Title: Close Quarters
Standard Boring Disclaimer: The characters and situations of the West Wing don't belong to me. I in no way claim ownership to them, and I am aware that I borrow these characters and situations without the permission of their owners.
Author's Notes: This is my first slash story. At first I always liked seeing Sam and Josh together… but the more I thought about it, the more Toby/Sam appealed to me. :)
Spoilers: The finale
Close Quarters by Red
Toby Ziegler, the unstoppable force, had met the unmovable object - a small town motel owner. The old woman, bundled in a robe and sleeping bonnet, met his fierce glare with one of her own.
He was having little luck winning her over. "Look lady, we're from the White House. My assistant called to make sure there would be rooms ready for me and my colleague; you assured her there would be." He leaned forward across the counter's surface, trying now for intimidation.
The woman didn't blink. "I'm sorry Mr. Ziegler, but we didn't plan on having an infestation. The exterminators won't be here until morning, so unless you *want* to sleep with the rats I suggest you go find someplace else. We're closed." Her tone had a note of finality to it.
"There *isn't* anywhere else to go," Toby responded hotly. "Your motel is the only one in the area!"
Unconcerned, the old woman shrugged indifferently. She looked as if she were about to tell him to beat it, but froze, her attention focused on something over Toby's shoulder.
Toby turned, following her gaze, and found Sam entering the tiny lobby, struggling through the door with his crutches. "Sam, what are you doing?" he demanded exasperated. He distinctly remembered ordering him to wait in the car. Of course, he hadn't exactly been behaving orders at all so far during their car trip…
Sam hobbled over to them slowly, ducking his head sheepishly. "I was bored and wanted to know what was taking so long." He looked over to the owner and grinned boyishly, extending his hand. "How do you do ma'am? I'm Sam Seaborn and I'm terribly sorry for inconveniencing you at such a late hour."
Toby watched, astonished, as the old bat actually blushed under Sam's twinkling blue gaze. Thoroughly charmed, she took the young man's hand and shook it, smiling warmly.
"Don't you worry yourself Mr. Seaborn. It was no trouble. But I was just telling your friend here that we've been having a bit of trouble with some pests, so we're closed until tomorrow night." This time when she explained the situation, she sounded sincerely apologetic.
Sam's face dropped so Toby and the owner could both see how weary and bedraggled he was under all his grins. "Really?" he asked, releasing her hand. He turned to face Toby sadly. "Well unless you want to drive another thirty-five miles, we can always sleep in the car…" his voice trailed off tiredly.
Eyeing his crutches, the old woman jumped in. "Nonsense! I couldn't have you do that!" She paused to think something over. "Our old co-owner left last month so his small apartment out back is empty. I could let you stay there?" She looked at them for confirmation.
All brightness again, Sam nodded gratefully. "That would be great! Right Toby?"
Toby nodded dumbly, still staring awe-struck at the other man, wondering how the hell he had just done that. He was vaguely aware of the owner bustling off to fetch the keys to the place. Shaking his head, he planted a false scowl on his face. "What did you just do and how in the world did you do it?" he demanded quietly, wary of the woman returning and over-hearing them.
Turning his grin on Toby, Sam shrugged. "I figured you were having some trouble and needed some help. Your people skills need some work."
Shooting him a cross look - this one for real - Toby snorted. "My people skills are just fine. And I didn't need and help - I had everything under control."
"We were going to have to sleep in the car, Toby," Sam reminded him pointedly.
Toby's glower didn't fade. "Next time stay where I tell you to," he grumbled, avoiding his deputy's laughing blue eyes. He found that they were Sam's best weapon - he could never stay angry long faced with them. Of course, what he hadn't counted on was Sam bringing out his dimples - another of his most deadly forces. He melted.
Much to his relief, the old woman's return saved him. She smiled broadly as she handed the keys over to a grinning Sam. "You'll find the cottage back near the tree line behind the main building. Old Rick liked solitude."
Sam extended his heart-felt gratitude, sending the old woman into more blushes and shy smiles. He followed Toby out to the car for their bags. Not speaking, the two men rounded the motel rooms to the back and approached the small one-story house that was really more of a well maintained shack than anything else.
"Well, it still beats the car," Sam insisted. Toby caught him glancing his way nervously and realized his scowl was still place. Sam probably thought he was angry with him.
