Sam had thought that his plan to ask Tristan on a date was the only one doomed to fail forever. He was discovering, however, that it was in fact any plan at all involving Tristan that would crash and burn. Since Tristan had a way of working his way into each and every plan Sam made these days, right before it inevitably derailed, Sam was starting to put a lot less effort into devising the perfect plan for each day.
Not that he was complaining, exactly. The alternatives were rarely unpleasant, and Sam could admit that sometimes they turned out even better than his original ideas. Take that night Sam had planned to take Tristan out for dinner and a movie—right up until Tristan had showed up with a take-out bag in his hand. They’d spent the night on the couch instead. Sam couldn’t really complain about sharing good food with his boyfriend in the privacy of his own home, where he could also indulge himself in all the talking and touching he wanted. Which had been rather a lot, now that he thought about it.
Sometimes things went wrong because of factors out of their control. A romantic dinner had a damper put on it by discovering that they were going to be waited on by one of Sam’s students. An attempt to see a movie before it left the theater had been ruined by a suddenly adjusted deadline that kept Tristan at work until after the last showing had begun. Then there had been Sam’s bout of the flu, Tristan’s strep throat, the blizzard…
But he and Tristan were going to go out tonight, come hell or high water. They were going to celebrate Sam’s birthday with dinner at a nice restaurant, and nothing or nobody was going to ruin his plan. Tristan had already confirmed he would be on time. Dinner reservations had been made to allow them time for the movie and travel to and from the theater first, and he’d checked that none of his students would be working at the restaurant. And if any of them somehow showed up, he would just ignore them. Make out right in front of them, if he wanted to. This plan was going to work.
He checked his appearance in the mirror one last time, straightening his tie and flicking a tiny piece of lint from his shoulder. Then he strode into the office to finish entering grades while he waited for Tristan to arrive.
When the doorbell rang, he called, “Come on in! I’m just putting in the last couple of assignments.”
“All right,” Tristan’s voice replied, followed by the sound of his footsteps drawing closer. He was in the room by the time he said, “Happy birthday.” A cold pair of lips landed on the back of Sam’s neck, accompanied by a hand squeezing his shoulder briefly.
“Thanks,” Sam replied, typing in the last grade and clicking save. “The movie starts in twenty minutes at the Quad North, so we should…”
Every word he had meant to say after that melted out of his brain as he turned around and caught sight of Tristan. His dark hair had been freshly trimmed. His russet shirt brought out the warm, rosy hue of his skin, and his suit jacket fit him perfectly. And it was Tristan Hoffman standing in his office, there just for him. There because he wanted Sam as badly as Sam wanted him. It was just like that day Sam had first glimpsed Tristan’s math assignment and been too instantly love-struck to speak—his mouth dried up, and his plan completely disappeared from his mind. He just gaped dumbly for a moment.
“What?” Tristan asked uncomfortably, flushing slightly. "Does my haircut look weird or something?"
Sam could only gather enough coherence to stammer, “You—you look…” And then he gave up on trying to speak and just grabbed, catching a handful of tie and yanking hard enough that Tristan let out an oof! as their lips collided. Sam kissed hard and deep, wanting to devour him because he just looked so damn good, and he was Tristan Hoffman, and Sam had been dreaming about this for years.
Tristan’s response was surprised but pleased, and when Sam pulled back to wrangle that gorgeous shirt off of him, Tristan was helping even while he asked, “Aren’t we supposed to be going now so we don’t miss the movie?”
“There’s got to be another showing later,” Sam replied distractedly, focused on undoing Tristan’s belt buckle. There was a hazy sort of plan forming somewhere in his mind that involved shoving Tristan up against the office wall; most of his concentration was absorbed in enacting it. He had forgotten the other plan entirely.
“Oh,” Tristan breathed as his back hit the wall and Sam dropped to his knees. “Oh, Sam.” The fingers of one hand clutched convulsively in Sam’s hair. Sam had been growing it out since he had discovered how much Tristan enjoyed having enough to run his fingers through and since he had subsequently discovered how much he enjoyed having Tristan’s hands twined in it. He couldn’t bring himself to let it get shaggy, exactly, but as long as he kept it neatly trimmed, he kind of liked the extra length.
Not bothering with taking his time, Sam immediately put all of his attention into rendering Tristan an incoherent mess. He was rewarded with a few needy whimpers, then a gasp followed by Tristan’s open palm loudly smacking into the wall twice, and then Tristan was coming hot in his mouth.
Sam pushed himself back to his feet, feeling a little smug when he found Tristan’s eyes closed, head resting on the wall, still breathing hard. He cracked an eye open just long enough to see Sam looking at him. “Sorry,” he panted. “I’m going to need a minute.”
