Chapter three

It was 11.30 on Saturday morning. Spencer had been primped and preened, ridiculed and taunted to within an inch of his life, and all on 4 hours sleep. The vague sense of pride he had felt at securing the date with Mindy had all but evaporated, as Sam poked holes in everything, from his pick-up lines, to his choice of outfit.

"Uh-uh… that shirt won't cut it Mister." Sam mocked, commenting on his sixth costume change of the morning. Her voice was disapproving, and the phrase 'final straw' resonated in Spencer's head.

This was his best shirt. His special occasion's shirt. And he looked damn good in it!

"And why not, hmm?" He demanded, pulling the black button up shirt down over the waistband of his approved jeans, and looking at his reflection in the mirror. "Does it communicate hidden messages, only girls can hear? Does it just SCREAM 'not boyfriend material'?"

"Spencer." Sam said calmly. "There's a pudding stain on the back."

Spencer blinked, and then shifted in front of the mirror, trying to see the offending stain, but only succeeding in looking like a dog chasing his own tail. He gave up, when his fingers brushed the flaky brown patch. Gibby.

"Oh." He muttered weakly, tirade over.

Sam either not picking up on, or ignoring the bite in his tone, returned her attention to sorting through the pile of shirts she had assembled on his bed.

"Spence do you even own anything that's not splattered with paint or food?" she asked absent mindedly.

"Yes." He said confidently. "I also own various chargrilled items…"

Sam laughed, scrutinizing a dark blue shirt. Concluding that it was stainless and free of scorch marks, she tossed it at him.

"Try that one."

Spencer obediently undid the top three buttons of his current shirt, and then looked at Sam, waiting patiently for her to leave the room. She had made herself comfortable on his bed, amidst the explosion of clothes, lying on her front and propping up her chin on her fist.

"A little privacy?" he hinted.

"You're not bothering me." Sam assured him, making no attempt to move.

Spencer rolled his eyes, and nodded his head towards to the door in gesture.

"Out."

"I'm comfortable." She whined. "If I see anything I haven't seen before, I'll holler."

"Appreciated." He muttered, knowing that short of dragging her out by the ankles, she was pretty much a fixture until she decided to leave.

He hurriedly finished with the buttons, and turned, so that his back was to her. He self-consciously pulled the shirt off, before fumbling to put his arm in the right sleeve of the other.

"Spencer… when did you turn into hot shirtless guy?" Sam grinned from behind him.

He glanced up at the mirror and caught her reflection ogling him.

"I've umm… been working out for a few months." He admitted bashfully, pulling the blue shirt over his well-defined shoulders.

"Noticeably." She approved with a glazed expression. "Wait… a few months? Was this in aid of Katherine?"

He looked down, struggling with the new set of buttons. Nothing got past this girl.

"Her husband used to be a professional weight lifter." He confided quietly, the unspoken motives hanging heavy in the air, but communicating themselves nonetheless.

Of course he'd wanted to appeal to Katherine, but he'd also wanted to be able to hold his own, just in case it came down to a physical fight for her heart.

He realized with a sigh that he'd fixed the buttons lopsidedly, and had to pull them open and start again. He glanced at Sam, who was still unashamedly eye groping him, and tried to shake off the uncomfortable feeling that her gaze brought.

"Are you done perving on me?" he asked, trying to laugh.

She raised her eyebrows challengingly, but didn't dispute his question.

"Just about." She replied, her voice slightly tense with the same flat falling sarcasm that tinged his, but true to her nature she carried on talking anyway.

"I can't help it that I appreciate the male form…" she dug. "I like it like I like my chicken; lightly greased."

That one fell flatter than most. Spencer finally found himself fully dressed again, and exhaled a relieved breath. He straightened his shirt, and turned around to face her.

"How do I look?" he asked evasively, ignoring her joke completely.

"Dashing." She concluded after a scrutinizing inspection, not calling him on the clumsy side step. "We just need to do something with your hair."

That comment shook any awkwardness that lingered right out of him.

"What's wrong with my hair?"

