Title: And Maybe Then We'll Have Coffee [Sequel to _Your Cheating Heart_]
Author: Axolotl Goddess (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Pairing: Josh/Sam [theoretically], Josh/Other Male Character [referenced]
Date: 1 December 2001 (and there are only 29 more days until my birthday)
Rating: R [This story contains mature language. Namely, the f-word 19 separate times. There's no sex or violence, though.]
Disclaimer: I would be truly impressed if someone was reading this off of either this list, or an archive site, and didn't know that it was a WEST WING piece, therefore the characters belong to the person who created the West Wing, and the people who own the West Wing. I'm really just a poor college student who frequents late night coffee houses with the dimes I find in my desk.
Feedback: Is fun.
Archive: Give me a few more days and you can find it over at http://axolotlgoddess.tripod.com/inflict.htm . If you would like to keep it elsewhere, ask me.
Spoilers: Nada [None]
Author's Notes: I thank Nomi for her help making this readable and coherent, seeing as I have little of no grasp on the concept of commas. And thanks to Anne, who encouraged this and helped me out in the coffee shop when writing fan fiction on napkins. And a lot of people think I dislike Josh, which isn't entirely true, I do want them to be happy, despite their lack of real-ness. Just not in this story.
And Maybe Then We'll Have Coffee by Axolotl Goddess
"Hey, Sam, was Josh really strange this weekend?" Donna asked as she came up behind Sam with her stack of weekly staffing assignments to hand out to everyone.
"I don’t know, he just seemed distant, spent a lot of time working, didn’t really want to talk about anything," Sam said, taking his packet and turning to go into the communications bullpen. "Why do you ask?"
"I don't know, he just seems off, distracted this morning. And he's not asking for coffee. He always asks for coffee, and today he didn't ask for any."
"I thought you didn't take him coffee."
"I don't, but he always asks."
"Maybe the lack of reward has decreased the behavior. It's classical conditioning, just like Pavlov."
"I thought Pavlov studied dogs?"
"He did, but it sort of applies, and Josh drools too..."
"That was really more information than I wanted about Josh's sleeping habits, Sam."
"Who said it was when he was sleeping?" Sam grinned as he flipped through the packet to see if he had anything big for the week. Josh had been sort of distant that weekend, but he assumed it was simply stress from the week and the tobacco litigation. Hell, he'd been at the office until almost three in the morning on Friday night working on it.
Meanwhile, Donna headed back to the operations bullpen, dropping off the remaining schedules for the week. She'd barely had a chance to sit down when Josh started yelling for her.
"Donna, where’s the file on tobacco contributions?" Josh bellowed.
"You had it on Friday when I left," she answered calmly, as she opened the door to his office. "And you shouldn't yell, everyone can hear you, and do you really want everyone in the White House to know that you misplace 6 inch thick files?"
"I can't find it anywhere. I know I had it right here on my desk on Friday."
"Well, retrace your steps from the last time that you saw it. What happened?"
Josh thought back to the weekend, he’d worked on the file, put it in his bag, went for coffee ... oh god, no, no - he could not have left his bag at Darren’s house, he just couldn’t have.
"I think I might have left it in the car, or maybe back at the house. I'm going to go look for it. If anyone wants me I should be back in about an hour."
"Okay, but don't forget you have a meeting at two with people from commerce, and at three with Leo," Donna yelled as he headed out the door.
Practically tearing the car apart in the parking lot at the White House, Josh became more and more concerned when he couldn't find his backpack. There really wasn't much in it, other than the file, but how would he explain how he lost it to Leo. 'I'm sorry, I'm going to need another copy because I left the last one on some kid's floor when I left at 2:30 in the morning because I didn't want my lover to know that I had been fucking some kid that night.' He didn't think Leo would buy it, or be very happy about it.
When it was painfully evident that the backpack and the folder were not in the car, he got in the front seat to head home. He was amazed at the amount of traffic because it was already 10 AM. Shouldn't all these people be at work at this point? Josh wondered. He usually got to work so early, and left so late, he really didn't know what daytime traffic was like. He even at lunch in the office most days, sending Donna out to get him food.
