Title: Indiscretions
Author: Jori
Rating: NC-17
Pairing: Josh/Sam
Summary:
When Josh and Sam meet someone from their past, they must figure out how, or if, it will alter their future.
Author's Notes: This story jumps between the present and past but I have it well marked. I tweaked the timeline in the past for this one just a little bit but since some of it's not all that clear on the show and it changes when the writer needs it to change, I hope it doesn't bother anyone too much. I also had to change the years of the political conventions to match the election timeline they created but I left them in the cities they were in around that time.

************

Indiscretions by Jori

Part I

The White House
2001

"We need to talk."

I look up from the pile of papers before me as Sam steps into my office, closing the door behind him. He watches me, his expression more puzzled than anything. Puzzled with a touch of panic.

"Something happening with tax bill? If it's that thing Toby is worried about, I don't think he has to worry. I'm talking to Jackson about this . . . it's not about the bill, is it?" I ask.

Sam just shakes his head 'no.'

"Don't tell me Hoynes . . ."

"No."

"Then what do we need to talk about, Sam? I'm a little busy here and . . ."

"Robinson."

"Robinson?" I ask, holding up my hand and interrupting him before he can say more.

"Yeah."

"Andrew Robinson? Would that be the Robinson you're talking about?"

"Yeah."

"What about him?"

"He just accepted the position opened up at CNN when Kevin Tanaka left. He'll be covering the White House starting next week."

"Shit."

"Yeah."

Someone knocks on the door and we both jump.

"Hold on a second," I call through the door. "Sam, I don't think we should discuss this here. I'll -- can you come over later? I'll be home by midnight."

"Sure," he says, opening the door and letting Donna in.

"You two exchanging state secrets in here?" she asks with a smile as she places more papers on my desk. I know she's just joking like always, but the word secrets makes both of us catch our breath.

"No. Not at all," Sam says, not taking his eyes off of me. "I'll catch you later?"

"Yeah."

With that, he turns on his heel and walks out my door.

**************

Atlanta, Georgia
July 1990

"It's a shame we aren't Republicans. We could have been in the 'Big Easy' this year," a voice says from behind me.

I turn around to find Sam Seaborn standing behind me as I wait at the baggage claim.

"I'd rather be a Democrat and in Atlanta than be a Republican anywhere." I take his hand in mine to shake it.

"You might not be saying that after they win," he says, giving me that easy smile he has. I look down at our still joined hands and he finally breaks our grip. He crams his hands into the pockets of his jeans and continues to smile.

"Yeah. I'll take my chances. I don't think they're going to take this one. Our guy . . . well, he's better than their guy. How long has it been, Sam?" I ask. The luggage conveyor belt starts up with a loud thud and it makes us both jump.

"A while. I was an undergrad junior and you were working in Congress already."

"When you put it that way, it makes me sound so damn old," I say, looking away from his eyes. I can't ever remember where Sam goes to school. I don't know why. I just can't. "Now what are you?"

"Oh. I graduated a little early and started law school," he says. It's then I realize that Sam was barely even old enough to vote in the last election and I have no clue how he got this far. Looks? Charm? Brains? Actually, I'm sure it's all three.

"What are you doing here?" I ask as I watch for my bag to come down the belt.

"Volunteering. I did a little work for the local campaign headquarters and now . . . I'm here. Hey, you want to go grab something to eat?" he asks. He already has his bag tossed over his shoulder and checks his watch for the time.

"I've got to get my luggage and then I've got a meeting with Andy Robinson so I really can't . . . maybe later," I say apologetically.

"Sure. Later. It was good seeing you, Josh. I'm staying at the Sheraton so look me up."

"I'll do that," I say and I watch him walk away.

***************

Josh Lyman's Apartment
2001

I have the TV tuned to MSNBC and am listening to someone I don't know bitch about our foreign policy when I hear the knock on the door. I'm going to have to find out who this asshole is. I didn't know there was an asshole left in this town I wasn't familiar with. . . but first, I have to get the door.

I open it to find Sam standing there still dressed in the suit he had on all day.

"You have a key," I say, motioning for him to come in.

"I know . . . but still. That's just to check on things if you're out of town and I'm not with you and that rarely happens anyway so I'm not sure why I have a key unless it's in case you don't show up at work and then I can come over and find your dead from exhaustion body slumped over the couch," Sam says without stopping to take a breath.

"It comforts me a little to know someone would come and check. But Donna also has a key somewhere so you could just send her," I say, walking back towards my couch to catch the end of the asshole's commentary.

"Yeah. That's probably what I would do anyway. Who is this?" Sam asks, nodding at the TV set.

"I have no idea."

We both listen to him finish up his tirade before we sit down a carefully practiced couple of feet away from each other.

"Well, he wasn't very nice, was he? Maybe we should invite him over for the day and let him run things. That'll show them. It will be a new policy. We'll have 'So you think you can do it better day' twice a year," Sam says as I reach for the remote control and turn on CNBC and watch as they run through the closing market reports.

"What if someone comes in and does do it better?" I ask, looking at him and smiling.

"Then you and I . . . then we can quit. Give up on the test ban treaty. Give up on protecting a healthy chunk of Alaska from being drilled into oblivion. We could quit a lot of things, Josh," Sam says with a deep sigh. His eyes hold mine for just a little too long and we both turn and look at the news.

"With Robinson residing in the press corps, that day might be coming sooner that we expected," I say, listening to someone chatter on about prostate cancer.

"He won't say anything."

"Did he offer you that guarantee himself or are you just assuming that he won't say anything?"

"I'm pretty much assuming it. Josh, he's got just as much to lose as we do. I just can't imagine him doing anything," Sam says in his most reassuring politico voice.

"You and I both know he doesn't have as much to lose. Something happens to this job and he just runs back to the London bureau . . ." I say, closing my eyes and wiping my fingers across them. "Besides, why would he lose anything anyway?"

"He wouldn't. He'll just use this . . . I'm going to talk to him, Josh. Tomorrow."

"No." I cut him off before he can even get too far with that idea. "Let him come to us. Let him think we aren't worried."

"I think we shouldn't get distressed over this situation just yet. If Andy Robinson wanted to sink us, he would have done it long before now. Yes, it's troublesome, but I don't think he's going to be too much of a problem," Sam says. He reaches up and loosens his tie and the top button on his crisp, white shirt. He then leans back and gets comfortable, even going as far as closing his eyes.

"You planning on spending the night . . . " I start to ask and he rolls his head towards me and opens his eyes. " . . . on the couch?"

"Josh . . ."

He doesn't need to say more. Those eyes say it all. We remain like that until a commercial jars us from our silence.

"Do you know why he decided to come back to DC?" I ask, looking away and towards the TV. Sam doesn't look away.

"No?"

"Do you think Robinson will notice if we instruct CJ to never answer his questions?"

"I think a lot of people might notice. Especially his employers." Now Sam turns toward the TV, too. "When was the last time we watched something besides the news?"

"I don't know. There's an occasional football game here and there. News does seem to dominate our world."

"Yeah," Sam says with a snort.

I turn away from the news and watch as he unbuttons his cuffs and rolls up his sleeves.

He spreads his one arm across the top of the couch and his fingertips barely brush my shoulder. We've been around each other so long now that I normally don't even notice such things but this whole thing with Robinson has set me on edge. I fight the urge to pull away but he notices me flinch and moves his hand. "I better go."

"Yeah."

He stands up and straightens out his tie before looking at me again. "Don't worry about it."

"I know. I'll see you in the morning, Sam," I say.

He doesn't look back as he walks out the door.

*************

Atlanta, Georgia
July 1990

"Do you believe in this guy?"

It's a question whispered in my ear as I stand surrounded by thousands of people. I practically jump, turning around to find Sam standing so close I can feel the warmth of his body.

"No." I whisper that one word, afraid the others around me will hear.

"Then what are we doing here?"

"Waiting. Hoping. Being disappointed one more time," I say with a lowered voice as I watch the nominee continue to speak. He says something that sparks the crowd and they cheer wildly. We clap along with them and then I feel Sam's hand on my shoulder.

"What are you doing when this is over, Josh?" he asks. His eyes focus on me and not on the man speaking to all of us. I sense that neither of us has the hope for this candidate that the people around us do. Or maybe they'll just take whatever they can get. I was hoping for better.

"I was supposed to meet with some staff members. You want to come along? Get an idea of what we really do?"

"What would that be? Drink beer?" Sam asks with a smile. Another round of applause goes up before I can answer. I wait for it to quiet down a little. Someone in front of me shushes us and gives us a cross look.

"Something like that. Come along with us. It's just going to be Andrew, me and some of the guys."

"Andrew, some of the guys and me," Sam says, correcting me.

"Ah. Okay. Anyway, come with," I whisper.

"I'd love to."

*****************

The White House
2001

"You look terrible," Donna says with her pleasant bluntness as I walk down the hall toward the budget meeting. I wipe a hand across my eyes, knowing full well how I look. I didn't sleep last night. I'm used to not sleeping but usually not because I'm staring at the ceiling.

"Thank you. Did you need something or are you just around to boost my ego?"

"I try to fit your ego into my schedule once a week, but I'm really here to give you a message," she says. We walk a few more feet and she doesn't say anything more.

"Which is?"

"What?" she asks as she fumbles through some papers in her hand.

"The message. You know . . . you're my assistant. You take messages. Type things."

"Run your office. Save your ass. Boost your ego."

"Take messages. Get them to me in a timely fashion."

"Andrew Robinson called. He asked me to tell you that he's in town and that he will give you a call later in the afternoon to see if he can arrange a meeting with you," she says, but before she can even get through half the message, I've stopped walking. She comes back to where I am and hands me the piece of paper with an illegible message scrawled on it. I try to read it but I'm sure it isn't right.

"Robinson is staying in his Honda on the Beltway?"

She snaps the piece of paper out of my hand and looks at it. "Robinson is staying at the Hyatt on Capitol Hill. With all that education, you would think they would have taught you to read."

"All that education is the reason I can write legibly," I say, trying not to look as shaken by this message as I feel. "If he calls back and I'm still in this meeting, could you nail down a time I can meet with him?"

"Sure."

"Do you have a pen on you?" She hands one over and I scribble something on the note, folding it up when I'm done. "Get this to Sam, will you?"

"I believe he's in with the President and Toby . . ."

"Then leave it on his desk. I need to speak to him, too," I say as I start walking backwards towards my destination. "Any other messages?"

"No. That's it."

"Okay. I'll be tied up in here for a few hours. You know what to do, right?" I ask and she just gives me a dismayed look and walks away.

**************

Atlanta, Georgia
July 1990

"Want another beer?" Sam asks, leaning in close. So close I can smell the scent of beer on his breath as it mingles with the smell of sweat. Atlanta in July. This place is hot. Too hot.

"Two is usually Josh's limit. After that, he becomes a sloppy drunk," someone says, answering Sam's question for me. I look up and into Andy Robinson's eyes as he glares back at me. "Don't you?"

"I can handle one more," I say and Sam tips the pitcher and fills my beer mug up again.

"Just don't spew in our hotel room. That's all I ask," Andrew says, rolling his eyes. I'm not sure whether he's disgusted with the fact I've had a few drinks or that Sam is sitting so close to me. So close that when I go to reach for my beer, our arms brush. "That is if you're even coming back to the hotel."

"What's that supposed to mean?" I ask and Sam tenses up beside me.

Andy stares at Sam. I'm sure Sam is used to this. A lot of people stare at him. Men. Women. Doesn't matter. He's one of those men whose attractiveness transcends gender boundaries yet he doesn't seem to let it phase him. From what I can tell, he'd rather be known for what he thinks more than what he looks like and he doesn't use his looks to get anything.

Then again, I don't know him *that* well so maybe I'm wrong. I just don't think so. I can usually read people well and Sam is no exception. I knew everything that Andy Robinson was in a matter of minutes. He's obsessed with politics but doesn't have the balls to actually get into the middle of it. He'd rather stand on the outside and observe. Report. Smile at a camera and tell about what's going on instead of being in the middle of the action. He feels safe that way.

I'd rather be in the middle of it.

"You figure it out," he says, getting up from the table so quickly he nearly knocks his chair backwards. He settles it, pulls out his wallet, tosses a few bills on the table and leaves without saying another word. I sit there, stunned, watching him make his way through the crowded restaurant.

"Did you piss Andy off with more of your ranting, Josh?" another one of our friends asks from the end of the table we're gathered around. They're being rather boisterous and didn't hear anything that just transpired here.

"Yeah. He's a little sensitive to the issues," I say with a forced smile.

"Better be careful what you say. You don't want to give Andy something big enough to reach the networks," someone says with a laugh. Andy hasn't been that lucky yet.

"Did I do something?" Sam asks, bending to whisper in my ear. "I didn't mean to get in the middle."

"You aren't in the middle of anything," I say because there is nothing to be in the middle of. Andy knows that and I have no idea what his problem is.

"He seemed pissed I was here."

"I don't care," I say, looking at him. He looks so damn serious and I wish he'd smile. I really like it when he smiles. Finally he does and shakes his head. I fight back the urge to brush my fingertips across his lips and to run my hand over his smooth cheeks.

"Where are you staying tonight?" he asks, still watching me.

"Excuse me?"

"The person you're sharing a room with just stomped out of here in a hissy fit. Where are you staying tonight, Josh?"

"I -- I don't know," I say.

"I do," Sam says softly, smiling again. I don't even know what to say. I want to say something but I can't find the words.

Where in the hell is this going? God, I hope it's going where I think it is.

************

The White House
2001

"How are you doing?" I ask as Sam comes out of his office.

"Good. You?"

"You got my message?"

"Yeah," Sam says as we walk down the hall. "Did he call back?"

"Not yet."

"I must admit, this was faster than I thought. He could at least get an apartment in DC before he started calling us," Sam says, his face serious about this matter. "Or you. He hasn't called me yet."

