Title: Make a Wish
Author: Jae Kayelle
Email: bcunningham@sk.sympatico.ca
Pairing: Sam/Josh
Rating: PG13
Disclaimer: Aaron Sorkin, NBC, and John Wells Productions own the characters. No copyright infringement intended. No profits being made from this work of fiction.
Archive: list archives.
Spoilers: mid S3 episodes in which Amy appeared, but nothing specific.
Summary: Josh gives Sam the thing he wants most.
Note: I started writing this in honour of Rob Lowe's 38th birthday on Sunday March 17. He now shares a birthday with his alter ego. <g>
Note #2: if you love Amy Gardner proceed with caution. She is portrayed here the way I see her, which is to say not in a favourable light. It's just my take on the character, and I readily admit I do not like her for many of the same reasons stated in the story. Some of the reasons are Sam's alone.

Make a Wish by Jae Kayelle

Sam watched as Josh slipped his arm around Amy's waist and attempted to lead her out of the communications bullpen. Amy gave Josh a "don't touch me" look, so he removed his hand although it hovered near the small of her back. Anger welled up inside of Sam at Amy's constant demeaning treatment of Josh. Even more infuriating was how Josh let her treat him that way. Sam couldn't understand why his friend put up with it. Actually, yes, he could understand. Hormones drove Josh, the same as other men. Amy let him into her bed and so he put up with her behaviour. Sam wanted Josh to wake up and smell the coffee. He wanted Josh to dump Amy before she dumped him. When it happened, Josh would be devastated for weeks, and Sam would be the one to pick up the pieces. It was what a best friend did. It was what Sam did. The trouble was, Sam's heart broke along with Josh's every time because Josh failed to see who really loved him.

#

"Happy Birthday, Sam!" For a few minutes the bullpen shut down so that Sam's friends could celebrate his birthday. A few streamers shot through the air, one landing in his hair. Someone threw confetti over him.

"Make a wish, Sam!" CJ called out. Leaning over the double-layered chocolate cake, Sam closed his eyes. The wish was easy. He knew what he wanted, not only for his birthday, but also for every day of his future. In his head he voiced the same words he silently chanted many days of his life, and then he blew out the candles. The area erupted in cheers. Some of the men reached out and shook his hand or clapped him on the back or shoulder, including Josh, who gave him a quick hug, the kind straight guys give their friends, and it punched a hole in Sam's soul because he wanted to wrap his arms around Josh and never let go. CJ grabbed Sam and kissed him on the mouth. That left him blushing and stammering, and made CJ, Ainsley, Donna, Margaret, Ginger, Bonnie and all the men laugh at him. It was all in good fun, and Sam enjoyed it, but it wasn't CJ's kisses he wanted. Then the rest of the women took turns kissing him full on the mouth. The kisses left his lips stinging and made him breathless. When the last one released him, Sam touched his fingers to his mouth and grinned. "Wow! If I knew it was this easy to get some lip action I'd have faked a birthday months ago."

Amidst the laughter, Ainsley called out, "It wouldn't have worked. We all knew your birthday is St. Patrick's Day, Sam."

He snapped his fingers and pretended to be upset. "Damn. It seemed like a good idea a minute ago when you were kissing me." He wasn't lying. He liked Ainsley, and if his heart weren't already taken he would have worked at establishing a romantic relationship with the diminutive lawyer. As he turned away he caught Josh looking at him pensively.

Ainsley blushed harder than Sam had and there was more laughter. Then Ginger cut a large piece of cake and gave it to him on a paper plate with a fork and a napkin. He took a bite and made appreciative noises. It was delicious so he dug in. Ginger quickly cut more cake, and Toby took the next piece. He leaned in and quietly wished Sam many happy returns before wandering away with his precious burden. Leo stopped by to bestow his good wishes, and those of the President who was in a meeting, and to grab some cake. Sam basked in the warmth of camaraderie with his friends. Then Amy arrived. Sam watched her out of the corner of his eye. She stood off to the side talking or possibly arguing with Josh for a few minutes. When she tugged on his arm to get him to leave with her, he took several steps in that direction before pulling free. Sam's heart beat a little faster when Josh approached. "Sam, Amy and I are leaving."

"Oh."

"Just wanted to tell you that and to...to wish you a happy birthday."

"You already did that, Josh." Sam was pleased that Josh had come back to say the words even if he was leaving.