When he finally got back to the house, he was surprised to run into one of the old ladies living nearby. He tried to make nice conversation with them, seeing as how they brought food over when Josh and Sam had moved in, but he really, really had to make sure he hadn't left the file sitting on the floor of the den or something. He combed the office-like area, the bedroom, the living room, the kitchen, and even the laundry room for good measure. The file was no place to be found. He sank down on one of the steps, resting his head against the wall. He would either have to go back to the coffee shop, in hopes of getting there during Darren's shift, or explain why he needed a copy of the contents of the file *again.*
When Josh got back to the office, he ran into Sam, sitting in the office waiting for him with two chicken salads.
"Donna told me that you lost your backpack and the tobacco file. Did you find it at home?" Sam asked, offering one of the salads to Josh.
"No, I just think that if I keep looking it will turn up."
As they munched on their salads, Sam started talking about having a meeting with some other congressmen about the printing of one-dollar bills. Josh vaguely wondered why Sam got all the physical money meetings, but pushed it out of his mind when Sam started talking about the cost of designing and printing new bills with the special anti-counterfeit devices. Instead, his mind went to how he would find Darren, no last name, no phone number. He didn’t want to just show up at Darren’s - he could have just as well had a boyfriend who was out for the weekend, or working the night shift somewhere, or just in a different apartment.
At the end of the day, after the meetings, Josh stared blankly at the computer screen, wondering what he had saved so that he wouldn't have to ask for everything. Sam came in, carrying his coat and his bag. Sam would never have lost the file. Sam would never have gone to some 20-year-old's apartment, and if he did, he would most certainly not have left his bag on the floor.
"I'm done for the day, and I was going to head home. I was thinking it's been a while since we went home at the same time," Sam said, sitting in one of Josh's guest chairs, fidgeting with the buttons on his coat. "I mean, it's been a long time since we were really at home with any amount of energy to do anything, and I was thinking that maybe we could get something to eat on the way home, and then maybe we could fool around a little. You know, take some time to be with each other..."
"That sounds like a great idea Sam," Josh said, looking up. "Let me turn this off and grab my coat."
While the computer shut down, Josh grabbed his things, assuming he would talk to Leo the following day. Sam made small talk about going to the coffee shop a little ways away, for a salad or a sandwich and some coffee. Without thinking about it, Josh agreed that would be a great idea.
It was only once they were in the store and being seated that Josh realized it was *the* coffee shop that was the root of all his problems. They were left with their menus, and Josh was left wondering if Darren would be in that night, and if so, would Darren realize that he was /with/ Sam. A second later, Darren came up to the table, carrying water.
“Hey, Josh, good to see you. I’ll be with you guys in a minute," he said as he went off to get someone's order from the kitchen.
"How'd the waiter know your name?" Sam asked, a little confused.
"Well, I guess I'm in here a lot, you know, one of the regulars, you could say," Josh said, trying to make the situation less tense, if only for himself. As Sam glanced over the menu, Josh's mind raced as to how he could get Darren alone to ask him if there had been a backpack in his apartment on Saturday morning, and if he could just bring it to the store.
Darren came back a few minutes later, being extra attentive to the table and getting their order just right.
"I think our waiter might be smitten with you, Josh," Sam teased, kicking his foot under the table. "Too bad you're already taken."
When Darren came back with the check, Josh immediately grabbed it.
"I think I'll just go pay this at the counter; it'll be faster that way. Do you wanna just go wait in the car - this will only take a second?"
Sam was left confused at the table as Josh ran off to the counter with the bill. He indicated to the cashier that he wanted to talk to someone, pointing at the young waiter. Sam figured it was probably just to say who waited on them, so that he could leave a tip for the right person. The cashier motioned for Darren, though, and he came over, as the cashier grabbed some drinks from the bar to take to Darren's table. Sam put on his coat and walked towards the counter to get some cookies to take home as a little treat for later.
Josh spoke to Darren quickly and quietly, not wanting anyone else to hear what he was about to say.
"Friday night, I had a bag with me, it had a file in it, and I think I might have left it..."