"Maybe he wants an inside scoop on the finance bill," I say with a disgusted scoff. I wouldn't put it past Robinson to ask. He could be an arrogant son of a bitch when he wanted to be. I'm sure that hasn't changed much.

"Right. He's looking for an inside at the White House and you're his man," Sam says.

"I haven't heard from him for years so he wants something. But is there really a reason we need to worry?" I ask.

"I don't know yet. I'm looking into it and I'll get back to you when I find out."

"He should know not to expect anything from us. He's just going to be another reporter here. One of the many," I say, looking at Sam.

"Yeah. One of the many." He says it with a scoff because he knows there's a difference.

We get to my office and Sam follows me in, closing the door behind us. I look at him, puzzled by his actions.

"What's up?"

"I want you to know . . ."

"Sam . . ." He doesn't stop.

"I want you to know that we did nothing wrong. That I don't think we ever did anything wrong," he says. He casually shoves his hands in his pockets and continues to watch me.

"I-I'm not sure what the current statistics are, but there's a fairly large number of people in this country who would disagree with you on that one despite what they've been putting on TV these last couple of years," I say, wiping my eyes so I can break this eye contact thing we have going. I try to remember all the reasons why we said this couldn't go on while we had these jobs. Something about being held to a higher standard and it all seems like bullshit now. Maybe we would have accomplished more if we would have said to hell with those imaginary higher standards. Maybe we could have changed more. Done more. I don't know.

"I'm just saying . . ."

"I know what you're saying, Sam."

"I've never regretted it, Josh. Not once," Sam says with so much sincerity I have to look at him.

"Thanks," I say and he nods at me before opening the door and disappearing down the hall.

**************

Atlanta, Georgia
July 1990

"Sam, what's happening here?" I ask as I walk into his room. What has forced me to ask this question is the fact that there is only one bed and although I don't want to assume anything, I think I they are assumptions that could be made easily.

"Whatever you want to happen, Josh," he says, tossing the room key on the dresser as he walks over to a chair and sits down.

"How . . . um, how did you know?" I ask, crossing my arms in front of me and looking rather uncomfortable. I've not dated . . . fucked . . . whatever . . . many men in my past. I can admit that I've been with far more women and most people would never guess I've ever been with anything else.

"Lucky guess," Sam says in that easy going manner he has. I doubt many people understand exactly how brilliant he is behind that pretty face. Right now, it's even hard for me to get past the way he looks.

"Really?"

"That and the way your friend Robinson looks at you. What do you two have going on?" Sam asks. He picks up a pen from the little table next to him and plays with it. I'm glad to see he's nervous, too.

"Absolutely nothing," I say truthfully.

"So, that's his problem," Sam says, looking from the pen to me.

"Yeah," I say with a little smile.

"You don't mind me asking, but why isn't there something going on between you and Robinson? He's a decent enough guy even if he comes across as an arrogant ass." Sam continues to watch me and I don't feel like look away from his scrutiny. I have no idea why someone who looks like him . . . who thinks like him . . . would want me here.

"We went to school together, Sam. He covers the Capitol and I work there. There are just some things that are more important than . . . sex," I say and Sam laughs at that statement.

"Like running this country with a minimum of scandals? I'm sure the two of you could have a relationship without a hint of impropriety. It's not like you work for the President or anything."

"I know that's hard to understand when you're still a student, but it's just something I believe in," I say. He gets up out of his chair and tosses the pen aside. He comes towards me and for a second I want to step back because this thing between us is so . . . powerful . . . that I'm afraid it will knock me on my ass. But I stand my ground.

He stops right in front of me and places a hand on my shoulder. "I understand. So, this guy we managed to nominate -- would you give this up for him?"

His hand moves from my shoulder up to my face and his fingers brush across my cheek.

"No . . ."

"Good."

"I don't work for him anyway. So we wouldn't have to stop . . . especially since you don't work for . . . Sam . . ."

I have no clue what I'm saying. He's got me so befuddled right at the moment that I can't say another word. This is good considering his mouth is coming towards mine.

The first kiss is soft, almost too gentle, as if we're both taking this thing for a test drive around the lot instead of out on the open road. I sink my hand into his hair, playing with the longer curls around the base of his neck. My other hand touches his smooth cheek and for a second I question everything we're doing. He's still in school. I work in Congress. Fuck. If anyone found out . . . no one's going to find out. This would be worse than a relationship with Andrew. No one will find out, though. But if they did . . .

That's when he does it. Forces my lips open with his tongue and delves into my mouth. The kiss becomes frantic quickly and he moans softly against my mouth. It's the moan that gets me. I pull his hips toward me and feel through his pants that he's as hard as I am. I'm already dying for release and I don't have any idea how far he wants to take this. He moves back from my kiss and stares into my eyes.

"Fuck me, Josh."

"Okay."

Our hands simultaneously move to the buttons on the front of the other's shirt, our arms all tangled as we race through them. I ball my shirt up and toss it away. It will be a wrinkled mess but who cares. I look at Sam's smooth chest and fight the urge to touch him. To kiss my way across his warm skin. It can wait a few more seconds. Sam walks to the curtains, making sure they're closed tight before dimming the lights. He goes into the bathroom for a few seconds, returning with a few things which he tosses on the nightstand.

I say nothing as he kicks off his shoes and quickly gets out of the rest of his clothes, finally flopping down on the bed. He reclines against a pile of pillows, his arms tucked behind his head and his erection reaching up his abdomen. He's so goddamn young and toned and ...

"Fuck, Sam, you're . . . " I say, unable to even find the words.

"Incredibly brilliant for coming up with this idea?" Sam finishes and I smile.

"I was going to say beautiful, but that will do."

"You do know most guys would find the word 'beautiful' a threat to their masculinity," he says, smiling back at me.

"You just asked another man to fuck you, Sam. I don't think that word is going to do too much more damage at this point," I say, slipping out of my shoes and socks and dropping my pants and boxers in a heap on the floor.

I climb into bed next to him and feel his eyes move over my body. Sure, I jog a few miles a day and eat right but still, I'm no college kid anymore. If Sam cares, he's not letting on. Instead, he wraps his hand around my erection, his thumb brushing across the tip lightly. Just enough to make me moan for more. We face each other and I finally get my mouth on his body, tasting that salty-sweaty-male taste that is Sam. He lets go of my cock as I edge down his body, my tongue teasing his nipples into hardened peaks before moving back up to his mouth. I want to kiss him again. He's a damn good kisser.

In a tangle of mouths and legs, we somehow manage to get our cocks to bump and it feels amazing. The soft-firmness of his brushes against mine and then across my abdomen all the while his tongue skips through my mouth, seeking more. Yeah, we both want more. I'm not satisfied with just his eager tongue in my mouth. I want to feel his cock against my tongue.

I push him onto his back again and he gives me a grin before I move mouth down his chest and across abdomen to his waiting hard-on. My tongue laps around the tip and his hips buck up off the bed at the contact. I place a hand firmly on his smooth plane of his hipbone and push his ass back down on the bed, taking him into my mouth.

Moving my lips up and down over his length, I hear him moan with each stroke I make. With one hand, he wraps his fingers into my hair while the other hand grabs for the bedspread under him, holding on tight. The muscles in his legs tense as my tongue continues to dance across him and I slide my one hand between his thighs, skimming over his balls. We're both covered in a layer of sweat now and the room smells like us.

I feel a drop of precome on my tongue and I'm not sure if this is how I want him to come. I'd rather have it with me sunk into his body and so much he because he reaches for me and forces me to stop.

"Come here," he says, dragging me back up the bed until we are facing each other again. He buries his face against my neck, drinking in the scent of me . . . of us.

"How'd you want to do this, Sam?" I ask, my hand sliding down his back to his firm ass. Fuck. I want nothing more to get lost deep in there.

"I want to see you," he says, placing a hand on my cheek briefly before I look over at the nightstand and the items he dropped there earlier.

"W-why do you have these things?" I ask, picking up a condom and a tube of lubricant.

"I was hoping you were going to be here," he says softly and I turn to look at him. He's serious.

"How long? I mean . . ."

"Since the first time we met," he says, taking the condom from my fingers and opening it.

"Ah."

He unrolls it down over my cock and then grabs the lube from my other hand.

"I'm not saying it was love at first sight or anything."

"Yeah. I understand," I say as he squeezes out a fair amount on his fingertips and covers me with it. He hands me the open container and smiles.

"You'll have to do the rest."

"Okay," I say. He rolls onto his back and spreads his legs apart, pulling his knees up to his chest. I suddenly find myself a little short of breath. I can't believe this is happening. This is not what I came to Atlanta to find but I'm not going to complain.

I cover my fingers with the goo and cover his anus with it before slowly inserting a finger into the tightened band of muscles. He lets out a deep, almost growl of a moan as I edge in further, feeling him begin to relax around my finger. I pull back out and edge in another finger, wanting him to be prepared.

"Jesus, Josh . . . more," he gets out between gasps for air. I'm assuming this isn't the first time he's done this.

"You ready?" I ask, loosening him up just a little bit longer.

"Fuck, yes," he hisses at me, his eyes closed in concentration. I pull out of him and grab some pillows to put under his ass to improve our angle. Kneeling between his thighs, I hold onto his legs, bending his knees even more as nuzzle my cock against his ass, pushing my way in slowly.

Shit. He might have done this in the past but he's still tighter than anything I've grown accustomed to lately. The sensation is nearly blinding as I push in even further, giving his body time to adjust to the intrusion. Judging by the sounds he's making, he's adjusting well.

"Tight. . . so fucking tight," I moan as I slip all the way in, his muscles opening up to receive me.

"So fucking good," is what he says in response. I begin to piston into his body, slowly at first, but I have to go faster. If I don't go faster I might die here and that really wouldn't look good.

He lowers one of his hands until it's wrapped around his own cock, jerking himself off in time to my thrusts. I change the angle just enough to know I'm bumping into his prostate and he lets out a yelp that makes me smile.

"You son of a bitch," he says between clenched teeth as I continue to slam into him, increasing the intensity. Sometimes I change the angle just enough that I don't bump into that spot inside and he growls at me. "Son of a bitch."

"You like that?" I ask and he nods his head. We are both breathing so hard and heavy it's almost impossibly to hear anything else.

"You know I do . . ." he says as if we've done this before.

"Good," I say, feeling my own climax creeping up on me deep inside. I want him to go first. I want to see his face as he comes. It only takes a few more strokes in the right direction and he lets loose, semen arcing out over his tight stomach muscles. His one hand keeps pumping while the other one travels through the warm substance before moving up his chest. His nostrils flair as his eyes remain on me now and I know I could get lost in them so easily.

"Your turn," he whispers, his voice hoarse.

"Yeah," I say, holding his legs up higher and pounding into him as fast as he'll allow. Soon . . . too soon . . . everything around me gets lost as I reach release. This one comes from somewhere so deep inside that it consumes me. Pulls me under until I'm gasping for breath. I slip out of his body and fall forward onto him, and somehow I feel Sam's arms go up around me, bringing me back to this place.

"It's a good thing we don't work together," he says softly, his hand going up and brushing through my hair. I manage to pull of the condom and toss it over the side of the bed. "I'd really hate to have to give this up."

"Me, too," I say even though I know we have to give it up anyway.

Our breathing begins to still and I can tell he's drifting off to sleep. I should get up. Get showered and dressed and go deal with Andy. But I don't want to. Instead, I let myself drift off, too.

I have no idea how long we have been tangled up together when the phone rings.

"Sam?"

"I'm sleeping," he says as he rolls the other way, a pillow now tucked between his arms instead of me.

"Hello," I say, grabbing the phone while trying to see what time it is. Shit. It's 5:30 in the morning and my flight leaves at 7:20. I'm never going to make it.

"Sam Seaborn?" a voice asks. An all too familiar voice.

"Hold on . . ." I say, moving the phone away from my ear but hearing the person on the other end call out my name.

"Josh . . ."

"Yeah," I say, bringing it back to my ear.

"I figured as much. I'll see you back at the office," Andy says, hanging up on me.

"What was that about?" Sam asks, rolling back towards me, still clutching a pillow.

"That, my friend, was a mistake."

***************

Part II

White House
2001

"We could just go to the Hyatt."

"We could. Or we could just pretend that we are too busy for this bullshit. Wait. We aren't pretending," I say as Sam follows behind me to the press room.

We stand near the back of the crowded room as CJ covers the latest crisis with a room full of people shouting at her and demanding her attention. I don't get a chance to listen for long before Donna puts her hand on my shoulder and motions for me to follow her out of all the noise.

"You have a phone call," Donna says and Sam turns his head to see if it's what we've been waiting for.

"Who is it?"

"Andy Robinson. He said he'd only be in his room for the next five minutes and after that he has to go to a meeting. Here's the number," Donna says, handing me a slip of paper. "Can you read it or do you need me to help you dial the phone?"

I'm not really in the mood to go back and forth with her today. "Thanks. I think I've got it."

Donna gives me a concerned look and starts to ask something but I dismiss it with with a shake of my head and she walks off. I sigh as Sam comes up behind me, glancing at the scrap of paper. "Did you really think he'd forget to call back. Did you think he forgot about it?"

"No. Not anymore than you or I would ever forget."

****************

Atlanta, Georgia
July 1990

"I didn't expect to see you back here," Andy says as I slip into the room. He's busily throwing stuff in his suitcase and doesn't even look at me.

"I figured you weren't going to pack for me so I better come back," I say, leaning against the wall. Even though I didn't want to leave, I knew I had to. Fuck, I wish I was back in the room with Sam. Back in bed with Sam. I watch as he continues to stuff his suitcase, not really even folding anything.

"Are you flying home now or staying longer?" he asks, finally stopping long enough to look my way.

"Why would I stay longer?"

"I don't know. You tell me," he says with a sarcastic laugh. "On second thought, I really don't want to know."