Sam chuckled, leaning in to kiss him languorously. “Take all the time you want.” He smiled against Tristan’s mouth, content to savor the effect he’d finally had upon the person on whom he had always most wanted to have that sort of effect. “Do you know how many of my teenage fantasies I just fulfilled?” he remarked. “How many times in college I imagined doing that to you? How many desperate plans I concocted to follow you into the locker room after laps and just slam you up against a wall?”
Tristan opened his gorgeous brown eyes and grinned. “Actually, I probably do. Want me to return the favor? I promise, I’d be fulfilling more than a few of my own favorite plots.”
Their lips met again, sliding against each other almost lazily. “Later,” Sam decided. “After we get back tonight, we’re going to spend a very long time getting into bed and an even longer time in it.” He pulled back regretfully. “But right now, I probably need to pull out my ironing board. I’m all wrinkled.”
Despite Sam’s words, Tristan looped his arms around Sam’s waist and pulled him close for a minute. “I bet your plan for the night’s all off-kilter now, isn’t it?”
Sam nodded, remembering his earlier resolution to stick to the plan that he’d forgotten at the sight of Tristan in his office. “You do seem to have that effect on them,” he sighed, dropping his head to Tristan’s shoulder. “I was so determined to follow this one to the letter.”
Tristan laughed quietly, cheek coming to rest on Sam’s hair. “And they say we don’t know how to be spontaneous.”
Sam snickered, thinking of the look any of his ex-boyfriends would have given him if they’d found out he’d voluntarily blown off one of his own plans in favor of blowing Tristan.
After few minutes, Tristan dropped his arms with a sigh. “All right. I should probably use your ironing board too once you get it set up. I’m sure my clothes are a complete mess now, whatever you did with them.”
Sam’s eyes flicked sheepishly to the shirt lying on the floor next to the door and the jacket hanging from the knob. When Tristan followed his gaze, he started to laugh. “Only you, Sam. But it figures that you would be able to fold them neatly, even with your eyes closed while sucking my brains out.” He pressed a kiss to Sam’s cheek before reaching for his shirt and giving it a quick shake to make sure it was still in wearable condition. “So when’s dinner?”
“We’ve still got a while,” Sam replied. “We’re supposed to be at the movie right now.”
Tristan’s eyes roved over Sam briefly, his plotting look slipping firmly in place. “You’re going to need to take those clothes off to iron them, right? Might as well take them off now and then leave them off until it’s time to go. So they don’t get wrinkled again, I mean.” He flashed Sam a naughty grin. “And it would be a shame for me to ruin the careful job you did keeping my clothes neat. I might as well not put them back on quite yet either.”
Sam yielded to Tristan’s impeccable logic, shaking his head as he reached up to loosen his tie. He had a feeling his plans for dinner were about to go the way of his movie plans, but his plans never had worked out where Tristan was involved. Fortunately.
WAITING FOR SAM
Tristan fiddled with his phone, checking the clock for the third time in five minutes, wondering whether he should call Sam. He was nearly fifteen minutes late. Sam was never behind schedule, and he never forgot anything in his plan for the day.
Just as he was deciding that a text would be okay and less clingy than a phone call, the door to the café swung open, and in blew Sam along with a vast quantity of snow. Tristan stifled the smile that threatened to take over his face as he watched Sam comb his fingers through his hair to rearrange the slightly windblown locks into their usual impeccable order. Tristan raised a hand to get his attention, still feeling a little lurch in his stomach when Sam met his eyes and headed for his table.
“Sorry I’m late,” Sam sighed, draping his coat and scarf over the back of the chair opposite Tristan before sliding into the chair just to his left. “I hate the DMV. They’re so abominably inefficient.”
Ah. That made sense. It took a vast, immovable force to get in the way of Sam’s execution of a plan; the DMV definitely qualified as vast and immovable. “What were you there for?” he asked, passing Sam the latte he’d already ordered for him.
“Renewing my license,” Sam replied, too intently focused on brushing ineffectively at the little flecks of wetness that speckled his shirt cuffs to notice the drink steaming before him. Tristan grinned. Sam was just adorable when he was being fussy. Tristan could have watched him straighten and smooth himself out all day.
Sam caught him staring and frowned. “What?”
“You’re so cute when you’re all persnickety.” He leaned over, kissing Sam lightly to take any insult out of the words, adding, “I love it.”
Sam’s shoulders relaxed for the first time since sitting down, and Tristan congratulated himself. “What’s this?” Sam asked, eyes falling to the cup Tristan had pushed over.
“Caramel Marvel, extra shot.” When Sam’s eyes widened in surprise, Tristan shrugged. “It’s what you always get on Mondays. When I beat you here, I figured I had better order for you so you wouldn’t have to wait. I know you don’t have long, and I didn’t want you to get behind schedule. You hate that.”
Sam just stared at him for a long moment. Then a familiar look came into his eyes, making Tristan sigh indulgently. “What are you planning now, Sam?”