"Yeah. I know. I just..." his gaze dropped to his shoes, and then rose to meet Sam's eyes. "I just wanted to tell you that."

"Thanks, Josh." Sam smiled sincerely. It seemed to make Josh happier, because he grinned back at him. "So, I'm gonna go now." He jerked his head to indicate the direction was away. "Yeah." Josh took another step away and came back a second time. "Maybe we can hang out tomorrow night. I know it won't be the same since your birthday's now, but..."

"It's okay, Josh. Really."

"Yeah. See ya."

"Tomorrow," Sam confirmed.

Josh brightened momentarily. "Sure." Then he reached out and gave Sam another brief hug. Sam risked holding onto him a bit longer than necessary. Josh moved as if to let go, but then he tightened his hold for a few seconds. When they stepped apart Josh looked vaguely distressed. He glanced towards Amy and when he looked back at Sam his expression hadn't changed. "See ya."

Sam nodded and watched as Josh walked away, Amy grabbing his hand possessively. Feeling heavy and somewhat lost, Sam made an effort to cheer up when Margaret walked over and began to chat.

"You'll get your wish, Sam."

He blinked. "Excuse me?"

"You made a wish, right?"

"Yes."

"Don't tell me what it is."

"All right." He had no intention of telling anyone about his wish.

"It will come true," Margaret said very matter-of-factly.

"How do you know?"

"Because you're a good person."

"Well, thanks. But..."

"No buts!"

"Okay." He leaned backwards slightly because every now and then he was afraid of Margaret and this was one of those times.

"Trust me on this, Sam." She walked away. Sam felt like he'd just consulted a fortuneteller.

#

Going home to an empty house was the wrong thing to do. CJ and Toby had taken Sam out for a drink and one drink was all he had. Unable to let loose and really enjoy himself, he had begged off early and went home, leaving them to keep each other company. However, once he got to his dark, quiet and empty townhouse he turned right around and went back out. There was a chill in the night air and Sam burrowed deeper inside his coat with his hands in his pockets as he walked. He parked his car and just wandered the streets. Not thinking about anything he simply walked.

When he returned home he found Josh sitting huddled on the front step with his back against the door. Josh looked up at Sam's approach. "Hey."

"Josh. What are you doing here?"

"It's funny. I went home and later looked over at Amy and I thought to myself, "She's not Sam." Isn't that weird?"

"I don't know what to say to that."

As if Sam hadn't spoken, Josh went on, "I mean, she's terrific. I enjoy being with her, and yet all I can think of is that she's not you."

"Why?"

"Why do I want her to be you?"

"Why do you enjoy being with her?"

"She's beautiful. She's smart."

"She doesn't respect you, Josh. She treats you like you're an idiot."

"Aw, come on, Sam."

"You deserve better. You deserve someone who loves you and who will treat you like you're important."

"Sam, didn't you hear me? I said she's not you and that's just not good enough."

"Oh."

Josh grinned and awkwardly got to his feet. Even more awkwardly he put his arms around Sam, wrapping them around his back. Sam couldn't help but move forward until his chin touched Josh's shoulder and he leaned heavily. He kept his arms at his sides. Certainly he was in Josh's embrace, feeling his friend tremble at his proximity, breathing in his warm, masculine scent, but this was Josh after all. He could be gone five minutes from now, going back to Amy. Sam wasn't ready to have his heart broken on his birthday. Perhaps it could happen on any other day, but not on this one. And so he stood there fighting to keep his heart from racing at Josh's touch. "Can we go inside?" Josh's breath curled inside his ear and tickled it. Stepping out of the embrace, Sam unlocked the door and let Josh precede him inside. He didn't speak until they were in the living room with their coats off and a beer in hand. "What started it?"

"Are you speaking in code tonight?" Josh looked puzzled. "What made you think you wanted to be with me instead of Amy?"

His brows drawing together Josh asked, "You do realize by that I mean I love you and not her?"

Sam's gaze dropped to where his fingers were meticulously picking the label off the bottle. Tiny bits of paper littered the carpet and his pant leg. "Josh, you don't know who or what you love. I can't quite believe what you're telling me."

"It must be a shock," Josh grinned nervously. "It's not something you would expect from me. My track record with women isn't the greatest, but maybe this is why. I've been in love with you for years and only messed up my other relationships because you're the one I want. I've been thinking about it a lot lately. Amy wasn't getting my full attention. I think that's why she..."

