Title: Newton's Third Law
Author: Nomi (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Archive: Sure, just tell me where
Summary: For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction.
Warnings: Spoilers possible for anything through "Dead Irish Writers," but I don't remember any.
Notes: Big, enormous, sloppy thank-yous to Beth for all her help with this story. Previous stories in this series can be found on my website at http://world.std.com/~gnomi/stories.html .
Newton's Third Law by Nomi
Josh took his own sweet time coming back. Which, considering the way he'd been hovering all day, surprised and frustrated me.
Or, at least, he'd been hovering since Brian got here.
Brian. Of all the people who could have been sent, it had to be Brian.
Here's what happened. Ever since the beginning of the MS fiasco, CJ has been trying to make the West Wing more accessible to the press. Sometimes despite her better judgement.
And that's how this happened. "This," of course, was Brian. Well, Brian had not come alone, but he was the part of the equation that was troublesome. But he wasn't to blame. CJ was. Again.
The day after Josh and I returned from New York, CJ had appeared in my office.
"Hey, Spanky," she said.
"What did you promise that I'd do now?" I asked, knowing that when CJ calls me "Spanky" I'm in for something unpleasant.
"Oh, nothing you haven't done before," CJ responded.
"Who did you promise what, CJ?" I asked.
"Duke saw the piece Princeton did on you last fall, and now they want to send someone to do a similar article."
I didn't have a major problem with that, so I told her it was fine.
"They haven't finalized who'll be coming; I'll try to get the names to you beforehand so that you'll know who to expect, OK?"
"Whatever," I said. I didn't really care who came to interview me. When Princeton came, they sent a random volunteer from their alumni office here in DC, someone who had graduated long before I did.
"Great. So I'll set it up for next week, before Congress comes back. We should be in low gear around then."
"Well," I said, "except for the State of the Union."
"Minor detail, Spanky. This should only take a couple of hours total, and you can work on it while they're taking your picture. They'll want shots of you working, right?"
"I guess," I said, suddenly aware of how little time there was before the State of the Union. "But make sure they know I'm going to be busy and won't have lots of time to reminisce about the good old days from before I was born."
CJ said she'd set the whole thing up, and then went off to do the mid-day briefing. I put the whole thing out of my mind until yesterday, when CJ brought it up again.
"Hey, Sam," she said, standing in my office door.
"Yeah?" I didn't look up from my screen. I was busy tweaking the wording on a paragraph regarding education legislation for the State of the Union.
"About that Duke visit tomorrow?"
"Yeah?" I repeated.
"They've told me that two people are coming, but that's all they know for sure. But they wanted me to remind you to bring whatever Duke paraphernalia you might have so that they can take a 'rah-rah school spirit' shot or two."
"Sure, whatever," I said. I hoped this whole interview/photo-shoot thing would not interfere too much with my productivity. I knew last-minute issues would arise that the President would want added to the speech; my goal was to have as much of a complete draft as I could before he started changing things.
Putting the upcoming interview out of my mind for the rest of the day, I was able to finally clear the remaining backlogged work that had appeared while Josh and I were in New York.
My one concession to preparing for the interview was making sure my decent Duke sweatshirt - not the old, ratty Duke Law one, but the more generic Duke Blue Devils one - was clean and near my briefcase before we went to bed.
The next morning, I was thrashing away at yet another draft when CJ came to see me around 10. "Sam?" she said.
I looked up. Next to CJ were standing a short, blonde woman and...oh, shit.
"Sam, I'd like you to meet Lucy Simonds and --"
"Brian Johnson," I said, looking at the man I had thought I'd never see again.
He hadn't changed a bit in the 15 years since I'd last seen him. Still tall and thin, with thick, dark hair - slightly longer than fashionable, but it worked for him - and a reddish goatee.
I stood up and walked toward the threesome in my doorway. I extended my hand first to Ms. Simonds and then to Brian.
"Handshake, Tiger?" he asked, pulling me into a firm embrace.
"Tiger, Spanky?" CJ asked.
"Brian and I were friends at Duke." We had been much more than friends, but I didn't care to elaborate and - probably because the press was present - CJ didn't push.
"So," CJ said, "I'll leave the three of you to get acquainted, or re-acquainted."
I had a million questions for Brian but I couldn't ask them right now. Maybe, I thought, Brian and I could have lunch afterwards. All I'd have to do is cancel my standing lunch with Josh.
Oh, fuck. Josh.
I gestured to the guest chairs facing my desk, and Brian and Ms. Simonds sat, hoping that none of my inner turmoil was being reflected on my face. Ms. Simonds started with some simple questions - when I attended Duke, what I had seen myself doing following graduation, how I ended up working at the White House - and then segued into more complex questions regarding current legislation and my role in crafting the President's message. Brian sat and observed for a bit, and then he started assembling his camera equipment.