"Yeah, you did. It's on the floor of my apartment, and you know, you left your tie too."
"Okay, when is the next time you are working? I need to get that bag from you, it's got this file, it's really important to me. It's not valuable, I just don't want to go through the hassle of getting everything together again."
"You know," Darren said with a little grin, "We close earlier tonight, and so I get off pretty soon, you could just come over and get it, and you know, we could have a little fun while you were there. Maybe you wouldn't leave without saying good-bye this time..."
"I think it would be better if you just brought the bag, and the tie, with you tomorrow," Josh said.
"No, it's okay," a new voice entered the conversation. "I can get a cab or something, Josh. You take the car and get the file, and have some fun, and I'll see you later."
Josh turned around to see Sam standing almost directly behind him, arms crossed and a scowl crossing his brow.
"No, Sam, you see," Josh started, but Sam had already turned to leave the store. Josh tossed some money on the counter and hoped it was enough as he followed Sam out of the store.
Josh caught Sam when they got outside, and pulled him back from the curb as he started to hail a taxi. Sam whirled around to face Josh, and the scowl that had been on his face earlier had been replaced by lividness.
“Was he a good fuck?”
"No, answer my question, yes or no, was he a good fuck?"
"Just answer the goddamn question. Was he a better fuck than me? Is that why you went home with him? Was I old and stale and not worth the effort anymore? Was it something new, but you knew you still had me to fall back on? You knew I would still be at home to suck your cock if he wasn’t that good. So tell me, was it good?"
Josh stood speechless, not sure how to answer the question. “No, it wasn’t good, I like being with you.”
"But you just wanted to try being with someone else, just to make sure that you like being with me?"
"No, Sam, I don’t know why I did it, it just happened. We were joking around, and then we were back at his place..."
"And then you were fucking. Were you ever going to tell me, or were you just going to have this fun little secret that you didn’t tell me about."
"Sam, I don’t know. I don’t know why I was with him. I didn’t want to hurt you, I didn’t want you to find out like this..."
"Yeah, I can tell you were planning on telling me really soon."
"Sam, I’m sorry, I don’t know what else to tell you. I know that doesn’t ease the pain of what I did."
"Shut the fuck up, Josh. You can’t fix this with some nice little statement about how much you know this hurts. You don’t know how much this hurts. How would you feel if I went out and I fucked some guy I met at a bar while you were home waiting for me?"
"You’d feel like shit, that’s how you’d feel. You’d feel like a damned fool who can be taken to the cleaners by his lover. Because you're so goddamned stale and boring that your lover just wants to try something new. Damn you, Josh, you fucked him, and then you got in bed with me. You said you loved me and you were out sucking off some 25-year-old kid."
Sam turned and got his cab, slamming the door and leaving Josh standing in the street. Josh watched the cab go down the street, wondering if it was taking Sam home or off somewhere so that Sam wouldn't have to see Josh when he got home.
A second later, Josh felt a hand on his shoulder, and he turned to see Darren, standing there in his coat.
"Everything okay there?" he asked.
"I really don't know. I just, I really don't know."
"Do you wanna come get your bag?"
Later that night, Josh got home and found Sam sitting in bed reading. He was surprised to find Sam awake, or even at home. He'd figured that if Sam had gone home it was just to pack a bag and go to some hotel for the night, which had led Josh to think he would spend the night calling every hotel between Washington and Baltimore.
Josh set his bag down on the floor and began removing his clothes. He grabbed one of his old t-shirts and put it on, figuring Sam wouldn't even want to look at him tonight. As he put his clothes in the hamper, Sam broke the silence.
"Did you fuck him?"
"When you went to pick up your things? Did you fuck him again? Faster this time so that you could get home quickly and tell me that you didn't fuck him?"
"I didn’t fuck him again."
Josh turned around and walked over to the bed, pulling down the covers on his side of the bed.
"No, you’re not sleeping in here."
"Why? It’s my bed too."
"Yeah, well, you seem to like sleeping in different beds, so maybe you should just go back to perky little Darren’s house and sleep in his bed. You know he’ll fuck you."