"Stop right there." Sam held up a hand. "Before you say another word about Amy, I don't want to hear about her."

Josh nodded slowly. "Yeah, you never did like her. Not even when you came up to Harvard for that weekend and I introduced you to her and Chris."

"No more, Josh. I mean it. Talk about her and you can leave right now."

"But Sam."

"No more."

"I confess my feelings for you and you threaten to throw me out of your home?"

"You haven't confessed anything other than that Amy is still on your mind."

Perhaps realizing that Sam was serious, Josh sat back on the couch next to him and kept quiet. They sat in silence. Sam wondered how long it would be before Josh cracked. Nearly five minutes passed, and then Josh turned to him and said, "All right. I get it. Sam, when I said that I love you I mean I'm in love with you. Maybe you'll want to sock me in the jaw, but I'm saying this and then you can do what you want. I love you. I'm in love with you."

Sam fiddled with the beer bottle, and then took a swallow of the golden liquid. "Sam? Are you upset?"

Shaking his head, Sam closed his eyes. "I made a wish tonight when I blew out the candles on my cake. I wished that you would someday come to me and tell me that you're in love with me."

"Really?" Josh seemed stunned at first, and then crowed in delight, "Hey, you got your wish! Me!"

"It's too easy. Maybe I'm dreaming or something."

Josh slid closer on the couch. "It's not a dream. I'm here and I'm real."

Sam shook his head again. "No. You're on the rebound."

"I broke up with Amy not the other way around," Josh protested.

"Doesn't matter. The result is the same. You're just getting out of a relationship, Josh. You're barely out of it. When did you call it off with Amy? An hour ago?"

His eyes lifting to the ceiling, Josh replied, "Nearly two hours."

"Josh," Sam began.

"No. You're right. It's too soon." His face conveying his disappointment, he stood up. "I should go."

Sam rose beside him and reached out, finally making part of the connection he so desperately wanted. His fingers clutched at the cotton of Josh's shirt until he realized it and relaxed his grip, smoothing out the wrinkles, but not letting go entirely. "Maybe," he watched his own hand flattening the material, "maybe you could stay and we could talk. You need to work through what happened to you before you got here, and I want to hear it."

"I thought you said you didn't want to hear me talk about Amy." Josh's eyes bore into Sam's, perhaps searching for something. Shrugging, Sam replied, "Okay, so I don't, but you do need to talk about her, and I guess I can listen. For you I can listen."

"No," Josh said after a moment.

"Sorry?"

"It's your birthday. We should do something for you. I can deal with my situation later. How about we go out for a late dinner? I can get us reservations at Kokopelli's. They make that seafood pasta you like so much. And they have your favourite cheesecake."

Sam's mouth was already watering just thinking about what Josh had described. "It's pretty late. Do you think you can get us in?"

"What good is it being White House Deputy Chief of Staff if I can't pull a few strings for my best friend on his birthday?"

Sam smiled, genuinely grateful, and said, "Thank you, Josh." This time when he moved closer he tentatively slid one arm around Josh's neck and the other around his waist. He leaned in, for once indulging in the heat radiating off Josh's body, warming his, and drew him closer. His cheek rested against Josh's ear. "Thank you," he repeated.

When Sam tried to withdraw Josh held him tighter, his hands flush against Sam's back. He rubbed them up and down slowly, apparently doing a little indulging of his own. His fingers found knotted muscles and eased them loose. Sam leaned deeper into the embrace and sighed. After a moment Josh released him, but kept his hands on Sam's shoulders so he could look him in the eye. "I do love you, y'know."

"I don't have any doubts about that. I just want your head on straight before we start anything."

"Deal."

Sam nodded. "You said something about dinner?"

Grinning, Josh pulled out his cell phone and dialled a number from memory. He was connected and identified himself to the person on the other end. He made some small talk and then expressed his request for a table for two. He gave Sam a thumb's up, said thank you, and flipped the cell phone closed. "We have a table at 10 p.m. That does make it kind of late. Hope that's okay."

"It's very okay, Josh." Sam gazed steadily into Josh's eyes. Josh ducked his head, suddenly shy. Glancing at his watch, he said, "It's just past 9:30. Maybe we should go now?"

As they went out the door, Josh said, "I swear you haven't aged a day since we met. You still look twenty-one."

"I'm not a kid any more, Josh."

"I know that," he promised. "I'm just thankful you waited for me to grow up."

# end

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