"What in the fuck is your problem?" I ask and he comes towards me.

"No, Josh. What in the fuck is your problem?" he says, getting into my face. He wrinkles up his nose and makes a disgusted sound.

I move around him and grab my own suitcase out of the closet and toss it on the bed.

"I don't have any problems," I lie. I don't even have time to shower and change before we go to the airport. Andy is just going to have to put up with the way I smell right now.

"One night with Sam Seaborn and all your problems go away?" Andy says with a scoff.

"Hardly," I mutter under my breath. I have a feeling my problems are just beginning. Nothing has ever come that easily for me and I doubt any sort of relationship with Sam is going to be easy, either. Not even factoring in time and distance, there's just so many other things dooming this.

"Why'd you do it, Josh?" he asks, and I look at him. His green eyes are pleading with me to give him an answer that will make it all better but there isn't such an answer.

"I didn't do anything." I don't know why I have to lie . . . beyond the obvious reasons why I have to lie. I don't know why this matters so much to him. No matter how much he wanted it, there could never be anything between us.

"I was offered a job in London. Will that make a difference?"

"Whatever. It won't change things."

"You are one stubborn cock sucker," he says, and for some reason, that just pisses me off.

"Listen, you son of a bitch, we've gone out a few times for drinks and dinner. We knew each other in school and have stayed up a lot of late nights, but you don't fucking own me or have any claim to me. I'm going to do whatever I want to do," I yell at him and he stands there, taking it with his arms crossed over his chest.

"How far do you think you're going to get?"

"To the top."

"Yeah. Don't forget what I know, Lyman." He says it in such a smug fashion, I wish I could smack the look off his face.

"Hey, Andy . . . that works both ways, you know."

************

White House
2001

Sam sits on the edge of my desk, reading glasses on, watching me dial the phone. He's strangely silent, which is almost more disturbing than the rest of this.

"What are you worried about, Sam? We already have our jobs. Besides, no one would get rid us for what we did in the past. You can't get much more liberal than this White House and we know these people. There's no reason . . . besides that, I'm pretty sure it's against the law," I say while I wait for someone to pick up.

"I don't think he's after our jobs. He's had almost four years in which he could have said something. We were just so busy that we didn't even think about it," Sam says, looking at me. Yeah. We thought about things and he knows it. We were just too damn busy to act on anything. "I'm sure he just wants to let you know . . . let us know he'll be working here."

"That's fine. I can live with that," I say just as the desk clerk picks up. "Yeah. Room 245, please."

"Maybe he wants some tips on finding an apartment in DC."

"He lived here before, Sam."

"Right. Maybe he forgot all about it."

"I'm sure."

I shush him just as Andrew answers. "Robinson here," he says, sounding hurried. I put him on speaker phone so Sam can listen.

"Andy, how you doing? This is Josh Lyman," I say, sounding as casual as I can.

"Josh, I figured you were too busy dealing with your pesky constituents."

"Actually, Andy, I'm just the Deputy Chief of Staff, meaning I wasn't elected so I technically have no constituents . . ."

"Josh, stop it already."

"Sorry. What did you need?" I ask, looking at Sam. He's expressionless as he remains perched on the edge of my desk with his hands tucked in his pockets.

"I thought since I was in town, I'd see if you were free for dinner. I know you must be busy there but I thought I would offer," he says, not letting on to what this is really all about.

"I hear you have plans to move to town permanently," I say, leaning back in my chair. I hear him talking to someone in the background about having to leave soon.

"That's what I wanted to talk to you about. Are you free tomorrow night?"

"Quite possibly. What did you have in mind?" I ask, wanting to know more before I agree to anything.

"Just dinner. Hey, I've got to run. I have a meeting with Tom Jordan. You remember him, don't you? Then again, you weren't really on top of your game during the last elections, were you? I bet Sam remembers him. I'll give you a call in the morning to check on your schedule. And Josh, why don't you invite Sam Seaborn along? It must be quite nice working right down the hall from him. Speak to you later," he says and with that, he hangs up on me.

Sam pulls off his glasses, folds them and puts them in his breast pocket.

"He's meeting with Tom Jordan? Shit," is all he says before he slides off my desk, opens the door and leaves me alone in my office.

***********

Longworth House Office Building
Washington, DC
1992

"Josh, someone is waiting to see you," Eileen says as I move around the desks. She has a strange smile on her face. They are filming some movie outside on the front steps today and maybe she bumped into some star. It doesn't take much more than a glance from a good looking guy to get Eileen smiling.

"Who?"

"He said his name is Sam Seaborn," she says.

"Ah."

Well, that's the reason for the smile.

"He's been waiting for you for a while. Can I ask you a question?'

"No," I answer before she can even go there. "Sam isn't your type."

"Who the hell cares about type?" she asks, still smiling. I wipe my fingers across my eyes and try to figure out another way to explain this. Like leave him the fuck alone, but instead I just turn and walk away.

"Hold my calls," I call to her.

"Will do."

What in the hell is Sam doing here? I haven't seen him in over a year. After Atlanta, we only met a few more times, ending it during the inauguration. That's when we decided there was too much distance and not enough time.

Now he's back and waiting for me.

I walk into my office to find Sam playing with the nameplate on my desk. He's dressed in a suit and tie with an overcoat thrown over his arm. My heart starts racing before he even gets a chance to turn around and look my way and I swallow hard, trying to get it all together before I say anything.

I close the door behind me and the sound makes him jump.

"Josh! How have you been?" he asks, setting down my nameplate and coming over to me, wrapping me in his arms for an all too brief embrace. He buries his face in my neck and I want to hold him right here but he edges back away from me.

"I've been okay. You look . . . "

"Beautiful?" Sam says with a smile.

"Good. You look good."

"Damn. I've been downgraded. Must be the suit or the haircut," he says, brushing his hand over his shorter, professional looking hair. No more curls twist near the nape of his neck. His college days must be over.

"No, really . . . you look good. Is there something I can do for you? Did you eat lunch? We can go get something if you would like?" I ask as I sit behind my desk to check my messages.

"That's okay. I have to meet someone for lunch in an hour. I just stopped by to see you," he says and I look up from the scraps of paper piling up on my desk.

"I'm glad you did. I . . . I . . ." Now I'm lost for words. I'm sure he knows how I felt after we stopped calling each other every night and stopped traveling back and forth to see each other.

"I miss you, too, Josh," he says, sitting down across from me with the desk separating us. Judging from the look in his eyes, that might be a good thing. We have got to get this thing under control . . . I just have no idea how.

"Yeah," I say and we both just watch each other for a few moments. We break the stare and I start shuffling around things on my desk, sorting out the latest files Eileen just threw in here. "So, what are you doing in town? How long will you be here? You have to at least let me take you to lunch."

"Josh . . ."

"Yeah?"

"I'm going to be working here for a while. As an aide."

That little announcement stops me in my tracks and I close the file I just opened. I look back at him and he is serious.

"Where . . .whose office?" I ask, clearing my throat when my voice catches.

"Simonsen's office. Just until I decide what I really want to do," he says.

"I thought you wanted to be a lawyer," I say, still finding that I am unable to move.

"I know. And that's probably where I'll end up, but I've always had an avid interest in politics and . . ."

"You couldn't get a job as quickly as you thought you would be able to so you got this one from someone who knew someone who knew someone?" I ask, leaning back in my chair.

"Well, there's that, too. You don't have a problem with me being here, do you?" he asks, as if what I say will really make a difference.

"No. Should I?"

"I don't know. You just seem . . ."

"Surprised?"

"Yes. Surprised."

Hell, yeah, I'm surprised. I'm not sure I can stand working with Sam in the same city let alone the same damn building. It's a big building, but still . . .

"I hope pleasantly surprised. I really have missed you, Josh," he says one more time and I find myself trying to figure out all the implications behind those words. We agreed to end it. Maybe they mean nothing. "Can I ask you a favor?"

"I, uh . . . yeah."

"I need help finding a place to live. You wouldn't happen to have any suggestions?" he asks and I'm tempted to tell him to move right into my place but I stop. I've been dating someone for a few weeks now and I'm sure she wouldn't be too pleased with the intrusion.

Sam looks down at his watch and stands up before I can even answer.

"Sure. I can help you this weekend," I say, looking at my calendar. "Maybe someone is looking for a roommate. I'll ask some of the secretaries. They seem to know everything. If nothing else, Eileen will probably let you move in."

"I really do appreciate it," Sam says as I stand up and go around my desk to let him out the door.

I'm tempted to hug him again, just to feel him in my arms once more but I don't do it. Instead, I offer him my hand which he takes in a firm grasp.

"Call me," I say and he smiles.

"I will," he says, pulling his hand from mine and going out the door.

************

Josh Lyman's Apartment
2001

Damn. Someone is knocking on my door and it's . . . 2:30 in the morning. The last time this happened, Donna got a flat tire a few blocks from my place and came to me for help as if I'm the auto club or something.

I crawl out of bed and stumble towards the door, bitching all the way. "All right all ready. I'm coming," I say as they continue to knock. "Who's there?"

"It's Sam," I hear him call through the door and I pull the chain back and let him in.

"Something wrong?" I ask, rubbing my arms with my hands. The temperature dropped in the evening and my living room is cold compared to under the blankets. I was actually enjoying get a night's sleep for a change.

"This thing . . ."

"Yeah?"

"I think this thing is about me, not you," Sam says with all seriousness. We both stand there right in front of the door for a moment, staring at each other. He's still dressed for work and I'm wearing the sweat pants and t-shirt I wear to bed. I wipe any trace of sleep away from my eyes and motion toward the couch.

"Sit down. You want something to drink?" I say, going into my kitchen and looking in the refrigerator. There's . . . nothing in here. "Water?"

"No, I'm fine," he calls from the other room. "Besides, you don't have anything in there."

I always forget how well he knows me. I go and sit down on the opposite side of the couch and grab the remote. Sam smiles when I turn on the TV and it's already on MSNBC.

"What makes you think this is about you?" I ask, watching him as he stares at the TV screen.

"Because of Tom Jordan. You weren't in the middle of it two years ago. We screwed him over. The White House handed over a seat to a Republican rather than deal with any of the tiny issues that could come out if we pushed for Jordan to be elected. Josh . . . we screwed him over."

"What could he know?"

"Tom Jordan and I went to Duke together . . ."

"Ah."

"He knows Allen Moyers. He would come and visit me when I first moved to DC. That's how he knows Allen. If Lisa suspected then she might have said something to Allen."

"Ah."

"He knows too much."

"I see that," I say, staring at the TV screen. "What do you want to do? Knock him off and bury him in the Rose Garden?"

"It's a thought . . ."

"I was joking."

"So was I," he says, looking at me. "Josh, this job means everything to me. It's everything I ever wanted. I just don't want what we did . . . what we had . . . to screw it up."

"It isn't going to. These two small men can't take us down for whatever purpose it is they might have. They can't use you do to it. It isn't going to happen," I say, reaching out for him. My hand brushes across his before I take it in mine. He tenses up for a moment before relaxing under my touch. "We've survived this long. And it's been a bitch of a battle."

"Yes, we have." He doesn't look at anything but the TV screen as I pull him towards me. My heart begins to beat faster than it has in years but he allows me to do this. We somehow both end up in the middle of the couch, my arms wrapped around him, his head on my shoulders.

"If we lose our jobs or the next the election . . ." I start to say but he shushes me.

"There are things more important than us," he says. I move us enough that I can take his one hand in mine again, drawing his fingers up to my mouth. Slowly, my lips move across the pads of his fingertips and my heart begins to pound more. It's been so long. So fucking long that I've wanted him but ignored it all in the name of job and country. In the name of not somehow embarrassing a President who, from all I could ever see, would probably be the first person to stand up and support us. It's the rest of the people . . . the people outside of our circle that might not be able to handle it.

"Yes, there are," I say before drawing a finger into my mouth, my tongue dancing around it. His eyes flutter close and I wonder just how long either of us is going to let this go on. I wonder what those men would do with the knowledge that my tongue is flitting around Sam Seaborn's index finger right now and if he'd let me, it would flit around so much more.

"Josh," he moans and I'm afraid he's going to pull away, but he doesn't. Here we are worried about what sort of havoc doing this in the past is going to create yet right now, neither of us seems to be able to stop. So much so that when he pulls his hand away and then pulls my mouth to his, there is no hesitation.

The kiss is deep and male and his tongue sweeps through my mouth, desperate for something more. My hands travel down his chest to his lap and I brush across his cock, just as hard as mine. He pulls back from me and I stare into those eyes. It's always been the eyes. They get me every time.

"Josh, if you don't intend . . . if we're not going anywhere with this then please let me know now so I can get out of here with some dignity," Sam says with a smile and I lean forward and kiss him again. The sound of me tugging down his zipper drowns out the TV and I reach into his pants, my fingers skimming over him.

"Nope. No dignity will be leaving this apartment." He lifts his hips as I unbuckle his belt and tug down his pants even further, his cock hard and inviting. I unbutton his dress shirt enough to get it out of my way before going after what I want.

My tongue sweeps across the tip and he bucks up a little off the couch at the contact. Now I know Sam has a somewhat regular sex life. It's no secret. But this . . . this is us. I wrap my lips around him and sink down over his erection, his fingers sinking into my hair. He tastes just like I remember. The taste washes across my tongue and it's so warm and familiar that I can't even imagine why we didn't do this for so many years.

Yeah. I remember why. It just doesn't seem right that we have to hide this for whatever reason it was we decided years ago.

He makes a groan so soft that it's merely a rumble in his chest and that gets me. I want to get off from this as much as I want to get him off. I hold onto the base of his cock with one hand while I tug down my own pants with the other, anxious to get some release. Sam pushed my mouth away long enough for him to strip off his shirt and tie and then he focuses on me. Luckily, I don't have much on and it's left in a pile on my living room floor rather quickly.

"Come here," Sam says, motioning to the couch.

