long time. Chandler felt a shock
      when their lips met, as if two wires had sparked together and
      it thrilled him all the way to his toes, making them curl
      with pleasure against the hardwood floor.

      Gently, he licked at Joey's mouth and bit back a moan when it
      flowered open beneath his touch , allowing him admittance
      inside. So good, so sweet, and his tongue flicked against
      Joey's teeth, as well as the soft silk of his inner cheeks
      and Chandler felt the roughness of another tongue exploring
      within his mouth, driving him out of his mind.

      It wasn't Chandler's first kiss, but it might as well had
      been and he fought against the urge to grope Joey like a
      love-sick teenager. A large part of his consciousness was
      intimidated by what he thought was the long line of fabulous
      lovers that came before him: movie starlets, groupies, men
      and women in a business that was based on beauty and desire.

      Beautiful, perfect people, all of them making love to his
      Joey, their fabulous lives, wealth and status something to be
      envied and admired, especially by a schlub like him. That
      nagging bit of insecurity bit at him harder, but Chandler
      ignored it, praying it would go away.

      Joey was his and ... and ...

      But the more he thought about it, about all the wonderful
      lovers who came before him, the further his confidence
      plummeted and Chandler suddenly felt self-conscious,
      inadequate ... foolish even as Joey's mouth worked his way
      down Chandler's neck, his gentle hands sliding along his T-

      Feeling his not-so-perfect abs, going right for his love-
      handles and ...

      Horrified, Chandler stiffened. He tried to shake it off, but
      the moment had disappeared as soon at it had arrived and he
      inwardly groaned at his own idiocy. "Joey," he said thickly,
      pulling away from his friend's touch. "Joey ... I ..."

      Joey peered up at him, his eyes gone from brilliant to
      deeply sad in a matter of seconds. "You weren't ready," he
      said accusingly. "I told you, we can't rush this. See how
      confused you are?"

      "I'm sorry," said Chandler shakily, suddenly feeling like the
      biggest asshole that had ever lived. If only he could
      explain to Joey the reasons ...

      But what was there to explain besides the fact that he was an
      idiot, Chandler thought, mentally banging his head against a
      very large, very hard, brick wall. "It's not you," Chandler
      insisted, squeezing Joey's arm, hard. "It's most definitely
      not you, or this or ..."

      Joey examined him wryly. "It's all of those things. It's
      okay, you don't have to explain, I know." He flopped back
      against the couch, his eyes dark. A long moment of silence
      followed, tense and oppressive. "So, wanna watch the Mets or
      Yankees?" Joey said finally, his voice devoid of emotion.

      Chandler bit back the tears that threatened, not daring to
      tell Joey he didn't want to do anything at that moment but
      make love to him, but the words refused to come out. A
      disaster, that's what this was, but what could he do?
      Something inside was holding him back and until he figured
      out what that was ...

      "Yankees," Chandler replied quietly leaning back, arms folded
      tightly across his aching chest.

      "Right," said Joey flipping the channel as the announcer's
      voice sounded throughout the room.

      "And that's a strike, leaving the count at zero and one,
      ladies and gentlemen. One strike and two more to go."

      And so the game went on.


      Will Chandler overcome his insecurities?
      Will Joey ever finish his Rollercoasters?
      Will the Yanks win?

      Tell me what you think in a review below! Thanks for reading, mako. :-D