As Brian began measuring light levels in my office, my phone buzzed. "Sam?" Cathy asked over the intercom.
"Yeah?" I doubted she'd interrupt unless it was important.
"Katzenmoyer's office is on line 2. Apparently they have something they want to make sure is in the State of the Union."
I looked at Ms. Simonds apologetically. "I'm sorry; I've got to take this. Why don't you go talk to Toby Ziegler - my boss, he's in the next office - while I'm on the phone? I'll buzz him when I'm done."
Brian turned to me. "Can I stay? I'd like to get some 'alumnus hard at work' shots if possible."
"Sure," I said, seeing no harm in his hearing this call.
Ms. Simonds excused herself as I picked up the phone. Since my side of the conversation was mostly "Uh huh...I see," Brian could not have picked up any state secrets while taking my picture.
After I hung up with Katzenmoyer's staff, I looked back over at Brian. I was struck again by how little he'd changed since I'd last seen him.
"Bri," I said, "you look...it's been a long time, but you look the same. Bastard." I said the last part with a smile, hoping he'd take it the way I had intended.
"Tiger, you just look like the distinguished statesman that you've become." He gestured to the grey hairs at my temples. "The grey looks good on you."
"Bri, I...I wish..." I was trying to figure out how to apologize for losing contact with him. But before I got a chance to really articulate what I was thinking, Ms. Simonds came back. And she wasn't alone.
"I ran into Mr. Lyman in Mr. Ziegler's office," she said. "He wanted to come by and watch for a bit. I didn't figure you'd mind."
"Hey," Josh said, leaning against my doorframe.
"Hey," I responded. "Uh, Josh, I'd like to introduce you to Brian Johnson, the photographer from the Duke alumni office." He shook their hands and then I decided to come clean - at least somewhat. "I knew Brian when I was in law school."
I could see the wheels turning in Josh's mind. He knew from a conversation early in our relationship that I'd dated a guy named Brian while I was at Duke. Josh raised his eyebrow at me but, much to my relief, didn't comment.
Josh mumbled something I didn't hear clearly then asked, "Sam?"
"D'you have the Blakesley file?"
I rummaged around on my desk, then pulled a file out of the pile. "Here," I said, handing it to him.
"Thanks. I'll let you get back to it," Josh responded then turned to go. "It was nice meeting you both," he said to Ms. Simonds and Brian. Congenial mumblings were made all around, and Josh left.
I tried to focus on my work and ignore the photography going on around me, but I was not completely successful. Just as I managed to block his presence out of my mind, Brian would do something to remind me he was there. Brian whistled under his breath as he set up a specific camera angle and I was immediately thrust back into memories of our time together. He used to whistle almost constantly, and he wouldn't even notice he was doing it. Then, when I was mid-paragraph, I took my glasses off to rub the bridge of my nose. I hadn't even remembered anyone else was in the room until Brian gave a rough sigh. One I remembered too well. I looked up suddenly in reaction.
And saw Josh in my doorway. I froze, unsure what might unfold next.
"Tiger, do you have to do that?" Brian asked, oblivious to Josh's presence. Not that he'd necessarily understand the significance of Josh's presence. Not that _I_ understood Josh's presence.
"Do what?" I asked.
Brian looked up at me. "You know what happens to me when you take off your glasses."
I must have given him a blank look, because he began to elaborate. "D'you remember that night...not long after we met? The night you learned the best cure for eyestrain?" He stopped, most likely because Ms. Simonds was still in the room.
But even with so few details, I remembered that evening. Brian had offered me a massage, and when he had climbed up behind me on the bed, ostensibly to help me ease the headache, it became obvious that he wanted much more. It ended up being our first night together.
I heard the sound of a throat being cleared and I looked up again. Josh was still standing in the doorway, having heard every word. He gave me a smoldering look, the one he _knows_ will make me instantly hard. In response, I shot him what I hoped was a veiled look of warning.
After standing there for just another minute - just long enough for me to know that he had seen the look I gave him but was choosing to ignore it - Josh left again. I tried again to get work done, but my concentration was close to nonexistent. Finally, I needed to get my visitors to go away for a minute so that I could regroup.
"You must be hungry," I said to Ms. Simonds. "Why don't you and Brian run down to the mess and grab a snack. I've got a phone call to make, but I should be done by the time you come back." Actually, the call I had to make was to Josh. I needed to talk to him, explain that I was feeling just as ambushed by Brian as he was.
They nodded and headed out. As soon as they had cleared the bullpen, I picked up my phone.
"Could you come here a sec?" I wasn't sure I wanted to have this conversation, but I knew I had to do it.
"On my way," Josh said. He appeared in my doorway two minutes later, barely giving me time to collect my thoughts.
He came in and sat on the corner of my desk, completely avoiding the visitors' chairs.