"We could, um . . . I have a bed."

"I know. This just seems less . . ."

"Guilty?" I add and he smiles.

"Yeah. Less thought out. So come here," he says again and I can't help myself. Somehow we end up on the couch together, him partially over top of me as we struggle to stay on the couch, my cock in his mouth, his in mine.

His tongue darts over me and for a second I can't move. I can't keep my mouth going because I just want to concentrate on what he's doing.

"Josh . . ." he moans against me and only then do I start again, matching his pace exactly. I've wanted this for so damn long and I just told myself I didn't and now he's here again and I know we can't be doing this but we are. This is stupid as it is and it's almost like we want to throw everything away.

I move my tongue across him as he move his across me and I can feel a tightening begin to take hold in my balls and I want to release but I want this to last.

He doesn't let up and neither do I. It's not much longer and everything is unwinding. I reach release and Sam catches it all in his mouth, his tongue lapping it up as fast as I can give it. He slips from my mouth.

"Fuck, Sam. . . oh fuck yeah," I say, his wet cock pressed up against my face. "Sam . . . I want you in me. I need it."

He breaks his suction around me and rests his head on my thigh. "No, Josh. Not yet. Not now," he says as calmly as he possibly and I know he means it. We said we wouldn't even do this. Enough lines have been crossed. But he's still there, warm and damp against my cheek and I pull him back into my mouth with a vengeance. He's going to remember this until whenever . . . who knows when we'll do this again. Probably years. God, I hope not.

My fingers slide up his thighs, brushing across his balls and circling his ass. He bucks back against the pressure as I slide in just a little. Just enough to make him moan out my name again. I love the sound of my name as it comes off of Sam's lips.

It isn't long before the pressure is all too much for him and he's releasing everything down my throat. It's warm and fast and I swallow him as fast as I can, knowing that this is it. This is stolen and it might bite us in the ass but I don't give a fuck this very second. When he's finished, I let him go from my mouth and he falls down on me, spent.

"Come here," I say and he turns himself around so we both are wedged into the couch, holding on to one another.

"I really have missed that, Josh," he says, and I swipe his sweaty hair off of his forehead.

"So have I," I say. He falls forward against me, pressing his nose against my neck as I hold on to him.

"Six more years," he mumbles softly. When thousands of people are chanting it, it sounds so good. It doesn't sound nearly as good coming off his lips. I wish he could just fall asleep here and wake up in my bed in the morning but I know he can't stay.

"Unless we lose."

"That isn't going to happen," Sam says and I know he's right. "We shouldn't have . . ."

"It's done. Stop it. Besides, they already know. What difference is this going to make to them?" I ask, his body growing heavy in my arms.

"If only I knew what they wanted . . ."

"We'll find out tomorrow. Or today. Whatever."

"Yeah. We will," he says. "Will you wake me up in a couple of minutes?"

"Sure," I say, listening to him fall fast asleep.

**************

Part III

The United States Capitol Complex
Washington, DC
1992

"Josh!" I hear someone calling from behind me and upon recognizing the voice, I shut my eyes. Damn. I forgot all about helping Sam find a place to live. He called and left a message and I never returned his call.

I stop and turn around to find Sam weaving around a crowd of people trying to get to me. He comes to a stop right in front of me, looking a little out of breath.

"Hey."

"I kept calling you, man, but you didn't stop," he says, adjusting where his tie rests against his crisp, white shirt.

"I-I'm sorry. I was distracted . . . I'm sorry," I say again. "I did intend to return your call this weekend. I just got . . ."

"Distracted?" Sam says with a smile.

"Yeah."

"Don't worry about it. I found a place to live that comes complete with a roommate and everything. He works for Laramie . . . Allen Moyers," Sam says as if I'm supposed to know everyone who works here. I just nod my head. "He's got a girlfriend so he's never around. You'll have to come over soon."

"Sam . . ." I start to say, my eyes shifting around the hall to see who might be listening or watching.

"Just to visit. That's all. Nothing more."

"I will," I agree, knowing that I shouldn't. He's hard to resist, even now after he has completely dropped the young student liberal look for the young professional liberal look.

"Good."

"I will. Leave your number with Eileen . . . on second thought, here," I say, digging out a piece of paper and a pen from my backpack. I hand it to him and he jots down his number, signing the paper Sam Seaborn in the process.

"Okay. There you go. Call me." He smiles at me and he ought to know that I can't resist it. He knows I'm going to call.

"I will," I say. He gives me a little wave before he turns to leave me. I can't help but to stand there and watch him go.

**************

Old Ebbit Grill
2001

"What do you think they want?" Sam asks, nervously smoothing down his tie again. This is only the fifth time he's asked in the last ten minutes. He moves his hands from his tie down to his suit coat, which he buttons. And then unbuttons it.

At some point early this morning, I finally woke Sam up so he could go home and get cleaned up. I didn't want to. For a brief moment, I just wanted to hide out on that couch forever, telling the rest of the world to go to hell.

"Sam, I don't know, but we're about to find out," I say as we walk into the restaurant. Robinson motions us over to the table and Sam stops in his tracks.

"Fuck. Moyers is here. Josh . . ."

"Keep walking, Sam. Nothing bad is going to happen. We won't let it happen," I say, grabbing him by the arm and pulling him forward. I watch as Andy leans toward a man I don't know and whispers something in his ear. He just smiles and I take my hand off of Sam.

They think this is funny. They are going to find out quickly exactly how unfunny it really is.

"Josh, good to see you again! You, too, Sam," Andy says, standing up and offering his hand first to Sam and then me. "You remember Tom Jordan?"

"Nice to see you again," Sam says, his voice barely above a mumble. "You, too, Allen."

I haven't seen Allen Moyers in what has to be about ten years and he looks as slimeball as ever. He brushes his hair back from his forehead and gives Sam a cold, condescending smile. Now I remember why I didn't like him. He always managed to make everyone feel like they were doing something wrong even when he was doing the same thing.

"Have a seat, gentlemen and we'll get down to business," Robinson says. Sam and I end up pressed together around a table that's far too small and we both jostle for a little elbow room. I'm not sure if the others find amusement in this, but I'm pretty sure they do.

"What did you want to talk about, Andy?" I ask. I try to ignore how close Sam is as he unfolds his napkin and puts it on his lap.

"About Tom's last bid for a seat in the House. About him making another bid during the next elections," Andy says, nodding his head at Tom and then looking over to Allen. "About how you guys refuse to let Allen get into the national spotlight."

"What do you mean national spotlight? You work for Governor Brossard now, don't you? Is there a problem with that job?" Sam asks, looking at the man he used to share an apartment with. The man whose girlfriend he 'stole' and then never married in the end, anyway.

"Yes, I do work for Brossard now. I've been looking for other opportunities, though," he says, smirking at Sam. "Looking and being turned down an awful lot of times."

"I don't understand . . ." Sam starts to say but Andy interrupts him.

"We think you do understand, Sam. For two years now, people sat by as your White House pushed through its gay agenda . . . your gay agenda."

"Excuse me?" I ask incredulously. "Gay agenda? Sam, do we have a gay agenda?"

"Yeah. We get together and discuss it with the President on the second Tuesday of every month. Of course we don't have a gay agenda. Most of the time, we don't have an agenda at all and we aren't . . . gay," Sam says, not sounding so sure of himself. I look down at the bread plate in front of me as he continues on. "And if I was, or Josh was, we certainly wouldn't be in the White House trying to shovel up a gay agenda anymore than we try to make up a straight agenda."

"What is it you want?" I ask, focusing only on Robinson. From what I understand, Jordan won't be much of a threat. He lost bad last time around. We can probably get the same results this time. And Moyers? I can't even believe this shit.

"They want your support."

"Why did you have to do this?" I ask Robinson and he just smiles.

"Do what?"

"Round up a posse to come threaten us with. Moyers wants a job at the White House? If I recall correctly, he's smart enough and talented enough to get one. Sam and I have better things to do than keep good people from getting jobs. Jordan, I didn't have much to do with the elections because I was pretty much out of it and just glad to be alive at that point. But you got screwed. By us. I don't blame you for coming back and wanting to try again just to show us up. But you better be prepared to fight not only the man you're running against but also us because I'm sure whatever it was that made us not support you the first time is still there. The chance of an incumbent being voted out is slim and you know that. And Andy, I'm not sure what you're doing," I say, my focus going back to him. Sam is staring at him, too and we both want an answer.

"I'm covering the White House and all that entails," he says but I'm sure it's not that simple. There's more to it and we all know it.

"You and a busload of other reporters," I say. Sam folds his hands neatly on the table and our elbows brush but I don't care what they think. "I think you should be careful and think about what you're doing. Think about what you really are. You don't have that much power."

"You two are the ones who should have been careful," Tom Jordan says, finally speaking for himself. "Did you think you can run around fucking with people's lives and not have it come back and bite you in the ass? You declared that I was a racist all the while . . . "

"That's awfully strong language for you, Tom," Sam says, shifting his focus from Andy to Tom.

"I've learned to toughen up over the last year," he says, staring only at Sam.

"And we've learned to be tough as nails since the day we joined the campaign," I add.

"So public knowledge of what the two of you do in your free time isn't going to hurt you?" Andy asks with a not so subtle smirk.

"Why -- why would you even bother? Popular conception is right, Andy. This White House is beyond just being liberal. Any rumors come out about this and they aren't going to chain us in the basement and beat us with canes until we confess," Sam says.

"Then why have you two been so nervous about this?" Tom asks. Now he's smiling. Fuck. Last night. Someone was watching us last night. That's the only answer.

"How would you know if we were nervous? How do you know anything at all?" I ask, wishing this would all mean something. Right now, I don't see what they think they're holding over our heads.

"Tom's campaign advisor thought you might be nervous about now. She says the three of us together would probably make the two of you promise most anything," Andy says, he folds his hands on the table just like Sam, which causes Sam to unfold his and try to find a place for them.

"Mandy Hampton?" I ask. Fuck. I didn't even know she knew. Sam looks down and clears his throat. Obviously, she did and I was just kept in the dark. "Mandy recommended you do this?"

"No, Mandy recommended Tom come to you. The rest of this . . ."

"Was your own harebrained idea? Somehow I knew Mandy wouldn't have suggested this triumvirate of stupidity. Actually, I doubt Mandy had anything to do with this at all. She's smarter than that," I say, leaning back in my chair.

"It's not so stupid, Josh. I'm going to be in the White House watching what you guys are doing and I'm telling you . . ."

"Yeah. You're telling us you're going to be in the White House and you can't wait to report on our gay agenda though I understand why considering it might concern you, too," I say, staring Andy down. Both Tom and Allan seem to squirm in their seats when I say that. I look at both of them. "How else would he know?"

"From me," Moyers says. His eyes don't leave Sam.

"Spare me. He just brought you along to frighten Sam. Let me tell you, Sam doesn't frighten that easily. Neither of us do," I say. Andy continues to smirk at me. I don't know how much more he wants from me.

"What are you scared of, Josh?" he asks and I lean toward him.

"I'm not scared of anything," I answer. "Most of all, I'm not scared of being outed by the likes of you. Do you know how many gay politicians we have in this country? Gay reporters covering the gay politicians? Including you?"

He doesn't like that. Both Jordan and Moyers seem a little uncomfortable with it, too.

"I thought you weren't gay, Josh," Robinson counters and that's when I decide I've had enough. I stand up, my chair almost toppling behind me but Sam grabs it. He stands up next to me and we both stare down at the men around the table.

"It was nice seeing you again, Andy," I say, moving away from them. I'm still not sure what they thought they were going to gain here. There's got to be more than just this. Someone has to know something more.

"Yeah, you'll be hearing from me," Andy calls back as we walk away.

****************

Sam Seaborn's Apartment
Georgetown
1992

"Come in. Relax," Sam says, holding the door open for me. "Take your tie off at least. It's the weekend, Josh."

"I, um, had to work on something. I'm sorry I'm late," I say, looking around. Some of us were going to get together and watch the football game here but from the looks of it, the game is over and the apartment is empty except for Sam and me.

"That's okay. The game sucked and the guys left early. Allen took off and pick up his girlfriend or else I'd introduce you to my roommate. Somehow, I always had this dream that once I was out of college, I wouldn't have roommates anymore, but that doesn't seem to be the case," Sam says. He starts to clean up the beer bottles spread out across the coffee table and I help. "You don't have to do that. You worked all day. Sit down. I'll be right back."

Instead of doing what he says, I follow him into the kitchen. He goes about cleaning up as I look around.

"Pretty girl," I say, nodding at the picture stuck to the refrigerator with a fruit magnet.

"That's Lisa. Allen's girlfriend. And yes, she is pretty. And rich. I do believe she's in DC looking to marry somehow her family thinks will be powerful someday. Which makes me wonder about what she's doing with Allen, but what in the hell do I know, right?" Sam says, tossing the beer bottles in a big recycling bin filled to the top with more beer bottles. They must have more guests than just for Monday night football.

"Right," I mumble as I watch him finish cleaning up. He's wearing jeans and some expensive button down shirt and he looks like he belongs in some damn print ad for clothes I could never afford. The last beer bottle hits all the others with a loud clink and he turns to me, smiling.

What in the hell am I doing here? We can't do this again. Someone could come home at any time and although there is absolutely nothing wrong with it, I'm not certain how I would feel about a roommate I don't know finding out.

"I rented some movies we could watch. Or we could go out and grab something to eat," he says, looking completely relaxed about all this. Maybe he's relaxed because he knows there's no 'this' to not be relaxed about. "Or we could go to my room, lock the door and fuck."

With that, I cough and sputter until I'm nearly gagging. He pats my back and gives me the brightest smile I've ever seen.

"I'm sorry . . ."

"Just seeing if you were listening, Josh," he says.

"Yeah. So does that mean the offer doesn't stand?"