"Nothing." She soothed, hopping off the bed. "It's just a little long on top. I'll trim it for you."

Sam darted out of the room, and the clanging of her rummaging through drawers in the kitchen echoed in her wake. The actuality of her words hit, and Spencer felt his blood run cold.

"TRIM? With SCISSORS?"

Sam reappeared in the doorway, a silver glint in her hand, and a sparkle in her eye.

"They are a commonly used implement for such a task. Well done."

Spencer dragged his hands through his hair protectively, and insistently shook his head, guessing by her face that he was doing a pretty good impression of Edvard Munch's 'scream' painting.

"No no no. NO Sam."

"C'mon Spence, don't be such a baby."

"I'm not being a baby! I'm just not letting YOU anywhere near me with a sharp pointy object."

"Don't you wanna look pretty?" she cooed, taking a challenging step towards him.

Spencer took two steps back, and found himself cowered against the wall.

"I always look pretty." He pouted, scoping for viable escape routes.

He found none. He stood up straight, and adopted a serious expression, deciding to play the 'rational adult' card.

"Sam seriously, put the scissors down. Somebodies going to get hurt."

"Yeah, poor little Mindy, when you show up for your date missing a chunk of that luscious brown hair." She threatened.

Spencer glowered. This was not happening.

"Samantha."

"Fine." She folded, relinquishing the scissors on the dresser with a slam. "At least let me style it for you. You look like one of those troll dolls."

Spencer hesitantly conceded to the compromise. It was a relatively new concept to Sam, and he knew that she had a hard time offering it. He comforted himself with the surety that the potential damage she could achieve with hair gel was minimal, and followed her into the living room, taking a less than confident seat on the couch.

Sam wandered behind him, and he smelled the distinct scent of hair gel warming in her hands. She leaned over the couch, and deftly began weaving her fingers through the back of his hair. Spencer closed his eyes. He loved having his hair played with. It was soothing, comforting, and a massive turn on under the right circumstances. All uneasiness dissipated, as her hands moved, and he sighed, his head pushing back slightly.

Her fingertips brushed at the hair at the nape of his neck, sending familiar tingles down his spine.

"That tickles…" he murmured, feeling the need to explain the sharp intake of breath.

"Sorry." She said quietly, the ghost of her voice whispering on his neck, just below his ear lobe.

Spencer involuntarily shuddered, only half glad when she relocated, moving fluidly around the couch, and kneeling in front of him, her expression one of concentration. Her hands found his hair again, fluffing at the top gently, and pulling at the sides. Her face was centimetres from his, and he could feel her breath on his cheek. He worked hard to keep his own face expressionless, and struggled to ignore the uncomfortable tightening sensation in his stomach.

She leant back to admire her work, before dabbing a glob of hair gel on his nose with a highly amused grin. Spencer blinked, ignoring his first instinct to dart his head forward and rub his nose against hers, in retaliation.

"'Hilarious, kiddo." He said instead, wiping at his nose, feeling the need to enforce the boundary verbally, with a term he'd found no use for in many years.

He thought he saw her grin falter as she stood up and busied herself with putting the hair gel back in its rightful place, while Spencer focused on the distraction of checking his hair in the mirror.

"Thanks Sam. It looks pretty good." He admitted.

"You're welcome." She said, drying her recently washed hands on her shirt. "You should be leaving soon, it's a fair drive."

He nodded, taking one last look in the mirror.

"Remember-" she started.

"Keep the conversation light and vague, ask lots of questions and answer as few as possible to remain mysterious, stay for an hour and a half max, and then wait two days before calling her." he reeled off, counting the summarized points she'd lectured on his fingers.

Sam raised her eyebrows, impressed.

"I was going to say, sit in the car for 10 minutes or so. If you get there before her, you'll look too eager."

He nodded.

"And don't forget to smile." She continued, gathering her jacket, and following him towards the door. "You'll knock her for six."

"I'll call you later." He promised. "Let you know how it went."

"You better." She said, gazing at him with a look that almost resembled pride. "Good luck…"


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