Author: L. Bright
Archive: Yes to list archive
Notes: Haven't written any slashfic in dog's years, but this just sort of popped into my head. Wow! Inspired by the sweetness of Josh!
Hurricane by L. Bright
The William Paca Inn stood in elegant Georgian splendor on the banks of the Wye River, a tributary of the Chesapeake Bay. The inn was on the Eastern Shore of Maryland, across the Bay Bridge, two and a half hours drive time from Washington, D.C.
Wide and lazy in summer, a home to blue crabs and osprey, the river was hard frozen, now, gray as iron.
Still, winter was a great time to be at the inn, with its trimmings of lamplight and red velvet and snow, chestnuts in the brazier, the smells of roast meat and bayberry candles. The Paca, justifiably famous, pampered its guests, had great food, beautiful furnishings, roaring fireplaces and big soft beds.
The weekend at the Paca Inn had been intended as an inaugural year-end reward for service, a celebration of friendship. Rooms had been booked for all the White House staff, associates and significant others. However, Hong Kong flu--and the blizzard that Joshua Lyman and Sam Seaborn were watching now from the inn's grandly intimate dining room--had severely decimated the party. CJ, Donna and Carol, CJ's assistant, had taken to their beds, Toby, Charlie and Zoe, and Ainsley Hayes--who *had* been invited--would never make it, now, at the rate the snowfall was accumulating.
"It's really coming down. Can't even see the boathouse from here, anymore." The men sat late over their dessert of strawberries--freakishly big and fresh for late December--and champagne.
"Beautiful, isn't it?" Outside of the tall glass and oak Palladian doors of the Paca's dining room, the silent fall of white felt protective, a silent benediction.
"Yeah," Josh mused. "There's no way the Secret Service is gonna drive Charlie and Zoey two-plus hours through this."
A hostess passing the table and overhearing them said, "The Weather Service is calling for a foot and a half of it."
"Jeesh," Sam said. "And you thought I was being anal, having us drive down early."
"Sam, none of the rest of our *party* being here kinda negates the reasons you and I had for rushing down in the first place! Doncha think?"
Sam didn't deign to answer that question. "The woods are lovely, dark, and deep, Josh," he said. "There's food, drink and maybe even an attractive single woman or two trapped here at the inn just like us. Lift a glass and make hay, my fine bucko, while the snow falls. Consider the possibilities."
Replete, Josh smiled lazily at him, caramel eyes twinkling. Who cared if none of the others came? The meal had been sumptuous, the selection of wines inspired. And Joshua Lyman, deputy chief of staff in the Josiah Bartlet White House, was one contented cat right now. He couldn't drum up much concern for the weather, despite what he'd been saying. Sam was good company, and frankly, for the moment, just enough company.
Sam was daydreaming, gazing within, candlelight and lamplight burnishing haughty cheekbones and touching those extravagant, rococo eyes. An interesting mix, Josh had always thought. Sam had the demeanor of a tense young scholar and the face of a spoiled, hothouse-bred 18th-century lordling. The Paca Inn was the perfect backdrop for him.
Wine-softened, and chock-full of good will, Josh simply enjoyed watching him for a moment. This blizzard was holding them captive in this snow-clouded place, cut off from the familiar, moving through a time outside of time where anything at all might be possible. //Consider the possibilities...//
"Hey? Sam?" The blue eyes were caught unaware, fine brows lifted at Josh.
"Want to put on our coats, scarves and mittens and go play in the snow?"
Sam responded with surprise and a delighted smile. "Ooh... That is the best idea of the night. Even better than strawberries."
"It's been snowing for four hours, and there's, like, nine inches of snow on the ground!" Josh exclaimed. Indeed, the wind had already begun contouring expanses of the white stuff into drifts. "Sam, do you grasp that we may not get out of this backwater 'til the spring thaw?! We're the Donner Party!"
"Only with wagons full of foie gras and cases of Kristal," Sam said.
Josh shrugged. "Aah, we'll just call out the National Guard. Have 'em helicopter us out. You know, I think I can do that. Call out the National Guard for an emergency airlift?"
Sam laughed, thoroughly amused by his friend. The two spots of rosy color adorning Josh's narrow cheeks gave him a Harlequin air.
Apropos of nothing, Sam war-whooped into the lovely, heavy quiet. "Not even an echo," he commented. Josh let loose with a rebel cry that pealed like a bell through the night.
The wind and driven snow particles stung. But they grinned at each other, standing close, neither wishing particularly to be helicoptered anywhere.
They began to walk, stumbling into the silvery drifts off the brick stoop. The snowball fight they were both privately considering became a fait accompli when a bomb of cold, heavy powder struck the back of Josh's bare head.
Josh stopped, in disbelief. With exaggerated fastidiousness, he removed wads of slushy snow from inside his collar. "You sure you wanna bring that to the party, pretty boy?"
Whap! Another chunk of frozen ordnance hit its mark.
"'Pretty boy,' huh?" Sam asked, coolly. "Who's your daddy?"
"Oh, it's on, now." Josh turned and let the threat show in his eyes as he bent to gather up two heaping handfuls of his own ammunition, packing briskly.
"I beg your pardon?" Sam asked with daredevil aplomb. A split-second later he bolted, in a doomed attempt to get away from Josh's barrage. Right away he slipped. Finally beginning to feel fear, he began crawling away. Josh pounced and battle ensued.
"Surrender, varlot!" Josh demanded, giggling as he worked Sam over.
"Okay, okay!" Sam spat out snow. "I surrender! You win!"
"Hah!" Josh crowed. "Who's the daddy now?"