"Of course it stands, Josh. You think I'm some sort of tease?" he asks, taking my hand and pulling me towards him. Next he puts his hands on my hips and I have no idea what to do with my hands. Well, I have ideas but I don't want to do that in his kitchen.

"I'm not sure . . ."

He shuts me up with a kiss. A long hard kiss that tastes of beer and chips and Sam. My cock presses against the front of my pants and my hands wander wherever they feel like going. Mostly to the front of his jeans to feel the hard bulge of his cock tucked under the denim.

"My room?" he asks and I follow him without hesitation.

There's not much in here yet. Just some drawers, a few boxes and a bed. Who could ask for anything more? He unbuttons his shirt and lets it drop to the floor while I watch.

"I really . . . I wasn't going to do this again," I say as his fingers move to the fly of his jeans. He then eases them over his hips and steps out of them and his boxes and kicks them away. I swallow hard just looking at him.

"Yeah, I said the same thing. But then you showed up after everybody had left and what else were we going to do?" he asks and I start undressing myself. He steps closer to me and starts to help. "This is better than some stupid movie, isn't it?"

"A lot better."

Naked, we both tumble into his unmade bed, kicking the sheets off even more as we go.

His mouth moves over my body, his tongue flicking out to circle my nipples. God. I'd forgotten how good he is. We are. He curls up just right beside me and I wrap my fist around his cock, pumping until he's as hard as I can make him.

"It's been a while . . . since I was with . . . a man. With a you," I say, my breath coming out edgy and sharp now. I don't want him to think there have been other men since him. There haven't been. Women, yes. But no other man besides Sam. I can't imagine that now.

"I'll be gentle," he says and we both laugh.

His mouth moves down my abdomen until his tongue flicks out at my cock, tracing a line around the head. I have to release him from my hold as he maneuvers around so I can take his cock into my mouth, too. He tastes salty as I pull him into my mouth, feeling the softness of skin covering his hardness against my tongue.

Soon I can only concentrate on so many things and I have to let him out of my mouth. But no matter how skilled his tongue and mouth are, this isn't how I want to come. No, I want to come wrapped up inside of him.

"Sam?" I say and he lets me free and pops up to look at me.

"Hmm?"

"Can I . . . can we do something else?" I ask and he smiles again. He ought to market that damn smile. It would make him millions.

"I thought you would never ask," he says, sitting up and digging through a box at his bedside. He comes up with some condoms and lube and I reach for them. He pushes my hand away and continues to put the condom on me himself before squeezing the Astroglide out of the container. His fingers cover my cock with it and then he hands me the bottle. I put some on my own fingers as he gets close to me. I pull his legs apart and cover him in it, circling slowly and working all those muscles until he gasps.

"Ready?" I ask and he nods, pushing me on my back as he climbs on top of me. My cock presses against his ass gently as he decides how fast to let me in. It's excruciating, waiting to be in that incredible warmth and I gasp when he finally lowers himself down. I can feel the muscles shake in his arms and legs and resist the urge to thrust up into him. I'll give him the time it takes to adjust to having someone tucked up your ass.

"Oh fuck," he gasps as he positions his hands on my chest and begins to move.

We say nothing while we do. Just stare at each other. The only time we stop looking is when we have to blink. He leans forward and I can by the expression on his face that it feels just as good for him as it does for me. I wrap my hand around his cock again and start to jerk him off in rhythm to his movements. The room is filled with the smell of sweat and men and sex and his nostrils flare as we both drink it all in.

I feel his body stiffen and his movements become erratic and I know he close. He moves just a little more until I hit just the right spot and he comes all over my hand and me and I keep pumping until he can't stand it anymore.

"St--stop," he pleads, brushing my hand away.

But he doesn't stop. He keeps moving on me until I shudder and explode inside of him. The room around us goes dark and I don't give a shit if there's anyone here. I cry out anyway as he continues moving and tightening his muscles around me. Damn him. He's enjoying this far too much. When I can finally breathe again, I hold onto the condom and he slips off of me, falling down exhausted at my side. I discard the condom on the bedside and turn to him.

"I can't do this again," I say again, resting my hand on his chest. His heart is still racing under my touch and I don't move until it begins to slow down.

"Then why did you come over here?" he asks, pulling me down next to him. He buries his face into my neck and breathes deep. Just like he always does.

"I don't know. I can't help myself? But I really shouldn't. Again. We shouldn't."

"Why not?" he asks and I find that I don't really have that good of an answer to give him.

***************

Washington, DC
2001

"I think there's more," Sam says, stating the obvious. "And what I can't figure out is why in the hell was Moyers there? Just someone else with a grudge?"

"I don't know, Sam. You knew him. You stole his girlfriend. Not me," I say as a car cuts us off and nearly sends me into the car next to us. That would be great. Two White House senior staffers killed coming back from a meeting where they denied they were gay. I'm sure it would be picked up by at least one newspaper somewhere.

"Why does Jordan think we're going to support him now if we didn't support him then? I just can't figure that part out," Sam says, looking out the window at the car we nearly ate. "I fought for him the last time and Leo told me no way. That isn't going to change by November of 2002."

"Because somehow he found out this tidbit of juicy gossip and now he wants his turn. They all want their turn. We've been screwed over before by people who think they have a shot because they've got something on us. Besides that, I don't know what's going on," I say.

"What do we do?"

"Nothing, What are they going to do? What proof do they have?" I ask and Sam clears his throat again. He doesn't look my way but continues to look out the window. "Sam?"

"There might be some pictures. Of me, that is. Not you and me."

"Sam? More damn pictures? Fuck. I know you're photogenic but really . . ."

"From when I lived with Allen and he was dating Lisa. They had some wild parties, Josh. I never had a party myself. They had all the parties. I'm just saying there might be some pictures," Sam says in an incredibly calm manner. "There is a possibility that pictures exist. They could end up in the Post. Or the Enquirer."

"Do you have any copies of these pictures?" I ask, all of a sudden struggling to find my way back to the White House.

"I never saw any pictures. It was always a rumor. Josh, I wouldn't worry," Sam says and I nearly rear end the car in front of us.

"Do I sound like I'm the one worrying?" I ask, wondering how he shifted from being convinced that a picture of him in flagrante delicto would be published to not believing it even existed so quickly.

"It isn't like I did anything at any of these parties. At least I can't remember doing anything. There probably aren't any pictures. I would have seen them by now. Or they would have shown up around DC."

"You didn't happen to do Lisa at one of these parties, did you?" I ask. I was obviously never invited to these soirees for a reason. I didn't even know they were going on.

"The first time. Yes. It was an accident," Sam says. He still won't look my way. He just stares out the window.

"You have lots of accidents," I comment, trying to contain the sarcasm in my voice but failing miserably.

"Allen might have been there that time."

"Fuck, Sam! What in the hell . . . why didn't you say something before tonight?" I ask, my voice rising up in pitch.

"I didn't think it would matter. He'd face just as much embarrassment as I would."

"Now we know that's never true, don't we?"

"I have to talk to Lisa. Maybe she's part of this."

"Lisa. Mandy. We seem to have left a trail of pissed off women in our wake," I say. "Speaking of Mandy, how in the hell . . ."

"She guessed, Josh. She guessed and I made her promise never to say anything. If she were still around, I'd probably be paying her off with favors even now," Sam says.

My fingers tighten around the steering wheel. God only knows how many people know about this. God only knows why I give a damn anymore. "Why? After she knew, why did she stay with me?"

"I think she loved you," Sam says, finally looking my way.

"Yeah. So what do we do now?"

"Wait and see what else they want. See what they're going to use to get what they want," Sam says. He places his hand on my arm and leaves it there.

It doesn't matter what they know. It can't hurt us anymore. It just can't.

**************
Part IV

Sam Seaborn's Apartment
Georgetown
1992

I already knew the look in his eye when he introduced me to her. Come over for some beers, he said, and to meet some people. But when I got here, there was only one person to meet.

Her name is Lisa and for some reason, Sam's roommate moved out in the last few days. I have a feeling it's because his girlfriend was fucking Sam. Or Sam was fucking his girlfriend. Either way, the end result is the same.

So I stand here and stick my sweaty hand out to shake her cool, dry one and she wraps her slim fingers around mine and presses her red nails into my flesh. All the while, Sam stands there smiling as if he just won some prize at the county fair.

"It's nice to meet you, Lisa," I manage to say. I also manage to pull my hand away from her before she can feel even more sweat pouring out of my palm.

She really is attractive. Long, chestnut hair that hangs just right over her shoulder. A smile that reaches all the way to her eyes and lights them up. Teeth made perfect by years of orthodontia, I'm sure.

"Nice to finally meet you, too. Josh. Sam talks about you but you always seem too busy to join us," she says, leading the way to the living room. The furniture has changed since the last time I was here. It has definitely gotten more feminine.

"I am busy," I say, looking to Sam. He gives me a quick look and then his eyes go back to Lisa. What am I supposed to tell her? That I stay away because every time I do come over, I end up in bed with the man who is now her boyfriend? Doesn't seem the appropriate time to mention that little bit of information.

"That's what I hate most about this town. Everybody is always busy. That's why I talked Sam into taking that job in New York," she says. I know my eyes fly over to him too quickly but luckily, she's not paying any attention to me. Not when she has Sam to preen for.

"Yeah. Because no one is busy in New York," I manage to say and Sam just offers me a weak, apologetic smile.

"At least they're getting paid to be busy," she says, sliding closer to him and wrapping her arm around his.

"So, you're off to be a lawyer in the big city?" I say. It's not like he had to tell me. We haven't been together in months and there was never kind of . . . fuck. He just should have told me anyway.

"Starting in two weeks. It should be fun."

"And profitable," Lisa adds, snuggling in even closer.

"I bet," I say. I think I've had enough. I stand up to leave. My stomach can't take another second of this woman pawing all over him as if he's merely a finacial asset. Oh, I'm sure she loves him but does she know him? I don't know. I just can't stay. "I'm really sorry but like I said, I'm pretty busy and I really need to get back to the Hill. We're trying . . . well, you know what we're trying to do. I'll see you before you go, Sam?"

Lisa looks stunned. Sam looks more than stunned. Of course he does. I knew we weren't anything. Never could be. This shouldn't be bothering me but it does. Dammit, it just does.

"Sure. We'll get some lunch next week," he says, cocking his head and looking at me with a puzzled expression.

"It was nice meeting you, Lisa. I hope you enjoy New York," I say and she smiles again.

"Oh, I'm sure I will."

***************

The White House
2001

"He wants what?" I ask a little too loudly before Sam can even get the door shut. I see Donna stop whatever it is she's doing in the hallway to look in but when she sees my expression she goes right back to her work.

"Robinson wants a ten minute meeting with the President," Sam says.

"That's not going to happen."

"Why not?" he asks.

"Why--why would it?" I ask back.

"Because. There is no real reason it shouldn't happen. Robinson is working for a respectable news agency and we're facing reelection in a year. I don't think the President has anything to hide. Just us," Sam answers, sounding as if this should all be reason enough. And it should be reason enough. Right now, if it were any other reporter, I wouldn't say a word. I wouldn't even know about it. It would go through CJ and I wouldn't give a damn.

"You may not have noticed, but we try not to let the press dictate what we do around here."

"Yeah. And how's that going?" Sam asks. He relaxes a little and sits down in one of my chairs. His heavy sigh and his slumped shoulders scream defeat but I'm not sure why.

"That's all he wants? We give him that and he'll let the issue with Jordan go? And Moyers?" I ask. Sam looks up at me.

"That's what he said. Now if he actually does that or not, I'm not sure. And Jordan and Moyers might go somewhere else with it. We'll always be facing that proposition, you know. It isn't ever going to really be over."

We both stare at each other. Now that this has started, there's really no way to stop it. All we can do is put out the fires as they rear up and the first fire is Robinson. He's the one with a nationwide audience and what he thinks is a breaking story. Then I'll have to deal with Jordan. I think Moyers is just along for the ride but Jordan might be a problem. His grudge is nearly as big as Robinson's.

"Yes. Okay. I'll see what I can arrange," I say with a heavy sigh as I lean back in my chair. "We're going to have to tell Leo. He's going to say this man is forcing our hand."

"We'll come up with something. He can't do this to us."

"Yeah," I say as Sam leaves my office. "They all seem to be able to do this to us."

***************

Brickskeller
Washington, DC
1992

"She's a very nice girl," I say and Sam smiles like an idiot.

"She really is. I'm just sorry about everything that happened with Allen. I'm not good at this relationship thing. I always seem to be stumbling into the wrong one . . . or the wrong kind," he says as the bartender puts our beers down in front of us.

"I'm sorry," I say, wiping my hand through my hair.

"Oh, man. I didn't mean you. I'm sorry. I just . . . well, Josh, it wasn't going to work if we were going to have to keep hiding it. I can't live like that and you can't live like that," Sam says, taking a sip of his beer. I'm not ready to touch mine yet. Not sure I can keep it down.

"So, after a few months screwing around in DC, you're off to the Dewey Ballentine office in New York? Not bad work if you can get it," I say. The bar is starting to get crowded and I have to get back to work yet tonight. It really doesn't ever end.

"I don't see why you stay in politics. I've hardly been here and I'm disillusioned already. Fuck, is there anyone in this town worth believing in?" Sam asks with a disgruntled snort.

"Would you come back for that?"

"Maybe, but I can't stay here and work for these people. I just can't do it."

"But you can go defend big corporations? That's very noble," I say, finally tossing back a sip of my beer.

"At least I'll make some money doing something I don't believe in. Here, I was floundering," he says, turning on his barstool to look at me. "If something comes along, come and save me from the world of corporate greed and billing by the tenth of an hour."

"I will," I say. I don't know how much more of this I want to sit through. It's not like we were ever going to be anything but still, I'm not in the mood to toast Sam and his new girlfriend. Call me a spoil sport, but I can't do it. I put some bills down on the counter and push my beer away. "I've got to get back. We're meeting with the subcommittee tomorrow and . . . well, you know."