He forced himself to relax. As much as he hated to admit it - even to himself - Sam was right about the cabin being better than the car. "Yeah I suppose," he replied gruffly. "And are we going to stay out here all night or do you plan on opening the door?"
Smiling bashfully - a look that could warm even the devil's heart - Sam apologized and hobbled carefully up the steps to the door. Once unlocked and opened, Sam entered the small one bedroom establishment, blinking in the darkness.
Toby entered after him, setting their bags on the floor. He eyed the place critically, wincing when he could see only an old sofa and a large bed in the other room.
Sam looked over his shoulder at him, his crutches limiting his range of movement. "Um… Toby?" he asked slightly, brow furrowed.
Sighing, Toby flicked on a few lamps as he moved through the living room/kitchen. He peeked into the bedroom to confirm that there was indeed only one bed. The sound of Sam's crutches on the hardwood floor alerted him to the younger man's presence behind him.
"I'll take the couch and you can have the bed," he told him as he turned. To his irritation, Sam - ever mulish - was shaking his head, frowning.
"No, Toby. You can't sleep on that tiny old… thing. You'd wake up one big sore muscle and I *refuse* to drive to that party confined in a car with a grumpy Toby Ziegler." His voice was firm and his face was set stubbornly.
Toby could only roll his eyes skyward. "Sam, not three weeks ago you were shot twice in the stomach, one bullet nicking your spine and nearly paralyzing you. We *just* got you back to work against doctor's orders. Do you think I'm suicidal enough to risk Josh and CJ's wrath - not to mention the President and Leo's - by letting you sleep on that… thing so you can get yourself hurt?"
They glared hotly at each other for a moment before Sam relented. "Fine. Then we can share the bed." He glanced appraisingly into the room over Toby's shoulder, nodding in satisfaction. "It's a King-sized and we're both grown room. I'm sure we can behave ourselves," he reasoned, smiling sweetly now.
Groaning inwardly, Toby despaired. 'If you only knew,' he thought. And then he flashed back to an exasperated CJ rolling her eyes at him over a sleeping Sam's hospital bed. "Why don't you just tell him?" she had demanded. "I think you'd be pleasantly surprised at his response."
"Yeah right," he muttered to the memory, echoing his reply from weeks ago.
Sam blinked at this. "Huh?" The adorable furrow in his forehead returned with a vengeance. Toby had to shake himself to clear his head.
"Nothing," he mumbled, shouldering past Sam carefully, heading for the bags. When he returned he found Sam seated on the edge of the bed, his crutches propped up next to him, bouncing with childish delight.
Toby groaned. "Sam…" he warned cautiously. He knew Sam was oblivious to his own health and was prone to over do it.
Pouting, Sam stopped. Toby could have sworn he saw his bottom lip jutting out a little. He even heaved a pained sigh. "I'm not going to keel over dead on you because I was bouncing on the bed. Relax Toby." He paused, looking thoughtful. A sudden grin spread across his face.
"What?" Toby demanded.
Sam was chuckling softly now. "Can’t you just imagine the looks on CJ and Josh's faces if you had to tell them I died from bed bouncing? What would Danny's article… or better yet, my obituary read? 'Death by bouncing?'"
The younger man's face was so full of the warm glow that had been missing since Roslyn that Toby couldn't help but smile back, relieved that Sam was finally more like himself after nearly dying. But something held him back from being truly amused by his jokes. Death and obituaries struck a little too close to home after coming so close to losing him.
"That's something I can imagine all too well," he replied with a wry look, trying not to dampen Sam's rare good mood. "And I'd rather not. That's what nightmares are made of." He was only half-joking now, thinking of the nightmares that visited him frequently. Each night since the shooting he was transported to an alternate reality where Sam *hadn't* made his miraculous recovery.
He shook the dark thoughts off and dumped the bags at Sam's feet. He walked over to a closed door and opened it, revealing a bathroom. "I'm taking a shower? You?" he called out to Sam as he entered the tiled room.
Inspecting the shower to make sure it was in working condition Toby moved back out into the bedroom to find Sam shaking his head while trying to smother a yawn.