"Sam, I don’t want to sleep in someone else’s bed. I wanna sleep in this bed, with you."
"Yeah, well, not now, you jackass."
Sam threw his legs over the side of the bed and got up, grabbed his book and his pillow and started to leave the room. Josh followed him into the hallway.
"If you want to sleep in that bed so much, now you can. I’ll sleep in the guest room," Sam yelled over his shoulder.
"It's our bed Sam, I'm not sleeping in there without you. I'm not ..."
"Fuck you, Josh, what do you care where you sleep? You're more than willing to go home with some other guy, maybe you should just invite him over here if you don't want to sleep by yourself."
"Fuck you, Josh!" Sam slammed the door to the guest room and locked the door. Josh stood there and looked at the door for a minute, wondering if he should go get the key from the kitchen drawer and let himself in to talk to Sam. Though, from Sam's reaction, tonight would probably not be the best night for talking.
Josh turned and headed down the stairs for the couch. He knew Sam wouldn't want to talk to him, but he didn't know how long it was going to last, or how he was going to apologize for this fuck up.
Over the next two weeks, Sam avoided Josh at the White House and flat out ignored him at home. They took separate cars to work, and whenever Josh tried to head over to the communications bullpen, Bonnie or Ginger intercepted him, saying that Sam was busy, in a meeting, out, or otherwise unavailable. In meetings they sat in a way that prevented eye contact, and never acknowledged each other's comments and ideas. Josh wondered what it must have looked like to everyone else: Two adult men who were passing messages back and forth via their assistants. He thought that was supposed to end in junior high school, when your friends went between you and the girl you liked.
Finally, he had to talk to Sam, not only for their personal life but for a bill they were trying to rally support for. Knowing he wouldn't get through the Bonnie-Ginger shield, he put everything into a folder and attached a note to the top. Simple, harmless, "Sam, I need you to look over this and call the congressmen on the first page. Josh." He handed the file to Donna who asked him why he couldn't do his own legwork, but headed off for communications anyway.
"Sam," Donna said when she walked into his office. "Josh wanted me to deliver this file about the farming bill."
"Thanks Donna," he said, looking up and taking the folder from her.
"Sam, this probably isn't really any of my business, but is everything okay with you and Josh? You don't take files to each other, you don't go to the same meetings unless you have to, you don't go to lunch together, you don't even talk now. What's going on?"
"I really have some work to do, Donna. Everything is fine."
"Everything isn't fine, but it's okay if you don't want to talk about. But maybe you could slip Josh some caffeine tomorrow morning? It's really sort of hell with him when he's groggy and decaffeinated."
"I really have to work on this, Donna."
Later that day, Donna brought Josh's lunch in and set it on the edge of his desk. Taking a seat to eat her own lunch while they talked about the afternoon meetings, Donna decided to see if she could get any information from Josh.
"Why the new caffeine-free you, Josh?" she asked, stealing one of his waffle-fries.
"You know," she said, "I don't think I've seen you drink coffee or talk to Sam in the last two weeks."
"It's nothing. We're just tired."
"If you were tired, you'd be bellowing at me for coffee."
"Well, I don't want any coffee!"
"No need to get upset with me, I'm just asking why you and Sam aren't eating lunch together now. You two used to look forward to having lunch everyday."
"Well, not now."
"Is everything okay at home, Josh?" Donna asked as her voice changed from light and airy to a serious, sober tone.
"Donna, it's really..."
"I know, it's really none of my business, but I think that if you ..."
"I fucked another guy," Josh cut her off.
"A few weeks ago, I was on my way home, I stopped for coffee, and I met this kid, and I don't know how it happened but we went back to his place and we fucked and I left and I went home."
"And you told Sam?"
"I left my backpack, with the tobacco report, at the guy's apartment. And when I asked the guy to bring it in, Sam heard, and he put two and two together, and now he doesn't want to talk to me."
"But you're still living at home?"
"I've started sleeping here."
"You don't know what it's like at home, Donna. I sleep on the couch, Sam sleeps in the guest room, we don't talk, we go to work separately, we don't acknowledge that we live together."
"You should fix this."