"So," he said. "That's Brian."
"Yeah," I said. "That's Brian."
"Did you know he'd be coming?" There was something vaguely disturbing about Josh's tone, but I couldn't identify why, so I ignored it.
"I had no clue, J. He just appeared with CJ and Ms. Simonds."
"I see," he said.
"Really, J. I had no idea he'd be the photographer. Last thing I knew, he was getting his Ph.D. in Computer Science. How he ended up in DC, how he ended up taking pictures for the Duke alumni office, I have no clue. Hell, I don't even know if he ever finished getting his degree."
"Relax, love," Josh said. "It's OK. It's probably just the universe regaining its balance - you know, you met a lover from my past, and now I'm getting to meet one of yours." He seemed much more even-keeled about this than I had expected.
Just then, Brian and Ms. Simonds came back. Brian put a cup on my desk, and I immediately started salivating at the scent of coffee.
"You still take it light with two sugars, right, Tiger?"
"I'll drink it any way I can these days, Bri, but, yeah." I started to lift the cup to my lips.
"Love? Is that smart?" Josh said in his "you're exacerbating your ulcer" tone.
"J, please. I know what I'm doing." I didn't want to have this discussion. I never want to have this particular discussion, and I especially didn't want to have it in front of Brian.
I took a sip of the coffee. I knew I'd pay for it later, but coffee is one thing I haven't been able to give up.
"Sam, I'll see you later, OK?" Josh said, hopping down off my desk and heading back toward the door. "It was nice to meet you both."
Since he'd said that the first time he'd shown up in my doorway, I knew Josh wasn't as composed as he seemed.
I finished my coffee and got back to writing. Ms. Simonds went out to interrogate the Communications staff about me, and Brian stayed in my office to continue taking pictures.
After taking another roll of me in front of my computer, Brian gestured toward the Duke sweatshirt sitting on top of my briefcase. "Let's take some of you wearing that."
I stood up and slipped off my suit jacket, draping it carefully over the back of my desk chair. I pulled the sweatshirt on over my head.
"Tiger, when does _anyone_ wear a tie with a sweatshirt?" Brian teased. I hurriedly removed the tie, folding it and sticking into my jacket pocket.
Brian looked critically at me again. "And the collared shirt. That just looks stupid. It's got to go."
"Huh?" I asked.
"Take off the shirt, Tiger. It just looks _wrong_."
I sighed, but I took the sweatshirt back off and started unbuttoning my dress shirt.
As I worked the buttons, Brian said teasingly, "Ooh, yeah, Tiger. Just like that." He used to do this to me whenever he was around and I was changing clothes. "Work those hips."
"Hey, Sam?" Josh said, wandering back into my office. D'you also have the..." He looked up from the papers he was carrying and stopped. I could only imagine what he was thinking, and I wondered just how much of Brian's teasing he'd heard.
I hurriedly finished removing my shirt and put the sweatshirt back on. "Brian wanted some pictures of me in this," I said. "You know, to show I still have loyalty to the school."
"Ah," Josh said, and that one syllable was loaded with meanings I still don't think I understand. He stood and watched while Brian took pictures of me in my sweatshirt and remained in the room as I changed back into my work clothing. I hurriedly tucked my shirt back into my pants as well as I could then put my tie and jacket back on.
"Right, so, do you have the Ag file? I need numbers on subsidies," Josh said, as if the past ten minutes had not existed.
"Hang on a sec, J. It's...here," I said triumphantly, pulling it out from under all my notes.
"For such a neatnik, you've sure got your desk in disarray at the moment," Josh teased.
"This from the man who asks his assistant to draw little maps so that he can find anything?"
"Donna loves those maps," Josh said, kissing my forehead as he took the file - and copped a feel that I _know_ Brian noticed.
"Right," I responded.
Josh gave a jaunty little wave as he headed back toward his own office.
For a couple of minutes, all that could be heard was the whir-click of Brian's camera.
"So," Brian said, finally breaking the silence. "That's your Josh."
"You knew about Josh and me?" I asked.
"Tiger, the whole US population knows about you and Josh." I actually knew that. Usually, though, it wasn't something I had to remember.
"You've been together what, almost two years?" Brian asked.
"Yeah, just about."
"You sound like an old married couple when you talk to each other."
I ignored that remark. If it were up to me, Josh and I would be a married couple. But it wasn't on the domestic agenda for the Bartlet administration.
Brian took a few more photos then spoke again. "What was up with him and your coffee habit? Doesn't he know by now that you run on the stuff?"
"Well, I kind of developed an ulcer recently..." I wasn't sure how much of the saga to tell Brian.
"What do you mean, 'kind of developed an ulcer'? Is that like 'sort of pregnant'?"