"Nope. I think I'll go straight to bed if that's all right." Toby watched him run a hand through his hair wearily and realized just how tired the other man was. There *were* things that they needed to go over before the party, but he figured they could wait until the remainder of the car trip.
He shook his head, rolling his eyes affectionately. "Go ahead. I'll be joining you as soon as I'm done." And as Sam stood slowly, turning his back to him as he reached for his bag, Toby grinned at his choice of words. "Joining him" indeed. But only in his dreams.
Composing himself, Toby stepped to Sam's side for his own bag, pulling out his toiletries and a clean pair of boxers. Casting a worried glance Sam's way as the speechwriter winced at bending down, Toby forced himself into the bathroom.
The door shut, Toby leaned against it, taking a minute to calm his nerves. He didn't know why all the sudden he couldn't suppress the urges and desires he had been denying for so long. And he wasn't acting like himself. He felt like he was trapped in some strange euphoria. Of course, it probably had something to do with being with Sam 24/7 the past few days, the last day spent cooped up in a car with him.
With a frustrated sigh he ran a hand over his face. He couldn't be lusting after his deputy while at the function. He needed to be alert and on his toes as the President's representative.
Rolling his shoulders, Toby stepped up to the shower stall and turned the water on. As it warmed up he stripped down.
The hot jets of water were pure heave on sore and tired muscles. He allowed himself a few minutes simple relaxation before starting to soap. And as he shampooed his remaining hair, he suddenly had flashes of Sam, naked and wet beside him, grinning lovingly as he washed him.
"God," he moaned, banishing the erotic vision and wishful thinking from his mind. "I've got to stop torturing myself."
Quickly and efficiently, he finished the shower and turned the water off. Stepping out of the stall, he shivered, missing the shower's heat. He reached for a towel only to discover none there.
"Dammit!" Scowling fiercely at his reflection in the steamy medicine cabinet's mirror, he contemplated his options. Nothing sounded particularly appealing.
Swearing softly to himself, Toby opened the door a little, using it to shield his body as he peeked his head out. His plan to ask Sam for help died half-formed in his head when his eyes fell upon the peacefully sleeping - and bare-chested - man. He couldn't bear to wake him when he looks so adorable snuggled into his pillow… and so delicious clad in nothing but loosely slung drawstring pants, the soft, thin cotton begging to be removed.
Swallowing hard, Toby stepped out into the room - the light breeze making him shudder - praying that Sam wouldn't choose that moment to wake up. Nimbly he dashed out to the closet in the living room, thankfully finding plenty of clean towels stacked inside.
He momentarily wondered what the old woman used the house for and why she kept it stocked, but he dismissed the thought as trivial and focused on more important business. Grabbing a towel, he wrapped it around his waist and quickly returned to the bathroom.
Three minutes later he emerged in his black silk boxers - his guilty pleasure - and quietly moved to his side of the bed. He smiled when he realized Sam had left the sheet and blanket drawn down for him.
Not only was it a thoughtful gesture, but it allowed him a great view. He had known Sam was physically fit from jogging and working out in the gym, but he had never imagined that he would look so good. Grinning, he allowed his gaze to travel over the somewhat broad, but still slender, shoulders, the smooth back partially covered by the bandages Sam still had to wear, and the barest hint of a cleft where the pants hung low on narrow hips. He only wished that the other man were facing him.
Sighing, he lowered himself onto the soft, springy mattress, his lips twitching at the memory of Sam's bouncing, and settled down, drawing the covers over them both, careful to tuck them in around Sam.
As he fell asleep, the broad expanse of smooth skin on the younger man's back beckoned, and he found himself wondering sleepily if Sam were that golden everywhere.
Violent memories of gunshots, screams, blood and sterile hallways sent him bolting upright in bed, images of the desolate faces of his friends and a still body covered in a sheet still fresh on his mind. He cried out, gasping for breath, and nearly smacked heads with the shadowy figure hovering over him.
Confused and terrified, still in the nightmare's grasp, he stared into the worried blue eyes in disbelief. Wasn't Sam dead?
"Toby? You all right? You were screaming…" the soft, gentle voice, sounding a little sleepy trailed off. 'No,' he told himself firmly 'Sam's alive. It was just a dream.'
Choking on a relieved sob, Toby surged toward the other man, taking his face in his hands and crushing his lips against his. He kissed him with all the terror from the dream, all the relief at finding him alive, and all the passion he had tried to bury.
