It's late June when Dan's dry cleaner ruins Casey's favorite sweater.
Not that Casey is in the business of sending his clothes to Dan's dry cleaner -- although, arguably, that would be more convenient now that they're sleeping together. No, it's just that, of all the sweaters in the world, Casey's favorite belongs to Dan, and that's the only thing making the broken thermostat in the office even remotely bearable.
And Dan decides the middle of the bullpen is an appropriate place to yank that band-aid right off.
Casey feels his jaw go a little slack. "The maroon one?"
"I don't have a maroon sweater." Dan grabs a stack of papers off Kim's desk on his way to their office. "I never had a maroon sweater."
"You mean to tell me I imagined my favorite sweater? Because I'm not usually in the business of imagining you wearing clothes."
"You only imagined its being maroon." Dan sits and blows into his cupped hands before reaching for his keyboard. "The sweater you're thinking of was burgundy."
Casey frowns. "Isn't burgundy just another word for maroon?"
"Maroon is a brownish-crimson," Dan says. "Burgundy is the color of a fine wine. A wine from a specific region in France, as many fine wines are. Bordeaux for instance. Bergerac. Champagne. Which, by the way, has to be from France to be called Champagne. Otherwise it's just sparkling wine."
"Was your sweater from France?"
"My sweater was from Giorgio Armani, who I believe is from a little town in northern Italy." Dan tilts his head. "Or it might have been from Brooks Brothers. But either way, it was purchased right here in New York City, just a few blocks from where we stand."
"Your burgundy sweater." Casey sighs wistfully and gives a mournful shake of his head. "I knew it well."
"You thought it was maroon."
"I knew the feel of it," Casey says, fingers flexing like they can feel fabric that isn't there. "I could find that thing in the dark."
Dan smiles. "It served its purpose well."
And as far as Casey's concerned, it left them too soon.
Burgundy, Casey learns, is a winter hue. He learns it from the salesman who patiently explains v-necks and crewnecks only to sniff and direct him toward the sale table when he picks up a sweater and says, "This one's great. Do you have it in burgundy?"
They do not have it in burgundy -- not even in anything close.
"Hey," Casey says to Dan, popping the lid off his extra large, extra hot, extra sugar coffee, "that sweater of yours, the burgundy one?"
"What about it?"
"You sure the dry cleaner ruined it?"
"That's what they told me." He tosses a rubber ball into the air and catches it in his gloved hand. "Why?"
Casey shrugs. "I don't know." He blows on his coffee as he sits on the edge of the couch. He has to admit, extra hot wasn't the best plan. "I was thinking maybe they lost it. Sent it home with the wrong person and didn't want to tell you."
"Like what happened with Sally and your white J. Press?"
"No," Casey says reflexively, because nothing, nothing could be like that.
Except for something exactly like that.
"Yes," Casey says. "Like that."
"Could be," Dan says. He tosses the ball again. "I haven't really given it much thought."
"You should call, see if maybe they sent it home with somebody else. Whoever it is might've brought it back, and they could just be sitting there, wondering what to do with this ownerless sweater. Maybe they've already tossed it in a pile with mateless, dry-clean-only socks."
"I have other sweaters, you know."
"In fact, I'm wearing one of them at this very moment," Dan says, and Casey glances over to confirm that he is. A green sweater, heavy and ribbed -- one that couldn't possibly do less for Casey.
"And a perfectly adequate sweater it is," Casey says. It's the best he can do.
"I'm just saying, I don't need to call my dry cleaner, desperately searching for the sweater like it was knit for me by my Aunt Deborah using yarn she hand spun from her alpaca farm."
"Your Aunt Deborah must be quite the woman if she can spin her entire alpaca farm into yarn."
"If you're going to be grammatically anal retentive, could you at least do it while writing our show?"
It's there. Not at Brooks Brothers or Emporio Armani or even J. Press, but at the God damn Gap, of all places. The tag says cranberry, but Casey's untrained eyes say burgundy, and his highly-trained fingers say yes, this is the one.
"I'm surprised you had this," he says to the cashier as he hands over the $39.99. "Burgundy's a winter hue, and here we are in June."
He holds onto the sweater until the first week in July, because around the time he's leaving the store with the sweater, he starts feeling maybe a little self-conscious about it. Like maybe it's weird to buy your co-worker a sweater in June, even if the office is freezing cold and the two of you are sleeping together. Eating breakfast together. More or less living together, really. But it still seems weird, so he throws it into a plastic grocery bag and ties the handles together and on July 3rd, he says, "Here."
And Dan looks at it. "Here?"
Casey nods, and it occurs to him he shouldn't be holding the bag out like it's full of three-week-old takeout he just dragged out of the office fridge. He relaxes his arm a little and sets the bag on Dan's desk. "Here, I got you something."
"You got me something?" Dan's tone is trying to be skeptical and suspicious and disbelieving, but he has that look in his eye -- the look of someone who is getting an unexpected present and doesn't want anyone know how excited they are. That look.
"Yeah," Casey says. "Yeah, a little... like a Christmas in July thing."
"Cold enough for it," Dan says. Maintenance still swears the part will be in any day.
"Yeah," Casey says again. Then: "Would you go on and open it already?"
Dan turns his palm up as he gestures at the bag. "And ruin your festive wrapping paper?"
"Okay, all right," Dan says, pulling at the knotted handles. "I'm opening it."
The sweater is wrinkled when it comes out of the bag, which Casey probably should have seen coming when he stashed it in his desk drawer in a plastic bag for a week, but he didn't. "It's a sweater," Casey says helpfully.
"I can see that," Dan says, holding it up. "And a fine sweater it is. In fact, it bears a striking resemblance to--"
"Yeah," Casey says. He sticks his hands in his pockets, partly because they're cold and partly because he's trying to seem nonchalant, but he knows he's got that look. He gives it up and lets himself grin. "Thing better fit."
Dan holds up a finger and gets to his feet, and in the cold of their overly air-conditioned office, he pulls the sweater he's wearing off over his head and puts the new one on, clearance tags and all.
And, boy, does it fit.