"Yeah. Hey, I'll walk you out," Sam says, pulling on his coat. I grab my backpack and we both move out of the crowd.

"I'm sure you'll do great there, Sam. Probably make partner before we even get this bill past committee," I say once we're out of the crowd.

"Yeah, I'll keep in touch," he says when we arrive at our cars in the parking lot.

"No, you won't. You'll be too busy protecting corporate giants from the little people," I say with a scoff.

"No, Josh. I will keep in touch," he says, reaching out for me. He pulls me into a hug and I can't help but to reach back for him, my hands holding onto his jacket. His face ends up in the crook of my neck and just the feeling of his hot breath on my flesh sends a warmth through my body.

"You better," I say, not wanting to let him go.

**************

Leo McGarry's Office
2001

"Why are we even bothering with this man? Is he even working here yet?" Leo asks, sounding more bothered than anything. Sam and I just explained that we need ten minutes of the President's time and now we're going to have to justify it.

"Because . . . well, he holds a grudge against me from way back and . . ." I start to say.

"We're in the White House. A lot of people hold grudges. The whole Republican party holds a grudge against us," Leo interrupts.

"This is a little different. This one is personal."

"Tell that to the Republican National Committee. They think it's personal, too . . ."

"Leo . . ."

"What did you do, Josh? Steal his girlfriend?" Leo asks, still not looking up from his papers. He glanced at us once over his reading glasses when we walked in but he hasn't looked up since.

"Not exactly," I say, shifting nervously from one foot to another like a schoolchild who has to take a piss.

"I think it has more to do with . . . me and . . ." Sam starts to say, not knowing exactly what to say. Sam always knows what to say. That's his life. Knowing what to say. Making the difficult words sound good. I don't think even Sam can do that in this case.

"You stole his girlfriend?" Leo asks, giving us a quick glance before focusing back on his papers.

"Not exactly," Sam says, mimicking me.

"What in the hell did you do, then? Run over his dog? Break his big screen TV? Steal his boyfriend?"

We know he didn't mean it. One of us should say something because we know he didn't mean it. But neither of us can speak.

He finally looks up. He looks at me. I look at Sam. Sam looks at Leo.

"I . . . uh, well . . ." Sam starts to say.

"In order to preserve my sanity right at this moment, I gotta tell you the answer better be you ran over his dog because the image of that other thing. Jesus," Leo says. He pulls off his glasses, tosses them aside and begins rubbing the bridge of his nose as if he's in severe pain.

"Okay," I say. I stop shifting. Now I'm finding it hard to move at all.

"I mean, I'm a pretty accepting guy but this just takes the fucking cake. Next you're going to tell me you were the damn boyfriend," he says, his eyes locking on to mine.

"Well, not exactly, but . . ."

"Would one of you mind saying something else besides 'not exactly' just once. Shit, what in the hell do we run background checks for if this got by? I'm not saying we wouldn't have hired you. Josh, you know you have a job with me for as long as you ever need one and it would never make a difference to me what you do. And Sam, I think we've been here before and you know we would stand behind you. Both of you. I'm just getting a little sick of finding these things out on CNN or the front page of the damn Post," he says, sounding more than pissed. I've heard Leo pissed and I don't ever want to hear it again.

"It won't be on CNN," I say and Leo tilts his head, waiting for an answer. "Give him ten minutes. It won't be on CNN or on the front page of the Post."

"Instead, he's going to have you by the balls . . . which . . . oh, fuck. Nevermind. He'll have all of us by the balls. He wants something and all he has to do is call the two of you to lunch. Or how about other reporters? Are they all going to own us? Did you think of that?" he asks, getting down to business quickly.

"Yeah."

"And what are you going to do to avoid that? Let him take this thing public? Could you at least let me know first?" Leo asks. He looks disappointed more than anything.

"We aren't going to have to let him take this public," Sam says. The expression that crosses his face is the one he gets when an idea strikes him.

"How are we going to avoid that?" I ask.

"We've got to talk to CJ."

"I don't care how you two avoid it. Just do whatever you have to do short of breaking any laws to make this problem go away," Leo says. His phone starts to ring but he ignores it. "You know, you could've told me."

"Leo, there's nothing to tell anymore," I say, looking over to Sam. He just looks down at the floor and I can no longer read his expression.

**************

Outside of Whitney Gage
New York City
1997

We run out of the building, practically tripping over each other in the rain. We look like a couple of kids playing in the rain and if this was anywhere but New York, people would be staring at us. But this is the city and no one gives a damn about two men damn near dancing in the street.

"Fuck. I cannot believe I just did that," Sam says, laughing. It hasn't really hit him yet. I'm sure when we get back to his apartment and he has to face his fiancee, it's going to hit home hard.

"You weren't happy there anyway," I say, trying to calm down and rationalize this whole thing.

"Exactly. And I wasn't going anywhere. I mean, what's a partnership at a major New York law firm when you can work on a campaign for a man who's got no chance in hell in winning, right?" Sam asks with a laugh.

"I think with us, his chances just got better."

He looks a little terrified and a lot happy all at the same time. He looks like I just saved him from a miserable existence but he also looks like I might be leading him into another miserable existence. One with no money. No big corner office. No corporate jet.

Okay. Perhaps the no money thing is true but if this pans out, we each could have the best offices of our careers. And one hell of a 'corporate' jet.

Sam turns back and looks at the building we just walked out of. "Fuck. She's going to kill me."

I grab the sleeve of his coat and pull him towards the road. "Hey, I'll go with you to tell her. That way she can't kill you."

He stops our forward motion and I somehow end up with his hand on my arm, his eyes staring into mine. Little drops of rain are hanging on his eyelashes and I reach up, gently wiping them away.

"This could be it. You're sure of that?"

"This *is* it, Sam. I wouldn't make you leave everything if I didn't believe that," I say and he smiles.

"I know, because if it isn't it, chances are I'll be camping out in your living room for a while," he says.

"How about this -- if this doesn't work out you can camp out in my bedroom," I say and he smiles at me again.

"That almost makes me hope we don't win this," Sam says.

"Yeah," I say. He finally moves his eyes from mine, scanning the road for a taxi. "Perhaps it would be best if we avoided . . . well, you know."

"Being left alone in a room together for too long?" Sam asks.

"Yeah," I say, knowing now how room arrangements will have to be dealt with on the campaign trail. "We better go tell the missus you'll be leaving town."

"She's going to kill me," Sam adds again.

"I'll save you."

"You always do."

**************

CJ Cregg's Office
2001

"Did this happen on the campaign trail? Jesus, am I the only one who didn't know?" CJ asks in a mixture of excited and hushed tones as she paces across her office. The expression her face changes from one of shock to one nearing a look of heartbroken sadness, as if we disappointed her in some horrible way.

"No. Very few people know," Sam says from his place on her couch, where he looks about as defeated as I feel.

"We would like to keep it that way but in case that's not possible, we have to ask a favor of you," I say from the other side of the office.

"Were you drunk?" she asks, her voice not hiding her shock at all.

"The first time . . ."

"The *first* time?" She stops pacing and looks from me back to Sam. I wish people would stop doing that. "Were you just stupid? Do you know what someone like Mary Marsh would do to you if she ever found out?"

"We were young, CJ. We never imagined that someday we would be working in the White House. It didn't really seem to make that much of a difference what we did back then," Sam says.

"And it hasn't happened since you've been here?" she asks, her eyes now only on Sam.

"No," we both lie at the same time. It wasn't a very convincing sounding lie.

"Are you lying to me?" she asks, moving closer to Sam. She must think he'll crack more easily under the pressure than I will.

"CJ, it ended back before we even joined the campaign," Sam says and this time he sounds convincing even though he can't maintain eye contact with her.

"You know, it's not that I care. If you want to be gay, be gay. Go arm in arm to the next State Dinner, though some would say you two did that at the last one, but for crying out loud, don't let me find these things out in my pressroom. I already had to call in most my favors over your hooker, Sam. Now you want me to give this man ten minutes with the president so this doesn't leak out," she says, finally sitting behind her desk.

"Not only do we want you to arrange ten minutes with him, we want you to let him know that you know," I say.

"Oh, no. I'm not going to responsible for covering this up," she says, putting her hand up in the air.

"It's not a cover up. We have to let him know that he can't do this. Call it a preemptive strike. You'll release it before he ever gets the chance. The worst that will happen is we will lose our jobs and trust me, there are openings out there for an attorney who had a high profile White House job even if they are gay. And Josh . . . he could always go teach something," Sam says, and my head whips around to stare at him. "I'm sure I had some gay professors."

"I'm not gay."

"Then what would you call this . . . this thing between the two of you? A drunken fling?" CJ asks, her hand now flying across a notepad as she tries to figure this all out.

"No, it wasn't a drunken fling but there are no other men," I say.

"Oh, isn't that sweet? Other women, yes, but you two have remained monogamous to each other as far as men are concerned," she says but before we can get a word in, she goes on. "You know what, I don't want to know. I don't *need* to know. Tell me what we need to do to keep this out of my press room and I'll be happy."

"Andrew Robinson just has to know that you know and that we're willing to go public with it if he ever holds it over us again. We also need to deal with the Moyers and Jordan aspect of the story," I say.

"That shouldn't be too hard. Jordan isn't going to do a damn thing to us. As soon as he does, he looks like the disgruntled loser trying to find a scapegoat for his loss. And Moyers, well, I stole his girlfriend. I just spoke with her this morning. From what I understand, he can still go and get her back. God only knows why anyone would want to," Sam says with a scoff.

"So what we're saying is if you two would have kept your pants zipped up all these years, we wouldn't be having this problem right now?" CJ asks.

"Isn't that always the case?" I ask.

"Pretty much so, yes. Okay, I'll see what I can do. Arrange a meeting with this . . . this Robinson for tomorrow. And guys, please . . ." she starts to say. We're both standing in front of her and she looks up at us. We know what she's going to say. She doesn't have to finish.

"Don't worry, CJ. While either one of us has a job here, you're not going to hear about this again," Sam says. CJ leans back and sighs.

"I really don't care what you do with your lives and God knows we've worked on enough legislation trying to protect everybody. I just . . . it would've been nice to know before the zero hour," CJ says.

"Thanks, CJ," I say and she dismisses us by turning to stare at the TV set.

*************

Sam Seaborn's Apartment
New York
1997

"I left Allen for you, Sam. Remember? I left him and moved here with you for that fucking job of yours!" Lisa shouts.

She following Sam through their apartment, hands on her hips, looking just about as pissed as any woman possibly could.

"That fucking job and the one after it was your idea, Lisa. Besides, this is just for a little while. Either we'll win or we'll lose. Then I'll be back and I'll get another job," she says. I try to disappear into a corner and find that there is no corner in the apartment that isn't decorated. So I stand in the middle of the living room and drip water on the white carpet.

"You won't be back," she says. She crosses her arms over her chest and stares at me. She has black stuff running down her eyes from her tears and if she's not careful, it's going to drip onto the carpet, too.

"Why wouldn't I be back?" he asks. Now he looks at me. I just shrug.

"Because you like it too much. You always said you hated it but then you found out you hate this life even more. You like the politics and the late hours and the lack of money . . ."

"That money part I can't say I like too much," he interrupts but she just keeps right on going.

"And you like him."

Well, now that's getting to the crux of the problem, I would guess. I really wish I could disappear. There really is no way she could know. Not unless Sam told her and I just don't think that's something one tells their fiancee. Or at least not a fiancee like Lisa.

"I do like the work, Lisa. And I've always wanted to work with Josh on something as important as this. Can't you understand?" he pleads. She continues to cry about all this. No wonder I've avoided moving in with Mandy. It's just not worth all this misery.

"I know you, Sam. You'll get all wrapped up in it and you won't be back. The job you had here was just that -- a job. This will be your life," she says and Sam doesn't deny it. I wouldn't be able to deny it either.

"I'll be back, Lisa."

"No, Sam. You won't."

With that, she walks away and slams the bedroom door shut behind her.

Sam turns to me, his eyes not hiding how upset he really is.

"This guy better be for real," he says.

"He is, Sam. Trust me. He is."

*************

Josh Lyman's Office
2001

I wait for her to pick up the phone. She probably told her assistant to let me just wait. I look at my watch. Ten minutes. How typical.

"Mandy Hampton," she finally answers, sounding snappy and rushed.

"Hey, Mandy. It's Josh. You got a minute?" I ask and am met with only silence on the other end.

"Josh, how have you been?" she asks, adding a touch of forced concern to her voice.

"I've been better. Thanks for finally asking."

After last year's shooting, she took a new job and left town without even saying good-bye. I don't know what she was scared of. I'm the one who got shot and had their life torn apart.

"I meant to call, you know, but I got busy with the November election and now I'm working on the next one already," she says, as if that's some sort of acceptable excuse. I don't want to fight about it now. Fighting with Mandy never accomplished much anyway.

"I heard. Tom Jordan, Mandy? You've got to be kidding me? That's a joke."

"Do you hear me laughing about it? He's a good guy, Josh. He made a few mistakes but he's better than who's in that seat now. I can't believe what you guys did to him the last time around," Mandy says, feigning disgust. I'm not sure why she would have a genuine feeling of disgust about this. It's just a job for her. She gets paid. They win or lose. She moves on.

"If you were only here, you would have realized that I really wasn't that big of a player in that decision. I was housebound at the time and I only went with Leo's recommendations. The man is a racist and we couldn't make it work," I say and she makes some sort of snorting noise at the other end.

"Whatever you say, Josh. You guys are always right."

"No, we're not and you know that. But did you really have to send him down here to threaten us?" I ask. I know Robinson said this wasn't her idea but for some reason, I just have to find out for myself.

"He's there?" she asks after a long silence.