"How, Donna, how do I fix this? I don't think Hallmark makes a card that says 'Hey, sorry I sucked off some 20 year old while you were waiting for me to come home'"
"I don't know how you fix this Josh. I don't go around cheating behind my partner's back."
"I don't do this, Donna; it happened once!"
Donna took her salad and Josh's waffle-fries and went back to her desk. As she left, she yelled, "Fix it!" over her shoulder.
It was after four days of sleeping in the chair at the office that Josh realized he needed to go home and pick up some clean clothes to wear for the next few days. It was also after four days that Leo got in before Josh could wake up. As Leo walked through the operations bullpen, he noticed the light on under Josh's door and walked over to see if everything was okay.
"Leo!" Josh said, pulling his head up off the desk.
"What are you doing?"
"I was just working on this ..." he stopped to yawn, "bill, and I guess I got caught up last night and... It's four in the morning, what are you doing here?"
"I always get here this early."
"Okay, well, I'm just going to go down to the locker rooms and shower and change, and I'll be good to go."
"Why didn't you go home last night, Josh?"
"I told you, I was working on the tobacco thing - "
"A minute ago you were working on a bill."
"So why did you ask?"
"Because you've been spending the night here, and it annoys the cleaning people - they don't like having to vacuum around you. So go home. Shower and put on a clean suit, eat real food."
"Leo, it's fine. Besides, it makes my commute faster."
"At least keep your story straight, Josh."
Leo turned and headed down the hallway into his office. Josh sat at his desk. He wondered if he even had things left at the house. Sam wouldn't have been out of line burning them, or knowing Sam, donating them to charity. He wondered what Sam had been doing for the last few days, if he was still sleeping in the guest room or if he had gone back to the master bedroom, or if he had gone out and met someone and ... Josh stopped himself. Sam was nice, he wouldn't have done that, but then, until three weeks ago, Josh wouldn't have done that sort of thing either.
That night, Josh left the office fairly late, but not so late that he thought he would wake Sam up. It was strange going up the stairs to the house again, and he noted that the yard needed to be raked up or he needed to call the landscape company and ask them to come do it. He quietly let himself into the house and hung up his coat on the coat rack.
"Hey, Sam," he said, walking into the living room, seeing Sam on the couch working on something on the coffee table.
When Sam didn't answer Josh started talking again to fill the silence.
"I came to pick up some more clothes. Donna, being a fashion critic now, noticed that I've been wearing the same suit all week."
Sam continued to ignore Josh's presence in the room, so Josh moved around to the side of the couch to try to face Sam.
"So I can just pick up some of my things and I'll be out of your hair if you want. I was planning on working this weekend. I know we don't really have anything pressing at the office, but you know, I can get caught up on some old stuff and maybe be ahead for a change."
"I put all of your clothes in your suitcases, and what didn't fit I put in a box," Sam said, not turning to look at Josh.
"Wow, you didn't have to do all of that."
"I'm moving out."
Sam turned to give Josh an incredulous look. "Why?"
"I mean, you shouldn't move out, if someone moves out, it should be me."
"Yeah, well, I don't really want to be in this big place by myself."
Stepping closer to the couch, Josh saw what Sam had been working on. It was a bulletin board with apartment listings tacked to it. A clipped-up copy of the Washington Post Apartment Guide sat next to him.
Josh sat down on the couch next to Sam.
"I know I messed up. I know I messed up in the biggest way possible."
Sam didn't acknowledge him, so he went back to talking, "I don't want to lose you over this one really stupid mistake. And I know that nothing I can say can make it hurt less. "
"It's because there isn't anything you can say to make me want to stop hating you so much right now. I can't live with you anymore."
"Sam, you've got to let me try again."
"I don't know if I can trust you anymore."
"Sam, let me try. Let me prove that you can trust me. We can start over, back before we were living together, back to the way things were when we first started dating."
"Maybe you could help me pack some of this stuff up?" Sam said, indicating the books and linens and little knick-knacks lying around him.
"Yeah," Josh mumbled, taking a box and beginning to separate his things from Sam's.
"Yeah. And maybe then we'll have coffee or something and talk, ya'know?"
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