The smirk that twisted his lips was far sexier than Tristan thought fair for a public setting. “Just revising my plans for the evening.” When Tristan’s eyebrows shot up, he laughed. “You’ll like the revisions, I promise.”
“Is that so?” Tristan had been rather fond of their plans for the evening the way they had been, actually. Making dinner together and snuggling on the couch while Sam graded papers and Tristan devised plots to distract him still sounded awfully nice to him.
Then Sam leaned in to murmur in his ear, “I had to add the part where I reward you adequately for being the best, most perfect, most understanding boyfriend in the world. But if you want, we can plot that out together after dinner.”
“Oh.” His voice came out rather faint, and he knew he must be bright red given the heat that had suddenly flooded his face.
Sam grinned, looking satisfied with himself, and sat back in his chair. He let out a sigh as he took a sip of his latte. “Thank you so much. You have no idea how awesome you are.”
An awkward smile fought its way to Tristan’s mouth as he shrugged. “Not really,” he deflected. “I’m kind of boring.”
Sam shook his head emphatically, reaching over to slide the fingers of one hand in between Tristan’s. They were hot on one side from his coffee and still icy on the other from the snow. “I can’t think of a single boring thing about you.”
Scoffing, Tristan suggested, “I can think of several. How about the routine I follow? I do the exact same thing every day.”
“Just shows you’re smart enough to make a good plan and stick with it when it works.” Sam’s lips curled up slightly in one corner.
Tristan almost laughed at that. Of course Sam would like that about him. “Well, what about the way I look? I’m pretty boring and unexceptional: brown hair, brown eyes, boring work clothes…”
Sam’s eyebrows lifted skeptically. “Gorgeous, shampoo commercial brown hair. Eyes like fresh coffee, and just as hot. Neat clothing in good repair that makes you look like a respectable gentleman and doesn’t do anything to hide the breadth of your shoulders while keeping anybody but me from seeing just how gorgeous they are underneath.” His eyes swept over Tristan approvingly in a way no one else’s ever had, making Tristan’s breath catch a little. Sam's dimples were showing when he met Tristan’s gaze again and added, “Not to mention that your ties give me more plans than I know what to do with.”
More plans than Sam could handle? Brain suddenly failing, Tristan murmured inanely, “Do they?”
“Mmm hmm.” Sam’s fingers wound around the end of the tie Tristan was presently wearing and tugged just hard enough to bring Tristan a little closer. “Sadly, none of them are café appropriate.” He let go with a little sigh.
Tristan had to clear his throat before he could get out a response. “Maybe you can explain some of them to me tonight after dinner.”
“If I can wait that long.” Sam took another long sip from his coffee cup, eyes laughing at the expression on Tristan’s face. He glanced at his watch, scowled, and leaned over to kiss Tristan on the cheek. “I’ve got to get back to school. I’ll see you tonight.”
“Let me walk you out,” Tristan offered, gathering his own coat from the back of his chair and sliding into it. “I should get back to work too.”
He looped his scarf around his neck, but he didn’t try too hard to arrange it properly since he knew Sam would prefer to do it himself. And sure enough, as soon as Sam’s outerwear was donned to his satisfaction, he reached for Tristan’s scarf, fussing for a minute until it lay perfectly. Judging by the sheepish expression in his eyes, Tristan thought Sam hadn’t really meant to do it but couldn’t quite help himself. Tristan chuckled under his breath; even if Sam hadn’t meant to straighten him up, Tristan had still known he was going to.
As they stood on the snowy sidewalk outside the café, Sam asked, “What time do you think you’ll be over tonight?”
Tristan did a little mental calculation, tried to sort out what things were absolutely essential and which he could skip to make it to Sam’s apartment sooner, and decided, “6:30, I think. Will that give you enough time to finish the things you need to?”
“I might not be done with dinner, but that’s all right.” There was a sweet eagerness in his expression that compelled Tristan to lean over and kiss him despite the embarrassment of being on the edge of a public street where everyone outside and everyone inside the café could see.
“I like watching you cook.” And it was true; Tristan absolutely loved watching Sam be fussy and anal while he planned every action he made, and cooking always brought out those tendencies to the nth degree. He was a master of mise en place, everything set out in its place before he turned on a single burner, every vegetable diced to identical proportions, his spices in alphabetical containers across the back of the counter waiting to be used at their appointed moment. One of these days, Tristan was going to completely ruin one of Sam’s dinner plans by lifting him up on the counter, pushing everything out of the way in a giant mess, and having his wicked way with his completely adorable boyfriend.
“I’ll see you then,” Sam said, interrupting Tristan’s plot to ruin his own dinner before he could finish forming it. Then he flashed a wicked grin and reminded him, “After I thank you for this coffee properly, we’ll talk about my plans for your tie.”