It took a moment, but to a frazzled Toby's surprise, Sam began to kiss back, his own hands coming up to grip Toby's shoulders tightly, pulling him closer. The two men clutched each other, kissing their breath away.
Before he knew what was happening, he was leaning back and pulling Sam with him, on top of him. He thrilled as his tongue gained access to the other man's mouth and his hands left Sam's face to trail down his sides, making him shiver, before wrapping his arms around his back and drawing him even closer.
Finally out of breath, they broke apart. Lying in each other's arms, struggling for air, they stared into each other's eyes, both confused, both wanting more.
Closing his eyes, Toby planted a brief kiss on Sam's lips, threading his fingers through his hair and pulling his head down to rest on his shoulder. Sam squirmed at first, but relaxed into him, knowing instinctively that Toby just needed to hold him.
Content, Toby rested his cheek against the top of Sam's head, his fingers stroking through the dark mane as he hugged the warm body to him. Relief and love flooded over him and left him overwhelmed and dazed.
"Toby?" Sam finally ventured, his voice muffled as he nuzzled into Toby's neck. At Toby's low grunt, he continued. "What was your dream about?"
He shivered, not wanting to think about it. Tightening his arms around Sam's back, he also found himself mildly surprised that after kissing him without warning, that had been Sam's first question. And why was he so responsive? "I always dream about what would have happened had you not lived," he answered honestly after that hesitating moment of thought. "And sometimes when I wake up, I still think you're gone. I panic."
Sam nodded against his shoulder, surely remembering the terror on Toby's face. "Is that why you…?" he asked quietly, his body tensing a little. He raised his head to look him in the eye, and the older man was shocked to find no revulsion in his expression. But still… he couldn't possibly…
Sighing, Toby nodded his head in response to Sam's question. "I'm sorry about that Sam. I… I don't know why I… I haven't exactly been able to control myself lately…" And even as he apologized he didn't loosen his hold or indicate that Sam should move, despite how surreal and dream-like the whole situation was.
They looked into each other's eyes again, and as much as Toby enjoyed drowning in those blue pools of warmth, he knew they had some serious talking to do. He also knew that they should sit up and separate, but he made no move to. Instead, he began tracing light circles on the bare flesh of Sam's back.
The deputy trembled a little, closing his eyes for just a moment as he bit his lip. "Toby," he whispered raggedly as a beginning. "Don't apologize for that kiss. You have nothing to be sorry about."
And as wonderful as it all was and perhaps because of that, Toby had to wonder if he was dreaming the entire impossible situation. Here he was lying half-naked in a strange bed with a similarly unclothed Sam Seaborn draped on top of him, assuring him that he shouldn't regret a kiss that even now he was still reeling from.
It *couldn't* be true; he had to be misreading something. After all, Sam was one of the straightest men he knew. He couldn't have meant that he enjoyed the kiss. He couldn't possibly return his feelings.
"Sam…" he finally murmured nervously. "What… what are you saying?" He shook his head, closing his eyes, half-expecting the wonderful fantasy to shatter like delicate crystal. Reluctantly, he finally sat up. He sighed as Sam rolled away from him back to his side of the bed, sitting facing him.
Sam's eyes were twinkling with something so pure and intense when Toby finally locked gazes with him, that he nearly had to look away again. The young man's eyes were always so expressive, their openness almost overwhelming. They allowed any whom bothered to stop and look a clear glimpse into a soul that could break anyone's heart with its innocence and pure goodness.
"This," Sam murmured, smiling, "is something I've been wanting since we took office." His smile softened as Toby gaped astonished. "I know you probably had no clue. That's the way I wanted it. You barely seemed able to stand me at work, so I never thought you could…" he trailed off, suddenly uncertain. He ducked his head and stared down at the twisted blankets for a moment before looking back up at him through long eyelashes.
"Do you… uh… want me? I mean, you kissed me, but…" There was the Sam he knew and loved. Loved. God.
Reminding himself to breathe, Toby reached for Sam, cupping the speechwriter's delicately chiseled cheek in one hand and drawing his face to his for a tender, lingering kiss. "What do you think?" he murmured against his lips, a smile twitching at his.