"Yes, your future candidate is here. Seems he made friends with a reporter named Andy Robinson. Do you know anything about this?" I ask and she falls silent again.

"I told him not to do this. I told him it wouldn't win him any points with the White House. Fuck. I can't control him and that damn wife of his."

"How long have you known?" I ask.

"Known what?"

"Come on, Madeline. You know what I'm talking about. How long have you known?"

"When you first brought me on the campaign, I overheard Sam on the phone with his ex whatever she was arguing about an expensive hotel bill. I figured it all out, Josh. That was the night you didn't return my calls. That was when you went to hear Bartlet speak and when you went to get Sam. You spent the night with him," she says without much emotion in her voice.

"You never said anything."

"I confronted Sam about it and he begged for me to keep it quiet. That boy still owes me," she says.

"Why did you stay?" I ask, leaning back in my chair and closing my eyes. This whole thing is a mess.

"Because I loved you."

"Okay."

"I'll call Jordan and tell him to lay off. The reporter is your problem, Josh. As is what you plan on doing about this thing between you and Sam."

"There is no thing."

"Right," she says with a sarcastic chuckle. "I have to run. You take care."

And with that, she's gone.

**************

New York Palace
New York City
1997

They didn't even bat an eyelash when we checked in, dripping all over their lobby while asking for just one room. No one really cares in this city. Except maybe Lisa. She threw Sam out of their place as fast as she could pull his clothes out of the closet and toss them into a bag.

I stare at the hotel room Sam just charged on his platinum card and I begin to question whether pulling him out of that job was a good idea. He's never going to make it on 600 bucks a week. If I recall correctly, Sam has some money from somewhere. He's going to need it.

"You're still soaking wet," Sam says, tossing me a thick, white towel and I rub it across my hair.

"Sorry," I say, looking down at the mess I tracked across the carpet. I kick off my wet shoes and socks and continue drying off.

"That's what they have maids for," Sam says, loosening his tie for the first time today. I relegated my necktie to the pocket of my trench coat hours ago and am ready to get out of these wet clothes. I drop my backpack to the floor and remember that my pager went off hours ago. I look at it before tossing on top of my backpack. I need to call Janet and let her know that I'm not going to be back when I said I was going to be. Actually, I'm not going to be back working for Hoynes ever. And Mandy paged twice. I never told her I was leaving town and she doesn't need to know where I am.

Sam opens the minibar and pulls out a beer that has got to cost a fortune. He doesn't seem to care as he pops off the top and takes a swallow.

"Want some?" he says, offering me the bottle and I take it from his hands. My fingers brush against his and they are just as cold as mine. Cold and wet and filled with electricity. The contact makes him jump just a little.

He pulls the towel from over my shoulders and dries off. It's hopeless. We're drenched and a shared towel isn't going to fix it.

"Thanks," I say, sipping the beer before setting it down on the dresser. I find Sam trying to roll his sleeves up, the wet fabric not cooperating under his touch. I step towards him and take his hand, still cold, and unroll them down before I loosen his tie. I slide it out of his collar and toss it to the side.

"Am I still engaged?" he asks, his voice filled with a sadness that makes me stop moving, my fingers still on his buttons.

"Did she give you the ring back?"

"Unless she packed in the suitcase, no, she didn't give me the ring back," he says, his hands coming up to mine.

"Then you might be."

"She did tell me she never wanted to be in the same room again for the rest of our lives. All because I quit that damn job. It's not like I've never quit a job before," Sam says, closing his eyes. He really loves her. He loves her and she couldn't accept that this is something he has to do. Maybe she'll change her mind by morning.

Then again, maybe by morning it will be too late.

"You should call her," I suggest and he opens his eyes to look at me.

"Right now?"

"Not necessarily."

"Good. Because there are other things I want to do right now," Sam says. He takes his hands off of mine and puts them on my chest, sliding them down my abdomen.

"We aren't going to be able to do this on the campaign trail," I say as his fingers move my belt buckle, unfastening it, followed by my pants. "We'll be too busy. There will be too many people watching. And if I bring Mandy on this thing, then there will be that to consider."

"What if we win it?"

"I- I don't know. There is no guarantee that we'll be part of the White House staff. It's happened before. The people . . . God," I gasp as his hand slides the zipper down. I try to regain control but it isn't easy. "We could be cut loose when this is all done."

"Or we could spend the next eight years under the constant scrutiny of the American public. The religious right. Those on the Hill who think this is a disease that can be cured," Sam says, letting my pants drop over my hips. I step out of them and kick them into a wet heap with my shoes and socks.

"We can't. After tonight, we can't. It's all about the job after tonight."

He finishes taking off his clothes and I do the same, both of us going slow and enjoying this for as long as it lasts.

"But first we have tonight," Sam says with a sigh as he reaches for me. Our bodies come together, both of us still chilled from the rain but warming up quickly. "I doubt Lisa threw condoms in my bag."

"I'm clean."

"So am I. But I doubt she threw in her tube of K-Y. She probably figured she'd need it for her toys now," Sam says and I make a face. "Lisa is really a nice girl, Josh."

"I don't doubt it."

"You've just never met her under the right circumstances. She's the kind of girl you marry and take to corporate picnics."

"Then why are we doing this?" I ask as his cock grinds against mine.

"Because maybe I want more than corporate picnics?"

"Maybe. Hold on a second. I'm going to check something," I say, leaving him standing naked and wet in the middle of the room as I dash off to the bathroom. I can't help but to look back at him. He's still beautiful. A little older now, but he's still got that certain something. It's more than I've got.

I bring back a little bottle of complimentary hand cream and hold it up.

"That will do the trick," he says with a huge smile. He flops down on the bed and I join him, tossing the bottle on the nightstand. I turn to him and his mouth comes down on mine so fast I gasp. I forgot what kissing Sam was like. Hot and quick and filled with so much passion that it's almost enough to make me explode.

His hands wander over my body, and mine move across his, exploring everything. I have missed this. I'm going to miss it even more tomorrow. I'm going to need Mandy on this campaign with me or I'll be showing up at Sam's door every damn night.

I pull away from his kiss and his mouth slides down my body, his tongue flitting past my nipples and then lower. My stomach flutters under his touch and his fingers spread my thighs apart as he explores. When his mouth finally makes contact with my cock, my hips buck up off of the bed and my fingers dig into the bedspread, trying to hold onto something.

His tongue flicks out and his lips wrap around tighter and I'm going to die. Just going to die. Fuck the campaign. I don't care who's going to be the next President of the United States. I just want Sam and his wonderful mouth around me.

His hands cup and squeeze my balls and his mouth keeps going faster and I shut my eyes and forget about staying in control. My hips rise up to meet each movement he makes and I fuck that beautiful mouth of his. He slides his fingers against my ass and pushes in, going carefully without lubrication. His mouth keeps going and he hits just the right spot inside of me.

"Oh fuck . . ."

That's all I can say before my body says that's enough and I come hard in his mouth. He laps it up and doesn't stop with his fingers until I'm begging him to quit. He finally does pull out and slides up the bed until he's looking into my eyes. His mouth is still sticky sweet and he leans in to whisper something.

"I want you," he says, his words breathy and hot against my ear. "I want to be inside of you."

"Okay," I answer and a twinge of fear immediately sweeps through me. He's never asked before. We've always just done it the other way around but I trust him as much as he must trust me. Besides, I'm out of commission for a while now after what he just finished doing to me.

He reaches for the hand cream and begins covering himself with it. Then he gets between my legs and puts them over his shoulders, his fingers now working the cream into me before tossing it aside.

"Relax," he says with a smile and I try.

"I am relaxed," I say as he pushes his cock against me gently, slowly working his way in. I bite my lower lip as he eases in further, going so slow that it's got to be killing him. I know how good it feels and I know how hard it is to go that slowly.

"You okay?" he asks and I nod. The muscles are all loosening up to accept him and when he finally pushes all the way in, the pain begins to turn to pleasure and I gasp as he pushes my knees up further and hits my prostate just right.

"Faster," is the only word I can manage to get out and he does just that, rocking into me with increasing speed and force. I'm torn between clamping my eyes shut and riding this out or staring up at his face as the pleasure washes over his features. I choose to watch. It might be a very long time before I ever get to see this again.

We keep our eyes locked on the other and his rhythmic thrusts begin to get less controlled. He's losing control and he goes up onto his knees, holding tight to my thighs. I watch his face pass through so many emotions and then I can't watch anymore. I turn my head into the pillow and tighten around him until he moans in a way I've never heard before.

A few more thrusts and he's through, unable to hold on anymore. His fingernails dig into my flesh as he pounds into me one last time, letting loose, filling me.

Then it's over. He pulls out of me, wet and slick, and releases me. I gasp at the loss of contact. At the soreness I'll be feeling for a while. He crawls up so he's next to me and we just watch each other, neither of us wanting to say the words again.

This can't happen again for who knows how long. There's something bigger than the two of us to worry about now. I put my hand out and touch his cheek and he just smiles.

**************

Part V

Old Ebbit Grill
2001

"Hello, CJ," Andy says, his eyes moving from her to me to Sam and then back to her again.

"Nice to see you again, Andy," CJ says as she settles in a chair across from him. Andy looks a little shocked that we brought her with. No, a lot shocked.

He looks straight at me, his eyes not hiding his surprise at all. "So this time you brought a posse with you, Josh?" he asks but I don't get a chance to answer.

"Let's get down to business," Sam says, sitting beside CJ. I sit on the other side of Robinson and he moves away. I move right with him.

"The ten minutes?" he asks, focusing on CJ. He thinks she's here to give it to him and go over the questions he can ask.

"You're not going to fuck with us, Andy. You aren't going to hold us hostage like this," Sam says and with those words, all eyes fall on him. "You say it's about Moyers and that it's about Jordan, but we know better. It's about a grudge you've been carrying around for years. We aren't going to let you play these games. We will resign these positions before you can use us. We'll even have it in the press first if it comes to that."

"She knows?" Andy asks, trying to hold in a laugh. "Oh, that's a brilliant strategy. You'll have the press secretary release the news before I can. Which one of you was the brains behind that one?"

"It was a group effort. We discussed it on the same day that we worked to push through our gay agenda," I say and CJ shifts uncomfortably in her seat. It wasn't easy telling her everything but it had to be done. Leo supported the idea and hopefully, this is all the further it will go.

"I have a statement prepared that was approved by the Chief of Staff saying we won't discriminate against any employee in this White House due to something as trivial as what they do in their bedrooms. As long as they maintain their professional decorum, we could care less," CJ says, sounding as strong as I've ever heard her sound.

"So are you saying I don't get my ten minutes?" Andy asks, looking at me now.

"Oh, you'll get it. But that's it. Don't you dare ask again," Sam says, his eyes steely and focused.

"You would really quit? You'll just let her go to the press? Just to keep certain groups from attacking your man in the Oval Office?"

"You don't get it, do you Andy? You never have. If that's what it takes to do what we believe in, then we'll do it. In a heartbeat," I say, wiping a hand across my tired eyes.

"You'll piss away your careers for what?" he asks.

"Some things are just more important than careers," I say, hardly able to believe those words just came out of my mouth. It defies everything I've been saying for days about how what we're doing is far more important than the two of us are. Maybe I'm wrong. Maybe for just a day, I'd like the two of us to be all that matters. It just can't be like that right now. What's more important than our careers at this moment is this country. It's more important than either of us. We both know it. Sam looks at me and then down at the tabletop.

"I'll get with you this week about your interview with the President but you can forget about it being on camera," CJ says and Robinson's mouth drops open.

"I'm not a reporter for the goddamn Post. I work for a major television news organization. What in the hell am I supposed to do with that?" he asks and she just shrugs.

"I don't know. Stand on the south lawn and give highlights of what you talked about. Spread it out over several days. I don't think I need to tell you how to do your job, do I? Take it or leave it. I can give it to the reporter for the Post and he'd be happy," CJ says.

"And I suppose next you'll be telling me what I can and cannot ask?" he asks, glaring at CJ.

"I think you're smart enough to know what to ask. We're not trying to hide anything, Andy. We just don't like being jerked around more than necessary. That's not saying we're not used to it. Hell, the Senate has jerked our chain more than we ever thought possible. But we don't want to be jerked around the way you tried to do it. It just won't work," I say, staring at him.

"Ten minutes," is all he says.

"Get out of here," Sam says and Robinson gets out of his chair and doesn't even bother with his jacket before leaving.

"I don't want to have to ever do that to a member of the press corps again. Not over something as stupid as this. Do you guys understand me?" CJ says, leaning back in her chair. She sighs and looks away from the two of us.

"You don't have to worry about it. It's over, CJ," I say and now Sam looks away. "It's all over."

"Good. You two need to be on your best behavior tonight. I don't want to have to deal with this and a few hundred foreign dignitaries. I now have the worst headache of this administration and it's bad enough I have to spend the night listening to someone squeak out a tune on a violin."

"You think it's going to be bad for you . . ." I say with a sigh.

"I'm sorry. It's just . . ." she starts.

"We aren't going to go and hold hands in the President's private box, CJ. Hell, you didn't even know about this yesterday. Nothing has changed since then. Absolutely nothing," Sam says. He finally looks at me. "We are still the same people we were yesterday."

"Yeah," CJ says, looking down at the top of the table.

"CJ . . ." I start to say, but she puts her hand up.

"Yeah. I know. Could you . . . I need just a little time. I'll see you guys back at the office," CJ says, leaving us behind in the restaurant.

I look at Sam and he turns away. For some reason, I don't think we'll ever be the same.


**************

New Hampshire
1997

"He's an ass," Sam says in disbelief over our candidate. We haven't even been here long enough for Bartlet to learn our names yet and doubts are beginning to settle in.