"You," Sam replied, magnanimous in defeat. "Provisionally." Powdery snow clumped Sam's hair; minuscule puffs of it festooned his eyelashes. He'd had a ton of snow bulldozed into his face, but, panting, red-nosed, melting snow water in his eyes, sides aching with laughter, he understood bliss. //I've never been happier...// And was that the sound of sleigh bells shimmering in the air?
"Why, I oughta..."
Above him Josh carried his own loopy grin. With gruff tenderness, he bumped his knuckles against Sam's jaw in a mock punch. "I swear, if I weren't already a couple quarts low on dignity, I would be bestowing a full-blown, teary-eyed, gift-wrapped 'I love you, man' on you right about now."
"This is a real 'I-love-you-man' moment," Sam agreed, earnestly.
Beside him, Josh was a spike-haired snow elf, eyes deep and ecstatic, challenging. His grace was otherworldly, his whipcord strength deceptively wrapped in a package that was as light as a reed. And somewhere deep inside this blithe spirit burned a furnace eternally stoked, the mercurial engine that made Josh...Josh.
They gazed at each other, floating on contentment. Sam hardly felt the cold. "You know what it is?" he asked, excitedly. "When I feel like playing, you play back. Okay? If I believe in something, you try to believe in it, too. If we fight, you are the most worthy of opponents--. It's that, Josh." His voice broke and he felt his face flare hot against the chill.
"I know," Josh said, politely ignoring his embarrassment. "That. And more. There's--." He hesitated.
"Go on," Sam ordered.
"It's other stuff. Y'know... Things... I have this really dysfunctional need to be protective of you, Sam. You-you make me feel strong. Unstoppable, when I need to be. And I really like that. Depend on it--." He exhaled, sharply. "Shit, Sam, let's cut this out, okay? It really is getting painful."
"Well, I think 'unstoppable' is a fair description of the entity we call 'Josh Lyman.' If you were weather, you'd be a hurricane."
"Big wind, going in circles? Yeah, that's about right." Josh chuckled, lightly, breath exploding out in a train of clouds. But was there an undertaste of nervousness in there? Something tight, sticking like a flawed door? A kind of shy hopefulness? "Why can't men say the words to each other?" he asked. "I love you, okay? I said it. Love you."
"Words have power; they can change things forever--you can't take them back."
"Maybe I shouldn't've--."
When this supremely confident man revealed insecurity, Sam's drive to help was almost pathological, almost paternal. Such rare moments, so few occasions. He could only remember two or three. "I love you back."
He shivered, heat seeping from his core. Or was it Josh seeping in, and unilaterally changing the terms between them?
"We'd better move," he said, uncertainly.
"Sure. We'd better." Josh sat up, offered a hand, pulling Sam upright. "My ass is frozen solid, but I'm having a great time. We need more champagne."
"Hot mug of orange spice tea with a splash of rum," Sam disagreed.
"Mmm." Josh gave him a tasting look. "Yeah." A silence fell, inside an inhalation.
And Josh dove in, as quick as that, and kissed Sam's mouth. His lips were startlingly warm, alarmingly deft, doing damage then gone. From a few inches away, he gauged Sam's reaction, his face naked, honest, sweet.
Sam's heart melted, a tender snowflake on the tongue. He gulped. "That--that was *way* better than orange spice with rum in it."
"You should be slugging me," Josh said, quietly. "Or whatever straight guys do when another guy makes a pass at them. Pull a gun, bash my head in with a Louisville slugger, whip up an angry, vengeful mob--."
"Ssh. Ssh. I don't want to." Sam felt as if he were horseback riding, really fast, over hedge and low stone wall, wind in his hair, heart beating hard... "We should do it again," he urged, scooting closer, reaching for Josh, tracking that strong mouth, that smart-ass's tongue. "It's nice."
"Yeah," Josh said, curtly, coming for him. "Yeah, it is..."
They found each other again. Amazing to be joined at the mouth and at the soul, embracing so tightly, falling back into the snowbank. Happiness beat against Sam's ribcage, trying to find a way to draw breath, for once. God, how many would've gladly traded places with him? Josh was his to touch, to own for a while, to be close to. No-one was closer to Josh this night than Sam, nobody else noticing his aftershave, knowing the sandy-silk of his cheek, or claiming his time or attention.
Josh was planting soft kisses all over his face, drawing soft sighs from him, exhaling his own, tasting Sam's open mouth. They broke apart with untidy reluctance. Josh fell away and Sam longed to follow. Anywhere. //Anywhere, Josh...//
"There's a fireplace in our room," he coaxed, trying to tempt his quarry.
"We--." Josh cleared his throat. He would've liked to be the wise man here, the voice of reason for both. Only Sam hit every button he possessed. Sam was adorable, trusting, so easy to lose oneself in. There was a child's openness in that lash-smudged gaze. And in this seductive boy, with his willing--and wilful--ways, Josh had found his match.
"If we happen," Josh said to him. "There's gonna be a ton of stuff to talk about. You know that, right?"
Sam nodded, not asking for particulars, just accepting Josh's blueprint for his immediate future. "I really like the 'we happen' part," he said. "I want us to go upstairs." He unfolded his body, standing up, urging Josh to follow. "So we can happen tonight." His excitement had to be tangible, undoubtable. He wanted more kisses; a lot more. "As soon as possible."
Josh sprang to his feet. They stood close, holding on tight for a moment. Several yearning kisses ensued, their hands finding each other's heat inside coats and cloth.
Josh gave out a decisive groan and then took Sam's hand. "Let's do that happening thing," he said, steering them toward the house now.
Unstoppable, Sam thought, trying to keep himself from running ahead. "Lead the way, Hurricane."
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