Sam smiled shakily and pulled back a little to get a good look at his expression, gauging his honesty. "I want you too Toby. I have for a long time now, but like I said… you didn't seem to even like me, let alone return my feelings. And there was your wife."
Contemplative, Toby stroked a thumb across Sam's cheekbone and jaw line, reveling in this new right to touch him. Had they really been wanting each other and hiding their desire from each other in fear of ridicule and rejection? "Andrea," he murmured lowly, shaking his head. "Well what about Laurie and Mallory?"
"Laurie was just a distraction," Sam replied confidently. "Besides, she proved to be better friend material then as a lover." He paused, his eyes darkening a little, the happy twinkle fading. "Mallory started out the same way… but then I started caring about her. I wanted more, and I was so sure she did too. But then… while I was still in the hospital, she came to tell me we were through. I guess she met some new teacher at her school and fell in love."
Toby's mind was reeling. He had known that Mallory and Laurie were his main competition, not even considering the vast population of female staffers at the White House that lusted after him. But he had been willing to fight for this… for Sam. Did he not have to? And how could Mallory have been so stupid to think that any simple schoolteacher could ever replace Sam? He felt a surge of anger towards her replacing his confusion. Damn her for hurting him while he was helpless. But then he began to pity her. She had thrown away possibly the best man she would ever find.
"I'm sorry, Sam," he sighed. "I know she meant a lot to you and I wish you hadn't had to deal with that while trying to heal yourself." Impulsively he leaned up and brushed their lips together lovingly.
Sam was biting his lip again when he met Toby's burning eyes hesitantly. "Well, maybe it was for the best. I mean… now you and I have a chance to be together. That is, if you *want* to be together… as in having a relationship. I mean, I know we're kind of moving fast right now and it's all so unreal… but I want to be with you."
There was so much earnestness in his voice, eyes, and baring that Toby felt all his defensive walls crumbling. "God, Sam. Of course I want to be with you. I want you to be mine and no one else's."
That earned a smile of delight from Sam, who took the initiative to plant a searing kiss on Toby's lips. The kiss quickly turned more passionate as they poured all their desire and love for each other into it. Breaking away, Sam grinned, his lips bruised. "I'm all yours."
With a growl Toby pulled him back into his lap, kissing him fervently. They ran their hands over each other's bodies, exploring new territory as their tongues dueled. Reluctantly they pulled apart again for air, both grinning now. "We're so sappy," Toby complained.
Sam laughed and shrugged. "I won't tell if you won't." Toby nodded, kissing his slightly stubbled cheek.
"Speaking of telling," he ventured. "What do we tell the others?"
"Why do we have to tell them anything?" Sam returned. At Toby's pointed look he sighed and leaned forward so that he could rest against Toby's chest. He sighed again as they lowered back down into their original position, Sam atop Toby. "All right, I know - it's our responsibility to keep them informed. But I hate the idea of this relationship being subject to debate and dissection before it's hardly begun."
Toby loved it when Sam pouted because he did it so prettily. "You and I have battled through a lot of crap to make the President and his administration shine. We've stood at all their sides at some point or another, defending them and fighting their battles. They'll do the same for us." He was relieved that he sounded more confident than he felt.
Nodding and unable to completely smother a yawn, Sam rested his head back down on Toby's shoulder, snuggling closer. "While I'm not completely sure yet how this happened, " he mumbled, "I'm glad it did."
Smiling affectionately, Toby reached down and pulled the covers up over them. Contentment filling his being, he re-wrapped his arms around Sam's back and waist, holding him close possessively. "Good night Samuel," he whispered, liking the sound of Sam's full name.
Sam shifted slightly. "I'm not too heavy for you like this?" he asked sleepily.
Toby shook his head, knowing Sam couldn't see it, but could probably feel it. "You're just fine. Besides, I like having my very own Sam-blanket." He could feel Sam's chest vibrating with his quiet laughter.
"As long as I have my Toby-pillow," Sam returned.
Grinning, Toby hugged him tighter, kissing the top of his head. "It's a deal then. Now go to sleep."
Sam was peacefully asleep within minutes while Toby lie awake, feeling strangely more like he was resting than if he were actually sleeping. But as he finally did drift off, it was with a smile on his face and his love in his arms.
And he didn't dream once.
END Part one.
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