"Maybe it'll get better once we get to know him more. Or when he figures out that I'm not Toby," I say. We're both hiding out at local coffee shop, uncertain what our next move should be. Leo seems to be calling all the shots but none of us have ever dealt with anything like this before. I was on Hoynes' team, but he was never serious enough about letting me help him with it. He always felt he was the natural choice for the nomination. He was sure it was his right to be the next President of the United States. This man . . . this Bartlet . . . I'm not sure what he is. He looks as scared as we do most of the time.

"Maybe I just threw my life away for nothing," Sam says with a discouraged sigh. I motion for the waitress to bring us more coffee and this time she leaves the carafe.

"No, you didn't. We'll make this work. We have to because we just burned a whole hell of a lot of bridges," I say, sipping my coffee. Since we arrived at the campaign headquarters, we've all lived off of the stuff.

"Do you think they know?" Sam asks, his voice dropping so low I can barely hear him.

"I don't think so," I say, shaking my head. "It's not like we were ever . . . you know. We're always careful."

"And it can't happen again. Not now," Sam says, reiterating everything we said that night in New York. If we keep saying it enough, maybe it won't happen.

No, it can't happen.

"If they found out, I don't think these people would have a problem with it," I say, pouring even more coffee.

"Not them. The American people. They might have a problem with it," he says and he's right. We can have gay congressmen and gay senators but this would be too close for some people. Some very wrong people but people who vote nonetheless. "We need every vote. Bartlet will never win if the tiniest thing goes wrong."

"We won't let it go wrong," I say, wincing at my words. "Not that it was wrong. What we were. It was never wrong."

"Just now isn't the time," he says. He lazily stirs his coffee though I don't recall him putting anything in it. We're both exhausted and we only started this campaign. I have a feeling if all goes well, we may not be sleeping for a long time. "Besides, you have a girlfriend. Something I can no longer say."

We both look out the window to see the person who declared herself my assistant just a few hours ago crossing the road to come fetch us. Sam turns to me and catches me smiling at this woman named Donna as she smoothes down her clothes and rushes between a few more cars.

"You don't have time for that, either," Sam says softly, and I turn to him.

"You forget. I have a girlfriend."

He lets out a soft sigh and looks down into his coffee.

Donna opens the door and finds our table. "Governor Bartlet is looking for you two. He wants to know what's next."

"What is next, Josh?" Sam asks and I wish I had an answer.

***************

The Kennedy Center
2001

Sam looks over at me from several seats down as I wipe the cold sweat off of my brow. This is supposed to get better with time. They keep telling me that but yet, here I am listening to some kid who's probably been waiting for a night like this his whole life to play his heart out for the President of the United States and I can think of doing nothing but escaping. The President looks like he wants to escape, too. CJ keeps leaving her seat every five minutes to take a call, one of the lucky ones who can escape.

I try to stay in my seat. Try to listen to the music and appreciate it as music and not some screeching sound that never leaves my brain. I said I didn't want to go to this but CJ said I had to. She understood why I didn't want to but this time it was unavoidable.

Hell. No one would notice if I disappeared. Certainly not the violinist. I already talked to the people I came here to see. I could have left before the music ever even started and it wouldn't have made a difference.

Someone taps me on my shoulder and I jump. Everyone looks my way as the person leans in and tells me I have a phone call. I smile, happy that it is my turn to escape from here. They all look hopeful it will be something so big that we'll all have to leave here and go back to work but chances are it's just Donna wondering if my socks match or something.

I go down the stairs and out the building to where I'll be able to hear the call. There are reporters all around and I try to hide from them as well as I can. I've had enough reporters for today.

"Josh Lyman," I say into the phone as I look out over the water. I'm no longer sweating now that I'm out here. It's silent. Or at least silent as compared to the noise inside. Just the sounds of people milling around smoking cigarettes and discussing politics. Or football.

"It's Donna. I just wanted to see if you were okay."

I sigh. Leave it to Donna to save me. She's one of the few people who can and I left the other one inside. "I'm fine."

"You sure?"

"Yeah. Is that all you needed? Is there anything happening there? Should I come back?" I ask, hoping for anything to get out of here.

"Sorry. Nothing going on here."

"Damn."

"Want me to make something up? A national crisis? Margaret and I can try to get a nuclear war going if you want," Donna says and I seriously consider it for a second. They could probably pull it off.

"No. I'll be fine. I should be back in an hour. See you then," I say and hang up the phone.

It's only then that I sense someone is standing behind me. I turn around quickly, expecting to find a reporter eaves dropping on my call but instead I find Sam.

"Everything okay?" he asks.

"At the office? Yeah. Donna and Margaret were thinking about starting a small scale war but came up with something better to do," I joke and he smiles.

"I meant with you," he says. His ties is crooked. I fight the urge to reach out and fix it. Last week, I would have thought nothing of doing just that but now, thanks to Robinson, every move I make near Sam in public has to be guarded. No one was supposed to ever know but I suppose that was too much to ask for.

"I'm okay. It was just getting a little hot in there," I lie. He knows it but I doubt he'll say anything. It's just something that isn't going to go away overnight.

"CJ gave me the evil eye when I followed you out. I'm quite certain she's going to beat one of us up later for what we put her through over the last day," he says, looking in the direction of the door.

"As long as it's you she takes a swing at, I don't care. I'm pretty sure that woman could do some serious damage."

We both stand there in silence, not knowing what to do. Not knowing what to say.

It shouldn't be like this. I want it to be the way it was before Andy Robinson came back in town. The way it was before Leo and CJ knew about this. I'm sure now it's only a matter of time before Donna and the rest of the staff get wind of it. We will be watched from now on.

I don't like it. And I don't care anymore.

I reach out and straighten his tie, my fingers resting on the material just a little longer than they need to. I've done this before. No one could possibly suspect . . .

"We should get back in there," Sam says, moving abruptly away from me.

"Yeah."

"Before CJ sends out a Secret Service detachment to spray us down with a hose."

"We aren't doing anything," I say. He takes another step back away from me just so that's even more clear.

"Only we know we aren't doing anything."

"It would be better if we were the only ones who knew we were doing something," I say, looking down to the ground. Down at our shiny black shoes against the cement. How did I ever get here, to this exact moment of wanting something that I can and cannot have all at the same time?

"Josh . . ."

"I know. Let's go."

We both walk back into the center in silence.

***************

Inaugural Ball
1998

"Your tie is crooked!" I call to Sam, trying to talk over the crowd. It's damn near impossible. The amount of people attending today's functions was unbelievable and this is the third ball we've been to with many more to go.

"What?" Sam shouts back and I move in even closer and say it again. He shrugs his shoulders, still unable to hear me.

"Come here," I say while I motion for him to come right next to me. My fingers hold both sides of his bow tie as I adjust it and he just smiles at me.

"I can't believe we're here. Deputy Chief of Staff and Deputy Director of Communications. Back when we first met, did you ever imagine . . . all of this," he says loudly, his eyes looking around the room with wonder.

"No," I say. Neither of us can wipe the grins off of our faces. They've been plastered there since November and now that this is becoming a reality, it's impossible not to smile. I'm sure they will disappear when the real work starts tomorrow, but for right now, I just want to enjoy this.

My hands move down to the lapels of his jacket and I fight the urge to hug him. I don't know why. Everybody else has been hugging all over the place today. I even got a huge hug out of Leo.

"Thanks," Sam says. His hands hang at his side, in a uncomfortable stance. We know things are different now but no one knows anything. No one would look at us and suspect a thing.

"For what?"

"Coming to get me. Giving me this experience. Thank you, Josh."

"It was nothing."

"No, it was something."

"You two should get a room." I hear Mandy's sharp little voice from beside me and I quickly yank my hands off of Sam. His smile disappears as the two of them stare at each other. Someone bumps into Mandy, pushing her closer to me and they finally break their stare.

"We were just discussing what's next," I say, wrapping her in my arms and hugging her. Sam looks away for half a second before looking back at us, his smile back in place. "And you and I already have a room."

"That's good because I can't wait to get out of this goddawful dress," Mandy says, fidgeting with something around her waist.

"I'll leave you two to celebrate," Sam says, scanning the ballroom. My eyes follow his, trying to track what he's looking at. They stop on something with long legs and gorgeous hair. Something definitely female. My smile fades for a second but I get it back on my face before anyone can notice.

"You have fun, too," I say as cheerfully as I can, patting him on the back as he walks away.

"I plan on it."

"I'll see you later," I call out, knowing full well that I won't be seeing him like I want to anytime soon.

***************

Josh Lyman's Apartment
2001

I open the door and Sam walks around me without saying a word as he sits on my couch. I don't know why he's here. It's so late and he's still wearing his tuxedo while I discarded mine hours ago. He still even has his bow tie still neatly knotted and perfectly straight. Just like I left it.

"Sometimes I wish we'd never won."

He says the words without turning to look at me.

"You don't mean that," I say and he still doesn't turn.

"You said it yourself. There are things more important than careers. This could have been one of those things," he says.

"It still can be. I just . . . if it's ever going to be something, I don't want it to be something some narrow-minded jackass is going to use against us. I don't want it to be a front-page story. And I don't want to get shot at again by some anti-gay coalition. I just want it to be . . . us," I say and Sam nods.

"Why can't it just be that way now?"

"You want it to be that way now? Tomorrow we'll go to the President and tell him. We'll put it in the next damn poll that goes out to find out how Americans will feel about having two of the senior staff living together as husband and well, husband. Things are shifting to the right already, Sam, and that isn't going to help keep them to the left. I thought once we were in, the battle was going to be over for a while, but it never ends. And if I thought coming out and declaring this thing would help us win, I'd do it in a second," I say, reaching for his hand. He wraps his fingers around mine and I wish it could always be like it is right this second.

"I understand all that."

"And I'm not going to deny this country the good that Jed Bartlet can do because some people couldn't see past their prejudice. We are doing a lot of good, Sam."

"We could do a lot for gay rights in this nation," he says and I want to hug the incredibly naive crap out of him.

"We're doing what we can, Sam and you know it. It's a damn catch-22 and I don't know how to fix it. All I can do is be realistic. You and I weren't elected to the office, Sam. President Bartlet was. We work at the pleasure of the President and I'm not sure he is ready for our 'gay agenda'," I say and Sam laughs.

"We would have to put one together first," he says, finally looking at me. We both watch each other for a moment and then he closes his eyes and sighs.

"Spend the night with me, Sam," I say before I can stop myself. He opens his eyes and stares at me thoughtfully. His fingers tighten around mine and my heart starts to beat faster.

"We can't, Josh. Not yet. Soon enough, and you won't have to ask and I won't have to say no. It will just be the way it is," he says, his voice barely rising above a whisper.

"Yeah. Spend the night with me anyway."

"I want to . . ."

"I want you to . . ."

"I don't know."

"Yes, you do know," I say, releasing his fingers and standing up. I offer him my outstretched hand and he thinks for a moment before taking it in his.

"Why can't I ever say no?" he asks as I pull him off the couch and start moving us towards the bedroom. "All these years I said no, don't do it, Sam. Don't go over there when you're feeling like this. Don't make it obvious. And yet here I am . . ."

"Here we are," I say, turning the light on in my bedroom. "We don't have to do anything. We can just, I don't know, go to sleep."

"Right. Because we're men and that's what men do when offered sex."

I kiss him to shut him up and to make sure he doesn't talk himself out of this. His tongue darts past my lips and probes through my mouth while his hands hold onto my shirt. He's got so much damn formal clothes on while I'm in a t-shirt and sweatpants. His hand slides down lower, until he grabs my cock through the soft fabric. He tugs my pants down until they are around my ankles and he falls to his knees before me. He takes me into his mouth and I grow hard under the skill of his tongue.

But this isn't what I want. I want him in bed with me. I want to be lost inside of him again.

"Come here," I say, pulling him up off the floor. He discards his jacket and I take the straightened ends of his tie between my fingers and release it, pulling it off and tossing it away. My fingers work over all the button covers and buttons until I can slip his shirt off his shoulders. My hands slide over his shoulders and down his back, feeling him through his undershirt.

"Hold on. Cuff links," he says and I smile as he finishes up with his shirt. He yanks his undershirt up and over his head and sends it flying after the tie.

We both strip down as fast as we can without hurting ourselves and tumble into bed together. We are a tangle of arms and legs and I know I have some sort of lube in the nightstand and I reach for it, covering both him and and me.

He rolls onto his belly, his ass curving up towards me and I ease my way in slowly. He's so tight and hot and I don't know how much I can take. He gasps when I finally begin thrusting and I fall forwards, so I can be closer to him. He pushes back against me and there's no way this can last long.

I reach for one of his hands and hold onto it tight, his fingers flexing and releasing with each thrust I make into his body. He takes his cock into his other hand and begins stroking it hard, forcing him to slam even harder back towards me.

Before I can stop it or slow it down, I topple over that precipice and come inside of him so hard that the room starts spinning. He continues to jerk off and I try to keep pumping into him for as long as I can before the sensation becomes unbearable. With a low, drawn out moan, he finally comes in his own hand and both of us just stay like this, sated for now.

I slide out of him and he groans at the loss of contact between our bodies. I jump up out of bed, my legs like rubber underneath me, and grab a towel from the bathroom. I clean myself off and toss it in his direction and he wipes his hand off before blotting it across my comforter.

"Maybe we can talk the President out of running for reelection. It wouldn't be that hard, you know," Sam says, tossing the towel away as I flop back down in bed, quite exhausted now.

"The American people need him."

"I need you," he says, taking my hand into his. We are both still covered in sweat and the room is filled the the smell of men and sex. He rolls towards me, snuggling against my body, drinking in the scent of us together once again.

I want to tell the rest of the world to just fuck off. I want the Mary Marshes to disappear and I want people like Matt Skinner to fight for what I think they should fight for. But I can't do that. There isn't much I can do right now but fall asleep with Sam here next to me. Tomorrow, we'll get up and go back to our jobs and pretend that personal lives don't matter. That's what we have to do.

"For right now, you can have me," I say.

Even if it's just for a little while.

The End.

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