"I was sick on and off for a while, but I didn't know why. I was eventually diagnosed with an ulcer, and Josh has been watching my coffee intake ever since." That was the shortest version of the story.
"Not that he ever listens," Josh's voice came from the doorway.
Josh was back again. It felt like only a minute since he'd left, but it must have been longer.
"He never listened to me, either," Brian said. "I tried my damnedest to whip him into shape, but it never took."
"Oh?" Josh asked, "Tell me more."
"Josh," I interrupted before Brian could tell any of his stories, "why are you here?" Again.
"Lucy's badgering Donna about our relationship. I figured I'd come and say 'hi' while Donna was telling her version." Josh's expression told me I'd probably have to do some damage control before the article went to press. I decided, however, to wait until I saw the galleys of the article before I caused unnecessary trouble.
"So," Josh said, again making himself comfortable at the corner of my desk. "What _was_ Sam like in law school?" Surreptitiously, he put his hand on my knee and started stroking the seam of my pant leg.
I tried to follow whatever bullshit Brian was telling Josh about me, but I was way too distracted by what Josh was doing with his fingers. Finally, Josh stopped his teasing and stood up.
"Hope to see you again, Brian," he said. He left, and I prayed that would be the last time he'd darken my office doorstep for the rest of the interview.
Brian took another whole roll of pictures of me in my office, and then he went off to take what he called "establishing shots" - photos of people and locations around the West Wing to accompany Ms. Simonds' interview.
As soon as Brian left, I stood up and closed the blinds on the big window to the bullpen. Returning to my desk, I picked up the phone.
"Get...here..._now_," I said, then hung up the phone. That was when time slowed to a crawl.
It was probably no longer than a couple of minutes, but it seemed like an eternity before Josh came into my office.
"Close the door," I said, standing and walking toward him as he complied.
I grabbed Josh as soon as the door was closed and locked. "You," I said, punctuating my words with kisses, "have...been...driving...me...nuts...all...day."
I didn't give him an opportunity to respond before I started unbuttoning and unzipping his clothing. As soon as he was standing in nothing more than a bemused look, I started in on my own clothing.
"Hey, love, slow down," Josh said, but I was too frenzied to stop.
Finally giving in to the inevitable, Josh assisted me in the removal of my final bits of clothing then helped me maneuver us to the floor. I didn't care what or how, I just knew that parts of me had to be in intimate contact with parts of him. Josh must have retrieved lube from somewhere, because within minutes we were lying on our sides, each with the other's cock in his mouth, and Josh's slick fingers were exploring my ass. I moved my free hand - the one that wasn't trapped under my body - down to grab at his ass cheek in an attempt to control how deep Josh could thrust into my mouth.
There was a knock on the door, but I completely ignored it. My only focus was Josh and what we were doing to each other. When he slid three fingers simultaneously into my asshole, I jerked, unintentionally deep-throating Josh's cock. I could tell from his sharp intake of breath that he was as close as I was. Within seconds, we were both coming, moaning as we each swallowed all that the other had to offer.
Josh flexed his hips slightly, and I opened my lips to let him ease himself out of my mouth. He released me as well, but he kept his fingers inside me for just another moment, rotating them just enough to graze my prostate.
"What, you want to go again?" I asked, my voice still rough with need.
There was another knock on the door. "Tiger? You in there? The door's locked." I heard the doorknob being rattled.
Toby - thank God for Toby - came to our rescue. "I'm sorry, Mr. Johnson. Sam was called into a closed-door meeting. You'll have to complete the rest of your photography later."
Brian must have eventually gone away, but I would not have been able to tell you when. My universe had shrunk to include only the naked man in front of me.
"Josh, you're an evil tease," I said, stroking his hip with my hand.
Josh sucked briefly on my big toe then said, "Yeah, but you love me for it."
I couldn't deny that.
A piece of notepaper was slid under the door; Josh finally dislodged his fingers from inside me and squirmed over to grab the note.
"I saved you this time; next time there will be consequences. TZZ." Josh read.
"D'you think he means it?" Josh asked.
"Oh, yeah." I had no doubt that the next time I needed Toby to rescue me there would be consequences.
"Love?" Josh said after a moment.
"You got any other random ex-lovers likely to pop up here?"
I thought quickly. "Nope."
"Good," he said, turning himself so that we were facing the same direction.
"J?" I said after another minute of kissing and caressing.
"We're getting too old to do it on the floor."
The article in Duke Magazine was actually quite flattering in the end. And there was only one photo that was at all questionable. Apparently, Brian had hung around after my "closed-door meeting" and had taken a candid shot of Josh and me emerging - somewhat rumpled - from my office. The caption - "The Deputy Chief of Staff and the Head Speechwriter Following a Rough Session" - made me wonder just how much Brian had guessed about what had really been going on in my office that day, but I didn't dwell on it.
It was safer that way.
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